With Maryland football preparing to open its season against No. 23 Texas on Saturday, interim head coach Matt Canada took the podium on Tuesday for his game-week press conference.
While naming co-starters at quarterback on the depth chart, he told reporters that he’s made his mind up at the position, but won’t disclose. Canada also gave some updates on how the Board of Regents investigations are progressing and a look into his mindset as interim coach.
Here’s his full press conference:
Here's Maryland Interim Head Coach Matt Canada addressing the media ahead of the game vs. Texas https://t.co/ewV4yEo9TQ— Testudo Times (@testudotimes) August 28, 2018
The team has spent the offseason coping with the death of offensive tackle Jordan McNair, but now turns its primary focus to its Week 1 matchup. In such a situation, it can be difficult to prioritize a game or an opponent. However, Canada had nothing but praise for how the players have handled the situation and is confident they’ll be ready for Texas.
“We’ve been dealing with this for a couple months, and it’s been a very up-and-down situation,” Canada said. “We deal with grief differently—every player does, every person does, every family does. So we’re never going to be done with that, it’s not like it’s ever going to go away, and we’re not asking it to go away. When we do try to play football, as our players I think did a great job last week talking about how they want to honor Jordan. When our players play, they want to play well, they want to play well for each other, they want to play well for Jordan.
“They’re kind of separate. It’s always there, don’t get me wrong. All the things we’re doing ... Jordan’s always with us. When we’re doing our job, let’s do our job. Right here, right now.”
McNair’s death and subsequent reports about his final workout and an alleged “toxic” culture led two separate external investigations of the program, both now being overseen by the Board of Regents. Head coach DJ Durkin was placed on leave Aug. 11, with Canada being elevated in his place.
Canada provided a brief update on the investigations, confirming that he, along with any other assistants at that workout have talked to investigators for both the Walters, Inc. investigation and the commission looking into the program’s culture.
“As far as the commission goes, they’re handling all that, we’re dealing with it,” Canada said. “We’re doing anything they ask us to. I know their charge is to get this wrapped up and find what they need to find, and we’re doing anything we can as a staff to support them in that. Whatever they want us to do, we’re doing.”
This is the longtime offensive assistant coach’s first time helming a program, but he takes the “interim” part of his title seriously. He stressed the “day-to-day” aspect of his job, and, while he’s talked more with the defensive coaches and players, he’s refrained from attempting to put his stamp on the way the team is run.
“I look at it completely different [than a head coaching opportunity],” Canada said. “This is a unique situation. Obviously it’s a challenging situation, and ultimately it’s still about Jordan and that’s why we’re here.”