PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM…

First, let me make this clear- I am not saying the word malaise.  More like “crisis of confidence”.  Three area schools went into the weekend feeling pretty good about their first seasons under new head coaches.  Even with a loss at Penn State, Maryland was feeling good about its bowl hopes.  Virginia Tech had every reason to believe there was a clear path to the Coastal Division title in the ACC.  Virginia looked like it had found itself after early-season struggles and even had coach Bronco Mendenhall giving horseback rides at his ranch during the bye week.  Each team had reasonable expectations for victory Saturday.  Unfortunately the Ides of October were not kind to the Terrapins, Cavaliers and Hokies as each school has to reset themselves with plenty more on the line this upcoming week.

Alma Mater Update- somehow the Orange found an even worse uniform combination to wear while posting its most impressive win of the season.  Makes you wonder what went wrong the previous week at Wake Forest…perhaps they were anticipating wearing the gray sweatpants-lookalikes against the Hokies.  Five games remain in the drive to dream about the Pinstripe Bowl:  and with the exception of this Saturday’s game with hapless Boston College it’s a murderers row.  Clemson, Florida State, NC State and Pitt are a combined 21-6.  So I’m going to dream of reaching .500…and hopefully watching my school come up with the right answers against the Eagles before bracing myself.

Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) never got in gear while losing 31-10 to Minnesota.  Both teams were without their starting quarterbacks and stretches of the game looked like the old Magnetic Football game popular decades ago:  a lot of running with occasional awkward passing interspersed.

Terrapin Triumphs: Levern Jacobs provided a great safety blanket for true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome, catching 10 passes for 82 yards. Pigrome didn’t play poorly, throwing a touchdown pass while rushing for 93 yards (before accounting for 3 sacks taken).  Azubuike Ukandu’s nine tackles paced a defense that held Minnesota to 4-14 on third down.

Terrapin Troubles:  in a game where there was little margin for error, there were plenty of errors in the margin.  Nine penalties (two costly holds erasing runs of 20+ yards) and four turnovers (setting up Minnesota’s first TD and resulting in their final score).  The defense allowed 229 yards rushing to a one-dimensional team.  And coach DJ Durkin said that the team lacked energy.  Never ideal in the ultra-competitive Big Ten East.

Next: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. vs Michigan State (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten).

 

Virginia (2-4, 1-1 ACC) came out of the locker room on Homecoming with plenty of gusto-putting 21 points on the board in the first quarter.  Unfortunately they couldn’t contain Pitt and fell to the Panthers 45-31.  Two weeks after snapping the school’s 18-game road losing streak, the Cavaliers take a step back defensively.

Cavalier Congrats:  Taquan Mizzell ran for 95 yards and a touchdown while notching 3 catches.  Safety Quin Blanding led the UVa defense with 16 tackles.  Nicholas Conte averaged over 45 yards per punt.  Bye week carryover- nobody got hurt when coach Mendenhall gave them horseback rides the week before.  That would not have looked well.

Cavalier Concerns:  beware the big play-three of Pitt’s touchdowns came on a 38-yard pass, a 93-yard kickoff return and a 59-yard interception return.  UVa hurt itself with 10 penalties for 81 yards…and didn’t help itself with no takeaways on the afternoon.  Tackling comment- your free safety should never have 16 stops in a game.  It either means the opponent is completing way too many passes or your run defense is a sieve.

Next:  Saturday at 3 p.m. vs North Carolina (5-2, 3-1 ACC).

 

Virginia Tech (4-2, 2-1 ACC) seemed like a near-sure thing, visiting a Syracuse team that had coughed up 50 and 62 points earlier this fall.  Instead, they return to Blacksburg with the sting of a 31-17 defeat and the realization that the Coastal Division is now a three-horse race with North Carolina and Pitt.

Hokie Highlights:  Jerod Evans threw for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns…while also running for 61 yards.  Top target Isaiah Ford caught 8 passes for 83 yards.  Tremaine Edwards tallied 16 tackles to pace the defense.

Hokie Humblings:  The Orange converted 5 of 6 third downs in the fourth quarter…sealing the victory.  The #1 defense against the pass in the conference coughed up 405 yards…while also allowing Eric Dungey to run for 106 yards.  The kicking game missed an extra point and a 45 yard field goal.  So much for stellar special teams.

Next: Thursday at 7 p.m. vs Miami (4-2, 1-2 ACC).

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