Durkin: QBs need more pro­tec­tion

Coach crit­i­cizes ‘O’ line af­ter loss to Min­nesota, Terps’ 2nd in a row

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

While re­main­ing “very hope­ful” that fifthyear se­nior Perry Hills will re­turn for Satur­day night’s home game against Michi­gan State, Mary­land foot­ball coach DJ Durkin said Mon­day that the team’s of­fen­sive line has to do a bet­ter job of pro­tect­ing who­ever is play­ing quar­ter­back for the Terps.

“We’ve got to get that guy time to throw the ball, more than what we’ve done,” Durkin said on his t el econ­fer­ence. “Even when we had some guys open down the field and all that, it’s been hard to get the ball to them be­cause there’s not enough time.”

Hills sat out Satur­day’s 31-10 de­feat to Min­nesota in Col­lege Park, the sec­ond straight loss for Mary­land (4-2, 1-2). True fresh­man Tyrrell Pi­grome, who took over when Hills Satur­day, 7:30 p.m. TV: Big Ten Net­work Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM

rein­jured his right shoul­der in a 38-14 loss at Penn State the pre­vi­ous week, started in his place.

“We held him out of our game [against Min­nesota] so that noth­ing fur­ther hap­pened. He’s fur­ther along health-wise; that’ll be a day-to-day thing as we go through­out the week again,” Durkin said of Hills. “With the added rest time and not tak­ing a hit on it, we’re much fur­ther along right now with it.”

It is also un­clear whether se­nior cor­ner­back and re­turn spe­cial­ist Will Likely will play against the Spartans, who have lost four straight games, the long­est los­ing streak for Michi­gan State (2-4, 0-3) in 22 years. Likely in­jured his knee af­ter muff­ing a punt early in the sec­ond quar­ter against Min­nesota and didn’t re­turn.

“Will is un­der­go­ing fur­ther tests,” Durkin said.

One of the most pro­duc­tive teams in the Big Ten Con­fer­ence through the first month of the sea­son, the Terps have watched their of­fense strug­gle the past two weeks. Mary­land had a sea­son-low 129 rush­ing yards against Min­nesota af­ter get­ting 170 on the ground at Penn State.

“I don’t know if we’ve got­ten away from it, but teams have done some things to take that away and also not hav­ing a quar­ter­back [with ex­pe­ri­ence] for the last two weeks, that def­i­nitely changed things a lit­tle bit and af­fects us,” Durkin said.

“We’ve got to do a good job of man­ag­ing that and over­com­ing that, but that’s part of the game. It’s kind of where we’re at.”

Pi­grome led the Terps with 71 yards on 25 car­ries against Min­nesota, while the team’s two top rush­ers, fresh­man Lorenzo Har­ri­son and sopho­more Ty Johnson, com­bined for just 55 yards on nine car­ries. Many of Pi­grome’s runs came af­ter his pass pro­tec­tion had bro­ken down.

“Some of it was a break­down in pro­tec­tion, some of it was him not hav­ing his eyes in the right place to make the proper read and be­ing a lit­tle hes­i­tant with things and then all of a sud­den, the play breaks down,” Durkin said.

Aside from two in­ter­cep­tions — one of which was re­turned 82 yards for a touch­down in the fourth quar­ter — and a fum­ble on Mary­land’s fi­nal pos­ses­sion, Pi­grome was af­fected by a sloppy per­for­mance that in­cluded five hold­ing calls among the team’s nine penal­ties.

Durkin un­der­stands the angst among the team’s fans at flash­backs of re­cent los­ing sea­sons the past two weeks. The first-year coach doesn’t be­lieve the team’s col­lec­tive con­fi­dence has been shat­tered, or even shaken, by the back-to-back blowout de­feats.

“All the weeks are crit­i­cal and we cer­tainly don’t harp on or talk about the past here and what­ever else,” Durkin said. “I think the guys be­lieve in them­selves, be­lieve in what we’re do­ing. We’ve just got to ex­e­cute and play bet­ter.

“We’ve got to go out and play with a sense of ur­gency and emo­tion and ex­e­cute bet­ter. I think our guys will do that. The mes­sage got across to them clear and I an­tic­i­pate we’ll have a great week of prepa­ra­tion, and it should be a great en­vi­ron­ment and a great op­por­tu­nity for us this week­end.”

NOTE: An athletic depart­ment spokesman said that af­ter staff mem­bers watched a tape of the game, se­nior de­fen­sive tackle Azubuike Ukandu (Tow­son High) was cred­ited with three ex­tra tack­les against Min­nesota, bring­ing the to­tal to a team- and ca­reer-high 12.

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS 2015

Mary­land coach DJ Durkin said Mon­day that he was “very hope­ful” that quar­ter­back Perry Hills, above, who sat out last week’s loss to Min­nesota, would play against Michi­gan State.

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