Friday, September 30, 2005

Knott's Parting Shot

Whenever Dixon entered the game in the Wizards-Bulls playoff series last spring, the eyes of Bulls coach Scott Skiles would reveal traces of glee. The backcourt players of the Bulls attacked Dixon with uncommon passion. It was ugly. It was unfair. But that is the NBA. There is nothing egalitarian about it. If you have a weakness, it will be exposed.

Tom Knott couldn't resist taking one last swipe at Juan Dixon, even as his target was quietly departing for the opposite coast. Perhaps Knott was feeling a little melancholy that both Kwame and Dixon wouldn't be around anymore for him to take cheap shots at in his hack columns. Let me remind everyone that Knott wrote some fantastic scandal rag hatchet jobs on the young woman who accused Kobe Bryant of putting his hands around her throat and raping her in a Colorado hotel room. According to Knott this girl was a money hungry slut who used a squalid little liaison with Bryant to launch the rape accusations in a elaborate extortion attempt, or conversely win back her estranged lover. Add in the "disclosures" that she spent time in a hospital for a suicide attempt and you have the full blow nut-or-slut defense, which makes you wonder if some former members of the Clinton administration were giving him talking points. I'm sure the fact that Bryant had to pay handsomely to get the case settled didn't change this hack's position.

When someone in the media makes such a sleazy accusation they should be held to it and reminded from time to time. To call his work trash would be to ensure that sports journalism never rose above the local landfill, then again maybe that is the case anyway.

But back to his latest column from the sewer. I doubt there was any "traces of glee" in Bulls coach Scott Skiles eyes when Dixon dropped 35 on his bulls in a pivitol game 4 at MCI center. As a matter of fact Skiles referred to it as a "whuppin", but I guess he meant to express glee and it just came out wrong. In that contest the great Larry Hughes went 3-16 with 10 points. The rest of the Wizards bench scored 8 points. The simple fact is that without Dixon the Wiz would have been bounced in the first round in ignominious fashion. I guess it sounds better when trashing a player to address his single handed delivery of a playoff win as "Dixon had one game in the playoffs.". How modest.

Dixon had a better FG and 3 point percentage than either Arenas or Hughes during the playoffs. Both produced more than one stinker of a shooting night; Hughes shot 3-16, 4-17, 5-17 while Arenas had 3-19 and 6-24 brickfests. Dixon isn't better than either of them but when you're trying to tar and feather a player make sure he didn't outplay your stars when it counted most.

Juan Dixon will likely never be a star in the NBA. Like Mateen Cleaves and Khalid El-Amin before him his game was better suited for the college ranks. Buried on the bench in Washington would all but insure that he would never blossom into a starting player, if he has that possibility in him. It was time for him to move on and time for the Wizards to admit he didn't fit in their plans. Perhaps in Portland he will be afforded that opportunity and I for one hope he shines.

As for Knott his petty sniping is nothing Dixon hasn't heard before, and no where near the worst. Too often in sports cliches like courage, heart and "burning desire" are thrown around. The sad fact is few, if any, professional athletes measure up to those descriptions. Juan Dixon is as great an example of someone who has those virtues in abundance as Knott is of someone with a dearth of them. You could almost picture him slithering in the shadows for someone like James Callender in Jefferson's time or leading a "crackhead" chant back in his days at George Mason. At a time when the Wizards had a team full of too many malcontents and headcases Juan never did anything that didn't bring credit to the franchise and he left it in higher regard than when he arrived. Dixon was a bigger man for that and Knott shows how small he is in comparison.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thanks for noticing

Apparently the fine humanitarians over at SI On Campus took notice of my humble blog and listed it on their website. Shockingly no NC State or Hokie fans have mastered the milieu yet.

The acknowledgement is appreciated here at Turtle Waxing.

Keon Rising
It appears that the promotion of RB Keon Lattimore to the starting tailback position is a foregone conclusion. Starved for some sort of story on a fairly unremarkable season every newspaper and hack with a blog has been writing about Lattimore's running at the end of the Wake Forest game. He'll get a chance to start this week but he better learn his blitz pickups. Fridge will not abide watching Hollenbach hammered like he was in the Clemson or West Virginia games, especially since he'd have to turn to Joel Statham.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Heels have holes

The already depleted UNC basketball team took another hit when it was announced that seldom used center Damion Grant will not play basketball again after injuring his ankle. Grant was sidelined last season due to a stress fracture in his foot. This is another blow to a very thin frontcourt that will rely heavily on freshman Tyler Hansbrough and senior reserve Byron Sanders. Roy Williams could play 6-6 forward David Noel at the 4 position but he would be undersized compared to other ACC players. Adding in the wrist surgery to Marcus Ginyard after a fall in a summer league game and the euphoria over the national title might end very quickly in Chapel Hill.

DJ Strawberry getting healthy
Nice article in the Baltimore Sun about DJ's gruelling work to rebound from his knee injury of last year. He was clearly devastated by his first major injury:

"The feeling of being out struck me hard," he said. "I had never really been injured before. ... The first two weeks, I didn't even want to play basketball anymore. For the first two months I was depressed. I was down on myself, asking, 'Why did this happen to me?'"

With the help of Strength and Conditioning coach Corliss White he has since dedicated himself to returning to the court stronger than ever. He may have lost negligible quickness, but lack of quickness was never his problem. In fact it often was that he used it too much and forced plays or turned over the ball in a moment of willy nilly.

Maryland didn't look fantastic before his injury in mid January but it was fairly pathetic in the 3 losses to Clemson and 2 blowout defeats to NC State that followed it. A win in any of those five games would have likely insured another NCAA appearance. Strawberry would have easily made the difference in a team that stumbled into the NIT on a 4 game losing streak. His defense was a little shaky compared to his freshman year, as he often overplayed passing lanes in hopes of an easy steal, but he had improved his ball handling and shooting. Strawberry may never be a great passer or shooter but he has proven he can generate offense by his aggressive defense.

He needed fluid drained from his knee but that was not considered a "setback" by the staff. With a healthy and confident Strawberry Maryland's hopes of returning to the NCAA tournament and contending in a weakened ACC improve dramatically.

Other Notes:
You'll notice I carefully avoided using the term "rehab" in the section on DJ Strawberry. Given his father's issues with the other kind of rehab I felt it would be gauche to use the term. Not that it hasn't prevented loathsome "fans" at places like Florida from taunting him on the subject. Darryl Strawberry was back in the news again for filing a false police report about a stolen rental SUV. Apparently the police noticed that on the gas station surveillance camera he was a passenger in a totally different vehicle. The one he claimed was stolen was found in the parking lot of a nearby sports bar. The woman he gave the keys to reported it to police.

It makes me consider more than just the fallibility of human beings but also their opportunism. Two years ago when DJ was a freshman at Maryland his father showed up for a number of nationally televised games, including the Florida game that featured vile taunts from the shiftless students there, but none of the other lower profile games. DJ's mother had a highly publicized split from his father and Darryl was practically absent from his life after that. At the time I felt it was a shameless attempt to keep himself in the spotlight and not a genuine attempt to reconcile with his son. As Darryl spends more time on probation and in jail it seems he was far from turning his life around. As pitiable as Darryl Strawberry may be his son is as admirable in his way. May his hard work and determination be rewarded this year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Take the Win

While the win over Wake Forest may not have been very impressive it is the first road win for Maryland since September 25 of last year. The total inability to win in a closely contested game on the road cost Maryland a shot at a bowl bid last season. The only road win came against lowly Duke. Perhaps this is part of the maturation process for this young team. Since the game wasn't on Comcast I am not able to assign any grades since I only got to listen on the radio and check the box score.

Sam Hollenbach had probably his most shaky performance against a tough but hardly intimidating Wake Forest defense. He again struggled on 3rd down and it appears that is his bugaboo. The lack of 3rd down conversions is preventing the offense from really blossoming into a 30 point powerhouse. The offense as a whole got into the red zone a few times and failed to convert these chances into touchdowns. This is partly the result of a inept running game. Mario Merrills has likely lost his starting job for good and Lance Ball didn't wow anyone with his numbers. Keon Lattimore did run well and showed some of the same skills he did during the spring. Trey Covington proved he deserved to start at DE with 4 tackles and a sack. SS Milton Harris forced two fumbles including one returned for a touchdown by CB Josh Wilson.

Clearly the offense will have to improve against Virginia for the Terps to pull the upset. Keon Lattimore will have to be efficient, at least getting 3-4 yards per carry and not the no gain runs that Merrills had been piling up. Positive yards on every carry will be key. The defense must contain Marcus Hagans and force him into mistakes. Maryland must win the turnover battle to have a chance.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Gaither Gets Start

So I was one game off? I predicted Jared Gaither would start after three games and the staff waited till the fourth game to give him the nod. At 6-9 and over 300 pounds he is a scary physical specimen. Once he learns the position he may be a dominant player. The real question is his commitment and his smarts. His commitment is said to be there...

A hilarious anecdote in the Washington Post about Gaither from his former high school teammate Trey Covington:

Covington watched with interest on the first day of practice two years ago, when coaches immediately matched Gaither up against one of the Raiders' strongest linebackers in a tackling drill.

"Jared grabbed him by the head and threw him, and we all thought he was dead," said Covington, now Gaither's teammate at Maryland. "And we said, 'Well, that'll do.'"

Other News

No rest for the weary. Boston College and Clemson, both reeling from home losses to ACC heavyweights FSU and Miami face each other this weekend. The loser will be faced with the harsh reality of playing well so far this season but already saddled with 2 conference losses. Look for BC to win at Death Valley.

Georgia Tech travels to Blacksburg to take on the Gobblers, that's Virginia Tech for the uninitiated. We all know the real "Tech" is the one in Georgia, but this will be for the title of Coastal division frontrunner. The Gobblers haven't really played any truly difficult games, though they did struggle badly against NC State before pulling out a late win, and they haven't been really challenged in the last two games against Duke and Ohio. Tech won't be intimidated by Lane Stadium, having already gone down to Auburn and dominated the Tigers. The Jackets will sock you in the mouth and are extremely aggressive. I have a feeling that Tech will also feel that they owe Goiter Boy some payback after they squandered a game they should have won at home last season. The real Tech pulls an upset on the turkeys.

Think Matt Lienart regrets not entering the NFL draft?

Ah, yeah. Plus he is dating a starter on the women's basketball team.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

And the Banjo Music Played

Maryland's collection of young pups got their tales kicked last Saturday. I had to wait till later in the week to write about it due to the Colonel Kurtzian horror of the whole thing. There was little positive to take out of the 31-19 drubbing by the mountain people. It certainly puts the Terps in a forbidding position if they hope to make the postseason again. If I could channel Jim Mora and his famous "playoffs" moment I would. The soft part of Maryland's schedule will be over fairly soon and unless they can win two or even three games coming up they have little chance to reverse the trend and get back to a low tier bowl game. Their road schedule may even be more accommodating with North Carolina, Wake Forest, Temple, NC State and FSU remaining and, given that Maryland is already 0-2 at the friendly confines of Bryd Stadium, the homes dates with Virginia, Virginia Tech and Boston College remaining are likely to find Maryland an underdog in all three. It is possible that Maryland could win at Wake and Temple and find itself needing to steal three of the remaining games. The likely scenario would be to win at UNC and NC State and need to pull out one of the BC, FSU, UVA or VT games. That doesn't sound totally absurd, but then again it doesn't sound likely either.

Given the poor performance of the whole team it would be futile to try to grade anyone, it would just look like Shane Clark's transcript.

Sam Hollenbach played well again. He completed almost 65% of his passes and threw for 291 yards with two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and his fumble came when the game was already over. If you take note of the fact that he had absolutely no running game to back him up I would say those are outstanding numbers. He needs to improve on his 3rd down play and his two sacks were both on important 3rd downs. If he had a competent running game he would be deadly with play action.

The offensive line and running backs did close to nothing. The managed a pathetic 1.7 yards per attempt against the aggressive WVU defense. Hollenbach was pressured by an assortment of blitzes and Mario Merrills missed a blocking assignment on a critical sack. It is a credit to Hollenbach that in spite of this Maryland's average yards per play(5.7) was better than WVU's(5.2).

The defense again wilted with the game on the line. The DL was unable to stand up at the point of attack to the bruising WVU running game. Jeremy Navarre gets swallowed up by the larger OT he faces. Trey Covington saw more action and demonstrated that he is very athletic and active with 9 tackles. Conrad Bolston had an idiotic offsides penalty on a WVU punt that kept their drive alive and resulted in a go ahead score. Once again the defense failed to provide a turnover.

The playcalling was questionable again. With the running game floundering OC Charlie Taffee kept calling runs, but when the passing game was opened up Hollenbach threw two touchdowns in under 2 minutes. You have to wonder if the game may have gone differently had Taffee started taking what WVU was giving earlier instead of forcing a "balanced" attack.

Next Game:

Wake Forest and Maryland are both desperate at 1-2. Wake's bread and butter is running the football which is not what Maryland would like to see right now. If Maryland can come out throwing the ball and put a few scores up early it will make things much easier. I'm not convinced this young group will respond so well after such a demoralizing two games.

Wake: 23
Maryland: 14

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mountain People Redux

Last season West Virginia was able to break the string of embarrassing blowouts that had become routine since Ralph Friedgen came to College Park. They edged out the Terps in OT 19-16. Given that West Virginia is a less talented team than last season and Maryland is a better team than the trainwreck of last year this should be another Maryland victory.

The Mountaineers have a solid defense and a rugged running game but little threat to pass the ball. If the weather turns rainy it will be an advantage for WVU. Their gameplan will probably consist of a power running game and tight defense. They have little chance to win if the game turns into a shootout. Maryland should be able to run against WVU's 3-3-5 stack defense, if they cannot Sam Hollenbach will have to carry the offense and limit mistakes to pull out a win.

In the end Maryland will pull out a close win at home.

Maryland 23 WVU 17

Around the ACC

Miami goes to Clemson this weekend in a big showdown. Clemson has escaped two close games with last second victories. In both they played just well enough to win, but not sharp enough to beat a team with Miami's athletes.
Miami 31 Clemson 20

Florida State travels to Boston for BC's first ACC game. BC has a veteran team and always gave Miami fits in Chestnut Hill. If FSU's quarterback, whoever it turns out to be, can limit mistakes FSU will win another close game.
FSU 17 BC 9

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bitter Pill

The Terps played well for about 45 minutes of the game against Clemson and normally that is enough for teams to pull out a win, but they played the final 10 minutes in such a poor fashion that they frittered away a 10 point lead to Clemson. The only thing I could think watching the creamsicle clad Tiger fans celebrate was that there was no way Maryland should have lost that game. Many have turned to the well worn excuse that the Terps are a young team and their inexperience lead to costly mistakes. It is true that a few younger players, C Edwin Williams and FS Chris Varner, did make costly mistakes at the end of the game, but it was veteran upperclassmen like seniors D'Qwell Jackson, Gerrick McPhearson, and William Kershaw who made the unforgivable blunders. The three of them combined for 4 personal foul or unsportsman like conduct penalties and on all three drives they committed these infractions Clemson scored a touchdown. You should be able to expect more from the few veterans on your team.

Sam Hollenbach played well enough to win the game. He couldn't rally Maryland to another last second win but he helped put 24 points on the board and staked Maryland to a 10 point lead. He completed 18 of 28 passes along with two touchdowns and bombed the Clemson secondary for several big plays. He did turn the ball over twice, once on an interception and once on a fumble deep in Clemson territory. He was sacked several times while holding onto the ball for too long. Still, you could hardly tell this was his third career start. He had a play fake on a 4th down that was a thing of beauty.

Running Back
None of the running backs produced much. Mario Merrills had little room to run and finished with 21 yards. There were too many runs up the middle which gained little yardage. Lance Ball gained 34 yards and may see more playing time this week. Keon Lattimore did get 7 carries but wasn't much of a factor either.

Vernon Davis made himself a nice paycheck by wowing scouts with 6 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. He shredded the Clemson defense and was almost impossible to bring down one on one. He'll be in the NFL next fall without question. Danny Melendez also made a few nice catches including a 41 yard grab and finished with a career high 75 yards. After that there isn't much to speak of as Drew Weatherly could not build on his game winning catch of last week. Jo Jo Walker was a non-factor in either the return game or as a WR. In his senior season he has produced little and will continue to relinquish playing time to younger receivers.

Offensive Line
The line struggled to open any running room and wilted against the Clemson pass rush late in the second half. Jared Gaither and Edwin Williams both saw more playing time and will be starting by the middle of the season. The coaches need Gaither to step up so they may move Derek Miller back to TE.

Defensive Line
The line got little pressure on Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst but held the Clemson rushing game in check until the last few minutes of the game. The combination of Jeremy Navarre, Jermaine Lemons, Conrad Bolston and Jack Griffin has produced little this season. One or more players on the line will have top improve their production of the defense will continue to struggle.

William Kershaw not only has failed to make any plays this year but he added the boneheaded taunting penalty which lead to Clemson's first touchdown. He needs to be supplanted sooner rather than later by Wesley Jefferson. D'Qwell Jackson added 16 tackles which was balanced by his own personal foul penalty. David Holloway was solid but didn't make any big plays.

Gerrick McPearson again showed in spite of his 4.29 speed he is a liability. He had TWO 15 yard personal foul penaties. Chris Varner made a huge mistake on the 51 yard touchdown pass that closed the game to 24-21. Whitehurst completed 80% of his passes without any picks. The line may have provided little pass rush but late in the game they failed on the key plays in the game.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Clark Ruled Ineligible

Shane Clark, a 2005 recruit for the Maryland basketball team, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. He has since left campus to return to the Philadelphia area. He was a 5th year senior at Oak Hill Academy and still had trouble meeting the modest standards of the NCAA. Clark was the highest profile player of the 2005 class that also includes Juco PG Parrish Brown and SF David Neal. He will either have to reapply to another school in December or spend two years at junior college and hope to get recruited by another school. Either way his days at Maryland will likely be in the "neverwas" category. He was in a bit of a position crunch as SF Landon Milbourne was already in the fold for 2006 and Maryland is still recruiting SF Mike Jones (no relation to current SG Mike Jones) from South Carolina. Still it is a shame that he will not get the privilege of putting on that Maryland jersey.

Around the ACC

Virginia's Gary Forbes will transfer from the basketball team before this coming season. There are rumors that he would have been ineligible for the first semester of the season due to academics and this facilitated the transfer. It is a big blow for the Cavs under the first year of the Leitao regime. With no inside presence Virginia would be totally dependent on what perimeter players like Sean Singletary, TJ Bannister and Forbes would have provided them. Without Forbes, who was primed for a breakout season, the Wahoos will struggle to be competitive in the ACC. St. Johns is a likely destination for the Brooklyn native.

D'Qwell Jackson was named Defensive Lineman of the Week by the ACC for his 18 tackle performance against Navy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Revenge best served cold

The Clemson Tigers have bedeviled the Maryland faithful since last fall. The basketball team lost to the perennial dormats of the ACC three times in one year, with the last loss keeping them out of the NCAAs for the first time in 12 seasons. In football the Terps lost a close 10-7 contest because of a bogus pass interference penalty that was so obviously wrong that the ACC league office apologized to Ralph Friedgen. Time for some payback.

More than a few sports writers have raved about Clemson and the rebirth of their running game but a closer look demonstrates that they are the same old Tigers of last year. Charlie Whitehurst must play well to win the game. Since 2003 Charlie hasn't been up to that kind of responsibility.

Stewart Mandel of SI pointed out the Clemson ran all 8 plays before kicking the winning FG against Texas A&M. What he failed to mention is that Charlie Whitehurst had been knocked out of the game and the previous series with Will Proctor at QB wasn't pretty. Clemson knew they would not win with Proctor throwing the ball. Freshman James Davis posted 101 yards on 19 carries for an impressive 5.3 average. Sounds like Clemson can finally run the ball again, no? Not if by "run the ball" you mean get first downs.

The other three running backs for Clemson combined for 63 yards on 26 carries for a gruesome 2.4 average. Of Davis' 101 yards 33 came on one play, he plodded through the rest of the game at a pedestrian 3.7 average. Overall Clemson only managed 3.6 yards per carry on 51 attempts. Last year Clemson would have never had the patience to run the ball 51 times so I suppose that is an improvement.

More alarming for the Tigers is that they gave up 248 yards and a turnstyle like 7.5 yards per carry to the Aggies. Included in that were runs of 49, 34, and 34 yards by different runners. The pass defense never sacked A&M QB Reggie McNeal and gave up pass plays of 31, 29 and 21 yards. This demonstrates that Clemson has big problems on defense and is prone to giving up the big play. Maryland will take advantage of this and fans should expect several big gains.

Clemson's punter also was horrid with a 25.3 yard average and a long punt of 31 yards. If the game is close this alone could sink Clemson with bad field position. On a positive note Clemson converted 6 FGs, on the negative side they had to settle for 6 FGs. Their only TD came on a 47 yard punt return in the 1st quarter.

Verdict: Maryland wins by shutting down Clemson's weak running game and harassing a still woosey Charlie Whitehurst. The offense makes enough big plays to put the game away in the 3rd quarter. Maryland 24 Clemson 16

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Anchors Away, Terps pull out 23-20 win

I wasn't buying into the hype surrounding the renewal of the Navy Maryland rivalry since not even Navy felt it was a rivalry game. In spite of all the attention lavished on Jerry Fishman and his idiotic antics the game went off without a hitch. There was something special about the atmosphere and many Navy fans came out to support the Mids. The Midshipmen honored Maryland before the game and were greeted with a warm ovation. After the game Maryland's players stood at midfield while Navy sang their alma matre. It was a nice show of respect.

The game itself was a mixed bag. Any first game at a neutral site or on the road is a success if you win, no matter how overmatched your opponent may be. Navy had little of the speed, size or athletic ability that Maryland's roster has but made up for it with better execution. They didn't always play smarter, with 8 penaties and some questionable coaching moves by Paul Johnson, but they played like a team that wanted to win badly. Maryland looked stunned and confused for the first 30 minutes of the game then righted themselves and scored 14 points in the last 10 minutes. The defense shut down Navy and only allowed 6 points over the last 3 quarters.


QB: Sam Hollenbach was shaky and a little nervous to start but neither interception was really his fault (one was tipped and he was hit while throwing on the other). He completed 63% of his passes and led two 4th quarter scoring drives with the game on the line. Compared to the shaky starts of Joel Statham and even Scott McBrien his performance was a thing of beauty.

RB: Mario Merrils is not a "playmaker" running back. He is efficient and workman like and doesn't shy away from contact. He does not try to dance to the outside but could use a little more decisiveness with his cuts. He racked up 30 carries and 149 yards along with one touchdown. I'm concerned he won't be able to withstand that kind of workload.

Lance Ball had a game saving play on 4th down. He eluded two Navy defenders and had a tightrope act down the sideline before getting knocked out past the first down marker. He also had several nice runs while amassing 39 yards and added 2 receptions for 37 yards. If he can improve on this he will see more and more playing time. He now stands as the solid #2 TB.

WR/TE: The wideouts had a shaky night. Jo Jo Walker dropped too many balls and added little to the return game. His 10.6 yard/rec average is not impressive. Derrick Fenner also had some lapses but also had the games longest reception for 28 yards. He drew a pass interference penalty when he badly beat a corner and was mugged. He sustained a concussion in what was a scary moment late in the game. He is uncertain for the Clemson game. Drew Weatherly took his place and proved that he is one of Hollenbach's favorite targets. He caught 4 passes in limited play, including the game winning TD. Vernon Davis wasn't much of a factor with only 2 catches. He needs to get open and make some plays. Overall the receivers struggled to get open against a Navy secondary with modest skills.

OL: The run blocking was very good as Maryland rushed for 210 yards and 5.3 per carry. The also gave up a sack and often allowed Navy to pressure Hollenbach with blitzes. Andrew Crummey struggled again at guard. Against a Navy line that was far smaller and lighter they struggled as a group. The interior line will have to improve greatly.

DL: The group struggled badly. They were a non-factor against the run and got little pressure on Navy's QB on passing downs. Jack Griffin, Jeremy Navarre and Conrad Bolston showed little ability to disrupt Navy's option offense. LEO Jermaine Lemons had 8 tackles but only 2 solo. This group needs to play much better to keep opposing OL off the linebackers and secondary. Unless they can draw double teams the run defense will be a problem.

LB: Once again D'Qwell Jackson proved he is an All-ACC performer. He had 18 tackles and a sack, was active all over the field and made big hits. David Holloway was ineffective early but improved. William Kershaw struggled on his reads and with finishing. He was benched briefly and Wesley Jefferson was put in his place. Jefferson finished with more tackles. Outside of Jackson this heralded group did not come thru against the option.
C- (A for Jackson)

DB: Since Navy barely threw the ball and is an option team the secondary wasn't tested like the front seven. They played decently but no one stood out. Josh Wilson looks to be the solid #1 corner and Chris Varner may be the answer at free safety. Milton Harris was rotated with JJ Justice. Look for either Justice or freshman Danny Oquendo to take over at SS.

K: Dan Ennis performed well in a game that was more than an ordinary opening weekend. He hit three FGs including a 40 yard try. Adam Podlesh averaged 49.5 yards a punt.