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When Terps’ Crowton is on the field, class is in session
Question of the Day
There was plenty for Gary Crowton to accomplish in his first offseason at Maryland.
What was telling, though, was wide receiver Quintin McCree’s observation about something absent from Crowton’s coaching repertoire when the subject of the Terrapins’ new offensive coordinator was broached.
“He doesn’t yell,” McCree said. “I don’t care how bad a practice you can have, he never yells. He’s always willing to coach you up, no matter what. He’s a really a people person. He comes with the mentality to coach you up, and that’s it.”
Perhaps that’s a reason to believe Crowton will help uncork a similarly strong first season at Maryland as his previous three coaching stops - as a head coach at Brigham Young and as the offensive coordinator at Oregon and Louisiana State. The first game in his new gig is Monday, when the Terrapins play host to Miami at Byrd Stadium.
Crowton arrived at Brigham Young in 2001, and the Cougars went 12-2 and led the nation in total offense. In 2005, his first year at Oregon, the Ducks were 10-2 and ranked eighth in passing offense and 12th in scoring offense.
Then at Louisiana State, the Tigers produced the No. 11 scoring offense in 2007 en route to the national championship.
With quarterback Danny O'Brien, last year’s ACC rookie of the year, Maryland is hopeful similar results will arrive this season. If they do, they will come from a cerebral rather than an overly boisterous coordinator.
“I consider myself a teacher, so I want to teach the ‘whys,’ ” Crowton said. “We’re doing this because - this is why, rather than we’re doing this because I know it’s going to work. This is why we’re doing it. I explain it so people can understand it.”
O'Brien’s presence continues a trend of inheriting experienced quarterbacks, one Crowton is quick to acknowledge. Brandon Doman (Brigham Young), Kellen Clemens (Oregon) and Matt Flynn (Louisiana State) were seniors when Crowton initially arrived at each stop.
All three programs took steps backward offensively in Crowton’s second season, hardly a surprise since each team was forced to break in a new quarterback. O'Brien still has three years of eligibility remaining, a particularly welcome situation for Crowton.
“Sometimes that quarterback - especially in those good leagues - that has some experience or real good ability helps you,” Crowton said. “That’s what’s good here. There’s a sophomore quarterback who’s had some success.”
It helps to have a capable teacher. Crowton kept some facets of former coordinator James Franklin’s offense intact and made only minor changes to a large chunk of the scheme. Altogether, O'Brien estimated it was between 60 percent and 70 percent the same or very similar to what Maryland ran last year.
“He’s been in this game so long, he really knows how to convey what he wants quickly,” O'Brien said. “I think we’ve adapted to his system really quickly. It’s not a simple offense by any means. He just has a way. We’ve come so far in one spring up till now. That might have something to do with why he has great Year Ones - he can get the system in really quickly.”
Much was made in the spring about Crowton’s preferred pace. He said in August that he would like for Maryland to be at the line of scrimmage with 18 seconds left on the play clock, which permits the Terps to play quickly while also allowing time to change a call if necessary. Most importantly, it places pressure on defense, an emphatic philosophy from a man not inclined to yell.
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About the Author
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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