Media Day News Conference Video (Terps TV)
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
After practicing eight times over the past week, the Maryland football team took a break from on-field workouts to hold its annual media day Tuesday afternoon at the Gossett Team House.
The Terps, who have just under three weeks of preparation time remaining before opening the season against Miami on Sept. 5 in Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, spent most of the afternoon taking pictures and meeting with members of the media to preview the season.
Head coach Randy Edsall started the festivities by addressing reporters at 1:45, with team co-captains Andrew Gonnella, Davin Meggett, Kenny Tate and Joe Vellano following shortly thereafter. Assistant coaches and other players also met with the media later in the day.
Quotes from Edsall, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, defensive coordinator Todd Bradford and players follow:
"We're eight practices in and had a scrimmage yesterday. I feel I know who we are offensively, who the people are at this time in terms of a 2-deep and those things. Defensively, I'm not as happy and as pleased or as far along in that assessment and evaluation of the people that we are going to need and who's going to be there for us. There're a lot of still unanswered questions from a defensive standpoint than offensively.
"Special teams, we have a competition from a punting standpoint and place kicking. I've been pleased with Nick [Ferrara] and his production and what he's been able to do on the field, but I know as we continue to move forward and we have more practices all of those things will be ironed out, hammered out before we have to play on Sept. 5.
"The biggest thing is I have a level of expectation that is very, very high. I don't know if we'll ever get to that level, but we're going to keep shooting for it because no matter whether we get to that level of expectation is always going to go higher. That's kind of where we are after eight days, after four practices in full pads."
On changes to the depth chart:
"There will be some changes on the depth chart, but I'm not going to give those out right yet because again we still have time to go through things. I've been very pleased with a couple of young guys. The two running backs, Justus Pickett and Brandon Ross, they've done a very good job. They're putting the push on to garner playing time this year. I've been very pleased with Jeremiah Wilson as well.
"[Wide receiver] Marcus Leak has really shown things as a true freshman. I've been impressed with Tony Logan and again I think Quintin [McCree] has done a good job. Kevin [Dorsey], Ronnie [Tyler] and Kerry Boykins, I've been pleased with the receiver play."
"Both of the tight ends have been solid. Defensively, one of the guys that's really playing the game the way I want it to be played, and he's in the 2-deep right now, is Keith Bowers. I want guys that are going to play with a tremendous motor, a tremendous attitude and be physical. I've been very, very impressed with him.
"The biggest thing we have going right now on defense is guys just making sure they do their job and not trying to go make a play because they want to see their name on the stat sheet. They have to go out there and execute the assignment that they are given and when we do that we're good, but when we don't, then we're not as good and as productive as we can be.
"David Mackall has improved from the spring. Darren Drakeford is another one of those guys that plays the game the way it's meant to be played. I see improvement at our safeties and again we have to define who are backups are going to be, but we've got a little more work to do defensively right now than what we do offensively."
On depth at linebacker:
"One of the position changes I just made after the first eight days is I moved Avery Graham to the backup star position. I feel fine with Kenny [Tate] at the star position. I just moved Avery this morning after evaluating the practices and watching the game film. So Avery will be the backup there. He was playing there in one of our other packages so it's just a natural switch for him so now he can just learn that position and be with one coach instead of switching back between DB (defensive back) and linebacker.
"Right now, Lorne Goree is the backup at mike (middle linebacker) and again it's a matter of being consistent. If he can be consistent, to me, he could put some pressure on Demetrius Hartsfield. At the will (weak-side linebacker), right now, Alex Twine, another freshman, who I thought has come along and has really done some good things. I thought in the scrimmage he was physical and got after people. Right now, he's second and Lamonte Gaddis is the third linebacker there. Those are the guys that we have there right now in the 2-deep, but again, we still have time to go but those are the guys that have earned the right to be there after the eight days."
On the leadership of the captains:
"Over the summer, they had to do a real good job of really running the show almost, because our strength coach can be with the guys, but in terms of the things that happen away from there, they had to do a good job and they did. Now they've got to pick it up even more. They've got to be the guys to make sure every day when things aren't going as well, you get down and you get into the second week and you are going to have more doubles, the dog days of two-a-days basically of preseason camp, now this is when that leadership really comes to the forefront. This is where they really have to step up and help to motivate those guys and get on their teammates and to make sure that we only got 21 practices left before we play and everyone of them counts. The pressure on them intensifies as we go into the second week and then we get into the third week."
On the autonomy of the coordinators:
"The way that I set it up is when I hired Gary Crowton, Todd Bradford and Lyndon [Johnson] as the coordinators and named John Dunn the recruiting coordinator, we all sat down and said 'Hey, here's what we like to do,' but then once you have a plan in terms of what you want to install and what you want to run, again, I know this, I know exactly in my mind right now as I sit here today, I know what we can do defensively. I know the skill set that we have and what we need to do and how we are going to need to use our people to be successful. I feel the same way offensively. I know the people that we have. I know what their skill set is. I know the kind of things that we need to do in order to run.
"The thing is, and the same thing for special teams, so myself, Lyndon, Gary and Todd we're all on the same page. Every day we have meetings and they can have unit meetings, individual meetings in terms of installation how they go about it, and then I'm watching the film and I'm coaching the coaches. I'm seeing things that I know can make us better so I'll tell them, 'Hey, here is something we can do to make us better or this little thing we need to tweek here or there.' Ultimately, when it comes to calling the plays and calling those things that's what you hired those guys to do. They are very good at what they do, but again, it's a team effort in terms of what we do and again all we are trying to do is take the young men that we have in our program as we speak and utilize their abilities and put them in situations where their talents will allow them to be successful, which will make Maryland successful and that's the bottom line."
On the caliber of athletes in the Atlantic Coast Conference compared to the Southeastern Conference:
"Obviously the SEC has outstanding athletes, and I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of very good players. I've been really impressed with the players that are here at Maryland. They're a little different. The receivers I had at LSU were a little bigger, a little more physical, but we still have some great guys. [Kevin] Dorsey is pretty big, but I think they have a little more quickness and they catch the ball really good with their hands. So from a receiver standpoint, I believe there is some ability here and I'm going to expect them to make plays.
"Running backs too, [Davin] Meggett is the veteran coming back and I think he's got a lot of ability and works hard to improve. I expect him to do well. Not quite as big as the guys we had out in [LSU]; we also had some big guys and some scat backs and we don't have a big bruiser but we do have D.J. Adams. He's a very physical kid, he's not huge, but he's a physical runner. The two freshmen that just came in are really fast, [Jeremiah] Wilson has been a very pleasant surprise, so I think that's been a very good skill area. Tight ends are very similar, [the SEC] might have some bigger 6-foot-5, 270-280 pound guys, where as we're more around 245."
On what has surprised him so far in camp:
"Well it's exciting to come and bring in a whole new offense and the coaches are all on board. The last two places I've gone it's like I've come in and they've already had an established offense and I've had to adjust to it and bring my style within that offense. Here, I have a chance to bring in a new offense with its own terminology and use all the components of that offense and call it what I want. The players have taken to it very well, they're very open-minded. They had a pretty good year last year, but they're still very open-minded and like my style of coaching. It kind of makes it fun for them while it's still challenging and has been something that's stood out. It's not easy, but it's been a smooth transition and that's what I like."
On the tempo of the offense:
"Well we look at it as the overall tempo of the game, and there are a lot of situations in the game. You're going to have four-minute situations where your tempo is going to slow down, milk the clock, keep your defense off the field, and just try to get first downs to win the game. So we're going to have that tempo. We're going to have a two-minute tempo that's fast; I think we worked well on that. Plus we'll have an in-between tempo so we'll have three tempos and the guys know that. The biggest thing other than tempo is just execution; execution is more important to me than the tempo. I have a lot of thoughts about it, but I'll have a much better idea of it after the first couple games."
On Danny O'Brien's preparation as a quarterback:
"I've been around a lot of quarterbacks over the years, and what I find is when you have quarterbacks who are in the position, and they have passion for the game, they have decent skills, and they enjoy their work they're usually really good football players. That's what Danny [O'Brien] has, he has passion for the game, he enjoys working at the game, he's excited about it and wants to be here. He had a good freshmen year, but we want him to have a good sophomore year, we don't want to live off the freshmen success or have a sophomore slump. All I want him to do is focus on each play, each quarter, each half, each game, and if that happens at the end of the year and he looks back and even if it's great he'll look back and say `how can I get better?', because he enjoys that."
On his offensive philosophy:
"The scheme that I've brought in, that coach Edsall has allowed me to put in, is a scheme that tries to use skill players. Obviously there has to be physicality, both up front in the run game and the ability to pass block. To have a successful passing game, you need to be able to run the ball first, so the philosophy I've tried to use is try to have the ability to have an inside game that causes perimeter problems. If we have that type of game, it forces the defense to not just stack everyone inside and they cannot just play perimeter."
On the play of the upperclassmen and more experienced players:
"They know what they can do, they understand the game and you can't ever replace that experience those guys have in the games, as you do in practice. There are still some things that we are not doing well; we have things called eye violations when we're not looking in the right place, and we just haven't in my mind in any place in the defense, performed at a high enough level play after play like I would like to see. We look good at times, but the thing that happens in the secondary is you only have to be bad for one play and it's an 80 yard touchdown. So you don't have the opportunity when you're in the secondary to have a bad play, and that's the area where we need to put the pressure on those guys to make sure that those things don't happen, because they're the guys who should be prepared to handle those types of situations."
On the play of Matt Robinson and Eric Franklin:
"I think both of those guys have a chance to be very good players. They're very, very smart, they're athletic, they're tough and that position kind of requires those guys to take on a leadership role. They will continue to develop as we go on. We talked in meetings today and we expect more out of them from a leadership standpoint. The good thing is that I think both of them have it in them, and it will come naturally to them."
On the depth on the defense:
"Depth wise, I think we've had some guys play pretty good in camp. I think the depth is coming. It's developing and luckily we still have 21 practices to go until we got out and play to get those guys ready."
On moving Avery Graham to the star position during camp:
"Well, the offenses are playing so spread out, that you need guys like Kenny and Avery out there playing in space that have great explosion and can make one-on-one tackles. They have to be physical enough to be a linebacker and be athletic enough to cover a wide receiver. We're asking [the player in the star position] to do a lot of things, and [Avery Graham] has a lot of the physical tools to do that."
On how he's prepared for this season:
I haven't really changed much. I've been doing the same regiment that I was doing when I was younger, staying focused, locked in, eliminating a lot of the distractions over the summer, and just getting ready to play good football. It's really no different from what I've been doing."
On what he likes about the new offense:
"One thing I like about the new offense is that we're still going to run a lot of the same plays as we ran last year. You can't really complicate football so much, there's not a lot you can change when we're still going out here and doing what we've been doing. We're still going to move the ball, try to score, and try and keep the defense off the field. It's no different from what we did in the past to be successful."
On playing with and competing with the younger running backs so far this year:
"I mean, one thing, at least with our position is that there is no depth chart with running back. We all want to put our contribution on the field and let the best talent go out and make plays. Brandon [Ross] and Justus [Pickett] both come out every day, work, and try to learn the playbook as fast as possible and contribute. That's something that you can tell in drills, you show them something simple and they're starting to make big plays in practice; it pays off."
On handling all of the offseason changes:
"In football a lot of things change outside the lines, but the reality is you still put 11 of the best ball players on each side of the line, you give them a scheme, and they go out and execute. That's something that hasn't changed. We're all locked in, we're all ready to go, and we're all trying to prepare to play football on September 5. Regardless of what happens outside the lines, programs go through changes all over the place, but it doesn't make a difference. We still have to come out on September 5 and play football."
On what has been the easiest and most challenging part of moving from safety to linebacker:
"I wouldn't say anything is challenging. I'm definitely moving closer to the ball and the biggest difference for me is I'm usually moving back and I'm in coverage more, but I'm definitely going to be doing the same things as last year. The easiest thing has probably been moving up closer to the ball. I have different reads and things. But that's pretty much it."
On how comfortable it has been to move to linebacker full time:
"This transition has been easy, I mean its football. It hasn't been hard or difficult or anything like that, I've been playing with these guys, I know my team, I know who's around me."
On the biggest things that need to be done in order to improve and get better as a team:
"Just listen to Coach. He definitely pointed out some things that we need to work on. There are some things coming into camp that we don't get to do over the summer. We weren't really working on tackling with no pads on so it's just working on the little things. Looking back, it's just the little things that we've had to work on.
On what makes the linebacker/safety hybrid position a good fit for him:
"I would have to definitely say that being a safety last year I was caught up in covering receivers but also being able to blitz, come off the pitch, covering the box, and it definitely fits. The star position is a hybrid position, you could see me in coverage, you could see me lined up as a linebacker. It covers everything I did last year in one position."
On last names being removed from the uniforms:
"It's not really a big deal not having our names on the back of our jerseys. We still get displayed on the rosters and get shown on the big jumbotron every time we make a tackle or make a big run, so you pretty much know who we are."
On opening the season in-conference against Miami:
"Well the first game of the season is always the tone-setter for the season. Just thinking back to last year, Navy was a big win for us and that definitely was a rolling stone for us to come out and win that first game and start the momentum to lead us to a big season. Coming out against Miami, we're just focusing on what we can do to execute and play as hard as we can because this is a conference game and there's a lot on the line. We know if we take care of our business and we give all our effort then we're hoping for the best outcome."
On the biggest change in the offense this season:
"Well we've definitely changed some schemes around. We have some new coaches and some new ideas so we kind of have to wait and see what will happen this season, but it will be an exciting offense."
On Davin Meggett:
"The good thing about Davin [Meggett] is he's versatile. He's got that speed burst, but also runs like he's a bowling ball. He has a lot of confidence in his offensive line up front and that's just the way you should play football. He's going to open up a lot of opportunities for us this season."
On Coach Edsall's rules:
"I think at this level you realize that you are here to be brought into a system and there are those who are your leaders and they are hired to do their job for a reason. There's no time to kind of hesitate and think about [the rules]. It's what your told to do and you know you're going to have to get it done and adapt if you want to win."
On what he's seen out of the young defensive players:
"We have a really young unit as a whole. Keith [Bowers] can really blast to the ball and Andre [Monroe] and [Clarence] Murphy are just kind of picking it up too. Both are just freshmen and it's their first true year, so I feel like it's a positive thing for them to get used it and run with the one's because it's a much faster game. So, it's good they're getting reps, they just need to keep working."
On Coach Edsall's new rules:
"I truly think that everybody has bought into Coach Edsall's team concept and that wasn't much of an issue for us as a team."
On the differences in the offensive system under Coach Crowton compared to James Franklin:
"I think Coach Crowton is a little more calm [and] a little more soft-spoken than Coach Franklin, but they have the same mentality. They're both aggressive coaches and we've really built a great relationship with Coach Crowton so far. As far as the dynamic of the offense, [Coach Crowton] gives you a playbook and you've got your options and you go out there and you get it done. As far as the offense as a whole, I think the group of guys that we've had around now for two or three years have great chemistry and we're going to be a very versatile offense with the ground game and up in the air."