AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Randy Edsall's first season as Maryland football coach produced two wins. It didn't get much better last year, when the Terrapins went through four quarterbacks and a six-game skid that resulted in a 4-8 record.
Now, as Edsall prepares for his third stab at a winning season, he's got every reason to believe that a fresh start will result in a change of fortune. His optimism comes from the fashion in which his athletes have reacted to his team-first philosophy.
"Everybody is holding each other accountable. I think that's the biggest thing for me and the coaching staff," Edsall said Tuesday. "We haven't had to do much with discipline, or having to deal with some of the issues we've dealt with previously. When you get the players taking charge, it's going to allow you to be a better football team.
"With the chemistry and the camaraderie, I think we're a much closer football team in Year 3. Those are the things you build a football program on."
The Terrapins have only four senior starters, two on the offense and two on the defense. But they've got quarterback C.J. Brown, who missed last season with a torn left ACL, and standout wide receiver and kicker returner Stephon Diggs, one of the most electrifying players in the country.
Brown set a Maryland single-season rushing record (574 yards) for a quarterback in 2011 and threw for 842 yards in 10 games (five starts). He will make his long-awaited return Saturday in the opener against Florida International.
"I'm just really looking forward to it," Brown said. "I'll be out there will a big smile on my face pregame, and once the whistle blows I'll be ready to go. "
Brown was lost in the preseason, and the Terrapins subsequently went through four more quarterbacks during the regular season, the last of which was a converted linebacker who took a few snaps in high school.
"Last year was a freak accident," junior defensive tackle Darius Kilgo said.
After this season, Maryland will leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and head toward the Big Ten. The Terrapins obviously want to make their last run in the ACC one to remember, but first they've got to deal with four straight non-league games. How Maryland fares during that stretch could go a long way toward determining the success of the entire season.
"You have to win the first couple, then your team feels good and you keep the momentum moving throughout the season," linebacker Cole Farrand said.
The misery associated with the past two years has been purged. Now it's time to start anew.
"What happened is in the past is in the past," Farrand said. "We had the problems last year with the quarterbacks. But this year we're feeling great and trying to get to a bowl game."
Diggs said, "We were building last year. We got off to a great start in practice this year, and we're going into Game 1 strong."
Edsall, who turned 55 on Tuesday, has awarded scholarships to four walk-ons: offensive linemen Michael Dunn and G.T. Harraka, wide receiver Regis Whittington and defensive back Tony Perry. Dunn, a 6-foot-5, 295-pound redshirt freshman, will start at guard on Saturday.
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