Bye weeks have a strange rhythm of their own:  usually each school has to fit 12 games over 14 weeks (Navy has a few more bye weeks because their game with Army is the Saturday after the conference championship games).  Sometimes an early week off is created when a non-conference foe drops out (like Syracuse in week 2– although part of me thinks they needed 2 weeks to prepare for Central Michigan)…and often a week off is necessitated when a school plays on Thursday night.  (NFL, THAT is your Thursday Night Solution:  set it up so teams that play are coming off byes–you’ll thank me later).  As fate would have it the bye hits Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech at the same time this year–and each school is 4-2 midway through the 2014 campaign.    With a little luck each could wrap up bowl eligibility by the end of the month…and we haven’t seen all three play in the postseason since 2007.  Seven years bad luck, eh?

 

Alma Mater Update–when you burn your bye week to prepare for Central Michigan after needing double overtime to defeat a I-AA school, there’s concern.  When you allow a pair of 80+ yard touchdowns at home, there’s concern.  They’re minus Terrel Hunt for a month and have switched out playcallers midway through the year.  The remaining schedule for the Orange?  Top-ranked Florida State leads off a slate of schools with a combined 24-14 record.  The annual dream of a pinstripe bowl isn’t as promising…

 

Maryland (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) has looked good (road wins over Syracuse and Indiana), bad (losses at home to West Virginia and Ohio State) and ugly (somehow they won despite 6 turnovers at South Florida) this fall…with their six remaining opponents posting a combined 22-10 record.  Four (Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State and Rutgers) have lost just one game–while once-mighty Michigan (2-4) is the only remaining foe with a losing mark.  Causes for Confidence:  the Accounts Receiving Firm of Diggs & Long (combined 63 catches for 957 yards and 4 TD’s) stretches the field…Will Likely is absolutely electric and can’t be ignored on defense or special teams, causing opponents to gameplan around him…Brad Craddock is 11-11 on field goal attempts, including a school-record 57-yarder (the Aussie pulling his best Paul Hogan “NOW THAT’S A KICK”).  Causes for Concern:  the offense has had issues from time to time on 3rd down (40% for the season and 9-28 in their two losses)…13 giveaways places the Terps 105th in Division I-A…the defense allows 212 yards rushing per game, never a good thing in a league that likes to stay on the ground like the Big Ten. 

 

Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-1 ACC) also faces just one school with a losing record from here on out–although there are a pair of 3-3’s (Pitt & Miami) that aren’t that much better than Wake Forest.  Remaining opponents record: 19-15.  The Hokies have showed a high ceiling (an upset win at #8 Ohio State) and their cellar might not be as low as originally perceived;  their losses have come against East Carolina and Georgia Tech, two schools that are both ranked right now.  Causes for Confidence:  the defense holds opponents to 24% on third down and just 3.4 yards per carry…Chase Williams is an absolute beast on D (57 tackles and 3.5 sacks)… runningback Trey Edmunds is healthy again (the sophomore’s averaging 5.1 yards a carry).  Causes for Concern:  lack of downfield presence in the passing game leaves too much traffic in the box–as the running game has yet to find itself… Michael Brewer’s thrown 11 interceptions… Joey Slye’s missed 5 of 14 field goal attempts… 57 penalties are the 8th most in D-I…and WR Willie Byrn is only averaging 8 yards per catch.  His name is Willie Byrn!  How do you not send him deep on every play?

 

Virginia (4-2, 2-0 ACC) controls its own ACC Coastal Division Destiny, but the Cavaliers also face the toughest remaining schedule of the three:  23-9 combined mark that includes unbeatens Georgia Tech and Florida State plus defending division champ Duke.  Causes for Confidence:  their two losses came against ranked opponents that were unbeaten until last weekend… the defense allows 2.7 yards per carry thanks to a pass rush led by Henry Coley (6 sacks), while Quin Blanding (61 tackles) and Anthony Harris make standout plays in the secondary…and RB Kevin Parks is heating up after a slow start (gaining over 5 yards a carry each of his last two games).  Causes for Concern:  lack of gamebreakers on offense (10.4 yards per completion) contributes to a sputtering offense (44% on 3rd down)… the team turns the ball over too much (9 interceptions, 5 fumbles)…and then there’s the Quarterback Carousel:  the reason why Matt Johns has been taking all of the snaps lately at QB?  Greyson Lambert’s injury.  Who’s to say Coach Mike London doesn’t return to his QB carousel when Lambert’s healthy again?

 

Navy entertains VMI– I refuse to use the terms “right the ship” and “stop from sinking”…but after three straight losses this team is looking to salvage what began as a promising 2014 campaign.  The 1-5 Keydets used to have Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as one of its instructors… VMI’s defense not exactly a stone wall as they’ve coughed up 42, 48, 63 and 55 points this fall.  Keenan Reynolds is already warming up…  Midshipmen turn the fleet around in the right direction, 27-10.

 

Howard slips at Bethune-Cookman, Georgetown loses at Lafayette, Towson tops James Madison, William & Mary falls at New Hampshire,  Richmond loses to Albany, Old Dominion falls to UTEP.

 

Last Week:  7-3.  If I were coaching at a football factory, I’d be fired by now.

Overall: 45-15.

Advertisements