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Even After Failing on Fourth Down, Maryland Football Looking Up
Players feel they are better than those numbers suggest, and are gradually making improvements as a young offensive line gains experience, finds a comfort level and builds off the Clemson experience.
"I wonder who are the people criticizing us -- the media," Meggett said. "They are not in our huddle. They say we are this bad or are not doing this. They criticize [Friedgen's] decision-making. I just think the coaches know us a little better. If the coaches are criticizing us, then maybe we should pay attention to it. But if the coaches are supporting us, just like coach did when he went for it, then I think we are in good shape."
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, one of the few bright spots offensively this season for Maryland, said the offensive line took a significant step forward in the Clemson game against the most athletic defensive line he has seen, adding: "You won't see other defensive ends in the whole country like Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. And the O-line definitely held up and held their own."
Franklin also said the offensive line is incrementally improving, which is critical because a team can have the "best wideouts, the best quarterbacks, the best scheme, the best running back in the country, [and] if there is not a hole, they are not going to get any yards, unless they are just phenomenal -- Barry Sanders playing for Detroit all those years."
While the fourth-down play failed against Clemson, players believe the mere decision to go for it has fostered confidence that will pay dividends in the remaining seven games.
"It was a huge show of confidence by coaches," Pinegar said. "It was a test of mettle."
Some of that self-assurance is already apparent. When a reporter reminded Meggett that few coaches probably would have gone for the first down in the same situation Saturday, Meggett cut the sentence off with two words: