If you're lucky enough to keep your job when your team goes 2-10, you need to change something. According to Rich Tandler at CSN Washington, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is changing the way his team is training, incorporating workouts that focus on flexibility as well as strength.
They used to lift weights four days a week. Now, they are lifting three days a week and spending the fourth day working on improving their flexibility, New Age style.
“We’ve incorporated yoga into our stuff, into the stretching sessions,” said [Alex] Wujciak...
“One of the things that I really want to do is to develop flexibility in our players,” Friedgen said. “Along with strength, flexibility improves your speed and I’ve seen that happen.”
Kudos to Coach Friedgen for identifying something that is no longer working and being willing to change it. Strength has long been associated with success in the extremely physical world of football, but there are other qualities of athleticisim that are equally important, and Friedgen seems to understand that.
The team is also changing the way they evaluate player's weights, using a new technology called the Bod Pod that estimates a player's ideal playing weight based on the way their body is built.
“I’ve had many of my coaches think that they were experts on weight, and they’d tell a kid to be at a specific weight,” Friedgen said. “I don’t think that they had any scientific data that told them that was the right weight. These individuals, we put them in a machine that measures their lean body mass and percentage of body fat that they have. With this, we can intelligently tell them that this is [the weight] they want to be.”
These are all good things. Even if yoga and the Bod Pod aren't the answers, it shows that Friedgen is willling to go outside of his comfort zone and try new things that might help the team.
"I think Jamarr will be the starting quarterback, but like every position it's still going to be competitive," Friedgen said. "The biggest concern I have with the other guys is they haven't had any playing time. I see them developing. I'm not disappointed in them at all. I really would like to get them into some games so they could get some experience. I think that's the main quality Jamarr has over them is he's had [four] games of experience."
This merely confirms what we already suspected. Robinson stepped in for injured quarterback Chris Turner towards the end of last season, and performed admirably. He didn't blow anyone'ss socks off, but he showed flashes of his potential. That coupled with his performance in spring practices was enough to keep redshirt freshman Danny O'Brien at bay.
But what is most interesting is Friedgen's comments about Robinson's status as the starter, which doesn't seem to be set in stone. Competition is good at most positions on the football field, but quarterback isn't necessarily one of them. Ideally, you want to have a leader entrenched at the position from day one that the coaching staff and the rest of the team can believe in. This reminds me of the old saying that "if you have two quarterbacks, you have none."
Friedgen seems comfortable, if not enthused, with Robinson as his starting quarterback. "I'm not disappointed in them at all," is not a particularly inspiring quote. But hopefully, he is just trying to keep his starter hungry, and Robinson will be able to step in and be the dual threat quarterback Friedgen has been looking for the past few years.
A 2-10 record clearly doesn't buy you very much respect in the preseason. This isn't exactly an earthshattering insight, but it's worth remembering from time to time.
Like now. After a dreadful 2009 season, Maryland was picked to finish in sixth place in the ACC Atlantic Division in the preseason media poll. Only Virginia, which plays in the Coastal Division, received fewer votes than the Terps.
Last season can probably be qualified as an unmitigated disaster for the Maryland football team. They finished just 2-10, and there were questions surrounding coach Ralph Friedgen's future. In the end, the program decided to bring Friedgen back for at least one more year, and now Friedgen's players are doing everything they can to back their coach at the ACC's media event.
Senior linebacker Alex Wujciaksaid Friedgen himself told the team not to worry about his status.
"At the end of the season, we had a team meeting about it," senior linebacker Alex Wujciak said, "and he told, us not to worry about him. Just go out there and play football, what we came here to do.
Wujciak added that the team is not thinking as if they are playing for Friedgen's job.
"I don't think you can look at it that way," Wujciak said, when asked if the team is playing for Friedgen's job. "He's our coach. He's under contract. Plus, we've got [head coach-in-waiting James Franklin], who's there now, who has a plan set up for him. So we have Coach Friedgen there, and Coach Franklin waiting in the wings whenever that may be. So, it's not really playing for a coach's job or nothing."
Friedgen will address the media on Monday. For more, head to SB Nation's Maryland blogTestudo Times.