Despite a 2-7 record and a five-game losing streak, Maryland football coach Randy Edsall stood at the podium at Gossett Team House on Tuesday during his weekly news conference expressing confidence that his program had made progress this season.
The Terps ensured they wouldn't be playing in a bowl game this season after falling to Virginia in their final home game of the season this past Saturday. Even though Maryland hasn't had many positives on the field since their season-opening win against Miami, Edsall said there have been a lot of steps in the right direction this season.
"We're winning in a lot of areas," Edsall said. "We're just not winning on the field right now. But that will happen. I'm confident of that."
With a fan base growing in discontent after a disappointing season, Edsall said the public needs to see that there's more to the program than what happens every Saturday on the field.
"They look at how many you win and how many you lose," Edsall said. "That's the business that we're in and I understand that. But I look at the big picture because when you're installing a program there's more than just wins and losses."
When asked to elaborate on where the team has improved, Edsall stayed quiet.
"I think that's something that stays here within our family in terms of what our program is all about," Edsall said.
The players differed on opinion on where the Terps were improving.
"It doesn't happen overnight," defensive tackle Joe Vellano said. "I think we've made a lot of progress. Guys are gaining experience for the future and even for the future of this season."
"I wouldn't say improved," linebacker Darin Drakeford said. "But with a lot of losses, you tend to see teams fall apart and that's not the case here."
Edsall clarifies comments
During his Sunday teleconference, Edsall compared his current situation with the Terps to previous stints with Connecticut, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Boston College.
"I've been through this before," Edsall said Sunday. "I know how to handle it. I know what to do. There is no panic."
His comments set off a storm of frustrated Terp fans on message boards and blogs. After all, the Huskies were making the jump from the former Division I-AA — now known as Football Championship Subdivision — to Division I-A, while the Jaguars were entering their inaugural year as a pro football team when Edsall coached in those places.
The Terps, meanwhile, went 9-4 a season ago and played in a bowl game with the ACC's Rookie of the Year in Danny O'Brien at quarterback.
"The problem is that there's things that I say that gets taken out of context sometimes," Edsall said. "What I was referring to there was when I went into that situation you had a team that was 10-2, that came off going to the 1-AA playoffs for the first time in school history and expectations were very high with what we were going to do in that next year."
He went on to say that the Huskies lost 25 players to graduation and his first season didn't go as well as he hoped. He said he didn't intend to be "comparing the state of any program to another."
Notre Dame looms
When the schedules came out this year, many Terps players circled Saturday's nationally televised game with Notre Dame at FedEx Field as yet another opportunity to establish the program.
But in the midst of a tough transition season under a new coaching staff, their upcoming game doesn't have the same luster many had hoped for at the start of the season.
Still, the Terps are trying to salvage what's left of a lost season.
"Anytime you play Notre Dame you have to think it's a great opportunity," quarterback C.J. Brown said. "This will be my first time being able to go against this type of caliber opponent. I think it'll be a great experience."
The coaching staff had originally planned to unveil the team's "Maryland Pride" uniforms this Saturday, but ultimately decided on wearing the controversial jerseys for their opening game against Miami in September.
Edsall said that he hadn't seen a new uniform and the players had no idea if they would be sporting yet another new jersey.
"Who knows?" Brown said. "We'll show up Saturday and see what happens."