Wild Turtle takes off

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Fans were looking for much of the season.

But it took until last week for offensive coordinator James Franklin to seriously mention a plan to Maryland wideout Torrey Smith to have him line up under center.

“I thought he was joking,” Smith said. “I walked past coach Frank going to the locker room and he said ‘We’ll put you at quarterback.’ Serious? I thought he was [kidding]. We’ve got some wrinkles back there. Hopefully, they’ll continue to expand if it works.”

The play made a one-snap cameo in Saturday’s 20-9 loss to Virginia, and Smith was stopped for no gain. If the Terps were to employ such a ploy, Smith (a former high school quarteback) would be a logical person to use.

You might recall Franklin shooting down that idea four weeks ago. Turns out he wasn’t entirely truthful.

“We’ve kind of had the idea for a while. Last week when you guys were asking me about that and the TV people were asking me about that, I just don’t want to tell you because we’re going to do it this Saturday,” Franklin said. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. We tried to do it last year with Da’Rel [Scott], but Da’Rel just didn’t have the same type of presence. He wasn’t loud enough with the cadence and guys were jumping offsides. Torrey played some quarterback in high school. We put him back there and it was really pretty natural with it. Once again, trying to get a chance to put a hat on a hat and do it from the same personnel group that’s on the field.”

(Now, pardon the aside for a moment, but it’s time to stick a name on this formation.

The standard name is Wildcat, of course. There’s the Wild Hog (Arkansas) and the Wild Turkey (Virginia Tech) and the Bazooka (Boston College).

For lack of a better name, it’s been called the Wild Turtle here. Maryland hasn’t given it a specific name with any charisma so far.

“You can call it the Wild Turtle,” Franklin said. “That would be good. We use personnel groups – 11 personnel, that’s one back, one tight end, so we just go t-11. Then we call the formation, if it’s trips right, it’s q-trips right. The q tells Torrey and Chris [Turner] to switch positions.”

End of aside.)

On to more important matters: Just how soon will the scheme be seen again – if at all?

“We’ll probably run it,” Franklin said. “If it works, we’ll probably run it again. If it works that time, we’ll probably run it one more time.”

Ah, the classic football coach’s answer.

And what about Smith, who played in a run-oriented system in high school but still got to throw a little bit? This is a former quarterback taking a snap, after all.

“We got some wrinkles,” Smith said with a smile. “I can’t tell you secrets. We’ll see what happens.”

Patrick Stevens

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