The offense will get hit tomorrow with a final pre-camp evaluation. But we’ll start off with the defense. …
1. Will Dion Armstrong be back?
In talking with defensive coordinator Don Brown this week, it’s clear he’s moving forward as if the sophomore nose tackle won’t be eligible. It’s tough to blame him; he has yet to see Armstrong on the practice field.
That said, Maryland would probably like the assurance of Armstrong helping to plug up the middle rather than simply hope A.J. Francis is ready to do it in a starting role. The coaches are high on Francis, but three big bodies at tackle (Travis Ivey is the other) would obviously trump two.
Armstrong’s eligibility could linger deep into camp, and might be the most difficult of any of these questions to answer.
2. Is there enough depth at linebacker?
The Terps liked the looks they received from new backup middle linebacker Drew Gloster and true freshmen Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray in the spring. Murray could be the new Adrian Moten, a play-everywhere utilityman.
Maryland can probably get by with the crew it has assembled, assuming Ralph Friedgen doesn’t have any problems with using the true freshmen he has at his disposal. But injuries have the potential to make that unit very interesting.
3. Can the ends make a difference?
Tough to say. On one side, Derek Drummond and Masengo Kabongo look like the best bets to play, but Drummond played only late last season and Kabongo redshirted. At the Anchor position, Jared Harrell will begin camp as the starter ahead of Deege Galt, but neither senior is a hugely known commodity (though Harrell has played much more than Galt).
If Brown’s defense really does create headaches for opponents, then the ends could be the biggest beneficiaries. The Terps haven’t produced a dominant player at the position for some time (unless you count hybrid Shawne Merriman), and it seems unlikely a big name will emerge. But those guys can still be solid, and Maryland would surely take that.
4. Who is the defense’s breakout star?
There are cases to be made for Ivey and cornerback Nolan Carroll (who certainly has a chance to produce headaches), but camp could easily demonstrate that Moten will be a handful all season. The junior was active his first two seasons, finding a niche as a third-down rusher, but he’s just as capable of floating back into pass coverage.
That versatility will serve him well, and Moten is as good a choice as anyone to become one of the primary faces of the defense.
5. Is Alex Wujciak healthy?
Friedgen said so in Greensboro last week, and Wujciak is the sort to find a way to play if it is remotely possible. What you see is what you get with his game —- an aggressive tackle machine who will probably see a bump in his numbers if there is the anticipated uptick thanks to a beefier batch of tackles filling up space in the middle.
Still, few players’ movements will be scrutinized as much as Wujciak, who missed all of 2007 with an ACL tear and then sat out this past spring after undergoing further surgery.
—- Patrick Stevens