As the Terps prepare to finish their camp on Saturday, head coach Ralph Friedgen had nothing but praise for his team. Aside from one practice, Friedgen was impressed with their effort, attitude and team chemistry.
After 125 plays in a mock game Thursday evening, Friedgen was pleased with how his team looked. Going forward, however, he thinks the key to success is their confidence.
Everybody – the scout team, the offense, the defense – they all played hard. I think all the coaches think we got more out of that than we thought we would, Friedgen said. I havent been disappointed with this group at all. I think for the most part, theyve come out and theyve given good effort. I think the big thing is confidence. Its important that were able to win a game. I think good things will happen if they can get some confidence.
The offense is still having difficulty avoiding penalties. However, Friedgen was enthused to announce they didnt commit a single turnover in practice today. Of course he knocked on wood when letting that slip.
Friedgen also pointed out that the Sept. 6 matchup against Navy is no easy task, and the team still has to keep their eyes on the prize.
We still got a lot of work to do. Just preparing for [Navy] is really difficult, he explained.
The Maryland-Navy rivalry dates back to 1905 when the Midshipmen beat the Terps 17-0 in Annapolis. The series, also known as the Crab Bowl, is an in-state rivalry that has seen 20 games played, and will be continued in just over a week at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
I think its a good rivalry. I think two in-state schools, two very good universities, two great programs, Friedgen said. What I like about it is the [Baltimore] Ravens are involved in it. The Naval Academy and the University of Maryland and the Ravens are all partners in this. A lot of the politicians are going to be there for the coin toss – its kind of a state-type thing right now. I think it raises a whole new awareness for both schools in the state of Maryland.
And according to Friedgen, a win in the Terps first game can really set the tone for the season. The head coach has instilled his one game at a time approach in his players, especially following a 2-10 campaign in 2009.
As for a comeback in 2010, Friedgen will be relying heavily on his small group of seniors to lead the way.
I have faith in these kids. We only have 12 seniors, Friedgen said, adding that despite being a young team, their chemistry will help them to do well in the upcoming season.
I think this group is pretty close. I havent been disappointed with the leadership. The council that I have – Ive really liked them a lot. Theyre very demonstrative and theyre not afraid to tell me what they think about what I should do, which is how I kind of like it.
In terms of bangs and bruises, Friedgen described cornerback Cameron Chisms chance of returning as biting on the bit.
Its really more him than anything else. He has to have that confidence to have a burst. Were trying to push him along. I see him trying to do more and more, the coach said.
Tight end Ryan Schlothauer is also on the verge of returning. Monday, Friedgen expects to see running back Taylor Watson and defensive lineman DeOnte Arnett sometime next week, and tight end Devonte Campbell back in a couple of weeks.