Terps Football Preview

Before I get going, a couple of housekeeping notes….

  1. My lack of production this summer is inexcusable. Not that you care, but I’m chalking up my hideous performance to the fact that my company is going through a major transition (we are combining with our parent company), and this basketball offseason has depressed me beyond belief. With the Fall semester quickly approaching, we are popping out of hibernation. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the loyal Turtle Soupers who kept this site alive during our sporadic summer postings. Thanks so much.
  2. ESPN’s college hoops crew should be taken out and shot for that hatchet job they recently published where they attempted to rank the best college basketball programs of the last 25 years. In that time, less than 20 teams won a National Championship, and even fewer went to 11 straight NCAA Tournaments. Yet somehow, Maryland was ranked #28? That is asinine. Thank God, no one actually takes the writers at ESPN seriously (sans Bill Simmons of course). They do employ Dick Vitale after all.

(Speaking of which did anyone catch this tidbit in Sporting News this week? It’s a throwaway puff piece on Greg Paulus, but it contained this gem: “Dick Vitale is….Awesome….I love listening to him and he is one of the best in the game.” Shocker. Perhaps Vitale’s incessant bloviating about Duke has something to do with him being one of Paulus’ favorites?)

Onto the task at hand. Before I begin, I want to say that it is nearly impossible to predict a season’s worth of college football performances in the month of July. All I know is that everyone and their mother is short-selling the Terps because of the questions at QB. I’ve heard the negatives already:

– Jordan Steffy has been concussed five times and sucked even when he did play.

– Chris Turner is not D-1 caliber athlete.

– Josh Portis is an idiot.

Aside from Portis’ intelligence, I can verify the other two statements. Steffy is totally worthless. Turner is no athlete. Between the two, I’d take Turner any day of the week. As far as I’m concerned, his “big” wins at Rutgers and vs. BC have earned him the starting nod. Portis should only get the nod if Turner starts to crap the bedearly in the season.

The Terps will return one of the best playmakers in the nation, Darius Heyward-Bey. He will be the number 1 option. The Fridge will need to get Heyward-Bey involved in creative ways if his QB is unable to hit him for long plays down the field. Ralph exceeds at finding ways to get his skill guys the ball, so we should continue to look for that in 2008.

Graduation hit the backfield hard, but Morgan Green and De’Rei Scott are intriguing youngsters and should present a1-2 punch for the Terps.

The bottom line for me is that I think the Terps QB problems are overstated. Between Turner and Portis, someone will emerge as a consistent performer.

As for the defense, Linebacker Erin Henderson is gone by way of the NFL Draft and Isaiah Gardner, J.J Justice and Christian Varner in the secondary have graduated. Despite these losses, the Terps Defense always seems to find a way to keep the team in the game.

So how do I see the schedule unfolding? Here’s my scientific analysis:

Aug. 30 Delaware – No Joe Flacco. No chance for the Blue Hens. Terps 1-0

Sept. 06 @ Middle Tennessee – Weird road game spells danger. Playing @MTSU is not exactly like playing @Florida, but early road games scare me. But, I don’t care. What’s the point of writing a blog about the Terps if I don’t think they roll over MTSU? Terps 2-0

Sept. 13 California- What’s not to love about the Terps first intersectional game with the Pac-10 in God knows how long? A win here, and the Terps are riding high. It’s a noon ET start which will hopefully make Cal a little travel weary for kickoff. Cal probably has better personnel, but this game is a chance to make a statment. The home crowd lifts the Terps to a rousing victory. Terps 3-0

Sept. 20 Eastern Michigan. No hangover here. EMU is a cupcake. Terps 4-0

Sept. 27 @ Clemson. It’s back to reality. The Tigers are simply too good to lose in Death Valley this year. Who are we kidding? The Terps aren’t even good enough to beat them in College Park. Even so, if the Terps make it this far and remain undefeated; who in Terp Nation won’t be glued to the TV for this one? Terps 4-1

Oct. 04 @ Virginia – Well, the Terps have to win a road ACC game at some point. Who better than a little revenge against UVA? Lord knows they are beatable. Without Howie Long Jr. inflicting damage, I think the Terps can win this one. Terps 5-1

Oct. 18 Wake Forest – The Terps can’t win all their home games, but they gave one away last year at Wake. The Terps return the favor. Terps 6-1 (Do you believe bowl eligible in October??)

Oct. 25 North Carolina State – Worst team in the ACC besides Duke. The Terps won’t win any easy games in the ACC, but this may be the closest they come. Terps 7-1 (are you enjoying this yet??)

Clearly, the schedule is front-loaded. The Terps must win the early games because it gets ugly in a hurry.

Nov. 06 @ Virginia Tech – Loss. Terps 7-2

Nov. 15 North Carolina. UNC is still a year away. Terps get to eight wins. Terps 8-2

Nov. 22 Florida State – Loss. Terps 8-3

Nov. 29 @ Boston College – The good part: Hey, the Terps play after Thanksgiving! The bad part: In New England. Loss. Terps 8-4

There you have it. Whoever said I that I don’t wear rose-rolored glasses? My predictions are definitely wrong, definitely optimistic, but definitely possible. Either way, it shoud be an exciting Fall for Fridge’s boys.

After last season’s basketball collapse, the Orioles predictable fade, and the Ravens going into the season with Troy Smith as the starting QB; I could go for a wild and exciting season in Byrd Stadium.

Packer Sent Packing

Billy Packer is out as lead analyst at CBS Sports. Much of the college basketball world is cheering this news. I have to admit Packer mostly annoyed the crap out of me. However, I will always give him credit for calling out the officials in the 2001 Final Four for blatantly favoring Duke.

I remember the Championship Game, Duke vs. Arizona, where Packer called a spade a spade. It was his moron partner, Jim “what a moment” Nantz, who thought the fans were booing because there were tons of Arizonans in Minneapolis in late March.

It was Packer who said, “they are booing the officials for these one-sided calls!”

Packer always shot from the gut, often without thinking, and he angered tons of fans throughout the country. Godspeed Packer.

Picture Becoming Clearer… Kinda

First, I’d like to thank DBR for all of the Terps news updates. It’s tough with Jeremy and I not being local to keep up with some of the goings on in College Park, so thanks to him and everyone else for giving us the latest information! It’s you guys that make this site so great.

It looks as though things are starting to come together with the Terps hoops team. Unless something unexpected happens, Sean Mosley worked a miracle and qualified so he’ll be on the court. As we all know, this is huge.

We will also likely be signing a last minute guy in Goins or one of the other names mentioned on the site. Again, it’s hard for me to get excited about any of these players since they’ve been sitting out there for a long time and no other school picked them up so I can’t believe they’d be all that good. That being said, we need depth, so hopefully whoever we end up adding can contribute in some way.

To give my two cents about the Gilchrist situation, it just stinks all around. All of it is hard to believe, like the kid saying he was thrilled to be in College Park until he was going to lose a year of eligibility. His handler not being offered jobs at 3 other schools just preceding him leaving. Come on now. I’m not sure I want him anywhere near our program anyway. I don’t know what the kid is thinking and I think we should just cut all ties with him and his ‘people’.

This upcoming season could be a make-or-break for this program with Gary in charge. I’m not expecting 25+ wins, but Gary has to work the magic he did in the 90’s where lesser talented teams consistently made the tournament and made noise. If Gary can get this team to play above their talent, then his apparent re-dedication to recruiting could pay dividends. If we once again play in the NIT, all bets are off as I don’t know if any top recruit would choose to go to College Park. This is a BIG year.

Honestly, I actually have some optimism with this squad. Sure, we’ll get dominated by strong inside games. There will be no upset of UNC this year, but Gary is at his best with a team like this. I think he still has it on the coaching end and I think this team will make a run at the tourney. I know it’s still July and there’s a long way to go, including what should be a very interesting football season, which should be very fun to watch, but I’m very interested in seeing how this team plays.

Fading Glory Goes Mainstream

Given the disastrous offseason, it was only a matter of time before ESPN wrote the obligatory “The Terps are falling apart” piece. And, here it is.

There is nothing new here. It’s all things that have been said over and over again on this site. The article even salted the wounds of the Terp faithful by listing out all of the Balto-DC players that have spurned the program (surprisingly, they left out Rudy Gay).

The article mentions how Gary has been skewered by the blogosphere. I guess that is a nice plug, but frankly, the loudest complaints are coming from inside the program.

Here’s what I know: the Terps are not going to be as bad as everyone fears. The young frontcourt will step up and play better. However, making the Tourney would be a huge acheivement. The fact that I wrote that last sentence in all seriousness is the reason why Gary could get fired at the end of the season.

From Tragedy to Triumph to Mediocrity: The story of Maryland Basketball

A Story That Makes Me Smile

With all of the crap Terp fans have endured lately; I hope this brings a smile to your collective faces. the Louisville Courier-Journal recently reported on a dispute between Louisville Cardinals football team and Duke Blue Devils football team. Apparently, Duke backed out of its four-game series with Louisville after just one game.

The judge ruled in favor of Duke. The reason for the ruling, is the best part:

Duke’s lawyers argued the Blue Devils, which have a record of 6-45 over the past five seasons, were so bad that any team would be a suitable replacement.

Judge Shepherd agreed in his summary:

“At oral argument, Duke (with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty) persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. Duke’s argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville.”

Duke’s “win” in court saved the school $450K in fines that would have resulted if they had been found to be in breach of contract. I guess when it comes down to money; no one at Duke has any trouble admitting what a joke their football program has become.

The full article can be found here.