ACC: Dwight Galt
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
As Maryland quarterback Chris Turner goes, so go the Terps. If he's hot against Top 25 teams, so is Maryland. If he's down against an unheralded opponent, so is Maryland. Turner is 5-1 against ranked teams. His consistency, along with the development of his offensive line, will play a huge role in how Maryland's season unfolds this fall. Turner, a senior, is entering his third season as the starter. He ranks fourth on Maryland's career completion percentage list (59.7), seventh in career passing yards (4,474), and seventh in total offense (4,295).
|AP Photo/Rob Carr|
|Chris Turner plans to be the veteran leader for Maryland's young offense.|
I recently got a chance to sit down with Turner. Here are the highlights of our interview:
Last year there were so many seniors, high expectations, but they didn't quite meet them. What do you think about this group that's in front of you now?
Chris Turner: I think that anytime you're faced with some negativity or doubt, it's motivation to step up your game. We have a young offensive line, but they're very talented and will be very good down the road, but I don't have that kind of time. I need them to develop quickly.
You guys had so many things in place last year for a winning season -- 30 seniors, Darrius Heyward-Bey, a veteran O-line, and yet came up short. Where does your confidence come from this year now that so many of those guys are gone?
CT: Personally for me, the confidence I have is I understand what kind of talent we do have. We might not have a lot of seniors, we might have lost a lot of leadership, but the young players we do have are a pretty good group. We're three-deep at every position. Our O-linemen, they are young and have a lot to learn, but they're athletic, they can move around they're going to get off the ball. That's the way I look at it. I don't like to look at what we don't have, I look at what we do have.
Which one of these receivers is going to be your go-to guy? You had like nine different players catch the ball for you.
CT: This summer some of the guys who have really stood out are Torrey Smith, he's a natural leader going into this year, and Adrian Cannon has had an unbelievable summer and spring, really pushed Torrey for his job. LaQuan Williams is back, people forget about him, but he's an exceptional player. Those are the three that really stand out. They're all going to have a role. You're going to see nine receivers play this year.
I was talking to [strength coach] Dwight [Galt] and he was telling me that there's more athleticism, and guys are really looking good in the weight room.
CT: It's really pretty impressive. For receivers, Kevin Dorsey and Torrey stand out. Kevin Dorsey is about 18 years old and he's power cleaning like 340. It's really cool to see. These guys are going to have great careers, but I need them to step up for me now. Seeing them work like this is reassuring and it gives me a lot of confidence.
What are your goals for yourself this year?
CT: I'd like to just live up to the whole senior quarterback reputation I've sort of acquired. We're a young team, and I'm that consistency they'll look to. People keep asking me how it feels not having any competition and all that, but it's still competition. I'm still trying to get better every day. Hopefully if I play the way I'm capable of, it will give guys around me confidence and really be a positive factor.
How much have you thought about not only playing at Cal, but at that time? (It translates to a 10 p.m. East Coast kickoff).
CT: A lot, I've thought about it a lot. It's going to be quite a challenge obviously. Cal is loaded, they're a very good team. I'm as aware of that as anyone. It's going to be a good test for us. Win or lose, it's going to be a good experience. We'll have 11 or 12 games after that. We'd like to come out with a victory, obviously. We're going to prepare for that game, and we're going in there to win. We're not going in there to put up a fight and see what happens, we're going to win.
Because you've seen it, how much differently do you think ACC offenses will view Maryland's defense? Do you think you guys might surprise some people?
CT: Yeah, yeah. It's going to look funny. It's going to look a lot different. It's not going to be the old Maryland at all.
Is that a good thing?
CT: Yeah, very good thing.
How tough has it been to go against?
CT: It was frustrating at first. There were so many different looks they were throwing at us. Coach [Don] Brown, he's so creative. It seemed like every practice was a new defense. I feel like if it's frustrating for me, and I'm watching film on it every day, it will cause some problems for other offenses.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Biggest reason for hope -- Talented young playmakers
Nine different receivers showed promise this spring, including Quintin McCree, who caught three touchdown passes in the spring game. Sophomores Torrey Smith and Ronnie Tyler showed flashes of potential last season that they built upon this spring, and Smith has already established himself as one of the conference's most exciting return threats. As a true freshman last year, Davin Meggett was second on the team in rushing and rushing touchdowns. There is plenty of depth to compensate for the departure of Darrius Heyward-Bey to the NFL. It's not just the receivers the staff is excited about. Strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt said he's seeing better, faster athletes in the weight room this offseason, and they have a veteran quarterback throwing to them in Chris Turner.
Biggest reason for concern -- The offensive line
There's no question the Terps have a few playmakers, but they won't get too far if the offensive line doesn't come together quickly. Assistant coach Tom Brattan lost five of his top seven linemen from a year ago, including starters Edwin Williams, Jaimie Thomas and Scott Burley. The staff is extremely excited about left tackle Bruce Campbell, a freakish athlete who has already been compared to Vernon Davis, and they're confident in center Phil Costa, but replacing 116 career starts will be difficult. Campbell is the only player returning to the same position from a year ago, and it's possible a walk-on or two will be heavily depended upon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There are several unforgiving hills near the famous Esso Club on Clemson's campus that are particularly grueling for the Tigers' offensive linemen to run up during early summer conditioning drills. And up-downs pile up by the end of Maryland's June workout sessions. At Duke, the strength and conditioning program lacks any tire-flipping tactics and is mainly straightforward Olympic-style lifts.
Many of the strength and conditioning coaches in the ACC share philosophies, but have different methods of getting similar results -- developing bigger, faster, stronger players, and preparing them for the rigors of summer camp. Spring practices are over, but the ACC's "workout warriors" have just begun. Most of the players will participate in a nine-week, voluntary strength and conditioning program that begins at the end of May or in early June, plus a NCAA-mandated week off.
It's sort of like summer camp before, well, summer camp.
Maryland, which has quietly developed a few freakish athletes like former tight end Vernon Davis, tested twice this spring -- the traditional test during March for the 40-yard dash and vertical jump, and an additional test after spring practices ended for squats, cleans and bench press.
"We've got a young team, so we wanted to really push it," said the Terps' longtime strength and conditioning coach, Dwight Galt. "We pushed it big time through spring football, trained really hard and had a great test period this week. We're much stronger now than we were in March, and then we had spring ball, so we're pretty excited about that."
They're also excited about offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, whom Galt described as "exactly like" Davis, only a bigger version at 6-foot-6, 305 pounds. Campbell ran a 4.79 in the 40, benched 490 pounds, squats 565 pounds, and can clean 325 -- his weakest lift.
"We're about ready to unleash Mr. Campbell on the world here," Galt said.
The Terps begin their first summer conditioning session on June 1.
At Clemson, the one constant that has remained through the staff changes is director of strength and conditioning coach Joey Batson, who's been there for 13 years. The Tigers will workout Mondays through Thursdays in June. Mondays are for sprints, Tuesdays are for speed development drills, and the players go on their own for 7 on 7 drills. Wednesdays are power days, when most of the linemen work outside on drills specific to their position, while the skill position players run stadium stairs, hills and the dykes on campus. On Thursday, they go through a five-station agility circuit that's tailored to their specific positions.
Clemson does strength testing twice a year. Performance testing is done in the winter, and at the end of June, the 40-yard dash is timed. Body weight is measured every week. Speedy receiver Jacoby Ford, the fastest player on the roster along with C.J. Spiller, has actually gained about 25 pounds since arrived on campus.
Batson tries to keep things interesting by having contests with the giant tire flip, and he'll have the players push around a one-man bobsled, and they also do sumo style wrestling, where they put two guys in a circle, "lock 'em up" and see which one can push the other out of the ring.
"We try to find things that are safe, but create competition," Batson said. "The key word there is the safety of the completion you're going to do. We want to minimize the chance of injury, but at the same time maximize intensity and competition. That's really the trick to it all. We don't put refrigerators on our back and carry them or things like that. It's very football specific, very safe, and very competitive at the same time."
In the first year under a new staff at Duke, the goal was to lose weight. Now it's getting stronger and becoming more powerful and athletic. Duke strength and conditioning coach Noel Durfey is a self-described "basic guy," and said he doesn't use a lot of "bells and whistles." He incorporates a lot of Olympic lifts, squats and hamstring workouts.
In June, the agility circuits are usually the most challenging. Durfey splits up the offense and the defense, and there are four different stations: An agility/ladder station, a cone station, a reactive drill station and an agility bag station with four or five bags. They've got to sprint through the drills correctly, and if any player in the group of 35 messes up, every player does five up-downs. And every time they have to do the up-downs, it adds a sprint at the end of the run.
"It holds each guy accountable from a discipline standpoint," Durfey said. "We've had days we've gone through the drills and we had to do 25 sprints at the end for mess-ups last year. The goal this summer is to go through that and not have as many mess-ups, get fewer sprints at the end. They're dictating how much conditioning they're doing that day."
The players loved to lift weights under the previous staff, but weren't used to the conditioning standards David Cutcliffe and his staff have set.
"Their psyche was so beat up," Durfey said. "We had to be careful not to come in and put them in situations where we tried to kill 'em, tried to crush 'em. Because it wasn't doing them any good. We were smart with how much we asked them to do."
This year, though, they're asking more in both running and agility.
"Their capacity for work is better. Their mentality is better. They're very willing to do what we ask them to do."