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Profiles In Strange Coaching Decisions, Pt. I: Accepting Hold, Caleb Porzel

If you were wondering, there will be a part two (tomorrow, though). Because there were just that many weird decisions that don't make a lot of sense in this game. Let's start off with two pretty specific events, shall we?

Accepting a Hold on 4th and One

Here's the situation: Duke has a third and eight on the Maryland 28 yard line, 3:14 left on the clock, Maryland down four with no more timeouts. Thaddeus Lewis hits his man, but for a seven yard gain, to the Maryland 21. There's a hold on the play. A coach has two options: accept the penalty, thus forcing Duke out of field goal range and saving three points at the expense of another 40 seconds running of the clock, or decline the penalty, let Duke kick the field goal, and save 40 seconds.

Here's my argument: regardless of whether or not Duke kicks the field goal, you need a touchdown. They'd probably be insane to go for it there: it was a long one and, if they didn't get it, Maryland would have all the momentum and a shot at winning, not just tying. The problem is the time: with just three minutes left and needing a touchdown, Maryland has no timeouts. They needed as much time as they could get, and letting it burn away could really hurt. Not to mention the possibility that Duke would convert on the second chance they just received. I shudder to think the reaction had they picked up the first.

Of course, Friedgen would accept the hold and the defense would execute, sacking Lewis. Tony Logan would fumble the ensuing punt, and the game would be over. I'm not blaming Ralph for the fumbled punt, but the decision to accept it still doesn't make sense to me.

Caleb Porzel on 4th and 1

Early in the game, Maryland's first drive. The Terps are driving and looking good, but get stopped on 3rd down just short of the line. It's fourth and one at the Duke 31. I'm not going to criticize going for it: that's completely acceptable. What I will criticize, however, is the personnel.

On fourth and one, if you're going to run straight up the gut of the defense (who has an All-American DT, might I add), does it make any sense to use the 5-9 (on stilts), 180 (directly after eating a Baconator) scatback Caleb Porzel? This team also has relative workhorse Davin Meggett, powerback Morgan Green, and human bulldozer Corey Jackson. Instead, we pick literally the smallest player in the team and ram him into the heart of the defense?

That drive could've been momentum-building, letting Maryland grab the game at the start with a quick score. Porzel, however, got stuffed at the line, and never really got close to getting the first down. Duke would receive the ball, march down the field, and score.

Tomorrow comes with Eric Franklin's redshirt burning, Torrey Smith (and the Wildcat), and the dreaded QB draws.