Maryland punter Wade Lees was in uniform and played in Saturday’s 24-3 loss to Michigan State. Lees had a busy afternoon, punting eight times with a 45-yard average, including a career-best 67-yarder.
His backup, Matt Barber, was not with the Terps at Maryland Stadium.
Four days after the two punters scuffled following a practice, the accounts of their altercation are now in the hands of the Office of Student Conduct.
On Thursday, Lees denied the fight had anything to do with different views the two had over former coach DJ Durkin, who was fired Wednesday night.
Lees, a 30-year-old Australian who is the second-oldest player in Football Bowl Subdivision, said on Twitter on Thursday that Barber’s account was “far from the truth.”
“There are many inaccuracies in the way he portrays that day,” Lees wrote. “I have never tried to force my opinions on someone else. I have over 100 teammates that can back me on that.”
Many of Lees’ teammates did just that, taking to social media themselves.
“All 100+ players are behind this man. He was standing up for younger teammates who were being ridiculed and bad mouthed. Do not always believe what you see on Social Media. The truth always wins. #FakeNews,” junior running back Jake Funk tweeted.
“This piece of fabrication is an absolute joke and mockery of our team! Not gonna affect us moving forward in any way,” graduate linebacker Tre Watson tweeted.
On Wednesday, Barber said Lees punched him repeatedly in the face as some of their teammates were pulling him away.
During the course of an hour-long interview at the state university system’s Baltimore headquarters, football coach DJ Durkin gave a speech that dramatically changed the course of events and convinced board members he should stay, according to several sources.
Speaking at the Baltimore office of attorney Billy Murphy, who also represents the family of Jordan McNair, Barber had a black eye and stitches. His right arm was in a sling.
An athletic department spokeswoman said the school has reached out to Barber to get his side of the story, but was not sure whether he had been in touch with the Office of Student Conduct.
Asked after the game whether Barber, a senior, was still on the team, interim Maryland coach Matt Canada said, “Matt Barber, he’s not been around. Whenever I see Matt Barber, we’ll see where he wants to be as far as being on the team.”
Hill’s struggles continue
Coming off a game in which he threw for a career-high 265 yards and tied his career high with three touchdowns in a 63-33 win over Illinois, redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill finished 8-for-21 for 74 yards. He rushed for 19 yards on six attempts, but was sacked four times for combined losses of 35 yards.
Asked about Hill’s inconsistency, Canada said, “Yeah it was all over the place. Kasim, actually early in the game, I thought was playing pretty well. I thought he made some good plays and made some good reads.
“He had a couple of reads later and some opportunities that we missed some plays, which he knows and he was very frustrated with himself on one because we had a guy open and he missed him. It was all over. It’s all over. We've got to get him a little bit better. But he’s continuing to get better.”
One of the more inexplicable plays came early in the third quarter. Faced with a third-and-9 from his team’s 14, Hill rolled to his left and tried to throw downfield. The ball popped out of his hand before he could finish his throw and Hill was forced to recover a fumble for a 7-yard loss.
“Just one of those days,” Canada said.
Senior running back Ty Johnson, who didn’t play in the second half of last week’s win over Illinois because of a calf injury, didn’t suit up for the first time in his career. … Senior defensive tackle Mbi Tanyi was ejected from the game in the second quarter for throwing a punch. … Watson, who was ejected for targeting in the first half of the Illinois game, returned to lead the Terps with 13 tackles.