After road win at Minnesota, DJ Durkin looks ahead to Maryland's trip to Ohio State

Buoyed by his team’s road upset of Minnesota, Maryland coach DJ Durkin knows Saturday’s game at No. 10 Ohio State will be a much greater challenge for his Terps.

Durkin also knows that with two road wins this season, each as double-digit underdogs, Maryland (3-1) does not believe it will simply be roadkill for the Buckeyes despite being 31-point underdogs.

“It’s on to an unbelievable opportunity this weekend,” Durkin said at his regular Tuesday news conference. “This is a great football team that we’re playing, and I mean that — great.

“They’re extremely talented, not any holes anywhere on the roster and they’re very well-coached. Our guys know the task at hand. We have a great week of preparation and practice to put ourselves in position to have opportunity on Saturday.”

Among the topics Durkin touched on:

His confidence in sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who was making his second career start and first since taking over for injured freshman Kasim Hill against Central Florida, was there from the start of the game in Minneapolis.

“Max is the same guy every day,” Durkin said. “I guess the good news is that we had seen him play before, he had played last year as a true freshman, obviously he played in the Central Florida game. There wasn’t any, ‘I wonder how he’s going to respond out there?’

“He did a great job preparing all week. He had great practice all week. Some different questions came up during the week and I said, ‘I think Max is going to play really well,’ because I really did think that. He was preparing well, he was confident and comfortable with the game plan."

Durkin is not looking at Saturday’s game as a measuring stick for where he hopes the program can go in the ultra-competitive Big Ten East.

“The big-picture stuff, the national scene, is not anything on our radar screen at all,” Durkin said. “We feel very confident and comfortable that the conference we play in is as good as there is. I don’t need to say it or talk about it.

“Our focus is in particular on this game and Ohio State. All those other things is for others to debate and talk about and however it falls. It’s not anything we concern ourselves with or worry about. There’s nothing we can do.”

Durkin said the key to the defense remains senior linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr., who had eight tackles and forced a fumble against the Golden Gophers and leads the team in tackles this season (29).

“That’s our guy, that’s our leader,” Durkin said of Carter. “He’s been productive in every game this year. Certainly him getting downhill in making plays has helped us. He’s just got great leadership qualities about him, makes a lot of plays and takes football very seriously.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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