The Daily Texan spoke with Andy Kostka, associate sports editor and football beat writer at Diamondback Sports ahead of Texas' matchup against Maryland.
Here's some of the questions that Andy answered for this weeks Q&A:
Daily Texan: What would you say this team’s biggest weakness is heading into week one?
Kostka: Well, I could say … you worry about the defense losing six starters. Going back to how (interim head coach Matt Canada) answered the question about how focused this team is, he says basically he hopes they’re ready and he thinks they’re as ready as they can be given the situation they’re in and I think that’s what this kind of boils down to. This football game on Saturday is kind of a sideshow to this entire summer of Jordan McNair’s heat stroke, leading to his death in June. Then, the ESPN report coming out citing toxic culture and everything like that. Then, DJ Durkin being placed on administrative leave. Now, two internal investigations. One of them is expected to have the results announced Sept. 15 so this football game is really sneaking up on at least, me, if not everyone involved. But that might be the biggest challenge is could these players … block out the noise outside and just focus on this football game against Texas who’s definitely going to want revenge at an NFL stadium. So it will be interesting to kind of see how Maryland handles all that …
DT: I’m sure there’s been a lot of talk about the unfortunate death of Jordan McNair this summer. What was the pulse of the program in the immediate aftermath of the events and how has it changed now that we’ve moved into week one?
K: One of the big things is we really don’t know, at least off the record, what the players feel because we’ve been able to talk to the players twice since Jordan McNair’s death in June. Once was at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, in June and they made an announcement maybe a week ago about how the players would memorialize Jordan McNair and we weren’t able to ask questions at that. I guess you could say Maryland has done a good job … at keeping the players (from) exposing to the media. So, we don’t really exactly know what they’re thinking at least in a scheduled interview, but Matt Canada has been doing a good job of saying in his press conferences like ‘Oh, they’re excited to play,’ … ‘They’re playing for Jordan,’ stuff like that. Watching some practices, they look fired up. They’re out there for a reason. They love the sports. So, I think definitely some of the players and probably the coaches are kind of thankful that there’s something other to talk about, there’s a football game to talk about instead of constantly answering questions on Jordan McNair. Those questions won’t go away, but there will be some spur of minutes when people are interested in what is going on on the field.
DT: As far as the student body, is the game still something that the students are able to get excited for or has this put a damper on things?
K: It’s kind of a mixed bag. Some people have the feeling of “This isn’t the players’ fault at all. We should definitely support these players.” Then (there are) the students (who) don’t really want to go to a game. Obviously there are technically allegations, but with the toxic culture report, there are students who say I don’t really want to watch a team that is accused of that. … The stadium is close by but it’s not exactly the closest thing. It will be interesting to see how any students show up to this game. Maryland hasn’t exactly been the winningest program for a while so the tendency at Maryland Stadium is that attendance is usually better at the beginning of the season. Texas will be a draw but it’s definitely a mixed bag on how excited people are.