UMBC will open the season Saturday when it travels south on Interstate 95 to face No. 11 Maryland at Byrd Stadium at 12 p.m.
Will the Retrievers be at a disadvantage before the opening faceoff?
The Terps have a game under their belts after demolishing Mount St. Mary’s, 16-3, last Saturday, while it would seem that UMBC may have some rust.
But Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said he, the coaches and the players have the ability to review film of Maryland’s win, while the Terps do not have a similar luxury of studying UMBC.
“I think each team has their advantage,” Zimmerman said Tuesday morning. “Their advantage is that they’ve played a game. Our advantage is we were able to obtain film of that game and we now have a good feel, I think, for them and what they’re trying to do both offensively and defensively.”
Maryland coach John Tillman said the Terps can study video of the Retrievers from the 2013 season, but with five starters gone, UMBC will be a different version from last year’s squad.
“There is some anxiousness not knowing and not being prepared as well as you’d like to,” he said Tuesday. “I think all coaches take a lot of pride in putting your kids in a position where they feel comfortable and they know what to expect and then it’s defending the knowns. This week, we’ve got to be good enough to be able to communicate our way out and go back to some keys that are consistent with everything that we do offensively and defensively.”
Tillman has said that Maryland should be motivated to play well against the Retrievers, who defeated the Terps, 9-8, in 2012. The 2013 game between the schools was canceled because of snow.
Zimmerman said he anticipates Maryland using the revenge card, but said his focus is on reminding his players what they did well in that victory two years ago.
“I believe that every year, every team is a different team,” he said. “Then again, you are playing for the program, and the players have to understand the history and tradition behind the program to fully be involved in the whole thing. I say, ‘Look, the last time we played Maryland, we played them at UMBC and we played well.’ It’s not so much that we beat them. What I remind the guys is, what did we do to be successful? It’s not the score. The score kind of takes care of itself. It’s what did that team do on that day and the practices leading up to that game that enabled us to be successful? Those are the elements that I tend to focus on, not the fact that we just beat them. It’s what did we do to put ourselves in that position because that really transcends the years. That’s the constant.”
Nonetheless, the Retrievers are eager to begin the season, and the excitement is palpable in the locker room and on the practice field.
“Preseason is preseason,” Zimmerman said. “It’s tough and the guys are out there every day banging against one another. The opportunity to play another opponent is always something that they’re looking forward to.”