COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Randy Edsall doesn’t look like a mad scientist, but he is known to dabble in chemistry.
That’s what it comes down to for the University of Maryland’s second-year football coach. He has a formula ... it’s a matter of getting it to work.
Edsall saw a better, less volatile mix with more stable ingredients as the Terrapins gathered to open the preseason for the 2012 season, starting with Monday’s media day at the ever-evolving and improving Byrd Stadium.
“Everything that I had envisioned when I came here is coming together,” Edsall said during his first interview of the season. “Now what we have to do is go out on the field and win.”
That is a major hurdle, especially since Maryland stumbled to a 2-10 record in Edsall’s first year, one season removed from a 9-4 record and a bowl appearance with Ralph Friedgen as coach.
But Edsall found out that rebuilding a football program is as hit-and-miss as creating stable chemical products. Too little of one ingredient or too much of another just throws everything out of line.
After a year of change, Edsall predicts one of stability as 102 players showed up Sunday and began practice Monday night.
“We have a young team this year, 68 percent of our team is either a freshman, redshirt freshman or sophomore,” Edsall said. “But the thing I feel good about is we have 17 seniors. I told them yesterday that we will go as far as they take us.”
Edsall was the target of much ridicule during his first season. Members of the media and a number of fans questioned whether he was the right man for the Maryland job.
But the former Connecticut coach stuck to the framework of his program and made changes to fit his plan.
Maryland replaced both coordinators and changed the direction of both the offense and defense.
Edsall brought back Mike Locksley to establish a pro-style offense that will utilize some spread principles, all part of a plan to utilize the mobility of junior quarterback C.J. Brown.
“The past is past. All we can do is try to put it behind us and go out and play with a chip on our shoulder,” said Brown, who is the Terps’ only experienced quarterback after five starts last season.
Brian Stewart came to College Park to create an unpredictable 3-4 defensive scheme after spending two years at the University of Houston. Stewart brings with him seven years of experience from time in different defensive coaching stints with four different NFL teams.
“We are ready to move on and come out strong,” said Maryland captain Joe Vellano, who moves from defensive tackle to end in the new scheme. “It’s a new year and there are no secrets. It’s just a case of coming out and working as hard as you can.”
Add to it Byrd Stadium’s new synthetic playing surface and a couple of new variations of Maryland uniform wardrobe, and suddenly a lot of things seem different.
Yet, even with all the change, Edsall stands by some basic beliefs.
“Our whole philosophy is the best guy plays. It doesn’t matter your class, the best guy will play,” Edsall said. “Every level that I have been at there is always someone who is a starter who won’t be because of what they didn’t do or how someone else worked.
“Coaches don’t create depth charts, the players do. If you want to be on the first team, go out and earn it.”
The groundwork has been laid. The players return with a knowledge of what is expected of them. The changes have been made, aimed at making the Terps better than they showed last season.
Now, it’s time for Edsall’s formula to produce the desired results.
“Things have transpired from an academic standpoint, to our field, to the uniforms, and the young men who are here,” Edsall said. “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.”