Seriously, what was that?
By that, I’m referring to the offense Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley decided to roll out on Saturday against the Connecticut Huskies. It is one thing to ask your freshman quarterback to manage an offense; it’s an entirely different thing to request that your true freshman quarterback shoulder the majority of the offensive load. Locksley seems to have this notion that Perry Hills is a heck of a lot better than he really is; problem is, he isn’t.
Perry Hills isn’t Tim Tebow. He isn’t even Juice Williams, whom Locksley coached at Illinois for two seasons running the same type of offense we saw last game (and to an extent against Temple). That spread style offense, which runs out of the shotgun on essentially every single play and relies heavily on zone-read options, requires a special kind of quarterback to run it. I’m not saying Hills isn’t that type of special quarterback, but rather I’m suggesting that, at this time, Hills is not the man to run that offense. He is too young, and too inexperienced at reading defenses (to the point where he wastes precious time off the clock looking to the sidelines on every. single. play.).
This offense isn’t even suited for Maryland’s best running back in Wes Brown. Brown is not an outside runner; he is an up-the-middle, between the tackles guy who can bulldoze defenders. And yet, plenty of his runs were to the outside on zone-read options. Brown could be devastating in a pro-style offensive set, but Maryland has opted to continue running an offense that suits neither the best running back, or the starting quarterback. That falls all on Locksley and Edsall.
If Perry Hills would be much better suited throwing very short routes (where his lack of throwing power can be masked) in a West-Coast offense predicated on establishing a run game, then why the heck are we letting him drop back 25-30 times a game (he gets sacked the 5 times)? If Wes Brown would thrive in that same offense while splitting carries with Justus Pickett/Brandon Ross, why was the ball in Hills hands more often than anyone else? I get that they are all freshman (outside of Pickett), but Hills is shouldering the load far more than any of the others and it’s not fair to him or anyone else.
Locksley desperately needs to make some adjustments and analyze his personnel better a bit better. He cannot just run any old offense and expect things to work. It’s the reason why Hills, despite his positive rushes for 5 to 10 yards on a few of his carries, finished the last two games averaging less than a yard per carry. He gets blasted in the backfield when he drops back and loses more yards than he gains. I’m okay with running the quarterback (and Hills can scramble, don’t get me wrong), but seeing as how Brown is a workhorse, I would prefer the ball in his hands. Brown was brought in to get the ball, and he is so obviously our best runner that he deserves the ball 25 times a game.
When Hills does have to pass, why not just keep running short slants that had quite a bit of success in the game, given that our offensive line leaves him with barely two seconds to pass? Waiting for routes to develop just isn’t a luxury the Terrapins can afford at this time. They need to be quick reads or dump offs with the occasional deep ball splashed in. I haven’t even gotten around to moaning about how the other great offensive player, Stefon Diggs, only had four looks on offense. Defenses don’t even have to worry about him because Locksley hardly calls plays geared toward exploiting his speed and field vision.
Diggs flat out needs the ball more often. There is no harm in dumping the ball off to him and letting him work his magic in the open field. Any time that guy touches the ball, something good happens, and yet Locksley ignores him. Hell, give the kid three end-around plays a game and I’d be willing to wager that at least one of them ends up in a 25 yard gain. If the Terrapins don’t want him to transfer next year, I would highly suggest they involve Diggs more. Okay, that is a little drastic, but how did he only have 4 touches on offense?!
The bottom line is that for all of Locksley’s great recruiting efforts, he has been very poor in utilizing the talent that he has this season. Instead, he is using a freshman wrestler-turned-quarterback as the catalyst for an offense. I love The Undertaker as much as the next guy, but I don’t want him being the star of my offense, and neither should you or Mike Locksley.