It’s a sign taped on many Maryland Terrapins’ locker walls about ESPN’s ranking of the defensive line as the worst in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Clearly meant to motivate the team, it already has defensive lineman A.J. Francis fired up.
“People don’t realize what they have coming for them” Francis said about being ranked as the worst defensive line in the ACC. “We’re young but we are very hungry guys and are going to come out strong this year.”
Picked to finish 5th in the Atlantic Division by the ACC media, the expectations for most are low for this inexperienced Terps team, but the team has much higher aspirations than to finish 5th in their own division.
“We are disrespected every season,” Emani Lee-Odai said. “Every guy on this team is ready to fly out to Cal, because no one is giving us a chance, and punch them in the mouth.”
Added on to the apparent disrespect of being picked to finish so lowly, current Vegas odds have Maryland as a 20.5-point underdog for their September 5th game against California.
Although the odds makers aren’t giving the young Terrapins much of a chance against the California Bears, safety Antwine Perez is excited to try to prove the doubters wrong.
“It’s a great starting point to show the world what we are capable of doing,” Perez said.
Last season was marred by ups and downs as the team struggled with bouts of inconsistencies. Although they had marquee wins against California, Clemson, and North Carolina, many Terrapin fans will remember bad losses to Middle Tennessee State, Virginia, and a blowout loss to Florida State.
Coach Friedgen is hoping the experience from last year will better prepare the team this season to not look past any teams.
“(If) we were more consistent last year we would have had a phenomenal year,” Friedgen said. “We won some really big game but also lost some big games, but they have to learn they all count in the end. “
A large part of that success hinges on the success of quarterback Chris Turner. As a fifth-year senior he will be expected to make smarter decisions and overcome the potential issues of a young offensive line.
While miscues were expected in the first year of a new offense, the expectations by the coaching staff are much higher for him this season.
“It’s critical Chris has a good year for us,” Friedgen said. “His decisions hopefully will be faster and more accurate and I’m anticipating him having a very good season.”
No matter how low the expectations others may instill on the team, the goal is always an ACC Championship. Almost every player at the Maryland media day indicated the goal of the season is winning an ACC Championship and some think it’s a legitimate goal.
“Our goal is always to win the ACC Championship,” wide receiver Tony Logan said. “We want to beat the big teams and show we’ve been underrated.”
While an ACC Championship would make all Terrapin players ecstatic, Francis has much lesser expectations. He simply would like to play a bowl game in a location other then last year’s bowl destination of Boise.
“My parents said they want to go somewhere warm in December and so do I,” Francis said. “We definitely have high expectations for this year.”
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