4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MARYLAND DEFENSE
– Getting veteran Jon Hoke away from the NFL as the defensive coordinator should be a big plus for a D that couldn’t hold up against the run and had almost no pass rush whatsoever. Now the Terps have to hope for a few relatively untested ends have to take over for the worst defense in the Big Ten in generating tackles for loss. On the plus side, the interior combination of Adam McLean and Keiron Howard is good enough to build around.
– The secondary has some work to do, especially at safety. Darnell Savage is in the NFL, Antwaine Richardson is recovering from a knee injury, and now the safeties are young around star Antoine Brooks. The hope is for super-recruit Nick Cross to play a big role right away. Tino Ellis is a solid veteran corner, and there are enough good options to rotate in on the other side.
– One of the bigger changes will be the use of the linebackers. The D will go from a 4-2-5 alignment to more of a modified 4-3 with a hybrid outside linebacker who’ll do a little of everything. Isaiah Davis is the main man on the inside, and now the pass rushers have to emerge on the outside after the Terps came up with just 16 sacks. Clemson transfer Shaq Smith is going to be eligible right away – he made 17 tackles for the national champs.