They stood no more than 20 yards from each other during a blustery spring practice late last week, and it was difficult to tell Maryland’s two new football coaches apart. Jimmy Brumbaugh, the team’s new co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, was emulating a quarterback during a pass rush drill with his new players. “Sprint! Sprint! Sprint!” Brumbaugh bellowed, but it didn’t drown out the calls across the field from Tyler Bowen, the team’s new offensive line coach.
“Lose leverage to gain leverage!” Bowen screamed at his unit a few moments later, adding a new voice to the cacophony of screams from the rest of Maryland Coach DJ Durkin’s diverse and energetic staff. Both Brumbaugh and Bowen have been brought in for their reputable intensity and football acumen, tasked with helping turning around two young units that struggled in the trenches of the Big Ten last season. Brumbaugh found immediate comfort in College Park once he arrived in February, where he will share coordinator duties with Andy Buh. Both Brumbaugh and Buh, who served as Maryland’s lone defensive coordinator last year, served on Kentucky’s staff before leaving for Maryland.
“I’m learning the scheme and learning everything, what Coach Durkin wants, what Coach Buh wants. So we’re just throwing it in there right now and learning everything,” Brumbaugh said.
Bowen already knew the landscape in College Park well before he left his post as Fordham’s offensive coordinator to take over for Maryland’s former offensive line coach, Dave Borbely, earlier this winter. (Borbely stayed on staff as a special assistant to Durkin.) Bowen played at Maryland under Ralph Friedgen for two seasons, although his career was shortened because of injury. He started his coaching career as a student assistant under Friedgen and has quickly climbed the ranks in the business — he helped build one of the Football Championship Subdivision’s most prolific offenses at Fordham a year ago — and Durkin has referred to Bowen as a “bright young star in this profession.”
“He has a great understanding of the game. He’s an O-line coach that has also called plays, been calling plays and coordinating offense, which I think really helps with the big picture. He’s done a great job with our guys,” Durkin said earlier this spring.
While Bowen is among the youngest assistants on staff, it has also helped him relate to younger players at times. He’s solidified relationships by using technology, shooting off texts to his players and sharing links in tweets that offer ideas on technique. Sometimes he might see something in film study and he will record it and send it messages to his players. That fresh approach can’t hurt for a unit that was in perpetual rotation a year ago, when it gave up 49 sacks, the second highest total in the country.
“[Bowen] is a younger guy, so he’s more familiar with some of the nuances of the position. He’s into Twitter and things like that,” redshirt junior tackle Damian Prince said. “He’s kind of like, into the new stuff that’s probably is going to come about. New things, new techniques and stuff that people probably don’t know about yet.”
Brumbaugh has also struck a chord, helping the defensive line change its “approach to the game,” according to senior buck linebacker Jesse Aniebonam. Brumbaugh has kept it simple mostly throughout spring practice, focusing on striking blocks and how to be physical at the point of attack. Much like Buh a year earlier, Brumbaugh was compelled to leave Kentucky to coach under Durkin and become a coordinator at Maryland.
Now he’ll split the job with Buh, although it remains unclear how the duties and play-calling will be divvied up during the season. At this point, Brumbaugh is still easing into his new role and said last week that he is just trying to “callous” the bodies of his players. That phrase would likely please Durkin, who is still trying to sort out the young and inexperienced talent from a defense that allowed 427.1 yards per game a year ago, the third most in the Big Ten. Brumbaugh has also leaned on Bowen during this transition, and vice versa.
“Honestly, I think this is one of the best places I’ve been or seen where the offense and the defense work together to get what we need out of practice,” Bowen said. “We’ve been able to work together very well.”