Terps' Hill: slow start, fast finish

6 of first 7 passes fail, but QB regains footing, guides UM to top of ACC

College Football

October 08, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Finally, during Saturday's 41-21 win over Virginia that gave Maryland the Atlantic Coast Conference lead, quarterback Shaun Hill delivered the performance that his coach, Ralph Friedgen, had been seeking.

Hill, a senior with only six starts entering the game, overcame a poor beginning to hit 21 of his last 28 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score in the victory that gave Maryland (5-0, 3-0 ACC) its best start since 1978.

Friedgen called it Hill's best outing, playing a large role in a balanced offense: 237 passing yards (his total for the day) and 243 rushing yards.

"The other thing was that he made adjustments that allowed him to make plays," said Friedgen, noting Hill's 47 rushing yards. "That tells me he's starting to learn the whole system."

If this is a sign of Hill's emergence, it couldn't come at a better time for Maryland, which needs strong passing against Georgia Tech on Thursday. In last year's game in College Park, the Yellow Jackets allowed just 20 yards in 22 attempts during a 35-22 win.

Hill opened the Virginia game by hitting a short screen to tailback Bruce Perry, but his next six attempts failed: one interception, one batted down, one overthrown, two trapped and one dropped.

Stronger starts are "something I've got to do a better job of," Hill said. But, he said, "a lot of times, taking a couple of shots relaxes me." Lo and behold, he began a streak of 11 straight completions at about the same time he started taking hits on the first of his 16 carries.

He ran for a first down and the touchdown on Maryland's first scoring drive, then found Guilian Gary (five catches for 99 yards) on a corner route that led to a 53-yard score near the end of the first half.

"He got off to a very shaky start and was able to turn it around," Friedgen said. "I've been around a lot of quarterbacks where if they get off to a bad start, they stay in the dumper."

Extra points

Maryland's preparation for Georgia Tech will be somewhat condensed. Instead of spending yesterday reviewing the Virginia game tape, the coaching staff already was going over Yellow Jackets game film.

"If we try to prepare for every situation we're going to see [on Thursday], we can't dwell on the last game," Friedgen said.

It's Friedgen's first matchup against the school for which he worked the past four years. ...

Maryland moved up to No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll. ... Starting linebacker E. J. Henderson, who was demoted after a DWI charge last weekend, entered the Virginia game after the third play and will start Thursday. ... The Terps practiced last night and will do so today and tomorrow before going to Atlanta.

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