Purdue, at least for a stretch of years, was basketball on grass. Wisconsin runs the ball three times a series ("punt on fourth and niiiiiine"). Michigan State has #disrespekt. Iowa at least graduates and does it the Right Way (winning, on the other hand)...
We're talking DJ Durkin and program identity today. When the former Michigan defensive coordinator was brought to College Park, everybody and their mother hailed a new era of Maryland football built around DEFENSE and HARBAUGH:
“Harbaugh’s like the offensive side and Durkin’s like the defensive side. They’re both masterminds of their domain. It’s a hard decision to choose.”
Is this a simplistic question? You bet your ass. But I'm also the third-string potluck question-asker, and to be honest that feels a bit high. So get after it:
Can DJ Durkin build a defensive powerhouse at Maryland? Will it be through recruiting, coaching, or some combination thereof? Finally, if you were defining an identity for your program (and feel free to set the record straight if I named you above), what would it be and how was it built?
/looks at schedule
//sees Maryland on it once in the next 3 years
///remembers it’s Maryland
This concludes my thoughts on Maryland being the Minnesota of the East Division.
Candystripes: It’s going to take a while for Maryland to build an identity, considering I can’t tell you much about anything they’ve done the last couple years besides throwing Will Likely out there as much as possible. The players will (probably) create the identity, coaching will nurture it, then they can work on recruiting towards it. I would say that IU’s identity is offense, but last year’s aberration on both sides of the ball makes me wonder if that’s still going to be true (also, the whole switching from an offensive-minded coach to a defensive-minded coach thing).
Thumpasaurus: The MD footprint is chock full of talent, which always makes establishing an identity easier. Hell, Edsall recruited reasonably well. But if you want to build a scheme-oriented identity, it takes some time to establish, recruit guys to fit the system and then get those guys enough reps to where they have the system ingrained enough that it’s almost like intuition. Consistency is key here; ideally you want to keep the same coaches, but if you just stick to coaches with the same/similar philosophy, you can keep the momentum up.
At risk of causing another cloud of smug to descend on us from the North woods, Wisconsin is a prime example of how to do this properly. For an example of how to screw this up, see Illinois in 2009. After two years of putting up big numbers with Juice Williams running a spread option look, new coordinator Mike Schultz installed a pro-style offense that no quarterback on the roster grasped. The results were disastrous.
You know what I’d like my team to be known for? Playing great special teams. We know the wind will always be swirling towards the north end zone at 25mph...Given that this is a constant, savvy use of the wind would seem like a high priority. Alas. We always seem surprised when it’s windy in Champaign.
BRT: Maryland's identity is currently "at least they haven't been as horrible as Rutgers." While this isn't a very flashy identity and not that of which dreams are made, Maryland may want to simply focus this season on keeping this identity, because the alternative is much, much worse.
Nebraska's identity of late has been "mediocre." My ideal identity for them would be "fearsome, opponent-crushing team of doom" and I would accomplish this by having them win more games, probably all of them. If any school would like to pay me several million to formulate a similar identity for them and then spend a few years floundering before realizing it's just not going to work out with me, I'm available immediately.
Jesse: In conference play last season, Maryland was the third worst defense in yards per play. Just how bad does that look? 6.02 yards per play, which is almost a half yard worse than the year before. I mean, that’s comparable to defensive stalwarts like Washington State, Texas A&M, and Baylor...
Anyhow, I think Durkin definitely has the ability to scheme, but he needs players to buy in and proof that his system can consistently work. That said, Maryland is bringing in a 28 person class with enough pieces/parts to fill the holes. Do I think they look good this year? Probably not. Chalk that up to a mix of terrible schedule, outgoing talent, and the reality that we have yet to see Maryland do anything of actual merit to this point.
If I’m Durkin, my best case scenario is improvement, and if I’m a Maryland fan, my best case scenario is also adding an offense so that the defense isn’t on the field all of the time. We’ll see if either of those things happen.
GRAHAM IS A POOPY HEAD
GF: Jesse is unqualified, literally doesnt watch the games, please don’t read his analysis, its the damn worse, we are the worst, this blog is a symptom of the breakdown of american society
no one cares about maryland football except for people employed by the maryland football program and possibly some of the players parents
that said, money trees is the perfect place for shade, and thus we thank Maryland for bringing its Old Bay market to the B1G’s money pot
WSR: Maybe? There’s plenty of talent in the area that if they wanted to starve the other side of the ball and load up the defense, they could be Indianaish. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? What did Indiana accomplish from being the chaos team with an offense? Our passing fancy? A bunch of bowl game participation t-shirts? I guess that could be something for Maryland to aspire to. It’s better than some of the alternatives.
If you let me establish Minnesota’s identity, I’m going to take the most anti-Minnesota thing possible. Gopher Football: Home of the evolutionary next step of the Fun ‘n’ Gun. 4 wide, trick plays, and even more shit talk about neighboring teams. (Hopefully the evolution involves better results against Nebraska...)
Aaron Yorke: It’s hard to build a defensive powerhouse without great talent on defense, so I’d say that recruiting has to be at least part of the formula. The key will be getting all those athletes in the DMV area to stay home instead of leaving for Penn State, Virginia Tech, and other nearby schools with a lot of resources. Once the talent is in place, Durkin has proven in his time at Michigan and Florida that he’s able to mold players into a solid defensive unit.
Penn State used to be known for conservative offense and stopping the run on defense with excellent linebackers, but under James Franklin, things are much different. Instead of three yards and a cloud of dust, we have a super aggressive passing game that takes shots downfield at every opportunity and relies on athletic wide receivers to make plays on the ball. On defense, linebackers are still pretty important, but another big factor for Penn State these past three seasons has been quick, athletic defensive tackles like Anthony Zettel and Kevin Givens that disrupt running lanes but also can put pressure on the quarterback.