Archive for October, 2007

31
Oct
07

Week 10 ACC Football Preview/Predictions

I’ll quickly touch on the bowl situation for Maryland. They are currently 4-4, with 4 games to go. A team need 6 wins to become bowl eligible. There certainly are 2 wins left on the schedule for Maryland (at UNC, and at N.C. State) and a possible 3rd win at Florida State. It is unlikely they will beat BC at home. The problem for Maryland is the ACC might have 9 bowl eligible teams. The ACC has contracts with 8 bowls to take teams from their league, so if the ACC does end up with 9 teams that are bowl eligible, one could get left out, and a 6-6 Maryland team filled with injuries is likely to be the team left out. There are some scenarios in which Maryland could still make a bowl game if they are 6-6. If BC goes undefeated, but loses to VT in the ACC championship game, BC is still likely to make a BCS bowl as an at-large. This would open up a spot for Maryland to grab one of the ACC bowl games. The second scenario is a bowl game, that has an affiliation with a league, is unable to select a team from that league because there are not enough bowl eligible team within that league. This is possible this season with some of the Pac-10, and Big 12 affiliated bowls. The problem is leagues such as the Big10 and SEC are experiencing enough parity this season, that like the ACC they may have more bowl eligible teams, than available bowls. At that point it would be up to Debbie Yow and Coach Friedgen to convince the bowls they should take Maryland, which might be a hard sell. Take my advice Maryland, you want to go to a bowl game, win 3 out of your last 4 games.

For less depressing news, lets discuss the ACC games this week. All 12 teams play this week in conference, with 1 game happening Thursday night. I’m gonna give a more qualitative prospective on the games this week as oppose to feeding you a ton of numbers like I usually do. On to the games……….

Thursday Evening:

#11 Virginia Tech (6-2 (3-1 ACC)) @ Georgia Tech (5-3 (2-3 ACC)) – 7:30 PM ET: Virginia Tech had one of the most demoralizing losses I have ever seen last week, giving up 14 points to BC in the last 3 minutes, after shutting them out for the first 57 minutes. Coach Beamer will not let this team dwell on the loss however, and will have them prepared to play Georgia Tech on Thursday. I don’t see this being much of a game, and wouldn’t be surprised if we see a blowout in the likes of what VT did to Clemson earlier this season. It doesn’t matter if Glennon or Taylor starts at QB for VT, they will put up points on a GT defense that has actually been very impressive this season. That, coupled with the fact that GT has lost their star running back Mr. Choice for the season, I see a VT win Prediction: Virginia Tech 36 Georgia Tech 17

Saturday Games:

#25 Clemson (6-2 (3-2 ACC)) @ Duke (1-7 (0-5 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET: Yet another game that I don’t think will be much of a contest. Thanks to a lackluster effort by the Terps last weekend, Clemson got rolling. Their offense is rolling, and their defense is rolling. Going to Duke should be no problem for Clemson and its not worth any more of my time to write about. Prediction: Clemson 30 Duke 16

N.C. State (3-5(1-3 ACC)) @ Miami (5-3 (2-2 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET: N.C. State finally got off the schneid last weekend with a big “upset” over Virginia. Yea, I said upset of Virginia, sounds weird, doesn’t it?How did State pull the upset, well, 347 yards passing sure helps. Miami has a bit tougher of a defense though. N.C. State will still try to pass and will score, but should have little more trouble with Miami. On the flip side of the ball, N.C. State still doesn’t not have a good defense and I expect Miami to be able to score on them. This game will be closer than people will expect, but Miami gets the win at home. Prediction: N.C. State 21 Miami 29

#24 Wake Forest (6-2(4-1 ACC)) @ #23 Virginia (7-2 (4-1 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET: I am not sure what the betting line on this game is, but I would be shocked if Wake Forest isn’t the favorite. I feel that many people are like me and do not believe Virginia is that good. They still haven’t beaten anyone impressive. They won at home against GT, and on the road at Maryland. If these are your two best wins, a #23 ranking may be a bit high. Nevertheless, I think Virginia will play a good game after losing at N.C. State last week. This is definitely a game where Wake Forest could be caught looking ahead to next week when they take on Clemson. I’m going to take Virginia in what I am calling an upset even though they are ranked higher. Prediction: Wake Forest 20 Virginia 22

Florida State (5-3 (2-3 ACC)) @ #2 Boston College (8-0 (4-0 ACC)) – 8:00 PM ET: Florida State is having another disappointing season. A 5-3 mark through 8 games is not acceptable in Tallahassee under any set of circumstances. 5-4 through 9 games won’t sit well either. Boston College proved last week at Virginia Tech that they have that intangible that Championship teams all seem to have, a refusal to lose when the going gets tough. BC QB Matt Ryan was a man possessed on the final 2 drives of that game. Matt Ryan is no fast guy, but his scrambling abilities were amazing. Boston College does not lose at home to a mediocre Florida State team. Prediction: Florida State 16 Boston College 34

Lastly, I want to thank everyone for the kind words everyone seems to have for the Marching Band’s performance at the Clemson Game. For those of you who don’t know I’m in the Marching Band, and its nice when we perform a show the crowd seems to enjoy like we did last week. Obviously, we can’t perform a dance every week, but I’m glad you guys liked it. Here’s a link for those of you who missed it. Thriller begins at 2:50 and the good stuff begins around 3:55…..
Check back later in the week for the Maryland/UNC Preview……

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28
Oct
07

Terps go down to Clemson, now 1-3 in the ACC

For some reason that loss was a lot easier for me to take than any of the others we have had this season. Maybe it was because the game wasn’t close, or we didn’t give up a lead, or maybe it was because I just didn’t expect to win. The Terps are hurting. I just don’t see how they can compete with better than average ACC schools such as Clemson. Fortunately, they still have 2 winnable games on their schedule to try to make a bowl game, but thats for another blog…..

The Terps ended up with 97 yards rushing, and 217 yards passing. However, when you take away the 4th quarter statistics the offense put up against Clemson’s second string defense, the Terps had 63 rushing yards and 95 passing yards. That is 158 yards of total offense in three quarters. Now I look at these numbers two ways. One is that our offensive line is filled of 3rd string players who simply can’t make the holes needed to run the ball consistently. If we have our starting line for this game, I am convinced we would have been able to rush for a lot more yards, but, we don’t have our starting offensive line, and rushing is going to be tough to do. Secondly, Clemson has a good pass defense. I would have liked more than 95 yards through three quarters, but I am sure they were expecting the pass a lot as they knew we couldn’t really run. The flip side of this is we started the game with a 59 yard drive. We mixed in passing and running and looked good. After that we can only muster up 99 yards of offense through the end of the 3rd quarter? It just doesn’t make sense to me that we can be successful on our first drive, and then get shut down so badly. Regardless, it was nice to see the offense come out in the 4th quarter and at least try. This team may be injured, but they showed a lot of heart to only lose the game by 13 points after being down 30-3.

Turnovers were a big story for the 1st half. The Terps forced a fumble in the 1st quarter which gave them great field position. However, a few plays later, Turner fumbled the ball and gave it right back. I’m not sure, but it looked like to me the ball got jarred loose when turner was moving to hand it off and the ball hit a tackle in the butt. It’s an unfortunate turnover, but it can’t happen when your team is so injured. You need to take advantage of every turnover your defense gets for you, and you need to score points on all of them. When you are an underdog team, like Maryland was in this game, you need to take advantage of every turnover you get. Turner also threw his first interception since coming in to replace Steffy in the Rutgers game (he threw 2 against Villanova in the season opener). It was bound to happen at some point, but it gave Clemson momentum going into halftime and another 3 points. You can’t make mistakes like that when you are beat up. You can’t give the opponent extra opportunities.

Speaking of missed opportunities, how many Interceptions did the Maryland defense drop in the 1st half? I counted three. Again, completely unacceptable. I know you are sick of me saying this, but when you are that injured and depleted, you need to take advantage of every play that the opposing offense screws up. As a defensive unit, to drop 3 sure interceptions is unacceptable. It wasn’t as if they were even tough plays to make. Clemson QB Cullen Harper was missing his targets badly, hitting terps defensive backs right in the chest. Those are plays that need to be made if you want to beat a team like Clemson.

Lastly, how about Coach Friedgen sticking with Chris Turner the whole game. Steffy was cleared to play, and I was convinced after the 1st half we had, we were going to see Steffy, but Turner still went out there. I was then convinced when we were down by 27 we would see Steffy, but still no Steffy. Either Friedgen believes now that Turner is his best quarterback, or Friedgen wants to give Steffy a whole game to show what he can do. I am not sure if its fair to Turner if Friedgen does indeed do that and allow Steffy to start at UNC and them compare the numbers. In my opinion, I have seen enough from Steffy to know that he is not the answer. Is Chris Turner the answer? maybe, maybe not. But Turner is younger and has two more years of eligibility left after this season compared to Steffy’s one. With all else being equal, I start the younger quarterback as he has more time to develop and help you in the long run. I’m curious to see what Friedgen says about his quarterback situation during the week after a mediocre performance by Chris Turner, who was not helped by his receivers who dropped at least 5 passes.

Well, we can’t dwell too much on this loss. The Terps travel to Chapel Hill next week to take on UNC in what is a must win game for the Terps. If they lose, a bowl game becomes very unlikely. If they win, the Terps can still salvage this disappointing season.

26
Oct
07

Clemson Vs. Maryland Preview

Clemson (5-2 (2-2 ACC)) @ Maryland (4-3 (1-2 ACC))

The Terps have had a week to think about their loss to Virginia last Saturday. Many were quoted as saying the loss was tougher to take than the Wake Forest loss. I disagree, as a fan who was at both of those games, they were both tough to take because they both should have been Maryland victories. Well, that is in the past and its time to focus on Clemson. The Tigers come to Byrd stadium for a 3:30 kickoff on Saturday. Hopefully they won’t score as much as they did last week (70). So, will the Terps be able to bounce back from a tough loss, will Clemson score 10 TD’s? Onto the game…..

What you need yo know about Clemson:
Clemson is a very interesting team. Statistically they are good, which seems to happen every year, but they also seem to hit a pothole every October in recent memory and it looked as if it would happen again this season. After starting the season 4-0, Clemson lost at Georgia Tech, and then followed it up the next week by getting crushed by Virginia Tech at home. It reasonable to lose these games, Virginia Tech is a great team and Georgia Tech is very solid and it was a road game for Clemson. However, they did not look good in either of these games. They only put 3 points up against Georgia Tech, and then allowed 41 to Virginia Tech. Fortunately for Clemson, their Athletic Department scheduled Central Michigan in the middle of their ACC schedule. Well, playing a week out of conference foe was just what Clemson needed beating Central Michigan 70-14. What is more impressive in my opinion than the 70 points, is only allowing 14 points to a Central Michigan team that had been able to score a lot earlier in their season. It will be very interesting to see how Clemson plays following their win last week. Are they really out of their annual downward October spiral, or have they righted the ship. Personally, I believe Clemson righted themselves and are priming themselves for a good 2nd half of the season.

Offensively, Clemson ranks 38th in the nation in passing yards per game (278) and ranks 122nd in rushing yards per game (157). This makes absolutely no sense when you look at their roster. Junior Quarterback Cullen Harper has looked very impressive the season passing for 1800+ yards, 19 TD’s, and only 4 INT. These are great numbers considering I believe everyone thought the game-plan for Clemson this season would be to hand the ball off to Running Backs C.J. Spiller and James Davis. I can’t even call these guys studs anymore. Davis had 6 TD’s and is averaging 5.6 yards a rush which is pretty good, buy Spiller has only 2 TD’s and is averaging 3.9 yards a rush. I have no idea why these two haven’t been as successful this season as they were last year. Nevertheless, Coach Tommy Bowden solved the problem by trusting his quarterback and passing. WR Arron Kelly had 46 receptions this season, for 637 yards and 6 TD’s. I expect to see Clemson try to establish a running game, but if that doesn’t work, expect to see the pass early and often. Its working for them, and when something works in football, you stick with it.

Defensivly, Clemson has a very solid unit. They rank 20th in the nation in total yards given up at 290. They allow 143 yards on the ground and 147 yards in the air. These are very impressive numbers. Giving up on average less than 150 yards a game passing signifies a defensive secondary that is very hard to complete passes through. Clemson has picked off 9 passes this season, all of which have come from the secondary. Where the Clemson Defense does struggle though is the sack department. They rank last in the ACC with only 10 sacks on the season. Hopefully that trend will continue Saturday against a very depleted Terps Offensive line.

Mark Buchholz does the kicked for Clemson. He is 9/16 on the season but 7/9 inside of 40 yards.

The Terps have two big story lines for the game. One is the offensive line. The 5 remaining offensive lineman on the roster who are not true freshman will be starting in this game. If there are any injuries, or a lineman needs a breather, the player you see come in will be a true freshman. Clemson does not have a great defensive line, but i worry with all the injuries and back up players playing for Clemson, it is very possible we will make them appear to be good. The other major story line is at the quarterback position. I believe Turner is the better quarterback, but its not my decision. If Steffy is cleared to play, I don’t expect to see him start, but do expect him to at least play a bit and split time with Turner. I don’t think it is a good decision, but knowing Ralph Friedgen’s undying love for Steffy, it is bound to happen.

As for what the Terps need to do offensively, I think it is simple. First, try to run. See what you can get and mix in a few passes. If that doesn’t work, then open up the passing game and hopefully Turner (or Steffy) can make something happen. Clemson will be very tough to pass on, but with an substitute offensive line, there may not be any holes opening up for the running backs. Quick short 5-10 yard passes may be the way for Maryland to march down the field and score on Clemson. Its going to be a tough game offensively for the Terps and I don’t expect us to score much.

I like to think the team can come back from their heartbreaking loss last week to Virginia, but that may be a lot to ask for against a stingy Clemson defense, combined with the Terps plethora of injuries. I expect it to be a close game, but think Clemson will come away with the victory in the end. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I don’t see how you could go with the terps in this game. Prediction: Clemson 17 Maryland 13

24
Oct
07

Week 9 ACC Football Preview/Predictions

Well…I’ve been watching replays of the Virginia game like teenage girls watched Titanic over and over again hoping Dicaprio’s character wouldn’t die this time, but unfortunately, Virginia got the generous placement of the ball on that 4th down play every time…oh well, its time to get Ready for Week 9, there is still a lot of football to play….

Week 9 features 10 ACC schools playing in 5 conference games (Georgia Tech and Miami have a BYE this week). Unfortunately, I have three tests this week, so I don’t have 2 spare hours to research stuff to write up for every game so this week I’ll only be giving you a short blurb on each game and a score prediction…On to the Games……

Thursday Evening:

#2 Boston College (7-0 (3-0 ACC)) @ #8 Virginia Tech (6-1 (3-0 ACC)) – 7:30 PM ET: This should be an awesome game to watch. Matt Ryan and the Eagles finally get a chance to show they belong at #2 in the BCS poll when they take on #8 Virginia Tech. Tech QB Tyrod Taylor is questionable for the game which means Veteran Sean Glennon may get the start. Nevertheless I don’t think it matters. Boston College is going to go on the road and prove to the nation that for now, they belong near the top of the BCS. Prediction: Boston College 28 Virginia Tech 24

Saturday Games:

North Carolina (2-5 (1-2 ACC)) @ Wake Forest (5-2 (3-1 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET: North Carolina has played two straight impressive games, beating Miami at home, and losing to South Carolina by only 6 points. Wake Forest on the other hand has won 5 straight games after starting the season off 0-2. North Carolina winning would be a nice story, but Wake Forest won’t let it happen. Prediction: UNC 16 Wake Forest 32

#15 Virginia (7-1 (4-0 ACC)) @ N.C. State (2-5 (0-3 ACC)) – 4:30 PM ET: You got lucky Virginia. Your team is on the better side of mediocre, but 7-1 so far, thats just lucky. You should have lost to Maryland, but your 3rd string Running Back comes in and out gains Maryland in yards. The referees helped you on a few calls too. But, you won, and winning a game like that keeps the momentum going. N.C. State could be a letdown game, but a team like Virginia who is enjoying sucess for the first time in quite a few seasons will not suffer from letdown games. Virginia may not be extremely talented, but they are much better than the awful team from N.C. State. Virginia improves to 5-0 in the ACC, somehow… Prediction: Virginia 27 N.C. State 13

Duke (1-6 (0-4 ACC)) @ Florida State (4-3 (1-3 ACC)) – 8:00 PM ET: Ok…so this is a much better Duke team than in years past, and a much worse Florida State team than in years past, and maybe I would consider the upset if Duke was at home, but there is no way Florida State loses to Duke. It just isn’t going to happen. It would be awesome if it did, and I’ll be rooting for it, but its not going to happen. Drew Weatherford will probably put up some nice stats on the Duke defense. Prediction: Duke 24 Florida State 38

Check back later in the week for the Maryland Clemson Preview…It probably won’t be up for a while as I have lots of work to do, but it will be up by Saturday Morning (hopefully earlier)….

21
Oct
07

Thank you sir…May I have another?

Talk about a terrible loss. Maryland just did not look good at all on Saturday. Even when Maryland ran out to a 14-3 lead, Virginia still looked like the dominate team. The numbers speak for themselves. Virginia: 191 Rush Yards, 248 Pass Yards, 439 Total Yards. Maryland: 130 Rush Yards, 103 Pass Yards, 233 Total Yards. The fact that Maryland loss this game by only 1 point is amazing as they were out gained in yardage by over 200 yards. That is ridiculous. I still don’t know whether to think Virginia beat us, or Maryland beat themselves. I guess you have to give Virginia credit though. They kept on fighting, did not make mistakes, and were able to capitalize when it counted. I think most would agree that the better team won today, and if Maryland had walked out of Byrd with a victory, they may just be one of the luckiest teams ever.

Regarding Virginia’s final drive, I think Maryland got for lack of a better word screwed on two of three controversial calls. I’m going to preface what I say regarding these plays with the fact I was sitting at the other end of the stadium from where the plays happened and have not seen any highlights other than what they showed on the jumbo-tron at the stadium.

Call #1, The Pass interference call on Barnes: I did not see any interference on the play. It looked close, but I thought it was clean from my vantage point, and upon viewing the play on the board, I still don’t believe it was pass interference. Nevertheless, it was a judgement call by the referee and he thought he saw pass interference. Nothing you can do besides boo.

Call #2, The 4th down conversion on the 10-yard line: This in my opinion was where Maryland got screwed the most. All the views I saw on the jumbo-tron seemed to indicate he was short. It looked like when they measured for the first down he got it by less than an inch. I think they gave him a favorable ball placement and the play was just too close for the officials to reverse. The ball was going out of bounds in mid-air and it is a very close play. I think they gave him a good spot, but seriously, on a play like that, they aren’t going to reverse the call on the field. Again, Maryland finds themselves very unlucky.

Call #3, Touchdown or Fumble: I suppose this was a controversial call, but I think the referees made the right call. It certainly appeared on the jumbo-tron that the running back crossed the plane of the goal line before fumbling. I was not upset with the referees decision on this one, besides the fact that it gave UVA the lead with 16 seconds left. This call was the right one. Unfortunately for Maryland it was a play that never should have happened as I thought they already stopped UVA, but football can be a cruel sport sometimes I suppose.

So why did Maryland lose this game? Well, I think you have to shovel most of the blame on the defense. They got run over all game long. They couldn’t guard against the screen, or the tight end pass of the middle. One would think at some point an adjustment would be made, but nothing ever changed. A not-so-good Virginia offense manhandled the Defense. You can argue that the defense only gave up 18 points, and that should be enough to win, but when you look at the yardage they gave up, it is completely unacceptable. I’ve never been a fan of Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh, but geez, what are you coaching these kids during the week to allow that to happen. 439 yards to Virginia, give me a break.

Lastly, in combination with the terrible defensive effort by Maryland in this game, the offensive play calling was horrendous. Chris Turner was 13 for 19 in this game for 103 yards. I thought we determined the past two games that you can trust Turner to pass. Two of his passes were tipped at the line, thus Turner had essentially 4 passes he threw that were incomplete. In the second half, everyone in the stadium knew we were going to run the ball almost every play. It became so predictable. Turner attempted 4 passes and was sacked for a safety in the 2nd half following the Maryland Field Goal with 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. Friedgen got scared and put a lock and key on the part of the playbook where we pass. I have always been a supporter of Friedgen, but this game really ticked me off. The 2nd half playcalling allowed Virginia to stay in the game. Maryland played terribly on the defensive side of the ball and coaching wise. It wouldn’t even be fair to blame the game on the offense because the coaching staff did not give them an opportunity to do anything. Hopefully Maryland can turn around next week and have a good game against Clemson, but at this point I am very pessimistic about our chances. If our defense plays the same, we could be looking at giving up 600 yards of offense to Clemson.

I’ll close with this lovely stat:

Maryland Offense: 233 Total Yards, 2 Touchdowns

UVA 3rd-String RB Mike Simpson: 271 Total Yards, 2 Touchdowns

There is nothing to do now but to forgot about this week and prepare for next week. The Terps still have 5 more games, four of which are very winnable, with a very tough game in between against Boston College. I still believe this team can make it to 6 wins and a bowl, but that shouldn’t be the goal. We have 5 more games and a realistic goal should be to finish 4-1. That would result in an 8-4 season, and take some of the sting out of their Wake Forest Meltdown, and UVA homecoming Letdown.

19
Oct
07

Virginia Vs. Maryland Preview

#24 Virginia (6-1 (3-0 ACC)) @ Maryland (4-2 (1-1 ACC))

The Virginia Cavilers travel to Byrd stadium this Saturday night for Maryland’s Homecoming game. Maryland is coming off of a much needed BYE week where they tried to get healthy after the plethora of injuries they suffered in recent games. Virginia is 6-0 since losing their opening game at Wyoming. Will the Terps be able to beat the surprising Wahoos? I think I have an idea, but first…..

What you need yo know about Virginia:

When you plan a homecoming game, you usually pick a weak opponent you should be able to beat easily. I’m sure that is what the Athletic department was thinking when they scheduled homecoming for the Virginia game (after all, its not like you would want to play homecoming against Georgia Tech or Clemson, two schools you know are always going to be pretty good). However, the Cavs enter Saturday’s match with a 6-1 record, and a 3-0 mark in the ACC. Yea….The Virginia Cavilers are bowl eligible 7 games into their season. They must be great, right? Well, a little investigating into their schedule reveals some facts that UVA probably wish we didn’t know. Of their 6 wins, only one came from what I would call a quality opponent (a 5 point win against Gerogia Tech), and that was at home, against a Georgia Tech team that can be considered very disappointing this season. So who else have the Cavs beaten? Duke by 11, UNC by 2, Pitt by 30, Middle Tenn. St. by 2, and Connecticut by 1. Those are a lot of close wins (excluding the win at Pitt), against a lot of subpar teams. Yea, Connecticut was undefeated entering their meeting last week, but any respectable ACC school should not have that much trouble at home against Connecticut. An 11 point win against Duke, 2 points at UNC, these are not the scores that make up a great team. Sure, Virginia should be given credit, they win their games, and that is what counts, but, don’t be fooled by their record, they are not Virginia Tech, they are not Boston College. This is a very beatable team who simply has been taking care of their business all year, although just barley. Their 6-1 mark has landed them with a #24 mark in the coaches poll, and a #19 mark in the first BCS poll released this past weekend. Even if I don’t believe the opponent is that good, a win is a win, especially if the team is ranked, so if Maryland takes care of business Saturday, they will gain another nice win to their resume.

Caviler Offense: The Cavaliers don’t sport an impressive offense by any stretch of the imagination. They average 131 rushing yards a game and 179 passing yards a game resulting in an offense that scores on average 23 points a game. The points per game isn’t a terrible number, but averaging just over 300 yards a game on offense is nothing to go bragging to mom about. To make matters worse for Virginia, their starting RB Cedric Peerman is out for this Saturday’s game with a foot injury. This is terrible news for Virginia as Peerman averages over 5 yards a rush and was a big part of their offense. Virgina will be able to find players to replace him and still have a running game, but Virginia is sure to miss Cedric in the backfield. Jameel Sewell is the Cavilers starting QB. The sophomore is in his second season as the team’s starting QB, and following a breif stint on the bench earlier this season, he has been inserted back into the starting lineup. Sewell is a duel-threat QB with a strong arm and fast feat, but it still prone to making mistakes from time to time. Virginia has no big-name play makers at the receiving positions, but certainly has people who can catch the football.

Caviler Defense: The Cavilers have been pretty impressive this season on the defensive side of the ball. Despite the easy schedule, the most points they have allowed in a game is 23, which occurred twice (against Wyoming and Georgia Tech). On average they give up 111 yards rushing and 215 yards through the air. These numbers are not shabby at all and result in a defense that allows 19 points a game on average. You could argue that they need to work on their passing defense, but only giving up 326 yards a game is good. I don’t really have much else to say about their defense or any star defensive players. However, a name to watch out for would be Jeffery Fitzgerald. The Sophomore defensive end leads the team with 2 interceptions. I’m scared of any defensive end who leads his team in interceptions so I am definitely going to look out for him on Saturday.

On to Maryland: As I said earlier, the BYE week could not have come at a better time. The team is so beat up and needed to the time to rest and get healthy. QB Jordan Steffy has not been cleared to play so we shouldn’t expect to see him suited up on Saturday. The news is good however for LB Erin Henderson as Friedgen said on Thursday that he should be ready to go. His backup Rick Costa will still be out following the concussion he suffered against Georgia Tech. RB and Kick returner Da’Rel Scott is not 100%, but is expected to play. His lightening fast speed is exciting to watch and I feel with him returning kicks, we always have the chance of returning one all the way. LB Dave Phillistin who inured his shoulder in the Georgia Tech game is expected to play. And finally as we all know, OL Andrew Crummey is out with his broken Fibula. Hopefully Friedgen has found players to form an offensive line that will be able to protect QB Chris Turner. The second half of the season will be very long for whoever is the Maryland starting QB if players don’t step up and fill in on the line. How the offensive line plays without their best man is definitely something to watch for in the game.

I expect Maryland to try to run the ball against Virginia. Even with Chris Turner running the offense, the running game will always be the bread and butter for the Terps on offense. Running backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball should see lots of action in this game and I expect at least one of them to break out and have a very nice game. Also, expect Friedgen to continue calling for some plays down the field now that he is starting a quarterback who is willing to take his chances down field. When you have a WR in Darius Heyward-Bey, you must take a few shots down field. The guy is a playmaker, but as a wideout, he can only make plays if you give him a chance and throw him the ball. On defensive I expect to see a few more blitzes from the Maryland defense than usual. From what I have seen from Sewell, he makes his mistakes when he is pressured. The guy is still young, and blitzing him may still make him feel uncomfortable.

The Terps should be fired up for this game. Their opponent has a good record, they are coming off of a BYE week, and its an 8PM Homecoming game. I certainly don’t expect the Terps to run away with the game, but they won’t get in the same trouble they got into last season when they had to come back from a 20-0 halftime deficit. I think one of our 2 running backs will have a big day, and Darius catches one long TD pass. I pick Maryland to win their Homecoming game and move closer to becoming bowl eligible. Prediction: Virgina 20 Maryland 34

17
Oct
07

Week 8 ACC Football Preview/Predictions

Week eight sees four of the conference schools on the BYE this week (Boston College, Virginia Tech, Duke and North Carolina). Of the eight schools playing this weekend, four are playing out of conference games, leaving only two conference games. On to the games….

Out of Conference:

Army (3-4) @ Georgia Tech (4-3 (2-3 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET : This game has the makings for a blowout. Despite their three wins over less than stealer opponents (Temple, Tulane, and U. Rhode Island), this is not a good Black Knights team, although may be better than ones it has had in recent years. Their offense ranks near the bottom in Division I football in Points per game, Rushing yards per game, and Total Yards per game. Their defense is not good either, but it definitely the bright (or brighter) spot of the team. If the Black Knights are to win this game, which they won’t, it will be a low scoring game, because there is no way Army puts more than 3 Touchdowns on the Tech defense, and even that is very optimistic. Tech should be able to run all over the Army defense. Tech RB Tashard Choice had a great game last week at Miami, rushing for 204 yards on 37 attempts. He should have another successful game this week. The Tech passing game is nothing to write home about, so if Tech has success running the ball, there is little reason to let QB Taylor Bennett pass much. Army may hang around with GT for a little bit, but I don’t expect Army to put up much of a challenge. Prediction: Army 14 Georgia Tech 38

Central Michigan (4-3) @ Clemson (4-2 (2-2 ACC)) – 12:00 PM ET : This game should be a breeze for Clemson. They are much more talented than Central Michigan, but you always have to factor in the fact that Clemson never seems to play up to its capabilities. Central Michigan has a pretty good offense led by QB Dan LeFevour who has 1749 passing yards on the season with 13 TD passes. Their defense is another story though as they are very prone to the rush, and extremely prone to the passing attack. Clemson ranks pretty high this year in passing offense, but has been very disappointing in their running game averaging 126 yards on the ground per game. This makes absolutely no sense as they have two back field studs (C.J. Spiller and James Davis) splitting rushes, but Clemson never seems to make any sense. Clemson has the 4th ranked passing defense in the nation so it should be interesting to see how LeFevour deals with them, and if he can have success. I like Clemson in this game regardless of which Clemson team shows up (the one that should be competing for the ACC title or the one that get blown out at home to a Virginia Tech team that is not as good as years past). The only question is will we see a blow out, or a unnecessarily close game. Prediction: Central Michigan 17 Clemson 30

Wake Forest (4-2 (3-1 ACC)) @ Navy (4-2) – 1:00 PM ET: Interesting match-up this week in Annapolis. Wake Forest is the better team, but you always have to respect Navy’s Triple Option that they pretty much run ALL GAME LONG. This has translated into Navy having the 2nd most prolific rushing offense in the Nation at about 345 yards on the ground per game. Navy QB Kaipo-Noa Kajeaku-Enhada is the team’s leading rusher (be happy you aren’t the play-by-play announcer for that game), but the fullback and running backs also get in on the action. Wake Forest sports the nation’s 33rd best defense against the run, so although Navy will have success on the ground, they will have more trouble than usual. On the flip side of the ball Navy has a fairly poor defense, prone to both the rushing and passing attack, while Wake Forest has a very balanced offense. I expect Wake Forest to continue their trend and have similar numbers both rushing and passing. Wake Forest picks up their 5th win. Prediction: Wake Forest 37 Navy 20

N.C. State (1-5 (0-3 ACC)) @ East Carolina (4-3) – 4:30 PM ET: This N.C. State team is just not a good football team this year. Their 27-10 loss at Florida State two weeks ago might have been their best game of the season because they looked alive and were in the game into the 4th quarter. Their running game hasn’t done anything spectacular this season forcing Sophomore QB Harrison Beck to throw a lot more than he should (he has 2 TD’s and 9 INT’s on the season). While the Wolfpack passing defense is at least respectable, the rushing defense is not as they average giving up 226 yards on the ground per game. The Pirates on the other hand are putting together a very nice season. They sit at 3-1 in conference USA, and almost pulled off the upset at Virginia Tech on the opening week of the season, losing 17-7 (although the emotion of the game for Virginia Tech could and probably did contribute to that score being so close). ECU has a mediocre offense, and are not much better on the defensive side of the ball. Nevertheless, they are playing an opponent in N.C. State who is struggling through a very tough season. ECU has won its past three games, including two close games on the road at Houston and UTEP. I like East Carolina in this game as N.C. State’s season only gets worse. Prediction: N.C. State 13 East Carolina 22

In Conference:

Miami (4-3 (1-2 ACC)) @ Florida State (4-2 (1-2 ACC)) – 3:30 PM ET: Two once proud Florida teams meet in a game that is now nothing more than a nice little cross-divisional ACC rivalvry. These two programs were both the King of Kings only a few years ago but have both seen dramatic declines in recent seasons. The hurricanes enter with a lackluster offense, but a pretty impressive defense. They also enter with a two game losing streak after getting upset at Chapel Hill 2 weeks ago and losing at home to Georgia Tech last week. On the other side, Florida State enters with a terrible rushing offense and, we’ll say ok passing offense. Xavier Lee should be starting at QB for the Seminoles, but he was benched for a series against Wake last week. It will be interesting to see if Coach Bowden is having second thoughts on benching Drew Weatherford in favor of Lee. Personally, I think Weatherford has had more than enough opportunities to perform and simply hasn’t, while Xavier Lee has that athleticism X-factor that makes any offensive coach salivate. I’d therefore stick with Lee. On defense the Seminoles have a solid unit, but are prone to being passed on. I think this will turn out to be a good game, but I’m going to take Florida State because they are at home. I am not convinced Miami will be able to exploit the passing defense of Florida State, where as i believe the Florida State offense will get a few big plays against the solid Miami defense. Prediction: Miami 17 Florida State 20

Check back later this week for the Home Coming Preview: Virginia @ Maryland 8:00 PM ESPN2