Three days later, P.J. Fleck still felt he had some explaining to do.

The Gophers on Saturday defeated Maryland 34-16 on the strength of a dominant second-half performance that saw the offense control the ball for more than 20 minutes and the defense give up only a touchdown with 1 minute, 31 seconds to play.

It was the late stages of the first half, however, that caused consternation among the Huntington Bank Stadium patrons who wanted the Gophers coach to handle the final minute in a different manner.

"I'm bringing that up again just in case you wanted to talk about it again," Fleck said, smiling, to the gathering of media members for his weekly news conference Monday.

Here was the situation: Leading 17-10, the Gophers drove to the Maryland 19 and called their final timeout of the half with 32 seconds left, facing second-and-7. Instead of trying to score with a pass play, Fleck and his offensive staff opted for a run by Ky Thomas, who was dropped for a 4-yard loss. Boos from the fans followed.

The ball was reset with roughly 20 seconds left, but instead of the Gophers rushing to the line on third down to get off one more play, perhaps a shot to the end zone, Fleck had quarterback Tanner Morgan spike the ball with four seconds left and set up Matthew Trickett for a 38-yard field-goal attempt. More boos.

And when the Terrapins blocked Trickett's kick and nearly scooped up the ball and returned it for a TD, the crowd loudly voiced its displeasure.

On Monday, Fleck took a question about the Gophers' red-zone success on offense and defense before, unprompted, addressing the end of the first half.

"Even the end-of-the-half stuff, you're doing everything you can to win," he said. "Whether people are happy about that, how we think about that or not, we have passionate fans. … But I don't have a chance to explain it to everybody over the intercom exactly what I'm thinking in the final 40 seconds of the half. They just have to trust me that we're going to do the right thing to go score points."

Later, Fleck was asked about former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, for whom he served as a graduate assistant getting his first collegiate coaching experience. Tressel led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship and two other BCS title game appearances. His teams relied heavily on the running game to limit opponents' possessions and help his team's defense.

"People call it Tressel-ball, and I take a lot of my beliefs of what we do as a program from him in how you run a game," Fleck said. "Even at the end of the first half, things like that — how to find a way to win a game and score as many points as you possibly can and put yourself in the most advantageous position to win."

Turning down a shot to try for a touchdown might not seem like maximizing points. Instead, knowing the Gophers would get the ball to start the second half, Fleck went for the field goal.

Fleck acknowledged Monday that Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who passed for 394 yards and accounted for five touchdowns against the Gophers in the Terrapins' 45-44 overtime victory last year, played a role in his decision.

"I just didn't want to give the guy, No. 3, the ball back as well, so that goes into it," Fleck said.

The decision didn't end up costing the Gophers because their offense rolled to 326 rushing yards and their defense limited Maryland to 112 second-half yards. It did, however, raise some fans' blood pressure.

"Like I said, I wish I could get on the intercom, have a live feed. I have offense, defense, special teams on my headset. There should be one for the crowd,'' he said, joking.

When someone said that setup could be arranged, Fleck responded, "Oh yeah, I'm sure they'd all listen, too. 'Is that what he's doing? Oh OK, yay! No more boos, yay, I got it. Coach, thanks for really clearing that up for me.'"