Mike Locksley was waiting for the question: why didn’t the Maryland football coach use his final timeout in the last minute of regulation Friday night to break a 38-38 tie against Minnesota?
“I knew that was coming,” he said Monday afternoon with a smile after the Terps won, 45-44, in overtime at Maryland Stadium. “I should have used the final timeout, and I should have taken a shot at the end zone.”
After a Golden Gophers punt, the Terps (1-1) started their final series with the ball at their own 24-yard line with 1:12 on the clock. After two passes for a total of 37 yards, the offense marched to Minnesota’s 39 with less than a minute left.
But a 5-yard catch on first-and-10 by freshman wide receiver Rakim Jarrett was wiped out by an offensive pass interference penalty on redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jeshaun Jones. After back-to-back incompletions, a 10-yard reception by fifth-year senior running back Jake Funk on third-and-25 brought the Terps to the Golden Gophers' 44 with 10 seconds left, but Locksley elected to let the clock run out and the game went to overtime.
Locksley said one of the problems he runs into as the primary play caller on offense is that he has to juggle several scenarios in his head while dealing with the actual on-field situation. In Friday night’s game, he said he was discussing with his staff whether to send junior kicker Joseph Petrino out to attempt a 61-yard field goal and did not consider taking a chance downfield.
“Coaches are not immune to error,” Locksley said. “I should have used that last timeout and taken a shot at the end zone, a Hail Mary to try to get a pass interference. It was something in the heat of the battle with me being involved in the offense. I need to get that done.”
Achieving offensive balance
The offense demonstrated what it is capable of in the victory over the Golden Gophers. Sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa passed for 394 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 59 yards and two scores, Funk racked up 221 rushing yards and one touchdown, Jones had 103 receiving yards and one score, and junior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. finished with 101 receiving yards and one touchdown.
For the game, Maryland gained 281 yards and three scores on 31 carries and threw the ball 35 times for 394 yards and three touchdowns. Demus said an offense that can enjoy success in both areas can help itself.
“It’s always great to have a great passing game and a great running game balancing off of each other,” he said. “If you get down with one, the other one can spring on later in the game. The way we executed our offense, the passing game and running game showed up. We were running a lot harder and breaking things down.”
Desperately seeking a turnover
Junior middle linebacker Chance Campbell (Calvert Hall) secured Maryland’s first sack of the season Friday night when he took down redshirt junior Tanner Morgan in the fourth quarter, but the defense is still looking for its first turnover.
The Terps are the only team in the Big Ten that has not recorded a takeaway, and their minus-6 turnover ratio is worst in the conference. Sophomore defensive end Lawtez Rogers acknowledged that being more opportunistic to produce a turnover is a priority.
“Our defense hangs our hats on turnovers and getting the ball out and turnover margin and winning the game,” he said. “Our offense stepped up, and our defense stepped up in the second half, but that’s definitely something we need to fix. And I’m sure that we can because we have the players and coaches.”
Updates on Smith, Fleet-Davis
Locksley said senior middle linebacker Shaq Smith was a late scratch Friday, and his availability for Saturday’s game at Penn State (0-2) at 3:30 p.m. is up in the air.
“He’s a scratch for medical reasons, and we’re hoping to get him back here as soon as he’s able to get back,” Locksley said of Smith, who backs up Campbell.
Locksley also said senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis continues to work his way back from issues related to being charged with seven driving-related charges, including driving under the influence of drugs last November.
“We’re still waiting on an answer as to whether he will be available or not as we work through some of the logistics here on campus,” Locksley said of Fleet-Davis, who was supposed to back up Funk. That role has been shared by a pair of freshmen in Isaiah Jacobs and Peny Boone. “Right now, he’s not available, but we’re hoping that maybe we can get him available here in the very near future. He continues to practice with us and has done his role as a leader.”
>> The weekend was a successful one for the Tagovailoa family. Not only did Taulia become only the third player in the last 20 Big Ten seasons to post 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and two rushing scores in a single game – for which he shared the conference’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors with Ohio State junior quarterback Justin Fields – but older brother Tua also won in his first start as quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. “Obviously happy for Tua,” said Locksley, who coached him at Alabama. “It was a well-deserved opportunity for him and for him to do well, but even more excited for Lia in that he was able to play the way we thought he was capable of playing. Now the goal is to get that type of effort from him consistently, which we expect and will hopefully continue to see out of him. But I was definitely excited for Lia and excited for Tua to be able to get a start and get his first win in the NFL. So I was happy for both of those guys.”
>> The Nittany Lions are 0-2 for the first time since 2012 and dropped out of the Associated Press Top 25 rankings, but their losses were to No. 3 Ohio State and No. 13 Indiana. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Penn State and their program,” Locksley said. “I know that they’ve had a couple of tough games here the last couple of weeks, but I know that they’re a well-coached team, and we expect that we’ll get their best, especially when they’re at home.”
>> Locksley said the players practiced Sunday and Monday so that they could get off Tuesday and exercise their right to vote on Election Day. He said some players plan to volunteer at a polling center at Xfinity Center on campus.
>> Locksley said junior wide receiver Brian Cobbs, sophomore right tackle Spencer Anderson and junior defensive back Tahj Capehart will serve as team captains for Saturday’s game.
>> Maryland’s home game against against Ohio State on Nov. 14 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 105.7 FM
Line: Penn State by 24½