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09 Homer Preview: The Terrapins Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of James Bond, yes… his actual name. This is second Homer Preview for OTP, and 007 is not simply a famous Maryland alum and ardent Terp supporter, he’s also a lawyer who inevitably will save our ass whenever we need it. Hopefully with a passionate “Boom!! LAWYERED!” Giggity.

Homer Preview: Maryland Terrapins
Terps-Logo

What You Need to Know
Last year for Maryland saw some great wins, some bad losses, but an overall positive year for the Terps who finished 8-5, 4-4 in conference, and with a final win on the Smurf Turf at the Humanitarian Bowl. Four of those wins were against ranked opponents, but the Terps had some bad losses, including a winless UVA at that time in the season, and to both BC and FSU to end their regular season.

Speaking of losses, the Terps said goodbye to a large senior class (30) where 23 started at least one game, and 13 are currently on NFL rosters, most notably Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was picked 7th overall by Oakland in this year’s draft. To counter this dearth of experience, the Terps bring its best recruiting class in 4 years, ranked 26th by Rivals.com. Four of the 24 fresh faces are all Americans, while a host of others rank well in their positions.

Coach Ralph Friedgen returns as the eighth winningest coach in ACC history, with his newly named heir-apparent James Franklin as the Offensive Coordinator. A new Defensive Coordinator Don Brown, who while head coach at Umass Amherst had a 70% win percentage over 5 years, brings with him a 4-3 defense the players seemed to have responded well to. Another new face on the sidelines will be special teams/tight ends coach Charles Bankins from the University of Richmond.

Who You Need to Know and Their 08 Stats
Maryland has quality players returning to both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Quarterback Chris Turner is in his 3rd year as a starter, throwing for more than 2,500 (5th best in school history) yards last season and almost 4500 in his career (7th best so far). Behind him, lies Maryland’s greatest threat: an extremely deep backfield. Leading the crew is last year’s all conference running back Da-Rel Scott, a Doak Walker candidate for the second straight year. Scott ran for 1133 yards last season, 174 of which came in the Humanitarian Bowl where he was named MVP. With him in the back field are Morgan Green, Davin Meggett, and Corey Jackson, a strong senior fullback who will help make holes for his tailbacks. Meggett rushed for almost 500 yards as a backup. Maryland is known for its 1-2 punch at running back, and there are a lot of different looks they can give you with this crew.

The Defensive front seven is the youngest and weakest link on the team. Only Phil Ivey and Jared Harrell return to the front line as main contributors from last season. Luckily they will have Alex Wujciak, the ACC’s second leading tackler last season behind them at middle linebacker and the very active Adrian Moten (74 tackles, 7 sacks) at the Sam. Wujciak is a Bednarik hopeful, and on the preseason all conference team, so listen for his name a lot this season. Maryland’s got depth in the secondary

Joining Wujcaik on the preseason All-ACC team is last year’s all-conference punter Travis Baltz. Baltz is also a Guy hopeful. Another special team standout returning from last year is Torrey Smith, the conference’s best returner.

Game to Watch
The past couple of seasons, the Terps have been in the hunt for the ACC championship game, and they’ve folded against BC or FSU or both. I expect this year to be no different. The Terps should be fighting for a decent bowl game by the end of the season, so I look at the final three games against tough schools (VT, FSU, and BC) to be the hardest for them. They could be 7-2 or better going into those games, so VT is the one I have as the key matchup. Friedgen and Beamer are old friends, but Beamer has had bragging rights of late. Luckily, the Fridge gets this one at home.

They’ll Do Well If…
… the offensive line gives Turner time to throw the ball! Is that de ja vu? I said the same thing last year, except now, only Phil Costa and Bruce Campbell are returning starters. Phil Costa has emerged as the leader of the o-line, and Bruce Campbell is a freak left tackle that will be playing on Sundays if he can stay healthy. The receiving corps, while young, has talent. Expect the gifted returner Torrey Smith to also be the primary recipient of Turner’s passes. If Turner goes down with injury, they are in a world of hurt because there’s only one true backup who was inconsistent in the spring and has yet to play in a game, and two new recruits.

Season Outlook
The good news: The Terps play 5 of their first seven games at home. If they start strong like they did last year, then the world is their oyster. The bad news: eight of the teams that they line up against played in bowl games last year (5 won), and one was in the FCS playoffs. As the offensive line goes, so goes the season, because the Terps have the talent in the backfield and at QB. Turner gets to start the season close to his home at Cal, then he comes to his new home to play 4 winnable games. The Terps seem to always have a hiccup in the middle of the season against a team they should beat (like UVA last year) which is the first sign of trouble. I anticipate that game being either WFU or NCSU this year. They also tend to fold at the end of the regular season, losing to either BC or FSU or both. This year, they lose to Rutgers, VT, and FSU, plus one more, going 8-4, missing 2-3 ACC games. They’ll be in a fun bowl game.

09 Homer Preview: The Tar Heel Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of David Poindexter, a lifelong sports fan with a special affliction for the UNC Tar Heels and a hatred of Duke that rivals even that of the most passionate Kentucky fans.

Homer Preview: UNC Tar Heels
unc logo

What You Need to Know
In recent years, the UNC Tar Heels have not made the list of great, or even very good, football teams. Moving forward, fall in Chapel Hill will mean more than waiting a few months until basketball season. As Coach Davis improves the football program at Carolina, the expectations for the once unspectacular team are growing by the minute. This is the third year for the Tar Heels under the Butch Davis regime in Chapel Hill. Usually in college football the third year is difficult because of the ongoing rebuilding process. However, Coach Davis is ahead of schedule with rebuilding the UNC football program. Fans will now have more to cheer for than hoops and March madness. The Heels made a big jump last year in the wins column, winning 8 games. Four of their losses were by a total of 9 points.

This year marks the third year of the Butch Davis regime in Chapel Hill. Last year UNC achieved an 8-4 record and a narrow one-point defeat to West Virginia in their bowl game. This is a marked improvement over their 4-8 record in Butch’s first year. This year expectations have grown. Gone are the days where 6-6 is considered a decent season. The Tar Heels are looking to win big. Not many years ago, losing to Miami by “only” 21 was a moral victory for the Heels. Butch has put Carolina football back on the map, and created a team that can keep up with their competition. With a relatively down ACC and an up and coming UNC team, an ACC championship and a BCS berth are not out of the question. Fans cannot forget that the team is only three years removed from the John Bunting era. A BCS bowl seems like an outlandish statement and could only be made by a fan using their Carolina blue glasses. However, if things can break their way, an ACC championship is an attainable goal that would come with an automatic BCS bid.

UNC returns an experienced and hungry defense, led at the linebacker spot by Quan Sturdivant. Another impact player at linebacker is Bruce Carter, who blocked 5 kicks last season. The D-Line boasts the most talent since a guy named Julius Peppers was wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. The Defensive line is anchored by junior Marvin Austin. The offensive side of the ball is left with a few more question marks. UNC lost 3 wide receivers to the NFL. To say we are inexperienced at this spot is an understatement. The Heels will be moving Greg Little to wideout for the full season this year. Little has taken snaps at RB and WR over the course of his career. Additionally, Dwight Jones and Todd Harrelson have staked their claim on the 2nd and 3rd receiver spots. Another vulnerable position is the O-Line. UNC has talent at all of the O-Line spots, but the depth is very thin here. Earlier this month, Kevin Bryant, a tackle, left the program. Carl Gaskins is also lost for the season due to a torn ACL and MCL. The running back tandem of Shaun Draughn (who played cornerback until last season) and Ryan Houston is ready to take the ACC by storm once again. Unfortunately, this season Draughn won’t be able to use the element of surprise to sneak up on defenses. The brightest spot for the offense may be the return of our starting QB TJ Yates. Yates was having a stellar showing last year until a season ending injury occurred during the 2nd half against Virginia Tech.

This season’s schedule has some challenging games at home against FSU and away the next week at Virginia Tech. Carolina will also face in-state rivals NC State and East Carolina. Georgia Tech and Miami will undoubtedly be difficult conference foes. This season will hopefully mark the last season that two FBS teams are on the schedule with The Citadel and Georgia Southern coming to Chapel Hill. Carolina fans have a lot to look forward to this year. The talent, leadership and experience should all make for an exciting season for UNC Tar Heel fans!

Who You Need to Know & Their 08 Stats
QB TJ Yates: 81-135, 1168 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs (injured in 3rd game of season in ’08)
RB Shaun Draughn: 198 attempts, 866 yards, 3 TDs
LB Quan Sturdivant: 122 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 for a Touchdown

Game to Watch
Everyone with ESPN will be watching the Tar Heels on October 29th when they travel to Blacksburg VA., for a Thursday night showdown with Virginia Tech. Last season the game against Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill ended in a 20-17 win by the Hokies. Also in that game Carolina lost their starting Quarterback, TJ Yates, for the season. This game may not only be the game to watch this season, it may also be the most important football game for Carolina in over a decade, since the Mack Brown era.

They’ll Do Well If…
…one of their young receivers steps up and becomes a number one option. After losing 3 receivers to April’s NFL Draft, WR has to be the biggest question mark heading into Butch Davis’ third year at Carolina. If either Greg Little or Dwight Jones can achieve their potential they left high school with, Carolina will have this question mark answered. Two freshmen may be worth watching here in Jheranie Boyd and Josh Adams. Boyd is arguably the most ready to play freshman receiver in the ACC, and Josh Adams is a great route runner much in the mold of former Tar Heel Brandon Tate who was drafted in the 3rd Round by the NE Patriots.

Also, they will do well if they can stay relatively healthy on the O-line. The O-Line this season is very talented but depth may be an issue if there are any injuries. They have some strong true freshman O-Lineman, but as we all know, on the college level true freshman are not immediate playmakers, especially on the O-Line.

Their defense can play up to potential. The Heels front seven may be one of the top 15 in the country. The majority of the defense is upper classmen, so this could be put up or shut up time.

Season Outlook
If Carolina can keep progressing at the rate they have under Coach Davis, it is entirely possible that Carolina will be representing the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game. They have a really tough 2 week stretch where they play Florida State and Virginia Tech on back to back Thursday nights. Beating VT would be huge, but winning both could signify a rather special season for the Heels. I would call it a successful season by finishing with 9 wins and a Peach Bowl Victory. I still think that an ACC Title and BCS conversation should be had next season. However you should never bet against Coach Davis to be ahead of schedule, as he has been so far in Chapel Hill.

09 Homer Preview: The Volunteer Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Devin Cogswell, a proud UT alum and defender of all things Kiffin (or Fulmer) related. You can check his site out at DevinBlogsWell.

Homer Preview: Tennessee Volunteers

ut logoBack to the Future IV: Road to Rocky Top

Open the orange gull wing doors. Fire up the flux capacitor. Set the time circuits for the future: October 24th 2009 to be precise. Hit 88 miles an hour and we’re there….the future of Tennessee Volunteers football. So as we step out of our Rocky Top Delorean on the evening of the Alabama game that so often defines a Vol season…what do we see?

Like our friend Marty McFly in your favorite time travel cinema classic, we (Vol fans) must uncover whether or not this is the future we have imagined or something very askew and sinister. (At this point if you are not familiar with the BTF storyline…just stop reading.)

Our Biff Tannen in this story is the new coach of said Vols, Lane Kiffin. But which Biff is he? Is he the hard-charging young coach with a pedigree for success finally in an environment with the tools to succeed…or is he simply a tool? It has been one of the more memorable offseasons in UT history with big name signings and big time screw-ups.

Let’s start with the nice before the naughty. Lane is doing the things that win over the Vol faithful. Last week he spoke to incoming freshmen at the annual freshmen picnic, held near the stadium; inviting all to watch practice the next day and encouraging them to show up at the upcoming scrimmage. (The author enjoyed meeting Phillip Fulmer at a prior freshmen picnic) He talks like a winner, albeit a winner without a college win yet. This talk has been absent and much desired by Vol fans in the new SEC of today. The previous owner of the coaching clipboard was from the old guard and respectfully acted in this way. He also will now be yapping about games on Sunday for CBS.

Kiffin has assembled a virtual SEC dream team of a coaching staff. His father, Monte, is the living legend of football defense and auteur of the ‘Tampa 2.’ Ask any player; they love being coached by this guy. They bring in Ed Orgeron who will eat your soul and enjoy it not to mention many other quality names from around the conference.

The naughty? Well, its been an offseason of miscues to make you think Joe Biden is the athletic director. Kiffin is under an intense microscope and it has found a few bugs from calling out incorrect Florida recruiting violations to several minor violations that are very legit. (As I turn this piece in, big time recruit Bryce Brown’s eligibility is being called into question by the NCAA)

The good and the bad mean nothing yet. Kiffin’s Vols haven’t won anything and they haven’t lost to anyone either. As we look to the players and get beyond the coach, word from Knoxville is that Camp Kiffin is for real. The players practice hard and fierce for the new regime.

Let’s get to the players of our Vols of the future.

Defense.
Let’s start with the positives. The Vols were the third best defense in the country last year and there is not a lot of reason to believe they will do anything but improve. An early Heisman campaign has kicked off for the king of the secondary, Junior strong safety Eric Berry. He could be the Vols first major award winner since Big John Henderson. (Did I mention that Berry is featured in another time travel movie: Terminator Salvation? He is a deadly robot. Seriously. He cannot be stopped. After this season, he is looking forward to starting World War III before the draft.) Also returning are standout Senior linebacker Rico McCoy. Monte will make sure these guys are well coached as former coordinator John Chavis heads to LSU. Look for defense to continue to anchor any future the Vols head towards.

Offense.
The major question marks on this team rest with the offense. The future belongs to youth. Freshmen tailbacks Bryce Brown and David Oku are earlier glimmers of hope in camp. They have been rough and durable and Kiffin likes what he sees from them. Senior center Josh McNeil will anchor the offensive line along with Senior tight end Jeff Cottam, who was listed on the John Mackey TE preseason watch list. The future at quarterback is uncertain. Jonathan Crompton hopes to hold down a very shaky spot as the Vols QB. Nick Stephens has made a solid challenge to this spot despite last year’s feast or famine. Crompton completed 17 of 25 for 178 yards with the first team offense in the most recent scrimmage. WR Nu’Keese Richardson has been taking the snaps as the wildcat QB, something that will allow Eric Berry to focus on destroying other teams’ offenses. Are there receivers in the future? Well several injuries decimated the WR corps in the spring and summer. It is going to be a young corps with less than 50 receptions to their names combined.

As for the schedule, last year’s 5-7 record should be a distant memory. The Vols open with Western Kentucky and then test themselves against UCLA before the biggest game of Kiffin’s career, his first showdown in Gainesville. Other highlights include the annual war with Alabama, a late September visit to Auburn, as well as games at Georgia and South Carolina this year.

So which future lies ahead for the Vols? Is an orange-clad Biff Tannen waxing down our new 4×4 with VOLS tags while singing Rocky Top the morning after a September triumph in Gainsville?

Or

Are we walking up to the house after the Alabama game with a smashed car in the driveway and a drunk Coach Tannen with beer stains on his pants asking who is going to pay for his dry-cleaning?

Homer Preview: The Fighting Irish Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of site co-founder RV. Whose knowledge of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is extensive and quite frankly, a little scary.


Homer Preview: Notre Dame
Fighting Irish


I’ll go ahead and put my hat in this ring. I’m sure no one is surprised that someone of my stature would choose to write a post on Notre Dame, but frankly, there aren’t enough posts about ND’s season on the web. I’ll do my best to stray from the blatant homerism that I normally put forth, so bare with me.

What You Need To Know: If you didn’t hear about the Irish’s woes last year, you’re on the wrong site. Go back to TMZ or whatever rock you normally hide under. Last year was a combination of bad coaching decisions and ridiculously pathetic recruiting. Tyrone Willingham was not responsible for what happened, but he certainly helped. I find it hard to believe that Charlie Weis was not expecting a dismal season. The writing was on the walls to anyone who saw the inexperience of the offensive line. Granted, teams have success without experience on the line, but more often than not you can’t match up with any team when there is zero continuity between the offensive line and the skill players.

The good news, 2008 is a season where it’s easy to be optimistic. On the offensive side of the ball, almost everyone comes back. The o-line is extremely beefy compared to last year, plus the departure of Bob ‘Snaps-A-Lot’ Morton at center will hopefully result in a few less jump balls for Jimmy Clausen. There is a ton of talent at the skill positions and there will be some great battles all year long for playing time. Aldridge, Allen and Hughes will all get multiple touches, and all bring something unique to the table. Should Charlie choose to lean on the run this year, I’m confident that teams will fear that tandem in the backfield. The receivers are young and chock full of talent. Duval Kamara and David Grimes return, along with Michael Floyd and Deion Walker, all who will make an impact this year. Unfortunately there is no sugar coating it, the offense sucked last year. But, there’s only room for improvement. Right?

The defense has a whole different list of reasons to be optimistic. Adding Jon Tenuta to Corwin Brown’s staff will be an instant improvement. The man did so much with what was widely-regarded as a talent barren defense at Georgia Tech, that he has to be salivating at the prospect of working with the young linebackers at ND. The defensive backfield is the most talented and deep squad on either side of the ball. The departure of last year’s best DB, Darrin Walls, will be felt, but only by allowing Gary Gray – who sat out last year with a broken arm – and Raeshon McNeil to compete for the starting spot. The future is VERY bright for this defense, especially on the defensive line. But, once again…let’s be cautious.

Who You Need To Know & Their 07 Stats:
DT Ian Williams, Sophomore – Freshman All-American, 45 tkls, 19 solo, 1.5 sacks
WR Duval Kamara, Sophomore – 32 rec., 357 yds, 4 TDs
FS and Gunner David Bruton, Senior– 85tkls, 5.5 tfl, 3 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF/FR
RBs James Aldridge/ Armando Allen/Robert Hughes – 260 att., 1163yds, 4tds

Game To Watch: Michigan – Second game of the year, with both teams trying to answer major questions. Both teams will have nothing to lose, and it’ll be entertaining for anyone interested in college football. We’ll see two completely different programs from the year before, and it’ll be an entertaining game to watch just to see whoever lines up behind center for Michigan as they try and figure out how to run the spread offense.

USC – It’s the last game of the year, in LA (Jimmy Clausen has never lost a football game he started in California, that’s just science) and both teams will be extremely different from their first game of the season. USC can reload at any point at any position, and Pete Carroll loves everything about you. He’s jacked just because you’ll be watching. As much as I hate the man, he’s an unbelievable icon in the college football world, and if the Irish mature as the season progresses it can end up a great game.

They’ll Do Well If….: They win 8 games. It isn’t the murder’s row of a schedule that last year’s slate started off with, but almost every game is a game that they could lose. At the same time, no team but USC looks better on paper. Charlie needs to win a bowl game to shut up the crappy fans and the media, but it’s not required. Just as long as the Irish get there and play well.

Season Outlook: This season is a tough one to give an outlook that isn’t ridiculous. The easiest way to look at it is if you can pretend that 2007 never happened. If ND had gone 6-6 last year, with wins over Navy, BC and Purdue, it’d be conceivable to think that they’re on track for a 10-2 season. But you have to put the brakes on when a team has its worst in their storied history, so let’s just say 8-4 is doable, 7-5 likely, 6-6 a must. It’s going to be a fun rollercoaster, and everyone is going to be watching.

Homer Preview: The Huskies Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview, featuring the Northern Illinois Huskies is courtesy of an unnamed yet awesome NIU supporter, and while an International Man of Mystery, he’s never too big to write for a website about a sub-standard football team. Huzzah!

Homer Preview: Northern Illinois Huskies

What You Need to Know: In year one of the Coach Kill regime, you can expect growing pains. However, those who follow the program do expect improvement over last years shocking two win season. Coach Jerry Kill has turned around every program he has ever lead, expect a similar result in DeKalb. Kill was the 1-AA (I refuse to call it whatever it is supposed to be called now), National Coach of the Year last year at Southern Illinois University and has kept virtually his entire staff in tact, which should help in a transition year.

Now, to the bare essentials. The previous coaching staff and administration didn’t do Coach Kill any favors in scheduling. The Huskies will face six bowl teams from last year including road dates at Minnesota and Tennessee. With a new coach, a transitional recruiting class and a team who won two games, this schedule may prove too much to handle. (In defense of the two wins last year, the Huskies did lose six games last year by a touchdown or less).

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats
RB Justin Anderson: 1245 yds, 8 TD

DE Larry English: 67 tkls, 10.5 sacks

WR Matt Simon: 52 rec., 965 yds, 5 TD


Game To Watch
: There are about five games on their schedule that will be notable and very interesting. Aside from their kickoff game at Minnesota, their week two game at Western Michigan will be critical. Assuming the prognosticators are right and the Huskies stumble at their big ten opponent week one, they will need to show well in Kalamazoo to regain momentum and avoid an 0-2 start. Also, circle 11/5 on your calendar when the Huskies visit the Cardinals of Ball State. This nationally televised Wednesday night game will feature the best defensive player in the league, NIU’s Larry English (t
hat’s right, take that in for a moment. The MVP of the MAC was not only a defensive player, but a defensive player off of a team that finished in last place with two wins. ) trying to slow debatably the best offensive player in the league (Ball State’s Junior QB, Nate Davis).

They’ll Do Well If…: Whomever they name starter at QB proves he can be a stabling presence and can handle a new, spread-style offense. Also if Justin Anderson can rush for at least 1000 yards to take pressure off of the QB. (In doing so, it would be the 10th consecutive year NIU has a 1,000 yard rusher).

Season Outlook: Coach Kill is the real deal and will succeed at delivering NIU its first MAC Championship…….just not this year. Between 4-6 wins should be expected, but don’t sleep on this program on the rise.

Homer Preview: The Terrapin Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview, featuring the Maryland Terps is courtesy of James Bond (yes, his real name), a proud Maryland alum, attorney extraordinaire, and the “lawya” we refer to when we refer to “lawya”.

Homer Preview: Maryland Terrapins

What You Need to Know:The Terps are returning 46 players who saw action on the field last season, where they finished 6-6, which includes a loss in the Emerald Bowl to the Oregon State Beavers. Maryland made a Terrapin out of one of those Beavers, new Wide Receivers Coach Lee Hull. Another new old face on the Maryland sideline is Offensive Coordinator James Franklin, who coached with the Ralph “The Fridge” Friedgen during his first 4 years at Maryland. They also added a new special teams coach in Danny Pearman, making this the third team he’s coached with in the ACC, including perennial ACC powerhouse VTU.

Returning players on offense include 4 out of 5 starting linemen, Chris Turner at starting QB who was third best in passing efficiency last year, and All-American Darrius Heyward-Bey at WR. Another threat the Fridge is excited about is senior TE Dan Gronkowski, having both blocking and catching abilities.

Defensive veterans Jeremy Navarre and Trey Covington have each played at least 30 games. The LB corps has proven to be an NFL factory of late, and this year should prove no different with Dave Philistin and Adrian Moten. Philistin was the fourth leading tackler in the ACC, and Moten was the jack-of-all trades last year at linebacker.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Chris Turner: 1958 yds, 7 TD
WR Darius Heyward-Bey: 51 rec., 786 yds, 3 TD
LB Dave Philistin: 124 tkls, 6.5 TFL

Game To Watch: Biggest game for the Terps will be against Clemson on the road. The Terps open up against Delaware, MTSU, California and EMU, so if they start strong, they’ll go strong into the Tiger cage, where they won two years ago. If they do poorly, then more losses will follow, not because of skill, but because of confidence. They could rebound against UVA the following week, beating Clemson and starting 5-0 will be a motivational boost as the ACC just might start to Fear the Turtle.

They’ll Do Well If…: Chris Turner has time to throw the ball! The O-line has the experience of playing together, and Turner has proven effective in passing the rock, defeating two top-ten teams last season (Rutgers and BCU). There is no doubt the passing game is the primary weapon for this team, especially since the running back tandem of Da’Rell Scott and Morgan Green saw little time on the field last year. Luckily junior stud FB Cory Johnson will be blocking for them. The Terps have an experienced back up in Jordan Steffy, who has started a number of games for the Terps, but went down early last year, giving Chris “Sunshine” Turner an opportunity to display his skills. There has been stiff competition between these two, but Turner will start.

The secondary is also young, returning only one starter in Kevin Barnes, so the veterans in the front seven will have to pressure the quarterback and stuff the run. Staying healthy is key for this team, as there is little depth in the o-line, d-line, and defensive secondary.

Finally, if the Terps protect their house, then that will be 7 wins and they’ll be bowl bound for the second year in a row. The toughest game at home will be FSU, although, MD gave up a heart breaker to Wake Forest last year.

Season Outlook: The Terps will have to win tough games on the road: Boston College, Clemson (#9), Virginia and Virginia Tech (#15). These four teams finished in the top of their respective divisions last year. Maryland could start the season 4-0 before they go to Clemson and Charlottesville. Even if they lose those four road games, they could still end up with 8 wins but in the bottom half of the division.

Homer Preview: The Orangemen Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Matt Tobia, a proud Syracuse alum and resident who calls them Orangemen rather than Orange, which we firmly support.

Homer Preview: Syracuse Orangemen


What You Need to Know: Syracuse head coach, Greg Robinson, sits squarely on the hot seat after a 7-28 record over the past three years. That stretch, including the only two ten-loss seasons for the 14th Winning-est Program of All-Time, mark some dark times for a once proud program and the outlook to turn things around remains rather dim. Syracuse ranked last in the Big East in most offensive categories last season and to try and correct the offensive ineptitude they brought in former Minnesota Offensive Coordinator, Mitch Browning.

Fortunately for Browning, running backs Delone Carter (hip) and Curtis Brinkley (leg) are back from injuries. Freshman Averin Collier (foot) should recover from injury and Doug Hogue returns from last season. While the backfield could prove to be the strong point of the Offense this year, the team will continue to struggle. Sophomore Quarterback Andrew Robinson showed grit, determination, and a strong sense for ball placement while taking an absolute beating each game. Unfortunately for Andrew Robinson, sophomore wideout Mike Williams, the team’s leading receiver, was suspended for academic problems and junior wideout Taj Smith left early for the NFL. These two defections leave the Orangemen looking to Lavar Lobdell, who had 8 catches for 86 yards last season, to become their top offensive threat. On the other side of the ball, starting defensive end Brandon Gilbeaux was also suspended for academic issues.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
QB Andrew Robinson: 2192 pass yds, 13 pass TD
DT Arthur Jones: 51 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss
S Max Suter: 1229 kick off return yards, 1 ko ret. TD

Game to Watch: Syracuse did themselves no favors with their 2008 schedule. The Orangemen have one of the most difficult schedules in the country. Their non-conference slate includes trips to Northwestern and Notre Dame as well as a home date with Penn State. Their season opening trip to Northwestern is going to be make-or-break for the 12 point underdog
Orangemen.

They’ll Do Well If…: The Offensive Line learns how to play football. For a unit that gave up 54 sacks, there isn’t anywhere to go but up. Combine that with a dismal 62.75 rushing yards per game (good for second to worst in the nation) and the line has to perform better. Offensive Coordinator Mitch Browning has made it a requirement that his linemen slim down which should help them be more agile up front.

Season Outlook: Las Vegas has Syracuse pegged for 2.5 wins and it is hard to imagine taking the over. Syracuse has a winnable game at home against Akron following the opener at Northwestern. If they go 0-2 to start the season things will not get any better with Penn State coming the following week. Following Penn State, they should get a win against I-AA Northeastern before heading into the Big East Season where there is always a possibility for an upset, but it is hard to see that coming against anyone other than Louisville. Syracuse could very well end up 2-10 (with one of those wins against a I-AA opponent) and Greg Robinson should be looking for a new job. A best case scenario would see the Orangemen win 4 or 5 games but that is highly unlikely. Look for Robinson to be out, the only question is if it will be during or after the season.

Homer Preview: The Wildcats Edition

In an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their own team. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of Ryan Ebalhar, UK supporter, student, legend.

Homer Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

What you need to know: The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off of arguably their most successful season since 1977, and their best 2 seasons in a row since the 1951-52 seasons where a Bear Bryant coached team beat the #1 ranked and undefeated Oklahoma Sooners in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and TCU in the 1952 Cotton Bowl. Last year Kentucky beat a top 10 team (Louisville) for the first time since 1977, and a #1 team (LSU) for the first time since 1964, in addition to beating Florida State in the Music City Bowl to win 2 consecutive bowl games since 1952.

Unfortunately, a lot of that success came from a strong senior class. Absent this season will be QB Andre Woodson, RB Rafael Little, TE Jacob Tamme, WRs Keenan Burton and Stevie Johnson, andLB Wesley Woodyard. Woodson set the SEC record for most TDs in a season last year, Johnson and Burton were 1 and 2 for touchdowns in the SEC last year, and Woodyard led the SEC in tackles.

Kentucky will be going with a largely untested quarterback in Mike Hartline. His college career isn’t exactly impressive to this point, he has thrown a total of 6 passes in college, with 4 completions and 1 interception. He’ll be passing to senior Dicky Lyons Jr., who has shown spurts of greatness and should have a breakout year, and senior Demoreo Ford. The running game should be strong, with Senior Tony Dixon, Junior Alfonso Smith, and sophomores Moncell Allen and Derrick Locke

However, the normally weak Kentucky defense should be abnormally strong. Senior Braxton Kelley and Junior Micah Johnson are expected to fill Woodyard’s shoes very nicely in the linebacker spot, withFS Marcus McClinton and CB Trevard Lindley expected to improve the 24th ranked passing defense.

Who You Need to Know and Their 07 Stats:
RB Derrick Locke: 521 yds, 5 TD
WR Dicky Lyons: 56 rec., 655 yds, 7 TD
CB Trevard Lindley: 3 INT, 66 tkls, 3 TFL, 11 pass break ups

Game to Watch: The game against South Carolina at Commonwealth Stadium is the one to watch. Coach Steve Spurrier is 15-0 against the Wildcats, but this season may finally be the one where Kentucky gets the best of him. While UK may be on a downswing after last season, the Gamecocks appeared to get worse and worse as the season progressed last season.

They’ll Do Well If: Mike Hartline can pass as accurately as Andre Woodson. Woodson threw 40 TDs and had a QB rating of 144.5 last year. If Hartline can come close to that than the Cats will be quite successful. If Hartline turns out like Shane Boyd, well than lets hope Ryan Mossawski is as good as the scouts say he is next year.

Season Outlook: Look for another bowl game this year, with a 6-6 record most likely. UK will not beat Georgia, Florida, or Tennessee, but the other 9 games are either locks or toss ups. If UK plays their best, 8 wins isn’t out of the realm of possibility, if they revert to their normal ways, look for a 3-4 win season.