Wasn't pretty but it's a win, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. That's what's most important. We've got so many things we can take from this game to improve upon. Again, I was very, very proud of the players from the standpoint that one of the things we've talked about through the winter, the spring, the summer, the preseason was finishing. They very easily could have just folded their tents but they kept persevering, they kept fighting, they kept scratching, clawing and found a way to win.
Hills completed 16 out of 24 passes on the day for 145 yards, though he also threw three interceptions which killed any momentum that the Terps' offense mustered in the first three quarters. Hills first two interceptions resulted in the two field goals the Tribe scored.
I just think he was trying too hard, Edsall said. I really do. I think the one time he tries to avoid a sack and throw it, he's heard me say don't take a sack, but he took it literally. There's some times you want to take a sack because that may be the best play because when you go and try to throw the ball and do what he did, you don't want to do that.
Just a simple mistake, Hills said. Probably should have read the outside guy better. There was another read, another miscommunication, but I wasn't going to let it ruin me for the rest of the game. It was behind me as soon as it happened. I thought about what I did wrong, talked to the coach and put it behind me and I looked forward to the next play.
Hills redeemed himself later by leading the Terps on their only scoring drive of the game. On a third-and-8 early in the fourth quarter, Hills hit wide receiver Kevin Dorsey for a 22-yard reception to give the Terps a first down. Two plays later, running back Justus Pickett marched into the end zone to give the Terps the lead in the game.
Kevin, that's what you want out of a fifth-year senior, Edsall said. You want him to make those types of plays and there were some others he almost got, some catches. But that was huge. That kept that drive going and that's the kind of competitor that he is and we're going to need him to make more of those kind of plays as the year continues.
Despite his poor showing in the game, Hills' teammates and coaches were impressed with his poise and calm even after throwing some costly interceptions. His composure proved crucial on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
I wasn't going to let it fluster me, Hills said. That's the biggest thing. Once you break down, there's no coming back from that. You just have to stay positive, can't look at it and say, oh wow, I just ruined this, I'm losing this for the team. Can't look at it that way. You just have to keep fighting and everyone has to stay together and that's what we did.
He started to settle in, Edsall said. He made some adjustments at halftime, but I kind of chalk it up to the first game and the thing is, he never got rattled when he came off the sideline. He'd look you in the eye, wouldn't look away, you didn't see that spaced-out look you see sometimes, the deer in the headlights. He didn't have any of that.
I think he definitely did a better job second half, Dorsey said. We kind of changed things around to give him easier reads as far as passes, took some things out that we didn't think were working and just basically tailored things a little more to the way he works.
He was still very confident, Pickett added. Making a couple of mistakes is not anything new. As a quarterback, he's just got to keep moving forward and just have confidence throughout the game.
Edsall said the thought of bringing in quarterbacks Caleb Rowe or Devin Burns for a struggling Hills never crossed his mind. He said while every player wants his first start to be a solid performance, players will need to play through adversity like Hills did on Saturday.
Hills and the Maryland Terrapins will face the Temple Owls on Sept. 8 in Philadelphia at noon.