Maryland must overcome loss of QB Brown to succeed

After one year, 10 losses and the exodus of more than two dozen

players, Maryland coach Randy Edsall and his team have finally

adjusted to each other.

Now, just when it appeared as if the Terrapins were ready to

move forward, another major situation has popped up.

C.J. Brown, the only quarterback on the team with playing

experience, is lost for the season after tearing the ACL in his

right knee during practice on Tuesday. That means one of two true

freshmen, Perry Hills or Caleb Rowe, will start the Sept. 1 opener

against William & Mary.

If Maryland is to bounce back from a 2-10 season, Edsall and his

players must work together to overcome the devastating loss of

arguably the most important athlete on the team.

”We’re disappointed and upset that injury has occurred to C.J.,

but none of the expectations or the enthusiasm or the excitement

that we have for this season has been taken away from us,” Edsall


Upon taking over for long-time football coach Ralph Friedgen in

January 2011, Edsall had to determine who to trust, who to lean

upon for leadership and who had the talent and drive to make a

difference in the fourth quarter.

The players needed time to learn about Edsall, too. He

immediately laid down a strict set of rules that included a dress

code in the team complex. He carefully monitored academic

performance, was intolerant of mistakes on the practice field and

so adamant about team unity that he would not allow names on the

back of jerseys.

Following an adjustment period that led to the an embarrassing

2-10 season, Edsall and the Terrapins are eager to make things

right in 2012.

”I think the biggest change coach Edsall has made is that he

understands who we are as people,” said A.J. Francis, a fifth-year

defensive end and one of 17 seniors on the squad. ”For example,

when he came in last year, he didn’t know me from anybody else. He

still treats us the same and with respect, but he didn’t know who

he could go to with certain issues and didn’t know how to handle

things. He needed to put his stamp on the program. Now he

understands us, he loves us, we love playing for him and love him

as a coach. We’re here, and everybody’s that’s still here is just

ready to go out and do everything for him.”

Following a season that would best be forgotten, Maryland

intends to use last year as motivation.

”A 2-10 season, that’s nothing to be excited about,” senior

linebacker Kenny Tate said. ”When I was home during bowl break, I

thought to myself, `Never again.’ Everybody was thinking like


That includes Edsall, who hasn’t let up on stressing the

importance of academics and dedication to the team but has relented

on his policy of names on jerseys. He also brought in new

coordinators for the offense and defense in an effort to get the

Terrapins back on track.

Maryland also has a new turf field, another symbol of the

difference between this year and last.

”I want all of our players to have a chip on their shoulder

because I do. You hope that your players reflect your desire,

attitude and determination,” Edsall said. ”I want our guys to

understand that this is a whole new year. Things have transpired

from an academic standpoint, to our field, to the uniforms, and the

young men who are here. Everything that I have envisioned when I

came here is coming together. Now what we have to do is go out on

the field and win. Now what I want are the kids to go out and enjoy

the success of winning on Saturday afternoon. It takes a price to

go out and practice the right way and prepare to win on a

consistent basis. If we do that then we will be fine. Everything

has led right to where we want it to be.”

Well, except for the quarterback position. The idea was slowly

work Hills and Rowe into the mix, but now they’re being asked to

carry the offense from the outset. Hills has thus far been more

impressive in practice and moved to the top of the depth chart.

”We’re going to be fine there,” Edsall said. ”They’ve

absorbed a lot in a short period of time and I’m pleased with where

they’re at right now.”

Senior Kerry Boykins had 37 catches last year, and top-tier

recruit Stefon Diggs is expected to contribute immediately as a

receiver. The running back position is a question mark, however, as

sophomore Justus Pickett is the only returnee to rush for more than

100 yards last season.

Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart inherits a unit that was

ripped for 411 points and 5,486 yards in 2011. Stewart installed a

3-4 alignment designed to take advantage of a host of talented

linebackers and a front line keyed by Francis and standout Joe


”We all have the utmost confidence in this scheme we’re

running,” Tate said. ”I have a great feeling about this season.

This is the second year with this coaching staff, and people are a

lot more familiar with the environment. I think everybody, from

coach Edsall down, sees us being better.”