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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Blog is a Lie

As many of my readers felt it necessary to point out, I'm a big, fat phony.

This past Saturday, it did rain in College Park. A lot. I know. I was there. My clothes are sitting in the basement next to a dehumidifier and I'm praying they don't grow mold. So sue me. Or do something constructive and think of another name for this blog.

The game itself was fairly good. Lots of running, lots of gritty play and mud - everything you want in a rainy football game. Plus, it was a win for the Terps, as they beat N.C. State with a last second field goal, 27-24.

I found it a little disappointing Maryland couldn't clobber the Wolfpack like the crappy team they are. Freshman quarterback Russell Wilson found plenty of room to run for 53 yards, and frankly, most of the time he made the Terp defense look slow. They gave up 155 rushing yards and 187 yards through the air. Luckily for them, the Wolfpack defense was worse.

Da'Rel Scott tore through like a tornado for 163 yards and a TD. Davin Meggett (who appears to be generating his own fan base) ran for a tough 34 yards and a TD carry, plus a 31-yard reception to set up the game-winning score. Honorable mention also includes tight end Dan Gronkowski, who managed three catches for 37 yards and a TD in unfavorable passing conditions. He's been a relatively consistent performer on a team bereft of consistent performers.

A win is a win, no? And even moreso, this win sets up a Terps bowl appearance and puts us in the lead for the Atlantic Division. Yeah girl.

Maryland has a real shot at winning this division, but the schedule doesn't exactly favor it. A victory over Virginia Tech next Thursday is doable, but not altogether likely. Beyond that, North Carolina and Florida State are tough games, but they will be at home. Boston College is winnable game on the road, and the Eagles always choke toward the end of the season. After that, the ACC championship.

Two wins and two losses seem reasonable to end this year, but three wins and one loss? That's potentially an ACC championship berth, depending on who loses and who gets tiebreakers.

So in short, this win puts the now-No. 25 Terrapins in terrific position for real success this season (as opposed to the fake success of the last few years). Even though it doesn't feel like a strong team and the defense is next to last in almost every category, Fridge now has some of the pressure off of him to be bowl eligible and he can focus on winning rather than saving his job (for once).

Potentially, this is a good team, it just remains to be whether or not they can live up to their billing in the tough games ahead.

Photos by Adam Fried

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dominant Defense Downs Demon Deacons

Before we start: Note the alliteration in the post title.

Moving on.

Unless you were hiding under a rock, you probably heard the Terps absolutely crushing No. 21 Wake Forest last Saturday, 26-0. Grinding offense, stifling defense, another upset victory... shocking, right?

Weeeellllllllll, I don't know. I mean, isn't this kind of typical of the Terps? Win a game against a ranked team at home? Besides, it was only a matter of time before Wake started losing conference games: Last week, they only won against Clemson because of a fourth-quarter touchdown. Their offense has only scored 24 points in three ACC games. Definitely underwhelming for a ranked team. In addition, their receiving corps was so terrible, it made you wonder what else Wake could be doing with the money it takes to give those players scholarships.

I'm not hating on what the Terps did by any means, though. It was a spectacular performance. Chris Turner threw for 321 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. OC James Franklin apparently heard something about this Darrius Heyward-Bey guy, because they actually threw to him yesterday. He ended up with a career-high 11 catches for 101 yards and a TD. The defense combined for four sacks and the front seven held the Demon Deacon offense to 73 net yards rushing.

So, what can the Terps against a really terrible N.C. State team to not have another letdown UVA style? Well, keep it going - in more ways than one.

1) Keep up the stiff defense and rolling offense and the five-game winning streak at home.

2) Keep up the recent ownage of the Wolfpack. Maryland has won 6 out of the last 8 in this match up. I know it's hard to remember, but Maryland did have bigger victory than Wake Forest last year. They stomped N.C. State 37-0 to become bowl eligible.

It should be a good one, but considering Maryland killed a weak team like Eastern Michigan at home, and considering we routinely own N.C. State, I'm going to predict a victory.

Back me up, Terps.

Photos by Adam Fried

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A word from Governor Palin

Governor Palin, could you please explain how the Terps lost 31-0 to the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday?

Ok, we'll wait for you to get back to us. In the meantime, let's all try to forget this ever, ever, ever happened. It looks like Chris Turner is ready to forget.

Also, does anyone have a comment about this photo:

Let's have a funny caption contest. That will cheer everybody up...

Photos courtesy of baltimoresun.com

Saturday, October 4, 2008

On the frontlines at DeMatha v. Good Counsel

This Thursday, I attended the nationally televised high school football game between No. 10 DeMatha and No. 2 Good Counsel. I wrote this story for class:

Last night’s game between Washington-area powerhouses No. 10 DeMatha and No. 2 Our Lady of Good Counsel was sold out. The match was broadcast to a national audience on ESPN2. Recruiters from Penn State, Maryland and Syracuse showed up among other big names. Thousands showed up to the small school in Olney, Md., to watch titans clash.

However, the Good Counsel Falcons (5-0) took the air out of the much-ballyhooed contest in the first quarter by scoring 28 unanswered points on their way to knocking off the overmatched Stags, 42-21.

“I think we stepped up,” said senior running back Caleb Porzel, who finished the night with 124 yards and three touchdowns. “We showed ourselves and the nation that we can hang with anyone – we should be a nationally-ranked premier team.”

DeMatha (3-2) looked virtually helpless as its defense was shredded by Porzel’s blazing speed for touchdown runs of seven, 38 and 56 yards. Added to a touchdown off of a senior linebacker Jelani Jenkins fumble recovery, the Stags found themselves mired in a four-score deficit less than 13 minutes into the game.

If not for a miraculous 61-yard touchdown pass from Tom Chroniger to Emmanuel McPhearson in coverage midway through the second quarter, DeMatha would’ve been held scoreless in the first half entirely by a sturdy, Jenkins-led Falcons defense.

Two more touchdowns in the third quarter gave the DeMatha squad some momentum. Chroniger had a 15-yard rush for a score and found Lewis Young in the end zone with a 10-yard pass within a six-minute stretch.

But during the ensuing possession on fourth down, the Falcons faked a punt and kicker Mark Hamilton ran for 21 yards and earned 15 extra yards on a facemask penalty against DeMatha. The drive was capped by Jenkins running untouched into the end zone six plays later.

DeMatha missed another score by the slimmest of margins: Receiver Jeff Knox was stopped after a catch on the one yard line with 1:47 left in the game on fourth down. But even a touchdown would’ve been futile at that point.

It was a disappointment for the defending WCAC-champion Stags, who find themselves looking up in the division for one of the first times in a while.

“We just didn't come out and play our game today,” Chroniger said. “We didn't make a pass, I didn’t throw it right, just small things. You come out without intensity, it's hard to beat somebody."

Although Porzel was bothered during the game by calf cramps and coming off an ankle injury, his injury concerns didn’t prevent him from shining in the national spotlight, even beyond the shadow of top-10 prospect and teammate Jenkins.

“It was kind of a mental thing for me,” Porzel said. “I was kind of scared at one point, but once I hit the first touchdown, I was like ‘this is going to be a good night for us.’”

For DeMatha, by the end of the first half, the game became less about winning and more about having self-respect.

"We came out a little flat in the first half, and I felt our priority was to keep our heads in it,” DeMatha senior tight end Jeremiah Mathis said. “I felt like we came back out in the second half and we fought. If there was anything that we needed to do in the second half, it was fight for it.”

The two teams have made a habit of meeting in the WCAC championship. Good Counsel senior quarterback Tyler Campbell, who completed all of his seven passes for 177 yards, said he had witnessed the last two championship losses to DeMatha, and although he savored the revenge, he acknowledged it’s not over.

“I can’t tell you how badly we want to win a championship this year,” Campbell, a senior, said. “We beat them last year in the regular season, but they beat us in the championship. We want to win it this year.”

The rival teams always seem to be looking ahead to the next matchup between the two schools. DeMatha receiver Michael Milburn was already thinking about it after the loss.

“If we play ‘em in the postseason, we’ll get ‘em,” he said.

Tell me what you think. For a REALLY great story, read Josh Barr's recap. I'm an amateur, but he shows himself to be the pro in this story.

Also, some notes:

- Porzel is as fast as anyone, but you can't help but notice he's probably 5'5 or 5'6. At Maryland, he'll probably return kicks, but we'll have to see if he grows.
- Jenkins is an absolute manbeast. He was a dominant force on defense. You can see why the schools want him. His speed and power were on display as starting fullback as well. I think he's well outside of Maryland's league.
- Fridge was at the game. Whether he was looking for new recruits or trying to hang on to the ones he is up for debate.
- Some receivers on DeMatha actually looked very good. Milburn has great size and leaping ability and McPhearson just tore through the middle. They both could've shown softer hands at times, though, and drops were actually a big factor in the game.

Signing off...

Photos from gazette.net, rivals.com

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Also, you should probably know...

Maryland got their first 2009 commitment for basketball, assuming of course that Jin Soo Kim is considered eligible for this fall.

James Padgett, a 6'7 power forward out of New Yawk, chose the Terps over West Virginia, Pitt, Tennessee, St. John's and Florida, so that's a nice pool to be picked from!

As always, Matt Bracken of baltimoresun.com sports has the scoop on the Brooklyn big man:

Padgett averaged a double-double as a junior (“probably 11 and 10,” [coach Dwayne] Morton said), helping Lincoln to the New York State Class AA Federation Championship. He stood out on a guard-oriented offense (led by five-star shooting guard Lance Stephenson), giving the Railsplitters a much-needed presence in the middle.

His role, Morton said, was to rebound, contribute put-backs and play tough defense. That unselfish play as a junior, and during the summer on Morton’s AAU team, the Juice All-Stars, convinced Morton that Padgett had a bright future. Morton said Maryland’s a good place for him to realize his potential and continue his development.

And so on and so forth.

Inside presence is the name of the game right now for the Terps, and they need size like no other. Padgett is a good add. A four-star athlete on Scout.com and a three-star guy on Rivals, he's a project player (like we haven't had many of those in recent years) with high rebounding and defensive skills, but little variety on offense. According to scouting reports, he needs to develop a post face-up game (meaning facing his defender and the basket, for basketball tenderfoots). He might grow a little extra for all we know as well, maybe stretch to 6'8.

So Maryland frontcourt guys in 2009 include 6'10 Steve Goins, 6'9 Jerome Burney, 6'8 Kim, 6'8 Braxton Dupree, 6'7 Dino Gregory, 6'7 Padgett and 6'6 Cliff Tucker. That ain't tooooooo bad, but gosh, wouldn't you just love to bag a top-25 6'11 guy sometime? Just one?

The one obvious thing this post lineup lacks is offense. Last year, all the people I just mentioned averaged a whopping 9.3 ppg for the Terps. The incoming players that will play this season or next aren't necessarily known for their offensive prowess (besides Kim, who is more of an outside shooter anyway). Dupree was known as a scorer in high school, but thus far hasn't been able to show it (although it appears he may have shed weight, which will go a long way).

So the pickup? Overall good, but it doesn't seem to address our main problems. Sooner or later, we'll have to find a big guy that can score.

Photos courtesy of rivals.com, baltimoresun.com sports.