After a brisk two-hour session Tuesday morning, Edsall called the season’s first practice a “good start” and characterized the overall condition of his team as “not bad.” Players, meantime, talked about practicing one way: fast.
“The tempo is a lot faster, just the nature of the practice,” quarterback Danny O’Brien said. “I think we are getting more plays in, which is good with a new offense.”
Wide receiver Tony Logan said the offense will attempt to fatigue defenses and play to the strengths of Maryland’s unit, which includes last season’s ACC freshman of the year in O’Brien, returning running backs Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams and an unsung wide receiving corps that Edsall repeatedly has said he likes.
When asked if the frenetic pace to Maryland’s offense will come anywhere close to approaching the so-called blur offense of Oregon, 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.”
In describing the differences in practice pace, O’Brien said last season a play would be run in practice and coaches would correct some mistakes immediately on the field. This season, more plays are run in a given five-minute period and, O’Brien said, some corrections are left to be made in the film room and meetings.
All eligible players were accounted for Tuesday except freshman Quinton Jefferson, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive lineman who will not report this fall. Edsall said Jefferson had a “medical issue” after he returned home to Pittsburgh and that he would enroll in January.
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 that could cost Maryland games.
Edsall told a small gathering of reporters who watched the first practice that it is always difficult to evaluate a team this early in preseason 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 back outside to end. Anderson had been positioned at both tackle and end during spring practice.
Players had a three-hour window Monday to report and check in at LaPlata Hall, where the team will stay during preseason camp. Players underwent a traditional physical and had a team meeting Monday night, as well.
Athletic Director Kevin Anderson also 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 teams in the league’s Atlantic Division.
Tuesday marked the first of 29 practices in preparation for Maryland’s season opener on Labor Day against Miami. Beneath their red or white jerseys, some players wore shirts bearing the team's slogan this season: No excuses. O'Brien has said this season's goal is ACC title or bust.
“All in all, there were some mistakes,” O’Brien said of the first practice. “But we definitely picked up from where we left off this summer, which is a big step for us.”