Maryland held weekly media availabilities at Byrd Stadium on Tuesday. Via the program, here are highlights from iterim head coach Mike Locksley and a selection of players.
Interim Head Coach Mike Locksley
On injuries sustained last week:
"We are pretty fortunate from an injury standpoint. We do have a few guys that are nicked up that'll be game time decisions; D.J. Moore practiced today, as did Kingsley Opara, as did Quinton Jefferson, the only guy that didn't practice today was Damian Prince. But we do expect him to possibly go tomorrow which will be important. Other than that, most of the guys are just nicked and banged up, but we'll get through this week and hopefully get them available 100% come game day."
On quarterback Perry Hills' mental standpoint:
"The biggest thing with Perry is his grit and leadership. He has the moxie you're looking for in the position. Obviously we need to have him execute a little better in the passing game and take better care of the football. The thing that really stands out about him is the grit that he shows. He's a kid that'll leave it all on the field for you, and as we continue to work with him and stabilize him in the position, we can build it around what he does well to emphasize his strengths. He's made some plays for us, but we have to also make sure that he takes better care of the football. Perry is a guy that we can win games with."
On the progress in the passing game:
"Very rarely do you see us just drop back and throw the ball from a drop back situation unless it's a throwing down. We have to be able to hit the shot plays and I think what happened on Saturday is we were able to hit a couple of the shot plays: we hit Malcolm [Culmer] down the field and we hit Taivon [Jacobs] on the shot. Where we tend to get in trouble is when we get behind the chains offensively on first down or second down and we're forced into third down situations; that's where the development of Perry as a passer starts with making good decisions, seeing his safeties, throwing the ball on time and not holding on to the football. Those are things that we've continued to work with him on and will continue to. In regards to Iowa and their run defense, we've faced some pretty good run-defenses the past few weeks in Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State as well. What we do on offense and what Perry's skillset brings to the table typically will allow us to be able to run the football because now it forces the defense to play sound football. It helps neutralize some of the weaknesses we have from a size and strength standpoint. For us, the passing game is going to have to continue to come along because we need to have the balance on offense, and if you look at Iowa, their defense is balanced in the run and passing game. We're going to need that if we want to win games down the road, so we'll continue to develop our passing game, continue to try to run the football more consistently and that's where you'll see us get better."
On playing Iowa:
"Their coach does a good job of keeping those guys very sound. When you look at them, they haven't changed very much in their identity on offense or defense or special teams. They've always been really sound. They try not to do a lot in terms of tricking you or masking it. They line up and play good hard-nosed, clean football in all three phases. They play with great effort and when you look at them this year, the thing that jumps out to me is the balance they have. Traditionally when you face an Iowa team, you have to stop the run first and foremost, which we'll have to do. Their balance is what gives them advantages and they're playing really well right now.
"It starts with their execution. I know last year they had the quarterback situation where they were going back and forth between the two quarterbacks and the development of their team from one year to the next is hard to compare. I think what they're doing now as a team is they're executing at a very high level in all three phases, and their quarterback is playing well and protecting the football, and on the defensive side of the ball, they are stopping the runs."
Wide Receiver Amba Etta-Tawo
On the team's focus this week:
"Coach has challenged us to focus on the little things like technique. Against Iowa we feel like we can take advantage of their secondary with the front seven loading the box. We feel like we have a good chance of spreading out and working on what we did last week with the passing game."
On Iowa's transformation from last season:
"A lot of their schemes and formations are the same but they have different personnel so it is a little different from last year."
"Coach always talks about the small things. The small things are what stopped us. We moved the ball efficiently but what we need to work on is the red zone and if we stop turning over the ball we will be okay."
On Perry Hills' improvement:
"Perry is a great player. I think his confidence is allowing him to do what he has been doing. He is a good runner and a good passer and a good playmaker. I think as the games go on he builds more and more confidence. I feel like every week he is continuing to get better and better."
On keys to winning on the road:
"It takes a lot of focus. Coach always says it's us versus everyone; the whole crowd. We have to focus on the small things and be focused. If we play hard everything should work out for us."
Kicker Brad Craddock
On Mike Locksley's debut:
"Obviously it is really different. It is a different style of coaching. He really just wanted us to have fun and play like we did when we were kids. It was a different atmosphere and a lot of fun."
On winning in the Big Ten:
"It is always tough winning on the road. It is a bigger challenge. This one should be a lot of fun. I am looking forward to it."
On not kicking a field goal for four weeks:
"I feel really good right now. Obviously, I had those four weeks where I didn't get a field goal. It was different; I have never had that before. It just gave me more practice time to get in the groove of things. I have a little more nerves coming into games which is always good."
On injury vs. Penn State:
"In the moment I thought it was a lot worse than it was. Right now I am still not 100%. I did not practice today but I will be kicking again tomorrow and working a lot with the trainers so I will be ready to go on Saturday."
Offensive Lineman Michael Dunn
On Iowa's defense:
"They have a great defense. They are not going to give up many points. I think they average 15 points per game. We just have to find every opportunity we can. We cannot make many mistakes like we did on Saturday. If we have good field position we have to push the ball into the end zone. We have to limit our turnovers. We feel with our offense we are capable of putting up points."
On upward trend of the team:
"This is two weeks in a row that we have felt we played, as an offense, really well. We just had a few errors in situations where we can't be messing up. These errors kind of changed the game for us. We were just a few plays away, one big time play away, from getting a win against Penn State. Against Iowa we just have to limit those mistakes and extend drives."