GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Ralph Friedgen had many refrains throughout last season. Some possessed more validity than others, but they were all trotted out on several occasions in an attempt to explain just how his Maryland football team tumbled to 2-10.
One of the most frequent theories floated was the incredible inexperience the Terps had.
Well, here's the thing: Maryland is nearly as youthful this year as it was a season ago.
Maryland has 12 scholarship seniors this fall, just as in 2009.
It has 17 scholarship juniors, up from 15 a year ago.
So it sure seems like the Terps are fairly young. And it might just be something that gets brought up.
I offered up the idea of youth, and he readily agreed --- with a caveat.
"Definitely, I have a young team," Friedgen said. "But I have a more experienced team right now. I have young players who have played. That's a little bit different than what I had last year. Now, in the offensive line, if we get some guys hurt, we'll be pretty much where we were last year playing with redshirt freshmen. But the redshirt sophomores are really starting to develop. I think that's a sign we have a chance to be pretty good for two, three more years with those players. You just have to keep putting recruiting classes together so you have a solid base. I feel better about that."
OK, so let's look at this in a different context. Here's a look at the career starts returning for the 2009 and 2010 Terps.
Offense (92): Turner (20), Costa (18), Jackson (17), Scott (11), B. Campbell (8), L. Williams (7), Smith (5), Meggett (2), Cannon (1), Lee-Odai (1), Tyler (1), L. Watson (1)
Defense (51): Wiseman (13), Wujciak (13), Skinner (11), Carroll (4), Ivey (4), Harrell (2), McCollough (2), Drummond (1), Moten (1)
Offense (108): Scott (16), Smith (15), Pinegar (12), Cannon (11), Dill (8), Gonnella (8), L. Williams (8), Meggett (6), D. Tyler (5), Campbell (4), Fulper (3), Lewis (3), Boykins (2), McCree (2), Robinson (2), Furstenburg (1), Lee-Odai (1), L. Watson (1)
Defense (77): Wujciak (25), Moten (13), Chism (10), Francis (10), Hartsfield (7), Pooler (5), Tate (4), Drummond (1), Hampton (1), Perez (1)
The overall returning starts are up on both sides of the ball, with defense having a noticeable increase percentage-wise.
So, yes, the Terps are still young. But maybe quite so young that we'll be hearing about it all season.
Assuming of course, a little extra age can lead to a little extra growth.
"The biggest thing is we have to push through and win and then we'll grow with the confidence we have," Friedgen said. "I do see us making improvement."