Mike Locksley on Maryland’s penalties, prepping for Michigan, impact of senior class

Maryland pulled out bowl eligibility against Nebraska, but the win raised eyebrows after the Terps finished with ten penalties resulting in 92 yards. Maryland enters week 12 eleventh in the Big Ten in penalty yards per game (56.5) and has watched a number of post-snap penalties negate potential scoring opportunities through conference play. Head coach Mike Locksley pushed back on the team’s discipline, though, after watching the tape.

“I’m glad you asked me about it. These penalties. So we were 22nd in the country and penalties and all I hear every time we get a penalty is how undisciplined we are and how undisciplined this team is. I ain’t buying it,” head coach Mike Locksley said on Tuesday. “Every week I turn in plays to the Big Ten and I’m not gonna get fine, but I’m gonna tell you and you guys need to hear it, just because they throw a flag does not mean that it was actually a penalty. I mean, in the game it counts but, I’m not going to buy it. This team is a disciplined team. We just get, I don’t know how, why or what but things don’t go our way. And you know, I’ve been on the phone with Bill Carollo a couple of times the last couple of weeks. Am I disappointed? No doubt. I don’t like our guys getting penalties. I don’t like our guys doing the things, I always talk about non-competitive penalties. Those are the ones I have a problem with but I’m not going to have that label of being undisciplined put on these guys because these players have good discipline.”

More from Locksley on what stuck out from the Nebraska win, preparing for Michigan and the efforts to change signals for the Terps’ offense and defense.

On reviewing win vs. Nebraska

“The thing that jumps out to me is that the team showed great resiliency throughout the course of the game and a lot like the last four weeks where we hit a little turbulence, we found a way to win that game. And to me, that was the biggest thing I took from it. It was much needed. I can tell you that the locker room and being able to get back on the winning track rejuvenated that locker room. It’s a testament to the players. Their ability to continue to fight through even when things aren’t going well. It’s kind of what I thought this team had in it. This team has faced a lot of adversity throughout the course of my time here and for them to fight through and find a way to get a gritty, tough win on the road against a really good Nebraska team in a great environment is testament to the players. I’m pleased with the mindset the team had going into it. When you’re on a four-game losing streak, it’s easy to get caught up in all the external things that are said. We tried to bunker in and focus on the things that we could control and I think it showed up on Saturday. Our defense played lights out. Obviously to turn the ball over the way we did and still win the turnover battle is a testament that our defense did a really good job attacking the football and not one time when we put them in harm’s way with our turnovers did they ever back down. I felt like they got stronger. But really pleased with the way this team gutted out a tough road win.”

On preparing for Michigan

“Obviously this is a tremendous opportunity for our program. A top five team coming in here, reigning champion of the Big Ten. Extremely talented team. The last two days, [I] had an opportunity to watch all three phases and they’re one of those teams that it isn’t one player, that kind of, the marquee guy. They’ve got a bunch of really good players that seem to play well together and that’s what jumps out on the tape. I got a lot of respect for them. Obviously, they’re going through some of their own issues and for 18- to 22-year-olds to be able to kind of compartmentalize and stay focused on the task at hand, which they were able to do last week up in State College which is a tough place to play and win shows the type of team that they’ve developed over there. We need to go into this game with confidence. Any time you win, it helps your confidence. I think our team is excited about this opportunity. I mean very few times in your career do you get to have what I call a breakthrough type of game and you know, what a breakthrough this would be for our program. For us to put it all together this week. Show up Saturday and execute and play a damn near perfect game. Our players don’t have to play above their ability to win this game. We just have to play to our ability and I feel confident that we’ll get our guys prepared to do that come Saturday.”

On game captains

“Our game captains this week. We’re going [with] four. Taulia Tagovailoa, Jeshaun Jones on offense and then Ruben Hyppolite and Tarheeb Still on defense.”

On what to do to stay focused on Michigan, avoid outside noise

“18 to 22 year olds are going to do what they do. They live in the information world. But as we’ve learned around here, none of that has anything to do with us. It’s not any of our business what’s going on up at Michigan. We need to really focus on the things that we can control and the things that we have to do. And I mean, our standard is to again, worry about the Terps and make sure that we put the best version of the Terps out on the field, executing the things we need to get executed. What’s going on up in Ann Arbor has nothing to do with us.”

On the impact the departing seniors have left on the program

“It’s always the emotional, the last home game, last opportunity for a bunch of guys that have been through a lot during their time here. And again, as I told them, what a great opportunity to end your career here in the shale against reigning champion, Big Ten champion, top-five team, top four team. What a great, great opportunity and a great story to tell your kids down the road as we can put it all together. There’s no doubt that this group is deserving of this opportunity. I’m excited to see them go out and play to their ability this Saturday.”

On how important the departing class has in building the program

“This class definitely has a bunch of guys that got on a train before we became a team that’s going to three straight bowl games. They got on board with a vision of what where we wanted to take the program and really bought into all the things that we’ve tried to do to build our program. So there’s no doubt that this group of seniors, they’re the pandemic babies. They’re the guys that kind of came in, didn’t take official visits during COVID, still made the decision to come here before we started the uptake in our program and have all played huge roles in where and how we’ve been able to get to where we’re at [as a] program now for three straight bowl games as part of their resumes is a huge, huge thing, especially around here. I think there’s only been four other coaches that have had this opportunity or three other coaches that have had the opportunity to get to three straight bowl games. It’s all about these players and the seniors.”

On preparing for Michigan’s defense

“Kris Jenkins Jr. is a star in the making and he’s one of the those guys in our league that when you put the tape on, he flashes. They’ve got a good corner, the Johnson kid. Really talented players, two talented linebackers. But you look across the board and this team plays really well together. Like it’s not one shining star that kind of sets them apart. I mean, they are a well-oiled machine, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They play really sound. They don’t make a lot of mistakes meaning you are going to have to execute at a really high level. And for me, that’s kind of been our Achilles heel is the lack of execution, especially in critical times. And so for us, we haven’t had that one game yet where I felt like we put all three phases together, we all played that perfect game and what would be a better opportunity to do that than to do it against a team like Michigan here at home.”

On whether Maryland will change signals heading into Michigan

“Once we heard that two, three weeks ago, we made a lot of the necessary adjustments because if one has them, as you read and hear, anybody can have them and so we’ve taken necessary precautions to just make sure that again, what we can control. On offense, defense, we’ve definitely mixed up our communications and how we’re able to do it and so we don’t feel like that will have any effect on our game.”

On whether it’s a difficult process to change signals

“It is what it is and playing Michigan is a difficult process, but it’s on the schedule and we play them. So we do the work whatever’s necessary to give us a chance to compete. So we got it done.”

On watching Michigan run the ball 32 straight times to end game vs. Penn St

“Every game when your game plan, you’ve got to decide what you need to do to win the game and obviously that’s what they felt they had to do a week ago to win. How are they going to attack us? We need to figure that out. I know that, they have the ability to attack you in a number of ways. They’ve got a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, really talented skill. They’ve got reigning two time Joe Moore [offensive] line, offensive line two straight years so really talented. And so to have the ability to do both really well, that’s kind of what we’ve worked towards to try to get our offense to be like, but we got to be prepared for the run. We got to be able to stop the pass. We don’t know how they’re going to attack us but we’ll find out Saturday at noon and we got to be prepared to make the necessary adjustments and do the things we can to kind of make them one dimensional.”

On the impact of a potential win vs. Michigan

“The past has nothing to do with what happens on Saturday. The last four games have no bearing on Saturday, and we all need to realize that. Every game is its own entity. Now at the end of the year, you can kind of go back and talk about the season as a whole but for us, this is a one-game season against a really talented team. We know that they’re talented, but I can tell you we’re talented too. We don’t always play smart and that’s my job to get us to play better and to play smarter, to be more efficient and execute at a higher level. Which we’re gonna put the work in this week and you know what? We’ll see how it unfolds on Saturday.”

On whether the noncompetitive penalties vs. Nebraska were incorrectly called

“I’m going to get into it. You can maybe call the Big Ten and ask them but we turn in plays and all I know is when I turn in certain plays that were flagged as penalties, I get a message back that that shouldn’t have been called or should have been called this way.”

On Jack Howes finishing 2-for-2, including game-winner vs. Nebraska

“Jack’s a young kicker that he’s gonna be really, really talented. He’s got a lot of football left. Did not have one hesitation about whether or not he can make that kick. He does it in practice. We put him in some tough situations earlier in the year where, as a young kicker. I have a lot of faith and confidence in him and he came through big for us. That was a huge kick for a young kicker.”

On whether snapping the losing streak has instilled a relaxed feeling inside the program

“Not at all. You guys don’t make my life comfortable so not at all.”

On second-half rushing success vs. Nebraska, continuing that vs. Michigan

“As always talking about this balance thing, being able to run the ball and some of the plays that we made in the running game in a critical part of that game against Nebraska was important. Probably one of the best runs came with Lia checking us to an outside zone to the field, the long run Roman head. Our quarterback is able to get us in the right looks, get us to the right plays versus the different looks we saw. I thought Roman did a really good job of running the ball physical, our offensive line. It wasn’t pretty. As you look at the scoreboard throughout the course of the game and you see the rushing yards are at zero, but we kept trying to run the ball. We kept pounding it and by the second half, with some of the tempo things, we did we felt like maybe we got to where we wore them down enough and then we were able to get the ball downhill and make the necessary plays in critical situations, which we hadn’t done and you know, the last few weeks.”

On hosting FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff this weekend, message to fans

“That’s above my pay grade. I don’t care if it’s one person in the stands. As long as the scoreboard turns on and we got the refs there. I know Michigan will be there and we’ll be there. All this other external things, I mean, it’s great for our campus to be able to attract national media here but I’m more concerned about the product on the field. If our students, they’ve been great all year long. They’ve shown up when some of our alums and regular fans haven’t. They’ve been there. Hopefully they find that as something that they want to do but if they choose to go home early, that’s okay. We will still play. We’ll still play. Watch it on TV, stream it. We’ll be alright.”

On the chance to close the season strong

“Getting to six was huge because for me, it lets us extend our season and I’m always big on those extra practices that you get when you are getting ready for a bowl game are invaluable in terms of what they do for your program. And so getting to six allowed us to focus now on the next season, the next one game season and it’s a pretty important one against a really talented team. I know Michigan plays Ohio State after us so they’ve got they’ve got a big, big game after us. So be interesting to see how they approach it.”

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