Kasim Hill seemed more himself Saturday. The redshirt freshman quarterback didn’t hold onto the ball too long or overthrow his receivers, as he seemed to do more often than not the previous two weeks.
As a result, he was barely touched by Minnesota’s defense, getting sacked just once for a 1-yard loss. And after throwing a pick-six on his first career interception the previous game against Temple, Hill was efficient.
For Hill, it meant completing 10 of 114 passes for 117 yards, and eluding a sack to toss a 54-yard touchdown to junior receiver DJ Turner. It also meant a 42-13 win for the Terps.
The performance was reminiscent of the way Hill started his career at Maryland last season before suffering a torn ACL in the third game against Central Florida.
Starting with coming off the bench when Tyrrell Pigrome tore his ACL in the season opener against Texas, Hill completed 18 of 21 passes for 230 yards in three games, including 13-for-16 for 163 yards and two touchdowns against Towson.
While running backs Ty Johnson and Anthony McFarland did most of the heavy lifting on offense Saturday against the Gophers, Hill’s composure throughout was a key component of Maryland’s dominant win.
Asked how much the running game took pressure off him, Hill said, “I don’t really think about it as taking pressure off of me. Matt Canada says it a lot, ‘You have to decide how you want to stop us.’
“I think however we get a flow and a rhythm, however that’s working for us that day, all of us want to win. Whether it’s running the ball, throwing the ball, whatever we have to do.”
Winfield’s injury hurts Gophers
For the second straight year, Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. left the game against Maryland with an injury, this time to his left foot. A year after missing the last eight games with a hamstring injury, Winfield’s status is unknown.
“We’ll find out,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. "It’s significant to keep him out. I know that. He wanted to come back in as much as he could, but the doctors kept him out and that’s significant enough.”
The injury came on the same field where as a freshman in 2016 Winfield returned an interception against Pigrome 82 yards for a touchdown in a 31-10 win over Maryland.
A season ago, Maryland took advantage of Winfield’s early-game injury led to beat the then-undefeated Gophers, 31-24 in Minneapolis. The Gophers finished 5-7 in Fleck’s first season.
“I know he’ll do everything he can to get back as fast as he can and then we have to grow up the young guys, faster, better,” Fleck said. “I’ve got to be better.”
Helmet decals for both teams
A week after Temple wore decals honoring Jordan McNair to match those worn by the Terps in memory of the offensive lineman who died in June after suffering heatstroke, Maryland wore decals for McNair and one to match those worn in honor of Minnesota lineman Nick Connelly.
Connelly, 22, died Wednesday, four months after he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Connelly started the first five games of 2017 — including against Maryland — before retiring because of concussions.
“Obviously our thoughts are with their football team,” Maryland interim coach and offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. “They’re going through a loss and we know as well as anybody how hard that can be. Our thoughts are with their football team and football family for the loss they’re going through. They played very hard just like we knew they would.”
Fleck said much of the time leading up to Saturday’s game had been spent dealing with Connelly’s death. Fleck said the players were “emotional” in the locker room afterward, feeling they had let their former teammate down.
“This is a young man who is best friends with most of the guys on this team,” Fleck said. “A lot of our guys never really had a chance to really say goodbye and that’s really difficult for young people, but it’s training young people how to respond from adversity.
“He was a tremendous young man, individual, influenced a lot of people on this football team, even the kids who did not know him. The freshmen heard stories all week about him. … We had a lot of kids handling it in a really tough way.”