The Washington Post

Danny O’Brien: ‘The goal is ACC title or bust’

The past eight months have not been as smooth for the Maryland football players as a team that finished its most recent season 9-4 might typically expect. Their old coach, Ralph Friedgen, was fired, and their new coach, Randy Edsall, operates the program in an entirely different fashion. There have been new schemes to adjust to on both sides of the ball, not to mention new coaching personalities with which to mesh.

But none of that has altered the expectations of at least two Terrapins. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien and senior linebacker Kenny Tate agreed Sunday on what they expect their team to accomplish in 2011.

“We’re not making any excuses,” O’Brien said at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst, N.C. “The goal is ACC title or bust. Anything short of that is a failure this season for us under any circumstances.”

Winning the league crown would be quite a feat for Maryland in Edsall’s first campaign at the Terrapins’ helm. Then again, the last time a first-year ACC coach won the conference title was in 2001 when Friedgen did so with Maryland.

The offense returns five starters, including O’Brien, who is considered one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks. Maryland’s defense returns seven starters and features Tate at an outside linebacker position.

O’Brien said the Terrapins “kind of knocked at the door” in 2010, and he is excited at the opportunity to square off against all four teams – West Virginia, Clemson, Miami and Florida State – that defeated Maryland last season. In fact, the Terrapins will get a chance to avenge previous losses in each of their first two games this year. Maryland opens against Miami on Sept. 5 and then plays West Virginia on Sept. 17 after a bye week.

Beat the opponents the Terrapins “need” to beat and claim some of the contests against the prominent opponents on their schedule, O’Brien said, and Maryland will be in position to achieve its lofty goals. His teammate sitting across the table concurred.

“The coaching changes, things going on, hardships, everybody’s going to have those,” Tate said. “The main goal is that everybody wants to win, and we don’t want to have an excuse of, ‘Oh, we had a young team this year,’ or, ‘We had so many things happen to us.’ Injuries. That’s just part of the game.

“Things come and go, and the people that overcome those things and take on those things say that even through all of this we can make it to the ACC championship and win. It’s definitely one of the things that we want to accomplish.”

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