Football coaches like to say it doesn't matter how you win as long as you win. Balderdash, twaddle and tommyrot, in lieu of more expressive terms.
Maryland's 7-6 squeaker Saturday against William & Mary at Byrd Stadium did nothing to suggest the inexperienced Terrapins are poised to move onward and upward from coach Randy Edsall's 2-10 first season. In fact, it hinted the opposite. Several days before the opener, Edsall had insisted, "We aren't mentioning last year — this is a new year." Well, sure, but it's doubtful that his Terps are headed in a new direction.
Considering that the Terps trailed an opponent from the inferior Football Championship Subdivision for the first 50 minutes, it's hard for even the most optimistic fans to anticipate significant success this fall.
There were a few bright spots Saturday, such as the play of an aggressive defense headed by end Joe Vellano, but most of the vibes were inconclusive or negative.
Edsall started his postgame news conference by thanking the crowd of 31,321 for its energy and enthusiasm. That should give you some idea what he thought of his team, although he issued the pro forma promise that "we're going to be better in the future."
Here's a piece of unsolicited advice, Randy: Don't bet the farm.
Oh, and did I mention boring? At intermission, one spectator asked his companion, "How come you're not cheering for the end of the first half?"
His companion grimaced. "I'm waiting for the end of the second half."
And perhaps the end of the season.
After antagonizing nearly everybody connected with the football program during his acerbic, my-way-or-the-highway freshman year, Edsall supposedly tweaked his persona to be kinder and gentler this year. Really, he had no choice. After 15 players transferred between last season and this, even rockheaded Randy got the message.
Unfortunately for him and remaining Terps fans, a slew of preseason injuries left the Terps greener than lime Jell-O. The most serious was a torn ACL that put C.J. Brown, Maryland's only experienced quarterback, on the sideline and true freshman Perry Hills under center against William & Mary.
There is a reason coaches don't like to start freshmen, particularly ones who haven't been redshirted, and Hills quickly demonstrated why by tossing two interceptions that led to first-quarter field goals by Tribe junior Drake ("Don't Call Me Bowie") Kuhn. To Hills' credit, however, he led the Terps on a 69-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
Historically, Maryland coaches have tended to be very good (Jim Tatum, Jerry Claiborne, Bobby Ross, Ralph Friedgen) or very bad (Bob Ward, Roy Lester, Joe Krivak, Mark Duffner). Edsall has a head start toward joining the latter group. Worse still, it might cost the university $8 million or so to eat his contract and show him the door — an unlikely prospect given its athletic financial shortfall.
On the other hand, Maryland plays in two weeks at Connecticut, from which Randy sprang to College Park in January 2011. Do you suppose the Terps could wrap him in a blanket and leave him on someone's doorstep?
Of course, athletic matters aren't completely dismal at Terptown. Basketball practice starts in about six weeks.
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