Terps’ strong start help­ing turn ‘fresh­men into sopho­mores’

Sopho­more run­ning back John­son hon­ored by Big Ten

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Jonas Shaf­fer jshaf­fer@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jonas_shaf­fer

In the Mary­land foot­ball team’s 10 months un­der first-year coach DJ Durkin, a con­trast with his suc­ces­sor has de­vel­oped. The dif­fer­ences be­tween Durkin and Randy Ed­sall are so pro­nounced that comparing the two is akin to comparing a photo and its neg­a­tive.

Where there was once mostly dark­ness, there is now some light. A coach­ing staff un­able to lock down the state’s top prospects has given way to one lead­ing a full-on move­ment. And, maybe most dras­ti­cally, a re­luc­tance to play fresh­men has been va­por­ized.

The newide­ol­ogy: If the kids can play, they’ll play.

Ed­sall told re­porters two years ago, “All the fresh­men should be red­shirted,” the bet­ter to help their aca­demic and ath­letic tran­si­tion from high school. Durkin told re­porters Mon­day in his weekly tele­con­fer­ence that it has been the Terps’ plan to play fresh­men, if even for just a few snaps.

In Mary­land’s 50-7 win Satur­day over Pur­due, just one fresh­man, punter Wade Lees, started. But 10 other true fresh­men and two red­shirt fresh­men saw ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to the par­tic­i­pa­tion re­port. Run­ning back Lorenzo Harrison be­came the first Terps fresh­man to rush for a touch­down in each of his first four ca­reer games. Quar­ter­back Tyrrell Pi­grome played more than a quar­ter un­der cen­ter. Line­backer Isa­iah Davis made a pair of tack­les.

In all, of the 37 play­ers who par­tic­i­pated but didn’t start on of­fense or de­fense, more than a third (13) were fresh­men.

“It’s critical,” Durkin said Mon­day. “It’s great we’ve been able to do that.”

Rout­ing op­po­nents has made it eas­ier for his coach­ing staff to get fresh faces onto the field. Mary­land kept a rel­a­tively short bench in its dou­ble-over­time win Sept. 17 against Cen­tral Florida, but its num­bers have swelled in blowouts of Howard (52-13), Florida In­ter­na­tional (41-14) and the Boilermakers.

Fif­teen of the Terps’ 25 true fresh­men have played this sea­son, a greater share than even the team’s red­shirt fresh­men (five of11). While Mary­land did start a com­bined 16 ju­niors and se­niors on of­fense and de­fense against DJ Durkin Pur­due, more non­start­ing true fresh­men (10) par­tic­i­pated than did non­start­ing sopho­mores (seven), ju­niors (seven) and se­niors (nine).

“That was our plan be­cause we know we’re play­ing a lot of young guys,” Durkin said. “What we didn’t want was, Week 7 or 8, to have an in­jury and all of a sud­den you’ve got a guy go­ing in the game that has not had any sig­nif­i­cant amount of game time. We’re try­ing to con­tinue to build our depth. We’re try­ing to turn fresh­men into sopho­mores as fast as we can, and one way you do that is get them game reps.” RB John­son named Big Ten Of­fen­sive Player of the Week: Sopho­more run­ning back Ty John­son was named the Big Ten Con­fer­ence Of­fen­sive Player of the Week af­ter lead­ing the Terps’ rush­ing at­tack against Pur­due.

The Cum­ber­land na­tive and for­mer Fort Hill star fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 204 yards and two touch­downs on seven car­ries Satur­day. His aver­age of 29.1yards per at­tempt is the high­est among 200-yard rush­ers in the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion in the past 20 sea­sons.

“Ty’s No. 1 abil­ity, he’s got some re­ally good speed and … he can take it the dis­tance,” Durkin said. “Ob­vi­ously, that showed. He played re­ally well and so did sev­eral of the other backs. That’s been a strength of ours that we’re go­ing to con­tinue to play to.” Terps get­ting no­ticed: The col­lege foot­ball world has be­gun to no­tice Mary­land’s 4-0 start this sea­son. But Durkin hasn’t no­ticed the at­ten­tion.

Told Mon­day that Mary­land had re­ceived the third-most votes of any team not in Sun­day’s up­dated Amway Coaches Poll — es­sen­tially, a No. 28 rank­ing na­tion­ally — Durkin was non­plussed.

“I was not aware of that un­til just the sec­ond when you said that,” he said. “So my thoughts are … um, I mean, what­ever. We’ll look at those num­bers at the end of the year, where we’re at. That’s re­ally when it mat­ters.”

Mary­land’s 70 votes in the coaches poll are 16 shy of No. 25 Western Michi­gan’s to­tal, and also trail LSU (77) and Michi­gan State (71).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.