Let’s start off with a little chart that demonstrates the strengths of weaknesses tonight of Maryland running backs Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett:
Any objective analysis would suggest Scott was a vastly superior option in terms of gaining yardage. Even taking into account Meggett’s 63 yards on six receptions —- no small thing —- he checks in at 4.75 yards a touch. Scott, including his reception, was at 7.86 yards a touch.
So three yards a play is pretty huge, especially for this team. But Scott’s fumbles also led to nine Middle Tennessee points —- also a pretty big deal in a 32-31 loss.
“You can’t fumble,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “If he fumbles, you’re not going to see him in the game. He lays the ball on the ground, he’s not going to play. It’s as simple as that. You lose games when you fumble the ball. It doesn’t matter what your stats are. You lose games. That’s the stat I’m worried about.”
As well he should, given that the Terps are 1-2 and staring down a mostly unforgiving schedule the rest of the way. And Maryland has demonstrated it is better equipped to beat itself than its first three opponents given its propensity for turnovers.
Scott had a 7-4 edge in carries over Meggett when he coughed it up with 14:26 left in the second quarter. He didn’t touch the ball again in the first half.
Scott then got the first six carries between the two of them in the second half, before a fumble with 2:55 left in the third quarter. And that was that for his night, Meggett taking the next six carries.
Which makes you wonder if there is a specific policy to bench a back with a propensity to fumble since, well, that’s exactly what happened tonight. Scott was banished for long stretches after his two lost fumbles, and Jamarr Robinson‘s package disappeared after three plays and a lost fumble.
“No, not my policy at all,” offensive coordinator James Franklin said. “I don’t want to play scared and I don’t want to show them we don’t believe in him. But if you’re going to have multiple fumbles, then we’ve got to make a change. You can’t keep putting him back in there.”
Scott did a lot of good for the Terps today, and also quite a bit of bad. Meggett was a bit more modest in his production, but lost yardage on only one of his carries (and didn’t fumble at all, though Chris Turner‘s interceptions glanced off his hands).
There are many lessons to be taken from tonight. The greatest one for Scott is that it’s clear that holding onto the ball is his greatest priority —- or else he’ll be watching half of the game from the sideline.
—- Patrick Stevens