COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The resilience that Maryland showed in its season opener against Texas may not be required Saturday against Towson.
If the Terrapins do find themselves in a quandary, however, coach DJ Durkin has no doubt how his team will react.
Against Texas, Maryland lost most of a 20-point lead and its starting quarterback during a stressful third quarter.
The Terrapins didn’t flinch. True freshman Hasim Hill confidently ran the offense, and the defense stiffened in a 51-41 victory that got Durkin’s second season off to a fantastic start.
“It’s great getting the win and all the things that go with it, but that’s the biggest thing,” Durkin said this week. “When you’re trying to build a program and a culture, you have to go through those times and respond the right way. I’m not certain if the team a year ago would have had the same response.”
The challenge this week is avoiding a letdown against Towson (1-0) and getting Hill acclimated with the offense. Hill takes over for Tyrrell Pigrome, who won the job in the summer and lost it in the third quarter at Texas because of a torn right ACL.
“I know he’ll respond,” Durkin said of Hill. “There will certainly be freshman moments or whatever, but Kasim is the right guy you want to be in that spot.”
He will be facing a Towson defense that blanked Morgan State 10-0 last week. The two schools are separated by less than 50 miles, but this will be only the second time the Tigers and Terps (1-0) have met on the football field — Maryland won 28-3 in 2011.
Towson is also using a new quarterback. Redshirt freshman Ryan Stover will make his first career start, replacing Morgan Mahalak, who will miss the game with an upper body injury.
Stover made his college debut last week, going 5 for 12 for 44 yards.
Some other things to know about the Towson-Maryland matchup:
DEFENSE RULES: The Tigers managed only 102 yards in offense against Morgan State, but limited the Bears to 234 and for the first time since 2005 had three players pick off passes: Tyron McDade, Monty Fenner and Lyrics Klugh. Towson also forced three fumbles. “Towson’s defense runs around and plays really, really hard,” Durkin said. “They’re impressive to watch on tape, they’re fundamentally sound.”
DEFENSE RULES 2: Maryland gave up 41 points at Texas, but the defense wasn’t entirely to blame. The Longhorns scored TDs on an interception return and a blocked field goal. Texas managed only 98 yards on the ground and scored its last touchdown with 69 seconds left. “The points didn’t show, but at the line of scrimmage we played really, really well,” Durkin said.
FRESHMAN QB, AGAIN: Hill becomes the sixth true freshman to start at quarterback for Maryland since the start of the 2012 season. He follows Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe, Shawn Petty, Max Bortenschlager and Pigrome. Hill was groomed in the Washington area at St. John’s High and spurned offers from Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Last week, in his college debut, Hill went 3 for 3 for 44 yards and ran for a score.
GOLD RUSH: The Terrapins amassed 263 yards rushing against the Longhorns, including a 132 on 12 carries by Ty Johnson for a whopping average of 11 yards per attempt. It was his third straight 100-yard game and provided him with a solid start in his quest to rack up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
BACK AND FORTH: Maryland receiver Jacquille Veii is quite familiar with both programs. He spent his first college seasons at Maryland (2013-14) before transferring to Towson, where he led the Tigers with 44 catches for 505 yards. He returned to Maryland last year and sat out as a redshirt. In his return Saturday, Veil had one catch for 3 yards.
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