Terps Ranked #26 in Latest AP Poll

Can you believe that?  Just three weeks after getting embarrassed by Middle Tennessee State; the Terps have risen to elite status.  Sure, they are not in the Top 25 yet, but the writing is on the wall.  Not only that, but the Terps seem to be playing their best football in years.  I guess that is what a competent QB will do for you.

Both the defense and the offense played at a peak level in one of the most hostile environments in the country during the 2nd half on Saturday.  At 4-1, the Terps have positioned themselves for a special October and November.

Back in July, I predicted that at this point in the season, the Terps would be 4-1. Of course, how exactly they got to 4-1 was beyond my predictive abilities. No matter.  The Terps face three winnable contests as we look ahead on the schedule.  A road game against a pathetic UVA (the lost to Duke!); then home games against suddenly vulnerable Wake Forest (a home loss to Navy?); and NC State.

You don’t need to be Steven Hawking to figure out that the Terps could be sitting at 7-1three weeks hence.  Now of course, we don’t want the team or the coaches getting ahead themselves (they are focused on UVA); but I am neither and I will look ahead.  7-1 would be incredible.  The schedule really starts to get tough after that as they close the year out with Va Tech, UNC, FSU, and BC (is there anything worse than an ACC school going up to Massachussetts in late November?).  Any thing can happen, but a 2-2 finish and the Terps are sitting at 9 wins with a realistic shot at the ACC title depending on how everything shakes out.

As juicy as that feels; it wouldn’t be Maryland if there wasn’t a dark lining to the silver cloud.  How can you avoid thinking about what would have been if the Fridge had started the season with Chris Turner–as everyone else in the entire state of Maryland had wanted.  The Terps would likely be 5-0 (Yes, I realize Turner started the MTSU game, but he was rusty and I’m sure if he had been named number 1 in early August; the Terps would have won that game.)

5-0 and the Terps are in rarified air.  We would likely be in the Top 20 and if 8-0 came to pass; they would have been in the BCS conversation.  Of course it is fancy and no one in their right mind would expect the Terps to hang with USCs and LSUs of the world.  However, being in that conversation; albeit for only a week or two, would have meant so much to the program, its fans, and alumni.

Hopefully, the Fridge has learned his lesson.  Chris Turner is the man now and he starts the rest of his career.

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Terps Adjust, Beat Clemson!!!!

Wow.

I’m nearly speechless. For anyone who watched this team play in the first half, we had no business to be on the same field as Clemson. They ran it down our throats all day long in the first half. It was men against boys. The offense shot itself in the foot and settled for field goals.

But then…

It all turned around!

Chris Cosh has gotten his fair share of grief since he’s been running the defense, but he deserves all the credit for this win. Cosh made the necessary adjustments at the half and the defense took over the game, shutting the Tigers out and getting the offense back into the game emotionally.

The offense still needs work, but Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 76 yard reverse run woke everybody up as well. The team couldn’t play any worse in the first, yet was down just 11 points. That score in the 3rd quarter made the guys in white believe and this resurgent team just took over and came up with a huge, huge win.

Credit also needs to be given to Danny Oquendo. He came up with some huge catches and held onto the ball after some big hits. To have a secondary receiver make plays is a key to making this offense go. Great game Danny!

This team reminds me of the 2006 Terps. They never looked pretty, but somehow they won games. This was one of those games. Did they deserve to win? Hell yeah, but it was not pretty!

We need to give credit where credit is due. A lot of us (myself included) were ready to run the Fridge out of town after the loss to Middle Tennessee, but I want be the first to come out and say I was wrong. Sure, they have a maddening team sometimes that doesn’t play up to its potential, but the Fridge and his coaching staff deserve a ton of credit in how they have been able to get these kids to play hard and redeem themselves against Cal and now Clemson. This victory was even bigger than Cal because it was a road game and it was an ACC game. This should do wonders for the team’s confidence. Now they have to take the next step and go on the road against a pitiful Virginia team and pound them.

I’ll repeat what I said after Cal. The Middle Tennessee game was horrible, but this win over Clemson was a bigger win than that game was a brutal loss. Once again, the Terps will be seen all over ESPN for the rest of the day. They’ll be on the bottom line scoreboard and highlights a plenty for the rest of the day. You can’t buy that kind of press. This team may now be ranked in some polls, so it’s time for them to realize they can be buried again with one loss to UVA. Let’s go out there and make a run for the conference title. They’ve proven they can do it, now go do it!

Can the Terps Defy Death (Valley)?

Winning a football game in Death Valley is a rare occurance for Clemson opponents. Few venues in the ACC boast a larger capacity than the 81,473 seats in Memorial Stadium. The Terps have posted victories in Death Valley only three times since 1985- roughly 27% of the time.

The odds are against the Terps this time around too. Before the season started, every prognosticator practically handed the Tigers the ACC Title. Clemson possessed arguably the best QB in the ACC in Cullen Harper, and the best HB tandem in the country: James Davis and CJ Spiller. On paper, the Terps had no chance to beat Clemson on the road.

Then the season started. While Clemson’s backfield is still as talented as anyone’s; the Tigers struggled mightily out of the gate. Alabama rolled over Clemson in their season opener 34-10. Suddenly Clemson didn’t look so tough. However, it turns out that Alabama is a damn good team. They are blowing out everybody. Losing a nuetral site contest against the Crimson Tide suddenly doesn’t look so bad.

What’s more, Clemson has looked good since losing in week 1. They dismantled NC State (who just beat an excellent East Carolina team) and have been thrashing inferior opponents (something the Terps have not be able to accomplish).

Is Maryland up to the challenge? Physically, the answer is yes. Da’Rell Scott may be better than either of Clemson’s runners. Chris Turner has gotten better each week since taking over the starting job. Maryland has a bigger win to its resume than any victory Clemson has achieved. The Terps redeemed the entire ACC with their huge upset of California, but questions remain.

Can the defense keep the opposing team from stringing together long drives? So far the answer to that question has been “sometimes”. Terps defensive coordinator, Chris Cosh, has shown a reluctance to blitz. In my completely unprofessional opinion, college teams need to blitz. The opposing QB is always going to be a young kid between 18-22 years old. Force said youngster into bad decisions by bringing pressure! Resfusing to blitz is almost unheard of in football. It means the QB can sit back in the pocket and wait for receivers to get open. Simply put, Cosh’s scheme puts way too pressure on the secondary to make plays. For the Terps to win on Saturday, this needs to change. It is time for Cosh to show us something.

Can the Terps win on the road? Last year, the answer was “yes” The big win at Rutgers proved that the Terps can get it done. This year’s loss to Middle Tennessee State (shuddering) changed that perspective. If Maryland can’t beat a Sun Belt team filled with SEC cast-offs; how can they win in Death Valley?

I think the key for Maryland will be to control the time of possession by orchestrating long drives that utilize the Terps breadth of backfield talent. I think Da’Rell Scot is already the best tailback to wear a Terp uniform since Lamont Jordan and when it is all said and done; he could be the best ever. Maryland will need to lean on Mr. Scott on Saturday if we are to eke out a win.

Secondly, our kicker, Egekesaouiewfwe will need to get off the schnide. (I mentioned in an earlier game thread that I won’t refer to him by his given name until he gets himself out of the doghouse. Sorry, garbage kicks against E. Michigan won’t do it). The kid may be given the opportunity to be the hero on Saturday. He needs to seize the moment and make the most of his chances. The Terps have no margin for error. If we have a chance to put 3 points on the board, we have to be successful every time. No excuses.

There you have it. If Maryland’s defense plays aggressively (read: blitzes); if the offense controls the time of possession, and if our kicker doesn’t miss any FG attempts; the Terps might actually pull out a victory. That’s three if’s.

What do you think? Can they do it? I posted a poll on the right hand side. Is Turtle Soup made up of a bunch of homers or a bunch of pessimists?

Duke Football Revisited

This is a story I first wrote about over the summer, but I found this on YouTube; and it I just had to share it.

I’ll recap for you: The University of Louisville sued Duke University for backing out of its obligation to travel to Louisville for a football game. In the clip, Duke’s lawyer argues that the contract stipulated that the agreement could be broken if a “suitable” replacement could be found. Her argument speaks for itself:

Eastern Michigan Preview and Game Thread

Now, this is exciting.  The Terps are playing a “Directional” Michigan University.  Wow.  Hold on to your hats. (Note: I get this same feeling of excitement every time I drive through Delaware).  Maryland’s goal tomorrow should be to prevent the classic Maryland letdown.

Given that this team has demonstrated an epic ability to underachieve; the Fridge should be threatening to demote starters if they sleepwalk through the first half tomorrow.  I just read through some stuff about Eastern Michigan and there really isn’t much to talk about it.  QB Andy Schmitt was sixth in the MAC in efficiency rating last year.  OK.  That tells me nothing.

EMU runs the spread offense.  Maryland plays poorly against the spread.  I’m still not concerned. Let’s face it.  This is a tune-up game that the Terps aren’t able to treat as one thanks to the defeat in Murfreesboro.  Specifically because of the MTSU defeat; a similar result won’t occur tomorrow.  Sure, everyone else Terpville is thinking about Clemson, but not the kids on the field.  There is too much to work do.

Turner needs to be crisper.  The backup RBs need more reps.  The defense needs to put in a full 60 minutes of 100% effort. And Lord knows that our FG kicker needs some confidence. Get that kid some reps for Pete’s sake!

I’m expecting a two to three TD victory margin.  Anything else will leave me with lingering doubts as we head into Death Valley.

Despite my confidence about a victory tomorrow; I’m still not sold on our Terps.  Even in the afterglow of the Cal victory, the MTSU loss is still on my mind. My eternal hope is that the Terps and their fans will not be kicking themselves at the end of the season over the Fridge’s stupid loyalty to Jordan Steffy.  With a weakened ACC, we will all be feeling the sting of the MTSU loss come bowl time.

For those planning to attend, enjoy the game tomorrow.  Otherwise, I’ll see you on the Soup.

Best. Hit. Ever.

We all saw it live. It is simulataneously gross and engrossing. It begs the question, “who has mint chocolate chip ice cream for breakfast, anyway?”

Regardless, it is forever immortalized in the You Tube pantheon. The Balto Sun’s Rick Maese even speculates that this hit could prove to be the spark that electrifies UM’s run through the rest of the schedule. Personally? I’d just go for against for a solid win against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

A Much More Enjoyable Week

It’s been a couple days and Terpland is still smiling.

As I said all weekend, it was a much better win this week than it was a horrible loss last week.  By that I mean that everyone saw the Terps beat Cal.  It was on ESPN, it was on the bottom line scoreboard all throughout the day, and it was on Sportscenter and any other national sports show.  People saw the Terps.  They saw Barnes knock the cookies out of Best. 

Nobody saw the loss to Mid Tenn, who by the way was ONE yard from beating Kentucky on Saturday.  If you missed it, they were down six and threw a hail mary that was caught, but the receiver was brought down at the one yard line as time expired.  Tough one.

Meanwhile, back in College Park, the word on Da’Rel Scott is that he suffered a sprain of the AC joint in his shoulder.  He’s expected to participate in non-contact drills this week and is questionable for Saturday.  The good news is he shouldn’t lose any steam because he can still run fine and he should stay in shape.  If I were the Terps, I would sit him out this week against Eastern Michigan and play Meggett and Green.  Perhaps they can dress him and if things get close, he could come in, but a full two weeks off before Clemson would be a good idea, in my opinion.

There was nothing but good feelings from the QB play this week as Chris Turner looked like the Turner from last year and nothing like the one from last week.  It’s a wonder what a little confidence can do for a QB.  Just ask Jason Campbell.

The one concern we should still have obviously is the kicking game.  Egekeze has completely lost it.  We’ve seen in the past what confidence can do to kicker if anyone remembers how bad Nick Novak was as a freshman in his first 4 games.  It wasn’t until he hit that huge 47 yarder to tie the game against Georgia Tech, that he took off and was nearly perfect for the rest of his career.  The opposite seems to be the case for Obi as he looks completely lost out there.  It’s time to try somebody else.  Perhaps they can open up a competition in practice, but a change is necessary.

We suffered some injuries on defense.  DB Richard Taylor is out for multiple weeks or even the season with a knee injury.  Nolan Carroll is also banged up, so that hurts the depth at corner for sure.  I wouldn’t think it makes that big of a difference this week, assuming the team has learned its lesson from MTSU.

This also just in today.  The Clemson game on Sept. 27th will be a noon start in Death Valley and will be broadcast on Raycom.  That’s bad news for out of towners who don’t have the college football package or a slingbox.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in during the weekend about the football game as well as DBR for his updates on the hoop recruiting visits.  Let’s have a good week and lay the wood on EMU.