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Franklin defends decision to run the ball late against Miami

By Eric Prisbell

James Franklin, Maryland’s offensive coordinator, defending the play calling on Maryland’s second-to-last drive against Miami. Quarterback Danny O’Brien handed the ball to Davin Meggett three straight times to try to gain a first down and bleed the clock. They couldn’t get a first down so they had to punt:

Here is Franklin’s take:

“First of all, if things would have worked out differently, them burning all three of their timeouts would have come back to haunt them. That would not have gone over very well. That situation, with 5 minutes to go in the game, they had no timeouts, you’ve got to run the ball. You’ve got to run the ball three times, you’ve got to get a first down. You get two first downs and the game is over, running the ball. Hindsight is 20-20, ‘Okay, you ran three times and didn’t get the first down. Should you have thrown it?’ If we throw the ball on second or third down and get an incompletion, the clock stops and you burn no time off the clock. Then there are people second-guessing you after the game that you threw an incompletion to stop the clock. If you asked any coach in the country, you are going to run the ball three straight times, possibly four straight times, hopefully you get some first downs, when the other team has no timeouts and no ability to stop the clock. That last play, we had a draw or a pass based on if they loaded the box up then we throw the ball outside. If they played off and played cover-two then we run the ball. And they played middle of the field open defense and we ran the ball and a chance to get the first down and didn’t get it done. That’s an area that we have to improve on, all the way back to Florida State last year. That’s what four-minute offense is all about.”

By Eric Prisbell  | November 10, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
Categories:  Danny O'Brien, Football  
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Comments

While I understand that trying to run out the clock is the key here, the fact that we call the same play three times seems to be gutless, especially if the other team has to burn time outs. Great teams make gutsy calls. Mediocre teams make safe calls. Three running plays in a row is too safe. Why not show some confidence in your QB and your offense and get the first down? Put a dagger in the other team's heart. The only thing you made safe was Miami's chance to get the ball back with time to spare.

If this is what we have to look forward to from the head-coach-in-waiting, then we are in for some really tedious football. To quote Herman Edwards, "You play to WIN!"

Posted by: ecglotfelty | November 10, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes a HCIW coaches differently when he is in charge than if he coaches within someone else's context. I am a Fridge supporter, but I've seen Fridge do this type of thing before Franklin returned to the team. Maybe Franklin took this one for the HC. But I agree--no innovation on those plays. Just routine three-and-out stuff, handing the ball over to the Canes. What a gift to their defense, to only do the expected.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Franklin feels the need to defend a basic no-brainer decision like trying to run the clock out late in the game when you have the ball, the lead, and your opponent has no time-outs tells you everything that you need to know about this program.

If I were Franklin, I would publicly repudiate my Head Coach In Waiting status explaining that the never satisfied so-called fans of this program make the job too much of a chore to handle when combined with an Administration that provides little support to building a winning program.

Sure the fans at Maryland do their level best to sound intelligent by pointing out nuances such "running the same play three times" (which they didn't do) or "great teams make gutsy calls" but in reality, they're never happy, they're never satisfied, and have wildly unrealistic expectations of the football program and its history.

You want to know what really great teams do? They do what everybody expects them to do in certain situation and nobody can stop them from doing it. They don't reach for gimmicks and "gutsy calls" to pull them through. That's what less-than great teams have to rely upon.

I'm one who is not afraid to say that this isn't a great team. I'm also not afraid to call out the real culprits of why this isn't a great team and it isn't the coaching staff. It is an Administration that is still spooked by the ghost of Len Bias and refuses to cut any corners when it comes to their student-athletes.

Fire Fridge, Fire Franklin, Fire their eventual successors; until the attitude in the Administration changes, nothing is going to really change with this program.

Posted by: CapsNut | November 10, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think Franklin's thinking is right, but the execution was poor. You can't run the same play three times in a row and expect to get a first down. They didn't even show a different look during that possession. If you're trying to run out the clock with 5 minutes to go, you probably need to at least throw in a bobble screen or draw just to keep the defense from slamming the backfield, which is what happened on 3rd down. With less than 2 minutes to go, you can run the same play 3 times, and be pretty confident that even if you punt you're going to win the game, but with 5 minutes to go, it's a tall order for an offense to get a first down when they have to run the same play 3 times in a row.

Posted by: Russtinator | November 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The head coach at Colorado just got fired for continuing to throw the ball with a 28 point lead in the 4th quarter (they lost). It's much easier to call the game after the fact.

Posted by: thadarrington | November 10, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

You want to know what really great teams do? They do what everybody expects them to do in certain situation and nobody can stop them from doing it. CapsNut10:38 AM

The Terps don't have enough O-line talent to get away with that approach.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

This play calling is why Maryland will never be a top rated team. We would rather see a loss while trying to win than to sit on the ball and still lose. Ever team in the ACC knows the Md. style of play call.

Posted by: shunt63 | November 10, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

It was not the same play three times in a row.

I agree with CapsNut. The culture needs to change more than the personnel.

Posted by: garrett4 | November 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

there was 5 minutes left in the game-you're not going to run out the clock by playing not to lose. Franklin talks about the 4 min drill...is he dense? Miami was down by less than a fieldgoal and would have had plenty of time to get into range even with ONE first down. Furthermore, we didn't run very well on them and as he admitted, EVERYONE knew he was running. Ralph and Franklin coach to not lose, and the results have more than spoken for their approach. This coaching staff is easily one of the worst in the nation at game management (another example is calling a TO on the ensuing Miami drive with their freshman QB facing 3rd and long!!!!). There is no way Franklin is getting the head coaching job and that's why he's freely defending himself.

Posted by: minhle1 | November 10, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"If you asked any coach in the country, you are going to run the ball three straight times, possibly four straight times" -James Franklin

He is simply incompetent. There is no other explanation. If you really asked any coach in the country, they'd say on 3rd down and 6 with still way too much time on the clock, you pass for the 1st down. No one is complaining about him running on first and second down, but running on 3 and 6 with several minutes left is simply inexcusable and demonstrates his total lack of incompetence.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 10, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I've said this before and it's worth pointing out again. James Franklin only got his promotion because of his race. We know this for a fact--thanks to some ill-advised comments from Debbie Yow. We know our public school took race into consideration (illegally and unconstitutionally) in the promotion of James Franklin to head coach in waiting.

From a published report on accsports.com: "Only because Franklin is a 'qualified minority,' according to Yow, did College Park administrators willingly agree to his preemptive promotion. 'It’s part of our fabric,' she said of affirmative hiring, which at Maryland included the ACC’s first black basketball assistant coach and head coach, the first African-American chancellor, and the first and only female AD."

It's time for our affirmative action coach to go.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 10, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

*that should have said: demonstrates his total lack of COMPETENCE.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 10, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

CapsNut I applaud ur passion but disagree with some of what you said. I don't want an administration that "refuses to cut any corners" as you apparently do. That is what happened after the death of Len Bias. Besides, I'm not sure that the whole Bias situation has any effect on MD athletics anymore.
Look, nobody roots harder or is prouder of MD than I am. But I am also proud that we don't "cut corners". I am a firm believer that in college sports winning is not the only thing to brag about.

Posted by: fellowfan | November 10, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

oops. Make that "I want an administration that refused to cut corners?.

Posted by: fellowfan | November 10, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

James Franklin has to go! He is terrible! The game was in Maryland's hands, just get a first down. Instead, Franklin doesn't even try.

"You play to WIN the game!!"
-Herm Edwards

Posted by: ams1986 | November 10, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I've said this before and it's worth pointing out again. James Franklin only got his promotion because of his race. We know this for a fact--thanks to some ill-advised comments from Debbie Yow. We know our public school took race into consideration (illegally and unconstitutionally) in the promotion of James Franklin to head coach in waiting.

From a published report on accsports.com: "Only because Franklin is a 'qualified minority,' according to Yow, did College Park administrators willingly agree to his preemptive promotion. 'It’s part of our fabric,' she said of affirmative hiring, which at Maryland included the ACC’s first black basketball assistant coach and head coach, the first African-American chancellor, and the first and only female AD." It's time for our affirmative action coach to go. Posted by: Barno1 | November 10, 2010 2:12 PM

The Terp football program has been in existence since 1892, hiring only white guys as head coach. Now Barno says affirmative action has to go! Where were you making the same comment about all those loser white guys who were head coach during all the many years of racial exclusivity (118 years to be exact)? Why wouldn't affirmative action (in favor of white guys) have to go between 1892-2010? Argue on the merits please.

How do you really know Franklin is not fit to be HC? What kind of offense would you expect with such an O-line? There are plenty of competent people of all races who could be the Terps HC. Franklin could easily be one of them if given a chance. The Terps recruiting would likely pick up, with payers knowing the Terps are loosening up in their hiring practices. Franklin is a highly regarded recruiter.

I don't see anything wrong with having diversity as part of the U of MD fabric. In fact, it is a necessity, for the benefit of all--whites, too.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Franklin could be green and I wouldn't care-what matters is he's really not a good offensive coordinator. He calls plays out of hope and not to lose. Same with Ralph. Franklin gets a 5 year deal with the average of all ACC coaches, at this rate, over $2M. There is no way in hell he's getting that.

Posted by: minhle1 | November 10, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Guys...lets please stop blaming the mysterious "administration" for UMD football woes..all other UMD sports have won National Championships or are routinely ranked in the Top 10 in the country EXCEPT Football....So unless you are going to make the case that the "administration" is only biased against football, please come up with something else....Also, lets not forget that the University recently pumped $50,000,000 into facilities improvements for Football so I am sorry but your arguments ring a tad hollow....its the leadership of the football program that is letting us down...some people, Fridge included, think this season has been a success because we won 6 games and got to a bowl...he has already started dropping hints in the press about bonuses etc...this is a very mediocre football team and we tolerate it, so thats what we get

Posted by: TerpfanMA | November 10, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

probable should not have said "All" other UMD sports but Mens Basketball, Womens Basketball, Field Hockey, Lax, Mens and Womens Soccer to name a few

Posted by: TerpfanMA | November 10, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The Terp football program has been in existence since 1892, hiring only white guys as head coach. Now Barno says affirmative action has to go! Where were you making the same comment about all those loser white guys who were head coach during all the many years of racial exclusivity (118 years to be exact)? Why wouldn't affirmative action (in favor of white guys) have to go between 1892-2010? Argue on the merits please.

I don't see anything wrong with having diversity as part of the U of MD fabric. In fact, it is a necessity, for the benefit of all--whites, too.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

EdDC,

No offense, but you badly misunderstand this issue. First and foremost, your premise--that race-based affirmative action is okay because of past discrimination--has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in California vs. Bakke back in '78. That is precisely when proponents of race-based public policy decided to take on a new rationale: diversity.

The diversity rationale has also been limited by the Supreme Court in the landmark Michigan cases of 2003. You can only now take race into consideration on a case by case basis in higher ed admissions, but a public institution unequivocally CANNOT take race into consideration in its hiring and promotions. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment guarantees us all the same rights regardless of race.

So when the University of Maryland says the only reason we agreed to give this man the promotion and coach-in-waiting gig was "because he was a qualified minority" and affirmative action is "part of our fabric" they are admitting to breaking the law. Now, the local press covering this team does not have the courage to ask them questions about this, but there are private groups out there that have challenged the University on these issues.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 10, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

CapsNut I applaud ur passion but disagree with some of what you said. I don't want an administration that "refuses to cut any corners" as you apparently do. That is what happened after the death of Len Bias. Besides, I'm not sure that the whole Bias situation has any effect on MD athletics anymore.
Look, nobody roots harder or is prouder of MD than I am. But I am also proud that we don't "cut corners". I am a firm believer that in college sports winning is not the only thing to brag about.

Posted by: fellowfan | November 10, 2010 2:18 PM


Fellowfan -

I am going to ask others to clarify as they see fit.

Post len Bias, maryland was sanctioned by the NCAA for car rides given by BOB WADE himself to Rudy Archer...a kid who came highly touted to MD because Wade was his neighbor in Baltimore. He would walk to Wade's house and catch rides to and from school over a f*ing summer session. These rides were deemed inappropriate and MD self-reported them. Wade had thought that the rules meant he could not pick Archer up from his home and drive him to and from school. Certainly if Wade had to drive to DC for an alumni function and Archer came along, that would be permissable. On top of that, Wade and Archer had asked the admin if it was ok and were INSTRUCTED that it was - as long as Archer was not picked up and Wade was not going out of his way. That is what I understood the infractions were for. The penalties handed down by the NCAA were for the death of Len Bias.

I am proud that GW does not cut corners, but don't think that the corners were clearly being cut before then - and everyone was looking to take down Lefty as the sacrificial lamb. They found nothing.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | November 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Barno,

Of course conservatives are winning on this issue, like they are on so many others. So what? Institutions can still practice diversity the best they can, by considering and hiring a variety of people, and the Supreme Court can't stop that. And, yes, Maryland can keep hiring white football coaches for the next 118 years too, and probably get away with it, just like they have been from 1892-2010. This is not a legal matter. It is institutional judgment.

How do you evaluate Franklin as a recruiter?

How do you evaluate him as an OC--keeping in mind that (1) he just returned here not that long ago, and (2 he inherited a young and not highly rated O-line (walk-ons and 2-and 3-star recruits)?

Do you think Franklin had anything at all to do with the Terps return to a bowl, or just a coincidence?

And if you want to bring race into the discussion (as obviously you do), how about this: does hiring a black HC help recruiting or is it irrelevant to players? We have been in a mid-level-ACC (or lower) rut for quite a while in recruiting here at Md.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Playing the race card has nothing to do with being an idiot as an OC..A white boy could be just as stupid..Just find it hard to believe that there is not 1 or 2 very safe passes that Franklin could have used with one of those downs..I wonder if the defense felt a letdown when the offense failed to get at least one first down.. Thus, let them drive right down the field..Agree with earlier post, calling a timeout when they had third and long was just as bad.. Guess that's not because Brown is white, just old...Go Terps !!!

Posted by: frostanna | November 10, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

EdDC -

I regard him as an OC who has made discrete, identifiable blunders in play-calling. Moreover, I regard the play-selection thus far as nowhere near as run-oriented as the team should be. I also think that Garcia's RS should have been burned earlier in the season to help maximize the team's potential for this season.

I have to give him credit for the recruitment AND development of DOB.
Thats fair, and he earned that.

Not enough Scott, Meggett or Adams running which would relieve pressure on DOB and the WRs. We are a pass-first and sometimes pass-only offense in my impression. The three runs don't bother me as much as not punching it in from the 2 yd line.

If they win their last three games then my opinion might change substantially, but we need a statement win.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | November 10, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

My big problem with the game is the defence at the end of the game. How can you not rush as many players as you can at the Miami quarterback when the game is on the line. This kid is a freshman. The defence can not give this kid all the time he needs to make an decision. My wife looked at me and asked why only three players were rushing the quarterback. The only answer I could give was its all about the coach. Bad coaching!!!!!!!!

Posted by: jahalt | November 10, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

OK, at least we are getting off the race topic and talking specifics. No one said Fridge, Vanderlinden, and all the others spanning three centuries were hired just because they were white. They were considered to be the best the Terps could get, although for many of those years, only whites could be hired. Whether it helped HC prospects over the years to be white did not even get into the discussion. So Franklin gets hired, and some say he was hired because he is black! What an insult to Franklin. I'm sure Yow saw that Fridge's time as Md HC was coming to an end, and considered many, many options, not just Franklin. I'll bet Franklin turns out to be a great hire, but I respect other opinions that are not racially motivated.

This is my last post on this. Race should be left entirely out of it.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't trust anyone who uses worn-out cliches like "Hindsight is 20-20" in their defense...

Posted by: iamasofaking | November 10, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

hgr-not sure I understand ur post but let me clear something up. MD was put on probaton for 3 yrs because of actions by Bob Wade. He loaned money to a recruit and provided players with free clothes. He also was found to have lied to NCAA investigators and had a meeting with his staff to cordinate lying to the NCAA. As far as giving Rudy Archer free rides I have no idea what that is about.

Posted by: fellowfan | November 10, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

And if you want to bring race into the discussion (as obviously you do), how about this: does hiring a black HC help recruiting or is it irrelevant to players? We have been in a mid-level-ACC (or lower) rut for quite a while in recruiting here at Md.

Posted by: EdDC | November 10, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

EdDC, I don't know whether the race of the head coach can help or hurt recruiting...but I do know this: It shouldn't be--and is illegal to be--a consideration in the hiring process.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 11, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

This simply isn't good enough reasoning for me. Just because you called the right plays against that defense doesn't mean you did the right thing. As a coach, you are just as responsible for the execution of a play as you are the calling of it. If your team can't execute the plays you call, you are accountable just the same. Call a play that gives your team the best chance of execution, whether run or pass, not the just the one that makes you feel like you are coaching the game the right way.

Posted by: jpish | November 12, 2010 3:13 AM | Report abuse

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