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Wednesday with Ralph

Here is most of Ralph Friedgen’s talk with reporters yesterday after a practice that was rescheduled for early afternoon:

Friedgen: I don’t think we practiced that well today. Maybe it was the change in time of practice. We were okay. It wasn’t terrible. The first period the offense wasn’t very good, and then they picked up, probably because I went over to the defense. I just think they are tired of the same old thing all the time. Hopefully they are looking forward to the season starting and we will have a good practice [Thursday].

Q: Has your comfort level increased with Josh Portis?

We will see how he plays in the game to really improve my comfort level, as with all of them. You never know. I am kind of anxious to see how they will all play. Some guys like Davin Meggett, Da’Rel Scott have not played that much. Torrey Smith, a couple of tight ends. First game. I am hoping the older guys will help calm them down.

Q: What do you think the main role of Lansford Watson will be?

His strength is his pass catching ability and his route running. I think he is going to develop into a good blocker. He has made a lot of strides since he came here. He was a wide receiver in high school. Now he is up to 250 pounds. But it is new to him, and every day he gets a little better. But I do see improvement. Every day he gets a little better. I think before he leaves here he will be a pretty good tight end because he can catch the football and can get up the field.

Q: How much more are you getting around at practice to see the defense?

Two to three periods per day, and what I don’t see I watch on tape. If I have questions, I go in and see Chris Cosh. Last year I would just be with the offense the whole time. Not that I don’t watch the offensive tape, because I watch that, too. But doing the scripts, doing the game plan, I’m not doing that anymore.

Q: Was there a point last year when it really became clear to you that you had to bring in Coach Franklin to make your job easier?

We did it the first year, and I was really looking for someone then. But I wanted to get someone that fit in our situation. I didn’t want to change everything. After that season, the next season was just a grind from the previous season. when you are coaching 38 years and you are working harder then you have ever worked in your life, and I think I am a pretty hard worker to start with, you start to wonder. I didn’t think I was doing as good a job in either because I was spread out so much, so I felt for the betterment of the program I needed to make that decision. I did it for the first five years, so I am very comfortable the way we are now. I hope we play well. You never know. I like our kids and am really pulling for them. They put a lot into the season and they are very deserving of a good season.

Q: How will the reps go at right guard, an even split?
A: It depends how much Jaimie Thomas plays. We’ll see how he goes. I think we will probably have a rotation there with Jack Griffin and Phil Costa, and Edwin Williams and Phil, and Jack and Dane Randolph. Now we got Phil coming over to sub Jaimie too. Phil is doing a good job playing both guards. Jack is not as comfortable on the left side as he is on the right side. Then we are hoping Lamar Young comes along. I think we will probably play Scott Burley and Bruce Campbell an equal amount. We think Campbell is a good player. Paul Pinegar has been playing pretty well also, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pinegar in the game. Justin Lewis is coming on. He has some ability. He is just a true freshman, whose head is spinning. We decided to invest the time in him and hopefully by mid-season he could be ready to play. One out of every six plays he does something right. It doesn’t help your continuity right now, but a week ago it was maybe one out of every 10 plays. I do see progress being made.

Q: Have you and James Franklin had a conversation about when you want to bring Josh Portis in?

A: I have not really sat down and talked to James about it. Sometimes people do it after a certain series. I think we’ll see how the game is going. But I have not sat down to talk with him about that yet.

Q: Can you talk about the strides Bemi Otulaja has made?

A: A long way. He always was a kid who impressed me with his effort. He virtually walked in off the street. The first time I met him I didn’t think a whole lot about it. Then we were not going to bring him back on our original 105 two years ago. We had some go not report. I remembered him, so I said to Dave Sollazzo, ‘How about that kid from New York? We need another defensive lineman.’ That’s when he got on the bus and came all the way down here. When he came on he didn’t know what was going on, but I saw a guy who gave effort every day. And he gave Edwin Williams some problems. It is interesting, I asked some of the kids last night about their strengths and weaknesses and he said one of his strengths is his size because he can play lower than everyone else, which I thought was pretty neat. He didn’t look at it like a negative, he looked at it as a positive.

By Eric Prisbell  |  August 28, 2008; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Football  | Tags: James Franklin, Josh Portis, Lansford Watson  
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Next: Friedgen: The Director's Cut


Unfortunately you didn't ask him any tough questions.

I was correct in my assessment that beat writers are afraid to ask coaches tough or controversial questions. They are afraid if they piss the coach off, they will lose close access.

I would like SOMEONE to ask RF to answer the criticism that the success with his own recruits has not measured up with the success he enjoyed with Vanderlinden's recruits.

Posted by: Charles | August 28, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Will people please get off this "sucess with Vanderlinden's recruits" crap. Only proves Vandelinden was a terrible coach who was in over his head. Maryland was 9-4 two years ago and one win from playing in the Confrence Championship game and had a good year last season with all the injuries, especially on the offensive line and at linebacker.

Posted by: virtueandvice | August 28, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I think it is fair to question a coach's recruiting success or style. Friedgen has consistently had recruiting classes ranked in the 20 to 30 range, yet the results on the field have been mediocre the past 4 years. So if Friedgen is scoring high grades for recruiting then what does it say about the coaching? I think he is a good coach, but what always disappointed me is that for a coach known for being an offensive guru and a quarterbacks guy--he has not been able to put one of his own QB recruits out there with much success. Stan Hollenbach has been the best of his recruits and Friedgen had him as 4th string for 3 years. Now he is starting his once price recruit Steffy, even though Steffy has never showed any potential in games--coincidence?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 28, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

wasnt trying to be anonynmous--forgot to put name in :) And yes, i think Turner should be starting over Steffy but that is last week's debate.

Posted by: zman | August 28, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

When is Ralph going to address his weight problem he is a walking massive coronary waiting to happen but while this subject may be deemed personal it is far from it.He is a public figure in the highly visible job of a division one college football coach, how may one ask is he supposed to ask his players to be disciplined in certain aspects of their lives when he hasn't controlled the most obvious aspect of his. His family(wife and kids) have to be worried about "that phone call" the one i'm sure they hope never comes.Ralph Friedgen is good coach and i'm sure a good man so for the sake of those close to him here's hoping he gets some help soon!!

Posted by: | August 28, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

RF hasn't won a league title since his first year.

Since then the program has been on a steady decline.

RF's record is only 25-23 over the last 4 years. Three of those years the team has had a losing record.

That represents mediocrity to me. That type of "success" would get you fired at Michigan, Clemson, USC, LSU, etc.

RF should have to answer for that. Too many fans accept mediocrity from the football program because of the losing years in the 90's.

Posted by: Charles | August 28, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The issue isn't Ron Vanderlinden. No one thinks he did a great job. However he should be credited for upgrading the talent from the Duffner years.

I'd argue RF wasted a season and a half starting Joel Statham. Looks like he's on the same course this year by giving Steffy the nod over two better quarterbacks.

Could it possibly be that RF is NOT living up to the offensive guru genius hype?

Posted by: Charles | August 28, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt in my mind that Fridge's ego is getting in the way of him playing the players that give the TEAM the best chance to win. Steffy's had three chances to win the starting job, but he hasn't proven that he's a winning quarter back at the division I level. All he has going for him is that he was Fridge's hand picked recruit 5 years ago and Fridge is determined to succeed with him as QB1, wins be damned!

Posted by: intallstar | August 28, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

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