Despite a 2-7 record, Maryland Coach Randy Edsall on Tuesday said his Terrapins have made progress in a lot of areas, but he declined to specify any areas where he sees improvement.
“When you are installing a program, there is more than just wins and losses,” Edsall said. “I just feel that it is the total program that we are installing that just has to be developed. So we are winning in a lot of areas. We are just not winning on the field right now. But that will happen.”
When then asked to specify where he sees progress away from the football games, Edsall said: “Well, I think that is something that just stays here within our family, again, in terms of what our program is all about. To me, I see it. And all we are going to continue to do is be consistent with the things that we want our young men to do.”
This has been an arduous first season for Edsall, whose team is one of 20 in the nation that is already ineligible for a bowl game. Edsall, who arrived in January after 12 seasons at Connecticut, said there is “no question” that his second season will be easier than his first, which has been marred by on-field struggles, fan frustration and rumblings of some player dissatisfaction with Edsall’s philosophy.
“What you don’t see and what the fans don’t see, they only see what is happening on Saturday,” Edsall said. “And that’s what they are going to judge us on, and completely understandable. But it’s more than just that. That’s a big part of it, but there’s a lot of progress being made and I think when you talk to the young men they will tell you that.”
When asked about progress being made, linebacker Darin Drakeford pointed to the fact that the team has not quit in any game or practice. To that point, he specifically noted what he called a “team fight” that broke out a few weeks ago in practice during a two-minute drill. Drakeford described the fracas as an impassioned 22-man wrestling match.
“If no one cared, no one would have been fighting,” Drakeford said. “Everyone just would have just wanted to get off the field. It was a serious team fight.”
Edsall also was asked Tuesday to elaborate on the similarities he sees in his experiences at Maryland and those during his first season at Connecticut, then a division I-AA program. In a teleconference Sunday, in response to a question about difficult seasons, Edsall said, “I have been through this before. I know how to handle it. . . . It is Connecticut all over again, 13 years ago.”
On Tuesday, Edsall said his comments were taken out of context and that he did not intend to equate Maryland’s ACC program, which finished 9-4 last season, with a program that was about to transition to the division I-A ranks. Instead, he said, there were some similarities in terms of high outside preseason expectations, internal “variables” and struggles during the seasons.
“You go in, you install your program, you keep working it, you stay consistent,” Edsall said, “and look what happens.”
In 12 seasons, Edsall had a 74-70 record at Connecticut and led the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl last season.
Maryland’s defense ranks 116th in rushing defense and 102nd in total defense. The defense has been forced to start sometimes as many as five freshmen because of a number of season-ending injuries, including an undisclosed injury to linebacker Kenny Tate.
Asked to assess the job defensive coordinator Todd Bradford has done in light of the injuries, Edsall said: “I think Todd Bradford has done a good job, in terms of the things we are trying to install. . . . And there are all kinds of variables why we maybe have not played as well as we would have liked to offensively, defensively and special teams. Ultimately, I am the guy that has to make sure we play as well as we can in all three phases.”
Special teams play has been a particular issue. Among other concerns, Maryland has allowed more kickoff returns of at least 60 yards than any team in the country.
“I know what we are doing schematically works because I have seen it work before,” Edsall said.