Terps Football: A New Offensive Coordinator
On Monday, the Maryland Terrapins announced that head coach DJ Durkin had hired Matt Canada as his new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. This announcement came less than a week after Walt Bell left to take the same position on Willie Taggart’s staff at Florida State. In this article, we’ll take a look at Canada’s resume, offensive philosophy, and what type of scheme he might run in College Park.
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Canada is 46-years old and is a graduate of Indiana University. He didn’t play collegiate football due to a knee injury, but served as an undergraduate assistant for the Hoosiers under head coach Bill Mallory. He has 25 years of coaching experience, 13 of those as an offensive coordinator. He also has 11 years of experience coaching in the Big Ten Conference, 10 with Indiana and 1 with Wisconsin.
He was LSU’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017 after he spent 2016 with Pittsburgh in the same position. He set school records for points scored and points per game with the Panthers, and was a Broyles Award finalist, which is given to the nation’s top assistant coach. There were reports of a rift between he and LSU head coach Ed Orgeron last season, but he was beloved by his players. In recent years, he has developed both Nathan Peterman and Jacoby Brissett into NFL quarterbacks.
By now, you may have seen one of the many articles that are making the rounds detailing Canada’s extensive use of pre-snap motions. Our friend Jared Goldstein at Testudo Times wrote an excellent one earlier this week. One of the most extreme versions of Canada’s motions is pictured above. He will motion any and all offensive players before the snap in an attempt to confuse opposing defenses. These motions set up future motions later in games, and can wreak havoc on defensive coordinators.
Canada also uses tempo as a change-up, especially after big gains. While he has a defense worried about all of his pre-snap motion, his offense will rush to the line of scrimmage and fire off a few quick plays with the opposition on their heels.
Despite all of this window dressing, the plays Canada runs are fairly basic. He calls a mixture of zone and lead runs with plenty of jet sweeps and West Coast passing concepts. He’ll hit most of his big plays off of play-action passes or runs to the perimeter. You’ll also notice that none of these concepts are married to any specific offensive scheme. Canada is an extremely versatile coach, and the players he has determine the offense that he runs.
Since Canada’s scheme is matched to his players instead of the other way around, fans can likely expect a more spread-out style than he ran at LSU and Pittsburgh. When he arrived at both of those programs, they were more comfortable running a more traditional offense. However with Maryland employing a spread scheme for the better part of the last decade, expect more shotgun and more tempo from Canada’s play-calling. He has experience running more spread-out offenses, as he did so with N.C. State and Northern Illinois.
Players to Watch
With the abundance of jet motion in Canada’s motion, the first players to watch for in this new scheme will be scat-back types like Anthony McFarland, DJ Turner, Tahj Capehart, and Rayshad Lewis. These players all have the speed and versatility necessary to test the edges of opposing defenses.
One of the most common complaints about Bell’s offense was that it didn’t involve the tight ends as pass-catchers. Over the course of the last two seasons, tight ends combined for just 5 catches. Canada will almost definitely get more production out of this position, so watch for Avery Edwards and Chigoziem Okonkwo this season.
Of course, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks once again throughout this off-season. Unfortunately, Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill will likely miss the majority of the off-season due to their respective knee injuries. While Pigrome is expected back for the start of the year, Hill’s return is more uncertain due to the severity of his injury. With a new offense to learn and a tough season-opener against Texas, practice time in this new scheme will be crucial. With Pigrome and Hill’s absence, it’ll be up to Max Bortenschlager, Caleb Henderson, and incoming 4-star early-enrollee Tyler DeSue to handle the majority of the workload during the spring and summer.