D.J. Durkin made it clear that it would be an open competition for the starting quarterback job.
After 10 practices, it’s pretty clear that Durkin knows what he’s looking for under center.
During July’s Big Ten Media Days, Durkin announced that there would be an open competition for every position on the roster. The quarterback spot clearly was going to be the most intense after a dreadful 2015 season.
“The number one thing is really the guy that can lead the team and lead the offense the best,” Durkin said during Tuesday’s Maryland Media Day. “There is a lot that goes into that but it is a lot more than just throwing. The decision-making is really critical. We talk a bunch about protecting the football and having great ball security.”
The Terrapins struggled to maintain possession of the football throughout the 2015 campaign. Maryland quarterbacks threw a mind-boggling 29 interceptions, which was the most in Division I.
“It’s totally different how they’re being coached right now and what scheme they’re in,” Durkin added. “It’s a different mindset. We coach our quarterbacks hard. They all have a clean slate. We’re not going to judge them based on what they did in the past. All I care about is what they’ve done since our staff has been here.”
Obviously, Hills and Rowe have two very different skillsets.
Hills is extremely athletic and can run the football very well. The Pennsylvania native rushed for 535 yards and averaged 4.9 yards-per-carry in nine games last season.
On the other hand, Rowe is more of a traditional pocket passer. While he isn’t afraid to run when he has to, he usually will use his arm to beat opposing defenses.
Rowe is currently sidelined due to injury, but Durkin was hopeful that he would “be back soon.”
Despite the season opener being less than three weeks away, there’s no timetable on naming a starting quarterback.
“I do think it is important and it is good for the guys to know what we are doing moving forward in the season. I don’t have any certain day or target or amount of time set. It is once we are comfortable that someone has clearly emerged as that guy.”
Durkin and his staff appear to be using fall camp very wisely. They’re taking in as much of a sample size as they can instead of rushing to make an announcement.
While most believe that Hills is the frontrunner, Durkin is still looking at all options as he inherits a team that won just three games last season.
“It has been a really good competition for that spot,” Durkin stated. “We will start pairing it down after we have another scrimmage. Every guy has different strengths in terms of what his abilities are talent-wise. We can design our offense based on whatever that is. It is going to be the guy that can make the best decisions and lead the team best.”
It’s clear that Durkin is putting an emphasis on being smart with the football. No matter who is under center, the offense has the potential to be completely different under this new regime.
“That is the guy that has the ball in his hands every snap,” Durkin proclaimed. “He has to be a great decision maker and protect that football for our team and us.”