Penn State coach James Franklin made some curious game-management decisions before halftime at Maryland, which he was more than happy to explain after a 31-14 victory Saturday.
"Without that, what would you guys [in the media] have done all halftime?" Franklin joked.
Penn State led Maryland 7-6, but had just given up a touchdown, when it took possession with 1:15 remaining and three timeouts. It was an opportunity for Franklin, who pushes the narrative of his offensive aggressiveness, to run a 2-minute drill and pursue at least a field-goal attempt.
Instead, the Lions essentially ran out the clock, but not before calling a timeout with 3 seconds left to consider taking a shot downfield. Here's how Franklin explained the situation.
"Obviously we weren’t playing great and were going to run the time off the clock," Franklin said. "It was a discussion I had with [defensive coordinator] Brent [Pry] and [offensive coordinator] Mike [Yurcich]. And then obviously we got a couple plays and moved the ball a little bit and thought about taking a shot.
"So we called a timeout and had a discussion about what we wanted to do and then decided it wasn't the right thing and obviously kneeled and went into halftime."
To that point in the game, points had been at a premium, and Maryland opened the third quarter with the ball and an opportunity to take the lead.
And Penn State's offense had been shaky, having punted or turned over the ball on downs on its previous three series. So Franklin began looking ahead toward halftime.
Then, running back John Lovett rushed for 23 yards on four carries, and Penn State found itself at the 48-yard line. So the Lions called a timeout, discussed taking a shot downfield and ultimately decided to take a knee.
"[We] went into halftime and made the adjustments, and the adjustments worked out well," Franklin said after the game.
They did. Penn State's offense scored 17 points in the second half, two on electric plays by Jahan Dotson, and sealed the win with Ji'Ayir Brown's interception return for a score.
Still, the moment underscored the occasional uncertainty Penn State's sideline confronts. Yes, the Lions' offense was out of sorts, but its previous three drives averaged 10 plays apiece. They at least had moved the ball with some success.
Once the first two runs play were successful, the Lions could have shifted to their tempo offense to attack the Terps. At the very least, kicker Jordan Stout could have used a comeback after missing a long attempt at Ohio State.
"I thought that we were going to roll a little bit; I thought we had some time," quarterback Sean Clifford said after the game. "But obviously, it's not up to me. And I'm just going to let coach Franklin do what he does. That's why he gets the big bucks."
On the bright side for Franklin, the victory gave him license to jab back at reporters after the game.
"I wanted to make sure that you guys have enough things to talk about and argue about and criticize during halftime," Franklin said. "Without that, what would you guys have done all halftime?"
Watch the video above for Franklin's complete comments.