Coastal Carolina’s Bill Durkin glad he can’t escape his roots with UMass football

  • Former UMass offensive lineman Bill Durkin has helped build Coastal Carolina into one of the nation’s best Group of 5 football programs, but he can’t seem to escape the Minutemen. COURTESY COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

  • Former UMass offensive lineman Bill Durkin has helped build Coastal Carolina into one of the nation’s best Group of 5 football programs, but he can’t seem to escape the Minutemen. COURTESY COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/23/2021 9:24:10 PM

Bill Durkin left UMass in 1997 after a two-year stint as the strength and conditioning coach following an All-American career as an offensive lineman.

The Minutemen have never been far away, though. His first game as a tight ends and offensive tackles coach for Richmond was at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in 1997.

“That was funky. I was on the wrong sideline. I was in the wrong locker room,” said Durkin, now the Coastal Carolina offensive line coach. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

After a decade at Richmond he went on to Hofstra, another Colonial Athletic Association program that played UMass twice. He became Bowling Green’s offensive line coach in 2010, right before the Minutemen jumped to the FBS ranks and joined the MAC, too.

Durkin has been on the Chanticleers’ staff since 2014, and they’ve faced the Minutemen three times in that tenure already with a fourth coming at 1 p.m. Saturday at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.

“Quite frankly, I can’t get away from them,” Durkin joked.

Not that he minds. It gives him more chances to keep tabs on his alma mater.

“UMass is a very special place to me. I met my wife there. My best friends in my life are from there,” Durkin said. “I’m always checking their score and wanting to see how they’re doing. I’m always pulling for those guys every time we’re not playing them.”

Durkin’s teams have gone 9-7 against the Minutemen but haven’t lost since the 2009 season finale with Hofstra. The Chanticleers will provide a stiff test Saturday, ranked 17th in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls. That’s a one-spot drop after a tight road win at Buffalo last week.

“I’m certain the kids look at it more than they lead on. What coach (Jamey) Chadwell does a great job of keeping us in the moment,” Durkin said. “We have to take care of ourselves and what the game plan is, don’t worry about who we’re playing or what their record is.”

Durkin knows he’ll have his work cut out for him matching wits against UMass defensive line coach Jim Reid. Reid was Richmond’s head coach from 1995-2003, nearly Durkin’s entire tenure with the Spiders.

“The man knows more football than I’ll ever know. He s a wonderful coach. He got me into coaching has taught me so much,” Durkin said. “He’ll certainly find some things to attack that maybe we’re not doing very well right now.”

There’s not much the Chanticleers are struggling with at the moment. They rank 13th in the country averaging 7.2 yards per play on offense. Coastal Carolina is converting 58.3 percent of its third downs and is 3-for-3 on fourth down.

Much of that is owed to its dominant rushing game, which gains 233 yards per game and 6.1 yards per rush.

Dual threat quarterback Grayson McCall has accounted for 739 yards through the air and 52 on the ground.

“The quarterback is real special and makes us go. He can cover up for a lot of deficiencies that you may have. We’re doing a lot of different things at high level. We’re starting to put defenses in binds and make them defend the whole field,” Durkin said. “When you’ve got to account for the quarterback and quarterback run principles it takes you out of the things that you want to do on defense.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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