Maryland's game at Syracuse on Saturday marks a homecoming of sorts for Randy Edsall. The Terrapins head coach was a letterwinner on the field for the Orangemen, then spent 11 years on the team's coaching staff. Edsall has faced his former school several times, as he shared the Big East with the since-renamed Orange while the head coach at Connecticut.
"It's business as usual," Edsall said. "The first time when I went up there as an assistant at Boston College was special. But once you do it one time, and then I've been back as a head coach at Connecticut, it's just old packing, so to speak. I value and appreciate the time that I spent there as a student, four years, and then as a coach for 11. I met my wife there so that was good, actually really good, I should say."
Edsall said his daughter was born at Syracuse, and he played in the Orangemen's final game at Archbold Stadium, which was subsequently torn down when the university built the Carrier Dome.
"You go back and see some faces that were there when I was there, but we're going up there to win a football game, and that's first and foremost. We've got to concentrate on that and get it done," Edsall said.
Terps happy with nose tackle rotation
Seniors Darius Kilgo and Keith Bowers have both been in Maryland's program for years. Both have been effective in their roles, so it would be understandable for either to want to be an every-series nose tackle for these 2014 Terrapins.
The two have been splitting time fairly evenly so far this season. Kilgo said the rotation has benefited both of them from a competition and conditioning standpoint.
"We're both able to stay fresh during the game, and we're never really dog tired," Kilgo said. "It just gives us a chance to get our breath back, talk about a few things we see during the game and just go from there."
Kilgo used that freshness against West Virginia. He had a blocked field goal and a sack and was generally disruptive over what he estimated was around 40 snaps throughout the game.
"I thought Darius played well. I think it helps that we have Keith alternating," Edsall said. "It keeps both of those guys fresh. He did a good job of blocking the field goal, but I think Darius can always play better. Take that, build on it, and play better this week."
Said Kilgo: "He gets the best out of me, and I get the best out of him."
Reinforcements arrive on offensive line, at linebacker
Maryland struggled at both the offensive line and linebacker against West Virginia. The line was badly outplayed against the Mountaineers' front, and none of the team's four starting linebackers finished the game. To at least some degree, reinforcements are coming.
All-around depth lineman Evan Mulrooney and outside linebacker Yanik Cudjoe-Virgil, who have each been out with injuries, were back at practice on Tuesday, Edsall said.
Mulrooney is expected to be active on Saturday. Cudjoe-Virgil will be close to a game-time decision, Edsall said, with a final determination not likely until gameday arrives.
For the line, tackle Michael Dunn said Mulrooney's return would be important.
"Any time you get a player back, it's great," Dunn said. "Depth is a huge part of our offense. You never want to go into a game and be worried about how many people you have. Just having an extra guy out there, it really makes you more comfortable and it makes the coaches feel better about the gameplan."
Dunn added that Maryland's offensive linemen were aware of the unit's shortcomings against West Virginia.
"I don't think we had a very good game against West Virginia. That's just our feel toward it. We watched film together, we graded ourselves out together," Dunn said. "We were not too pleased with our West Virginia performance."
Achieving consistency, Dunn said, was the line's biggest task moving forward.
"We haven't been too consistent. That's really our biggest issue throughout the entire offense," he said.
Likely learns a lesson
Cornerback Will Likely had a handful of terrific plays against West Virginia: a forced fumble, an interception and a game-tying punt return. The sophomore, though, didn't seem quite satisfied with his day.
I asked Likely if he had fun while he was making the aforementioned big plays.
"It was all right," he said. "At the end of the day, you want to win, so if you don't win, everything that you do, it doesn't really matter."
Another reporter asked Likely about the fumble he jarred loose against Mountaineer wideout Mario Alford.
"He caught the pass, so that's like a minus for me. I pride myself on not letting the receiver catch the ball," Likely said.
Another reporter asked about his punt return touchdown.
"At the end of the day, we lost," he said.
One more reporter asked Likely if he could take any lessons away from the defeat.
"It's a lesson learned," he said. "Not to lose."