Terps to switch defensive scheme

New coordinator Stewart to install 3-4 system

Maryland’s new defensive coordinator is bringing a new scheme with him.

The Terrapins formally announced the hiring of Brian Stewart as their defensive coordinator Tuesday and revealed plans to install a 3-4 system for a unit that struggled throughout the 2011 season.

Stewart, who spent the past two years as the defensive coordinator at Houston, replaces Todd Bradford. He is Maryland’s third defensive coordinator in as many years and the fourth man to hold the job full-time in the past five years.

Edsall said the latest adjustment should suit the roster well.

“I think it’s going to work really well with what we have, as well as in terms of some young men we have commitments from …” Edsall said during a teleconference. “We have people that will fit in well. We’re going to be aggressive. It’s going to show different looks, and people are going to have a tough time discerning who’s coming and who’s not coming.”

Maryland Terrapins coach Randy Edsall

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Maryland Terrapins coach Randy Edsall more >

Maryland’s defense, through a combination of scheme and injuries, was dreadful last season. The Terps ranked 102nd in scoring defense, 108th in total defense and 111th in rushing defense among 120 major-college teams.

The 457.2 yards per game allowed were the most for Maryland since 1993, with the 219.8 rushing yards yielded was the Terps’ worst total in that category since 1994.

Maryland does return several players who missed most of last season with several injuries, including safety-turned-linebacker Kenny Tate, safety Matt Robinson and defensive end Isaiah Ross. All three were opening-week starters who eventually received medical hardship waivers.

Stewart declined to describe how Maryland’s existing players would fit into his system. He was specifically asked about Tate, who was an all-conference safety before making less of an impact at linebacker last fall.

“What I’d like to do is not comment on who goes where and what they’ll do,” Stewart said. “I’m excited about seeing them.”

Edsall said Maryland’s scheme would be similar to what the Houston Texans used to record the NFL’s No. 2 total defense. Stewart worked for Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in Dallas in 2007 and 2008.

Stewart said his system — which helped Houston finish fourth nationally in turnover margin and sixth in tackles for loss as the Cougars rolled up a 13-1 season — would switch a defensive end to a stand-up guy and allow the Terps to put several different combinations of players on the line of scrimmage in an attempt to confuse offenses.

“For the most part, we like to dictate,” Stewart said. “It’s a disciplined, physical, smart and fast [system]. All those things should help us attack the quarterback, get tackles for loss and attack the ball.”

Edsall and Stewart have never worked together, but they have a mutual acquaintance in Maryland director of football operations Fran Foley. Stewart was an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers when Foley worked as the franchise’s director of pro scouting.

Stewart’s hire is the second major change for Edsall’s staff this offseason — and perhaps the last. Maryland hired former New Mexico coach Mike Locksley as its offensive coordinator last month to replace Gary Crowton.

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