Walt Bell struggles to fall asleep on Friday nights. The Maryland football offensive coordinator, who speaks excitedly and runs an up-tempo attack, worries that slowing down to shut his eyes will hinder his game planning.
So Bell stays up, reading over his call sheet again and again to prepare for any possible scenario. He often imagines the next day's contest unfolding.
"You're always one bad game away, one bad performance away from being embarrassed," Bell said.
Bell's late nights have also helped him manage a second straight year in which the Terps have used at least four quarterbacks.
Ryan Brand became Maryland's fifth quarterback this season when he replaced injured third-stringer Max Bortenschlager in the fourth quarter against Rutgers. With the Terps trailing 31-24 on their final drive, Brand completed eight of 12 passes for 68 yards. But a would-be touchdown pass to wide receiver Taivon Jacobs was wiped away by a holding call, and the Terps lost, essentially eliminating them from postseason contention.
While Bell called Brand a revelation for his fill-in work, he said it's been difficult for the Terps to rotate between signal-callers so often.
"There's a lot of frustration," coach DJ Durkin added. "We've played at a high level at a lot of positions, but with constant injury or turnover at that position, it makes it sometimes more difficult than really what it could be."
Bell uses a no-huddle spread offense that works best with running quarterbacks. But after mobile starters Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill went down early in the year with season-ending ACL tears, Bell leaned on Bortenschlager, who admitted to not being that athletic.
Brand, however, poses more danger with his legs. He was a three-star dual-threat quarterback in high school before spending one year on the bench at Air Force. Maryland recruited him to join the team along with his brother, a linebacker.
As the fifth-choice quarterback entering this season, Brand didn't expect an opportunity to play. Still, linebacker Isaiah Davis said Brand made an immediate impression in practice, and he wasn't surprised when Brand excelled against Rutgers.
"Ryan has been doing that since camp," Davis said. "Just like me, he's been waiting for an opportunity to get on the field and just show what he's got."
While Durkin didn't officially name a starter for Maryland's upcoming game with Michigan, labeling Bortenschlager day-to-day, Davis seemed to indicate Brand would get the nod, saying, "He should play well for us this week." Bell made a similar remark Wednesday before correcting himself.
If Brand is the selection, he'll become Maryland's fifth starting quarterback since Bell took over before the 2016 season. The turmoil under center has helped Bell grow as a coach, even if it adds to the list of factors that nag him.
"When you've got those big hopes and dreams of what's to come and things don't go your way, not only is it very humbling but it's also just a great teacher," Bell said. "Hopefully there will be some time down the road in my personal life or in my football life where there will be issues just like this and I'll be better because of it."