The Washington Times - September 7, 2008, 06:18PM

On the drive back to the hotel last night —- and before nearly ruining the rental’s new-car smell by almost running over a skunk —- and thought about another new thing that doesn’t seem quite as good as it once was.

That would be Maryland‘s offense, brought in by new offensive coordinator James Franklin.


Coach Ralph Friedgen issued a rather foreboding shot in August. In a nutshell, he said he expected some growing pains and that others wouldn’t understand or be patient or tolerate some early troubles.

Deep down, Ralph probably didn’t think it would be so bad that Maryland wouldn’t win its first two games.

I asked Friedgen during his Sunday teleconference how much of Saturday’s debacle at Middle Tennessee could be pinned on adjusting to a new system, and how much would have been bad regardless of the scheme.

“I think some of it is that its new,” Friedgen said. “Sometimes you get in the heat of battle, and some things that you used to do that are different, you have a way of falling back on things. The pass that was intercepted late in the game, actually Darrius [Heyward-Bey] tripped up and the ball was thrown.

“Our split wasn’t right and we just rushed it a little bit. That’s a play we had run in the past. We have some young kids in there, some freshmen, even Da’Rel [Scott], and a lot of young kids are in there for the first time and they’re making mistakes, which is understandable.”

Some of that’s worth buying. Some of it isn’t. Notably the experience issue, and especially on offense.

Ten of Maryland’s 11 offensive starters came into the season with at least seven career starts. That’s half a season, so the “rookie mistake” argument doesn’t hold up on that side of the ball.

(Defensively, six of the Terps’ starters entered the season with little or no work in a top role.)

It’s plenty possible that in a game, older guys resort to doing what they had done for three or four seasons in the program. It’s not good and obviously not preferable, but it’s also generally human nature to revert to what you know. So that’s the sort of issue Maryland will have to work through.

But don’t go pinning the offense’s struggles on the young guys. There just aren’t enough of them playing a ton of snaps to blame for it to make even a sliver of sense.

—- Patrick Stevens