Maryland football coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday that he has begun to establish a "groundwork" for the program and that he is not discouraged by a 2-9 season in which he has found himself criticized — unfairly, he believes — for his team rules.
Edsall said at his final Tuesday media session of the year that a season marked by injuries and suspensions has been challenging, but that his resolve has not been shaken.
"Things have been very, very tough and very, very difficult," the first-year Maryland coach said. "Did we meet the expectations that I had in terms of on the field? No, we didn't meet those. Is it surprising that we didn't meet those expectations? Probably not, because of all the things that's been documented and that's taken place. Am I discouraged? No. I'm happy that we've started to lay the groundwork and put the foundation in and put the building blocks in place to create that team atmosphere."
By "documented" issues, Edsall seemed to be referring partly to injuries. On defense, the Terps have lost as many as eight potential starters at various times. Maryland also lost offensive lineman Andrew Gonnella in Week 5 and quarterback Danny O'Brien in Week 10.
A half-dozen players have been suspended during the season. Edsall was asked Tuesday if one of those — sophomore defensive lineman David Mackall — was expected back next year. "I don't think that looks real promising," the coach replied. He said another player, senior wide receiver Ronnie Tyler, won't play in the season finale at North Carolina State because of academic issues. Multiple sources say other players are expected to transfer after the season, although it is not certain how many. Thirteen of former coach Ralph Friedgen's players with eligibility remaining left before the season began.
When the season ends, Edsall said he plans to focus on recruiting and sitting down with players individually. "I'll meet with each player — talk to them," he said.
Edsall, who has a six-year contract, was asked whether his team was hamstrung by the loss of practice time because of NCAA sanctions from Friedgen's tenure. The Terps violated NCAA rules by exceeding practice-time limits during the 2010 season and allowing graduate assistants and interns to monitor summer workouts. Maryland self-reported the violations and recommended penalties, including the loss of 2 1/2 hours of the normal 20-hour-a-week maximum for practices and games.
Edsall said Tuesday that the practice limitations "probably had a much bigger impact than what we anticipated."
Edsall arrived from Connecticut with a set of rules — such as no ballcaps or earrings in the Gossett Football Team House — designed to make sure players behave properly off the field.
He said Tuesday that he believes his emphasis on discipline has caused him to be unfairly criticized.
"If you're just asking people to be on time and do what's right and have structure and have accountability, have discipline in their life so they can go out and then be successful … yeah, I think unfairly I have been criticized for that. But everybody is entitled to their own opinion," he said.
Quarterback C.J. Brown said Edsall's rules are no big deal and that outsiders focus on them too much. "I think it's blown out of proportion, big time," Brown said.
twitter.com/sunjeffbarkerCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun