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Franklin to Turner: Take Ownership of Team

I am still on Maryland's campus (almost 12 hours now) and will be here until late into the night. Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin walked into the Terps interview room tonight fired up, almost as if he were ready to take the field. Three nights earlier, I ran into Franklin up on the press box floor, as he left the coach’s box, and he wore a blank expression. Franklin said tonight that he wants to see Turner take more ownership of the team, correcting players on their errors, etc. Here is some of the interview with Franklin from tonight:

(Thoughts on Chris Turner)
“As a quarterback, you have to make 90 percent of the throws that are there. If a guy is open, you have to hit him. It is not that difficult when you have good protection to drop back and, if a receiver is open, to hit him. You have to hit 90 percent of them. Then you have hit 50 percent of the balls that are tough, whether it is from pressure or whether the coverage is a little tight. If you do, you’ll be in the 70 percent range and you’re going to be in pretty good shape because most of the throws are there. That is what he needs to do. Take his training from practice, take it onto the game field and make the throws. Can we do some things to help him, from the receivers, the running backs to the offensive line? There is no doubt about it. But that is what he needs to do.”

(Thoughts on offensive line)
“I think the offense in general has been inconsistent. That is what we have been talking about for four months now. You have to come out and do it every single play. On defense you can have one defensive tackle or linebacker take over the game and dominates. On offense, all 11 guys have got to be working together and on the same page working together.”

(Positions up for grabs?)
“I don’t think anyone’s job is in stone. The one guy probably as consistent as anyone since I have been here is Edwin Williams. He might be the most underappreciated guy on our team. He has been starting for four years, he comes to work, gets his job done and no one really says a whole lot about him. Besides him, almost everyone else it is a daily and weekly battle to see who deserves to be on the field. And some of our guys sometimes think because they are seniors or because they were starters last year, that it’s their job. That’s not reality. We all have to be accountable to one another.”

(Thoughts on Josh Portis)
“This is what happened last week, we had a key third down and it wasn’t blocked correctly and he lowered his shoulder and ran a guy over. That gave me some confidence in him. Later in the game, we had a similar situation and we were not making the throws I thought we should make. I tried to put him in the same situation. After the fact, the way it worked out it probably wasn’t a good decision. At the time, I thought it was the right decision based on his previous third-down experience.”

(When you look at tape, do you look at how you call the game, too?)
“There is no doubt. I am constantly evaluating myself and analyzing what I could do better. We watched the tape as an entire offense and had discussions about that. That is a perfect example of a situation I probably shouldn’t have done. I am constantly, from the time I get in here at 6 a.m., to whatever time I leave, I am constantly grinding and evaluating what I can do better, how can I teach things, how can I explain things better. We’re all being held accountable. I’m holding myself accountable. Coach Friedgen is holding me accountable. I tell the players, nobody is above the law.”

(As far as the timing in the West Coast offense, were are you on the learning curve?)
“I would say we’re around 70 percent right now. There are times when we are 90, there are times when we are 40. Overall, I would say probably 70 percent. I’ll give you a perfect example. We throw the screen to Darrius and Chris makes a fast decision and gets the ball in his hands. That’s the type of athletes we have. If we get the ball to them fast, they have an opportunity before the defense can figure out what is going on, they can make a play. There was a play earlier in the game where we were hot and Darrius ran what I call a drive or shallow cross and he was coming across the middle, we should have hit him on our first three steps and got it to him. That play could have been no different than the screen. If we can hit Darrius and the rest of our players in space, before the defense can react, then they have a chance to use their athletic ability and speed and create a big play. Instead, we didn’t see the hot until late, we threw the ball late to him and now it is a catch and a tackle. Instead of getting the ball to him fast and there is separation. That’s what you have to do at the quarterback position. I have been places where we are not surrounded by this much talent and the quarterback has got to do it all. We’re in position where we have enough players around here. If you just get the ball to the players on time in space, they will do the work. Every once in a while you have to deliver the big throw on third down. But most of the time, get the ball to the players and let them make plays. What I am trying to do is get everyone to hold each other accountable. If Chris goes to throw a route and the receiver doesn’t do what he is supposed to do, instead of me correcting it, Chris taking some ownership of his own team, of his own opportunity for success and to go tell the receiver exactly what he wants him to do and why. If we can get more of that. This is your team, your opportunity. If they are not doing what you want them to do, you tell them. You get it corrected. If they are not doing it in games, you are going to have to tell them.”

(Are you ready to suit up?)
“There is nobody that wants to win more than us. I understand the fans are disappointed. Nobody is more disappointed than we are. I know the fans are upset, they should be. Trust me, the fans are not coming to work 18 hours per day. Our job is to get it fixed and to put a product on the field everyone can be proud of.”

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 9, 2008; 8:48 PM ET
Categories:  Football  | Tags: James Franklin  
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It's soooo cliche, but this is the kind of intensity that doesn't come across from Fridge. He doesn't sound pissed off enough, he doesn't sound like he goes home and worries about the game. He sounds like he leaves (albeit after a freakishly long day), eats way too much food, and then goes to sleep.

Fridge is angry and he needs to show it. It helps let the fans know he views the performance as unacceptable.

Posted by: ckstevenson | September 10, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"Franklin said tonight that he wants to see Turner take more ownership of the team, correcting players on their errors, etc."

Turner's a surfer from Simi Valley (if i recall). Ownership and passion aren't likely to be in his nature unless someone (Coach Franklin) manages to light a serious fire under him. otherwise, correcting other players' errors in the huddle is likely to sound something like:


Posted by: mdrockjock | September 10, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

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