Tag Archive | "Rookie of the Year"

Rating the NFL Rookies: Best Class Ever?

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Rating the NFL Rookies: Best Class Ever?

Posted on 27 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Looking back to the contentious off-season that was in the NFL, with proverbial war being waged between the players and the owners there seemed to be little that anyone could agree on. As we the fans sat back and opined as to what the on-field ramifications of labor discord would be amount to this season, the one point on which we all seemed assured and in agreement was that the rookies were the “odd men out” in this battle, and that their season, more than anyone else’s, projected to be hindered by the lack of off-season work and mini-camps.

Something funny though happened on the way to this NFL season, as the rookies seemingly aware of the degree to which they’d be “up against it” in getting ready for this year seem to have arrived in the league at an all-time level of preparedness.

 

Maybe there’s a mentality that sets in for rookies in a standard year, that their teams understand the best way to get them up to speed quickly and therefore the work done in off-season camps might appear to be enough for an average NFL rookie. The urgency that seemed to underscore this season’s efforts though may have brought out the best in this year’s rookie crop as they prepared on their own for the approaching season.

 

Whatever the means by which they got there, here they are, possibly the best or at least the most impactful class of rookies the league has seen in quite some time, arguably ever. Torrey Smith for example might finish this season with numbers that merit mention amongst the top-10 rookie wide receiver seasons of all time, yet threatens to be a mere afterthought in this years rookie of the year balloting.

 

Here’s my assessment of the rookie class through 15 games of action and how my ballot would look for Rookie of the Year voting if indeed I had one:

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

 

Cam Newton (CAR) – 295/492 3893 yards 20 TD & 16 int. and 674 yards and 14 TD rushing

 

#2 – Andy Dalton (CIN) – 278/472 3166 yards 20 TD & 13 int.

 

#3 – AJ Green (CIN) – 1031 yards 7 TD rec.

 

#4 – Torrey Smith (BAL) – 808 yards 7 TD rec.

 

#5 – Julio Jones (ATL) – 883 yards 6 TD rec.

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

DeMarco Murray (DAL) – 897 yards 2 TD rush

 

Doug Baldwin (SEA) – 748 yards 4 TD rec.

 

Denarius Moore (OAK) – 517 yards 5 TD rec.

 

Roy Helu (WAS) – 635 yards 2 TD rush

 

Greg Little (CLE) – 709 yards 2 TD rec.

 

Titus Young (DET) – 583 yards 4 TD rec.

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Roar Restored, Ambrose Easy Choice as WNST Local Sports Person of the Year

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Roar Restored, Ambrose Easy Choice as WNST Local Sports Person of the Year

Posted on 22 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

There are only a few qualifications for WNST’s annual “Local Sports Person of the Year” award.

First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.

Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.

And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.

With those qualifications in mind it wasn’t difficult to determine candidates for the honor in 2011. Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs & RB Ray Rice, Former University of Maryland Terrapins basketball coach Gary Williams, University of Maryland lacrosse coach John Tillman and Kentucky Derby winning Shackleford trainer Graham Motion all seemed to be quality candidates.

In the end, determining a winner wasn’t particularly difficult.

Rob Ambrose arrived as the head football coach at Towson University with an introductory press conference in January 2009. At that introductory press conference, Ambrose boldly called for everyone connected to the Tigers to get on board with a program that hadn’t finished with more than seven overall wins or an above .500 record in conference play since the turn of the century.

“This is for everyone in the room and everyone watching and everyone that is going to read about this in the newspaper. This is not about me – not at all. It’s about the players in this room and it’s about all of you. It’s about all of the people outside this room – the community and the faculty and the fans and the students and the rest of the state that hasn’t figured it out yet. It’s our job to take this program and make it the program that we know it can be and know that it is supposed to be and it’s about time. So, tell your friends and your neighbors and your buddies. Call them all up. They’re invited. They’re all invited to this beautiful new house (Johnny Unitas® Stadium) and let’s turn this thing around and win some ball games.”

Through his first two seasons, any progress made in the football program wasn’t particularly apparent to the general public. Ambrose’s Tigers compiled a 3-19 record over those trying seasons and it was hard to imagine Ambrose was really making progress at his alma mater.

But something strange happened when I bumped into Rob Ambrose at CAA Media Day this summer at M&T Bank Stadium. Ambrose (and everyone around the Towson football program) was talking about word they hadn’t used much during the two previous seasons.

That word was “winning”. It had nothing to do with Charlie Sheen. I’ll let Coach Ambrose describe it himself…

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Trip To LSU Highlights 2012 Towson Football Schedule

Posted on 15 December 2011 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Coming off a thrilling 2011 season in which they were the most-improved team in NCAA Division I football and won their first Colonial Athletic Association championship, Coach Rob Ambrose and the Tiger football team will play a challenging 11-game schedule next season.

Highlighting the Tigers’ non-conference schedule are visits to Kent State and Louisiana State, a pair of NCAA FBS programs. Towson has played one NCAA FBS opponent in the last four seasons, including Navy (2008), Northwestern (2009), Indiana (2010) and Maryland (2011). But, this will be the first time that Towson has played two in the same season.

The Tigers will be playing four of their five home games under the lights with 7 p.m. kickoffs. The home finale on Nov. 10 against Rhode Island will be played at 3:30 p.m.

Towson opens its 2012 season by facing Kent State University at Dix Stadium in Kent, Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 1. A member of the Mid-American Conference, Kent State came on strong at the end of the 2011 season, winning four of its last five games to finish the season with a 5-7 overall record. Kent State finished third in the MAC’s Eastern Division with a 4-4 record.

Three weeks after opening their season at Kent State, the Tigers will travel to Baton Rouge, La. to take on perennial national power Louisiana State in legendary Tiger Stadium. When the Towson Tigers face LSU on Sept. 29, LSU could be the defending BCS national champion. Currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, LSU is 13-0 and plays Alabama for the national title on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.

Towson, which averaged 8,949 fans per home game in 2011, opens its home schedule on Saturday, Sept. 15 by hosting William and Mary in its CAA opener at 7 p.m. at Johnny Unitas® Stadium. A week later, on Saturday, Sept. 22, the Tigers entertain St. Francis (Pa.) in a non-conference home game.

After the Tigers’ trip to LSU on Sept. 29, they return to CAA action when they visit James Madison University on Oct. 6. The Tigers and the Dukes were two of the five CAA teams that went to the NCAA FCS Playoffs in 2011. On Oct. 13, the Tigers host Maine in another CAA contest. Maine was the CAA runner-up to Towson in 2011.

On Oct. 20, the Tigers host Old Dominion in another 7 p.m. start at Unitas Stadium.

After the game against ODU, Towson will be on the road for the next two weeks, going to Villanova on Oct. 27 and then to regional rival Delaware on Nov. 3.

The Tigers, who will be seeking their second straight NCAA FCS Playoff berth, close out their home schedule on Nov. 10 when they host Rhode Island at 3:30 p.m. The regular season comes to an end on Nov. 17 when the Tigers visit New Hampshire.

The NCAA FCS playoffs start on Nov. 24.

Fans that renew or place a $25 deposit for new season tickets before Dec. 31, 2011 will be able to lock in 2011 season ticket prices for the 2012 season. Tickets can be ordered online at www.TowsonTigers.com or by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 1-855-TU-TIGER.

The Tigers have 44 letter winners returning next season from a team that was ranked No. 8 in the nation in the final FCS poll. Led by a pair of all-CAA first-team selections, defensive end Frank Beltre (left) and safety Jordan Dangerfield, the Tigers have nine starters returning on defense.

Offensively, Towson has eight returning starters, including Terrance West, a first-team all-CAA running back who was named as the CAA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Left tackle Eric Pike, a third-team all-CAA selection, is one of four returning starters on the offensive line. 

 

A finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS Coach of the Year and the CAA Coach of the Year, Ambrose is returning for his fourth season as the Tigers’ coach. Honored as the AFCA Region 1 Coach of the Year, he is also a finalist for the AFCA Coach of the Year award.

 

2012 TOWSON UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

 

Sat. Sept.  1 at Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, Ohio TBA
Sat. Sept. 15 WILLIAM & MARY * Unitas Stadium 7 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 22 St. FRANCIS (Pa.) Unitas Stadium 7 p.m.
Sat. Sept. 29 at Louisiana State Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La. TBA
Sat. Oct.  6 at James Madison * Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, Va. TBA
Sat. Oct. 13 MAINE * Unitas Stadium 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 20 OLD DOMINION * Unitas Stadium 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 27 at Villanova * Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa. TBA
Sat. Nov.  3 at Delaware * Tubby Raymond Stadium, Newark, Del. TBA
Sat. Nov. 10 RHODE ISLAND * Unitas Stadium 3:30 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 17 at New Hampshire * Cowell Stadium, Durham, N.H. TBA
Sat. Nov. 24 NCAA FCS Playoffs – 1st Round TBA TBA
Sat. Dec.  1 NCAA FCS Playoffs – 2nd Round TBA TBA
Fri.-Sat. Dec. 7-8 NCAA FCS Playoffs – Quarterfinals TBA TBA
Fri.-Sat. Dec. 14-15 NCAA FCS Playoffs – Semifinals TBA TBA
Sat. Jan.  5 NCAA FCS Championship Game Pizza Hut Stadium, Frisco, Tex. TBA 

 

* Colonial Athletic Association games

 


 

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Towson RB West Named All-American

Posted on 15 December 2011 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – Freshman tailback Terrance West of Towson University has been named as a second team selection on the NCAA FCS All-American team selected by Associated Press.

West, a first team All-Colonial Athletic Association honoree, was also honored as the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year. One of the leading candidates for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in NCAA FCS, West is the only freshman on the A.P. All-American teams.

A first-year freshman, West helped the “Turnaround Tigers” post a 9-3 record and win the Colonial Athletic Association championship this season. The Tigers, who had a 1-10 record in 2010, were the most improved Division I team in the nation as they earned their first-ever NCAA FCS playoff berth.

The second-leading rusher in the CAA, West ran for 1,294 yards in 11 games. He was 12th in NCAA FCS with 117.6 rushing yards per game. West ran for 1,294 yards on only 194 carries, an impressive 6.7 average per carry.

A four-time selection as the CAA Rookie of the Week, West was also honored as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week twice. He ran for more than 100 yards in six different games and had a career high 261 yards on 23 carries in the Tigers’ 56-42 win over New Hampshire on Nov. 12.

West, who led NCAA FCS with 29 touchdowns scored, recorded at least two touchdowns in the final eight games of the year. He scored four touchdowns in three different games.

He shattered the Towson University single season record for touchdowns scored with his 29 TD’s. He also broke the NCAA FCS record for freshmen with 29 touchdowns. In fact, his 29 touchdowns represent the third-highest single season total in FCS history, a mark that has been topped by Omar Cuff of Delaware (35, 2007) and Kevin Richardson of Appalachian State (30, 2006). West matched the 29 touchdowns scored by Jamaal Branch of Colgate in 2003.

West is one of eight CAA players who were named to the Associated Press FCS All-America teams.

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The 15-7-0 > The BCS

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The 15-7-0 > The BCS

Posted on 05 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Oklahoma State looked REALLY good Saturday night. It’s a shame it didn’t really matter at all.

I tried explaining to everyone it wouldn’t matter if the Cowboys blew out Oklahoma Saturday night in Stillwater. Every time someone asked a question like “what if the Pokes win by a score of 50-0?” I responded with a simple “it won’t matter.”

I was right. Louisiana State will face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game and OSU will get to watch after playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

It’s a shame, as Oklahoma State certainly looked like a team capable of making things interesting in New Orleans on Saturday night. The shame is that their Bedlam rivalry win was marred by 13 fans being injured when they rushed the Boone Pickens Stadium field. It’s also a shame the Big 12 Champs aren’t Bayou bound because we’d all like to see more of Mike Gundy dancing…

2. With that in mind, does anyone think LSU is losing in the BCS title game?

It’s not that I don’t think highly of Oklahoma State (or Alabama), it’s just that the Tigers have been pretty dominant. See Badger, Honey.

It appears as though Tyrann Mathieu’s punt return TD shouldn’t have counted, and he actually had another return later in the game that didn’t result in a TD that was more impressive. But this was still a lot of fun to watch him run all over the Georgia Dome field in the SEC Championship Game.

It’s awfully early, but I’ll go ahead and call a Tigers win over the Crimson Tide in the title game. Just going out on a limb without having to at all. All balls, that Glenn Clark. At least that’s what my 4th grade teacher always said.

3. Tim Tebow is in first place. Since he won’t say it, I will. “Suck it, haters.

I picked the Denver Broncos to beat the Minnesota Vikings on “The Friday Football Frenzy” this week; but I gave myself an out. “If Von Miller doesn’t play the Broncos lose” I said.

What I didn’t know is that the great Tim Tebow had the “throw a 41 yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas while running out of bounds” in his repertoire…

Tim Tebow is better than you. And thanks to an Oakland Raiders loss we’ll get back to later in the game, he’s in first place in the AFC West.

Some Tim Tebow haters won’t give it up, including Merrill Hoge. He told the New York Post that Tim Tebow hasn’t proven anything because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Yep. That’s solid analysis. Well done sir.

Since we’re here, here’s this humorous picture of Matt Willis and Willis McGahee.

And also, this is apparently a photo of a fetus (or unborn child if you will) Tebowing. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t. I have no idea what I’m looking at myself.

4. Through one week, everyone who said “TJ Yates will be fine because he has Arian Foster” is right.

Of course, I was not in that camp so I feel like a bit of a silly goose.

The Atlanta Falcons had a great chance to make a move in the NFC Wild Card race, but they couldn’t contain Arian Foster in a loss to the Houston Texans.

I don’t have any (legitimate) highlights of the Texans’ win, but I DO have a video of Tommy Lasorda dropping a TON of F-Bombs in an old interview. Does that interest you???

5. I believe the pythagorean theorem somehow helped deliver West Virginia to the Orange Bowl. Clemson got there the old fashioned way.

The Mountaineers barely held on to beat South Florida Thursday night in Tampa Bay, claiming part of the Big East title-apparently the part that gets you to Miami.

Clemson on the other hand finished a season sweep of Virginia Tech (we’ll get back to them) in the ACC Championship Game. They totally earned their spot in the BCS. It’s a neat change of pace.

The Tigers and ‘Eers will get together in an Orange Bowl showdown that absolutely no one will be interested in. Except maybe this girl…

But I don’t really think of her as much of a sports expert when you think about it.

Oh-and apparently the appropriate way to celebrate a Clemson ACC title is to “fromble.” I had a lot of beers when I was in college. I didn’t know a damn thing about this…

6. Perhaps Chris Johnson really was worth a ton of money after all?

CJ2K has gone over 100 yards three times in his last four games, a feat he accomplished just once in in his first eight games.

That would be better if you were confused while playing along at home.

It was 153 yards and two TD’s Sunday as the Tennessee Titans topped the Buffalo Bills, a team I SWEAR had been good at some point during their existence…

Things get a BIT more difficult for the Titans next week, as they battle the Saints in Nashville. They find themselves still alive in the AFC South race but also still in the AFC Wild Card mix. AND they’re in the mix for the Cotton Bowl. Or something like that.

7. I don’t think much of the New York Jets, but I enjoy watching anyone beat the Washington Redskins.

The Jets scored 3 TD’s in the final five minutes of Sunday’s game at FedEx Field and got big plays from Aaron Maybin to avoid the upset.

A few things to giggle about here.

One-If the Skins manage to win two of their last four games this season, Mike Shanahan will manage to tie the great Jim Zorn’s record through the first two seasons! Big stuff!

Two-Washington’s Fred Davis and Trent Williams are suspended for the next four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. I don’t think the substance has been officially announced, but I think I have a guess…

(Continued on Page 2)

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Edsall Must Change On Field And Off In Maryland Future

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Edsall Must Change On Field And Off In Maryland Future

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

As Drew Forrester has said here at WNST.net, Randy Edsall is going to be the football coach at the University of Maryland in 2012.

The #FIREEDSALL trend on Twitter is certainly alive and John Feinstein absolutely shredded the coach this week in the Washington Post, but neither will have an effect on his job status.

Despite a 2-10 record in Edsall’s first season with the Terrapins, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson has every intention to stick with the man he hired after firing 10 year head coach and Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen nearly a year ago.

He’ll be doing that for a few reasons.

The first of those reasons is because no one is fairly considering how significant a role injuries played in the team’s downfall. The team was decimated by injuries throughout the season, forcing defensive coordinator Todd Bradford to turn to a number of redshirt and even true freshmen throughout the season. Competing for an ACC Championship was a tough task to begin with, but nearly impossible as injuries mounted.

It of course doesn’t forgive the nature of how the team finished with just one win over an opponent at the FBS level (their season opening Labor Day victory over a depleted Miami squad), but it has to be considered.

Another of the reasons why Edsall will return is well known. Maryland is in a LOT of financial trouble at the moment. The athletic department is on the verge of cutting eight varsity teams due to financial issues and has admitted that the football program must generate more money to sustain the 17 programs that will remain. With Edsall only one year into a six year deal worth $12 million, Maryland does not have the financial ability to get out from under such a costly deal.

The notion that Under Armour CEO/Maryland alum Kevin Plank could pony up the $10 million necessary to buy out Edsall is preposterous. Plank has become one of the most successful businessmen on the face of the planet buy making good decisions. Giving away $10 million wouldn’t qualify as such a thing.

(Just to inject here. There have been some rumors that Edsall would be a candidate for the Jacksonville Jaguars opening after the team fired Jack Del Rio. I think we can move on from those rumors about as quickly as they appeared.)

But money and injuries are not the only reasons why Randy Edsall will remain as the school’s football coach. The more significant reason why Edsall will not be let go by the school is because coaches who receive six year deals just aren’t dismissed after one season.

When Anderson hired Edsall away from the University of Connecticut, he absolutely did not tell him “if you leave the Huskies, you’ll have one year to make things work in College Park.”

Had Anderson done such a thing, Edsall’s response would have been something along the lines of “I would never leave UConn. UConn is my dream job.”

It’s safe to say that when hiring Edsall, Anderson made it clear the former Connecticut coach would be able to build his program as necessary, despite the success the team celebrated (nine wins including a Military Bowl victory, ACC Rookie of the Year in QB Danny O’Brien) the season before his arrival.

As Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant pointed out this week, there were reasons to believe Edsall’s reputation in Storrs exceeded his actual accomplishments. During an appearance on “The Reality Check” Wednesday on AM1570 WNST.net, Jacobs referred to something he had written in January just after Edsall’s departure from the area…

There was something unnervingly self-serving in Randy Edsall’s words in the month leading up to his BCS Bowl spanking. As he talked about all the milestones the program has reached since the days of working out of the trailers, Edsall wondered if there were any more notches in the belt he could cut at UConn.

The answer to Edsall’s question about notches in the belt, of course, was there were plenty left. And we’re not talking pie-in-the-sky national title. For starters, how about an outright Big East championship? Or how about getting to a BCS Bowl game where you aren’t automatically penciled in as a hopeless underdog the moment you qualify for it.”

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The Reality Check Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 24 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week:  32)

There is a 100% chance folks in Baltimore will pick the Colts to beat the Ravens in a few weeks.

31. Washington Redskins (LW:  31)

Folks in DC were talking this week about how the Skins “showed heart” against the Cowboys. They also showed another way to lose a football game.

30. Carolina Panthers (LW:  26)

I’m assuming Cam Newton is the favorite for Rookie of the Year. Without winning more games he shouldn’t be.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW:  28)

And if you lose to the Browns, it should really count as two.

28. St. Louis Rams (LW:  29)

Their lack of playmakers is incredible.

27. Arizona Cardinals (LW:  25)

I’d say the return of Kevin Kolb could help, but could the return of Kevin Kolb really help?

26. Minnesota Vikings (LW:  23)

Without Adrian Peterson they’d be lower. Yes, it CAN get lower.

25. Kansas City Chiefs (LW:  21)

If Kyle Orton doesn’t throw the ball once in practice this week he should still play ahead of Tyler Palko. And Kyle Orton stinks.

24. Cleveland Browns (LW:  30)

How does this team have four wins?

23. Seattle Seahawks (LW:  24)

I’m going to assume they’ll win a third straight game Sunday.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (LW:  22)

Let’s see.

21. Buffalo Bills (LW:  17)

They’ve been awful recently and Fred Jackson is hurt. Remember when they were good?

20. Miami Dolphins (LW:  27)

There’s half a chance they win Thursday in Arlington.

19. San Diego Chargers (LW:  18)

I guess it’s clear now they AREN’T the best team in the AFC West.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW:  19)

How does this team ONLY have four wins?

17. Tennessee Titans (LW:  15)

They’re too close to the Wild Card race to just play Jake Locker, but it has to at least be tempting.

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Insult, Injury, Embarrassment to Go Around After Notre Dame Crushes Maryland

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Insult, Injury, Embarrassment to Go Around After Notre Dame Crushes Maryland

Posted on 13 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

LANDOVER, Md. — The University of Maryland Terrapins went through the motions lost to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 45-21 Saturday night at FedEx Field.

The good news (for me) is that I won’t be attending another Maryland football game this season.

That’s where the good news ends.

This isn’t the final game on the schedule for the Terps (2-8, 1-5) this season, but I’ll guess it will be the final time I offer more than a handful of words to discuss them. I’ll imagine most of you can understand.

I remember back in August I had a thought that the team’s visit to North Carolina State November 26 could have ACC Championship implications. I remember thinking that with the Baltimore Ravens set to host the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night I would have my weekend free and perhaps a trip to Raleigh would be in order.

As you’d assume, I have no travel plans for my Turkey Day weekend.

I’ve paid my dues. I’ve showed up for every game the Terps have played this season in the state of Maryland. The first game (Miami) was fun. The second half of the second game (West Virginia) was fun too. There was no more fun to be had this season.

I don’t write this in hopes to illicit sympathy from anyone. I write it because I know I’m not the only one who has suffered through the misery of Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park.

There’s no way of polishing this. No lipstick here can make this not look like a pig. Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park has been an unparalleled mess.

That would probably be an appropriate way to describe Maryland’s effort against the Irish (7-3) Saturday night as well.

“We’ve got to tackle better, get off on third down, (we’ve) got to make third downs, we can’t drop the ball” Edsall said after the loss, but even that probably couldn’t fully describe the effort.

After inheriting a team that finished with nine wins (including a Military Bowl triumph) a season ago, Edsall’s Terrapins (with aide of significant injury) have been unthinkably impossible to watch in 2011. Not only has the team struggled to win games, they’ve failed to maintain relevance. Not even the return to the buzzworthy Under Armour “PRIDE” uniforms could generate interest Saturday night, as the 70,251 fans who packed the home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins Saturday night overwhelmingly backed the home team.

The home team wasn’t Maryland. The team from South Bend, Indiana played that role Saturday night.

It isn’t so far-fetched to have thought Maryland would struggle after their transition from former coach Ralph Friedgen to Edsall. Many first year coaches are forced to establish roots before they can find future success. There was hope Maryland wouldn’t experience those types of growing pains as they returned the ACC Rookie of the Year (QB Danny O’Brien) and many of the players who experienced a victorious postseason one year earlier.

The best the Terrapins can hope for at this point would be a 4-8 finish (3-5 ACC), but a 2-10 (1-7 ACC) finish appears more likely with trips to Wake Forest and NC State left on the season.

Making things worse for a team that has been awful is the unwatchable nature of the games they’ve played in the past month. Instead of growing as a team during the course of the season, this team appears to have taken significant steps in the opposite direction.

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O’Brien Not Thinking About Future After Another Maryland Loss

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O’Brien Not Thinking About Future After Another Maryland Loss

Posted on 05 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In case you missed it (and I have a hunch that says many of you did), the University of Maryland football team lost 31-13 to to the University of Virginia Saturday at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins (2-7, 1-5 ACC) appeared out of sync and lacked composure while the Cavaliers (6-3, 3-2 ACC) were opportunistic and balanced.

There were a number of empty seats throughout the stadium despite the Senior Day festivities, fans in attendance were heard booing and some even began chants of “Fire Edsall.” Those fans were voicing their displeasure at the fact that the loss eliminated the team’s chances of reaching bowl eligibility in their first season under new head coach Randy Edsall.

It was another brutal Saturday in a season of brutal Saturdays for this Terps team, decimated by injuries and lackluster play after a 9-4 campaign a season ago and the firing of popular long-term head coach Ralph Friedgen.

In the certain of the season-long disappointment has been sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien, the reigning ACC Rookie of the Year. O’Brien came into the season with lofty expectations, labeled by some as a potential dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate. Instead of performing at that level, O’Brien has struggled to fit new Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton’s scheme, dealt with drops from receivers and has been forced to split time with fellow sophomore CJ Brown.

In Saturday’s loss, O’Brien started the game before giving way to Brown in the second quarter. The two then (mostly) alternated playing time the rest of the way with little effectiveness. O’Brien finished the day 16/36 for 241 yards and two interceptions. (Brown was 4/7 for 28 yards with a touchdown and a pick, along with 24 yards on the ground.)

With the team struggling and the offense not clicking, much has been made by Terps fans and analysts who cover/follow the team about O’Brien’s future in College Park. Many believe the team’s unwillingness to stick with the sophomore will ultimately lead to him deciding to look elsewhere after the season for a place where he could transfer and become the primary starter in an offense more suited to his abilities.

Those talking about the possibility are most not connected to O’Brien whatsoever.

“I haven’t even (given) that any thought to be honest” O’Brien said following the Terrapins’ setback. “Right now it’s just about beating Notre Dame.”

(The Terps next face the Fighting Irish Saturday, November 12 at FedEx Field in Landover.)

“I feel like if I’m thinking about my future beyond next week I’m kinda cheating my teammates just because they’re counting on me when I’m in there (and not when I’m in there) to make plays” O’Brien added. “I’m not really gonna think about that. I’m here and I’m proud to be here.”

The frustration has been evident for O’Brien this season, as the team entered with hopes of improving upon their 2010 season, which ended with a win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. The Terrapins have just one victory over a FBS level opponent since defeating the Pirates, their season opening Labor Day win over Miami.

It would be impossible for O’Brien to thrive while still splitting time with Brown no matter what each skill set allows for. Edsall said of the dilemma, ”I would love to just be able to play one guy.” He then went on to explain that both quarterbacks offered valuable skills and could have roles no matter who the future starter would be.

Edsall made another comment that was much more appropriate about the situation.

“It’s just not all on the quarterbacks.”

It certainly isn’t. The struggles of the offense include the receivers, the Offensive Line and probably the coaching staff as well. Edsall should by no means be absolved from blame when it comes to the apparent regression of the starter he inherited. Edsall has gone on and on about doing everything based on giving the team the “best opportunity to win”, but the only thing the team hasn’t done much of is…well…win. It would be safe to say that based on the evidence we’ve seen on the field, Edsall’s argument for playing both quarterbacks just doesn’t hold up.

That said, the offense has lacked rhythm and the quarterback carousel probably hasn’t helped. But even if the offense were more consistent, the inexperience on the defensive side of the ball and the woeful play of many special teams units would probably spell trouble for the Terps in general. The Terrapins have problems that go well beyond the quarterbacks.

But O’Brien was supposed to be the player that could guide this team through all of that.

That clearly hasn’t been the case.

It would be understandable if O’Brien ultimately decided there was another place where his skill set could be better utilized. It would be understandable if O’Brien ultimately decided he didn’t want to go into another season expecting to have to split time with another quarterback.

It would be understandable if O’Brien were wearing a uniform not made by Under Armour in the future.

It would just be disappointing considering all of the other problems facing the program at the time.

-G

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Terps Exciting, But Loss to Clemson More Troubling

Posted on 16 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A close loss at the hands of a Top 10 opponent wouldn’t usually be so frustrating for a young team in their first season under a new head coach.

That’s not the case for the University of Maryland.

The Terrapins (2-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) suffered a 56-45 setback at the hands of the eighth ranked Clemson University Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) in front of a Homecoming crowd of 47,961 at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The Terps lead throughout much of the game, holding a 35-17 advantage early in the second half.

Yet even when they held such an advantage, there was never a comfortable feeling amongst fans in attendance and watching at home.

After pulling reigning ACC Rookie of the Year the previous week in a loss at Georgia Tech, head coach Randy Edsall stuck with previous backup CJ Brown Saturday night, claiming the choice was a “gametime decision” between the two.

Brown provided plenty of offense, throwing for 177 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 162 yards and another TD. Brown was plagued however by accuracy issues for a second straight week, completing just 17 of 35 passes. He was on multiple occasions betrayed by his wide receivers, whose inability to catch the football has become a season-long theme. Brown was intercepted just once, although Tigers defenders suffered from the same inabilities that have been so familiar for Terps receivers.

Edsall offered little analysis of Brown’s effort (or much of anything else) after the game.

“I gotta really look at the film and take a look at everything, but quickly when you just look at the numbers-CJ did a lot of good things out there.”

Edsall also declined to discuss Brown’s future as the team’s starting quarterback, instead deferring to the depth chart that will be released Tuesday. It would seem likely though for Brown to remain under center when the team travels to Tallahassee to face Florida State next Saturday.

Brown was disappointed to have lost his first career start and took full responsibility for his accuracy issues postgame.

“I gotta make those throws” said the quarterback. “Me and Danny have been practicing all week and we’ve known these (receivers) since I’ve been here. I missed a couple throws.”

There is a possibility that even if Boomer Esiason had played quarterback for Maryland Saturday night the Terps would not have been able to do enough offensively to outscore Clemson.

The Tigers received a school-record 345 all-purpose yards from WR/KR Sammy Watkins, including three touchdowns. RB Andre Ellington tallied 212 yards on 24 carries including two more touchdowns. The Tigers scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, including an 89 yard kickoff return TD from thetrue freshman Watkins.

A full-strength team would have been hard-pressed to slow down the Tiger assault. A Maryland unit playing without LB’s Kenny Tate, Darin Drakeford and Demetrius Hartfield; DL’s Isaiah Ross and Andre Monroe and S Matt Robinson faced a nearly impossible task.

Given the evidence already stated, it feels like I should be more positive and upbeat about the Terps’ performance against such an outstanding opponent.

Of course, you already read the headline.

In terms of practicality, Maryland finished Saturday night’s affair with more injuries, as both LB Avery Graham and WR Kevin Dorsey were known to have left the game. Edsall offered no further information (or even confirmation that the injuries even existed) postgame, instead reminding reporters the school would release injury information as necessary later in the week based on ACC requirements.

Also on the practical side, Maryland’s hopes of bowl eligibility fade based on the loss. The Terps now must win four of their final six games to get eligible, with a schedule that does include four games they will be favored to win. After the trip to FSU, Maryland hosts Virginia and Boston College in back to back weeks before a neutral site date with Notre Dame (at FedEx Field in Landover) and visits to Wake Forest and North Carolina State to finish the season. After finishing 9-4 a season ago and returning an impressive quarterback, missing out on bowl eligibility would be disappointing for Maryland even with a new head coach.

Veering away from the world of practicality, the quarterback situation could be the subject of a sequel to Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” After an outstanding freshman campaign, Danny O’Brien is now relegated to backup duties behind a quarterback his same age. While O’Brien was (understandably) not made available to reporters after the game, it would be fair to assume he wouldn’t be thrilled to have been demoted.

His future in the program (or elsewhere) will always be tied to whatever level of success Brown has in new Offensive Coordinator Gary Crowton’s system. Edsall and Crowton will be scrutinized by fans and media alike moving forward based on what the two quarterbacks do moving forward.

This is a football program facing a number of issues.

Edsall has preached patience in his first season, which is seemingly fair for a first year coach to request. It is absolutely fair however to question where the program has gone in the last ten months since firing longtime head coach Ralph Friedgen after a successful season and hiring Edsall.

Ten months ago, it did not appear that Maryland has a program in need of being torn down and rebuilt.

We can only hope that after being torn down anyway, the program will end up a finished product worthy of the process.

-G

NOTES: Maryland’s game at Florida State will kick off at 3:30pm (ABC)……Hear from Edsall, Brown and RB Davin Meggett in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net

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