Archives for posts with tag: Tribe

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Orange kind of has a tough life.  It’s not a primary color and doesn’t really rhyme with anything.  It doesn’t even have a cool name it can check into, like turquoise, magenta, or mauve.  Saturday was not kind to multiple shades of orange on the college football landscape.  We start with No. 21 Syracuse (even though they’re called the Orange, SU wears blue jerseys at home) who got scored upon early, often, and late in their 63-20 drubbing by Maryland.  Shades of two years ago, when the Orange allowed 64 points to Wake Forest…or the year before when they coughed up 76 to Pitt.  Texas wears more of a burnt orange, and the No. 9 Longhorns also had defensive issues in their 45-38 loss to No. 6 LSU.  This was supposed to be the year Tom Herman was going to return UT to glory.  Well, they still have the Big 12 Championship Game to dream about.  The only dreams in Knoxville are nightmares for Tennessee; the orange-clad Volunteers are 0-2 after losses at home to Georgia State and BYU as the Jeremy Pruitt era hits a few speed bumps.   And keep in mind the Vols have yet to play an SEC game.

 

Alma Mater Update- where to start?  Syracuse couldn’t make tackles on defense, which I’m told is important.  And it just got worse from allowing an opening drive TD.  Tommy DeVito looked more “funny like a clown” Saturday, losing a fumble and throwing one of the worst interceptions in recent memory to set up first half Terp scores.  He may have thrown for 330 yards, but some throws were beyond wobbly.  It’s early- but Clemson comes to the Dome this weekend.  This team can still be good-but they have to play much better if they want to raise another Camping World Bowl banner.

 

Maryland (2-0) followed up its 79-point showing against Howard by scoring on its first three drives against No. 21 Syracuse en route to a 63-20 blowout of the Orange.  Stock is high on the Terps, but remember that the last two Septembers saw upsets of No. 23 Texas and each November ended with the team finishing on the wrong side of bowl eligibility.

Terrapin Triumphs: Josh Jackson threw for 296 yards and three scores while the offense converted 11 of 15 third downs. The running game churned out 354 yards on the ground.  Keandre Jones notched eight tackles, two sacks and a key forced fumble that helped the Terps grab a 14-0 first quarter lead.  The defense also held the Orange at bay for most of the second half despite advantageous field position.

Terrapin Troubles: Colton Spangler averaged 31.7 yards over his three punts.  Granted he’s had very few opportunities to get into rhythm (just one punt against Howard last week).  I’m sure the team is okay with that.

Next: Saturday at noon against Temple.

 

Virginia (2-0) began the weekend early by hosting William & Mary Friday night, and the Cavaliers crushed the Tribe 52-17.  On the menu was equal parts sizzle (Nick Grant’s 85-yard interception return for a TD and Joe Reed’s 100-yard kickoff return) and steak (the offense scored the first three times they had the ball).  Even after a fumble set up a William & Mary field goal, UVa got those points and more back when Reed ran the ensuing kickoff back.

Cavalier Congrats: Reed also led the team in receiving with four catches for 58 yards and a score.  Mike Hollins (11 carries for 78 yards) paced a ground game that averaged 6.2 yards per carry.  The offense did not punt all evening.  Jordan Mack notched 2.5 sacks to pace a pass rush that tallied seven sacks and held the Tribe to 1 of 11 on third down.

Cavalier Concerns:  three interceptions and a fumble might not hurt you against a foe from the CAA, but against ACC competition those mistakes will be much more costly.  UVa also missed a 30-yard field goal.

Next: Saturday against Florida State at 7:30 p.m.

 

Virginia Tech (1-1) bounced back from its loss at Boston College by vanquishing one of its ghosts from 2018; the Hokies beat the Monarchs 31-17 to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2010. Even so, ODU scored on their first two second half possessions to give the Lane Stadium crowd flashbacks of last year’s meltdown.

Hokie Highlights:  Ryan Willis threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score.  Rayshard Ashby tallied 10 tackles and the defense responded after allowing a first quarter field goal, holding ODU to 11 yards on their next 13 plays from scrimmage. Oscar Bradburn averaged 56.7 yards per punt while Terius Wheatley had a kickoff return of 71 yards to set up the final touchdown of the afternoon.

Hokie Humblings:  the running game generated just 3.4 yards per carry, and the team lost a pair of fourth quarter fumbles that in the hands of a better foe would have been disastrous.

Next: Saturday at noon against Furman.

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For college football fans in the D.C. metro area, this has been one rough decade. Maryland has had multiple reboots since firing the ACC Coach of the Year, while Virginia Tech saw the sad decline from perennial Coastal Division contender to a team that needed to schedule a bonus game against Marshall in order to keep its bowl streak alive. Virginia hasn’t beaten the Hokies since “Friends” was still on the air. Even Navy wasn’t immune last fall, with a 3-10 season that included a third straight loss to Army.

Thank goodness for the FCS. Area programs annually contend for conference crowns, deliver trips to the Football Final Four, and occasionally play for or even bring home a National Championship. Once again this fall there’s plenty of anticipation involving schools in the CAA, MEAC, and Patriot League — especially when one factors in the head coaching carousel that fired up this past offseason.

 

James Madison (9-4, 6-2 CAA, FCS Second Round) is the CAA Preseason favorite and begins the fall ranked second nationally in both FCS Polls.  The Dukes lost Head Coach Mike Houston to East Carolina, but for the second time in three years hires a proven replacement from the FCS ranks.  Curt Cignetti led Elon to the tournament in both of his seasons with the school, and last fall the Phoenix beat JMU in Harrisonburg.  He comes to a program that’s loaded:  19 of 22 starters return, and of those 19 starters 12 were All-CAA last season.  Quarterback Ben DiNucci returns for his second season as a starter, and he’ll have his top two targets back in wide receivers Riley Stapleton and Kyndel Dean.  Cignetti will have to revamp a running game that lost its top three ground gainers to graduation.

But just like last season, this year’s Dukes will once again begin with D: four of the returning 10 starters from the CAA’s #1 unit in 2018 were voted first team All-Conference. That includes senior linebacker Dmitri Holloway, who finished second in the league with 81 tackles in 2018.  The secondary may have lost Jimmy Moreland to the Redskins and the NFL, but back after missing 2018 with injury is Rashad Robinson (seven interceptions in 2017).

Last year the Dukes kicked off their season with a loss at NC State.  This year’s Power Five trip is to Morgantown, where they’ll visit West Virginia in coach Neal Brown’s debut;  the Mountaineers will also have a new quarterback as Will Grier is gone to the NFL.  Of the five CAA schools in the Preseason Top 25, JMU will not play No. 7 Maine or No. 22 Delaware.  While they visit No. 21 Elon September 28, No. 11 Towson comes to Harrisonburg October 26.

 

Towson (7-5, 5-3 CAA, FCS First Round) is back, by the way.  After missing the tournament for four straight years, Rob Ambrose has the Tigers thinking title.  He’s got a senior quarterback in Tom Flacco, brother of Joe-and no, he’s not thinking about transferring to the University of Denver.  Flacco the Younger threw for 3,237 yards, 27 touchdowns and 1 interceptions while also leading the Tigers with 742 yards rushing.  He’ll lean on a pair of senior Shanes:  running back Shane Simpson (687 yards with six touchdowns rushing last fall) on the ground and wide receiver Shane Leatherbury (67 catches for 885 yards and seven TD’s) in the air.

The team’s ability to deliver on the preseason hype will rest on the shoulders of a defense that finished last against the run and overall in the CAA. New Defensive Coordinator Eric Daniels comes to the Tigers from NAIA school Briar Cliff University (Iowa), where he turned around the Chargers’ defensive woes.  Daniels has a pair of solid building blocks, beginning with senior defensive lineman Bryce Carter (6.5 sacks in 2018) and senior linebacker Robert Heyward (99 tackles plus a fumble recovery).

The schedule serves up a mixed bag.  The other two top projected teams in the CAA are James Madison and Maine, and Towson visits both schools this year.  They do draw Delaware and Elon at home in November, potentially providing coach Ambrose’s team with some necessary late-season momentum if they’re on the FCS Playoff bubble again.

 

Richmond (4-7, 2-6 CAA) did not get any favors from the schedule-makers last year, facing four ranked conference foes.  So instead of contending for an FCS Playoff berth like the previous November, the Spiders saw their first losing season since 2011.  Even with the departure of quarterback Kyle Lauletta to the NFL, coach Russ Huesman’s offense still finished second in the conference in passing.  Junior quarterback Joe Mancuso led the team in rushing while splitting time last fall with Kevin Johnson; this year he’ll be pressed by Air Force transfer Beau English.  Whoever wins the job won’t have Dejon Brissett to throw to, as last year’s top receiver transferred to Virginia. Regardless, ball security will be a priority one autumn after the Spiders lost a CAA-high 27 turnovers.

The defense had issues in 2018, allowing the most points per game in the CAA while ranking last or second to last in most categories. The 4-2-5 formation has been ditched for the 4-3 this fall; no matter how the Spiders line up it all begins with senior defensive lineman Maurice Jackson, who led the CAA with 10 sacks in 2018.

This year’s slate is back-loaded with two bye weeks in September.  How better the turnover/defense issues are will be apparent over a four-week stretch where Richmond faces Delaware, Stonybrook and James Madison.

 

William & Mary (4-6, 3-4 CAA) has a new head coach for the first time since the Carter Administration.  Jimmye Laycock’s retirement brings back a familiar face to both the Commonwealth and the CAA:  former Richmond and Virginia coach Mike London crosses the Potomac after a two-year stint with Howard where he breathed new life in a long-dormant program.  The Tribe is no where near where the Bison were two years ago, but they have posted three consecutive losing seasons and have notched just one winning conference campaign since 2010.

London will find quite a contrast in Williamsburg from the offense he left behind.  The Tribe returns junior quarterback Shon Mitchell and leading rusher Albert Funderburke, but last year W&M ranked last in the CAA in rushing, scoring, total offense, and third down conversions.  Coastal Carolina transfer Kilton Anderson originally played at Fresno State before completing 58% of his passes for 1,010 yards and 8 touchdowns while with the Chanticleers in 2018, proving two things. One-he’s a viable option at QB, and two-I like to work the word “Chanticleers” into conversation way more than one should.

The Tribe return eight starters on defense, with seniors Nate Atkins and Isaiah Laster  the top two tacklers from 2018.  Developing a pass rush (last in sacks) will be a priority for coach London.  The new regime begins August 31 against Lafayette, and the schedule is marked with games against two of London’s former employers: at Virginia September 6 and at Richmmond November 23.  What, they couldn’t add Howard?

 

Howard (4-6, 3-4) will have its fifth head coach this decade as Ron Prince takes over for Mike London. The former Kansas State coach and Michigan assistant steps into quite an offense: quarterback Caylon.  Preseason CAA Offensive Player of the Year Caylin Newton (2,629 yards passing and 504 yards rushing last year) has his top targets back in Jequez Ezzard and Kyle Anthony; Anthony led the MEAC last fall with 53 receptions while Ezzard’s 1,064 yards topped the league.  Running back Dedrick Parson (706 yards with 9 touchdowns rushing) returns to provide a nice counterpunch on the ground.

Coach Prince’s main task this fall will be shoring up a defense that ranked last in the MEAC and concluded the year by allowing 56 points to Bryant.  Bryant!?!  Leading tackler Marcellos Allison is back, as is top pass rusher Zamon Robinson.  The season begins with a bang:  trips to Maryland, Youngstown State and Delaware State plus a showdown with longtime rival Hampton dot the first month.  For some reason, they don’t play the other FCS team located in Washington, DC this year.

 

Georgetown (5-6, 4-2 Patriot League) is coming off of its best season under coach Rob Sgarlata:  their four league wins in 2018 was more than the three posted over his previous four years with the Hoyas.  And this was after being picked to finish not just last in the Patriot but by a country mile.  Heady times indeed.  The difference last fall was a defense that ranked second behind league juggernaut Colgate, and that’s where any hopes of unseating the Raiders begins.  Look no further than a pass rush that led the Patriot League in sacks and interceptions:  senior defensive lineman Kristian Tate (a conference-high 10 sacks last year) along with junior Owen Kessler (6.5) generate most of the heat from the trenches.  Linebacker Wes Bowers (4.5 sacks last season) is more than just a pass rusher, as the junior paced the team with 91 tackles and four interceptions.

While the defense might help them catch Colgate, they only way they’ll pass the Raiders will be if the offense improves from the unit that averaged just 15 points per game in 2018.  Starting quarterback Gunther Johnson returns for his senior season and the Hoyas also get their leading rusher in sophomore running back Herman Moultrie) and top receiver in senior Michael Dereus.