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2007 Maryland Terrapins
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Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Maryland Terrapins Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Maryland Terrapins

Recap: Maryland appeared to have the talent and athleticism of an ACC sleeper, but that was before injuries and suspensions ravaged the offensive line and quarterback position.  The schizophrenic Terps never fully recovered, beating two top 10 teams for the first time ever, yet failing to finish the season above the .500 mark.  While competitive in most games, Maryland lacked the bite on offense and ability to close out games to ever go on an extended run or elevate beyond ordinary.          

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Keon Lattimore

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Erin Henderson

Biggest Surprise: Not only did Maryland shock No. 10 Rutgers on Sept. 29, but they did it with backup QB Chris Turner taking most of the snaps.  Terrapin backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball both outshined Heisman contender Ray Rice in a 34-24 upset that brought some brief national notoriety to the program.     

Biggest Disappointment: Maybe the season would have taken a slightly different course had the Terrapins not choked to Wake Forest the week before the big win at Rutgers.  Maryland held a commanding 24-3 lead late in the third quarter, but Alphonso Smith’s 100-yard interception return sparked a rally that ended with the Deacons celebrating a stunning overtime victory.

Looking Ahead: The Terrapins have been stuck in neutral for the past four seasons, losing nearly as many games as they’ve won.  If head coach Ralph Friedgen is going to change that trend, he needs more from the quarterbacks, who produced just nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in 2007.  Getting ex-Florida Gator Josh Portis off academic suspension would be a nice starting point.           

- 2007 Maryland Preview
-
2006 Maryland Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
2007 Season: 6-7

Sept. 1 Villanova W 31-14
Sept. 8 at FIU W 26-10
Sept. 13 West Virginia L 31-14
Sept. 22 at W Forest L 31-24 OT
Sept. 29 at Rutgers W 34-24
Oct. 6
Georgia Tech W 28-26
Oct. 20 Virginia L 18-17
Oct. 27 Clemson L 30-17
Nov. 3 at North Carolina L 16-13
Nov. 10 Boston College W 42-35
Nov. 17 at Florida State L 24-16
Nov. 24
at NC State W 37-0
Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28 Oregon State L 21-14

Dec. 28
2007 Emerald Bowl
Oregon State 21 ... Maryland 14

Oregon State outrushed Maryland 275 yards to 19 as the offense
held on to the ball for over 18 minutes in the second half and for 10:25 in the fourth quarter, while the defense came up with stop after stop. The Terp attack only converted two of 11 third down chances and got 11 first downs, but it held a 14-7 lead after the first quarter on a nine-yard Isaiah Williams scoring grab and a 63-yard Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown catch. Yvenson Bernard, James Rodgers and the Beaver running game proved to be too much for the Terps to deal with as Bernard pounded his way inside and out, and Rodgers took end around after end around for big gains. Bernard ran for a two-yard score late in the first half and appeared to be on his way in for a third quarter score, but he fumbled, Rodgers recovered in the end zone, and the Beavers had the lead for good. Rodgers also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Offensive Player of the Game: Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard ran 38 times for 177 yards and a touchdown & WR James Rodgers ran ten times for 115 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 40 yards and a score
Defensive Player of the Game: Oregon State LB Derrick Doggett made eight tackles and a sack
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 8-14, 68 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 38-177, 1 TD. Receiving: James Rodgers, 5-40, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 17-29, 205 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Keon Lattimore, 7-16. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 3-99, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ...
Oregon State beat Maryland despite average quarterback play from both Sean Canfield and Lyle Moeavo. To be fair, the offensive line that did a tremendous job for the running game was blown past in pass protection, but the quarterbacks didn't do anything special. That Maryland could sell out against the run and still couldn't stop Yvenson Bernard and James Rodgers showed how tough things were for the defensive front. ... Where was the Maryland running game? The setup was there with big pass plays early on to open things up, but it didn't happen. The Beaver defensive line was dominant, Derrick Doggett led a linebacking corps that cleaned everything up, and the secondary was tight after the first quarter. Bernard and Rodgers will get the headlines, but the defense more than did its job.

Nov. 24
Maryland 37 ... NC State 0
Maryland thoroughly dominated on both sides of the ball holding NC State to ten rushing yards while the offense got two touchdown runs from Lance Ball in the second quarter, two short scoring dashes from Keon Lattimore, and field goals from 30, 34 and 30 yards out from Obi Egekeze. The NC State offense went nowhere all game long converting one of 13 third down chances, holding on to the ball for a mere 22:05, and getting outgained 466 yards to 250.
Player of the game: Maryland LB Dave Philistin made ten tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception
Stat Leaders: NC State - Passing: Daniel Evans, 18-29, 168 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Andre Brown, 3-9. Receiving: Darrell Blackman, 5-98
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 19-24, 206 yds
Rushing:
Da'Rel Scott, 8-89 Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 6-47

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It might not have been an explosive Maryland attack against NC State, but the defense came through with a gem as it pitched a perfect game to get bowl eligible. The linebacking corps was swarming, while the offense was efficient and effective getting a nice, mistake-free day from QB Chris Turner. After all the problems this year, getting to a bowl, even if it's in Boise or San Francisco, will feel like Christmas.

Nov. 17
Florida State 24 ... Maryland 16
Florida State jumped out to a 21-3 first half lead with Drew Weatherford running for a one-yard score and throwing a ten-yard touchdown pass to DeCody Fagg, but the star of the show was Preston Parker, who ran for an 18-yard score in the first half and finished with 133 yards. Maryland pulled within eight on a 14-yard Darrius Heyward-Bey catch late in the third quarter, but the Noles got a 30-yard Gary Cismesia field goal to get comfortably ahead. The two teams combined to convert just five of 27 third down chances.
Player of the game: Florida State RB Preston Parker ran 20 times for 133 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for 21 yards
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 16-26, 204 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Preston Parker, 20-133, 1 TD. Receiving: DeCody Fagg, 4-68, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 16-32, 242 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Keon Lattimore, 13-46. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 5-82, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Where's the Maryland running game that worked so well at times against Boston College last week? Florida State was able to close down the Terp ground game and force Chris Turner to start bombing away. While Turner was effective for stretches, he wasn't consistent enough to pull off the road upset. With four losses in five weeks, a win over NC State is needed to just be bowl eligible, but at this point, this is still a mega-disappointment of a year no matter what happens. To beat the Wolfpack, the offense has to start getting more touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Things can't keep bogging down.

Nov. 10
Maryland 42 ... Boston College 35
Maryland put up 472 yards to Boston College's 466, getting a 37-yard Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown run off a reverse along with three Chris Turner touchdown passes, including two to Jason Goode, on the way to a 42-21 lead. BC and Matt Ryan tried to bomb their way back late, with Ryan connecting with Ryan Purvis for touchdowns from five and 13 yards out, but the Terps recovered the onside kick after the final score and held on. The two teams combined to convert 20 of 32 third down chances.

Player of the game: Maryland QB Chris Turner completed 21 of 27 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Boston College - Passing: Matt Ryan, 33-56, 421 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Andre Callender, 12-56. Receiving: Ryan Purvis, 10-102, 2 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 21-27, 337 yds, 3 TD
Rushing:
Lance Ball, 32-109, 1 TD. Receiving: Jason Goode, 6-56, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Maryland's offense rolled as well as it had all season long, but the defense did a poor job of closing out Boston College after Matt Ryan got hot. Even so, this was a nice bounce-back win after an ugly three-game losing streak, and now the bowl hopes are back on with games at Florida State and NC State to close out. The offense has to remain balanced, while the team has to keep battling its way through injury problems. The talent is there to go on a run, but Chris Turner will have to stay hot.

Nov. 3
North Carolina 16 ... Maryland 13
Connor Barth hit two 45-yard field goals in the second quarter, along with a 23-yarder, and Hakeem Nicks caught a 30-yard touchdown pass as North Carolina shocked Maryland. The Terps struggled offensively all game long, but rallied from a 16-3 deficit to get a five-yard Keon Lattimore touchdown run and a 29-yard Obi Egekeze field goal, but couldn't get any closer as a final drive stalled allowing the Tar Heels to run out the clock. The two teams combined for 20 penalties and five turnovers.
Player of the game: North Carolina DB Tramaine Goddard made ten tackles and picked off a pass.
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 20-36, 209 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Lance Ball, 15-69. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 5-64
North Carolina - Passing: T.J. Yates, 16-26, 149 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Johnny White, 18-92. Receiving: Hakeem Nicks, 8-88, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... All of a sudden, the season that looked so promising just a few weeks ago after beating Rutgers and Georgia Tech has gone into the tank with three straight losses. Everyone is loading up to stop the good Terp running backs, and Chris Turner isn't able to come through. The receiving corps needs to provide more of a spark. The defense has been fine, but it's not changing the game with any big plays. Now a bowl bid is in big trouble with Boston College and road trips to Florida State and NC State ahead.

Oct. 27
Clemson 30 ... Maryland 17
Maryland scored first on a 35-yard Obi Egekeze field goal, but then started screwing up with penalties and a fumble to lead to a 23-point Clemson run to put the game away. Mark Buchholz connected on field goals from 35, 34 and 20 yards, while James Davis, who combined with C.J. Spiller for 235 yards, ran for a one-yard score, and Cullen Harper threw two touchdowns passes. The Terps didn't get into the end zone until the fourth quarter on a two-yard Lance Ball run and a one-yard score from Keon Lattimore. Clemson outgained Maryland 428 yards to 314 and held on too the ball for 36:29.
Player of the game: Clemson RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for 235 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries
Stat Leaders: Clemson - Passing: Cullen Harper, 20-26, 179 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: James Davis, 29-129, 1 TD. Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 5-54, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 19-31, 217 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Lance Ball, 10-53, 1 TD. Receiving: Isaiah Williams, 5-47

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The season needs to turn back around in a big hurry after losing late to Virginia and getting blasted early against Clemson, and now the road trip to North Carolina becomes vital or a promising start could go to waste with Boston College and a date at Florida State to follow. Chris Turner was fine throwing the ball, but the running game failed to get on track until it was way too late. There's enough talent to beat anyone in the ACC, and now the team has to play like it.

Oct. 20
Virginia 18 ... Maryland 17
Mikell Simpson ran for a one-yard score with 16 seconds to play to cap off a 90-yard, 15-play drive to pull off the win. Simpson also cranked out a 44-yard touchdown run to keep the Cavaliers in the game, and then they got in range late in the third with a Chris Long sack for a safety. Maryland got its touchdowns in the first half on short runs from Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball, but only managed a field goal in the second half. The Terps finished with just 233 yards of total offense to Virginia's 439.
Player of the game: Virginia RB Mikell Simpson ran 16 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and caught 13 passes for 152 yards
Stat Leaders: Virginia - Passing: Jameel Sewell, 22-35, 243 yds
Rushing: Mikell Simpson, 16-119, 2 TD. Receiving: Mikell Simpson, 13-152
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 13-19, 103 yds
Rushing:
Lance Ball, 17-72, 1 TD. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4-52

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Maryland's offense never got going against Virginia, with not nearly enough of a downfield passing game and no consistency to the ground attack, and in the second half, it proved costly. The defense could only hold on for so long, and Erin Henderson certainly did his part with 18 tackles, but with little support from the O, Virginia had the ball for ten minutes in the fourth quarter. With Clemson up next, more offensive pop is needed. 233 yards isn't going to get it done.

Oct. 6
Maryland 28 ... Georgia Tech 26
Georgia Tech's Travis Bell missed a 52-yard field goal in the final minute as Maryland held on to pull off the win. The Terps got three touchdown runs from Lance Ball, including a one-yarder late in the third, for a 28-17 lead, but Georgia Tech fought back with a 37-yard field goal and a 39-yard touchdown catch from Demaryius Thomas, but the two-point conversion was stuffed. Tech was down 21-3 before getting things going with a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Darrell Robertson, and started off the scoring in the second half with a one-yard Tashard Choice scoring run, but the Terps answered with an 11-play drive, finishing up with Ball's third score for all the points they'd need. Tech outgained Maryland 484 yards to 343.
Player of the game: Maryland RB Lance Ball ran for 86 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 22-34, 309 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 32-135, 1 TD. Receiving: Demaryius Thomas, 9-139, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 10-17, 255 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Lance Ball, 16-86, 3 TDs. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4-109
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Maryland couldn't run on Georgia Tech. Didn't do a whole bunch defensively. Only forced one turnover. Couldn't pass protect. So how did the Terps pull off the big win? They got a decent day from QB Chris Turner, and got a few monster kicks from Travis Baltz, who averaged 49.6 yards per kick, highlighted by a 65-yarder, helped with the field position. Maryland isn't going to be an offensive juggernaut, but it'll find ways to win. Beating Rutgers was nice, but this was bigger; now it's in the ACC title chase again.

Sept. 29
Maryland 34 ... Rutgers 24
Maryland cranked out 239 rushing yards with Lance Ball running for scores from 19 and 14 yards out and Keon Lattimore tearing off a two-yard scoring run to stun the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers took a 17-14 lead going into halftime on a seven-yard Tiquan Underwood touchdown pass with six seconds to play, but Maryland owned the second half with two Obi Egekeze field goals and two of the rushing touchdowns. Rutgers pulled within three on a one-yard Ray Rice run, but on its next drive, lost a fumble on its own 20-yard line on a sack, and the Terps put it away on the ensuing play on the 14-yard Ball run.
Player of the game: Maryland RB Keon Lattimore rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 14-20, 149 yds
Rushing: Keon Lattimore, 34-124, 1 TD. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 5-61, 1 TD
Rutgers - Passing: Mike Teel, 25-44, 310 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Ray Rice, 21-97, 1 TD. Receiving: Tiquan Underwood, 8-101, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Give the entire program credit for bouncing back from the devastating collapse to Wake Forest last week and playing its best game of the year to beat Rutgers. The rushing tandem of Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball were fantastic, and in relief of Jordan Steffy, who suffered a concussion, Chris Turner was efficient, helping the Terps control the clock for 36:57. The defense struggled against the passing attack, but did a great job of bottling up Ray Rice, for the most part, and not letting him get into any sort of a rhythm. Now the win has to carry over to ACC play, desperately needing to take advantage of a three-game home stretch against Georgia Tech, Virginia and Clemson.

Sept. 22
Wake Forest 31 ... Maryland 24 OT
Josh Adams gave Wake Forest its first lead of the game on a six-yard touchdown run in overtime, and Maryland couldn't respond, with its drive stopped by sacks. The Terps appeared to be coasting, getting up 24-3 on three touchdown runs from three different players, and a 38-yard field goal from Obi Egekeze. The blowout appeared to be complete on a late third quarter drive, but Wake's Alphonso Smith picked off a Jordan Steffy pass for a 100-yard touchdown the other way to spark a run of 27 unanswered points. Riley Skinner ran for a one-yard touchdown, and connected with John Tereshinski for a six-yard score with three seconds to play to force overtime.
Player of the game: Wake Forest RB Josh Adams rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and caught four passes for 22 yards.
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Jordan Steffy, 11-20, 115 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Keon Lattimore, 27-112, 1 TD. Receiving: Danny Oquendo, 3-18
Wake Forest - Passing: Riley Skinner, 22-35, 219 yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs
Rushing:
Josh Adams, 20-91, 1 TD. Receiving: John Tereshinski, 5-55, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After collapsing against Wake Forest, the Terps have to quickly find something to build on or the suddenly bad turn to the season could become disastrous with Rutgers and Georgia Tech up next. The running game was going so well in the first three quarters, and then it hit a brick wall. Jordan Steffy, outside of a bad pick six, had a decent day, but he didn't do enough to make things happen down the field. The defensive problems at the end will gloss over a fantastic day from LB Erin Henderson, who came up with 12 tackles.

Sept. 13
West Virginia 31 ... Maryland 14
West Virginia rolled for 353 rushing yards and broke open a 7-7 game with a 24-point run on three Steve Slaton touchdown runs and a 32-yard Pat McAfee field goal. The Mountaineers started off the scoring with a 22-yard Pat White touchdown, but Maryland answered with a long drive culminating in a four-yard Keon Lattimore scoring run. The Terps added a 22-yard Danny Oquendo touchdown catch late in the fourth.
Player of the game ... West Virginia RB/WR Noel Devine ran five times for 136 yards and returned two kickoffs for 52 yards
Stat Leaders: Maryland - Passing: Jordan Steffy, 16-23, 180 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Keon Lattimore, 21-80, 1 TD  Receiving: Keon Lattimore, 4-17
West Virginia - Passing: Patrick White, 8-13, 95 yds
Rushing:
Steve Slaton, 26-137, 3 TD  Receiving: Darius Reynaud, 4-55

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... QB Jordan Steffy wasn't bad against West Virginia, Keon Lattimore ran well, and the defense did a nice job for a half, but the defense wasn't disciplined enough to stay in the lanes, and the passing game failed to get anything going deep. Steffy needed to be a difference maker, and he wasn't. He took way too many sacks, was picked off twice, and didn't do anything to answer once the Mountaineer offense started rolling. With Wake Forest up next, the Terps need to have a short memory, but it has to use this game to figure out how to be stronger against the run. The Demon Deacons have to move the ball on the ground to win.

Sept. 8
Maryland 26 ... Florida International 10
Keon Lattimore ran for two first quarter touchdowns and Lance Ball ran for a one-yard score in the fourth quarter as Maryland struggled to get by FIU. The Golden Panthers fought back with a 49-yard Moses Hinton touchdown catch and a 42-yard Chris Abed field goal, but only managed 114 yards outside of the touchdown play. Erin Henderson made 12 tackles for the Terps.
Player of the game ... Maryland RB Keon Lattimore ran 17 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Florida International - Passing: Wayne Younger, 8-22, 81 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Wayne Younger, 8-42  Receiving: Matthew Sherry, 5-68, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Jordan Steffy, 18-25, 135 yds
Rushing:
Keon Lattimore, 17-111, 2 TD Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4-48
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Uh oh. Maryland's offense, especially the line, struggled way too much with Florida International in a win that was far, far closer than it should've been. Jordan Steffy and the passing game was efficient at times, but there weren't any home runs with pass protection that broke down way too often. A nasty four-game stretch against West Virginia, at Wake Forest, at Rutgers and Georgia Tech is ahead, and to survive, the offense has to be far sharper. The defense was great outside of one big play, and it's going to have to be even better.

Sept. 1
Maryland 31 ... Villanova 14
Maryland had no problems with Villanova as  Keon Lattimore score three times on runs from 12, 14 and 18 yards out, and Jordan Steffy added a ten-yard touchdown dash. The Wildcats were held to just 187 yards, and 11 on the ground, and only managed a 26-yard Matthew Sherry touchdown catch before scoring in the final minute on a 42-yard Salim Koroma interception return for a score. Obi Egekeze started off the scoring with a 42-yard field goal for the Terps.
Player of the game ... Maryland RB Keon Lattimore ran 21 times for 106 yards and three touchdowns, and caught six passes for 33 yards.
Stat Leaders: Villanova - Passing: Antwon Young, 17-28, 176 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Matt Dicken, 8-19  Receiving: Matthew Sherry, 5-68, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Jordan Steffy, 19-24, 174 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Keon Lattimore, 21-106, 3 TDs  Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 6-81
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Everything worked for the Terps against Villanova, with Jordan Steffy coming up with an efficient day throwing the ball, even if he failed to push the ball deep, and Keon Lattimore cranking out a good day for the running game. The defense was never really challenged, and it won't be next week against the anemic FIU attack. To get ready for West Virginia, the Terp offense has to keep working on controlling the ball and the clock, which it did a great job of against Villanova.

Sept. 1 - Villanova

Sept. 8 – at FIU
Offense New offensive coordinator James Coley has a lot of work to do with an offense that finished dead last in America in scoring averaging fewer than ten points per game and 116th in the nation in yards averaging 233 per outing. Eight starters return, including the entire offensive line, and there's good potential in the backfield with the 1-2 rushing punch of Julian Reams and A'mod Ned, but the passing game needs work with Paul McCall likely to take over at quarterback and no experience at receiver to rely on. 
Defense: The defense did what it could with no help from the offense, and now seven starters return with a shot to be among the league's best. The secondary gets all four starters back, led by Lionell Singleton at corner. The line is big and good with a pair of strong 300-pounders (Roland Clarke and Jonas Murrell) inside. Now for the problem: the great linebacking corps loses all three starters. The top four tacklers are gone, along with the top pass rushers. Keyonvis Bouie, Alexander Bostic, and Antwan Barnes were stars who won't be easily replaced.


Sept. 13 - West Virginia
Offense: Unlike most schools that run the spread offense, West Virginia aims to open lanes for its prolific ground game, rarely putting the ball in the air more than 20 times a game.  The Mountaineers want the ball in the hands of its two junior Heisman candidates, quarterback Patrick White and running back Steve Slaton.  Along with receiver Darius Reynaud, they form the fastest offensive trio in America, and are threats for six with even a hint of daylight.  White is an underrated passer that rarely misses his target, but needs more help from a receiving corps that’s suspect after Reynaud.  Few schools rebuild on the offensive line better than West Virginia, but how will the unit react without its long-time quarterback Dan Mozes and long-time coach Rick Trickett?
Defense: Lost in all the yards the Mountaineer offense gained in 2006 was all the yards the defense allowed.  West Virginia allowed 35 or more points three times last fall and was torched through the air repeatedly over the second half of the year.  Worse, this once relentless defense had trouble getting to the quarterback and looked a step slow.  Rich Rodriguez is banking on a few tweaks to the back eight and an influx of faster players as the solutions in the team’s 3-3-5 stack formation.  Led by playmaking senior safety Eric Wicks, the secondary has a glut of really talented athletes that need to gel into a cohesive unit.

Sept. 22 – at Wake Forest
Offense: Wake Forest will never come out and outbomb anyone, but it'll run effectively behind a veteran offensive line, get the timely passes when needed, and won't screw up. The attack only averaged 21.6 points per game and was 96th in the nation in offense, but there were only 15 giveaways. QB Riley Skinner is back after helping the offense lead the ACC in passing efficiency, but everything will revolve around the ground game with several good runners and four starters returning up front. The receiving corps will be an issue needing to move 2006's leading rusher, Kenneth Moore, back to his natural receiver position.
Defense: The D could be even better than last year when it was solid at bending but rarely breaking finishing 12th in the nation in scoring defense. There's not a Jon Abbate to rely on, and a few key defensive backs need to be replaced, but there's plenty of experience everywhere and lots of speed and athleticism in the secondary. There needs to be more pass rush from the defensive front and there could stand to be fewer big plays allowed against the pass, but the overall production should be solid.


Sept. 29 – at Rutgers
Offense: Although Rutgers is more than content to pound the ball between the tackles 30 times a game with All-America running back Ray Rice, it wouldn’t mind a little more offensive balance this year.  Whether that happens depends on the development of junior quarterback Mike Teel who struggled badly last year, but did play his best ball at the end of the year and has a speedy group of receivers needed to author a rebound.  While question marks exist on the interior of the offensive line, the tackle tandem of seniors Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah is one of the best in the country.
Defense: For Greg Schiano and his Rutgers defense, it’s all about creating pressure and turnovers with a variety of different looks to confuse opposing offenses.  Everything came together last year for a unit that had 31 takeaways and allowed just 252 yards and 14 points a game, but five starters need to be replaced.  Senior defensive tackle Eric Foster is a ticking time bomb that exploded on quarterbacks in 2006, en route to All-America recognition.  He’s the physical and spiritual leader of a front seven that’s noticeably less experienced than last year.  Provided sophomore Devin McCourty can handle the corner spot opposite twin brother Jason, the secondary will rock with the return of all-league safeties, Courtney Greene and Ron Girault.

Oct. 6 - Georgia Tech
Offense: Is it possible an offense can lose the offensive coordinator, a sure-fire NFL superstar and a four-year starting quarterback and be better? Absolutely. Calvin Johnson's departure will sting, but the passing game should be even better with Taylor Bennett (or any one of a slew of terrific prospects) taking over for Reggie Ball. Patrick Nix left to take over the Miami offense, but John Bond is a veteran who did a good job with the Northern Illinois program for the last three years. James Johnson will be a decent number one target, and now someone else has to quickly emerge to take the heat off and give Bennett more options. Tashard Choice is an All-ACC caliber back leading a deep and talented group of runners working behind a fantastic line loaded with experience and
depth.
Defense: The defense had two lousy games against Clemson and West Virginia and was solid against everyone else. With just about everyone returning, expect another great year holding almost everyone to under 300 yards and around 20 points. The defensive line will be one of the team's strengths with one of the best groups of ends in America. MLB Philip Wheeler deserves All-America attention while the safety tandem of Jamal Lewis and Djay Jones will be one of the ACC's best. The corners are a bit suspect and the proven linebacker depth is a bit thin, but those aren't glaring problems.

Oct. 20 - Virginia
Offense: Until the receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense, but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.

Oct. 27 - Clemson
Offense: Clemson had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce. Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

Nov. 3 – at North Carolina
Offense: The offense only cranked out 293 yards and 18 points per game with fits of wild inconsistency. Expect a bit more of the same with a young team still trying to figure out who the starters are going to be, but the overall production should be better. Step one is to determine who the quarterback will be to handle the passing game that'll run three and four wide sets. T.J. Yates was the star of spring ball, but he'll have to hold off star freshman Mike Paulus. There are plenty of good, inexperienced running backs to work with, and Hakeem Nicks is a potential star number one receiver. However, there aren't any certainties in the depth chart quite yet. The line will be serviceable, but nothing special.
Defense:
It might take a year to turn things around after a disastrous 2006, but the young talent is there to get really, really excited. The defensive line has a slew of great prospects to work with, while the back seven has athleticism and quickness by design with a smallish linebacking corps. The return of Trimaine Goddard at safety will be a big help for the secondary, while the hopeful emergence of more pass rushing help for end Hilee Taylor should help the coaching staff implement it's attacking, aggressive style.


Nov. 10 - Boston College
Offense: It's Matt Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system. The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in 2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety. The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is a question mark.

Nov. 17 – at Florida State
Offense: After a dreadful two seasons, the offense is under new leadership with new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coming in to breathe life into the nation's 70th ranked attack. Step one is to find some semblance of a running game, and that starts with talented junior Antone Smith getting more carries. The offensive line, problem one over the last few years, gets a big upgrade with the addition of line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia. He's immediately pushed everyone to get into better shape and to get a lot tougher. The passing game won't be forgotten about, with Fisher wanting to bomb away down the field to Greg Carr and DeCody Fagg. Now a steady quarterback has to emerge between Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee.
Defense: The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year. There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.

Nov. 24 – at NC State
Offense: This won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a 50/50 balance.
Defense: This will be a solid defense, but it won't be spectacular. It could be fantastic in 2008 when all the promising young prospects are ready to shine, but for now, this will be a good, sound D that should be far more consistent than last year. Demario Pressley and Martrel Brown lead a strong line that should be the strength, while three senior linebackers will keep the mistakes to a minimum. The secondary has to come up with more big plays after helping the Pack pick off just seven passes.

 

 
  

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