Maryland doesn’t play its first football game under Coach Randy Edsall for another month. But the game plan for the Terrapins’ Sept. 5 opener against Miami was completed weeks ago, before Edsall and his staff took vacation, as were the game plans for the two contests that follow, against West Virginia and Temple.
On Thursday, Edsall strode into Gossett Team House precisely at noon — not one minute early or late — for a news conference to discuss the state of the team in advance of preseason practice, which begins Tuesday.
In seven months on the job, Edsall has made clear the premium he puts on order and discipline.
And while he insisted the restrictions he has placed on his players have been exaggerated (he has banned do-rags and hats indoors, he said, but has never banned chewing gum), Edsall defended his insistence on discipline, which he believes is the fundamental building block of every successful organization, corporate or athletic.
“If we don’t have structure, and we don’t have discipline, and we don’t have accountability, we aren’t winning very many games — I can tell you that,” Edsall said.
Among Edsall’s core values, selflessness is in a dead heat with discipline. And that’s why Maryland players’ names won’t appear on the redesigned uniforms that will be unveiled Aug. 22.
“The biggest thing is getting the guys to understand that it’s all about team; it’s all about Maryland,” Edsall said.
As part of the team’s makeover, Maryland will become the first NCAA school to use the custom-made Under Armour football this season. A former Syracuse quarterback, Edsall strode into the room clutching one, explaining that the ball — in addition to the new uniforms — would mean the 2011 Terps would be clad in Under Armour “head to toe.”
As for the team’s roster, Edsall said that offensive lineman Pete DeSouza, whose 2010 season was ended by a motor scooter accident that left him with two broken legs, has been cleared to practice but would be started off slowly with individual drills rather than team drills as coaches gauge his readiness for a return to the lineup.
“He has come a long way, but he still has got a long way to go,” Edsall said. “It’s great that he’s cleared, but being cleared and being able to play the game the way you have to play it—with the quickness and explosion you have to have as an offense lineman—[are different]. That’s what we’re going to be evaluating on [Tuesday].”
A former All-Met from DeMatha, DeSouza played five games at right tackle before the Oct. 21 collision.
Reviewing personnel on both sides of the ball, Edsall said he envisioned the most intense competition at wide receiver, where the Terps lost standout Torrey Smith to the NFL, and at fullback, where Tyler Cierski, Jeff Hernandez and Rahsaan Moore all warrant consideration.
He predicted a battle between Josh Cary and Pete White at guard. And he said he’d love nothing more than to settle on a full complement of backups for the offensive line, linebacking corps and at safety.
Edsall also said the team has signed a fourth quarterback, James Joseph, a transfer from Bowie State, to add depth for practice, and granted scholarships to four seniors who were walk-ons last season (long snapper Tim Downs, wide receiver Webb Dulin, safety Anthony Green and tight end Ryan Schlothauer.
Despite returning quarterback Danny O’Brien and several key starters from a 9-4, 5-3 team, Maryland was picked to finish a humbling fifth in the ACC’s Atlantic Division the league’s annual preseason media poll.
“I’ve never really bought into any of that stuff,” Edsall said, when asked what he felt about the low expectations. “It’ll just give us a little more incentive and sense of urgency to prove people wrong.”