Honestly, I'm just not sure where to begin. But obviously, if you've been on this site at all in the past couple months, you know this is going to be in support of our football team.
Let me start off by saying I'm not 100% in favor of everything that has happened this year. There has been a good amount of head scratching decisions beyond the wins that I don't get. Things such as DJ having less than 50 carries all year, extremely questionable timeouts, even more questionable play calling, and some of the worst press conferences in recent memory from Randy Edsall. I promise you, it's not that I have all rose colored glasses on and can't see beyond my love for this team, because I do see some things that I absolutely question.
But now onto my seemingly daily defense and rationale for this football team this season, so if you don't want to hear it (which after losing after being up 41-14 I can understand) it's probably best for you to stop reading this now. But whether you agree or disagree with my opinions, I'm sure we can all agree that we don't want our FanPost board being inundated with slightly different yet mostly the same subjects so lets try and keep all of your views on how I'm an idiot to this post.
First of all, there are the injuries and suspensions. Some have said they shouldn't matter, that you should be able to overcome injuries and win or be competitive anyways. In most cases I'd agree. But here is a list of some of the guys who have missed most or decent parts of this season, and I'm sure I'm missing a few... Danny O'Brien, Kevin Dorsey, Andrew Gonella, Quintin McCree, Ronnie Tyler, David Mackall, Andre Monroe, Justin Anderson, Darin Drakeford, Demetrius Hartsfield, Kenny Tate, and Matt Robinson. That is pretty much a "Who's Who" list of the most talented guys on our team outside of Davin Meggett and Joe Vellano. I'm not sure how many teams in the country can overcome losing 12 of their best 15 guys at different times throughout the entire season.
As for the suspensions, to me for the most part they were necessary. The only suspensions that I can recall off the top of my head are Tyler twice for 3 games, McCree once for 2 games, and Mackall for the last half of the season. If I'm missing some I apologize it's been a long holiday weekend. I'm really not sure how anyone can have a problem with the Tyler or McCree suspensions, unless you think they should've been longer
As for Mackall, I don't think anyone here knows for sure what happened. From what I heard, he cussed out his coaches and was repeatedly late to meetings. Now I know there are a lot of us here that have wanted to go into work when we felt like it and go off Stone Cold Steve Austin style to our superiors for one reason or another, but we know it's unacceptable so we just don't do it. So if that was the case, and he felt no remorse for it afterwards, then I can't say I have a problem with suspending him. Now that's all speculation, so who knows.
ATTITUDE AND DISCONTENT
But when Edsall came in here, he felt like this program needed an attitude change and he went about doing just that. We weren't anywhere close to where we needed to be academically, and there were players that came out earlier in the season that said that the players haven't been held accountable for their actions the past couple years as much as they should've been. Now I'm not slamming Fridge because maybe that worked for him. But it didn't work for Edsall and he needs to run the program the way he sees fit whether everyone agrees with it or not.
As for the reported discontent in the locker room, it sucks. In a perfect world, everyone would get along and everything would be cool. But when we changed coaches, we changed personalities as well. I've said it time and again this year, I don't blame anyone associated with this team really for the discontent. Randy Edsall needs to lead this team how he feels is best. Likewise, these players did not sign up to play for Randy Edsall. Granted I have no idea, but I don't expect Edsall to be this militaristic throughout his entire career at Maryland. I think he felt like he needed to change the attitude quickly, for better or worse, because he felt as if it would be better in the long run. Once he has his players here that are buying into what he's selling, I'd bet he's able to loosen the reins a bit and allow these players to have more fun. Just guessing, or hoping, however you may want to put it.
Another reason for the struggles this season is the scheme change. There are a lot of people that have said we should've kept everything the same because it was working. To a certain extent you would be correct, except as I pointed out above, Edsall needs to form the program to his image. I'm one of the last few believers in Edsall, and if he thinks a spread offense and a multiple defense is going to win us more games in the long run, then I'm with him.
When it comes to the spread offense, you have to give Edsall and Crowton a year or two to get their players into this system. It was abundantly clear that we lacked both the experience and talent at the skill positions to excel in this offense immediately. I'll get to the recruiting in a bit, but I do believe we have some decent options going forward that are already on this team (if they stick around ofcourse). Don't forget that we have Kevin Dorsey (Jr), Matt Furstenburg (Jr), Adrian Coxson (Fr), Marcus Leak (Fr), and Nigel King (Fr) on this team that have either gotten a full season playing experience as well as playbook experience in this offense. The two juniors I mentioned both have been playing pretty well already and the freshman will be better adjusted to the offense and speed of the college game to have more of a positive impact in this offense. And while CJ has looked pretty good at times in this offense this season, I do hope that DOB does come back. I believe one of the biggest reasons (outside of Torrey Smith) that DOB had such a great redshirt freshman year was because he had the ability to sit and learn for a season. If he comes back next year I think he will be much more comfortable running this offense and could do well.
As for the defensive scheme changes, I'm really not sure what to say. When Don Brown left unexpectedly right after signing day, it put us in a huge hole this year. Don't forget that Todd Bradford wasn't exactly Edsall's first choice for defensive coordinator. He went after both Larry Johnson, Sr. and Randy Shannon, neither of which were able to come for different reasons. But both could be much more available this offseason with the train wreck up in Happy Valley and the 1 million dollar penalty for Shannon leaving for another ACC school apparently only being a one year thing. But beyond the scheme, this unit was hit hardest by injuries this season. We have started a different lineup in each of our 12 games this season. At one point we were starting all freshman linebackers, one of which is 17. We also started 7 freshman on defense for a few different games this season. And not only did all those freshman start, most of our backups were freshman as well. So for everything that everyone wants to say about our coaching, freshman are going to make mistakes regardless of how much they've been coached up. It's extremely rare for a freshman to come in and play like a veteran, especially when he has little to no experience lining up around him. We got a lot of good experience for our young guys this year. That experience plus added depth will make this defense much tougher in the coming years for 4 quarters than we showed this season.
This is the one area where I'm not sure where all the anger comes from. I understand everyone wants to sign Goldman, Diggs, Spence, Brown, Darby, Jones, etc. I do too. But it was always going to be difficult for us to do so, even if we did win. All the players I just named have been getting recruited by Alabama, Auburn, FSU, etc for the last 2-3 years by the same coaching staffs. But our staff hasn't given up and continue to work hard as hell to get these guys to come to College Park, to turn around our program. This is the hardest I've ever seen a Maryland football staff work to recruit guys, and I believe hard work will eventually pay off. Also don't forget that I believe the only two from the list I named that have actually committed elsewhere is Darby who committed to Notre Dame way back when.
As for the abundance of three stars and gaggle of two stars we have committed so far, I'm not that upset with it. Sure if given the option to replace them all with 4 and 5 stars I'd do it, but we aren't USC. Also, these aren't recruits that we have had to settle on because we missed out on other higher ranked recruits. These are athletes that we scouted and determined early on had the kind of skill set and coachability that we were looking for to fit our system. I can roll with that. Don't forget that Edsall's calling card at UConn was the ability to find and coach up less heralded athletes and turn them into NFL prospects. I'm not 100% sure on this and I'm too lazy to look it up, but I'm pretty sure that UConn has had as many or more prospects taken in the first 3 rounds of the draft as Maryland recently.
I believe the groundwork that Edsall and his staff have laid in the area this year for the future will pay off. And if he's able to pull an upset on one or two of the top area prospects (Spence and Brown for example) to close the recruiting season, this class will be just as good or better than any recruiting class recently. It's obviously all speculation, but in my experience hard work usually pays off.
I apologize for the incredibly long post, just a lot to say and a lazy Saturday to say it.
This season has sucked. As a long time fan and first time season ticket holder this season, it has really sucked. But that doesn't mean I don't see the silver lining in the storm clouds. And even with that silver lining, I still hope to see some changes made this offseason. We need to move Todd Bradford back to LB coach. We need to replace him at defensive coordinator with someone that is either or of the caliber of Larry Johnson, Sr or Randy Shannon, basically someone with a defensive pedigree that can recruit.
And as much as I hate calling for someone's job, Lyndon Johnson needs to go. Out the three phases of our game this season, special teams has consistently been the worst and that's saying something. If we're not going to be good on special teams, let's at least get someone who can recruit to fill that position. And I really think we should go after Mike Locksley. I understand he's been in some trouble, but I think coming home to coach under a disciplined guy like Edsall could really help him and his image while landing us the biggest recruits in the area.
Take your time to vent and be upset about this season, no one can fault you for it. But don't get rid of this team just yet. We have recent history to show that we can bounce back from a 2 win season. I sincerely believe that our progression for the next few years will be 6-8 wins next season with a mediocre bowl game, 8-10 wins the following season with a better bowl game and competing for the ACC championship, followed by competing and winning ACC championships in the following years. Call me crazy, call me overly optimistic, call me an idiot, but that's what I see when I evaluate the future for this team, and yall can quote me on it. This is a growing process we are going through, and unfortunately we had to take some lumps this year in order to grow.
Don't give other fan bases around the ACC the satisfaction of saying that we are proving we are fair weather fans here in Maryland. Let's support our team through the best of times and worst of times. I can't wait to be at Byrd for every game next season tail gating and wearing my Maryland Pride jersey. I hope to see you guys there too. Testudo Times tailgate anyone?
Now go ahead and tell me where I messed up, what I forgot, how wrong I am, and how my post was entirely too long.
Fear The Turtle