Week 2: Are Maryland and Virginia for real?

Week 2: Are Maryland and Virginia for real?

Week 2 of the college football season did not disappoint. Maryland earned a dominant win, Virginia took care of an FCS foe, Virginia Tech earned some revenge and Penn State overcame a slow start.

Here's a recap of the week's action.

Virginia 52, William & Mary 17

The good: A triple threat

Just like in their game against Pitt, all three aspects of the game played a huge role for Virginia. The Cavaliers got points from the offense, defense and special teams all in the first half.

Joe Reed got the scoring started with a 40-yard touchdown catch from Bryce Perkins. Later in the first quarter, William & Mary quarterback Hollis Mathis appeared to get his wires crossed with his receiver. He threw the ball in between two routes where the only player who was even aware the ball had been thrown was cornerback Nick Grant who picked it off and took the ball 80 yards for the touchdown. 

In the second quarter, already up 28-3, Joe Reed returned a kickoff 100 yards for the first half exclamation point.

The bad: 2 interceptions for Perkins

Perkins threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. The Tribe's first touchdown of the night came off a pick as Arman Jones was able to return it 47 yards to the end zone.

The silver lining, of course, is that neither interception was a big factor in a game that was never really in doubt, but it was certainly a sour note to an otherwise dominant performance.

The ugly: What the defense did to Hollis Mathis

William & Mary quarterback Mathis rushed for 127 yards and threw for another 66 in their Week 1 win. Virginia, however, had no problem bottling the freshman quarterback up.

Mathis rushed for just 10 yards on 15 carries on Saturday. He was even less effective through the air as he completed more passes to Virginia (one) than he did to any of his own receivers. Mathis had zero completions on four attempts.

Maryland 63, Syracuse 20

The good: Anthony McFarland

McFarland was, by far, the best player on the field on Saturday. On 14 carries, McFarland rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns. He also added two catches for 45 yards and another touchdown.

His best play came late in the first half when he hauled in a pass from Jackson, turned on the jets and weaved his way through traffic for a 39-yard gain, setting up a six-yard touchdown pass the very next play caught by...McFarland.

The bad: The unnecessary quarterback tandem

Maryland was dominant from start to finish so it is hard to find a real negative on the day. If you want to nitpick, however, then let's go to early in the second quarter when Tyrrell Pigrome entered the game. At that point, Josh Jackson had completed seven of 10 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown to give Maryland the 21-7 lead. He was the hot hand and there was no reason to put Pigrome in.

I get that Mike Locksley wants to keep a quarterback tandem and that Pigrome is a different quarterback who brings a different dynamic. I get it. But don't mess with success. The Terps were rolling with Jackson and Locksley knew it as Pigrome ran two plays and did not get back into the game the rest of the day.

The ugly: Jake Funk's drive

Late in the fourth quarter, Maryland forced a turnover on downs at their own eight-yard line. From there, the Terps just ran it down Syracuse's throat. Running back Jake Funk carried the ball three times the first for 54 yards, then 28 yards and finally 10 yards into the end zone.

Three plays, 92 yards, all by one running back.

The Orange defense quit on that drive and it was obvious to everyone watching.

Virginia Tech 31, Old Dominion 17

The good: This catch

The bad: ODU's comeback

Maybe you were feeling good about this game when the Hokies were up 24-3. After the Monarch's handed Virginia Tech a stunning defeat last season, a dominant win for the Hokies would certainly feel satisfying. Yet, from there ODU made things uncomfortable.

The Monarch's marched down the field in a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a three-yard Stone Smartt touchdown run. They then forced a punt from the Hokies in the next drive and scored another touchdown -- this time in five plays and 78 yards -- to make it a one-possession game. Virginia Tech would respond with a touchdown of their own to extend the lead to 14, but Old Dominion's comeback hardly fills one with confidence going forward.

The ugly: Turnovers

Through the first two games of the season, Virginia Tech has turned the ball over seven times. After five against Boston College, the Hokies turned it over another two times on Saturday. Of those seven turnovers, quarterback Ryan Willis has accounted for five of them with three interceptions and two fumbles including one fumble against the Monarchs. This has to be a major area of focus for the offense going forward, especially for Willis.

Penn State 45, Buffalo 13

The good: Sean Clifford

The first-year starter is quickly establishing himself as the next big quarterback at Penn State. Clifford threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and added another 51 yards on the ground.  Three of his four touchdown passes came in the second half when the Nittany Lions finally exerted control over the game.

The bad: The first half

After putting up 79 points last week, it was jarring to see Penn State held to only seven points in the first half on Saturday. The offense righted the ship in the second half with 38 points, but it was a rough first half that saw Buffalo take a 10-7 lead to the locker room.

The ugly: An efficient offense

It wasn't hard to figure out what the Bulls gameplan was: Keep the ball away from Penn State.

The Nittany Lions were dominated in time of possession against Buffalo 42:32 to 17:28. Yet, Penn State still managed 38 points on offense in what was a hugely efficient night in Death Valley.


Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

Mac McClung has entered the NBA draft, what happens if he doesn't return to Georgetown?

After back-to-back stellar seasons with the Georgetown Hoyas, Mac McClung has stated his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft process. 

A general consensus from draft evaluators and fans is that McClung will eventually withdraw his name from the process after the NBA Combine and come back. Declaring can be used to gain feedback from scouts and agents alike on where he is at in his playing career.

If he came back to Georgetown he could use that criticism to develop and prepare for the draft next season. It makes sense and is a system that has worked countless times to create solid NBA players.

But what if McClung doesn't withdraw his name and fully commits to the draft? It can't be ruled out given that is why he is declaring. 

That could put Georgetown in a precarious situation next season. Not only would it hurt losing such a dynamic scorer and playmaker in McClung, but once again they would be thrust into another season with potential roster concerns. 

With McClung, there are seven returning players on scholarship for next year. It is assumed Omer Yurtseven will not be returning either for a graduate season after his post on Instagram "closed a chapter" and seemed like a goodbye message to the Hoyas. That would leave six scholarship players returning. 

Not an ideal situation for Patrick Ewing as he is still looking to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time. But, that situation is manageable with two starters returning and two others that saw significant playing time. 

If McClung leaves, that means five returning players will be on next year's roster. Only three having played regular minutes. There would also be only one guard.

Relief is coming, three of the four commitments for next year are guards, all of them being three-star recruits. In this situation, at least one, potentially two of them, would have to start immediately for Georgetown. Now, freshmen start all the time in college hoops but that's a tall task for three-stars. There's also the transfer market, but no big transfer has been publically linked to the Hoyas as of this writing.

Why is this an issue? The consensus is that McClung will return next season. He's slightly undersized for either the point or shooting guard positions in the NBA. He is a 3-point shooter, but at 32% last season he isn't consistent enough to make it on his shooting alone. The best, and most enticing part, of his game is his athleticism and dunking ability.

But at the combine, things can change quickly. Jordan Bone of Tennessee (2019) and Kevin Huerter from Maryland (2018) proved that.

Both are examples of prospects that can shine in the combine and then make a sudden decision to forgo their eligibility and get drafted. McClung already has a leg up on other prospects by being well known in the scouting community from the hype surrounding him in high school. He's already had valuable conversations and connections with those involved in the evaluation. 

A good combine can make McClung an attractive prospect and if a team is telling him the right things, it may be enough to get him to leave college. That is not a reality that Georgetown could afford to face next year. 

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March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

March Madness Revisited: George Mason lives out of their Final Four shadow in 2011

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

When one thinks of George Mason basketball, instantly they're called back to the historic Final Four team in 2006. That team's legacy hasn’t outgrown that legendary performance when the Patriots stunned everyone with one of the great Cinderella runs in tournament history.

But the 2010-11 George Mason squad had something to prove, too. Those Patriots wanted to write their own history. Hard to do when the mark was an unprecedented Final Four appearance. In 2011 they moved the Final Four to the side and gave pundits another story to tell, adding another giant of the sport to their list of downed foes.

Five years removed from the original Cinderella story, it was an entirely new team. New players, new assistant coaches and a new era of Mason basketball. But, it was recent enough to still have extra motivation for those on the roster. 

“We were kind of in those shadows of ‘Alright we don’t want to be the guys that come to college and then don’t get to the tournament,'’” former Patriots forward Mike Morrison told NBC Sports Washington. “We still communicate with [the Final Four] guys as if we’re on the same team. We know them personally. We play videogames online with each other from across the world and group chats and all that stuff. So, we were pretty tight.”

During that 2010-11 season, the Patriots, led still by coach Jim Larranaga, set records that even the Final Four team never did. A program-best 16-game winning streak propelled the team to an at-large bid. As a rehe CAA regular-season title for the second time ever. They received a higher seed, in fact - the best in the league’s history by being the No. 8 seed. George Mason sult, they won twas the first CAA team to ever be the home seed in an NCAA Tournament game. 

And unlike Selection Sunday in 2006, there was no doubt they would hear their name called. A 26-6 (16-2) record in a three-bid CAA had them prepared to continue playing. It was a matter of who, when and where, not if. 

Mason’s first opponent was Villanova, a team that the Patriots had just lost to by a point a year prior in non-conference play, a team Mason believed it could beat.

“We weren’t just happy by the seeding. We were very excited to get Villanova," Morrison said. "The year before we played them in Puerto Rico and we really felt like we should have beat them and we didn’t play our best game. There was a lot of excitement behind our matchup for sure.”

Mason’s roster was full of characters. The quiet, lead-by-example Cam Long was one of two seniors in the rotation. With him were the loud and boisterous juniors Ryan Pearson and Morrison in the frontcourt. At the point was sophomore guard Luke Hancock. They didn’t back down from a challenge. Mason was aggressive, loud, talked smack and was not afraid to tell teams they were better than them. They were battle-tested.

“We played tough games that year,” then-assistant coach Mike Huger told NBC Sports Washington. “We were in battles throughout, even in the 16-game winning streak. The CAA was very good and very competitive with us and VCU and just battling each other throughout. Old Dominion was very good as well.”

The first-round matchup played out exactly how an No. 8-9 game should. Back-and-forth, each team trading blows, answering the bell when it looked like the other had them on the ropes. 

An 8-0 spark in the final moments gave Mason brief control of the game. Up until that point, Villanova had led for most of the contest and Mason would not go away. A foul on a Corey Fisher 3-point attempt gave Villanova the lead right back with the shot clock turned off. Mason was down one, with plenty of time left for multiple possessions and then Hancock stepped back for a three.

“Luke shot it and that wasn’t the plan,” Morrision said jokingly. “Luke just did what he does.”

“Well, first it was more like ‘What are you doing?!’ He had the lane to drive to the basket and then he stops on a dime and takes a step-back three… and it was like holy smokes,” Huger said. “The shot was just such a shock. I think Villanova was in shock that everything happened the way it did. I think that kind of froze them a little bit and they weren’t able to make a play after that.”

The Patriots withstood the final 20 seconds to beat Villanova 61-57. Another blue blood to go down, joining the list of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut from 2006. Could Patriots, with a crop of new faces, do it again? 

The three by Hancock extended Mason’s tournament but did not extend his own. Before they were set to play No. 1 seed Ohio State, Hancock came down with food poisoning. The “glue” of the team was gone and quickly shut down the wild concept that this could be another Cinderella team. 

"That changed the dynamic of the team,” Huger said. “We didn’t understand how much we would miss Luke going into that Ohio State game until it really hit us and now it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s not here.’”

The David Lighty and Jared Sullinger-led Buckeyes throttled the Patriots 98-66 in the second round. A magical run wasn’t allowed to end organically. 

As fortune would have it, that was the end of the road for a group that had so much potential. With four starters returning, running it back and perhaps having an even better season was definitely in the cards. 

But Larranaga left at season’s end to coach the Miami Hurricanes. His assistants would follow. Hancock, who had just come off his ‘One Shining Moment’ shot, transferred to Louisville, where more NCAA Tournaments would follow. 

The 'what ifs' grow bigger as time has gone on, showing how quickly life can change for mid-major programs. The Patriots haven’t made the tournament since.

“We thought we could really do something special with that group coming back, but everything changed,” Huger said. “Who knows what would have happened if we would have stayed and had another crack at it the following year with that group back. So that’s the thing that you always wonder.”

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