Locksley debuts as Maryland interim coach against Penn State
BALTIMORE (AP) In virtually any other scenario, James Franklin would wish Mike Locksley the best of luck in his debut as Maryland’s interim coach.
Franklin and Locksley formed a solid friendship more than a decade ago as assistant coaches at Maryland. On Saturday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines when the Terrapins face Penn State in a Big Ten matchup at the home stadium of the Baltimore Ravens.
Franklin is in his second year as Penn State’s coach. Locksley was bumped up from Maryland’s offensive coordinator when Randy Edsall was fired on Oct. 11.
Looking back on their time together, Franklin said, ”That was kind of early in my career, and me and Mike built a strong relationship. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and what he does with his job. I’m excited for the opportunity that he has there.”
Franklin has a job to do, too, and this weekend his task is guide Penn State (5-2, 2-1) past a Maryland team that has lost three straight by a combined 122-34 score.
Locksley’s goal is help the Terrapins (2-4, 0-2) take another step toward turning this lopsided series into a rivalry. Although the Terrapins won at Penn State last year on a late field goal, the Nittany Lions are 35-2-1 all-time against Maryland.
”Fortunately for us, we were able to get a jump last year with the win, but it’ll take some time to build this thing into a rivalry that I’m sure our fans will like to see,” Locksley said. ”Rivalries are usually started with being competitive on the field.”
Some things to know about the Penn State-Maryland matchup:
BUCKEYE BLACK EYE: Both teams are coming blowout losses to top-ranked Ohio State. Maryland lost 49-28 two weeks ago in what turned out to be Edsall’s final game. The Terps were tied at 21 in the third quarter before the Buckeyes pulled away. Penn State held the early lead last week but unraveled in a 38-10 defeat.
HILLS STARS: Perry Hills temporarily halted the quarterback carousel at Maryland with a 170-yard rushing effort at Ohio State. Hills started the opener, but by Week 3 was third on the depth chart. Now he’s starting again, and the Nittany Lions hope the experience they gained last week against versatile Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett will help them contain the elusive Hills. ”Our coaches have a good game plan going into this game, and as players we’re going to be more patient and understand how to play the blocks,” Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel said.
ANYTHING GOES: Locksley is asking his players to enjoy the game of football instead of pressing to make the right play. He hopes they bring that mindset to the stadium on Saturday. ”It’s back in the day when you’d go out and play with your friends in the backyard, and you just let it all cut loose,” he said. ”That’s the kind of mentality we want to play with, because we really have nothing to lose as a program.” Knowing this, Franklin is telling his team to be ready for anything.
ABOUT LAST YEAR: One of the highlights of the Edsall era was last year’s 20-19 win at Penn State. Edsall’s gone now, but memories of that home loss remain for the Nittany Lions. ”We’re going to play with a chip on our shoulder,” sophomore safety Marcus Allen said. This Penn State team is different than last year’s squad. ”They’re doing a much better job of consistently running the ball,” Maryland defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said. ”You look at the numbers, and they really improved in that area. That’s because they’re healthy.” Freshman Saquon Barkley rushed for 194 yards last week in his return from a right leg injury.