News and notes from Wednesday’s media conference with offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart
Running back updates
Save Justus Pickett, who has solidified his claim on Maryland’ starting running back job, Locksley addressed all three of Maryland’s other backs. Here’s what he had to say about each:
“Well I think when you look at the turnovers that’s the one thorn in my side from an offensive standpoint. You can’t turn the ball over and be a good team. That’s the one thing we’ve stressed from Day One, is not beating ourselves. We’ve been very fortunate here the past couple of weeks to come away with wins when you turn the ball over seven times as an offense.
I think the young guys understand the importance of it. We’ve done some things to try and reemphasize ball security. I have no doubt in my mind that a guy like Wes will bounce back, those guys understand he’s been playing that position a long time. He understands the importance of it and I expect him to bounce back and as an offense the goal is to come out of this thing without turning it over and beating ourselves.”
On injured running back Brandon Ross (hamstring):
“I think because of his skill set he’s a home run threat. I’ve been pleased with the running backs in general, minus the turnovers obviously. It gives you another weapon in your arsenal, and gives you a guy that has the ability to make some things happen. Maybe at the second level he can make a guy miss, and take it the distance. He has those types of abilities.”
On Albert Reid, who started against William & Mary but did not receive a carry against Temple:
“That’s the thing we talk about — roles are something that change daily based on performance and situations. Going into last week, the competition at that position has been pretty good. I like that. It’s something I wish we had at every position.
“We thought Wes practiced well last week, Albert didn’t do anything wrong per se, but his role will be determined by how we finish up this week. This is the second day of our two really tough practices, Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll see what his role will be when we get closer to game time.”
Tight end depth a plus
Once fullback Tyler Cierski was removed from the Temple game with an undisclosed injury, the Terps began running more multiple-tight end sets in an effort to compensate, something afforded by Maryland’s depth at the position.
“Well anytime you don’t have Tyler it’s a blow to us offensively,” Locksley said. “He brings toughness, and his ability to get us to run downhill. The luxury of having four tight ends going into the season would give us strength at that position.”
For quarterback Perry Hills, having additional bodies up front informed the ground game. Plus, he always likes to look for the big target.
“Having that personnel grouping allowed us to have some flexibility to continue to be able to get under center and run some of our downhill, power pro-style run plays,” Locksley said. “A guy like Devonte Campbell coming in, or a guy like Matt Furstenburg being able to fill those roles.”
Accounting for numbers
Albeit based on a small, two-game sample size, Maryland’s defensive numbers in Stewart’s new 3-4 scheme are impressive.
Opponents are averaging 1.95 yards per rush and 229.5 yards per game, both of which rank in the top 10 nationally. Their seven sacks tie for 13th in the Football Bowl Subdivision as well.
Stewart, however, isn’t putting much stock into those stats just yet.
“I’m not a big numbers guy,” Stewart said. “I’m more about looking at what we need to do to win. I just think the basic foundation of our defense is if we can stop them running the ball, focus on third down, get them off the field and not let them score, then we have an opportunity to win every game.
“Those are the things I focus and drive into our guys. I just really want to play our defense and get better at our defense. Winning each down one game at a time, down by down, that’s the main focus. That’s exactly what I want the players to think.”