Terps' bowl game could be a springboard into the offseason

When Maryland beat Florida International on the road early in the season, first-year coach DJ Durkin remained in the state to recruit before playing Central Florida the following week. Coming off a win, he was able to deliver a confident message to prospective players.

When Durkin returns to the recruiting trail for the last month before signing day on Feb. 1, he wants to be able to carry the same message.


A victory over Boston College (6-6) on Monday in the Quick Lane Bowl at Detroit's Ford Field would help give Maryland (6-6) a positive vibe after what has been an up and down season.

"Anything we do has to do with recruiting," Durkin said during a press conference in Detroit on Friday. "Obviously, winning a game helps you no matter who you're playing or what you're doing. When you're winning, it helps in recruiting. Every decision we make in our program has something to do with recruiting.

"Absolutely, to go win a bowl game I think will definitely help us in recruiting — in a particular recruiting battle, I don't know the specifics of that. We want to finish the season with a winning record, we want to come off a bowl win and go recruiting in January coming off that win."

The Terps began the season 4-0 but also had a late four-game losing streak during which they lost three of the games by a combined score of 149-13. They were able to regain some of their early-season confidence with a 33-14 win over Rutgers at Maryland Stadium on Nov. 26 to close the regular season. It allowed Durkin and his players to forget the back-to-back-to-back losses at Michigan (59-3), to Ohio State (62-3) and at Nebraska (28-7).

The month spent practicing and preparing for Boston College — as well as rehabbing injuries — has given Maryland some semblance of the lineup it used before Durkin had to rely on many of the 16 true freshmen he wound up playing at key positions.

While senior cornerback Will Likely III, who has been out since suffering a season-ending knee injury Oct. 15 against Minnesota, will not be among those returning, fifth-year senior quarterback Perry Hills has benefited from the time off.

"Health-wise, we're pretty good for this point in the season," Durkin said. "Like anyone else, we've got some guys nicked up, bumps and bruises. Most importantly, our quarterback, who's been in and out throughout the year, is feeling as good as he has in a long, long time."

A healthy Hills should be able to help a running game that disappeared for that three-week stretch before the Rutgers game, in part because of the suspension to star freshman Lorenzo Harrison prior to the game against Ohio State on Nov. 12 for an incident six days earlier.

Harrison and freshman wide receiver DJ Turner, who were charged by police with firing off a BB gun on campus, are still "going through the process" of trying to get reinstated. Despite speculation on 247Sports that the two might play against Boston College, their status has not changed, a Maryland spokesman said.

If Hills is effective running the ball, it will certainly help take some pressure off sophomore running back Ty Johnson, whose nearly 9-yard per carry average is among the nation's best. It would also help keep Eagles defensive end Harold Landry, the nation's co-leader with 15 sacks, on his heels.

"I think the story of the game for both sides of the ball is the run game. Whoever's able to run the ball effectively has the upper hand," Durkin said.

Said Boston College coach Steve Addazio, "For us to have success, everyone's got to have a part. We don't have that go-to guy, so to speak."

While not that many Maryland fans are expected to make the trip — nor is a big crowd expected in the 65,000-seat indoor stadium — Durkin can't overstate the significance of his team playing in a bowl game. It has given the Terps 15 extra practices.

"This is an important game for us, and they know that, they understand that," Durkin said. "It's important for our program moving forward, it's important for our seniors, it's important for our university, our fan base. Our guys know that and they've taken the right approach all along."



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