Earlier this week, two days after Maryland’s narrow win over SMU, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley, and his crew created a video they presented to the players at the team meeting.
The video began as a compilation of every penalty Maryland has committed against SMU, all 15. Through three games, Maryland has committed the second-highest number of penalties in college football — out of 131 FBS-qualified teams.
The show then moved to a montage of written and spoken comment about the team’s indiscipline, including various tweets.
The words “bullying mentality” were mentioned in a particular tweet, according to Locksley.
“These are hurtful words and I played the video and let them see what people think of our show,” Locksley said.
That’s one way Locksley is addressing the Maryland penalty problem, one that was prevalent last year – Maryland committed the second-largest penalty in the Big Ten – and crept into this year during the first part of the season.
Maryland has an experienced group – they bring back 15 rookies on either side of the ball – so this season the expectation was for the Terps to be a more disciplined group. For whatever reason, it wasn’t the case.
Whether it’s a false start on a fourth and short behavior call or an unsportsmanlike behavior call, Terps still have to show discipline for extended periods.
“We play against two teams in every game we play because of the space we give them,” said Dante Trader Jr., a sophomore safety student.
Many of these penalties were on attack, usually either a hanging call or a false start. For the improved and experienced set of postures, it’s definitely surprising. While quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was visibly frustrated at times, as a captain, he remained an encouraging.
“We all have to get back to neutral. It’s part of the game. You always want to encourage your O-line and they did a great job running the ball and protecting me,” Tagoviloa said. “Just keep going, keep fighting and learn from your mistakes too.”
Locksley admits that it falls to him as the leader of the programme. But he wants people to realize that these are children, and no matter how well they are taught, mistakes happen.
“As a parent, you send your children and they have a basis for how to raise them. Sometimes they don’t act in character, and what do you do by kicking them out of your house? You punish them. So we deal with the penalties and we deal with them from the inside out,” Locksley said. “People who have kids understand what it’s like to go out on the playground and maybe play outside of what you’ve trained them to do.”
“I have to make them understand that the name on the front of the shirt represents us and we must keep working to do the best.”
While we won’t find out for sure until Maryland takes the field on Saturday, Locksley’s message appears to have been heard loud and clear.
“We have to do it for him [Locksley]said the merchant. “He’s not there creating the penalty shootout. They’ll put him on him because he’s the head coach, he’s the head of the snake. We feel like we’re letting him down in that sense.”
Besides motivation in the boardroom, accountability in practice is another way Maryland gets the message across.
“If you get offside, you go off the field. If you have someone who isn’t an athlete or you’re talking to the other side of the team, you go off the field and you get checked right away. As players we have to take responsibility for things like that so that doesn’t happen on the day. Saturday,” Trader said.
“We know it’s not who we are as a team,” said junior player Rakim Jarrett. “I think it’s just a matter of locking each player up for their job and not making any mistakes before the play begins.”
Maryland doesn’t have much time to clean up. With Big Ten playing starting this weekend, if this trend continues, it will be difficult for Terps to compete with the best teams in the conference.
Maryland thinks it will clean up the mess. Time will tell if this is the case.