But the embattled coach insisted Monday at the ACC’s annual kickoff event that despite overhauling his coaching staff and watching the athletic department hire a public relations firm to help with his image, one trying year would not change his thought process on how to run a program.
“You’re gonna have some trying times. Sometimes you have to take two steps back to go forward,” Edsall said. “You have to judge a program on the totality of what a program is, to me, supposed to be. In football, you might not be able to satisfy everything in one year when you’re trying to do the things you want to do.”
But even Edsall conceded his first year in College Park went awry. After surprising many observers when it challenged for the ACC’s Atlantic Division title in 2010, Maryland self-destructed on the field a year ago, finishing ranked 87th in the country in scoring offense and 108th in total defense.
Edsall, meanwhile, was the target of much criticism publicly for his strict rules and unrest within the locker room that has resulted in sizable number of players leaving the program. On Monday, a preseason poll of ACC reporters tabbed the Terrapins to finish last in the Atlantic Division.
This offseason, Edsall hired former New Mexico Coach Mike Locksley to be his offensive coordinator. And though Locksley struggled during his time as a head coach, he is just four years removed from leading an Illinois offense that finished 18th in the nation.
The Terrapins will move back to a more pro-style, multiple-formation scheme this season, and de-emphasize some of the up-tempo spread principles that former offensive coordinator Gary Crowton implemented a year ago.
On defense, meanwhile, new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart will debut a 3-4 scheme that will feature defensive lineman Joe Vellano, a first team all-ACC selection a year ago, in several playmaker spots along the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Kenny Tate, a first team all-ACC selection in 2010, is also expected to return to full health after missing most of the year with a knee injury.
Edsall echoed his players’ sentiments about the new coordinators, indicating “there’s more of a comfort level” with these coaches. “That’s one of the reasons we made the changes we made. . . . There’s a level of trust,” he said.
Edsall also believes the players have a better understanding of his expectations, but he made it a point to tell reporters “the structure of what I want our program to be hasn’t changed one bit.”
It appears after becoming “a punching bag,” in the words of wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, Edsall has grown weary of defending his philosophy. He simply wants to show the disgruntled Maryland fan base an improved product on the field.
“We don’t need to talk about anything. We don’t need to open our mouths. We just need to work and go out on the field and let it take care of itself because no matter how much talking we do, it still comes down to what we’re going to do on the field,” he said.
“I want to prove people wrong every day.”