Maryland Coach Randy Edsall on Tuesday said unequivocally that he believes the core of his team trusts in his philosophy and he urged the Terrapins’ fan base to remain loyal despite the team’s 2-6 record.
Edsall, who in recent weeks has stressed the importance of players trusting in him, was asked if, at this point, he had indications of that trust — during what has been a disappointing first season as Maryland’s head coach.
“Yeah, no question,” Edsall said. “All you have to do is go out and watch practice and see how the guys are out there practicing. You go out and watch the kids in the games and they are playing hard and doing the things they are supposed to do.”
When then asked if the media could watch practices, which have been closed during the regular season, Edsall said: “No, you guys can’t come. I don’t want you giving away secrets.”
Despite an uphill climb to qualify for a bowl game — the Terrapins must win all four of their remaining games — Edsall said he will not panic and that he has fun every day because of the enthusiasm and excitement shown by players in practice. But there have been growing pains.
The team rules imposed by Edsall when he was hired in January have been the subject of much public debate. When asked the difference between Edsall and former coach Ralph Friedgen, fifth-year senior Maurice Hampton said: “Just the rules. He’s doing everything right. Take your hat off when you come in the room. Don’t wear earrings in the building.
“You never know who you are going to meet in life and whether you are rubbing them the wrong way. Show someone that you have character and are not just another guy. I get it. But everyone doesn’t get it. They are mad because, ‘Oh, I have to take my earrings out’ or ‘I can’t wear this in the building or I have to pull my pants up or tuck my shirt in.’ None of these things are wrong. They are all right.”
Another one of Edsall’s hallmarks has been his “no excuses” mantra. Considering that, a reporter asked Edsall if he could concede that playing so many freshmen on an injury-depleted defense has made things more difficult.
“You know, I am really glad that you brought that up,” Edsall said. “I wish you would write that, because if you write it and say it, then I can’t get blamed for it. Okay. . . . But, hey, we are going to go out there and do the things that we can do and play as hard as we can play with the people we have.”
Among the challenges that Edsall faces this season is maintaining support of a fan base that appears to have grown restless. Recent struggles, an unattractive opponent and near-freezing rain and snow resulted in no more than 10,000 fans turning out at Byrd Stadium on Saturday to witness Maryland’s 28-17 loss to Boston College.
“If you are going to be a fan, be a fan and be out there all the time supporting them,” Edsall said. “All the kids are out there playing hard and doing the things they are trying to do to help us win . . . I’ve been an Orioles fan and it has not gone their way, but I have not dropped off the bandwagon. I think that is what true fans do.”
Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson e-mailed a message to “Terrapin Nation” on Monday, saying in part that “it is during these difficult times that we need your support and attendance the most.”
Edsall said he recently told quarterback Danny O’Brien, who has not performed as well as he did last season, to “just go have fun.” O’Brien, last season’s ACC rookie of the year, is now engaged in a week-to-week battle with C.J. Brown for the starting job.
“Some people want to make this about life and death and it’s not about life and death,” Edsall said. “It’s about going out there and enjoying the experience and playing the game. Again, I think sometimes that expectations on young people can make it tough as well. Maybe I didn’t do a good enough job of minimizing expectations for him. I think those are things we all can learn from.”
In response, O’Brien said: “I don’t want to disagree with what he says, but I have high expectations for myself and I had them last year before I played a down. That has not changed now. You can’t let that affect you.” . . .
Justin Anderson, a defensive lineman who suffered a foot injury during preseason camp, has not played in a game and is doubtful to play the rest of the season, Edsall said. If he redshirts, Anderson would have two years of eligibility remaining.