“How’s everybody doing?”
Good. How are you?
What have you seen from some of the younger guys at tackle, Stueber, some of those guys?
“They’re doing really well. That transition of coming from high school to college is going really good. You’re seeing them move around do things more natural now than six weeks ago, seven weeks ago, so really excited about the young group. There’s a good group and it’s going to be fun to watch them continue to grow and compete and prepare and the whole nine yards.”
Is that typically a pretty big transition coming from high school to college as an offensive lineman?
“Oh yeah, absolutely.”
What’s been the difference for Juwann [Bushell-Beatty]? He started out no. 2, now he’s in there moving people.
“Juwann’s—he’s really maturing in just his outlook and how he goes and it’s been really fun to watch and interesting to see, like you said, overcome some adversity early on and continue to battle and continue to press. Certainly not where we want him to be or where he feels he can be but I think he’s on that road and it’s been really fun to watch.”
He’s been moving people. Is the pass pro part still where you’re really—
“Yeah, it’s always because every defense presents different challenges, and so as a group and watching these guys, they’re attacking those challenges. Still making some mistakes. There’s still some things we’ve got to get where maybe a guy gets anxious or something happens where we’ve got to calm him down a little bit but he’s solidly moving forward to become what we think he can become.”
[After THE JUMP: how Frey approaches TEs, updates on Hudson, Newsome the player/coach, and a Maryland scouting report of sorts]
Is James Hudson with you or is he playing on the interior?
“James is playing a bunch of different spots. We rotate and see how he goes. He’s a wonderful kid. High upside, you know. It’s going to be fun to watch him develop and see where he fits. He’s just such an athlete. Big guy. Doing well.”
He’s got the long arms and everything needed for tackle?
“Right now he does. We’ll see how he keeps going.”
“That was easy.”
Overall with the offensive line, what can they continue to do to help improve the running backs’ production? Running backs have been pretty good lately.
“Well, each week part of it—it’s such a team game. People I think get it where you’re worried about running backs or wide receivers. Whether it’s the coaches, from the GAs and the breakdowns to ideas to scheming to getting comfortable to asking kids to do what they do best while enhancing the things they don’t do, so it’s really a group effort. When you lose, it’s a group effort and when you win, it’s a group effort.
“When you talk about the running backs producing, they’ve been doing an awesome job. You’ve seen some really nice developments, but when you watch an offensive line, as guys go in to play or switches are made—we talked about Juwann—they’re getting into the flow of things too, so just the comfort of playing together, of communicating, of seeing, of getting on par with it and seeing Cesar [Ruiz] and Juwann play next to each last week and really have some success, which was good to see. That’s what you want. You want that mesh. You want to keep it going.
“Obviously in a perfect world you want the same starting 11 and everybody’s good but football’s a contact game and that doesn’t always happen, so bringing that group along of the young guys, Stueber and Hudson and some of the young guys, bringing them along and learning from Mason Cole, that’s big. That’s a four-year starter. He’s been around the block a couple times in good ways and bad ways, so those guys are accelerated learning. You see that effect on Juwann and Juwann could tell you the same. Nolan [Ulizio] early on.
“And players have a way of dealing with each other, too. We’re coaches, they’re players and they’re in the same locker room and Mason Cole and Ben Bredeson may be able to calm someone down and get him on the right track or explain something a little different, so that’s what it is. It’s the group and we’re moving forward and that’s what you want to see. You want to see them come together.”
Jim talked in the spring about how you guys were pretty sure it was going to be an upgrade athletically up front, a more athletic group than it’s been. I know you weren’t here before, but as time has gone on in the season have you started to see more confidence with more time on task?
“Yeah, you’ve seen some development. Defenses tend to go after what they see on film, so you’ve been able to see guys improve each week. You’re seeing as some of the greatest defensive minds break you down and go after your weaknesses, you’re seeing guys answer that call the next week. Something subtly that maybe the general public doesn’t see that we’re working with Juwann on for a few weeks or with somebody else on, now he’s doing and that’s just the progression of it.
“So yeah, I can’t compare them to last year because I wasn’t here last year, but I do know they’re progressing very well. You’re seeing some of those things and some of those things are just seen inside our building. Outside it doesn’t even show up unless you know that specific thing. It’s been good, though. It’s been fun to watch.”
How has Sean McKeon improved from when you got here to now?
“Sean, he’s a very talented young man. He uses his gifts very well. Very smart. He’s very serious about the game and gets after it. Where I think I’ve been able to help him, memorizing plays, doing those things, Sean’s extremely intelligent.
“Just understanding what we’re trying to get done and maybe a little different view of getting off a press; I tell those guys, a lot of it’s hey, if you watch one-on-one pass pro with a speed rusher versus a tackle, it’s not different than you trying to get off a linebacker. It’s all the same skill set. It’s attacking angles, it’s attacking legwork, it’s getting guys off balance, it’s all those things. So that’s really a focal point where I think I’ve just been trying to influence Zach [Gentry] and Sean and some of those guys. TJ where TJ’s a different tight end than Sean McKeon, so how do we use his strengths to leverage somebody, to get open and to do those things. I think that’s where I’ve been able to help them and develop them and understand a little bit more about the world of that first level, second level defense. Not that they didn’t know before, just a different viewpoint there.”
Blocking doesn’t come natural for Zach. How have you seen him develop?
“He’s been great. He’s coming along. He was involved in some of those big runs last week where he really did a tremendous job of moving through. You know, he was a quarterback and then went to tight end, receiver, back to tight end, so his work ethic has just stood out. It’s been just—just can’t say enough good things about Sean and Zach and TJ and Nick [Eubanks] and all those guys—Ian Bunting—just their work ethic and they’re embracing it. Like I said, it’s probably a little different spin than maybe what they’ve had in the past, but I think they’ve done okay. Sometimes you need to bring that to them.”
How much fun has it been for you to coach with 26 tight ends and five fullbacks and everything else?
“Yeah, it’s a blast. It’s—every season takes shape and every game takes shape differently. You don’t know what’s around the corner, and that’s part of the fun of being a coach, being a player, being a fan. That’s what makes this game so great. You don’t know what’s going to take place. You can gameplan all week and you don’t know. He could have gotten hurt and all of a sudden he’s not even out there and 25% of your gameplan didn’t show up for the game, so that’s what makes it fun. Getting into a little bit more traditional where you shift and you’re motioning and creating mismatches, you’re doing those things, it’s been fun. I’ve played in a system similar at Florida State when I was playing and throughout the years have used different parts different [inaudible], so it’s been fun. Just a great experience so far.”
With Grant Newsome, how is he assisting you coaching?
“Grant was—he does the little tasks, and sometimes I think he’s a little dialed in with the players more just because he is a player, and so he’ll know a little bit more. Like maybe he’ll do a break down of pass rushes, forward scouting and he’ll come up and be like, ‘Hey coach, I was watching this game’ and I’m like, ‘Why are you watching that game?’ I think he’s certainly tied into what young people today with Twitters and Facebooks and Instagrams and Snapchats and all that good stuff, and so he brings a little bit of that, just that expertise to it. He’s still a player. He doesn’t want the whistle. That’s evident, but he does want to help his team, so that’s where he’s really been contributing.”
Do you have Snapchat?
“Me? No, I don’t have Snapchat. I’ve got a Twitter and I think that’s it, Twitter.”
I think some people have written off Nolan. Can you talk about what he needs to do to get back in?
“Oh, that’s the beauty of it, the beauty of athletics, you know. Nolan’s working on things that he’s got to work on every day. You play five offensive linemen and a couple more come in in some different situations. The key to it is it’s a constant assessment of where we’re trying to get, so Nolan is doing fabulous. He came in and played a role, he’s doing what we ask him to do, he’s working hard, he’s attacking and addressing it. Me personally, I would never say written off. I don’t know where that would come from. He’s a very important part of this offense and what we’re trying to do.”
How much pride do the tight ends take in how involved they’ve been and what kind of share of catches they’ve been getting for this offense?
“You know, we don’t—I don’t really ever hear them talking. We don’t discuss that. They’re such a good group. They want to win, and really if they have to block every play or run 50 deep routes, they’ll do it to their best to help us win. I believe the whole program’s like that. I don’t think anybody—it’s about winning as a team, so just to contribute and be a part of it is a great honor, so I think their approach to it is just hey, what do you need me to do? You need me to block, I’ll block. You need me to cheer, I’ll cheer, and they’ve been awesome that way.”
MGoQuestion: What stands out to you on film about Maryland’s defense?
“You know, coach Durkin does an outstanding job. You see week in and week out how they’re attacking people and how they’re going after it. You can tell why coach Harbaugh hired him when you watch them on film. He does a phenomenal job of piecing it together. They get after it on third down. They come after you with different blitzes, different stunts, variations of it, so you can tell that they play with a lot of pride, and you see it on film. You see those guys, they play hard, and so it’s one of those things where you’re going to show up and he’s going to have a gameplan for you and you’re going to have to be really good at communicating, adjusting, identifying. And he does an outstanding job on defense.”