Football coach Randy Edsall spent a good chunk of Thursday evening on a cruise of the Severn River with a select group of Maryland fans and boosters.
And, despite a 6-18 record in two seasons guiding the Terrapins, the Susquehannock High School graduate maintained that the football program isn't adrift.
“I really like the course that we're on,” he said. “We had a plan when we came in here in terms of what we wanted to do. We knew it wasn't something that was going to happen overnight. Sometimes people just want to look at the wins and losses and I understand that's what most people want to look at … If you look at the totality of our program, we're on schedule. I like where we're at.”
Edsall is pleased with the improvements made regarding facilities, academics and the program's standing on the recruiting trail. Ultimately, he believes, those things will produce on-the-field success.
“Sometimes wins are the last thing to come,” he said. “But you can't sacrifice all those other things in order to win. Without those things, there's no foundation, no stability (enabling) you to handle those tough situations when they arise.”
Edsall has dealt with plenty of difficult situations already.
Last season, for example, he endured a freakish series of injuries to his quarterbacks that robbed him of
his four best options at that position. By the end of the season, Edsall was using reserve linebacker Shawn Petty to run the offense because he'd played quarterback in high school.
Even though projected starter C.J. Brown went down during the preseason with a severe knee injury and missed the entire 2012 campaign, Edsall's Terrapins forged a 4-2 record before the injuries at quarterback became too much to overcome.
As Edsall pointed out, that just as easily could have been a 5-2 start if not for a last-second field-goal attempt that thudded off the left upright and left the Terrapins with a 20-18 home loss to North Carolina State.
A week later, Maryland — with fourth-stringer Caleb Rowe starting at quarterback — yielded the decisive touchdown to Boston College with 52 seconds left and lost, 20-17. With a little bit better luck — or a frontline quarterback — in those two games, Maryland's 4-8 record might have become 6-6 and the Terrapins would have been bowl-eligible.
“The thing that was hard last year was we were 4-2 and we were a couple of inches away from 5-2,” Edsall said. “Then you have to throw in the injuries and those kept us from making a bigger impact last year.”
He's determined to take the Terrapins to a bowl game in 2013. Plenty of younger players have gained experience because of all the injuries suffered in Edsall's first two seasons. This year, those youngsters will be called upon to assume larger roles full-time — the roster includes just 11 seniors.
Edsall remains hopeful — even with the school's impending jump to the football-obsessed Big 10 in 2014. He likes the response he's been getting from players, coaches and parents on the recruiting trail. Last year, he landed Stefon Diggs — a play-making receiver that many big-name schools coveted. Diggs made an immediate impact as a freshman, making 54 catches for a 15.7-yard average and a half-dozen touchdowns.
Edsall thinks there are plenty more like Diggs ready to give Maryland serious consideration.
“The people who are most important to our program … they wouldn't be coming to Maryland if they didn't think we were doing the things necessary to win,” he said. “That's how I look at it.”
NOTES: Athletic director Kevin Anderson, field hockey coach Missy Meharg and men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski were also on board for the cruise. The Annapolis get-together was the second of four such events scheduled to allow fans and boosters to interact more closely with Maryland coaches. The initial “Coaches Caravan” was held Tuesday in Ocean City. There will be subsequent events in Washington and Baltimore … The kickoff times for Maryland's first two games of the 2o13 season were announced on Thursday. Both games will be played at Byrd Stadium. The Aug. 31 opener against Florida International will begin at 12:30 p.m. The following week, College Championship Subdivision quarterfinalist Old Dominion visits College Park for a 4 p.m. game.
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