Monday, September 17, 2007

About Last Saturday (and Thursday)...

An entirely predictable and unsurprising result, although I suppose I bought a bit too much into the weird Thursday Night voodoo with last week's prognostication.

This is year seven in College Park for the Fridge (a supposed offensive wizard of Gandalf-like prominence), yet from years four through six (seasons played out entirely with his own recruits), the Terps finished 108, 56, and 88 in total offense, and currently sit at 92 in 2007. Jeff Bowden had a better track record than that. I guess what I'm saying is that perhaps there was a reason ol' Ralphie couldn't land those head coaching gigs for all those years...see also: Weis, Charlie. And I'm not talking about their unhealthy girths, either; that's just a curiously disturbing coincidence. Or is it?

The somewhat-surprising UVA victory has been overshadowed by talk and analysis of one of the biggest officiating blunders since The Coin Toss and The Fifth Down. The ACC has long been bashed (largely by fans of member schools) for it's consistently incompetent officiating, but this error is simply unforgivable in it's simplicity, and given the fact that it would have cost the Hoos the game if not for instant replay.

As for the Cavaliers...stop saving your break-out performances for league games while stinking it up in non-conference matchups, K? You dare not botch the Middle Tennessee, Pitt, or UConn games in the next few weeks or you will earn my eternal enmity.

Guys...384 total yards given up on defense to a 1-AA school? One week after UL-Monroe churned out 419 yards and 26 points? These are reasons why you folks at Clemson rarely get the benefit of the doubt anymore. And why few will actually be surprised if the Tigers lose to NC State next week.

On the plus side, Cullen Harper looked fantastic for the second week in a row (after being merely efficient against FSU in week 1) and Davis and Spiller were top-notch in their all-too brief appearances last Saturday.

The defense recovered nicely from the abomination in Baton Rouge, and the offense finally showed some signs of life late in the game to make the score more respectable ('twas just 14-7 entering the fourth quarter).

That said, there are severe problems in Blacksburg if new QB Tyrod Taylor gets injured or is otherwise not taking every single snap from now on. The offensive line is atrocious and the running game still hasn't gotten out of first gear. The mere threat of Taylor running the ball opened things up on offense a bit, a threat that is laughably non-existent with Sean Glennon under center.

MIAMI 23 - FIU 9
In a true snoozer of a game - particulary sans riot-like fisticuffs - the Canes got a nice cheap non-conference win over the lowly Panthers. Kyle Wright was unimpressive but not cringe-inducing on a Kirby Freeman-level, while the defense coughed up 264 total yards to FIU, at least 164 more than they should have. With Texas A&M coming to town in just three days, I foresee The U embarrassing themselves and the conference yet again.

Rarely does a team so consistently play to the level of their opposition as the Demon Deacons. Wake scored just one offensive TD against the lowly Cadets (the other two scores came via a punt return and interception return) and were outgained and out-first-downed as well. And Brett Hodges is clearly no Riley Skinner. Young Riley needs to return to the Deacon lineup, stat.

In a year when Appy State beats Michigan and The Citadel hangs 31 on Wisconsin, this may actually have to go down as a damn fine win for the Wolfpack, except for the fact that - and this must be the theme of the week - they gave up waaaaay too many yards to the Terriers. 353 to be exact. And I won't mention the 11 penalties for 109 yards...except I just did, and that Wofford managed a tidy 15 flags of their own.

In what may be the first and last instance of it's kind in my lifetime, the Blue Devils managed to provide the highlight of the week. Sure, the Duke defense was like a sieve, but QB Thaddeus Lewis was calmly efficient and the Wildcats were so generously self-destructive (13 penalties and allowing the Devils to go a combined 8 of 15 on 3rd and 4th downs) that the outcome seemed joyously inevitable by the middle of the third quarter or so. Nonetheless, I truly hope Duke Nation enjoyed that delicious morsel of victory, because I don't think they get another one this year.

Nonsensical. Completely, totally nonsensical. How a suspect Eagle defense walked into Atlanta and just stymied the Panzer-like Tech offensive line and rushing attack just completely baffles the mind. But that was not the story of the game, not by a long shot. Matty Ice clearly needs a seat reservation in New York in early December, for his calculated evisceration of the supposedly vaunted Jacket defense was something to behold.

All is not lost for the Ramblin' Wreck...the Coastal Division is so lame this season that they could afford another clunker like this one and perhaps even a third and still make it back to Jacksonville, where they'll likey face...a similar beatdown to these same Eagles. As for are the Chosen One in the league this year. Do not fricking blow it. And yes, I was way, waaaaay wrong about you in all my preseason previews and stuff.

Drew Weatherford is not salvageable. A promising but at times bumpy freshman season in '05 has regressed into an 8-of-18 passing, 1-for-13 on third downs mess (against a shockingly slow defense to boot) after 25 starts. The criminally-negligent coaching he received his first two seasons has done irreparable damage to his psyche and decision-making process and ironically it's also what keeps him as the starter considering Xavier Lee received the same grotesque guidance but with a much shorter leash.

But hey, the Noles won on the road in a rowdy Big XII venue. In and of itself, that's a sweet accomplishment. Despite all that, unless the defense starts pitching near-shutouts on a weekly basis, another 6-6 campaign in Tallahassee is on the horizon.

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