The one news tidbit that emerged from the first practice of the Randy Edsall era at Maryland involved freshman Quinton Jefferson, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive lineman who will not report to the Terrapins this fall. Edsall said the Pittsburgh native had a “medical issue after he went back home.” Jefferson will enroll in January.
As for the practice, players raced through the two-hour morning session at a tempo that they say is reflective of how the team expects to play this season. They talked about the hope to play at a faster pace offensively this season.
Edsall said the overall condition of the team is “not bad. When you have 98, 99 guys, all 98 of them are not going to be where you want them to be. But for the most part, they are in good shape.”
After practice, Edsall told his team that the practice represented a good start but that the team has a lot of work to do. He talked about some of the tenets of his philosophy: physical play, mental toughness, hard work. Edsall emphasized the need for players to fight through mental fatigue and the importance of minimizing penalties.
“All in all, there were some mistakes, but we definitely picked up from where we left off this summer, which is a big step for us,” quarterback Danny O’Brien said. “The tempo is a lot faster, and I think we’re getting more plays in, which is good for us with a new offense.”
Return man/wide receiver Tony Logan said “we have a lot of weapons on offense and we’re going to try to exploit them in every way possible.” Logan also said that playing at a faster tempo will help tire out the defense quicker.
When asked if the offense will operate near the pace of Oregon’s offense, Logan said, “I think we would like to if it is possible. I don’t know if we can go seven seconds back to the line of scrimmage to hike the ball because we want to get organized. At the same time, we are going to do everything we can to get up and get the play called.”
Edsall said it is always difficult to evaluate this early in fall camp because players practice without pads. “The separation is not going to come until after they get into the fifth practice, sixth practice and they get full pads on and you can see,” Edsall said. “It’s a physical game and you can’t see the physicalness and the things you really need to see when they are just out here in helmets.”
Among some minor positional tweaks, defensive lineman Justin Anderson was moved to defensive end.
As for O’Brien, Edsall said “he’s got to continue to get better in all phases of the game, and he’d be the first to tell you that. He’s not the finished product by any stretch of the imagination. All Danny wants to do is get better in everything. He is a guy who strives for perfection. And he knows he is still not at the level he wants to be or the level his ability allows him to be.”
Athletic Director Kevin Anderson spoke to the team Monday night and, according to Edsall, told players to believe in themselves when others may not believe in them. ACC media members picked Maryland to finish fifth out of six team in the league’s Atlantic Division.