Monday Morning With D.J. Durkin

Wash, rinse, repeat. That's what the 2-0 Terps hope to do this week while trekking back down to Florida for their second consecutive game in the Sunshine State, this time against UCF and new coach Scott Frost Sept. 17 in Orlando.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

That's what the 2-0 Terps hope to do this week while trekking back down to Florida for their second consecutive game in the Sunshine State, this time against UCF and new coach Scott Frost Sept. 17 in Orlando.

"Two-and-0 feels good, it definitely does," Durkin said this morning during his Monday teleconference with beat reporters. "It feels really good, and that's what I tell our guys because winning college football games is not easy, and winning games on the road is even tougher. 

"But we need to value that and enjoy that and celebrate a win in the right way. And also in the right way keep moving on and learn from our mistakes and there are things we need to clean up from these first two games. And we've got to take the right approach to get better and understand that our schedule will continue to get tougher and tougher as we go."

Looking in the rear-view mirror to last Friday night in Miami as they remained unbeaten at FIU, Durkin said cornerback J.C. Jackson's debut performance was a very solid one for his first start. 

Jackson was cleared to play that evening after sitting out the Howard game with an academic issue. Jackson was sticky in coverage, good in run support at times as well, and overall quite 'chippy' flying around making plays. He finished with three solo tackles.

"J.C. is a guy who hasn't played football in a while, there was some and some bad, but overall he was in really good position the whole time," Durkin said. "There were a couple plays he could have made a better play on the ball, and I know he is capable of doing that, and I think he will in the future. But overall I was very pleased, and he will help us immensely."

Also defense, where the Terps limited the Panthers to touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters, only 170 yards passing, and added a Jermaine Cater 'pick-six' to break the game open early, DT Brett Kulka got his first start, and has climbed the rotation every week. Durkin said he and Cavon Walker will continue to battle for that starting job. Kulka finished with one tackle, Walker two, as the line continued to rotate heavily throughout the 41-14 rout.

"Brett, he is a consistent guy," Durkin said. "He works hard every day, comes to practice, does what he is asked to do. And one of the best things as a coach is have a guy you know what you are getting from every time. That's a good thing. And he is very consistent. So there is some good back and forth (between him and Walker) right now."

On offense, the Terps again had excellent balance and no turnovers, with the run game humming behind perhaps the Terps best offensive line in a decade. On the downside, the Terps completed just 4-of-12 third downs. Also, Maryland committed eight penalties at FIU, versus just two in the opener against Howard.

At FIU, the Terps run-to-pass ratio was 45-21, while Maryland racked up 239 yards rushing led by Trey Edmunds' 78 yards on eight carries. No back carried more than eight times, while three averaged better than 6.5 yards per catch. True freshman LoLo Harrison chipped in an impressive 64 yards on eight carries including a nifty cut-back touchdown romp of 40 yards, while Perry Hills had 52 yards on eight carries. The Terps offensive line finally has a blend of some elite talent as well as budding depth gaining a lot of reps so far this season.

"The guys have done a great job of embracing that," Durkin said of the line, "and [OLine Coach Dave Borbely) Borbs and Walt Bell a really good job of conveying what they are looking for and what the system is."

Durkin added that rotating so many players is huge, more than he has ever had or seen before.

"And it's a testament to the depth that we have. And it will be much better for us in the long run as we can play multiple guys."

As for the rookie Harrison, he of the quick feet and make-you-miss ability, Durkin said:

"Lorenzo has played really well for us, we're really happy where he is at in his progression as a freshman.

The Terps head coach added that the DeMatha product is still fine-tuning his blocks, pressures and fits, "but he has been really good with the ball in his hands, and we are going to continue to use him more and more."

Also on offense, sophomore receiver D.J. Moore has been a huge, racking up big stats in his big, physical package, grabbing balls in traffic and flourishing after-the-catch. On Friday night he led all receivers with six catches for 147 yards and two scores, as well as threw a 21-yard pass to Hills on a 'QB throwback' play as the Terps continued to show more of its offensive playbook. The Terps receivers got excellent separation all night at FIU, especially Moore.

"Really work ethic. He has put out since very early on when we first got here. He brings it every day," Durkin said of Moore. "So it is one of those things where he continues to show up....he has great ability, and anytime you take a guy who has talent and ability and mix it with a great work ethic, well you are going to have a great player."

Meanwhile, Perry Hills continues to manage the offense and the game well, with another very efficient performance at FIU. He completed 13-of-18 passes for 210 yards, 3 TDs, and best of all no picks. He has more time, and is less harried this season thanks to said offensive line, while he is not being put in situations for too long in the pocket where he could possibly get in trouble as he did in the past.

"A big-time worker, has the respect of his teammates because of how determined he is. And that was the start of it," Durkin said of Hills. "But he can throw it well, he can beat you with his feet or his arm, and as he continues to get more comfortable with our offense. I think he has great potential, great ability, and we are just going to continue to put him in the best position possible to be successful and execute our offense."

Durkin said freshman QB Tyrell Pigrome will continue to play, and "is an extremely competitive guy." Pigrome was called in late with the big lead and finished 1-for-2 for seven yards, but wasn't quite as electric in the option game as in the opener.

As for this weekend, Durkin will send coaches down ahead of the Saturday game on Friday, while last Saturday they were in the offices doing pass game prep for UCF. Next week over the bye week Durkin said he will utilize several days for the staff to go recruiting. 

Durkin added the Terps came out of the FIU game "pretty healthy with nothing major, and we'll be at full capacity going into the next game."

The good news is the Terps remain mostly healthy, going all the way back to the spring. Only WR Taivon Jacobs remains on the shelf.


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