Everything that Mike Locksley said after Maryland football’s first scrimmage

Maryland wrapped up its first scrimmage of fall camp as head coach Mike Locksley provides an update on the team, the offensive line, secondary and more:

On how the first scrimmage went

I think the big thing is very atypical of scrimmage number one. Got to get some kinks worked out. The sideline organization, some substitutions issues. Some of these young players understanding that at this level, you’ve got to stay into the game. When a guy goes down, you’ve got to know it before your coach even grabs you to talk to you about it.

I like the effort that we saw. I thought there was some good things on in all three phases, but I would say coming out of scrimmage one, defense a little further ahead than the offense in terms of just being able to get things executed, though. I thought the offense and more of the controlled scrimmage situations, red area, two minute also did some good things, but again, very typical of a scrimmage one where the effort was good, but the execution was a little off.

On the progress of the offensive line

We’re really fortunate that even though we’ve got some young pieces or new pieces, not necessarily young, because, you’ve got two guys that are basically transfers that have earned degrees from other places. And [Gottlieb Ayedze] and Corey Bullock well, and I would say luckily we’ve had those guys, as well as Marcus Dumervil here for the spring, and a lot of the kinks and things that sometimes don’t get executed we’ve kind of worked through with this group. So right now, and I think the biggest challenge we have is putting the best five on the field. Because of the versatility of these guys, you know, Gotti can play tackle, he can play guard, he can play either tackle. Guys like Amelio Moran has the ability to play guard and tackle. DJ Glaze can play both left side and right side and so what we’re trying to do is figure out the best five to get on the field. Today was the really first live bullets that we got a chance to see with guys like Mike Purcell, who we brought in in the summer, getting some valuable reps. And to me, that’s what we’ve got to kind of figure out. We know we have enough talent there and the skill we’re looking for, but now figuring out who the best five are that gives us the best chance to compete and win versus Towson.

On how close Maryland is solidifying its starting five

We’re not close. Today really was the first opportunity to evaluate with the new pieces that got here, from [Kevin] Kalonji coming in and as well as Mike Purcell who weren’t here in the spring. This is really the first opportunity for us to see these guys, grade them based on how they perform under the lights per se in The Shell. And so just walking off the field, I’m excited to get a chance to watch the tape and then we will start the process of figuring out who played well. We’ll make the necessary adjustments going into week three of camp for us after Sunday being a recovery day and we’ll start adjusting the depth chart based on how some guys perform for us.

On Tarheeb Still’s alignment in 2023

He’s played both here. He’s played the slot corner position, the nickel spot for us over the last three years. He’s played outside at the corner position, you know. In the perfect world because he has been a guy that with the three corner rotation we’ve used, he’s typically been in the slot. I think you’ll see him outside a little more as we try to figure out the best slot corner for us, whether it’s a nickel safety or a corner. I still envision him taking some reps inside in the slot corner position but, you know, he’s primarily in an effort to develop some of these younger players, he’s primarily played outside doing camp, but he would take no effort whatsoever to get him back in the slot if we need him.

On development of DLs Tommy Akingbesote and Taizse Johnson

I think with Taizse, obviously, he’s probably the more, uh, vocal of the guys. He’s a guy that I think that has really embraced the leadership role that he’s taken in terms of some of the things he’s doing, not just on the field with guys, but in the locker room and just really upholding the standard that we’ve set for how we want to do business. Tommy, still a work in progress. I’ve seen some maturity out of him. You know, he’s played some meaningful snaps for us the last two year, but this year we need him to play with the great effort and the tenacity throughout the course of 60 plays. I’ve seen him take some steps from a maturity standpoint. Now what we’ve got to do is get out of both those guys is the consistency of leadership from them.

On the significance of returning Beau Brade and Dante Trader Jr.

The back end being a strength for us with both Beau and Dante and their game experience over the last couple of years with Beau and then Dante a year ago. And then you throw in Heeb who has been a starter from us for us from the time he stepped foot on campus. I think having that type of continuity, the communication, which is really important from safety to corner, corner to safety, I think there’s a huge, huge trust factor. There’s a couple of things we look at as we start playing our guys and we talked to him about one. Do they perform at a high level? And two, do we trust them? And I think with all three of those guys, they’re both, all three of those guys are high performance, high trust guys that are the type of leaders you want on your defense and on your team.

On adding returners to special teams

We’ve inherited some skilled players, guys like Tyrese Chambers, who’s not young but new. I think he’ll be able to aid us in the punt return game. Obviously back in the kicking game, guys like Octavian Smith and even Roman Hemby, I think some of the young receivers, Ryan Manning and [Braden] Wisloski, all those guys have been able to start putting themselves in position, but we’ve got some veteran guys back there in Tarheeb as well as in Jeshaun [Jones] that that have shown the ability to return punts and kicks and we’ll continue to develop those other guys.

On what to look for from returning starters

The execution of our stuff. I mean, anytime we practice, we’re looking for the ability to execute the things we call. And so with guys like to Lia and some of the veteran players…the efficiency of our execution should be at a really high rate. And so we judge them not based on what they know, but how they get the things executed.

On how nickel position is developing

All those guys are up for grabs, but guys like Glen Miller have played the position for us in games. He’s one of those safeties that was a corner that transitioned. I see a guy like him playing a role in there. Gavin Gibson has played that nickel position for us a year ago. He’s coming off of offseason surgery. We have a few bodies that have the ability to play in there as well as some of these young corners, Perry Fisher, another young corner has played a little bit inside.

So we have enough body types. It’s for us from a personnel standpoint, it’s a matter of developing a big nickel, which is where you put a safety in there for the run game or if you just play regular nickel for the pass where you put your best cover guy in there. So we’re developing that position for both the safeties and corners.

On chemistry of the new offensive staff and how new coordinators add their impact

I want to make sure that everybody understands—we’ve got a coordinator and a co-coordinator. The coordinator is the one making the calls, Josh [Gattis] is the primary play caller. Obviously, Kevin’s background as a OC and a head coach, a lot of the stuff he does as a co-coordinator happens during the week with game planning and in those things. Josh is the primary play caller. and it will be that way this season. And if something changes, I’ll let you guys know.

But I think the big thing with both those guys is we have a system that we’ve had some success with here over the years, and they both have done some things at other places they’ve been, and it’s very typical for us to, the things we have that they do as well. We keep in our terminology, our verbiage. But what they’ve both been able to add is their personalities. And Josh, is a bright, smart coach, and he’s not the young coach anymore, but a guy that has the game experience of calling it and he’s really kind of put his personality on it. And then with Kevin [Sumlin], I’ve seen the impact he’s had with the young room of tight ends.

You know, you’ve got Corey Dyches and then you’ve got four young players that haven’t really played a lot of football for us. I’ve seen his experience as a coach being able to maybe get these guys up to speed or help them grow a little quicker than normal, which I think is a byproduct of the experience he has as a coach.

[cont.]

Confrontation is good and disagreements are good. Ultimately we got to do what’s best for the players and what they can get executed, you know, as far as how and why we do things, as with anything in our system, it’s up for debate from the standpoint of this is how we do it. But if there’s a way to do it better or if there’s a way to do it more efficiently, we’ve got open ears, but I would also say that, you know, we’ve done some things around here and ultimately we’ve got to do what our players can get executed.

Related Links

Note on Harvey, DL following top three (+)

Four-star edge rusher Jaylen Harvey includes Maryland in top three

Maryland building the trenches heading into first scrimmage of fall camp

How Maryland won the support of family, coaches in Mekhai White pursuit

Six takeaways as BTN crew visits Maryland football for fall practice

Notes from open practice-8/10 (+)