Big Ten

Big Ten preview: Can Terps fix woeful quarterback play from a year ago?

Big Ten preview: Can Terps fix woeful quarterback play from a year ago?

Last season, Maryland quarterbacks threw more interceptions than any other team in college football. Twenty nine interceptions is an awful lot, six more than the next most-intercepted team.

So that’s the big to-do for the Terps this season: improving the passing game by making sure fewer passes land in the hands of opposing defenders and more land in the hands of Maryland receivers.

How easy that will be remains to be determined.

The same two guys who combined to throw 28 of those 19 picks are the two favorites for the starting job this season, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe. And while it was quite obvious that neither was very adept at keeping turnover numbers low, indecision couldn’t have helped. Randy Edsall — and then Mike Lockley after Edsall was fired midway through the campaign — couldn’t settle on a starter or a true No. 1, mostly because both guys kept throwing interceptions.

Hills started eight games, playing in nine, while Rowe started four and played in 10. Hills had more statistical success and showed more big-play ability at times, but he threw 13 interceptions compared to eight touchdowns, accumulating 1,001 passing yards with a 50-percent completion percentage. Rowe, meanwhile, threw 15 interceptions and just six touchdowns, passing for 894 yards with a 46.1-percent completion percentage.

Neither option can look terribly exciting to first-year head coach DJ Durkin, who is more a defensive guy anyway. Leading one of the best defenses in the country last year as the defensive coordinator at Michigan, Durkin oversaw a shutout in which the Wolverines held the Terps to a jaw-dropping 105 total yards of offense and intercepted Rowe three times.

All in all, Maryland had one of the worst passing games in the country, averaging just 174.3 yards through the air each week. And while the rushing attack was surprisingly productive, 1,000-yard rusher Brandon Ross isn’t around anymore, putting more pressure on this crop of shaky quarterbacks.

Tasked with solving this riddle is Walt Bell, Durkin’s new offensive coordinator who came over from Arkansas State. Averaging 40 points a game last season, the Red Wolves were the 12th highest-scoring team in the country.

And there are three other quarterbacks on the roster — Tyrell Pigrome, Gage Shaffer and Max Bortenschlager — and Durkin said those guys will all get a chance to compete for the job, too. But not a one of them has any experience, all three freshmen and two of them true freshmen. Still, perhaps a new look would be a positive for a team that experienced a quarterback nightmare last season.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.