COLLEGE PARK -- During the past three seasons, University of Maryland defensive coordinator Greg Williams had quite a few strategic battles with Duke coach Steve Spurrier. When Spurrier left for the University of Florida after last season, Williams thought he had seen the last of his old adversary and his pass-oriented offense.
But the Blue Devils still are throwing a lot under coach Barry Wilson, and Williams again must come up with a game plan when the Terps (4-3 overall, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) face Duke (3-3, 0-2) on Saturday in Durham, N.C.
Williams does have one consolation. At least it's not Spurrie calling the plays.
"The tempo of the play-calling is much different now," sai Williams. "When Spurrier called the plays, you always got a constant mix. When you expected pass, you got run. When you && expected draw, you got screen.
"When he called the plays, he would giggle if he got you," Williams said. "And if you got him, he would giggle a little, too. Very, very unpredictable. That's basically the biggest difference their offense, but they still come out throwing. They are also throwing more deep routes than a year ago."
And that's what has put the Maryland secondary on alert this week. The Blue Devils have the second-best passing offense in the ACC, averaging 242.5 yards. Last season at College Park, Duke passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns and blew the Terps away, 46-25.
Even though the Blue Devils have lost split end Clarkston Hine and tight end Dave Colonna, two of their best receivers from a year ago, and three starting offensive linemen, they still have senior quarterback Billy Ray, who completed 20 of 32 passes against Maryland last season.
This season, Ray, who has split time with junior Dave Brown, is throwing to wide receiver Marc Mays (21 receptions, 263 yards) and tight end Aaron Shaw (20, 219). Stanley Dorsey, a freshman wide receiver from McDonogh School, has four touchdowns among his nine receptions for 193 yards.
Ray has completed 43 of 71 passes for 582 yards and four touchdowns, and Brown has completed 75 of 136 for 818 yards and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Maryland's defense is next to last in the conference allowing 192.6 passing yards per game.
"They come out and give you a lot of different looks and formations, but basically you know they are going to throw the ball all over the lot," said Maryland head coach Joe Krivak.
And the Blue Devils mix in a little screen here and there and a lot of draw plays. Last year, Duke halfback Randy Cuthbert, a fullback in disguise (6 feet 3, 220 pounds), rushed for 164 yards on 28 carries, mostly on draw plays.
"He killed us last year," said Maryland inside linebacker Scot Whittier. "What we've got to do is stop him and know when they're going to pass. Stop one thing, then control the other."
Williams said the Blue Devils have passed 67 percent of the time on first down. On third down and more than 4 yards, Duke has thrown the ball 57 times in the last four games.
Maryland has done its homework, now what is the game plan?
The Terps won't reveal it, but they will probably employ a lot of five- and six-defensive-back coverage using cornerbacks Michael Hollis, Scott Rosen and Doug Lawrence and safeties Mike Thomas, Ron Reagan, Johnny Vessels and Bill Inge.
The Terps could blitz a lot, but Maryland's defensive line of tackles Lubo Zizakovic, Larry Webster and Rick Fleece may be able to dominate Duke's offensive line and put pressure on the quarterback without blitzes, which cause a lot of man-to-man coverage.
"They spread their offense out," said Williams, "so that when yo blitz, you've got to go to their people and show it. They are very good at adjusting to it, changing to a quick post, hitch or whatever they fancy."
But Maryland won't stay in one coverage. The Terps will chang periodically from man-to-man to zone while disguising coverages confuse Duke, which has committed 25 turnovers.
"We can't give up the big play," said Whittier. "We have to make them run 15 to 18 plays in a drive if they want to score. That's what Virginia did, and Duke turned the ball over. That can be a key for us."
"They don't seem to have the patience of a year ago," sai Rosen. "They seem to be trying to force things and not take the things that worked for them last year."
Maryland's secondary also has had its problems. Because o injuries, the Terps have started four different players at the safety positions. Rosen has played most of the season with a sore, bruised shoulder, and, if he goes down, the Terps will have to go with sophomore Mike Hopson, who had his troubles filling in against Georgia Tech.
played a lot of tough teams that can throw and run the ball well".said Hollis. "We've given up some big plays, but we can't let that get us down. We have to keep going. Duke will be ready."