New Defense Appeals to FS Franklin

FS Eric Franklin talks the shift to a 3-4, his new teams, and his appearance in a video game.

Senior free safety Eric Franklin was part of last season's defense that finished last in the ACC in rush defense and ninth in pass defense and that was heavily criticized for not being able to close out games.

The pain of the 2011 season still hurts, but Franklin understands that this will be his last season playing college football and that he has to give it his all.

“It's my last year so I want to go out with a bang,” Franklin said. “Leave it all on the field this year.”

The defense underwent some big changes, most prominently a transition from the 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 formation that allows for the defenders to blitz the opposing quarterback more often. Many of the defensive players have already taken a liking to the new defense and have been studying their playbooks more to make the transition smoother.

“I think we can pressure people a lot better this year,” Franklin said. “We need to improve in a lot of areas so we should be better in a lot of places. It's different for me because we usually play in a 4-3, but now a 3-4 for me, so far, I like it. I enjoy playing in it. I like the pressure in it and it's been fun so far.”

Another big change to the defense was the hiring of defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. Stewart was hired from the University of Houston, where he served as the defensive coordinator for the Houston Cougars. Stewart was also the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys and also coached on other NFL teams including the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers.

“Coach Stewart, he's a good guy,” said Franklin. “He's a smart guy. He knows his football, knows what he's doing. I think he'll help us improve a lot.”

The secondary has some younger guys, including freshman Anthony Nixon and redshirt freshman Undray Clark at Franklin's free safety position. Franklin said he will act as a mentor to the younger players so they can become more implemented into the Terps' defense.

“I really want to coach them, to help coach them and make sure they know the schemes,” Franklin said. “Just want to help them wherever they need help.”

One fun discovery Franklin made this offseason was finding out that he was the highest rated Terrapin in EA Sports' NCAA Football 13. He laughed when the game was mentioned, but said what happens in real life is what matters the most.

“I didn't even know about it until my teammates showed it to me when they got the game,” Franklin said. “It's nice to see, but it's just a video game. Put it on a real field.”

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