Maryland football has its second chance at clinching bowl eligibility Saturday, as the Terps travel to Indiana for a noon kickoff. The Hoosiers are 4-5 and coming off a bye week, while Maryland lost an emotional game in lifeless fashion to Michigan State this past weekend.
Interim head coach Matt Canada took the podium Tuesday to discuss the matchup, returning to normalcy after a crazy week and more.
Happy Election Day! Here's Interim HC Matt Canada addressing reporters before the Terps head to Indiana. https://t.co/w9eFanYt76— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) November 6, 2018
Canada is an Indiana alumnus; he never played football for the Hoosiers, but was a student assistant coach and then a graduate assistant from 1994-96, then returned to the staff from 2004-10. He downplayed the personal significance of returning to his alma mater when asked about it, but spoke glowingly of the several Indiana head coaches he’s worked for. The late Bill Mallory gave him his first opportunity in coaching, while Gerry DiNardo hired him back at the school and he stayed on the staffs of Terry Hoeppner and Bill Lynch.
“I was very fortunate to have great coaches, and in our profession, the people you are around do mold you,” Canada said. “About me going back, there’s no part of it, but as far as me as a coach, the guys I’ve worked for from Joe Novak to Coach DiNardo to Coach [Hoeppner] to Coach Lynch to starting with Coach Mallory, I was very very fortunate as a young coach to be around great coaches.”
Canada’s answers to most other questions included the usual platitudes about focusing on the next game and going 1-0 each week. He did say that Maryland expects Jake Funk back Saturday after the junior was cleared last week, while fellow running back Ty Johnson will again be a game-time decision. Canada said Qwuantrezz Knight’s decision to transfer had been known in the building since the day after the Minnesota game, but said he still has a strong relationship with the junior defensive back.
Coach-player relationships have been especially important for Maryland this season, as the whole team has gone through both the grieving process after Jordan McNair’s death and a turbulent season together. Canada acknowledged that his players are there for him just as much as he’s there for them, and said he wasn’t sure if those outside the program could appreciate what it’s like to watch the players focus every day with everything that’s going on around them.
“I don’t think anybody outside of our building could understand. It’s really been impressive,” Canada said. “Certain guys have said, ‘How you doin’, Coach?’ and we’re doing great. What I say in here, I don’t say anything different in that room, because then you’re not who you are. We’re focusing day-to-day, we’re leaning on each other every day.
“Through the mourning process—through all of this—some days somebody’s up, some days down. And we’ve got to grab the guy who’s down and get him up and when you’re down, that’s what a team does. That is the story, I’ve said that multiple times. The story is these kids, the story is how awesome they are and how special they are, how much they’re sticking together. That’s the story.”