COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Though first-year coach DJ Durkin is known for his defensive prowess, Maryland is unbeaten after three games largely on account of its prolific offense.
Quarterback Perry Hills has completed 62 percent of his passes, three for touchdowns, and Maryland is only one of two Football Bowl Subdivision teams (also Western Michigan) without a turnover. The Terrapins are averaging 266.7 yards rushing and have scored 123 points, second-most in school history after three games.
Two weeks ago, the defense gave up 455 yards at Central Florida and the Terps still came away with a 30-24 overtime victory .
Durkin came to Maryland after a successful run as Michigan’s defensive coordinator. He expects the Terrapins’ defense to improve dramatically — perhaps as soon as Saturday, when Maryland returns from a bye week to launch its Big Ten schedule against visiting Purdue (2-1, 0-0).
For now, Durkin will happily take victories manufactured by an offense that isn’t restricted by the two-deep depth chart.
“We’re doing a good job of getting everyone involved. We’re rotating guys at about every spot out there,” Durkin said Tuesday. “Everyone understands that they have a role. How they practice affects what that role is, how many snaps they get. That’s a big part of our program.”
Fourteen different players have caught a pass and 10 players have carried the ball. The depth at running back will be bolstered Saturday by the return of Wes Brown, who ran for 317 yards last year but missed the first three games while serving a suspension for a violation of the school’s student athlete code of conduct.
Brown practiced with the team during the suspension and is poised to join a running attack that currently ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State.
“Wes has been outstanding the whole time,” Durkin said. “He will definitely be in the mix.”
The offensive shuffle extends to the line. Though Durkin employed the same starters against Howard, Florida International and UCF, the backups have seen plenty of action and will almost certainly be utilized Saturday and beyond.
“Since I’ve been at Maryland, it’s always been the five guys who played the whole game,” said junior left tackle William Dunn, who has 40 career starts. “It’s nice knowing that some of the younger guys can get in every once in a while, get some experience. If something happens during the year, it’s not going to be their first game. Now that we’re in Big Ten play, they won’t be nervous about going out there the first time.”
Even the backup quarterbacks have contributed. After Hills left in overtime with a shoulder injury, freshman Tyrell Pigrome ran 24 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Hills is expected to return against Purdue, but Durkin won’t hesitate to call upon Pigrome is the situation is right.
“It’s good to know we have that option available to us,” the coach said.
Although depth is definitely a factor in Maryland’s offensive success, first-year coordinator Walt Bell certainly deserves some of the credit for installing a hurry-up attack that utilizes a diverse set of plays.
“They have a perfect plan for us to win the game,” said receiver Teldrick Morgan, who has eight catches for 129 yards.
Defensively, Durkin said Tuesday that safety Denzel Conyers is done for the season after tearing his ACL against UCF. He will be replaced by Josh Woods, who will make his first career start against Purdue.
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