D.J. Durkin and the Maryland Terrapins are set to open the 2016 season with their fall camp next week.
Durkin is entering his first season as a head coach after successful stints as a defensive coordinator at Florida, Michigan, and Stanford. He has had the opportunity to learn under successful coaches such as Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer.
Durkin will inherit a Maryland team that went 3-9 in 2015 and only registered one win in the Big Ten. Obviously, the early season struggles were the main reason that Randy Edsall was relieved of his duties after only six games.
Durkin joined 105.7 The Fan on the Norris and Long Show to talk about a variety of topics in advance of the 2016 season.
On defensive coordinator Andy Buh:
“He’s familiar with our scheme. He has really good experience as a coordinator. He’s a great fit for our staff and our players. He did a great job coming in in the middle of the spring. It was a smooth transition for everyone.”
On the freshmen class:
“We’re really excited about the freshman class we brought in. Those guys got up here at the end of June and they’ve been working out and doing a great job. We’re excited to get the pads on and see what they can do football-wise. I just like, overall, their whole demeanor and attitude. They mesh with the team really well and I really feel like we have (guys) that are really competitive, confidence and they’re going to have every opportunity to go earn a spot here in August.”
On Maryland’s returning players:
“If you look at our veteran group overall, I’m really pleased and happy with just how they’ve embraced what we’re doing. They’ve embraced change and they’ve really been positive with it. We’ve done a lot of different things with them and kind of made it very difficult and they’ve responded. Everything hasn’t been perfect obviously, but they’re trying to do every single thing we’re asking them to do. That’s all you can for as a coach; a bunch of guys that are in it and giving all they have.”
On the quarterback competition:
“Caleb (Rowe) is doing well, he competed all this spring with Perry (Hills), and those two guys are both guys who have plenty of experience and know they need to do some things better and they did that better throughout the spring. You mention Gage Shaffer as well as our true freshmen (Tyrell Pigrome and Max Bortenschlager) we’re bringing in, we’re going to get reps to all those guys and really allow them all to make their move and let it decide itself on the field. We tell those guys it’s no different than any other position; players decide who’s going to play. It’s our job as coaches to give them the reps, put them out there and then they’re going to decide it. Our practices are very competitive — we grade everything, keep track of it — and you earn your own spot.”
On potentially removing kickoffs from the college game:
“I think special teams is a huge part of the game. I think you’re taking something away from the game when you take that away. Not only just schematically and how the game flows and all that, but opportunities as well. It’s a great developer a lot of times for a younger player that maybe has the skillset that you know can help you, but mentally you’re not quite there yet to go play on offense or defense or whatever it is. That’s how guys earn their stripes. And all the sudden, three or four games into the season, you’ve got a group of guys that have been playing in every game — they’re getting college football experience — and now they’re ready to be inserted in packages on offense or defense.”
“They’re ready to do that because of the experience they have on special teams. I really believe that players right now in football are as safe as they’ve ever been. With the amount of emphasis going into how things are being taught — the coaching of tackling, contact and all those things, as well as the technology for all the safety measures that have gone into this — there’s never a point in time when players are safer on the field. And that’s a good thing. I’m all for player’s safety and I think we need to keep exploring those things, but in terms of changing the game or taking things out of it, I don’t think that’s good.”
On the goal for the 2016 season:
“I want our guys to play with a noticeable amount of energy, effort, and toughness. That’s what we’re building our culture around, just being that type of team that tries to outwork you, plays both mentally and physically tough, and just tries to compete at everything we do. We’ve got the right guys that can go compete. The whole challenge of any college football team is week in and week out, to show up with that same energy. We’ve all seen it. There’s up and downs in college football. For us, it’s just going to be to remain consistent and just go about our business the same way week in and week out.”