COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The quarterback and center haven’t started a game since 2012, the top two receivers from last year are gone and a walk-on is starting at guard.
While it would appear as if Maryland might have trouble moving the football this year, the Terrapins can’t wait to show what they can do — beginning Saturday at home in the opener against Richmond.
“I definitely think the potential is there,” wide receiver Levern Jacobs said Tuesday. “We have a lot of people doubting our offense because we lost a lot of people. But the chemistry is there. We have all the tools to be good this year.”
The most significant change from last season is at quarterback. Perry Hills, a junior, won the job in training camp even though he hadn’t started in a game since his freshman year. Hills replaces C.J. Brown, who finally used up his eligibility after leading the 2014 team in rushing and throwing 10 touchdown passes.
Hills is more of thrower than a runner, but he can take off with the ball if the situation is right.
“Perry is definitely a guy who can do both,” Jacobs said. “He can beat you on the ground and he can beat you in the air.”
Hills started seven games as a freshman, passing for 1,336 yards and eight touchdowns. He missed the final five games with a torn ACL, was redshirted in 2013 and last year threw 10 passes in a mop-up role.
Now the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder stands atop the depth chart after beating out Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman and senior Caleb Rowe.
“People never thought he had a chance to be the quarterback,” coach Randy Edsall said. “It wasn’t a popularity contest, it wasn’t politics. It was a good old fashioned competition, and he went out and did the things he was coached to do.”
Hills’ targets include Amba Etta-Tawo (10 catches for 222 yards in 2014) and Jacobs, who missed last year while serving a suspension for violating team rules. In 2013, however, Jacobs led the Terps with 47 catches for 640 yards.
Diggs was a threat to score on every down. Jacobs, a 5-11 junior, isn’t quite as explosive but has big-play potential.
“I’m not trying to replace anybody,” Jacobs said. “I just want to go out there and do my job and play my game, whether that’s blocking or catching passes.”
An offensive line with veteran tackles Michael Dunn and Ryan Doyle welcomes sophomore guard Mike Minter, a walk-on who makes his first career start Saturday, and center Evan Mulrooney, a senior who hasn’t started since he was a redshirt freshman.
“I like the fact that those guys are communicating really well,” Edsall said of his offensive line. “Now, as we go into the first game, those are the five best we have.”