He’s also found a fan in the Terrapins’ first-year head coach.
“He’s a young man that’s working to enhance his position here on the football team, and one that I like,” Randy Edsall said. “I like him because he does what he’s supposed to do.”
Last season, after redshirting in 2009, Klemm played in a reserve role on the Maryland offensive line. It grew clear to him that the attitude at the Atlantic Coast Conference program was far different from that of his high school career — one that saw him experience the highs of a region championship in his sophomore season of 2006, and the lows of a winless senior season in ’08.
“All of the guys all want to be here,” said Klemm, who played in 11 of the Terps’ 13 games last year, including the season-ending Military Bowl against East Carolina. “At Wheeler, everyone wanted to try hard, but we just didn’t get it done (in ’08). Obviously, everyone is excited to be here, go out and practice and fly around. The attitude here is that we want to win, and the belief is that we can all win.”
Just as last season came with a learning curve for Klemm, being in his first year on campus, this year is one for every player on the team. Despite being named the ACC’s coach of the year, Ralph Friedgen was fired by the school’s administration, which instead brought in Edsall, the Connecticut coach and a former defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech.
For the 6-foot-5, 295-pound Klemm, that means he had to learn to adapt to a multiple offense system after learning Friedgen’s pro-style system last year. The change in schemes requires a change in blocking practices as well.
“The blocking mentality is different than last year,” Klemm said. “It’s a different combination of blocks with how we used to block last year.”
With the new scheme, Klemm and his linemates will leave tackles on their own more often, though they will get occasional support from the inside on pass rushes.
“The tackles are more on an island and find themselves alone in this blocking scheme,” Klemm said. “I’m comfortable with it. We have help from our guards. We can entice (opposing pass rushers) to go inside. If you take the right set and over-set them — if you flush up — they will usually try to go inside to take the fastest route to the quarterback.”
Although it’s a common thought that offensive linemen enjoy run-blocking more than pass-blocking, because they are able to dole out the contact instead of receiving it, Klemm says this new blocking scheme also allows for linemen to fire out, though only on occasion, in pass protection.
“A lot of people think you can’t be physical in pass protection, but you can,” he said. “You can punch and get after that. You don’t always have to the one taking the hit. Sometimes, we have protections where we are faking a run, so you can fire out a little bit. If you get a good punch on them, you can still be physical and hit them in the mouth pretty well.”
Though Klemm is currently learning his position at the same pace as the other linemen, he still trails one of Maryland’s four upperclassmen on the offensive line, junior R.J. Dill.
Edsall, however, cautions that no starting spot is safe.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “I look at it one game, and one season, at a time. (Klemm) just has to understand that he’s one play away from going on (the field). He just needs to keep working and keep improving.”
Even if Klemm is unable to surpass Dill this season, or the next, if he continues to maintain his spot as a top reserve, then he’ll be lined up to take over the starter’s role by his senior season.
“I’m looking forward to the starting role, but I am still working hard every day to be in the starting role,” Klemm said. “I will probably get reps with starters this year. If (Dill) does go down, I don’t think there would be any let-off. I’ll just step right off and do as well as he was doing.”