By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
How do you say “goodbye” after 60 years?
Do you take down the bad guys like the sheriff in “High Noon,” then leave on the arm of the prettiest girl in town? Politely promise to return like Schwarzenegger?
Or ride toward the sunset on horseback and a limo like Bart and the Kid in “Blazing Saddles?”
Randy Edsall and his players didn’t seem very sentimental about Maryland’s departure from the ACC after this season.
“We’re very happy to be in the ACC here in 2013 and guess what?” Edsall said during the ACC Football Kickoff last week. “We’re going to play hard and get after it and prepare as best we can to win every game that we can play.”
A charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of three teams—Clemson and Florida State were the others—to be a consensus national champion in college football as a member of the league, Maryland moves on to the Big Ten next year, where the grass seems to be greener with that fat TV bankroll.
“I think the biggest thing is to me, I’m not really concerned about that,” Edsall said when asked several times about the Big Ten. “Let’s talk about Maryland football in 2013, because that’s what this is all about.”
Edsall faces an uphill grind in his third season after a 4-8 season (2-6 ACC) which ended with freshman linebacker Shawn Petty starting the final four games at quarterback. Four quarterbacks went down with season-ending injuries last year, including projected starter C.J. Brown in the preseason and two on the same day in October including Caleb Rose of Blue Ridge High in Greenville (S.C.) County.
If Brown returns at full strength Maryland has a dual-threat quarterback who shook Clemson to the bone in his first start. He last played two years ago, replacing Danny O’Brien, in 2011, and passed for 842 yards and seven touchdowns and ran for 574 yards.
“I’ve matured,” Brown said. “I’ve learned how to take care of my body, when to get out of bounds rather than take the hit.
“I’m 100 percent healthy.”
Stefon Diggs provides refined offensive tools after catching 54 passes for 848 yards as a freshman. He should have some help this fall in junior college transfer Deon Long. Six players with starting experience return on the line, but it should be a work in progress at least until the opening week.
Defensively the biggest work needed will be in the front seven where all-conference ends Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis must be replaced. Senior Justin Anderson left in the spring but junior nose Darius Kilgo
return. The linebackers are generally raw, but the secondary has four starters with starting experience.
Edsall enters his third season at Maryland after 12 at UConn in the Big East, so he has experience saying “farewell.”
“We’re not going to change anything we’ve done in the past,” Brown said. “It will be our last year in the ACC, we’re excited for the opportunity.
“We’ll go out and represent Maryland and hope we go out with a bang and have some fun doing it.”