COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland’s smooth ride under first-year coach DJ Durkin was thrown off the tracks last Saturday with a lopsided defeat at Penn State.
Looking to build on a 4-0 start, the Terrapins played poorly and without maximum effort, Durkin said Tuesday. Making matters worse, starting quarterback Perry Hills hurt his right shoulder late in the first half and did not return.
Hills’ status for Saturday’s game against Minnesota (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) remains up in the air.
“Fortunately, we have a couple days until the game so that gives us time to make the best decision for him and for our team,” Durkin said.
While Hills remains a possibility for Saturday, the Terrapins (4-1, 1-1) will definitely be without running back Trey Edmunds, who will sidelined indefinitely with a broken right foot, and special teams standout Isaiah Davis, who has been suspended for one game by Durkin for his late hit on Penn State kicker Joey Julius after a kickoff.
Davis slammed Julius to the ground following a kick that was not returned.
“He made a very bad decision,” Durkin said. “There’s no room for that in the great game of college football.”
After practice Monday, Edmunds had an x-ray on his foot. A fracture was discovered; surgery has been scheduled for later this week.
Edmunds is in his first season at Maryland after transferring from Virginia Tech. The 6-foot-2 senior ranks third on the Terps with 158 yards rushing and scored a touchdown against Howard on a blocked punt.
“He’s been in a great rotation at running back and playing on all special teams,” Durkin noted. “I feel for him.”
Before the Terrapins can turn their full attention toward Minnesota, they must correct the flaws that cropped up against Penn State in a 38-14 blowout. The Nittany Lions scored on their first drive and never let up, rolling up 524 yards on offense and holding Maryland far below its average of 43 points per game.
So now, for the first time as a college head coach, Durkin has a team coming off a loss.
“It’s a great learning experience for us,” he said. “A team is going to hit you in the mouth every now and again, and what you have to do is come together, get tighter and trust in your teammates. I’m looking forward to our guys bouncing back from a loss.”
Durkin couldn’t believe his eyes while watching the game at Penn State unfold.
“There were plays and calls we’ve run since training camp that all of a sudden looked totally different in terms of execution,” the coach said. “Overall, really, we didn’t play at our effort level in this past game. Effort makes up for mistakes, and we didn’t give ourselves that opportunity.”
A lengthy film session and a stern lecture followed, and now the Terrapins seemingly understand what must be done to win.
“It’s a new week,” receiver Teldrick Morgan said. “We still have the same mindset, the same focus. I know we lost, but it’s just made us hungrier.”
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