Maryland football coach Randy Edsall mentioned “the process” the Terrapins were going through after Saturday’s 38-7 loss to Temple, indicating “it wasn’t going to get changed overnight.”
It wasn’t, however, a signal he believed he inherited a rebuilding project.
“I don’t,” Edsall said Tuesday. “I don’t know why anybody would have ever thought that. To me, it’s the process. There’s no rebuilding here. That’s not something in my vocabulary. Never was wherever I’ve been and never will be. To me, if that was the case, I’d be doing a disservice to these young men that are here.”
It also would not have been a welcome message to a sometimes indifferent fan base a year after Maryland produced a 9-4 season and won the Military Bowl. Then-coach Ralph Friedgen was fired anyway, and Edsall was hired in January to continue the program’s growth.
The Terps returned 12 starters from a year ago, including conference rookie of the year Danny O’Brien at quarterback. Yet after an opening victory against Miami, Maryland sputtered en route to a 24-point deficit before nearly rallying past West Virginia.
Then came Saturday, when Maryland was dealt the most lopsided loss to an ACC team from a school from a non-automatic qualifier league since 2004. The Terps trailed 31-0 at the half and barely avoided the program’s first shutout loss at Byrd Stadium since 1997.
“There’s a process coming in and establishing a program,” Edsall said. “You’re not establishing a team, at least I’m not, because to me a team is just from year to year. What you have to have to establish a program, a protocol for how everything is done.”
Maryland’s problems span more than one player or one unit. O’Brien has five interceptions (three fewer than all of last season) but was without suspended wide receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler the past two games. Both are expected to play Saturday. The defense has yielded 33 points a game. Maryland’s special teams have struggled mightily.
Still, players don’t view the early troubles as part of an adjustment to a new way of doing business.
“I feel like that was spring, getting the kinks out and getting to know everybody,” linebacker Kenny Tate said. “I feel like everybody has jelled together now. It’s just coming together and forming to prepare the best and play the best. Coach likes a high tempo. The offense has definitely learned that. The defense has definitely learned that. We just have to make it so that we’re learning what the opponent is trying to do quicker and faster during the week.”
The Terps (1-2) play host to Towson on Saturday, and Edsall made several changes on the depth chart after the two-game skid.
That will include the use of true freshmen Tyrek Cheeseboro, Cole Farrand and A.J. Hendy, none of whom played in the first three games. Edsall cited that decision as evidence he didn’t see the Terps’ situation as “rebuilding” - a word he was careful to use only once.
“If I was saying it was that kind of what [a reporter’s] saying, then I’d take these kids and I wouldn’t play them,” Edsall said. “But that’s not what I’m looking to do.”
Instead, Edsall’s attention remains on a process he believes will take time as he constructs the foundation of the future of the program.
Since the beginning of the year, Maryland lost three scholarships as an NCAA academic-related penalty, endured the loss of 2 1/2 hours of practice time each week as penance for NCAA violations and suspended four players for a violation of team rules, all of which Edsall mentioned Tuesday. Then there’s Saturday’s result, which humbled many players.