Archive for November, 2007

30
Nov
07

ACC Championship Game Prediction

Well it will come down to Boston College and Virginia Tech to determine which school will represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl as the conference champion. I am going to take Virginia Tech in this game. Virginia Tech has lost twice this season; at #2 LSU, and at home in that last minute melt-down against Boston College. Virginia Tech is out for revenge in this game. I also love the duel quarterback system Virginia Tech is using with Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. Boston College has finished the season off in a disappointing fashion. After losing to Florida State and Maryland, they pulled it together to knock off Clemson and claim the ACC Atlantic crown, but followed it up last week just squeaking by Miami. Boston College is not an elite team, I think Virginia Tech is though. Prediction: Boston College 14 Virginia Tech 31

In bowl news, we will not find out where Maryland is heading until Sunday probably, but with the firing of Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey, I am going to stick with my prediction that Maryland leapfrogs over GT and takes the #7 ACC spot in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

29
Nov
07

Men Play their best game of the season…win one for the ACC

The Men easily played what can be considered their most complete, and best game of the season against Illinois Wednesday night in the ACC/Big10 challenge, winning 69-61 at home. They did almost everything right in this game, improving on a few key things that have plagued them all season. Lets go through 4 main things that the Terps did very well against Illinois, but not so well in the CBE tournament finals against UCLA and Missouri.

1) Turnovers – The Terps had 12 turnovers in their game against the Illini. Compare that to 21 against UCLA and 23 against Missouri and you can see the improvement. Illinois certainly isn’t as good as UCLA, but they are a quality opponent, probably on the same level as Missouri. It is very promising to see the Terps play a game with only 12 turnovers. Even against their weaker opponents, turnovers have been a major problem this season, but this game is certainly a step in the right direction to fix the problem and hopefully the Terps will continue holding onto the ball.

2) 3 point shooting – Against UCLA, Maryland was 1 of 11 from 3. Against Missouri, Maryland was 1 of 15 from 3. How did they fare against Illinois? Try 6-19. That’s still not great, but it is a lot better than they have been doing. There are some promising things about this though. Eric Hayes finally started taking shoots and was 4 of 7 from 3. Eric Hayes is the best shooter on the team. I have criticized him already this season for appearing to be too scared to shoot the ball, but in this game he let the ball fly and made more than half his shots behind the arc. Maryland needs this to be successful. The other story on 3 point shooting is Greivis Vasquez. He was 0 of 7 from 3 in this game. An absolutely terrible statistic. Against UCLA he was 0-3, and against Missouri he was 0-7. Throw in his 2 of 3 from behind the arc against Leigh last Friday, and he is 2 for his last 20 from 3. This is absolutely horrid, and Vasquez is obviously in a terrible cold streak. The positive is that we all know he is capable of being a 3 point shooter. It may not be the best aspect of his game, but I think its safe to bet he will figure it out soon and be a consistent 30% shooter from behind the arc.

3) Bench Contributions – The bench did very little out in Kansas City in the CBE Tournament against UCLA and Missouri. Against Illinois, the bench played a huge role. Cliff Tucker scored 9 off the bench. Osby, who did not start, played 21 good minutes grabbing some boards, and also picking up a few assists. Jerome Burney also provided some much needed help off the bench, doing the hustle plays Dave Neal did at the beginning of the season, as well as having a monster dunk on an offensive rebound. The bench played well against Illinois, hopefully something that will continue throughout the season.

4) Assists – Maryland had 20 assists against Illinois, compared to 13 and 14 against UCLA and Missouri. A problem Maryland has had this season is each player trying to do it himself. In this game, Maryland played very well as a team on offense. They passed the ball around trying to find the open players. There were not a lot of quick drives to the basket or a player dancing around for 15 seconds trying to make his own shot. They passed, and it opened stuff up to score. I was impressed with how the offense worked tonight. The score did not concern me either. I expect throughout the season that Maryland will be playing a fair amount of games in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. Not so many 80 and 90 point games like last year.

It was a great effort by Maryland against the Illini. They have 4 more games before the exam break, all at home, and all what should be wins except for a visit from BC. Boston College is 5-0 and Maryland’s first ACC game. It will be an important game to see whether the Terps improvements against Illinois were a fluke or for real.

26
Nov
07

Maryland gives N.C. State the Business; secures bowl berth

Wow…I thought Maryland would win, but I was not expecting a 37-0 victory on the road at N.C State. The offense racked up 466 yards and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore each had two rushing touchdowns. The Defense played what can easily be considered their best game of the year allowing only 250 total yards, only 10 of which were rushing, while shutting out the Wolfpack. It was apparent by the end of the 1st half that Maryland was going to win and go bowling following the regular season, so the second half was a little boring for most Maryland fans used to close games. Referee Ron Cherry though provided the best entertainment of the second half with his explanation of a certain penalty. All in all, the Terps played a great game and there is no shame in finishing 6-6 with all the injuries they had. They now get to rest up, get healthy, and head to a bowl…the only question is which bowl?

The ACC has 8 bowl tie-ins and 8 teams that are elidgable for the bowl season. I also do not see a team from this conference earning an at-large birth in a BCS bowl, so the conference should be able to fill all of its bowl obligations. The winner of the ACC will play in the Orange bowl. Following that, there is an order that the bowl games get to pick teams. They do not have to pick teams in the order that they finished in the conference standings, but a bowl game must select the team with the best record still available, or one more loss. For example, a 7-5 team can be picked ahead of an 8-6 team, but a 7-5 team cannot be picked ahead of a 9-3 team as the 7-5 team has more than one more loss than the 9-3 team. To close out this blog entry I will give you my ACC bowl predictions with both scenarios of Boston College winning the ACC championship and Virginia Tech winning the ACC championship. The major difference between the two is that Boston College has a reputation for not traveling fans well to bowl games, so if they do not make the orange bowl, they may drop down to a less prestigious bowl than their record indicates.

If Boston College wins the ACC / If Virginia Tech wins the ACC:

Orange Bowl: Boston College / Virginia Tech

Peach Bowl: Clemson / Clemson

Gator Bowl: Virginia Tech / Virginia

Champs Sports Bowl: Virgina / Boston College

Music City Bowl: Florida State / Florida State

Car Care Bowl: Wake Forest / Wake Forest

Emerald Bowl: TERPS / TERPS

Humanitaian Bowl: Georgia Tech / Georgia Tech

Notes: I see Clemson going to the Peach bowl ahead of Virginia Tech simply because Virginia Tech played in the Peach Bowl last year and bowls do not like to take the same team two years in a row. I also do no think the championship game will alter the bowls the bottom 4 teams will attend. I see Georgia Tech falling down to the Humanitarian bowl as their fans are very angry with the head coach and there are rumors he may get fired. This means fans are less likely to travel this year to support the team. Also, the Emerald Bowl will probably come down to GT and Maryland, and Maryland won when these two teams met earlier in the season, so I give Maryland the edge in bumping past GT and reaching the Emerald Bowl.

23
Nov
07

Battle for Boise: Maryland @ N.C. State

Maryland and N.C. State meet Saturday in a game that will determine who is the 8th team in the ACC to become bowl eligible, and who will most likely travel to Boise Idaho for the bowl. Making a bowl game will mean a lot to both teams. For Maryland, after all the injuries it has had, to make it to a bowl game would simply be a miracle. Teams that have that many injuries don’t win enough games to make it to a bowl usually. Maryland would also waste its wins over top 10 Rutgers and Boston College if they were not to make a bowl. For N.C. State, a bowl would be a huge deal. Tom O’Brien is in his first season coaching the Wolfpack, and leading them to a bowl game in his first season would be a big deal. Also, this team started off the season 1-5. They have had little room for error, and since that 1-5 start, they have gone 4-1. Thus, both teams enter this game 5-6, with an opportunity to extend their season with a win. Here is what you need to know about N.C. State….

The Wolfpack are 5-6 on the season. Their only noteworthy win was a 29-24 win at home against Virginia. Wofford, UNC, Miami, and East Carolina are their other wins. Besides their loss to Central Florida in week 1, non of their losses have been close. The Wolfpack are a relatively hot though, winning 4 in a row before losing to Wake Forest last weekend. They are lead by new head coach Tom O’Brien, who left Boston College to come to N.C. State following the firing of former Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato. N.C. State has turned its season around from looking worse than Duke earlier in the season, to a team that might finish at .500.

Offense: This week, Maryland will be facing another pass happy squad. The Wolfpack average only 97 yards on the ground, and do not have a star running back worth mentioning. The 246 passing yards per game is what Maryland really needs to be concerned with. Harrison Beck started off the season as the starting QB, but after sharing time with Daniel Evans through the first six games, has completely lost his job. Evans has thrown for 1862 yards in a little over 300 pass attempts. He has 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is also prone to the sack, having 21 on the season so far. Receiving wise, N.C State is an interesting team. They have no player with more than 600 yards receiving, and no player with more than 3 touchdowns. No stars, but a lot of people who are capable of catching the ball. Unlike most games when you need the defense to focus on one or two players, the Maryland defense in general will have to cover everyone well, as N.C. State can get production from plenty of players on the receiving end.

Defense: The N.C. State defense is not horrendous, but not good either and is very beatable. They give up 181 rushing yards a game and 207 passing yards a game. The defense has generated 10 interceptions on the season, spread out among 5 players. Again, no real shut down players in the secondary, rather, they have a bunch of people who could possibly step up and make a play. The defense has also generated 25 sacks on the season. The sack leader on the team is Willie Young with 5.5, but again, they get a little bit of production out of a lot of people in that category. Lastly, N.C. State has held only one opponent under 25 points this season so the opportunity certainly exists for Maryland to have a big day against the defense.

What Maryland needs to do to win:

On the Defensive end of the football, Maryland needs to first secure the run. They have gotten burned before for not preparing for the run attack. N.C. State is not a good running team so this should be fairly easily to secure. Following that, they should aim to get pressure on the quarterback. N.C. State has a lot of targets and it might be tough to cover them all. I think we should trying blitzing and bringing pressure, and if that does not work, then resort to trying to cover everyone. Lastly, they need to convert on the turnovers. They cannot force 5 fumbles and recover only 1 like last week. Evans is prone to the interception, so the defensive backs should keep that in mind and look out for one. It sounds stupid and obvious, but this Maryland team plays a lot better when they force turnovers. If you go back and look at the games where they had meaningful turnovers, their offense seems to play better too.

For two weeks Maryland has played against great rush defense. They final get a respite this week. I expect to see a lot of running this week, especially if Andrew Crummey happens to be back in the lineup, which i highly doubt. Nevertheless, I think Friedgen will go back to his usually game plan of rushing first, and passing second. He just needs to know that if the rush does not work, we know the pass game is capable now. That brings us to the question of quarterback. He announced that Chris Turner will start, but he was very noncommittal as to how long or short of a leash he has. I think it is absolutely a ridiculous notion to suggest playing Jordan Steffy, but apparently Friedgen still thinks he can help the team. Regardless, if you see Steffy play in this game, I think we are in trouble. Hopefully Chris Turner will play, and hopefully he will play well. A nice balanced offense should do just the trick to beat this N.C. State defense.

The Terps again will run into a team playing their home season finale, so N.C. State and their seniors will be pumped up. This is also the second straight trip to Raleigh in a season finale game where the two teams are playing for a bowl. The Terps lost that game two years ago and i am sure the older members of the team all remember that game. The Terps have also been through way too much this season to have it end this Saturday. In a tough fought game, I am going to take the Terps to become 6-6 and make a well deserved bowl game. Prediction: Maryland 23 N.C. State 19

22
Nov
07

Week 13 ACC Football Preview/Predictions

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Quick picks this week as its Thanksgiving and I have better things to do besides researching ACC football teams. I will post a good preview for the N.C. State game either later today or tomorrow.

Out of Conference a.k.a ACC-SEC challenge:

#7 Georgia (9-2) @ Georgia Tech (7-4 (4-4 ACC)) 3:30 PM EST: I am not convinced that Georgia Tech is a good enough football team to beat the #7 team in the nation. Their only good win of the season was at home against Clemson. Georgia on the other hand is finally having a season where they have not had a late season collapse; at least they haven’t experienced it yet. I think their safe this week as they pray for a Tennessee loss and a date with LSU. Prediction: Georgia 31 Georgia Tech 13

Wake Forest (7-4 (5-3 ACC)) @ Vanderbilt (5-6) 2:00 PM EST: Vanderbilt is not a bad team, and gets tested every week playing in the SEC. In any other league, they would have at least two more wins. I think the combination of facing an opponent in Wake Forest who is not up to SEC standards, and the possibility of finishing with 6 wins will propel Vanderbilt to a victory. Prediction: Wake Forest 20 Vanderbilt 23

Florida State (7-4 (4-4 ACC)) @ #12 Florida (8-3) 5:00 PM EST: This is an easy pick. Florida State has not looked impressive this season at all. Florida has a QB who has just got the SEC rushing TD record for any player, not just quarterbacks. Florida has 3 losses, but they were to Auburn, LSU and Georgia. Florida should have no trouble handling Florida State. Prediction: Florida State 14 Florida 42

#22 Clemson (8-3 (5-3 ACC)) @ South Carolina (6-5) 7:00 PM EST: I know Clemson isn’t playing for anything besides bowl position after losing to Boston College last week, but i still think they will come out strong. This is a big pride game in the state of South Carolina. After starting the season 6-1, South Carolina is on a 4 game losing streak. Clemson should win this battle. Clemson 26 South Carolina 17

In Conference:

Miami (5-6 (2-5 ACC)) @ #14 Boston College (9-2 (5-2 ACC)) 12:00 PM EST: Miami has lost 5 of their last 6 games and got shut out 48-0 by UVA in their final game in the Orange bowl. The high temperature in Chestnut Hill on Saturday is 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Boston College isn’t who we thought they were, but they are still a good team, and are at home against a bad team. Prediction: Miami 7 Boston College 49

#8 Virgina Tech (9-2 (6-1 ACC)) @ #16 Virgina (9-2 (6-1 ACC)) 12:00 PM EST: Who would have thought back in September that Virgina and Virginia Tech would be playing for the ACC Coastal Title on the long Thanksgiving weekend. I have a gut feeling that even though Virginia is the huge underdog, they they can pull out the win. They are at home and should get a huge crowd. I can also see the Virginia Tech team looking past Virginia to an ACC championship game that will allow them to get revenge on Boston College for the loss BC gave them earlier in the season. UVA DE Chris Long will play despite strep throat, and UVA will pull the upset and head to the ACC championship game. Prediction: Virginia Tech 17 Virginia19

Duke (1-10 (2-5 ACC)) @ North Carolina (3-8 (2-5 ACC)) 3:30 PM EST: Carolina powers Duke and UNC meet this weekend in what is sure to be a great showdown. I was as surprised as the next person when College Gameday announced it will be covering the Kansas-Missouri game and not this one. I think North Carolina handles its business as Tyler Hansbrough gets a triple double and Greg Paulus gets into early foul trouble. Prediction: Duke 82 North Carolina 93

Seriously though, a #2 Kansas team playing #4 Missouri, in Football!!! That’s nuts am I am definitely not going to miss it. 8:00 PM EST ABC Prediction: Kansas 38 Missouri 32

Have a great Thanksgiving and check back later for the Battle for Boise Game…N.C. State Vs. Maryland

18
Nov
07

tomahawk chopped

Strange game in Tallahassee Saturday. The Terps end up losing 24-16, but neither team was very dominant. Florida State scored 21 quick points in the 1st quarter plus 2 plays into the second quarter, and then are held to 3 points the rest of the game. Maryland’s offense constantly shut down once it got within field goal range. Field Goals win you games at the end of the 4th quarter, but when you constantly put up Field Goals all day instead of touchdowns, you are usually going to end up on the short end of the score. Nevertheless, hope is not gone for the Terps. The two other ACC schools with 5 wins lost today; Miami to VT, and N.C. state to Wake Forest. Miami plays Boston College next week in Chestnut Hill, and barring anything amazing happening, Miami will not get their 6th win. That will leave N.C. State and Maryland essentially playing a playoff game for the 8th bowl bid from the ACC. The winner gets a winter vacation to Boise, Idaho most likely, the loser stays home. Stay positive, the Terps still pretty much control their own destiny. Lets look back at the Florida State game though to see what went right and what went wrong.

Defense: The defense is easy to discuss. They played an awful 1st quarter. Backup running back Preston Parker, who is really a wide receiver, was doing his best impression of Mr. Simpson from Virginia. Remember him, fast #5 who had more total yards than the entire Maryland offense in that 18-17 loss. Well, Mr. Parker looked like he was going to have a similar game, but the Maryland defense calmed down after the 1st quarter and contained him pretty well. In fact, the Maryland defense looked great from the 2nd quarter on. They definitely provided the offense with an opportunity to come back and win this game. There is one thing that had to irk any Maryland fan watching this game. How do you recover only 1 of 5 fumbles by the Florida state offense. There isn’t much to talk about besides its an amazing statistic, and an incredibly unlucky one. Its just unfortunate that the FSU offense made lots of mistakes, but the terps defense could not capitalize. I don’t know if there is anyone to blame, because I am sure the players tried to get the balls, but that just sucks. Nevertheless, the effort by the defense the last 3 quarters was great and hopefully we will see them next week at N.C. State, not the 1st quarter defense who gave up 21 points.

Offense: Very disappointing game form the offense. The ground game never really got going accumulating only 92 yards on 37 carries. My question for the running game though is why was Da’Rel Scot not used more in this game. On the 2nd play of the game he had a 16 yard run. After that, he was only given one more carry. That just doesn’t make sense to me. He may be your 3rd string back, but if nothing else is working on the ground, why don’t you give him more chances. The passing game wasn’t that great either, but still accumulated 243 yards. The big problem with the offense though was an inability to convert 4th and 1 when it counted, and settling for Field Goals. The offense just seemed to stall once they hit the Florida State 30 yard line. That cannot happen, and hopefully was only a problem today. The offense has not had that problem often this year. They usually punch it in to the endzone eventually when they get down in the redzone area. Hopefully, we won’t see this next week against N.C. State.

Now on to the big item of the day. Why was Chris Turner taken out of the game for Jordan Steffy??? Turner struggled in the 1st half to say the least. He was inaccurate, threw an interception, almost threw a 2nd interception, missed a wide open Darrius Heyward-Bey on 3 and 5 from the FSU 10 that would have set up or even scored a touchdown, and looked flat. However, he had 4 drives, and we scored 2 field goals on the 2 drives. Not the results you want, but still some production. This is also the kid who led your team to an upset of #8 Boston College last week. So why do you bring in Jordan Steffy, especially after a drive where we scored. Friedgen could claim he wanted to calm down Turner, or give him motivation, but no matter how you spin it, it was a terrible idea. Steffy came in, and in his Steffy-like fashion, completed a 3 play (-9) yard drive, and a 3 play (-8) yard drive. Who knows what Turner could have done with those drives. Maybe we score a touchdown and we enter halftime down by 8, not 16. Thankfully Friedgen realized at halftime that Jordan Steffy is not the answer and inserted Chris Turner back into the lineup. Turner was indeed better in the 1nd half and finished the game with 242 yards. His 16/32 is however very disappointing and shows how inaccurate he was. Nevertheless, an inaccurate Chris Turner is still better than Jordan Steffy, because Turner has the ability to turn it on, something we have never seen Steffy do. Its not that I hate Jordan Steffy, I just don’t think he is capable of leading Maryland to victory. Chris Turner gives us a better opportunity to win.

One final thought on all of this. According to Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times, Chris Turner was called over to the phone in the 2nd quarter to discuss his previous series. The QB coach had a few things to say, when all of the sudden, Chris interrupts him with, and i paraphrase, “Coach, I wasn’t in, Jordan is in at QB”. Woahhhhhhh. Hold on a second. Are you telling me the QB coach didn’t even know Friedgen took out Turner. Shouldn’t that be something that is discussed with the QB coach? In my opinion, that is inexcusable, and the entire coaching staff deserves to be fired over a mix-up like that. Now of course, firing the entire coaching staff is ludicrous, but seriously, how is your QB coach not told of a change at quarterback. Hopefully, the Terps can figure all of their communication issues out this week in practice, because that cannot happen next week at N.C. State if we want to make a bowl game.

This game is now over and it is time to focus on next week. One additional final thought though. I think this game proved why a healthy starting offensive line is so important. We gave up 5 sacks today, had trouble running, and again could not convert on 3rd / 4th and short. Its a nice story when the line does well, but the facts remain the same, we have 3rd stringers playing against starters, and most of the time, we are not going to win that battle. Maybe Andrew Crummey comes back next week to help the line? They have got to do something though, because they need a strong performance next week. If they win that game, maybe we can see our starting offensive line in a bowl game.

16
Nov
07

Basketball Roundup

I know I have neglected basketball lately as I am still focusing more on football for now, but here is a quick idea of what I think of our teams so far…

Women: They women are 3-0 so far with wins over Princeton, #6 Oklahoma, and Delaware. They have looked nothing short of great so far this season. They have been playing without Crystal Langhorne, who you could argue is their best player. Jade Perry had stepped up big so far filling in for her in the starting lineup. Kristi Toliver is also starting the season off hot scoring 19 points once, and 16 twice. She appears to be stepping up and shooting more now that Shay Doran is gone. New starting SG freshman Marah Strickland has struggled so far, but I think this is just a case of nerves that she will get over. The Lady Terps play Notre Dame tonight, and if they win advance to play #5 LSU on Sunday in the Preseason WNIT championship.

Men: The men have also started off 3-0, but have not looked good at all. They won the regional CBE tournament they are in by beating North Florida 50-79 and then getting by Hampton 70-64. The Terps were down with less than 3 minutes to go, but came back and won. I would be fine with this if this was a one time occurrence, but last night, the Terps went flat again against a sub-par team. Northeastern took the Terps to overtime as Maryland escaped with a 74-72 overtime victory. Boom can’t hit shots from the field(although he made his free throws last night to help win the game), Vasquez is struggling with his shot, Eric Hayes still seems scared to shoot, and both Vasquez and Hayes are making dumb turnovers. If the team plays like this all season, we are in for a loooooong season. However, I think our problems are very fixable and we have the potential to be very good. I’m curious as to why Vasquez has been running the point this year instead of Hayes and I wonder if that will change. It just doesn’t seem natural. Hayes is the better point, he should be handling it whenever he is in. Vasquez is an awesome weapon, but not the best decision maker as a point guard. Regardless, I am still optimistic these problems can be fixed and the team can have a successful year. They take on #2 UCLA this Monday in Kansas City in the semifinals of the CBE tournament. You can catch the game at 7:00 ET on ESPN2.