Durkin aims to learn from first loss
Coach says mistakes made by ‘panicked’ Terps can be corrected
After watching tape from his team’s first loss of the season and his first defeat as coach at Maryland, DJ Durkin said in a teleconference Monday that he believes the mistakes the Terps made in a 38-14 defeat Saturday at Penn State are correctable.
“We kind of got out of ourselves a little bit. I think I probably said after the game, and it showed up on film, the mistakes we made are things we ... hadn’t done to that point,” Durkin said.
“They hit us on a couple of plays early and guys sort of panicked a little bit, trying to do too much, trying to do the guy’s job next to him. It happened on both sides of the ball.”
As he did Saturday after the game, Durkin called it a “learning moment for our team. … Everything is a great learning experience. That along with some other things, the best lessons you learn [are] after a loss. It’s human nature to not be quite on high alert after a win.
“If we handle this the right way, we can Saturday, noon TV: ESPNU Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: Maryland by 41⁄
probably learn a lot more from this about ourselves and what we need to do. … We have to trust the guy next to us, play within the scheme and keep going. We certainly have an offense that’s capable of scoring points and we certainly have a defense that’s capable of stopping people.”
Durkin said the Terps (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten Conference), who host Minnesota (3-2, 0-2) in College Park on Saturday at noon, should be able to handle falling behind early.
“Being down 10 points or even 17 should not be something that seems insurmountable for us at all; we’ve just got to learn those lessons,” Durkin said. “It was something that had not happened to us yet to this point. I thought we handled adversity well in a tight game earlier in the season at Central Florida. In this game, for whatever reason, we didn’t. We went the opposite way.”
Durkin would not attribute it to the announced crowd of over 100,000 at Beaver Stadium.
“I don’t know if environment affects you that much. Certainly crowd noise can have an effect on some things, on the snap count or what not, but I don’t see that as something that totally affects your team,” Durkin said.
“I just think they came out and they were executing better than us and it’s kind of the snowball effect. Guys were worried about the guy next to them and what he was supposed to do. You can’t possibly function that way as a team.”
As of Monday, Durkin did not expect many changes to Maryland’s personnel going into its next game.
Durkin expects fifth-year senior quarterback Perry Hills to play against the Gophers after sitting out the second half against the Nittany Lions. Hills reinjured his right shoulder, which he hurt in a double-overtime win at Central Florida on Sept. 17. And it had bothered him even before that.
“Perry’s an extremely tough guy. This is something that won’t linger too long for him,” Durkin said. “[The training staff ] will continue to monitor him every day, but Perry’ll be fine.”
Asked if he was happy with the way backup Tyrrell Pigrome per- formed after coming in for Hills or whether the true freshman is still a work in progress, Durkin said, “We’re all a work in progress, our whole team. Absolutely, there’s plenty to improve on.
“Once again, I do like the way he came in. He doesn’t get too high or too low, he just kind of stays even-keel, which is good, which is what you want out of your quarterback. I thought he did some very good things, things that he and we can really clean up.”
Durkin added that Pigrome’s having played in every game — his 24-yard touchdown run against Central Florida was his only snap in that game — “will obviously help us in the long run.”
Durkin also said he expects to continue to go with a running back-by-committee approach despite picking up a season-low 170 yards, including 79 by freshman Lorenzo Harrison. All six running backs were used, and only senior Wes Brown did not get a carry.
Though Ty Johnson was held without a yard on five carries after rushing for a career-high 204 yards on seven carries in a 50-7 homecoming win over Purdue, the sophomore from Cumberland still leads the Big Ten in yards per carry (10.4). Johnson did have a 66-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
“We’ll continue to rotate them. I think it’s been a major benefit and plus for us,” said Durkin. “Those guys are all playing well and doing good things for us.”
The Terps’ 38-14 loss to Penn State on Saturday was the first loss of DJ Durkin’s head coaching career. “We can probably learn a lot more from this,” he said.