Maryland was picked by media members to finish last in the Atlantic Division during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., on Monday. But coach Randy Edsall is surprisingly optimistic heading into his second year in College Park.
Edsall, whose Terps went 2-10 during the 2011 season, said that changes in the program’s infrastructure have been made to ensure “sustained success.” The Maryland coach is confident that his players have bought in to his philosophy.
“The thing about it is, if you don’t put those things in place, if you don’t stay true and consistent in the process we’ve developed, we don’t have a chance for long-term success,” Edsall said. “I can see where we’re heading and things that are happening to put us on track for success very shortly.”
Maryland, which finished behind Florida State (72 of 95 first-place votes), Clemson (17 votes), North Carolina State (five), Wake Forest and Boston College in the media voting, has had 13 departures of players with eligibility remaining since the end of the 2011 season. Quarterback Danny O’Brien (Wisconsin), offensive tackle R.J. Dill (Rutgers) and offensive tackle Max Garcia (Florida) were among the more notable names that transferred. But Edsall said Monday that he wasn't dismayed a bit by players transferring from his program.
"I think as we sat down, all of our guys [said], ‘Hey, here’s who we are, here’s who we’ve got left, this is how we’re going to move forward.’ They were excited because they knew all the guys here wanted to be there and bought into what we’re doing," Edsall said. "You could just see the energy and excitement as we had our winter conditioning program. ... You could see the bonding and camaraderie amongst all the guys that are there."
Edsall touted the Terps' "No. 35 recruiting class coming off a 2-10 record" as evidence of players buying in to a new system that features two new coordinators. Mike Locksley will run a multiple offensive system that utilizes spread mechanisms, Edsall said, while first-year defensive coordinator Brian Stewart is implementing a 3-4 defense, but "not the two-gap defense that everyone thinks of in a 3-4."
"We started a new season with spring ball, having a new offensive and defensive coordinator, and everybody is just ready to just turn the page and start fall camp," fifth-year senior defensive tackle Joe Vellano said in a news release. "We have a lot of guys coming back on defense, 10 of 11 [starters] plus [linebacker] Kenny Tate."
At quarterback, C.J. Brown is Edsall's unquestioned starter. Behind the redshirt junior are two newcomers in Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe.
"Those two guys are just true freshmen, but they’re going to be our backups, so we have to get them ready to play," Edsall said. "I’m really looking forward to C.J. leading our team."
Edsall said that so far, it's been a "much easier transition" acclimating players to his system than it was one year ago.
"[The players] also understand me better and they also understand the program and what we’ve installed," he said. "It’s been much smoother and everyone’s on the same page and understands what we’re trying to accomplish."
Notes: In the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech (83 votes) was picked first, followed by Georgia Tech (10), North Carolina (two), Virginia, Miami and Duke. The ACC media voted for Florida State over Virginia Tech in their championship game predictions, and tabbed Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins as the preseason player of the year.