When freshman quarterback Kasim Hill was recruited by DJ Durkin and his coaching staff he was being eyed as the future of the Maryland Terrapins football program.
Now, because of former-starter Tyrrell Pigrome’s season-ending ACL tear, the future comes to College Park Saturday afternoon when Hill will make his first start against the Towson Tigers.
Even with a new man behind center for the Terps, do not expect the coaching staff to change up the offense for Hill; his polish and poise impressed the staff during his recruiting process, offensive coordinator Walt Bell said. Maryland’s offense is driven by a robust, multifaceted rushing attack which should help Hill ease into the game as a passer.
“ We can do everything we want to do in our offense with him, and we will,” Durkin said. “We’re going to put that on him. I know he’ll respond. There will certainly be freshman moments or whatever, but Kasim is the right guy you want to be in that spot.”
In addition to allowing Hill to build his confidence against an FCS opponent, the showdown with Towson is expected allow the Terps to explore their depth across multiple position groups, particularly at wide receiver.
The experienced trio of Jacquille Veii, D.J. Moore and Taivon Jacobs play most of the Terps downs out wide, but it is unrealistic to expect them to be able to play every down for 11 more games, Bell said.
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure that [the young receivers] are ready and some of that is trial by fire,” Bell said. “A lot of guys look good in practice and again, just like the young quarterbacks, when you stick them out there on Saturday for the first time and things aren’t well but you know what, you gotta deal with it, it’s to be expected. You put them out there and you let them figure it out.”
One of Maryland’s more-experienced receivers, Veii, will also be facing off against his former team. Veii played at Maryland for two years after high school but transferred to Towson for the 2015 season.
Following his year with the Tigers, Veii transferred back to Maryland for academic reasons but the Towson coaching staff blocked the move. This forced Veii to pay out of pocket for his redshirt year after the transfer.
Veii led the Tigers in receptions and receiving yards with 505 yards on 44 catches during his one year at Towson.
“It wasn’t a smooth transition or how I thought it was going to go,” Veii said. “I like them know that regardless of if you’re going to withhold my scholarship or not I’m going to still take Maryland.”
The showdown with the Tigers will also allow Maryland to test out some new options to replace the injured Jesse Aniebonam on the defensive line. Maryland played “probably a dozen guys,” in a rotation during their game in Austin last weekend, Durkin said. Bryce Bland, Melvin Keihn and Chandler Burkett are all players who will be looked at to help fill the gap that has been left by the injury.
“We’ve been working Chandler in at buck throughout camp so I don’t think there’s going to be any hiccup there,” defensive coordinator Andy Buh said. “He’ll transition pretty well coming over to help us at [Aniebonam’s] position.”
Buh also added that the Terps’ depth on the defensive line will help the team survive with Aniebonam.
If the Terps are able to take care of business against the Tigers, then this matchup should allow many of the young players across the Maryland depth chart to earn valuable in-game experience.