Maryland opened the 2015 season with a 50-21 win over Richmond on Saturday afternoon. We take a closer look with our five observations:
- Perry Hills struggles – Perry Hills’ first start of 2015 certainly wasn’t pretty. Hills completed 12-of-21 passes for only 138 yards and a pair touchdowns and an interceptions. The Pennsylvania native got off to a very rough start as he started the game 0-of-4 for no yards and an interception when he attempted to throw to wideout Levern Jacobs in double coverage. Hills failed to make the right reads on several occasions, including one where Hills ended up throwing the ball away instead of hitting running back Wes Brown in the flat on a key third down play. You may be able to chalk this game up to opening day jitters, but it definitely wasn’t the first impressions that Hills wanted to make.
- Options at wide receiver – Despite Hills struggling at times against Richmond, it was learned that Maryland has plenty of options in the wide receiver department. Eight different receivers (one was Brown) caught a pass in the win against the Spiders. Amba Etta-Tawo, Levern Jacobs, and D.J. Moore recorded two receptions apiece, which shows how versatile the passing game is going to be. Moore impressed during training camp and looks like he should see plenty of snaps for the Terps as a true freshman. Malcolm Culmer hauled in the only true touchdown pass for Maryland if you’re not counting the shovel pass to Jacobs in the first half. Culmer also showed some serious moves when he hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass.
- Running game looks strong – Brandon Ross looked phenomenal on Saturday as he turned in a 150-yard performance. Ross looked like a completely different back as he displayed great vision and made the right cuts throughout the game. Wes Brown and Ty Johnson also had strong performances on the afternoon. Brown rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while Johnson carried the ball 10 times for 83 yards and a touchdown. Johnson got his chance due to Maryland’s big lead, but looked great running the football. The freshman looked like a grizzled veteran as he hit the holes hard and saw the field very well. It’s great to see Johnson get this experience with Ross being a senior.
- Pass rush looks impressive – Maryland totaled four sacks against the Spiders and looked strong. Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson really looked like his old self as he sacked quarterback Kyle Lauletta twice. Defensive end Jesse Aniebonam was also very impressive as he was relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. While he is currently listed as a backup, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the sophomore pass rusher was a starter at some point this season.
- Will Likely – While we knew heading into the season how talented cornerback Will Likely was, Saturday showed just how important Likely is to Maryland’s success in 2015. Likely racked up a Big Ten record 233 punt return yards against Richmond and almost made Terp fans forget about Stefon Diggs and his dazzling returns. The Florida native looked like he could go the distance on every return and actually did on a 67-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. Likely was also his usual impressive self in the secondary as he provided blanket coverage of star wideout Brian Brown on several pass plays. Likely definitely is one of Maryland’s most important players this season and this is just the beginning of several strong performances.
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