Terps' Randy Edsall recounts 'very interesting' season, and looks ahead to next one

In interview, third-year coach discusses the Military Bowl, injuries, the Big Ten and his status at UM

December 22, 2013|By Peter Schmuck and Jeff Barker | The Baltimore Sun

The 2013 season has been something of a wild ride for Randy Edsall and the Maryland football team. The Terps won their first four games before falling victim to another string of major injuries that threatened to sink Edsall’s third season as head coach, but bounced back to become bowl-eligible and guarantee his first winning season at Maryland.

The Terps will end that season against Marshall in Friday’s Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium before making the jump to the Big Ten Conference next year. Edsall talked about the highs and lows of the past season, the upcoming bowl game and the future of the program in this interview with Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck and Terps reporter Jeff Barker.

Randy, congratulations on your first bowl appearance in your first three years in Maryland. Tell us what that means to you, what it means for the program and what it means for the players.

Well, I think what it means for the program is that it shows the progress that’s been made in the three years we have been here. You take a look at what’s happened this year, overcoming the adversity we did with injuries. We lost two starters at the beginning of the season that we thought we were going to have in [wide receiver] Marcus Leak and [running back] Wes Brown, and then to overcome the injuries to [wide receivers] Stefon [Diggs] and Deon [Long] and [cornerback] Dexter McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson and [linebacker] Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil and some guys — [left tackle] Mike Madaras — leaving midseason. For our team to overcome all those things and end up 7-5 and now getting the opportunity to go to the Military Bowl, it’s huge. It’s huge for us in terms of recruiting, in terms of showing progress, and then it’s the reward for the players. That’s what I’m really happy about, is that they have the opportunity to experience what the bowl games are. And now I think this will lead to more motivation to continue to work hard because we have a lot of young kids that are going to get this experience and enjoy it and, from a recruiting standpoint, it helps tremendously.

Is there a trade-off there for the players? I know it's a thrill for some kids to travel somewhere they haven't been, but there also are advantages to having the game right here in their backyard.

I think it’s all good. You don’t have a lot of control over where you go. When we got the sixth win, I told our guys, "Hey, six wins doesn’t guarantee anything. We need more than that." But if you take a look at the possibilities of where we could have gone, this is the best-case scenario. It’s over the holidays. The families can be a part of that. Also, more of the family members will be able to travel to watch their sons play in a bowl game, and from a fan base standpoint, it’s advantageous for our fans to be there. Our guys were excited about it. Then, when you take a look at the gifts, the Military Bowl is giving a [PlayStation 4 video game console]. Our guys have gotten calls from players around the country who wanted to trade the gifts, because of the gifts we were getting. It’s all good, and our guys are very excited about taking in all the festivities and the things we have planned for them.

Talk about Marshall and the challenges that the Thundering Herd presents for your team.

Marshall is a very explosive offensive football team. Their quarterback [Rakeem Cato] has had an outstanding year. And when you take a look at the balance they’ve had yardage-wise in terms of running the ball and throwing the ball, it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for our defense. They are very skillful on offense. The quarterback does a really good job knowing where to go with the football. Defensively, they are a team that’s very active, very athletic and likes to bring pressure and play man-to-man coverage. And then in their special teams, their return game is very good. I know [head coach] Doc Holliday very well from all the years of coaching. He’s going to have a team that’s well prepared. They’re going to be tough and they’re going to be physical and they’re going to get after you.

The bowl game is a reward for your players for what they’ve done during the season, but at the same time you’re at a pivotal juncture in the history of Maryland football. How important is it to win this game as a stepping-off point going into the Big Ten?

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