Monday, September 03, 2007

Terps claw past Wildcats

I'll wait to give out grades until after I have a chance to look at the game tape but Maryland's performance against I-AA Villanova wasn't a thing of beauty. Maryland's size and depth just wore out the Wildcats and made the game seem much less competitive than it was, but that isn't really the big news.

I'm sure you've heard by now that backup quarterback Josh Portis will miss the entire season after a violation of the University's Code of Academic Integrity. There were not many details release but it appears the violation was in regards to a pop quiz, not plagiarism. Regardless, cheating is cheating. His absence may hurt the team's chances but it was something the coaching staff had no choice in doing. I'm sure Portis will learn a tough lesson after sitting out a year and losing a season of eligibility.

I think the offense is in capable hands with Jordan Steffy. I predicted he would hold off Josh Portis in camp and was more capable of running the offense than the sophomore. Steffy played well in his debut but the real concern now is the depth at quarterback. Chris Turner's first action was pretty much a disaster. I think he'll learn from that but after him is freshman Jamarr Robinson and not much else. The position has suddenly become perilously thin after the departure of two quarterbacks in the offseason and Portis' academic problems. Steffy has battled an assortment of arm and leg injuries in his three years at Maryland and his chances of remaining completely healthy this season don't look all that great. If it comes at a critical time in the season it could sink Maryland's bowl hopes. The pass blocking of the offensive line is even more paramount and you have to think that Friedgen will be less willing to call option runs that could get Steffy injured.

Around the ACC

Not a good day for the league. Virginia got blown out by Wyoming 23-3 and it is suddenly about as hot as Death Valley in Charlottesville. My feeling that Virginia could be a sleeper team in the Coastal division looks a little crazy this morning. They could still right the ship but the poor play of quarterback Jameel Sewell and total lack of a running game is a very bad sign. The defense, which was getting some preseason hype got plowed by running back Devin Moore to the tune of 125 yards.

Tom O'Brien's debut as N.C. State's coach was fairly inauspicious. Central Florida roared out to a 25-3 lead at halftime then hung on for a 25-23 victory at Raleigh. Starting quarterback Daniel Evans may have already lost his job to Harrison Beck after Beck threw two late touchdowns to bring the Wolfpack back into the game. O'Brien was also dealt another blow when the leading rusher from last season, Toney Baker, suffered a season ending knee injury.

Virginia Tech didn't look like a top 10 team in their opener against East Carolina. The Hokies struggled to a 17-7 win that was even closer than the final score indicates. But for an early defensive touchdown the Hokies they would have trailed for most of the game. Some may excuse the performance by tying it to the tributes to those killed in the mass shooting on campus earlier in the year but there were fundamental flaws exposed by ECU. The offensive line was beyond dreadful and the backups to Sean Glennon should be getting ready because he may get knocked out of the game next week against LSU. Glennon isn't unflappable in the best of circumstances let alone when it is a jail break on every passing down. The line couldn't muster any semblance of a running game either. East Carolina wasn't even playing with their starting QB who got suspended for drunk driving. The athletic Patrick Pinkney exposed some flaws in the defense of Virginia Tech as well and the Pirates amassed 142 yards rushing on the Hokie front. Things were so out of sorts that coach Frank Beamer didn't even know the words to the Virginia Tech's alma mater when it was played after the game. That isn't a good sign. They're going to get humiliated at LSU next week without drastic improvement.

Georgia Tech pummeled Notre Dame 33-3 and the defense along with running back Tashard Choice looked excellent. Quarterback Taytor Bennett needs some work but the Yellow Jackets served notice that they may be the team to beat in the Coastal division.

Boston College held off a scrappy Wake Forest in a sloppy shootout that ended with the Eagles winning 38-28. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 408 yards and five scores in the victory. BC may have shown that they are powerful enough to make a slew of mistakes and still pull out a win against a quality opponent. The 366 passing yards surrendered by the defense has to be a concern, however the 4 interceptions tempers that somewhat. The Eagles will needs to establish more of a running game to help Ryan out otherwise his arm might drop off.

Miami, North Carolina and Maryland pummeled some cupcake opponents. Clemson and Florida State face off tonight in prime time.

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