Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin has spent the spring surrounded by new faces — freshmen, transfers, players returning from injury — but no change has been more significant than offensive coordinator Matt Canada and his new system.
Saturday’s spring game represents Terps’ fans’ first chance to see some of those players, and a Maryland quarterback lining up under center for the first time since 2015, but Durkin said the team will still look different than it will in the fall.
“Our guys have really embraced, bought into the new offense that we’re running, done a great job of that,” Durkin said. “There’s been a lot of positives out of that. … I really like the feeling and culture about our team right now.”
Of course, neither Tyrrell Pigrome nor Kasim Hill — Maryland’s top two quarterbacks from last year — will be in action Saturday as they recover from torn ACLs. But there is also significant competition around the field as the team adjusts to the new offense, Durkin said.
Maryland won’t play as fast as it did under former offensive coordinator Walt Bell, but Canada does still use the no-huddle and the shotgun formation.
The most crowded position on the depth chart is running back, where Maryland returns three players with at least three rushing touchdowns last year and adds four-star recruit Anthony McFarland after his redshirt season last year.
“There’s going to be some times when people feel that they should be in the game,” McFarland said. “[But] if we all contribute and make plays, I feel like nobody can stop us and we’re going to have the best running back group in the Big Ten.”
Durkin believes Canada’s scheme allows for multiple running backs to be on the field at once, though, helping relieve some of the congestion.
“I like how we can be multiple with our personnel. I think that’s the biggest thing,” Durkin said. “Our guys like it, too, where you know wherever the depth chart is or based on your strengths, if you create a role for yourself, there’s things you can do, there’s a fit for you somewhere in the offense.”
Durkin said he feels the team’s spring workouts have been positive and is excited for the chance to show the fans a preview of his third Maryland team, though it’s still early in the process of preparing for the 2018 season.
“They’ll be some guys that we hold out all together. They’ll be some guys that play limited snaps,” Durkin said. “I just want to go out [and] have a good, clean practice. … I’m looking forward to it being a nice day, being outside and we should have a good turnout.”