With under seven minutes left in the third quarter of the Maryland football team’s 38-14 loss to Penn State last week, the Terps elected to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Penn State 22-yard line.
A 44-yard run by Lorenzo Harrison got the Terps into enemy territory at a crucial juncture in the game. The Nittany Lions were only up 10, but were operating smoothly on offense during their previous drive before Will Likely stripped Saquon Barkley in the red zone. If Maryland was going to get back in the game, this was the time to do it.
Maryland didn’t convert, as Jake Funk was stopped on the outside for a loss and a turnover on downs. Here’s the play in question:
Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell dove into the play a little further in his Wednesday press conference:
We had a corner out there, and we had a lineman and a lead back run by him. It’s something we work on all the time. We had prince in there at guard, he hadn’t taken a ton of reps there, but we didn’t get the job done. There are a gajillion calls you’d like to have back any time you don’t play well. There are 10-12 calls you’d like to have back when you win a game. But it’s the call you make. You gotta live with it, you gotta go execute it. Again, it all comes back the fact that I gotta make sure we don’t have two guys miss on the outside.
It’s important to note that whenever Bell says something negative about the offense’s play, he’s quick to take ownership of whatever faults he’s referencing.
“I’ll say it again, anytime we don’t do our job that means I didn’t do my job as a coach,” he said Wednesday
But Bell didn’t show any regret about this specific play call.
Coach Durkin asked, “Do you feel good about it?” and the answer was yes. If I had to do it again, would we still go for it? Absolutely. Would we block it better? Absolutely. That’s part of the maturation of a football program.
His call was a gutsy one, but I think it made sense. His team was in no position to squander any red zone opportunities, and a field goal was by no means a sure thing. You can argue with his decision to give it to Funk, who hadn’t been used very much in the past few games, but just because the team didn’t convert doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right call. His head coach put it best after the game.
“If you can’t get two yards, you don’t deserve to win the game.”
In other news
Maryland had a whole lot of trouble with Penn State’s read-option offense. Minnesota runs some read-option too.
In our latest podcast, we discussed Maryland’s chances against Minnesota, and why the sky isn’t falling just yet.
From InsideMdSports, here’s a look at how Maryland’s changed since DJ Durkin took over.
Maryland’s looking to bounce back against Minnesota’s backup QB, by Roman Stubbs.
Maryland’s looking for a more balanced offense, by Callie Caplan.
Lorenzo Harrison is one of the most elusive running backs in the nation, by Jason Dobkin.