By Staff Report.
Maryland head coach Randy Edsall held his weekly teleconference Wednesday with the ACC media.
COACH EDSALL: Well, we’ve got a tremendous challenge ahead of us against Clemson this weekend. You see them, watch them offensively, they’re very dynamic, very athletic, and putting up 35 points a game, 472 total yards of offense, and then defensively you see a very athletic, aggressive defense. You’re really going against a team that really doesn’t have any weaknesses. We’re going to have a tremendous challenge here in Byrd Stadium on Saturday evening.
Q. Can you talk about the freshmen that you used on defense last week, and have you seen the performance that they had last week sort of even take it to a new level in practice this week, or is it — do you have to sort of temper your expectations because they are freshmen?
COACH EDSALL: Well, we’re playing a lot of young kids on defense. Alex Twine is a true freshman who came in for Demetrius Hartsfield and played very well, Lorne Goree, a red shirt freshman, Mario Rowson, a red shirt freshman, Keith Bowers, a true freshman, those guys. But I think the one thing is they’ve gone out and they’ve — they’re really working to do the things that the coaches are asking them to do. This week presents a different challenge for us in terms of the scheme that we’ve got to face offensively. So this week is just another challengefor them in terms of what they have to do. They did well last week, and we expect them just to keep getting better.
But again, Clemson presents you different challenges than Georgia Tech. But been pleased with their effort and the way that they’ve practiced and the way that they’re going about their business.
Q. Just to follow up on that, in terms of as a coach, have you ever had as many young players on the field at the same time back when you were starting out at Connecticut, or is this a new experience for you?
COACH EDSALL: No, I don’t think I’ve had this many young guys, but again, my whole thing is just the philosophy is whoever the best guys is who’s going to play. Due to some injuries and also due to the fact that some of these young men are the best at their position, we’re playing them. But some of them have been forced into action because of injury. But again, whoever is the best guy has to play, and it’s our job to coach them to the best of their ability, and it’s their job to play to the best of their ability. But like I said, it’s got to bode well because now these young kids are getting a lot of experience in their first year and then they’re going to have three more years of eligibility after this year.
Q. It’s hard to believe that the ACC’s 2010 rookie of the year has gotten worse. I don’t think he did, but are his struggles right now because of the change in system, or can you just kind of explain how it got to the point where his starting job is now in question?
COACH EDSALL: Well, again, we just evaluate every position, and the guys that are the best guys are going to play. It’s all based on production in terms of how they do. Again, the quarterback position is no different than any other. The good thing is that we have two really, really good players, I think. So again, hopefully we can continue to build that kind of depth at each position as we move forward.
Q. How has he handled it? Have you talked to him specifically about it?
COACH EDSALL: Oh, I’ve talked to Danny just — I’ve talked to Danny every week, and again, as a coach it’s what we do with all of our young men is we show them, we tell them what they do right, we tell them what they do wrong, we tell them here’s the things you need to improve upon, and we do that with each and every one of our young men.
Q. To follow up on that, what is Danny not doing as well this year as you would have hoped?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I wasn’t here last year, so I just see what we do. Again, it’s just a matter of, as I think I’ve stated before, he’s just got to go out and play and relax and just do the things that the play calls for each and every play.
Q. What is CJ giving you that maybe Danny has not been, or does he have a different kind of skill set than the other guy?
COACH EDSALL: Well, both of them are very good quarterbacks, and they do have some different skill sets there, and each of them tries to utilize their skill sets to the best of their ability in terms of what we’re trying to do offensively.
Q. What do you want to see this week? Do you want to see Danny complete more passes than he’s doing during the game or CJ being a good leader?
COACH EDSALL: Well, we have our things that we use to evaluate the players, and then we’ll continue that as we go through the week.
We’ll have a starting quarterback on Saturday night.
Q. Could there be a situation where you platoon the quarterbacks, play both in the game, each get certain reps in certain situations, and how has that practice week gone for them in the battle for the starting job?
COACH EDSALL: Well, we’ll have a plan as we go into Saturday night, and we’ll execute that plan and we’ll continue to practice and evaluate what we think is going to be best for Maryland as we go in to play Clemson.
Q. On the defensive side of the ball is there anything you’re doing differently this week to prepare for Clemson’s up-tempo offense?
COACH EDSALL: Well, we’ve played some up-tempo offenses already this year, and we see it from our own people in practice. We think that we have a plan in place that will give us the best opportunity to win, and we’ll continue to work that plan this week.
Q. Do you imagine that you’ll be reaching deeper onto the depth chart and trying to work on substitution patterns during the game?
COACH EDSALL: We’re just — we only have so many people available to play due to all these injuries that we’ve had, and what we’re going to do is utilize our people that we think can help us win the game the best way possible.
Q. I just wondered after reviewing the film if Joe Vellano’s performance looked as — any different, any better on film than it did during the game?
COACH EDSALL: I thought Joe played outstanding. You know, when — a lot of times on the field, you don’t get the appreciation for how well somebody is playing because you’re going from one play to the next. You can’t run it back and forth, and you don’t have as much time to study it. After going back and watching it on the plane ride home and then watching it again the next day, I mean, it was just a tremendous performance by Joe, just was giving great effort on each and every play.
Now what we told him is that, hey, this is — now you’ve got to go play like that all the time. Not that he didn’t, but he just did a great job of preparing during the week, did a great job of reading his keys, and really a lot of it just came down to hustling and running to the ball and basically doing his job. So now we can use that to teach our other kids about just taking care of your responsibilities and playing hard, and now we want to see him do that again this week. But I’m sure he’ll draw a little bit more attention since he had that kind of performance.
Q. When you first saw him and watched tape on him from last year and saw him during the spring and so on, did he give indications that he was that kind of a player, and how has he developed in your defense?
COACH EDSALL: Well, I think that you always saw on tape — the thing that impressed me was how hard he played. Joe has a motor, really active, high-energy motor, and he plays very hard. I think the biggest thing that’s helped Joe to get better, he’s really mastering the techniques that Greg Gattuso, our defensive line coach, is teaching him, and then also Joe is a smart football player. There’s things that you can give him in terms of tips and things along those lines that he’ll have which will make him a little bit quicker. He’s just taking the coaching and developing his fundamentals and techniques, but also taking those tips that allow you to play maybe a half step quicker.
Q. I’ve got to beat the Danny O’Brien horse just one more time. I’m curious, in the game specifically when you made that switch, what was it you were seeing and saying, okay, I’ve got to go ahead and put a different quarterback in here because what Danny is doing right now is just not cutting it?
COACH EDSALL: Well, as I said after the game, I didn’t think we were getting what we needed offensively, and I was looking to try to get a spark and try to get something going, and that’s why we made — why I made the change.