The transition to Maryland’s new 3-4 defense is still a work in progress, even though the Terps looked pretty comfortable in the front seven against William & Mary in Saturday’s opener.
Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart talked Wednesday about the need for better instincts, something that will inevitably come with time. For now, he said, some of his charges are getting tunnel-vision off their blocks. But it’s an adjustment process, one that sometimes takes games, according to the first-year defensive coordinator.
“I think they’re getting used to the blocks, knowing what they’re going to get, how they’re going to feel,” Stewart said. “It’s still a work in progress. The more we play, the better we’ll get. Then we know what blocks we’re going to get, know what pass concepts we’re going to get because of what we run. Now, the more comfortable you are, the more you know how to match up the runs and defend the passes.
“I think they know what to do, they know how to do it, I just think they’re not playing with the same instincts if it was something they’ve done over and over again.
“It’s an adjustment process. The more you see blocks at you, the different blocking schemes, the better know how to attack it.”
Maryland held the Tribe to just 229 yards, including 125 through the air, but will have its hands full against a Temple team that put up more than 300 rushing yards in its opener against Villanova and ran through the Terps’ defense during last season’s 38-7 win.
Against the Wildcats, Owls running back Matt Brown had 145 yards on 19 carries (7.6 average) and one touchdown.
“When you watch him on film he is quick, he’s shifty, he’s fast, he’s tough, and he’s durable,” Coach Randy Edsall said of Temple’s 5-foot-5 running back Tuesday. “He can catch the ball and he is just well rounded. He is a well-rounded back who has speed, athleticism, quickness and toughness. The thing you have to make sure that you do is you have to wrap him up because he is a guy that can break tackles and spin off of you. I was very impressed watching him run.”
Stewart and his fellow coaches are planning a similar defensive rotation to what the Terps executed against the Tribe, with frequent exchanges to combat the humidity and high temperatures.
Some players, Stewart said, already possess those aforementioned instincts. Terps such as Joe Vellano — “he does a good job because he plays the blocks,” Stewart said — linebacker Darin Drakeford, nose tackle Darius Kilgo and lineman A.J. Francis have “done the best as far as seeing the blocks and recognizing what they’re going to get.”
“It helps the back end in terms of how they’re playing,” Stewart said.