Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tragedy in Blacksburg

I hope that the families of those murdered yesterday at Virginia Tech can find some comfort and consolation and that the surviving victims heal quickly from their injuries. This event will scar the Virginia Tech community for many years to come. This is a time for the University community to come together and meet the needs of those who were traumatized by the horrible events of yesterday. It is another reminder that in this modern world there is no such place that people can say "that can't happen here", whether it is London, New York, Oklahoma City or Blacksburg, anywhere innocents can be the victims of senseless violence. In an open society with the freedoms we enjoy it is impossible to prevent all these kinds of random acts of violence. The despicable hyenas who are focused on the ratings of the next news cycle need to stop inserting themselves into this tragedy. Let those touched by this awful rampage mourn and grieve in privacy. There will be plenty of time to reflect on any lessons that can be extracted from this pointless calamity.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Draft notes

It seems former Maryland cornerback Josh Wilson is in excellent shape heading into the 2007 NFL draft. According to Pro Football Weekly Wilson is the 8th best corner in the draft and has a grading in the mid to late second round. That is probably around where Wilson should go. He ran a good but not blazing time at the combine and is a little undersized for the NFL. He was never much of a ball hawk in college but was solid in coverage and a physical corner who isn't afraid to play the run. His ability to return kicks will also make him attractive to teams looking for a nickle back or number two corner. With the NFL's new focus on off the field infractions Wilson's character is another bonus.

Adam Podlesh looks in fairly good shape to get drafted. He is ranked the second best punter by PFW and even though teams don't like to spend picks on punters he's likely to be gone early on the second day.

It doesn't look promising for many of the other former seniors. It is possible that quarterback Sam Hollenbach, tackle Stephon Heyer and DT Conrad Bolston may get picked at the end of the draft but it isn't likely. Heyer still has injury concerns and Bolston is more suited to playing NT in a 3-4 defense. Heyer is ranked 33rd and Bolston 32nd at their respective positions. Outside linebacker David Holloway is ranked 26th but has limited speed and athletic ability for the NFL. Still he may get a look in the 6th or 7th round with some teams' compensation pick.

NCAA Changes Clock Rules

After only one season the NCAA caved to all the whining by college football coaches and reversed the clock rules that had served to slice off about 14 minutes from games last season. Personally I liked that the bloated monster that college football games had grown into got chopped off a little. I didn't miss those extra plays and it forced college coaches who are usually terrible at clock management to pay a little more attention to the game situation earlier on.

The kickoffs will be moved to the 30 yard line from the current spot at the 35. After media time outs the play clock will run at 15 seconds not the current 25 and the committee considered having a playclock vary between 25 and 40 seconds depending on clock stoppage.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Practice

The football team has started spring practice which culminates in the Red vs White scrimmage on April 28th. With the number of injuries that the team is dealing with you may not get a true picture of what the team may look like come September. It seems to be a recurring nightmare but the offensive line is in a shambles again this season. With the academic struggles of Jared Gaither and the unexpected loss of Donnie Woods, who left the team with a year of eligibility remaining, this is a thin group again this season. Ever since Ralph Friedgen started recruiting his own players this has been a perennial problem for the Terps, which is odd given that Friedgen is a former lineman himself. Guard Andrew Crummey has a severe ankle sprain and may miss the rest of the spring as a result. With Edwin Williams and Jamie Thomas the rest of the interior is solid but there is no more depth to sustain further injuries. Dane Randolph and the oft injured Scott Burley will fill in at the tackle spots until Gaither can get his grades in order and improve is attitude. If things get desperate don't be surprised to see freshman OT Bruce Campbell, who had a fifth high school season to develop at Hargrave Military Academy, step in when he arrives in August.


Potential starters who are also out this spring due to injury include WR Isaiah Williams, LB Rick Costa and CB Isaiah Gardner. Costa was really coming on towards the end of last season and will be a factor if his shoulder heals by August.

Starting defensive end Jeremy Navarre injured his knee in practice and will miss the rest of the spring. It isn't clear if he will need surgery yet. Keon Lattimore is battling back problems and will also miss the spring game. His backup Da'Rel Scott also got bit by the injury bug with a knee problem that hasn't been fully examined yet. He will have an MRI to determine his status. Starter Lance Ball returns and with some decent depth in freshman Morgan Green Maryland isn't in terrible shape.

Another big loss is DE Barrod Heggs due to academics. Heggs' status with the team is very much in doubt and he may not return to the team by August. If he cannot get his grades in order it will be a big blow to the defense. Heggs was clearly the best pass rusher on a roster devoid of many players who can put pressure on the passer.

Most of the attention will be focused on Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis and their battle for the starting quarterback position. Steffy has a clear lead at the moment as Portis still does not have a clear grasp of the intricate Friedgen offense. Many have assumed that by August Portis will pass Steffy and take over the starting job. I wouldn't bet on that just yet. Portis needs to show dramatic improvement before that become likely. Though the quarterback competition has the most glamor the status of the linemen on both sides of the ball will probably have much more to do with Maryland's success this season.