Archives for posts with tag: South Carolina

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Identity is a big thing in college football.  South Carolina is an interesting school because the Gamecocks alternately refer to themselves as both “USC” and “Carolina”; when one thinks of USC I’m thinking the Trojans first, and Fleetwood Mac singing “Tusk” with the Southern Cal marching band second.  Carolina (with apologies to the NFL’s Panthers) will always make me think of Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and Michigan being out of time-outs.  Now South Carolina has made major strides this decade, reaching the Final Four in men’s basketball while winning a National Championship in women’s basketball in 2017.  And let’s not forget back to back College World Series titles in 2010 and 2011.  But in the south, football is king and for most of their history the Gamecocks have been an afterthought in the weaker of the two divisions of the nation’s best conference.  While Florida tapped up-and-coming Urban Meyer, SC rolled the dice and lost on Sparky Woods.  While Alabama turned failed NFL experiments Gene Stallings and Nick Saban into title-winning coaches, SC caught Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier during the “retirement nest egg building” phases of their careers.  Former Florida flameout Will Muschamp became the latest retread to take over in Columbia in 2016.  After three years of going 1-11 against ranked foes, Muschamp was handed one nightmare of a slate this year with games against Alabama and Clemson–not to mention traditional East Division powers Georgia and Florida.  Early losses to North Carolina (or Carolina if you prefer) and Missouri (somehow in the SEC East despite being west of the Mississippi River) plus a blowout by Alabama helped set the bar to its customary low spot in the Palmetto State.  But somewhere on the way to battling for bowl eligibility the Gamecocks went into Athens and shocked No. 3 Georgia 20-17 in double-overtime.  Not only did they beat their closest divisional neighbor, but they also kept what are shaky at best SEC hopes alive for at least one more week.  No. 7 Florida comes to Columbia next weekend.  Enjoy your moment in the sun while you can, USC/Carolina.

 

Alma Mater Update- the Orange are 3-3 midway through the season and their remaining six foes are a combined 23-13. The much-maligned defense only allowed 16 points last Thursday, but the offense had issues once again. That’s what happens when you give up eight sacks.

 

Virginia (4-2, 2-1 ACC) fell for the first time in conference play, losing to Miami 17-9 Friday night.  Instead of continuing its pursuit of a first-ever Coastal Division title (the previous six years saw the other six schools take turns advancing to the ACC Championship Game), the Cavaliers find themselves halfway through the season trying to figure out of their glass is half-full or half-empty.

Cavalier Congrats: Hasise Dubois caught 7 passes for 93 yards. Joey Blount led the defense with 8 tackles and added a sack.  Billy Kemp had a 19 yard punt return and Joey Blount ran a kickoff back 72 yards.  Brian Delaney made three of his four field goal attempts.

Cavalier Concerns: the offense had issues all evening, converting just 2-10 third downs. Pass protection was a problem, with five sacks allowed.  Six of their ten possessions stalled inside the Hurricanes’ 30-yards line.  A missed field goal, lost fumble and a failed fourth down each took points off the board on the night they could least afford to.  The defense allowed the Hurricanes to roll up 147 yards and 10 points the final two times they had the ball.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 against Duke.

 

Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) had reason to be optimistic when they visited Purdue.  The 1-4 Boilermakers had lost their starting quarterback and top receiver to injury two weeks ago.  Their defense also ranked near the bottom of multiple categories in the Big Ten.  But you wouldn’t know any of that if you watched the game, a 40-14 humbling that has the faithful looking at the schedule and trying to see three more wins.

Terrapin Triumphs:  Tyrrell Pigrome threw for 218 yards while running for 107 yards in his first start of the season.  Dontay Demus was the top target, grabbing 10 catches for 105 yards.  Ayinde paced the defense with 11 tackles.

Terrapin Troubles:  Nine penalties, including one that wiped out a first quarter touchdown and another that pushed them out of field goal range late in the first half.  Pigrome threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown late in the second quarter.  The defense had issues getting off of the field, allowing Purdue to move the chains on 11 of 18 third downs that included back-breaking conversions from 11, 13 and 23 yards.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 against Indiana.

 

Virginia Tech (4-2) is never going to make things easy for us this year, will they?  Despite owning a two-touchdown halftime lead the Hokies found themselves up 17-14 midway through the third quarter against Rhode Island.  The Hokies turned the jets on and routed the Rams 34-17.  Just another turn on what is becoming a rocky ride through the 2019 schedule.

Hokie Highlights: Hendon Hookier threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns while running for 43 more yards.  Deshawn McClease rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown.  No turnovers for a second straight week.  Rayshard Ashby tallied 8 sacks as the defense held URI to 24 yards rushing and notched three sacks.

Hokie Humblings:  the D took a while to spring back to life in the second half, allowing the Rams to gain 135 of their 310 total yards on their first two third quarter possessions.  For those who watched the Furman and Old Dominion games, it felt like a re-run.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 against North Carolina.

 

Navy (4-1, 2-1 AAC) went to Tulsa and came home with its first road win in over two years.  The 45-17 rout of the Golden Hurricane helped move the Mids back into the conference race as previously unbeaten Memphis was stunned by Temple.

Midshipman Medals:  Malcolm Perry rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns while the nation’s top ground game pounded out 388.  Michael McMorris posted eight tackles to lead a defense that notched four sacks and held Tulsa to under 50% completions.

Midshipman Miscues:  so much for airing it out more this fall-the Mids threw just five passes and one was a halfback option pass.  They also converted just 5 of 12 third downs and were outgained by the Golden Hurricane in the second half.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 against South Florida.

 

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The Maryland Women’s Basketball program has been a model of consistency over the last decade.  Since winning the 2006 National Championship, coach Brenda Frese’s Terps have advanced to a pair of Final Fours and have made the NCAA Tournament in ten of eleven seasons all while getting accustomed to as well as dominating a new conference (a 58-3 mark and three Big Ten Tournament championships don’t lie).  However, the theory of “Maryland doesn’t rebuild, it reloads” will be tested this winter.  The Terps graduated a pair of All-Americans in Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones while also losing National Freshman of the Year Destiny Slocum to transfer.  The projected depth will take a hit as well, as three reserves also left the program.  The lack of experience and roster size (nine until transfer Eleanna Christinaki becomes eligible December 20th) reminds one of the 2009-10 season that ended in the WNIT.

Returning are a pair of starters who were complimentary pieces last winter:  senior Kristin Confroy and sophomore Kaila Charles.  Charles came in as a freshman and started as the “fourth guard”, finishing second on the team in rebounding.  “Kaila is one of our dominant leaders,” coach Brenda Frese said, “she wants the ball and wants the pressure.  You see how explosive she is-she’s a matchup nightmare from that wing-forward position.”  Charles was voted to the Preseason All-Big Ten team.  Confroy brings 60 career starts back to a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience, and hopes to provide wisdom to a young squad.  “I’ve been to a Final Four. I’ve seen what doesn’t work in our early departures from the last couple tournaments,” Confroy said, “(I hope to) share that with them and hopefully make that so we don’t have to learn those lessons the hard way.”  On the court, Confroy also will provide production from the perimeter:  the guard ranked tenth in the Big Ten in three-point shooting last winter.

Getting Charles and Confroy the ball with be a pair of point guards:  to start the season the offense will be in the hands of sophomore Sarah Myers and freshman Channise Lewis.  The six-foot-one Myers brings added rebounding for a team that’s playing a four-guard lineup, while Lewis is expected to add the spark similar to previous freshmen who have played the point for coach Brenda Frese:  Kristi Toliver, Chloe Pavlech, Lexie Brown and Destiny Slocum each came into College Park and excelled running the offense their first winter on campus.

 

Up front the Terps plan to rely on junior Brianna Fraser and sophomore Stephanie Jones.  Each notched a double-double in the Terps’ season-opening win over Albany Friday night.  “Big things for Brianna Fraser,” coach Frese said, “she has worked extremely hard and when she puts her mindset in the right direction and plays at the highest level she can’t be stopped.”  One key as the team gets into Big Ten play for Fraser will be staying out of foul trouble; the forward from Brooklyn fouled out opening night against the Great Danes.  Stephanie Jones is the younger sister of Brionna, and while she doesn’t have the former Terp’s ridiculously sick collection of low-post moves she appears to be the athletic forward (Laura Harper, Alyssa Thomas) that Maryland teams in the past have needed en route to deep NCAA runs.  Stephanie feels the team’s participation in the World University Games in Taiwan will help. “We were able to grow a lot as a team because we had all of those early practices and play together in Taiwan.  Just to get a snapshot of how it was going to be (playing together) for the rest of the year, so I think we really grew as a team over there.”

They’ll need that cohesiveness before conference play tips off December 28th against Illinois as the schedule begins with a bang.  After losing to defending National Champion South Carolina 94-86, Maryland visits perennial power UConn Sunday, November 19th.. “I think in all my years here probably our toughest non-conference schedule we’ve ever had.  We’re gonna know where we are early, which will prepare us for conference schedule and the postseason,” coach Frese said,”To be the best you’ve got to play the best, and so we’re excited about the games on our schedule.”  The Gamecocks come to College Park Monday, November 13th.  While we’ll learn a lot about this team over the first month of the schedule, we won’t find out if this is a rebuilding or reloading season until the Big Ten Battles of the new year.  Ohio State is the preseason favorite and is the only school to beat the Terps since they joined the conference.  ESPN.COM’s projection has seven schools from Big Ten advancing to the NCAA Tournament.  Maryland is one of them–for now.