Maryland Defensive Preview
You simply cannot talk about the Maryland offense without starting with middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive end Shawn Merriman. Jackson notnot only leads the team with 60 tackles, but also leads the defense with two interceptions. Jackson flies to the ball on every play. You will hear Dale Gilbert announcing "number 52 on the tackle" enough to make you sick on Saturday. Jackson should have been a finalist for the Butkus Award, and leaves me to question who is qualified for the Butkus Award if Jackson and Leroy Hill for Clemson are not.
Merriman is a beast on the defensive front. Merriman is second on the team with 50 tackles and ten tackles for loss. He has also added 5 sacks to his credit. This will be a big matchup for Marion Dukes. If Dukes can contain Merriman it could potentially open some things open for the Tigers' offense. Merriman and Jackson are both too good of players for you to hope you can shut them down. The coaching staff will have to have a gameplan that will limit their effectiveness.Wesley Jefferson is also a star in the making at linebacker. Jefferson could potentially be the best linebacker Maryland has had before it is said and done.
Dominque Foxworth anchors down the Maryland secondary. Maryland's secondary had some key losses after last season that they had to replace. Foxworth is a dominant cover corner, who made a name for himself as a true freshman in his first start against Clemson. Chris Kelly is a hard nosed safety that compliments Foxworth in the secondary. This is not the dominant secondary the Tigers have seen the last two seasons, some opportunities in the passing game could be there.
As bad as the offense has been the last two games, Maryland's defense has kept them in games. Clemson is going to have to prove they will not make mistakes against a quality defenses. This will be a good test to see where the offense for the Tigers stands.