Is Ralph Still A Good Coach?

It begs the question.

Anyone looking at this team from afar can see that they have beaten two quality teams in Cal and Clemson, yet lost to two horrible teams in MIddle Tennessee and Virginia. They made those bad teams look great in doing so. It’s hard to explain how a team can ride this rollercoaster from week to week. You look at it and say, “Hey! How hard is it to come out and play hard. How can you think any game is going to be easy? How can you not learn from your mistakes?”

Here is where I’m the most confused. You look at a team and you usually have two choices:

1). Either they just aren’t that good and had one great game against a good opponent. That’s not our Terps. They are a good team with good players. They have explosive players on offense and what seems to be a very physical and large offensive line. They have some good players on defense, though the secondary is banged up. They beat 2 good teams. That was not lucky.

2). They are a very good team that just had one slip up mentally and lost a game. Not our Terps either. There is something wrong when you can’t learn from your mistakes and don’t “show up” twice in 5 weeks. So, this team has some major problems.

Which brings me back to coaching. Do you blame the Fridge for the team not playing well against bad teams? Ralph is very open with the media and has told them time and time again that he has continuously warned the team about trap games and such. Is it his fault when they don’t listen? Does it mean they’ve tuned him out?

I say no. I know it’s easier to get up for bigger games, but his motivation worked against Cal and against Clemson (2nd half). His overall record speaks for itself, whether he did it with his players or somebody else’s. At some point you have to put it on the players. Now we can start the age old argument that we’ve gone around and around with when it comes to the hoop team. You know, the “if he recruited better players, better leaders, blah blah blah.” But you have to look at the players we currently have and realize that it’s 22 guys on the field that aren’t coming together and playing with a sense of urgency and desire on a weekly basis. And most of these guys have gone to 2 bowl games, so it’s not like they stink.

What this team is missing, in my opinion, is a leader ON THE FIELD. They need a guy who won’t let these letdowns happen. We need a senior like Jeremy Navarre to step up and get the defense going. It’s easier for a team of 18-22 year olds to listen to him, than a 60 year old coach. They need someone on offense like Turner or one of the offensive linemen to take charge and get that line blocking and protecting. Get Turner calmed down and into a flow. We know how good he can be when he’s confident, but you can see the entire team fall apart when things start to go wrong (except Clemson).

So, while Ralph deserves some blame by being head coach (and he’ll take that blame), I think it’s up to the players to get themselves going at this point. They have a good team, they have proven that. They are 4-2 with a week off to get themselves going. I’m sure they’ll be up for the Wake Forest game in two weeks and I’m sure they’ll come out and play well. I bet they win that game. It’s a big one. I guess the only good news is that there are no more “cupcakes” on the schedule for us to take lightly.

This could still be a good season if they can just find some leaders on the field to get the job done.


  1. Not to rise to Friedgen’s defense, but UVA is better than their record. Judging from the first half alone (I didn’t have the heart to watch the second half–not without a defibrillator close at hand), they mauled MD in the trenches, and their QB did an impressive job picking apart the suspect MD secondary. I’d swap him for our QBs any day of the week.

    Best postgame quip, bar none: MASH’s “now comes the hard part, figuring out how to lose during the bye week.” He should send it to Leno or Letterman.

  2. I’d have to say the Fridge is no longer a great coach. Great coaches get their players mentally and emotionally prepared week in, week out. Is he a good coach, yes, but with an asterisk. Good coaches always find a way to get the ball into their playmakers hands and our best player barely touches the ball. If we don’t make a bowl game this year, I’d hazard to say the Fridge used to be a great coach, but is now mediocre…He’d be our Al Groh…

  3. It is the coaching. The play calling and adjustmets just aren’t being made. MD is quite frankly the easiest team to out coach. We have very talented players who can make big plays, even with our mediocre QB. Even in the big games we won, there was an extended time (an entire half) where our play was excessively poor due to bad offensive play calling and no defensive adjustments. The inconsistency comes from lack of recognizing that something is not working but continuing to run the same thing over and over. I said it before, this is a tough year to be a Terps fan. In football we either play very well or horrible, there is no middle ground at all. We’re either making big plays and moving the ball or going 3 and out on every possession, on defense causing turnovers and sacking the QB or putting no pressure at all on the other teams QB and having them pick us apart with less skilled players. It’s like we come into a game with a set game plan and refuse to adjust no matter how badly it isn’t working.

  4. According to the Washington Post, this was Virginia’s best offensive performance since….the last time they played Maryland. What is it about going up against Cosh’s schemes that makes UVA look like a BCS bowl contender each season?

  5. I watched every painful minute of this game on ESPNU. You could tell from the very beginning that our players thought they were gonna run over UVA. In the very first offensive series I was worried when we through the ball too much. The offense philosophy has been “establish the run” all year but in this game, even the offensive coordinator thought he didn’t need to do that since they were gonna run all over UVA. Only after we fell behind 14-0 did we go back to Friedgen football. But by then it was too late. UVA was the agressor from the beginning they hit harder than us on both sides. By the time our players woke up, the momentum was so much on the side of UVA there was nothing else to do but give up.

    This team really lacks character. To be down 21-0 at the half and come out that flat in the 2nd half speaks volumes. They should’ve been like cannibals after the 1st half embarassment. The UVA QB basically played X-Box football the entire game. He dropped back and stood there all day until he had someone open.

    All in all, this game was completely embarassing. All day I was checking Top 25 scores to see if anyone lost because we were gonna be ranked after dispatching UVA. Perhaps the players’ mindset was just like mine. They forgot that you have to win the game.

    Oh well, on to Wake. Winning this one would make us 5-2 with 3 quality wins. Then the season looks bright once again. Nothing we can do but look forward.

  6. Read both WAPO and AP accounts…

    It strongly appears that Fridge has lost these team. Repeating… Fridge lost this team in terms of leadership and vision. IOW, coaching is like teaching, once an instructor loses the confidence of his (her) class, team or whatever that person is leading, that instructor becomes ineffective – either immediately or gradually over time. The question is: Has Fridgen lose his players’ eyes?

    However, the likilihood of Debbie Yow firing Friedgen at this time is minimal which means there are other relevant questions. First is how does Maryland bounce back from its behind-the-barn-spanking be a down-on-their-luck program for the second time this season? The bye week will determine how this team and coaching staff moves forward. here, there are two overarching questions: can Fridgen and staff rally themselves by rededictating the season to a higher purpose, and will the Terps finally realize their potential talent? Wake Forest isn’t any longer a joke in the ACC – it’s a tough, experienced group of players who desire the Altantic Division – do the Terps? Can they adapt that same mentality – to win? That answer comes in less than two weeks and we, as fans and supporters, will be looking for some solutions that rectify a now-unstable environment in this team.

  7. First things first. I can’t say this loud enough (ALL CAPS, MAYBE?). Chris Cosh is a terrible (Joe Biden repeat…TERRIBLE) defensive coordinator. He can blame the injuries in the secondary all he wants, but the fact is that sitting back in a zone and getting no pressure on a novice QB starter is a huge problem. Look at his gameplan against Cal compared to BooVa. He basically played a prevent defense the whole game.

    Now, as for Ralphie, I really do like the guy. I think he does it right. Contrary to what many on this board say, he has more talent on this team than any team he has ever coached at MD. It’s not even close. I think that his coordinators coach timidly, which ultimately reflects on Ralphie’s cautiousness.

    Is it me, or does Franklin seem to open the playbook up more against higher quality teams than against the MTSUs or BooVas of the world? It’s like he doesn’t want to show the next opponent anything, so he gets vanilla. I think the lack of aggressive play calling on both sides of the ball makes it easier for the team to come out flat.

    Lastly, I don’t care at what level you coach or what sport you coach, you simply cannot say things like “I can’t reach these players.” You’re saying that you can’t coach! Even Bobby Bowden, who clearly can’t reach his players anymore, never says stuff like that. Talk about running up the white flag.

    I think Ralphie thinks that he is putting the onus on the team, like a challenge. Hello…this is the second time that you’ve said crap like “I told them this would happen and they didn’t believe me” after a loss. Thanks Nostradamus. Next time you “get this bad feeling” before a game, maybe you should do something about it.

    So…they probably will beat WFU and then lose to NCST. As Kevin Barnes said after the game, his whole time at MD has been about inconsistency and let downs. Sounds like a culture problem in the program. Bad, bad news.

  8. It’s Friedgen, like I said in the past, when he plans against teams he feels are inferior, he develops an ultra-conservative game plan which causes his team to play flat and unemotional, when he plans against good teams, he develops an aggressive game plan which causes them to play with more emotion and not surprising more success…Cosh just sucks!

  9. Wheels, you mentioned a “culture problem in the program.” That is an interesting point I I’d like for all of us to explore. I’ve heard culture defined as the “collecitve beliefs, values and assumptions of ‘how we get things done around here.'” I’ve never fully understood why the football and hoops programs (since circa 2003 at least) have not been able to realize their full potential. As an example, our teams consistently seem to 1) folllow up big wins with performance flops, and 2) play up or down to the competition. It’s like it has been one big tease going on for the last five years. Everybody chime in with your thoughts. What the hell do we need to do to get out of this cycle?

  10. First off, Ralph isn’t going anywhere. They are filling up the stadium and bringing in lots of alum money. He usually goes to a bowl and beats top 25 teams on a regular basis. In short, the program has been totally turned around during his tenure.

    Now, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be shouldering the lion’s share of the blame. I agree with most of Wheel’s points on this. The defensive coordinator should be fired tomorrow. It is such an antiquated defense. No one sits back in that cover two, brining four men all game long. No one that’s any good. You have to mix it up. You don’t have to blitz to get pressure, you can just dog, but he won’t even do that for the most part.

    Offense is the same problem. They think we should just be able to ram it down everyone’s throat. You control the clock with your running game and you score with your passing game.

    Ralph is the man in charge. He should be in Chris Cosh’s ear about his D. He should be opening the play book on every opponent not just the top 25.

    Good teams play well consistently. Lot’s of teams can rise up every few games. We will see which we are as the year goes on.

  11. Jordan Williams took his official visit to St. John’s over the weekend. But Taran Buie did not make it to Notre Dame for his unofficial visit. More details soon.

  12. JohnE…I think MD’s major sports have gotten too much into winning “primetime” showdowns. It might be part of MD’s Rodney Dangerfield “We Get No Respect” complex. Gary has really done a great job of big game hunting as a way to boost MD’s profile. I think Ralphie has emulated that strategy to a large extent. Thus, seasons become about big games instead of consistent winning. Look at the focus on outcomes (e.g., tournaments and bowl games) instead of on process (e.g., winning most of your games).

    The Big Game Hunt definately helps building programs (look at Fresno’s play anyone, anytime, anywhere philosophy in football), but, in my opinion, doesn’t seem to be the best way to sustain winning.

  13. I just heard through the grapevine that JSK got word he is cleared to play this season. Waiting for a DBR confirmation :)

  14. I have nothing definitive to report on JSK’s status at this time.

  15. Chris Braswell is off the board. He verbally committed to Charlotte shortly after a visit to the school.

  16. FYI. The Turtle Waxing guy had some pretty insightful analysis of our football team. Definitely food for thought. Check it out:

  17. Jin Soo Kim got his medical clearance to play in pick-up games and took the court today. Reports are that he showed strong skill sets, can can score in a lot of ways, and the kid is very long. Showed he knows what to do when he’s got the ball in his hands. Rebounded very well. Appeared to be slightly taller than Burney.

    He is still , however, in the NCAA Clearinghouse.

    Still no word from Jordan Williams or (J-Dub as I like to think his nickname will become), but I continue to feel good about our chances.

  18. My friend was talking to a backup running back/d-lineman today in class, and he was telling him about how UVA overstudied Maryland’s offensive play packages to the tee…and they didn’t know how to react. Apparently they have a book of plays designed for Heyward-Bay, and UVA knew them all. He also mentioned that the defense has a harder time playing without a lead cushion.

    No excuses though, just thought that was interesting…

  19. Just saw that EJ Henderson went on the IR with multiple dislocated toes that seem to need reconstructive surgery.

    Definitely one of my favorite football Terps (behind 1996 long snapper Adam Waxman and 1996 punt / kick returner Rich Roberts). Sad to see him lose a season. Hope he comes back next year strong.;_ylt=AtmGgYkkViJoa9YfqmRxZZdDubYF?slug=ap-vikings-henderson&prov=ap&type=lgns

  20. That must have been what the guy I talked to meant. Thanks for clearing that up DBR.

  21. I never knew you could have dislocated toes….interesting.


  22. What a total embarrassment on Saturday. No excuse to lose to the worst team in the ACC. Thank God we don’t play Duke it would be the worst year. Kiffin is unemployed, give him a try because it can’t be worse.

  23. On football, I recall the first few years under Fridge how creative the Terps were on offense and defense. Lots of confusing movement on both sides of the ball, all within the rules. The results were stops on defense and lots of long gains out of nowhere on offense, due to surprise more than any talent differential. In fact the teams the Terps beat often had more talent than the Terps.

    The Terps still can beat talented teams (Cal, Clemson and those big wins last season vs. Rutgers and BC). But I think there is less creativity. I am more of a BB than a FB guy, and i am wondering if anyone agrees with this–or not?

    Something has to change cuz the Terps are falling into a middle-of-the-pack rut in ACC recruiting. Often that is based on reputation and is hard to dig out of.

  24. I think the comment that best sums everything up is by Heather Dinich from ESPN. She said something along the lines that MD Football is the most consistently inconsistent team in the ACC.

    How true is that! The two teams we should have beaten (MTSU and UVA), we lose. The two teams we should have the most trouble against (Cal and Clemson), we beat. Delaware, a team we should crush, we do not…Since Wake is good, we’ll probably show up. I just jinx’d us, crap!

  25. I just realized Brenda Frese is a genius. I was surprised to hear that she offered Greg Nareds daughter Jackie a scholarship. Sure she’s 6’1″ and a decent high school player but she only had one other D1 offer from San Diego State. Then today I saw a story on ESPN about at a 12 yr old 6’1″ girl basketball player that was kicked off the boys team because she was too good. Her name was Jaime Nared, Greg’s younger daughter and incoming UM freshman Jackie Nareds sister. Brilliant.

  26. Balto Sun’s Matt Bracken had a story on Jackie Nared back in the spring. It’s a nice read and has a video to boot

  27. I am trying to figure out why Cosh was hired as defensive coordinator in the first place and more importantly, why is he still here? He has struggled and been let go everywhere that he has been and I am sick and tired of being ranked 90th in the country and 11th in the ACC in total defense. Is Friedgen restricted by Yow in terms of what he can pay his coaches relative to other teams in the ACC? Anyone have any insight on this, DBR?

    I always wondered why Friedgen did not go after someone like John Tenuto (sp?) who ended up at ND when Georgia Tech changed coaches this year.

  28. DBR,
    When you do your next recruiting update, could you find out some thing about the possibility of Epps, Buie, Harris trio?

    I’ve read that Epps is trying to get Buie to go to MD with him. Kinda strange though because Epps hasn’t committed to us yet….Clarification would be great!

  29. OK,
    I played in a Gary Fundraising Tourney on Monday sponsored by Gary’s fundraising group I belong to. After the round and dinner I briefly chatted with the coach about the team’s upcoming season. This is primarily what he said:
    This team is a lot like some of his A.U teams ie. with less size but a lot of speed.
    He feels good about the team so far but you never know until you see them in practice.
    He is loaded at guard and they are going to run (speed) this year.
    Look at Villanova, they have been running a 4 guard offense with success for four years.
    He is impressed with Braxton Dupree and really feels he showed great commitment to get himself in shape, about 15 lbs of fat gone.

    In my discussions in the past at the same event he is always honest about the team but never negative. We did not discuss anything about recruiting.
    So I left feeling pretty good about the prospects for the season because he portrayed a very positive vibe to me.

  30. Good stuff harryfish thanks for sharing.

    dcAll the people I speak to regarding Epps tell me not to expect him to commit to a school until after his junior season is over…meaning a Spring ’09 commitment. He’s a true student athlete who is taking his time to learn more about each school in his top 5 from an academic stand point. He wants to make sure he selects a school that can prepare him for a good job should basketball not work out. UMD is right there along with Pitt, Rutgers and Texas has shown recent interest.

    From a basketball stand point, Maryland’s system could tip the scales in the Terps’ favor. Pitt plays slower on offense, and is in a more physical league (Epps is speedy at 165 pounds).

    But it’s great he’s tryna talk Buie into going to UMD and not Pitt, Rutgers or Texas.


  31. Thanks, Harryfish….Our very own cub reporter.

    Did you tell GW that you were reporting for Turtle Soup?

  32. No, I am just a dedicated fan like all of us here.
    I think GW is happy to talk with Alums who support him and don’t backbite every chance they get.

  33. Keep Greivis Vasquez and his family in your thoughts/prayers. Greivis has had to return home to Venezuela to be with his ailing father. Don’t know the specifics of his father’s ailment but this is a tough time for them right now.l

  34. Please clarify but I thought Epps was in the class of ’09 and Buie was class of ’10. I thought Epps just became a senior. Are they in the same class?

  35. Isaiah Epps and Taran Buie are both 2010 recruits. Epps is probably the #1 target for the Terps. Both Epps and Buie have told the Terps they plan to visit UMD on October 17th for Maryland Madness. Hopefully Buie’s recent ankle injury won’t keep him from attending.

  36. How serious is GV’s father’s injury?

  37. I don’t have specifics on GV’s father’s condition. The email I got said “ailing” so I don’t know if his father is ill or if his father suffered some sort of injury. Whatever it is, it was serious enough for GV to drop everything and head to Venezuela so that tells u it’s very serious. GV takes the thoughts/prayers of Terp fans everywhere with him.

  38. Sporting News picked us last in the ACC and said Gary is in the hot seat.
    Lindy’s picks us 7th and says we’ll be fighting for a spot in the NIT.

  39. Since its a bye week for the Terp football team, I will break my embargo on talking hoops during football season.

    Finishing 12th is the ACC? I can’t imagine MD finishing last. That seems absurdly low. I am not too sure of what the ACC has coming back this year aside from UNC, but I still don’t see the league as being particularly strong this year. Dook absorbed a ton of losses, too; albeit they have their yearly influx of highly rated recruits.

    But what other ACC team has a lot coming back? I hear that WFU has some quality bigs coming in, but they are young. NCST seems as inconsistent as MD. BooVA and VT lose their leading scorers. Maybe Miami and FSU will be improved, but how good are they? I don’t know anything about GT because it seems that they turnover their roster every 2 years like a junior college does. BC? Who do they have?

    Am I missing something here? Look, I am prone to get on Gary but I try to use facts in my rationale. MD has a very good backcourt, enough to easily play 4 guards at a time.

    I have been saying for at least 6 months now that MD will return to pressing and fast breaks similar to the 92-98 teams. Those teams seemed to win more than they lost, so it seems to me that Gary and MD are paying the media price for their lack of meeting expectations.

    As someone who studies the outcomes of expectations, I’d much rather have low expectations set because they are more easily exceeded. A fast start for this team is essential. They have to get out really fast in the early season before teams can adjust to them.

    I’d be willing to bet that MD bolts out in the pre-conference, wins a bunch of earlly ACC games, and then evens to falls off in the back half of the ACC schedule as teams get re-acquainted with a style that they haven’t seen from MD in at least 10 years.

  40. I worry about speed. (From what I hear from the announcers on TV) every year the Terrapins are faster and smaller than the year before. Somehow I seem to always hear that Maryland is just trying to out-run their opponent. This is true for both ACC and non-conference foes. About the only team that is equated to ever having as much or more speed than us is Miami.

    Is it really a good idea to try to up the level of cardio that our players do every game when we saw that the fast tempo led (albeit coupled with sloppy passing) to countless turnovers in the past few years? Is it really a good idea to make GV run every game when we all saw how run down and tired he seemed near the end of the season (not to pick on him specifically that goes for the whole team.)?

    I can only hope that Gary pulls out some of the old notebooks and goes on a pre-NatCham hungry rampage a la the years when things kept on looking up for the Terps. He needs to create some winning momentum.

  41. Zero chance we finish 12th. Backcourts rule the roost in college right now and that is our strength.

    You will have UNC and Duke out in front then a bunch of teams that are pretty close.

    Clemson, GT, Miami, FSU, VT and BC will all be teams we will need to climb over. The margin for victory will be small. Need to play smart at the end of games which should be easier with GV and EH on the court. They have both been through the ACC grinder.

    The ACC coaches will come out with their preseason rankings and I bet we will fall around 8th. Again, the difference between 3rd and 9th will be negligible.


    Jordan Williams update.

  43. The sports writers that are ppredicting low expectations for the Terps are doing so because we lost Boom & Gist. On paper, that’s a very big loss.

    As we on Turtle Soup know, however, Vaz is the heart and soul of this team. (BTW – In case you surf this site, we are all wishing a speedy recovery for your father, GV. Our thoughts are with you and your family.) We turtle Soupers also know that there were 7 freshment and 3 sophomores on last year’s roster. That’s a tremendously high number. This year, all those frosh are sophomores, and “the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. “Even without Williams breathing fire, GW does his best job when the least is expected, there is no way we finish last.

    UNC will be the class of the ACC next year. dook will be dook. Everyone else is at least as middling as the Terps. But the Terps, on the back of suprisingly strong guard play from GV and Hayes, will rise. 13-3 in the ACC!

  44. Alot of those preseason predictions are based on the players teams have coming back from last season. So the Terps being picked so low in the ACC shouldn’t be too surprising. But I’ve got faith in GW getting the most out of his players.

    BTW…Wake will be formidible this season.

  45. Duke gets 5 star Ryan Kelly as of today

  46. DBR’s site is interesting on Jordan Williams. He is down to two– St. John’s and MD, according to that site. St. John’s was 11-19 last year, and have a few 3 star guys coming in. Their best player is a PF, who will be a Jr.

    MD has some excellent young guards and small forwards and just need a scoring PF. JW would energize the entire Terp program if he came in. The Terps would be back with this one move! Seems like the Terps are a better move for JW too. Braxton and Burney are centers. Padgett can play both big spots according to DBR, and he would stay in the rotation and get plenty of minutes, so he won’t lose out if JW comes in. Seems like a nice setup for JW.

    DBR, has JW seen the Terps’ situation at its best, with a packed house of committed fans?

  47. Jordan Williams is KEY, KEY, KEY for the Terps, hopefully he’ll pop to UMD soon. Jordan took his official visit to College Park when the Football team was at Clemson, and it rained for half the time he was on campus.

    I think you got JW and Padgett reversed EdDC. Padgett is more of an athletic, bouncy four-man, where Williams will bang more and can play the four or five.

    JW knows that he is important to UMD, that he is a priority. GW, Chuck D and the staff has shown the love both in a visit to JW’s home and when he visited campus. He wants to major in Criminal Justice and that bodes well for UMD as does our facilities, campus and HOF coach.

    I expect this to go down in favor of UMD with Jordan coming back to campus on an unofficial visit and getting introduced to the crowd at Maryland Madness. But ya’ll know me, I’m an optimist. I was the one who said we’d beat UNC…and I was right. :)

  48. DBR, thanks for clearing up Epps’ class for me. I live about 40 minutes from Plainfield, NJ. Just give me the word and I’ll go there and do what’s gotta be done. If need be, I’ll kidnap him and bring down. NJ Turnpike to 95-South to Route 1. I’ll be there in 4 hours. :-)

  49. Are the stars aligning? MD’s CJ graduate program named #1 in country by US World News and Report…

    Cue McLovin…chicka, chicka, yeah…

  50. […] asks the question we all know the answer too: “Is Ralph Still A Good Coach?” Surprisingly, […]

  51. Hey, I been doing some good reading from all of you. I too am fired up about our BB. team
    team. If coach W. educated these men last year and off season we will surprise some people. But we still need in game coaching. This could be comeback year for us and coach W. I think we both deserve it. FEAR THAT DAMN TURTLE

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