Coach Friedgen Press Conference

TSR was on hand to hear Coach Friedgen kick off fall practice with his press conference.

After his self-described “worst season” as a head coach, Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen is trying to forget about 2009 and make his players and staff completely focused on 2010.

“We’re excited about the new year, we’re excited to get started,” Friedgen said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon “I think we have an excellent nucleus…and I think we’re very confident about having a good season.”

A successful 2010 would be a large turnaround for Friedgen and the Terps, as they ended last season with a disappointing 2-10 record. The head coach already has a plan for bringing the team back to its winning ways of earlier years, and he wants to increase the team’s wins by increasing their confidence. “The biggest problem that we have with our players is getting them the confidence to be able to win,” said Friedgen. “I told them last night…you gotta want something so bad that you’re willing to sacrifice a lot to get it. And to me I think we gotta talk about this, we gotta convince ‘em. And I think once we do that, I think you’ll see this team grow in confidence. I believe the ability is there. You just have to believe.

And in order to boost that confidence, Friedgen is starting with training camp. He wants to construct a competitive, firey team, but, as Friedgen put it, “there’s a fine line in getting them ready to play and not getting them injured.” So while Friedgen is increasing the number of practices from eight to eleven, the amount of hitting in camp will be limited to avoid any players getting hurt.

Injuries hurt the offensive line in particular last year, which led to a flurry of sacks and constant pressure against the Maryland offense, but the coach doesn’t think that the team will encounter those same problems this year of a problem. “I think we’re gonna be much improved there,” said Friedgen. “Justin Gilbert came on this spring and did very very well. I have a lot of high hopes for that young man. R.J. Dill played very very well this spring, and I think he’s gonna be a very good football player too. Pinnegar is playing center, if he can hold up at center then that can be a key.”

The offensive linemen aren’t the only players maturing and gaining a better feel for the game. The impact of experience for the younger players seemed to be a theme for Friedgen over the course of the press conference. “We’ve still got a lot of young kids,” said Freidgen. “The difference this year from last year is that we’re not walking out there starry-eyed looking around saying ‘Hey, I’m playing Division I football’. They’ve been out there, they know what it’s about. Now it’s about winning Division I football.”

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