The Perry Hills that entered last year’s 38-31 victory over Iowa in relief of injured quarterback C.J. Brown is not the same Perry Hills that you’ll see in this year’s edition of the game, set for Saturday at 3:30 in Iowa City.
Hills is more dynamic as a runner, breaking out of that more classic pro-style offense and embracing the read-option that Brown employed most during his time under center. The result? He has amassed 51 carries in his last two games, nearly five times more than the 11 he totaled during his first two starts of the year before being benched.
He was asked while speaking to the media on Wednesday how he felt after this stretch of time carrying the ball that has been unlike anything else in his career so far.
“I feel good,” he said, drawing a chuckle. “There’s the bangs and bruises, but nothing that I can’t handle. I’m doing the things to get my body back -- cold tubs to get my legs back, just doing the necessary things so I can continue to do those things.”
Maryland seems to have found its best-case scenario with Hills in a read-option system. Interim head coach Mike Locksley has opened up the offense and added in wrinkles to spice some things up moving forward.
That has included using cornerback Will Likely as a running back and inserting quarterback Shane Cockerille in various packages as another dual-threat runner.
But, ultimately, it comes down to Hills, Locksley says.
“The thing that really stands out about him is the grit that he shows and he’s a kid that will leave it all on the field for you,” he said. “As we continue to work with him and we stabilized the position with him and we’re building it around what he does well, trying to emphasize his strengths.
“He’s made some plays for us, but we’ve got to also make sure that he takes better care of the football and if we can get that done, Perry is a guy that we can win games with.”