As a Terp fan who frequents this board, I posted some optimistic pre-season projections for the Terps as I completely expected the Terps to be in contention for the Atlantic division. But instead, the Terps were the worst team in the ACC. To get there a lot of things went wrong for the Terps. Here are the factors that I blame on the Terps dismal season in order of magnitude
1) Low Team Morale: Edsall inherited a team with high team morale, but the team morale plummeted quickly for a variety of reasons. Edsall's personality and rule changes were the biggest factor in the team morale falling. Ralph ran a different type of organization. Ralph was not really a players coach, he was kind of grumpy, but he was not a strict disciplinarian. Edsall is very much fits the Coughlin model of coaching and the players adjusted to the change in organizational style very poorly. This lead to players who were productive last year being less productive this year as they were not buying into what Edsall was preaching. Also the losing, especially the Temple loss hurt team morale. The players may not have liked Edsall, but if he would have won early, they may have bought in, but with each loss they bought in less and less. The Temple loss was critical as I think that was the loss the split the UMD locker room. Before players didn't personally like Edsall but they were on the fence about whether to buy in. If he could show them that if they bought in, they would win, even if the didn't like him, they might have bought in, that loss was critical for the declining team morale.
2) Injuries: Injuries happened to every team, every year, but some years they hit you harder than other years and injuries devastated this team. 8 Freshman (4 RS Freshman and 4 true freshman) ended up starting at least one game for us on defense. The defense had 12 different starting lineups for the 12 different games. On opening night against Miami our starting lineup on defense didn't have a single defensive starter. At one point we had all three starting LB out and three freshman replacing them. In all two freshman started on the D-Line (one for 11 games the other for six), 4 freshman started at LB over the course of the season, and two freshman started at S over the course of the season. The defense looked mediocre against Miami, not good, not bad. Perhaps it would have stayed that way, but for the injuries. On the other hand, later in the season even when guys came back, the defense still struggled, but by then team morale was low.
3) Lack of Offensive Identity: The rep of Gary Crowton was that when things were working he is good, but that things go horribly wrong under him too. For the Terps things just went horribly wrong. Why? We were a different offense every week. Crowton is supposedly a brilliant X's and O's guy who needs A LOT of oversight. Because while he understands X's and O's, he doesn't always use common sense. He doesn't understand a great matchup on paper doesn't translate to a great matchup on teh field. At BYU he was criticized for drastically changing game offensive gameplans the day before the game for example because he saw some great matchups on paper the night before. Suffice to say those changes while good on paper, did not work. He has been in charge of some great and some awful offenses in his day, this one way awful. Our offense had no identity. One game we were a pure spread offense with no passes downfield the entire game. The next game we were an entirely pro-style offense with lots of downfield passing and no bubble screens are the like. For QB, Danny O'Brien I think this lack of consistency was critical to his sophomore slump. DOB said as much after the GT game saying one game we are a spread team, the next a pro style offense. We need to focus on one and just become good at that.
4) Replacing Don Brown w/ Todd Bradford at DC
Don Brown was probably the most blitz happy DC in the ACC as we blitzed on about 85% of plays. Bradford supposedly bltizes on 25% of plays. Two completely different styles. Bradford calls defenses that may work for really talented defenses like USC or your own Seminoles but that was horrible for the Terps. It involves a lot of base defense with no blitzes. If your guys are going to win one on one matchups the vast majority of the time its a good defense as you will get pressure rushing four and you won't have to take risks that leave you open to the big play. But on a less talented defense its awful as the defense can't get off the field. We sucked on defense.
5) Fall of the special teams: Our special teams was awful. They gave up huge plays in the losses to GT and Clemson. Who knows if we win those games without the special teams mishaps, but we would have been in a better spot. Against GT we lost 21-16, but GT got one TD off a 10 yard field when they returned the Second Half KO to our ten yard line. Against Clemson we got a TD with eight minutes left in the game to go up 45-41, but Clemson returned the KO for a TD. Meanwhile our special teams gave us no great plays. Our longest fg over the year was 43 yards and that was the only fg over 40. The KO and punt return teams never got close to a big return and the coverage teams struggled mightly.
So FSU also had a disappointing year, would you say similar factors were involved or was it for entirely different reasons?