Gophers coach P.J. Fleck made a Maryland mea culpa.
On a third-and-2 in the final minute or so of regulation this past Saturday, the score tied at 38, Fleck decided to give running back Mohamed Ibrahim one of his 41 carries — and third consecutive — despite a box packed with Maryland defenders.
The Gophers didn’t get the first down, the last of three unfinished drives in the fourth quarter, and ended up losing the game 45-44 in overtime.
“That’s my fault, 100 percent my fault. I think it’s just as simple as that,” Fleck said Monday. “ … I wanted to be able to keep the clock moving. We thought we could get 2 yards, and we couldn’t.”
The Gophers abandoned their passing game in the final quarter while Maryland mounted its comeback.
Assessing blame for the loss to a 20-point underdog could be endless. But Fleck said while in hindsight, he’d probably make some different calls, that’s not always the case in the moment.
“I make decisions with every bit of information in front of me. I never just make a decision on a whim,” Fleck said. “All the information, how the game’s going, what the feel of the team is, where we’re at, what it looks like, what we have to do to win the game. I evaluate all of that, and then I make the best decision I possibly can with the information given.
“When the game’s over, you always go back and evaluate how you could’ve done better. What could you do more?”
Time to vote
The 0-2 Gophers have plenty of preparation to do before traveling to Illinois for Saturday’s game. But none of that will happen Tuesday.
No Division I student athletes will compete or practice on Election Day, the first enactment of a soon-to-be annual rule for the NCAA.
“It gives people an opportunity to sort of relieve them of their responsibilities to go do that,” Gophers wildcat quarterback Seth Green said. “I know in the past, it’s been hard because, let’s say you have class, workouts and this and that. Time comes, and it’s too late. Very understandable with how packed student-athlete schedules are. To free-up that time is something that we all appreciate.”
Green and other team leaders have worked to help all players register to vote in their home states and educate teammates who are first-time voters. The fifth-year senior said the Gophers have all realized the importance of voting and prioritized it.
“Everybody has taken that to heart and has taken ownership of it,” he said. “It’s been great for everybody, and I’m just proud of everybody.”
New film study
Fleck gave his team an extra film-study session ahead of the first road trip to Maryland. Except it wasn’t about the opposing team.
“We do videos, which we’ve never really done a lot before, but videos before going there of what the hotel looks like, where to enter, what the room’s going to look like,” Fleck said. “So they’re not shocked because it’s so unique and so different.”
The coach left no detail obscure, even going through how the evening team meal would look, how to safely go through the buffet line with servers, how to sit 6 feet apart instead of congregating at tables, where to enter and exit the conference room.
Offensive lineman Axel Ruschmeyer exited the Maryland loss in the third quarter, limping off after an apparent left-leg injury, replaced by Nathan Boe. “We’ll see if he’s back,” Fleck said of the left guard’s return.