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The Ralph Friedgen era at the University of Maryland is now over.
The Terps played their final game under their departing coach by giving him a decisive victory over the East Carolina Pirates, beating them 51-20.
The game's most valuable player, Da'Rel Scott, rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. And while Scott was doing major damage to the ECU defense, the Terps defense contained an explosive offense. Maryland held the dangerous Pirate offense to just 20 points (and 13 while the game was competitive), showing how much progress they have made during the course of the season.
While this game certainly was notable for what happened on the field, it was the significance of what was happening off the field that made this performance so compelling. Terps fans wanted to say goodbye to Friedgen one last time and see him go in style, and with today's performance, they got their wish. More than anything , this game was more a tribute to Friedgen and all the great memories he provided for Terps fans over the last 10 seasons.
Now that the season is over, there are certainly many questions marks going forward about the Maryland football program. Will Maryland be able to continue the build on the positive momentum from this season? Will Danny O'Brien improve under a new coaching staff? How will players respond to the new coach? But most importantly, who will be the new coach? Terps fans will seek the answers to these questions in the coming weeks and months ahead.
As for Friedgen, he will now ride off into the sunset, his future ventures yet unknown. And in his final game, the Terps showed one more time what made him a great coach in the first place, and that's his ability to get his players to play for him. They played with a passion for football shared only by their head coach. It may not always have been pretty, but they did whatever they could for their head man.
And that is the greatest parting gift the Terrapins could ever give their head coach.
And the party goes on for Ralph Friedgen and the Terps.
Da'Rel Scott decided to go for an encore of his last touchdwon, so he delivered once again. This time Scott rushed for a 91 yard touchdown run, giving the Terps a 44-13 lead. And just like the last score, it was the only play on the scoring drive. Scott has 152 yards on his last 2 carries, with two touchdowns. That's efficiency for you.
With just over 11 minutes left in Friedgen's tenure at Maryland, you can't help but think about what would have been if he was allowed to stay for a few more years. The Terps have made tremendous strides both on offense and defense this year, and are playing at as high a level as the team has played in the last few years. Friedgen has to be one of the main reasons for this, and his players have sent the message loud and clear that they still wish he was the coach.
Well, Ralph Freidgen may be able to rest easy going into the 4th quarter. The Terps extended their lead to 37-13 on a 61 yard touchdown run by Da'Rel Scott.
It was the only play of the drive.
Scott ran through a huge hole up the middle and saw nothing but daylight the rest of the way. Most observers understood that ECU's defense had trouble stopping other teams, but it's really showing now. Ball carriers are having open lanes to run through, making would be tacklers miss, and at this point, embarrassing the Pirate defense.
With the game seemingly in hand, it will be interesting to see how emotional Friedgen will get in the waning moments of this game. His team is ahead comfortably, and with this being his final game, there has to be plenty of emotions going through his head. If anyone doubted his coaching ability, today was your answer. Clearly his players have come out and responded to their coach's departure by making sure he leaves a winner.
And just when the Terps needed to respond, they do just that. Running back D.J. Adams scored on his 3rd rushing touchdown of the afternoon, giving the Terps a 30-10 lead.
The Terps offense answered the ECU scoring drive with an 11 play, 69 yard touchdown drive, giving them a 20 point 3rd quarter lead. The offense used a good mix of run and pass, where ECU saw another dose of Da'Rel Scott, Davin Meggett and Adams. Danny O'Brien was able to hit on crucial third downs on the drive, most notably a 31 yard screen pass to Meggett that took the ball inside the ECU 25 yard line. From there, the Terps made it look easy. They methodically moved the ball inside the 10 yard line, which set up the Terps to pound it in once again. Adams took another hand off 1 yard and after crossing the goal line, and gave Ralph Friedgen another big lead late into the 3rd quarter.
ECU's defense came into this game having one of the worst defense's in the country, and it's really starting to rear it's ugly head as the Maryland offense continues to exploit the holes given to them. Should they be able to do this the rest of the half, it may not matter how explosive ECU's offense is.
Just when you thought Maryland was distancing themselves from ECU, the Pirates score a quick touchdown to cut the Maryland lead to 13, and we have a ball game.
The scoring drive was started by an electrifying 36 yard punt return by Dwayne Harris, arguably ECU's most explosive player, to the Maryland 15 yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Dominique Davis lofted a 20 yard pass to receiver Lance Lewis, who barely crossed the plane of the goal line to cut into the Terps lead.
It was only a matter of time before the Pirates struck, but now that they have, it's key that the Maryland team responds. The last thing Ralph Freidgen wants is to give ECU all the momentum this early in the second half. The Terps will have to r establish the ground game to help control the time of possession and keep the ball away from the explosive ECU offense. As for the defense, even though they gave up the score, they must remember that the have been dominating most of this game and continue to pressure the QB and continue their physical style of play.
This is still very much a competitive game, and the Terps need to keep the pedal down if they want to win.
The Terps have started the second half just as fast as they started the first, with a quick touchdown run by D.J. Adams to make the score 23-3 very early in the 3rd quarter.
The Maryland defense continued their stellar day by forcing another ECU turnover, this time an interception by David Mackall who ran the ball all the way back to the ECU 1 yard line, setting up an easy scoring opportunity for the offense. The Terps offense gladly obliged, as D.J Adams scored on a 1 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 20 points.
With Maryland now up 20 points early in the 2nd half, it will be important for coach Ralph Freidgen to keep the gas pedal down the rest of the way. The ECU offense has potential to strike at any time, so the defense needs to continue to focus and hold down the Pirates on offense. As for Danny O'Brien and company, they must continue to protect the ball and keep the rout going by not sitting on the lead to ensure that Friedgen will be able to leave this game with his head held high.
Through the first half of Ralph Friedgen's final game as Terps coach, his players have responded by giving Maryland a 16-3 lead at the half.
The Terps latest scoring drive featured all running plays, as the Terps ran it down ECU's throat, using a good mix of D.J. Adams, Da'Rel Scott, and Davin Meggett. The first play of the drive was a 44 yard Meggett run all the way down to the ECU 22 yard line. From there, the Terps seemed determined to pound it in. And they did just that four plays later, as Adams punched it in from the 1 yard line, giving Maryland the 16-3 lead.
And despite the score, East Carolina should feel fortunate that the score isn't worse. Maryland has squandered several scoring opportunities in the first half. They have not been able to capitalize on short fields, hit on short field goal attempts, or even hit an extra point try.
The defense, on the other hand, has been playing very well, getting 3 turnovers and forcing ECU to punt on most possessions. The Terps have played very physical with the Pirates, making sure to wrap up on every tackle and not allow ball carriers to get many yards after the catch. They have effectively held down the explosive ECU offense to 3 points in the first half.
Heading into the second half, it will be up to the Terps defense to continue to hold down the explosive ECU offense, as they have put up some massive point totals earlier this season. As for the offense, they must be able to capitalize on scoring opportunities to really put this game away.
The ECU Pirates are finally on the board, thanks to a 37 yard field goal by Michael Barbour.
The scoring drive saw quarterback Dominique Davis hit several short gains to his receivers, but the most important play on this drive was a penalty on a 4th down play. The play was ruled an incomplete pass but was nullified by a rouging the passer penalty on Kenny Tate, extending the drive and getting the Pirates into the red zone.there From there, the Terps were able to tighten up, forcing ECU to settle for a field goal.
Maryland will have to control their emotions the rest of the way. This clearly is a physical game and the refs are starting to notice the resentment these two teams have for each other. Because of that, they need to play smart on both sides of the ball, and not play to hurt the guy across from just to make a point.
If the first half of this game is any indication, it looks like the Terps are indeed playing hard for their departing coach. After a 23 yard field goal by Travis Baltz, Maryland is now up on ECU 9-0 in the middle of the 2nd quarter.
The Terps defense has really showed up so far in the first half. On ECU's previous possession, the defense forced a three and out, including two tackles for losses deep inside ECU territory. After a short punt that gave the Terps the ball at mid field, Danny O'Brien hit on another big play. O'Brien rolled out to his right and his tight end Matt Furstenburg for 29 yards. On the play, a personal foul was called on ECU that tacked on another 15 yards to the play.
Unfortunately for the offense, they were unable to cash in on the red zone opportunity, and were forced to settle for a field goal. Baltz, who missed a 25 yarder earlier in the half, was able to hit the 23 yarder to put Maryland up 9-0.
The offense has had plenty of opportunities to blow the game open, but so far has unable to excel in the red zone. The defense, on the other hand, has played extremely well, keeping the Pirates scoreless through one and a half quarters.
Maryland has struck first after shaking off some early miscues.
Quarterback Danny O'Brien's first pass of the game was an interception at mid field, after Maryland tried to go for a big play on their first offensive play from scrimmage. The ball was under thrown into triple coverage, and because of that, ECU got the ball near midfield after just one play.
From there, the Maryland defense stood strong. On a 4th and 1 from midfield, the Maryland defense penetrated the line of scrimmage and tackled Giavanni Ruffin for no gain, giving Maryland the ball right back at mid field. Two plays later, O'Brien and the Maryland offense struck.
On a 3rd and 5, the ACC rookie of the year threw a deep ball under duress to receiver Kevin Dorsey, who caught the ball in stride and ran 45 yards into the endzone. Ironically, Dorsey was given more playing time because junior Quintin McCree was declared ineligible for academic reasons. The ensuing extra point attempt was blocked, keeping Maryland's lead at 6-0 early in the 1st quarter.
It looks like Maryland will not be at full strength going into the Military Bowl, and it's not because of injury. According to The Washington Post's Steve Yanda, four players are ineligible for today's game:
Four Maryland football players will miss Wednesday's Military Bowl against East Carolina due to academic reasons, according to a press release issued by the school's athletic department.
Well, that's not a great way to go into Ralph Friedgen's final game at Maryland. The question is, who of this group will be missed the most? Three of the four players had played in every game, but did not have a great deal of playing time. However, if you were to go by the stats, it looks like McCree could be missed the most. The junior receiver caught 16 passes in 12 games, for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown. With this expected to be an offensive game, quarterback Danny O'Brien will need all the help he can get.
The biggest storyline for the 2010 Military Bowl isn't what is happening on the field. It's Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen's final game after being let go earlier this month, and it comes in front of a local audience.
But that's not necessarily a storyline that directly relates to the game itself. What can fans expect on the field when Maryland takes on East Carolina Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium?
Offense. Lots and lots of offense.
East Carolina is among the worst defensive teams in college football. The Pirates allowed 76 points in a game against Navy earlier this year and rank near the bottom in many defensive categories. Testudo Times points out ECU's defensive futility here.
- 118th in scoring defense
- 115th in rushing defense
- 108th in passing defense
- 104th in sacks
- 119th in 3rd down defense
- 120th in total defense - yes, that's dead last
The Terps are coming off a big offensive performance against North Carolina State, so they should be able to put a ton of points on the board in this one. However, East Carolina's offense is also outstanding. As Testudo Times notes, the Pirates run a spread offense that's very effective.
The thing that might save the game, then, is ECU's own ability to put up points. What with all the Mike Leach stuff floating around, it's worth noting that ECU's offense is extremely similar to Mike Leach's Air Raid. In fact, head cocach Ruffin McNeill - Leach's former DC at TTU - has borrowed many of Leach's former personnel to create the offense.
Unsurprisingly, it's a wide-open system that involves a lot of passing, a lot of yards, and a lot of points. Many of their numbers are Leach-esque: 12th in the nation in scoring, 7th in passing, 23rd in total offense, and 3687 yards for starting QB Dominique Davis, among a few other hefty numbers.
It looks like the Military Bowl will be a very high-scoring game. Get ready for a lot of touchdowns.
In the days after the Maryland Terrapins were passed over by marquee bowl executives because of concerns about whether their fans would travel, a new concern was potentially there: would they even travel a few minutes south to watch the team in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium.
Apparently, that's no longer a concern. The Terps were selling tickets well before Ralph Friedgen was fired, and now, they've sold the full allotment that was given, according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun.
Who knew the Military Bowl would be so compelling? I'd tweeted earlier that the bowl has become a Shakesperean play.
Maryland says it has now sold out its public allotment of Military Bowl tickets. That means more than 8,700 tickets were purchased and/or donated by the public through the school's ticket office for the Dec. 29 game versus East Carolina.
Friedgen's expected departure probably accelerated the selling of those tickets to a certain degree. Now, this game is more than just your run-of-the-mill bowl game. It's the end of a decade-long era of Maryland football.
Friedgen is expected to make his first public comments since the firing on Wednesday at a pre-Military Bowl press conference, though that hasn't been finalized.
With the 2010 Military Bowl matchup at RFK Stadium between Maryland and East Carolina concrete, the Terps have an obvious hometown advantage. But Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen is pleading with the team's fan base to show up.
The ACC Coach of the Year led a resurgence of sorts in College Park. The Terps finished the season 8-4 after an abysmal 2-10 campaign last season. Maryland fans believed that the Terps earned a place at a better bowl and some even say that they will protest by not showing up to a game that is literally in their backyard.
East Carolina, on the other hand, plans to see RFK "awash with purrple." The Pirates ended the season 6-6, but have already sold out their team-sponsored hotel in Washington and team officials expect the 10,000 ticket allotment to sell out. To put that into perspective, bowl officials anticipate a crowd of 30,000 fans at RFK, which includes 5,000 tickets for the military and about 2,500 tickets for District kids.
Friedgen urged fans at a recent media event to show up and support a team that is obviously improving.
"We have a chance to send a message to these people who turned us down that we do support a bowl," Friedgen said. "This is right in our back yard. East Carolina is going to show up. If we really care about our football program, our fans need to show up also."
Maryland fans not showing up is not a protest, but a let down to the players who worked so hard to improve. Hell, Terps fans don't even need to drive! The Military Bowl is not the Orange Bowl (where the Terps played in 2001), but fans can take the Green and Orange lines to get there.
You have to feel for the Maryland players that were hoping to go somewhere better than the Military Bowl against East Carolina. They proved their worth on the field, putting together a banner 8-4 season that included a big win over North Carolina State in the final game of the regular season.
But truth be told, the writing was on the wall for some time. Maryland may have impressed when they played, but the empty crowds at Byrd Stadium told bowl executives everything they needed to know. Diehard fans certainly did their job, but by and large, if fans are annoyed their team got placed in a lesser bowl, the best thing they can do about it is to actually show up to games. As SB Nation's Maryland blog Testudo Times writes, this was something that was certainly within fans' control.
I'm a little tired of hearing, though, that the program and fans were victimized, screwed over, and punished by a broken system that emphasizes economics over all else. Does it suck? Yep. But Maryland's a big, state university located in a large metro area that's seen fan support in the past. This ain't Wake Forest. Maryland should have fan support. They just didn't get it this year.
When fans aren't going to games in College Park, you can't blame bowl organizers for worrying about the fans' ability to travel to Orlando to Nashville. It's a financial process for the bowls, as are most things in college sports, and we all knew that going in.
Testudo Times concludes by saying he feels sorry for the players, but not for the program.
The players were victimized; the program wasn't.
This is certainly something for coach Ralph Friedgen and athletic director Kevin Anderson to chew on in the coming weeks and months. It's not their fault, of course, that fans didn't show up like they do at other schools, but if there's a way for them to do something about it beyond performing on the field, they should find a way to figure out what that something is.
Of the nine possible Bowl game destinations for the Maryland Terrapins, the team will be heading to the Military Bowl, the eighth choice among Bowls involving ACC teams. But here's the thing. Maryland finished the season tied for third in the ACC. So how come they fell so far?
With lower ranked teams like Clemson and Georgia Tech travling to more prestigious Bowl games, the Terrapins have good reason to be somewhat upset. Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson spoke to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun.
Maryland AD Kevin Anderson on bowl outcome: "We're disappointed in the process. We're disappointed in the way things were determined."
With the Military Bowl seeking a local team to help drive up ticket sales at RFK Stadium, it's entirely possible that Maryland could have won two fewer games and still played in the same Bowl. As long as Maryland was bowl eligible at six wins or more, the school was always going to be a desireable choice for the Military Bowl.
The Bowl got its wish. Maryland did not.
In the end, all the advocacy, the politicking and the selling of the program was for naught. Despite a banner 8-4 season that featured a breakout quarterback and the ACC Coach of the Year, the Maryland Terrapins will be forced to stay home and play in the Military Bowl against East Carolina. According to Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post, the matchup is now official.
The game will take place on December 29 at RFK Stadium at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. Having a local team is a huge boon to Military Bowl officials, but it's a huge disappointment for Maryland, who was hoping for something more after finishing in a tie for third in the ACC. However, due to poor attendance figures at home games, the Terps slipped to eighth in the bowl picture because of concerns that the fans wouldn't travel with. Bowls are able to do this as long as teams are within one win of each other in conference play, and six ACC teams finished either 5-3 or 4-4.
According to Prisbell, any hope of Maryland playing in the Champs Sports Bowl evaporated last night.
Maryland's long-shot hopes of playing in an upper-tier bowl, as Coach Ralph Friedgen felt his team deserved, dissolved late Saturday night in - of all places - Tampa, Fla., where Connecticut earned the Big East title with a last-minute victory over South Florida. That cleared the way for the Champs Sports Bowl to select West Virginia (9-3), thus blocking Maryland's slim chances of landing there because officials try, at all costs, to avoid regular season rematches. The Sun Bowl, which had the next selection, was delighted to match two of the nation's most recognizable football programs, Notre Dame and Miami, in what promises to be an attendance and television ratings bonanza.
Going to the Military Bowl is good for Maryland's bottom line, as they save on travel costs, but it's not what they would have wanted, and it will be difficult to get fans excited about a weekday afternoon start in frigid temperatures.
East Carolina is 6-6 this season, including a 5-3 record in Conference USA. The Pirates' best win, ironically, is against North Carolina State, who jumped Maryland to go to the Champs Sports Bowl. However, they also were responsible for one of the most lopsided college football games this season, a 76-35 loss to Navy on November 6. The Panthers have lost four of their last five games and are among the worst defensive teams in college football.
Earlier today, we discussed how Maryland's bowl destination depended on whether bowl executives from the Champs Sports Bowl would pick them over North Carolina State. It looks like North Carolina State will win that battle.
Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post is reporting that "all signs" point to Maryland playing East Carolina in the 2010 Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on December 29.
At this point, should Maryland (8-4, 5-3 ACC) wind up at a different bowl - Orlando's Champs Sports Bowl, the Sun Bowl in El Paso or Music City Bowl in Nashville - it would qualify as, by far, Maryland's biggest upset of the season. Despite finishing in a three-way tie for third in the ACC - with North Carolina State (8-4, 5-3) and Miami (7-5, 5-3) - Maryland faces the anticipated prospect of free-falling to the eight slot in the ACC's pecking order.
Nothing has been decided for sure, because the Champs Sports Bowl will not make their official decision until Sunday night, and all other bowls depend on that decision. However, Prisbell reports that the chances of Maryland beating out North Carolina State "range from slim to none."
If the Terps indeed slip to the Military Bowl, it will be because of their lagging fanbase compared to North Carolina State. Patrick Stevens crunches the numbers and finds that Maryland's highest single-game attendance was still lower than N.C. State's lowest single-game attendance. The Military Bowl has coveted Maryland for some time, and financially, it's less taxing for Maryland to play in that game. However, considering the success they had this season, the Terps were certainly hoping for something more.
Via Fanhouse, the East Carolina Pirates will be the Conference USA representative in the 2010 Military Bowl. The Pirates finished 6-6 after a 5-2 start, but won the CUSA for the second consecutive year.
The Pirates will await an opponent from the ACC that will be determined at a later date. The ACC will take part in the Military Bowl for the next few years, facing off against Navy in 2011, Army in 2012 and a member of the Big 12 in 2013.
In last year's Military Bowl, the UCLA Bruins defeated the Temple Owls 30-21. The Military Bowl, in its third year, will take place December 29 at 2:30 PM at RFK Stadium.
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