- Associated Press - Friday, September 4, 2015

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - How will Maryland’s Perry Hills performs at quarterback is the most pertinent question for Terrapins in their season opener against Richmond.

Hills won the job over Daxx Garman and Caleb Rowe in summer camp and will receive his first start on Saturday since 2012. The junior threw only 10 passes last season behind C.J. Brown, so a matchup against a Football Championship Subdivision foe will provide Hills the opportunity to ease back into the starting role.

“I feel comfortable and confident with each of the three guys that competed for the job,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said, “but right now we’re putting it behind Perry and we feel comfortable and confident that he can lead us to victory.”

The manner in which Hills plays could go a long way toward determining how Maryland fares in the Big Ten this season.

Almost as important: How will the defense fares against the run? A year ago, the Terrapins allowed an average of 201.9 yards rushing per game. That won’t cut it this year if Maryland is to improve upon last year’s 7-6 record (4-4 in the Big Ten).

The switch from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 should help. The revamped defense might be tested by Richmond running back Seth Fisher, who rushed for 777 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.

“I definitely think that we are better equipped to stop the run this year,” tackle Quinton Jefferson said.


Some things to know about the Richmond-Maryland game:

BIG CHANCE: The Spiders are one of the better FCS teams in the nation, but Maryland is quite literally out of their league. “We certainly recognize that this game is a significant challenge for us, playing a Big Ten school,” coach Danny Rocco said. “But we see it as an even greater opportunity. “It’s the first meeting between the teams since 1977. The series began in 1907 with an 11-5 Richmond victory.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Hills says the experience he gained as a freshman long ago should be helpful this year. “People on the other side would look at me as a freshman and would pretty much try to throw the phonebook at me,” he said. “I really got to see a lot and put a lot of tools in my toolbox. So whenever I see it again, I know exactly what I’m looking at. The game slowed down for me a lot.”

HERE’S THE CATCH: Maryland’s first priority is stopping the run, but the Terrapins can’t afford to overlook Richmond’s two standout receivers. Reggie Diggs had 85 catches for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Not to be outdone, Brian Brown caught 79 passes for 1,089 yards and seven scores. “Their guys that have really great length, they have athleticism and they have speed,” Maryland defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said.

HOT START NEEDED: The Terrapins open the season with three straight home games and should be favored in all of them. After this one, Maryland hosts Bowling Green and South Florida. A 3-0 start would leave the Terps halfway to being bowl eligible, but coach Randy Edsall, of course, isn’t looking past this one. “I really only care about one game at a time, but it’s always important to get off to a good start and continue to build momentum,” he said.

OPENING NUMBERS: Maryland is 4-0 in season openers under Edsall, averaging 33.5 points per game. The Terps have won 11 straight home openers at Byrd Stadium and 10 of the last 11 openers overall.

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