There is a defiance in the way that Maryland quarterback Perry Hills has responded to being sacked more than all but three quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Hills, a freshman, was sacked five times in Maryland's 31-21 loss to No. 8 West Virginia. On a sixth play, he was slammed in the back by Mountaineers safety Travis Bell on a play in which the Terps were penalized for a false start. "Just got the wind knocked out of me," Hills said.
Asked if the punishment he absorbed was his worst this season, the former state champion wrestler seemed to not want to concede the point.
"No, not the hardest I've been hit," he said. "I mean, it was a great team. They brought a lot of stuff."
Heading into the bye week, Hills has been sacked 16 times through four games.
Only the quarterbacks for California (16), Colorado State (17) and Colorado (18) have been sacked so many times.
"He is just a tough guy that wants to do well," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "I thought he went out and for the most part did a good part of executing the game plan. We have to protect him better. Perry has it in him to come back after that hit that he took [from Bell]. I thought he did a good job, but there are things he needs to do to get better."
Hills completed 20 of 29 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
But the five sacks cost Maryland (2-2) 43 yards.
"You don't want to see your quarterback get hit that many times," Edsall told reporters Sunday after reviewing the game video.
The sacks are caused by a combination of factors, the coach said. He said he was correcting technique "issues" on the offensive line. The line was reconfigured this season after starting tackles Max Garcia and R.J. Dill transferred during the offseason.
Coaches are also working with Hills on delivering the ball before his receivers make the final break in their pass patterns.
Hills "has got to trust his receivers to get their head around," Edsall said.
Hills' resilience has won him the admiration of his teammates.
"For a quarterback who takes a lot of hits, he does a great job," said receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught three passes for 113 yards and scored two touchdowns. "He always shakes it off. No matter how it looks, he always gets up. He took a tough one" Saturday.
Note: Edsall offered condolences to former Terp and current Raven Torrey Smith, whose younger brother, Tevin, was killed in a motorcycle accident. He said Maryland's football program was thinking about Smith and his family and was "praying for them."
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