Friday, September 21, 2007

Jennings backs up

As you may have seen 5-star PF Terrence Jennings decided to reopen his recruitment and visit a number of other schools before deciding (perhaps) finally where to sign in November. While certainly not helpful I don't think this is as big a blow as some fans may fear. Any program would like to have a player with the tantalizing talent of Jennings on board. That is why programs like Kentucky and Connecticut are sniffing around even after Jennings committed to the Terps.

You can see all the stories about this in the ticker to the right.

To me the larger picture is that Maryland's recruiting has turned around from the lows of the post Championship years. Jennings was a sign of that, not the cause. Maryland has Sean Mosley on board and is in good position to land PF Quintrell Thomas. Looking ahead the Terps are well positioned for a couple of excellent players in 2009 so there is no need to start jumping off the top of Comcast Center. If Jennings decides to go elsewhere Maryland will have good alternatives.

The fallout of Jennings not coming to Maryland won't be a repeat of the Shane Clark fiasco. Maryland won't be taking a Juco player or a recruit who is more of a high level walk on talent instead of a truly elite prospect. Chuck Driesell has not been resting on his laurels as some assistants in the past often did and he has stayed on the recruiting trail. His work will pay off handsomely if Jennings goes elsewhere and will reap a rich bounty in the 2009 recruiting class. I don't pretend to have any inside knowledge about that but don't be surprised if the Terps have another verbal or two this fall regardless of the result of Jennings' recruitment.

As for Jennings he still claims to have Maryland at the top of his list and will attend Midnight Madness in October. He gave his verbal without visiting many other schools so he now wants to look around according to the coach at Mount Zion. Given the circumstances I'd probably put the chances of him staying with the Terps somewhere south of 50%. With schools like Kentucky and Connecticut along with legendary dirtbag Bob Huggins sniffing around this may have taken an unsavory turn. If that is the case Gary Williams won't waste much time with it.

As with Jeff Jones who gave a verbal to Maryland and then decommitted and signed with Virginia I think this won't turn out to be all that big a deal a year from now. We'll soon see how the young frontcourt players for Maryland perform and with four freshman (Burney will be a redshirt) the odds seem good that at least a couple will emerge from that group. Braxton Dupree is the most marquee player of the group but I think the other three will be better than expected, with at least one other player showing he can be a starter in 2008. You can be sure the staff had a number of contingencies if Jennings failed to qualify and now those may get put in motion sooner than expected. I think the staff will try to reconnect with him but I also don't see the staff waiting around for Jennings' decision for too long.

Football News

Onto something else...Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner will play Saturday against Maryland. Skinner has missed the last few games after getting injured in the opener against Boston College. In that game he threw for 236 yards and completed 75% of his passes but also threw three interceptions before his injury. If he is healthy enough to run with the football he will give Maryland's defense significant problems.

Ralph Friedgen was feeling like his usual prickly self in his weekly meeting with the media. In response to Marc Carig the Washington Post beat reporter he had this to say about the pedestrian passing offense:

"We have to do a better job of getting open, protecting, reading and the whole thing. That's the problem."

"It's not going to happen overnight," Friedgen said. "I wish it would. My life, I might start growing hair and lose weight. It's going to take time. I understand that, you people don't."

"Well, it's what fans are saying, too," Marc Carig

"I know that," Friedgen said. "They don't know anything, either."

Just a tad cranky? Problem is that this sputtering offense was evident five months ago in the spring practices. I think that qualifies as longer than overnight. More to the point if it hasn't gotten any better since then what are the odds that it will magically get better before the season slips away?

Fridge does have some weapons but if you don't call plays for your playmakers then they are not going to make any plays. Jordan Steffy has had it drilled in his head over and over that making a play is less important than not making a mistake. He heard all the constant criticism of Sam Hollenbach's turnovers from the staff the last two years. Why should anyone, including the coaches, be surprised he shies away from taking chances?

Playing so conservative does give you less margin for error and a small mistake like a penalty here or there can derail your offense. Does anyone think that this team can convert on obvious passing downs?

Some of the players can help. Isaiah Williams can avoid stupid penalties, catch the ball when it is thrown to him and run the correct route. That would be a good start. He better be careful or he'll turn into the next Drew Weatherly. The receiver corps is not a young group with a senior, two juniors and a redshirt sophomore with 13 career starts at tight end and wideout. The offensive line could be a little better at pass blocking and some of the blitz pickups have been shaky by the backfield.

All in all it is an offense that just doesn't look good and doesn't seem to know how to fix things. It won't help that Wake Forest is adept at interceptions with six in three games. The defenses from here on out are probably better than what the offense has seen so far. If Maryland is going to get back to a bowl game the offense needs to get better in a hurry.

1 comment:

Rob N. said...

fat chance on us going to a bowl this year... That has to be the worst collapse I've seen of a MD team, ever... and against a sorry WF team... we're done.

what gets me most is to see a WV team w/ Steve Slaton in the Top 10 every week, while we suffer with a below average team...

What gives?