The similarities between senior defensive linemen Darius Kilgo and Keith Bowers are striking, and Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said Wednesday that is the reason both of them are listed atop the depth chart at nose tackle heading into Saturday’s game against James Madison.
There are a couple noticeable differences, however. One is size. Kilgo is listed at 6 feet 3, 319 pounds, while the 6-foot-1 Bowers plays at 285 pounds. Bowers is often quicker off the ball, Kilgo said, who added that he is more of a stout presence in the middle who can hold up blocks. Another difference is that Bowers is more chatty on the field.
“One thing that Keith does is that he brings a little juice because he’s more vocal…he’s a more vocal guy in the huddle,” Stewart said. “Other than that, they both contribute well.”
Kilgo and Bowers entered the preseason camp looking to win the nose tackle job outright, though Kilgo said Wednesday that he didn’t have the slightest idea of what direction the coaches were going to go. Kilgo has started in 23 games the past two seasons, while Bowers emerged as a key piece to the interior defensive line last year after returning from a knee injury that kept him out part of the season in 2012.
To have such two experienced and proven commodities at one position is a luxury for Maryland, though Kilgo said he doesn’t know who will start or how the reps will be split Saturday.
“I still take pride in my position, whether I’m a starter or coming off the bench. I’m still going to go in and give my best to the defense,” Kilgo said.
Both have worked diligently on reading backfield sets, and they often walk off the field together, talking about new things they see in the offense. It’s often about how lineman are tweaking their stance or making different calls, he said.
“Going into camp, I didn’t know how it was going to go. Once the [decision] was made, we kind of just take pride in that we both know that we’re both going to take a lot of reps throughout this season,” Kilgo said. “I don’t think one guy wanted to be higher than the other. I just think we wanted to get better as a unit.”
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