Maryland Football: D.J. Durkin Q&A with GBMWolverine


Maryland hired D.J. Durkin last week and the early reception has been good.

To gain a better understanding of Durkin as a defensive-minded coach, we caught up with Lead Editor Tyler Fenwick of GBMWolverine. Below is a Q&A that we conducted with Tyler:

TS: How would you describe Durkin as a defensive coach?

GBMW: Durkin is (or was) one of the best defensive coordinators in the business. Why Jim McElwain didn’t want to retain him at Florida is beyond me. His defenses consistently rank near the top statistically across the board. What I liked most about Durkin during his season at Michigan is how he made the most of the best athletes on the field. Scheme is important, but at the end of the day, you have to be making plays. He puts players in a position to do that.

TS: What type of defensive philosophy does Durkin utilize?

GBMW: Durkin utilized a hybrid 3-4 Under look at Michigan for the most part, but there was plenty of variation into the 3-3-5 and traditional 4-3. Michigan’s personnel didn’t put too many clamps on the scheme, though the linebacker corps was being exposed by the end of the season. The most important part of a base-3 defense is that BUCK linebacker. He’s got to have the skills to cover a slot receiver or crossing route on one play, and then rush the passer on the next. As I already said though, Durkin puts a bigger emphasis on going out and making plays.

As for the secondary, he loves his corners getting up close and personal with receivers. Michigan had some pretty good cover corners, which made that an easier commitment to make, but being aggressive on the edges is part of what Durkin loves to do.

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  • TS: What made Michigan’s defense so impressive this season under Durkin?

    GBMW: Two things: First, Michigan generated a pretty good pass rush. Second, the corners held their own in press coverage, giving the Wolverines more opportunities to bring a blitz. Like most defensive coordinators, he loved to bring the pressure on third down and make the quarterback make a quick decision under duress. An undersold part of Michigan’s defense this season was the safety help over the top. Jarrod Wilson did a tremendous job for the Wolverines of making sure everything was closely contested.

    TS: What type of impact did Durkin have on the recruiting trail during his time at Michigan?

    GBMW: Durkin went to Michigan with the reputation of a strong national recruiter. In 2012 he was named the Recruiter of the Year at Florida. He had not quite a full 12 months to make his impact at Michigan, but he did land four commits for the Wolverines, all of whom are rated as three-star athletes by 247Sports. All you have to do is read stories about recruits talking about their visit with Durkin to know that he’s no going to skimp out on the recruiting trail. He learned under the best.

    TS: How do you think Durkin will do as a head coach?

    GBMW: This is tricky. Durkin hasn’t been a head coach at any level, and now he’s competing in the same division as Mark Dantonio, Jim Harbaugh, and Urban Meyer. If I’m a Maryland fan, I’m going to trust Durkin to make good with the defense. The problem is attracting good offensive minds to the program. If he can do that, he’s got a shot. If not, Maryland in a few years could look a lot like Florida did this season.

    Next: Maryland Football: Top 5 players of the 2015 season