ACC Football 2013 Payback Games: Maryland

Boston College Got the Best of Maryland with a Late Score in 2012; Can the Terps Rebound in 2013?

Boston College Beat Maryland with a Late Score in 2012; Can the Terps Rebound in 2013?

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2012. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2013.

As part of our 2013 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Maryland Terrapins

Opponent: Boston College Eagles

Last Year: Loss, 20-17 at Boston College

This Year: November 23, vs. Boston College

Not yet starting a linebacker at quarterback, the Terrapins had seemingly made every effort possible to win this game last year. Roaring back from down 13-0, Maryland found themselves with a 17-13 lead against the hapless Eagles offense with just minutes left on the clock. Quarterback Caleb Rowe had performed admirably, completing 23 passes for 240 yards and two scores, though it would be the glaring three interceptions that ultimately killed the Terps chances. In particular, the last one, which came just one play after BC scored to take a 20-17 lead, sealing the loss.

Again, Maryland put themselves in position to win this game. They’d outgained BC by 40 total yards on offense, were even in the turnover battle (until that final pick, anyway), and were even more effective converting on both third and fourth downs. But that’s the difference between a “promising young team” and a “struggling, inexperienced team.” The ones that are ready to make that leap finish the job. The ones who need more time to figure things out drop the ball late. So are the Terps ready to finish the job this year?

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ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks

Clemson, Led by Tajh Boyd and Cole Stoudt, Have the ACC's Top Quarterback Unit for 2013

Clemson, Led by Tajh Boyd and Cole Stoudt, Have the ACC’s Top Quarterback Unit for 2013

While we’re still over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we start with the quarterback position. Last year it was a strength — or at least it was supposed to be — and while it could be once again in 2013, that will rely on some new starters stepping up in a big way. Though it may not be as top-heavy as last year’s crop (especially after seeing EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib and Sean Renfree headed to the NFL), the ACC still possesses a really strong group of passers who all look to either start or end their careers on a positive note.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual quarterback is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of passers is. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks

1. Clemson Tigers: Seeing both Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris return was a godsend for the Tigers, who get one more year of the potent passing attack led by those two men. In 2012, Boyd broke out for over 4,400 total yards and now he has his eyes set on both a Heisman Trophy and a national title. Beyond Boyd, the team will lean mostly on Cole Stoudt in garbage time, after losing Chad Kelly tore his ACL in the spring. Stoudt, a junior, threw for 212 yards and three scores last season in relief of Boyd.

2. Louisville Cardinals: Teddy Bridgwater has all the hype and expectations anyone could possibly deal with in one season, yet I think he’ll still succeed. The Heisman contender and possible first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is the core of a young Cardinals team that’s aiming to be unbeaten this fall. For when games get out of hand, the ball will likely be handed to Jerry Arlinghaus, the 6’4″ sophomore from nearby Covington, KY with a nice arm.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels: Bryn Renner‘s ability to transition to Larry Fedora’s spread offense has made him a rising star in the ACC, and don’t be surprised to see him put up even more impressive numbers as he closes out his senior season at Chapel Hill. Behind him, Fedora’s also stock-piling players who fit right into his system, with big passers like redshirt freshman Kanler Coker and true freshman Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky was named as “the next Johnny Manziel” by ESPN’s Joe Luginbill back in December, which is quite the name to live up to.

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Running Back Brandon Ross is One of Many Terps That Can Solidify His Status This Spring

Running Back Brandon Ross is One of Many Terrapins That Can Solidify Their Status This Spring

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Maryland Terrapins

Spring Practice Start Date: March 2

Spring Game Date: April 12

Maryland’s 2012 season was a complete and utter disaster — five quarterbacks (one of whom was a linebacker), a multitude of defensive injuries and a six-game losing streak to close out the year. And unfortunately, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, either. While the offseason’s been abuzz around the Terps’ impending move to the Big Ten and their lawsuit to leave the ACC, things have been progressing equally as slow on the field, as their quarterbacks are still unavailable for contact drills.

Those passers — C.J. Brown (clubhouse favorite to (re-)win the starting job), Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe — have thrown on a limited basis this spring, so it’s unlikely we’ll gain any clarity at the position ’till July. So instead, the first week or so of spring practice has actually worked to muddle the situation a bit. Transfers Dustin Dailey and Ricardo Young are taking more reps and working with the first team; meaning they’re also the ones most likely to have the best rapport with returning star receiver Stefon Diggs (huge advantage). No matter who’s throwing the ball though, it won’t matter all that much without a running game. Despite the team’s limited quarterback situation in 2012, Terrapins halfbacks still only racked up 103 yards per game (115th in the country). Can they expect better this spring, and into the fall? Odds are on Brandon Ross becoming an every-down back, and without Wes Brown taking carries from him over the next month, it’s really his job to lose.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Maryland Terrapins

Injuries Aside, Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense At Least Had Impressive Seasons

Injuries Aside, At Least Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense Had Impressive Seasons

Team: Maryland Terrapins

W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Postseason: None

Top Offensive Performer: Stefon Diggs, WR

Top Defensive Performer: Joe Vellano, DL

Before the 2012 season even started, the Terrapins appeared to be cursed last year. Incumbent starting quarterback C.J. Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL in practice, and with his loss, so vanished a promising season for Maryland. But surprisingly, that was not the case — at least initially, anyway. Replacement Perry Hills was learning on the fly, but had still led the Terps to a 4-3 record… until he was injured as well. The Angry Maryland QB-Hating God joke/nightmare grew when Hills’s replacements, Caleb Rowe and Caleb Rowe were also injured, leaving the team to lean on linebacker Shawn Petty for the remainder of the year. So before laughing at the Terrapins’ 123rd-ranked offense or 109th scoring offense in the country, consider the situation. On offense, they were virtually set up to fail from day one, with the only saving grace being standout freshman receiver Stefon Diggs. The receiver and kick returner had 1,896 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns, all while routinely being the fastest player on the field. Playing with a linebacker at quarterback, they still nearly beat North Carolina in the final week of the season — the same UNC team that would’ve taken home the ACC’s Coastal division. So sure, you could call it all bad, but there’s also plenty of foundation for the future.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 10

Florida State Ran Away From Duke Early on Saturday, and Now Control the Atlantic Division Race

Does anyone want to win the ACC‘s Coastal division? From the looks of it, no, though the only team that’s even looks remotely ready to do so is unfortunately ineligible for the postseason. In the meantime, the conference’s top two get further from the rest, while everyone else just continues to crash into each other. But let’s get more specific. What have we truly learned over this past weekend, and how do the ACC’s teams currently shake out?

1. Florida State Seminoles (8-1) (5-1) (LW: 1): Some felt that the 27-point spread between Duke and FSU was a bit of an exaggeration. Yet, it appeared as if the ‘Noles took it as a challenge in their 48-7 victory. Though it wasn’t all hearts and rainbows — Florida State committed four turnovers — the team still ran rings around the Blue Devils, locking up the contest by halftime. Beyond the lingering issues with fumbles, this Seminoles team appears to be clicking once again as it heads for the stretch run.

2. Clemson Tigers (7-1) (4-1) (LW: 2): Prior to kickoff last Thursday, there was concern with regards to the Clemson secondary, along with Sammy Watkins, who was slated not to start the game against Wake Forest. What happened instead was a clinic on everything fantastic about the Tigers offense. From the first snap, Clemson was a flurry of pure speed, connecting on long passes at will, and simply over-matching the Deacons’ secondary. The Clemson defense, too, looked like it had stepped up its game, sacking QB Tanner Price five times, while getting consistent pressure on him all night.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-3) (3-2) (LW: 5): After a hot start gave the Heels a 25-7 lead early, the team suddenly found itself down 35-25 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. And that’s when Giovani Bernard came alive. In the final 15 minutes, the Carolina back amassed 182 all-purpose yards and the game-winning score to give his team an eight-point victory. Obviously, the trouble with UNC’s recent gameplan is that it relies far too much on Bernard. But as long as it works — as it did here — you’ll see no complaints from this end.

4. NC State Wolfpack (5-3) (2-2) (LW: 3): What’s more crushing? Losing to your rival for the first time since 2006, or giving up your inside track at the Atlantic division title? Though those burns will likely sting with equal intensity for the Wolfpack, they must rebound quickly if they hope to stick around the divisional race. Should they win out, while FSU loses again, they’ll still find themselves in Charlotte for the title game. But they have to cut down on the dropped passes and fix mental errors in order to pull it off.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

After Dropping Six Passes on Saturday, NC State’s Receivers are the ACC Goats of the Week for Week 9

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

Considering the day Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon had (467 yards, five touchdowns), you’d think his receivers were actually on-point all day. But State’s receivers dropped six passes in total on Saturday, all of which you can see complied at SB Natoin’s Backing the Pack. While it’s tough to truly quantify the importance of each (in some cases, drives resulted in touchdowns anyway), it’s worth calling out Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith in particular. Underwood’s two drops took an otherwise outstanding day (118 yards, two receiving TDs) and sullied it. For Smith, his drop ended up being a tipped-ball interception, plus he also fumbled in the game as well. If the Wolfpack want to win games like this one, it takes focus on everyone’s part. The drops must be diminished going forward.

Honorable Mention:

Caleb Rowe, QB/Maryland (23/42 passing, 240 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT)

Jim Grobe, Head Coach/Wake Forest: “I don’t know that we didn’t respect (Clemson’s speed). I think we didn’t realize how fast those guys were.” (gameplan failure)

Duke defense (48 points, 560 yards allowed — despite four FSU turnovers)

Tevin Washington, QB/Georgia Tech (1/5 passing, 9 yards, 1 INT, 10 rushing yards)

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ACC Football 2012 Week 9 Lessons: Giovani Bernard Shows He’s One of Best Players in the Country

Is Giovani Bernard the ACC’s Best Player? After Saturday’s Huge Effort, It’s a Plausible Theory

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 9 of ACC football action:

1. Giovani Bernard is unstoppable: Or at least that was the perception of the North Carolina running back as he carried his team to a huge victory on Saturday. After jumping out to a big lead over NC State, the Heels faltered badly and needed a lift. Cue Bernard, who racked up 304 all-purpose yards on the day, with three scores. The most important, however, was a phenomenal 74-yard punt return TD with just 13 seconds left on the clock. The score broke a 35-35 tie and handed UNC their first win over the Wolfpack since 2006. Bernard is obviously a game-changer, and yet still travels predominantly under the radar to national pundits.

2. Florida State‘s back in the National Championship picture: Everyone knows the old college football adage: if you’re going to lose, lose early. So was FSU’s upset defeat in early October early enough? Now at seventh in the Coaches Poll and ninth in the BCS, the Seminoles are refocusing on their original goal of contending for a National Championship. Obviously, they’ll need some help on the way, but if they win out — and continue beating teams as impressively as they did this weekend — there’s still hope a title game berth is in the cards.

3. Clemson looks poised to avoid last year’s disappointing finish: The Tigers were ready to set the world on fire this past Thursday night, running through Wake Forest‘s defense with their best performance of the year. This Clemson team remembers the disappointment of last year, and is determined not to repeat it. If they win out, Clemson finds themselves in the thick of the BCS conversation, and could very well earn themselves a trip to a major bowl game even without winning the division.

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