Mike Locksley talks Maryland’s rushing attack, impact of Gunter Brewer

Head coach Mike Locksley noted that Roman Hemby was limited during last week’s practice after finishing with 12 yards on ten carries, while the Terps’ finished with 139 yards on 31 carries. The explosive plays haven’t been there over the last two weeks with just three combined runs of ten yards or more as Locksley reviewed the “up and down” run production.

“There were there was a game I thought, the UVA Game, where we were able to. I thought we did a little bit in the second half of Charlotte as well where the run game, we were able to rely on it. It was consistent but if I were to say not as consistent as we’re going to need it to be,” Locksley added. “And it’s really important, especially down in Big Ten play, the ability to control the ball and run the ball comes up big. And so, we’re still a work in progress in the run game but we’ve had bits and pieces of games where I thought it showed what we could be.”

Maryland adjusted its starting offensive line last week with Gottlieb Ayedze making his first start as a Terp, replacing Conor Fagan at right tackle, while Kyle Long replaced Amelio Moran at right guard. The offensive line sits tied for eighth in FBS in fewest sacks allowed (3), while the protection in the run game has given the backs chances to break free. “And it’s not always blocking either. A lot of times when you hear the run game isn’t effective, it’s not because always of the block,” Locksley added. “Because there are times where there’s holes there and we’re missing reads and we need to get the ball to the open gap. And so, a combination there.”

The wide receiver room has largely been led by the veteran receivers with both Octavian Smith and Tyrese Chambers recording their first touchdown of the season in last weekend’s win. Indiana head coach Tom Allen noted the production from tight end Corey Dyches, the Terps’ leading receiver through four weeks, while praising the athleticism at Taulia Tagovailoa’s disposal under assistants Kevin Sumlin and Gunter Brewer. “Played them here for eight years now, always one of the most athletic teams we play. That’s no different this year,” Allen said earlier in the week.

The versatility of the receiver room has been an obvious strength over the last two seasons in Maryland’s offense under the direction of position coach Gunter Brewer, an assistant Locksley wanted to bring on when he first took the job. After working with Randy Moss, Justin Blackmon and Tutu Atwell prior to heading to College Park, Locksley explained what led him to bring in Gunter Brewer to replace Zohn Burden as receivers coach.

“I tried to hire Gunter [Brewer] when I first got here, and we were in him talks in 2019 and I think he took a job or just been leaving the Eagles and took a job at Louisville. Gunter and I go way back. I’ve known Gunter a long, long time. He worked obviously with Larry Fedora. He worked with Mike Gundy, both guys that I’ve had a chance to work with. So, there’s some common people there.”

“We had never worked together, but I’d run into him on the road recruiting and Gunter is one of those personalities that he has never met a person that it’s not a friend and he has that ability there with relationships. And he’s also been one of the better receiver coaches over the years in the country. He’s coached Randy Moss in college. He’s had I think a couple of Biletnikoff Award winners, really, really, fundamentally a really strong fundamental coach.”

Locksley explained how Gunter Brewer has found ways to connect with his unit.

“He’s been really good for the development of our receivers over the last couple of years. In this day and age of the landscape we’re in, players, they need to know you care about them besides just what they can do for you on the football field and Gunter is one of those guys that goes above and beyond. Thursday nights, they do pizza and wings, just the receivers and they watch practice. He’s always with those guys, man and he invests quite a bit of time into those guys and not just as football players, but as people. You could tell he’s the son of a coach. His dad, Billy Brewer, one of the successful collegiate coaches down at Ole Miss and growing up in this profession as a coach’s kid. I think he saw what was modeled and that’s kind of what he’s done as an assistant and as a coach.”

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