The theme of Randy Edsall’s press conference Tuesday afternoon, four days before the Terrapins football team begins its season against Florida International, was continuity.
With Edsall entering his third year and both coordinators returning for a second season, the Terps finally have a sense of consistency in the coaching staff, which has helped the team mature, Edsall said.
But with everything that has stayed the same since this time last year, the team’s defensive front seven looks quite a bit different. Lineman Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis and linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield, Kenneth Tate and Darin Drakeford are all pursuing NFL futures after leading the Terps’ defense last season.
That’s not a problem for Edsall, though. In fact, he sees it as a sign the program is moving forward.
“What you really hope for is that we have a program where when you lose players from year-to-year, all you do is reload,” the third-year coach said, “and have [the new players] be as good or better than the player that left.”
To replace the depth and talent on the Terps lost up front, Edsall plans to use a six-man rotation of defensive lineman, headed by nose tackle Darius Kilgo. Tuesday, multiple teammates lauded Kilgo for his leadership, saying he has filled the void left by Vellano and Francis.
At inside linebacker, L. A. Goree and Cole Farrand both have experience and on the outside Marcus Whitfield and Matt Robinson complement each other well. Whitfield has spent time as a defensive end and should serve as pass-rushing specialist while Robinson moved to linebacker from safety, proving his versatility and value in pass coverage.
“Obviously we lost a lot of key impact players … but I feel like we’re filling in those positions very well,” Farrand said. “Marcus Whitfield is getting time at WILL [linebacker] and L.A. Goree is getting time at MO [linebacker] and they’re doing well.”
Farrand also said he feels the additional year under defensive coordinator Brian Stewart will make up for the loss of last year’s seniors.
Cornerback Jeremiah Johnson pointed out that in an open scrimmage Aug. 17, the Terps defense constantly pressured the quarterbacks. He feels the group up front won’t miss a beat.
“These guys are a little more athletic than what we had last year,” Johnson said. “I think they can be as good if not better than last year.”