For the first time since the opening quarter of the season, Kenny Tate was free to do what defensive coordinator Don Brown envisioned for him last week.
Which is how it came to be that Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker earned a face-to-face greeting from the sophomore safety.
Tate, of course, was the unblockable force Brown planned to unleash on the Terrapins’ 12 opponents from various spots on the field. Then Jamari McCollough got hurt, and Tate was needed to play safety full-time rather than act as a rover.
But with McCollough back, it gave the defense a new lease on the fall and Tate a chance to create headaches.
“Either way, it was good,” Tate said. “But now, I get to mess around with the offense more. I guess that’s a good thing. They really can’t get a bead on who’s in the game now with us at full strength.”
Which led to situations like last week’s.
Clemson was cognizant of Tate’s abilities, and always planned for him to blitz. But Maryland brought it from nearly everywhere else up until late in the third quarter.
“I had one-one-one with the tackle, which I’d been waiting for gthe whole game,” Tate said. “Usually I have the tackle, the back, somebody else coming over there. I got the one-on-one and beat him, and the quarterback was right in my face.”
Parker, no doubt, saw things a little differently.
In any case, things will be a little different today. Riley Skinner is a fifth-year senior, while Parker was making his fifth career start.
Tate, though, clearly hopes he can acquaint himself with back-to-back quarterbacks as Maryland seeks its second straight conference win.
“He likes to move around in the pocket,” Tate said. “I know our d-line, we’re putting in some things to try to contain him. I think if we’re able to do that, we’ll have success. Even though he likes to move around, we’ll just have to stay back and don’t try to rush up because he does like to throw the long ball pretty well. I think if we can him bottle up a little bit and he gets hit a couple times, he’ll start moving around.”