Scattershooting around the ACC, while reflecting a bit on the border rivalry between Virginia and Maryland, which seems to be heating up ...
There was never any hiding the fact that former UVa coach Al Groh and current Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen didn’t care much for one another, which added fuel to a kind of weak, so-so rivalry between the two schools on either side of the Potomac.
Naturally, there were some skirmishes between the two over recruits, and then the games themselves.
I’ll never forget the first time Friedgen won ACC coach of the year and took Maryland to the Orange Bowl. Anyways, the meat of that story is that Groh apparently wanted to target the Fridge for the next year. For the longest time, upon every visit to Groh’s office, I noticed there was a huge newspaper article entitled “King Ralph” which was taped the back of Groh’s door so he would have to see it every night when he left the building.
Well, even though Groh is gone, Friedgen apparently has developed a disdain for the Cavaliers’ program, and that showed last week even before the Terps defeated UVa at Scott Stadium.
Friedgen said all week long how much the Virginia game meant to him personally and reiterated those thoughts after the win, talking about how he had been on his team all week. Of course, snapping UVa’s three-game winning streak in the series was important, but there was more to it than just the streak.
The Fridge went out of his way to point out in his weekly press conference how UVa had started to do some things similarly to the way his program had done them for years, then later pointed to the Cavaliers creating a summer television series on Comcast Sports Network, leaving the thought out there to linger.
He mentioned, too, that “There’s guys that are meant to go to Virginia, and there’s guys that are meant to go to Maryland,” pausing for that to linger as well.
Friedgen’s disdain for Virginia was left out there for those listening to interpret however they wished.
According to our trusty pal Patrick Stevens, who covers the Terps, Friedgen was quite candid with his own players about the Wahoos.
“Oh, yeah, he definitely expressed his dislike of Virginia a lot this week,” linebacker Alex Wujciak told Stevens. “It just added to the fire.”
Stevens also recalled a previous conversation with former Maryland safety Christian Varner about the Fridge and the Cavs.
“Man, you’d think we were playing USC,” Varner said of UVa-Maryland game week. “He’d be serious. When we come to play Virginia, he’s serious. He’s very, very serious. You’d think [Virginia] was the No. 1 team in the country. ‘We’d better beat them, we better do this.’”
While most Wahoos consider Virginia Tech and North Carolina as their main rivalries, apparently Maryland considers Virginia its chief rival, so look for the battle between these two schoosl to heat up considerably during the Mike London era.
Bursting the buzz
There’s a strong buzz out there in the recruiting world that two former state high school quarterback stars that are currently in powerhouse football schools are considering transferring to Virginia.
Not so fast my friends.
The buzz is that former Western Branch quarterback Kevin Newsome, who is at Penn State, and former Oscar Smith quarterback Phillip Sims, who is now at Alabama, are looking to transfer to UVa. Certainly, that would be pretty cool and would probably solve UVa’s quarterback question for the future, but don’t buy into the buzz.
Our well-placed source said Wednesday that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that either player will be enrolling at UVa.
Sorry to burst your bubble.
Let’s go bowling
The ACC has eight definite bowl tie-ins this season, and could have nine if the WAC cannot fill its designated spot in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco and went by another name, the Something Nut Bowl, if you care about such things.
Here are the other ACC definites, but we’ll try to spare you the sponsors name when possible: Independence Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Military Bowl (in D.C.), Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte), Sun Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl) and the Orange Bowl.
Currently, there are six ACC teams bowl eligible: Virginia Tech (8-2), FSU, Maryland, N.C. State and Miami (all 7-3) and UNC (6-4).
This weekend, three more league teams will attempt to get that precious sixth win, which would make them bowl eligible as well: Clemson, Boston College and Georgia Tech, all 5-5. If all three win, then the ACC can fill its allotted eight spots, and to heck with the Nut Bowl or whatever it is.
In Chestnut Hill, Frank Spaziani’s boys will hope to get eligible against Virginia, or otherwise they’ll have to get the job done on the road at Syracuse next week. BC, by the way, has gone to 11 straight bowl games, a string started by another former UVa coordinator, Tom O’Brien.
So, getting eligible this weekend is a big deal in Beantown.
“We’re all aware of it,” Spaziani said during the ACC teleconference on Wednesday. “As we play out in August, our goals or aspirations for what we want to do, [a bowl] is certainly one of them. Getting six wins and becoming bowl eligible and going to a bowl. I think any time you have a positive tradition, it’s certainly something that takes a while, obviously, by definition to build. It means something, sure it does.”
Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers are playing as if they need to win this week to become eligible, because they face South Carolina next week and don’t want to leave anything to chance.
“Our players are very much aware of what’s out there,” Swinney said. “This is a huge game from a bowl eligibility standpoint. At this point in the season you want to finish as strong as you possibly can. One of our goals every year is to win our bowl game. You can’t win your bowl game if you’re not in one, so that’s a big deal for us.”
Stat of the week
How big is Boston College’s offensive line?
The Eagles average 6-foot-6, 313 pounds.
By comparison, the nearby New England Patriots of the NFL boast an offensive line that averages 6-foot-4, 307 pounds.
Quote of the week
Asked by a scribe during the weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference about the controversy brewing out of the Cal vs. Oregon game last weekend, when Cal’s coaches were accused of getting their defensive players to fake injuries to keep the fast-paced Ducks from lining up so quickly on offense, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher laughed:
“I’ve never run into it personally that I know of, but if we would have thought of it, we would have done it in Oklahoma when they were getting lined up and we couldn’t get lined up.”
Bye bye Russell?
When junior quarterback Russell Wilson was honored with 19 seniors before N.C. State’s home game against Wake last weekend, was it the last appearance there for him?
He graduated last May and has a year of eligibility remaining, but many observers believe he will dedicate his future to baseball after this season. Wilson played last summer in the Colorado Rockies’ minor league system, but while he has Major League potential, he’s also expressed interest in the NFL, so who knows the path he might choose.
N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said this week that he has no information on whether Wilson will come back for another year in his program and won’t discuss the matter until after this season ends.
“This could very well be his last game,” O’Brien said. “And if it is, we’ll move on.”
No Tiger 3-peat
There will be no repeat for Clemson as the ACC’s Atlantic Division champion.
Coach Dabo Swinney’s team seems to be consumed by the same problems that plagued former coach Tommy Bowden’s teams in Death Valley. They can’t stand their own prosperity. In fact, one might argue that this current Clemson team is the best 5-5 team in the country.
Swinney’s Tigers lead the ACC in preventing sacks and even noted that “we played the number one sack team in America the other night [Florida State], and they couldn’t sniff our quarterback.”
His offense has been pretty effective everywhere on the field except in the red zone, which has been the dead zone for the Tigers.
“The biggest problem for us offensively is red zone scoring,” Swinney said. “We’ve scored 21 touchdowns but we’re 6 of 12 from the 20 and in on field goals and that’s really hurt us. That’s been the difference in probably two or three wins for us, especially with how our defense has played.”
In fact, over the last four games, the Tigers have had 19 visits inside the opponents’ 23-yard line and only four of those possessions resulted in touchdowns, five more producing field goals. For those numbers people out there, that’s 2.2 points per possession. The Tigers are only 3 of 10 on field-goal tries from inside the 40.
Now you know why they’re 5-5 and keep losing close games to good teams like Auburn and Florida State.
Boston College leads the nation in most graduate students playing on its football team with 14, the next closest being Auburn with 11 and Tennessee with nine. ... Butch Davis’ UNC team has never beaten Tom O’Brien’s N.C. State squad, and the two rivals clash this weekend in Chapel Hill. Davis said the past games don’t matter, “We’re not even worried about a second of those two games,” Davis said. “That’s the philosophy we’ve had all season long.” UNC snapped a 14-game road losing streak at UVa earlier this season. ... After losing David Wilson as a kick returner before the Carolina game, Virginia Tech lost one of his replacements in Chapel Hill when Tony Gregory suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament. Wilson could be back this week, but whatever happened to Ryan Williams returning kicks? Hokies coach Frank Beamer said that Williams decided he didn’t want to return kicks and Beamer’s philosophy is that he only wants people returning kickoffs and punts who really want to do so.
Last week: 4-2. To date: 60-21. This week: Virginia Tech 33, Miami 20; Florida State 43, Maryland 27; Georgia Tech 30, Duke 23; Clemson 40, Wake 10; N.C. State 27, UNC 24; Boston College 28, Virginia 21.