Randy Edsall

Randy Edsall (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun / August 5, 2013)

Inside Randy Edsall's large, contemporary home hangs a framed newspaper bearing a photo of the coach with his arms raised and his jubilant Connecticut players dancing around him on the sideline.

The accompanying story chronicles one of Edsall's big, early wins at UConn, a program he helped transition — painfully at times — from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as 1-AA) to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"Arrival Time," the headline screams in bold, oversized lettering.

As Edsall enters his third Maryland season, Terps fans are waiting to see if his latest program — fashioned increasingly in his image — has arrived.

During his first two seasons — in which the Terps lost 18 of 24 games — Edsall said improvement was part of a building process. "It doesn't happen overnight," he said after his first year.

The hope and belief around College Park is that this year's team — which has just four senior starters and is largely built around Edsall's own recruits — has reached critical mass.

"We're closer to where I want to be than we were a year ago. We're gaining on it every day," Edsall said Thursday. "We're still not where we need to be with the kind of depth I want to have."

Edsall's program seems to have emerged from the difficult period after he replaced Ralph Friedgen, a former Terps player who had been coach for 10 years. About a dozen players with eligibility left Maryland after Edsall's first year, and his initial offensive and defensive coordinators lasted one season. Edsall was criticized by local columnists for his record and team rules. The coach, who can display a temper, remained upbeat in public, refusing to show the strain.

"He got into a mess," said Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, who has coached against Edsall and, like the Maryland coach, has been in the business for more than 30 years. "It's hard to hire the right people. Randy is starting to get the people around him that he's comfortable with. He was in a very precarious situation. He had a group of guys that had been with him [at Connecticut] and knew him and he couldn't bring all of them."

Bennett said fans aren't known for being patient. "This is an instant gratification society. But you look at the coaches that have stuck. Look at [Virginia Tech coach] Frank Beamer. Look at his first four or five years," Bennett said.

Beamer was 22-32-1 in his first five Virginia Tech seasons and is 258-127-4 now.

A roster breakdown shows the degree to which Maryland has become Edsall-ized. The team is heavy on underclassmen too new to have played for Friedgen.

Of the players on Maryland's current travel squad, 19 are true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. There are 21 sophomores and 18 juniors.

Just eight of the 66 travel squad members are seniors.

"For anyone in life — not just our football team — change is difficult," said cornerback Jeremiah Johnson, a redshirt junior whose first year on the team was Friedgen's last. "I think some of the older guys may have had a harder time than some of us younger guys. We weren't really under the old regime for that long, so it wasn't that much of an adjustment. You've definitely seen over the past few years that the trust has built and people are buying into what [Edsall] wants to do here."

This season, coaches have introduced new measures to try to promote unity.

Maryland ends practices with a shout of "Hold the Rope," the team's unofficial motto.

The meaning? Imagine you're dangling from a cliff and relying on a teammate to reel you in.

The slogan appears on the cover of every playbook — as well as on bright red wrist bands sported by starting quarterback C.J. Brown, among others.

"Drew Wilson, our strength coach, came to the team with the idea and said, 'This is going to be our motto for the offseason,'" Brown said.