- Associated Press - Thursday, August 12, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. | Coming off a 2-10 season and with only two years left on his contract, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen feels pressure to win in 2010.

Not necessarily for himself, but for the players whose hard work has gone unrewarded.

After the Terrapins dropped their final seven games to finish with double-digit losses for the first time in school history, there was speculation that Friedgen would be fired. He was ultimately given the opportunity to make things right this year, the penultimate season before the 63-year-old coach is slated to step down to allow the ascention of offensive coordinator James Franklin to the head post.

“Maybe I’ll be two years here and four years somewhere else. I haven’t put an end line on me,” Freidgen said. “Maybe some other people have, but I haven’t. I’m planning on winning for the next two years, and then we’ll see what happens.”

For as long as he remains a coach, and perhaps for the rest of his life, Friedgen won’t forget last season.

That’s why this year is so important.

“The sense of urgency I have is to get this bad taste out of my mouth,” he said. “Two-and-10 is the worst record I’ve had since I’ve been a coach. It will be tremendous enjoyment for me to see these kids succeed, for their sake because I know how much they put into the season. The sense of urgency is to see them reap the rewards of their effort and to guide them through that.

“To me, that’s what’s coaching is all about. To be in the tough times and then come through those tough times and enjoy the good times again. This team has paid the price.”

Maryland had only 14 seniors last year and was vicitimized by inexperience. This squad has only 16 seniors, but the underclassmen who learned under fire have returned with an improved mind-set.

“I’ve still got a lot of young kids,” Friedgen said. “The difference is they’re not walking out there starry-eyed thinking, ‘I’m playing Division I football.’ They’ve been out there, they know what it’s about. Now it’s about winning Division I football.”

The offensive line is a microcosm of what Friedgen is talking about. Standouts Phil Costa and Bruce Campbell are gone, but three starters return and two were used as spot-starters last year.

“Another year wiser, and a year better,” sophomore tackle R.J. Dill said. “The game in a sense slows down for you. You know your assignments better, you know your technique. You can concentrate on who you’re blocking rather than what’s going on.”

The key to the offense will be quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who took over for injured Chris Turner late last season. Turner was a dropback passer and Robinson can run, which gives Franklin more options in drawing up plays. If wide receivers Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon can’t get open, then Robinson has the legs to make something out of a busted play.

“It gives us a safety net,” Dill said. “We’ve still got to do our job to give him time to get the ball to Torrey and A.C., but if we do get beat he can make a play. He gives us yards that would otherwise be left on the field.”

A defense that was tentative at times last year under first-year coordinator Don Brown now has an overall feeling of confidence.

“I’ll say one thing about this team: It’s a lot more experienced,” senior linebacker Adrian Moten said. “We have a lot of guys coming back who know their roles, which is going to help us win games.”

The Terps feel certain they can make good on the slogan instituted by the ticket sales department: “Be there for the comeback.”

And it doesn’t matter that the Atlantic Coast Conference media picked Maryland to finish last in the Atlantic Division.

“It totally makes sense as to why they picked us last, given what we did last year,” Dill said. “But we’re a totally different team. We’re a better team.”

A win over Navy in the opener would go a long way toward convincing the Terrapins — and their detractors — that Maryland has improved.

“You beat Navy, you’re setting the stage for the season,” Moten said.

Dill said, “I’ve never been on a losing team — ever — before last season. It’s been eating at me for nine months now. I’m ready to move on, get on Navy and get things done this year.”

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