During his time in College Park, a lot of words could be used to describe head coach Randy Edsall's tenure with the Terrapins: frustration, disappointment, adversity, bad luck, and resiliency are just a few that come to mind. But one word that is easily forgotten by many is improvement. Maryland has gone from 2-10 to 4-8 to 7-6 in Edsall's three years in College Park. While some might argue that Edsall's actions resulted in that two-win season as a result of transfers. He has now successfully implemented his system and shown improvement as he and his staff build depth throughout their team.
"When it is all said and done, we had a great year," senior quarterback C.J. Brown said following his team's loss to Marshall in the Military Bowl. "We had a winning season and were able to extend it to the postseason and go to a bowl game. We'll be ready come next year. We're use this to prepare for the future."
When Edsall was asked about whether he believed 2013 could be considered a successful season, he didn't hesitate to answer in the affirmative.
"There's no question," Edsall said. "What these young men fought through all year long with the adversity and the injuries we had. For them to just continue to battle and go out and play....this group to me is a really special group."
Maryland certainly had several important moments in 2013. For one, they got back on the winning side of the West Virginia rivalry, trouncing the Mountaineers in front of a big crowd at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. They also achieved their first top-25 ranking under Edsall, briefly making an appearance AP Top 25 for the first time since the final poll following the 2010 season. And of course they debuted what is probably my favorite Under Armor pride uniform to date. They also won multiple ACC road games, including a win in Blacksburg for the first time since 1949 and a trouncing of NC State in Maryland's final Yow Bowl/ACC football game.
More importantly, Maryland again dealt with some adversity, losing their two best receivers to broken legs in the same game (which had an impact on the team's offense), having their left tackle abruptly leave the team in the middle of the season, and countless other injuries, including starting corner Dexter McDougle. But despite these, the team finished with a winning season and made it to a bowl game in their final season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. They team was also able to build upon their team depth and give additional players experience, something that should be vital for the team moving forward.
"What's happened for them this year is now they understand that they believe in themselves," Edsall said. "They believe that regardless of who's out there on the field, we can win and we're going to win."
Maryland will return a lot of key players next season, including starting quarterback C.J. Brown and receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. But they'll also be facing some tough opposition in 2014, their first as a member of the Big Ten.
"I'm very proud of these guys and I think this season really helped us as we're going to continue to move forward as we leave the ACC and now we enter into the Big Ten," Edsall said.
As Maryland bids farewell to the ACC and enters the Big Ten, they'll need to continue to improve and build on what they've done the past three seasons if they want to be successful. Only now, the competition is about to get a lot tougher.