Week 6: Rebound week

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Week 6: Rebound week

Penn State keeps rolling, Maryland is back on track, Navy is one step closer to the Commander-in-Chief trophy and Virginia Tech may have saved its season.

Here’s a recap of the week’s local action.

Penn State 35, Purdue 7

The good

Penn State's defense is scary good right now. The Nittany Lions held Purdue to 104 total yards including minus-19 rushing yards. The Boilermakers converted one of 14 third downs on the day, Shaka Toney and Yetur Gross-Matos were absolute monsters on the field combining for fives sacks as the defense just completely had its way with Purdue.

The Nittany Lions have not allowed more than 13 points to an opponent yet this season.

The bad

Penn State allowed only one touchdown, a 15-yard pass from Jack Plummer to Amad ANderson Jr. in the second quarter, but it snapped a shutout streak of seven quarters. After shutting out Maryland last week, the Nittany Lions had not allowed a point to an opponent since a second-quarter touchdown scored by Pitt in the second quarter of their Week 3 matchup.

The ugly

Purdue's offense vs. Penn State's defense was going to be a total mismatch. It was made worse by the fact that the Boilermakers were without starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar and poor backup quarterback Plummer paid the price.

The Nittany Lions recorded 10 sacks on Plummer in what was a brutal game for Purdue's offensive line. This is a game he is going to be feeling for some time.

Maryland 48, Rutgers 7

The good

An offense that had been sputtering suddenly came alive on Saturday with 48 points and 490 total yards. Josh Jackson threw for 179 yards and two touchdowns in just under a half of work while Anthony McFarland and Javon Leake each contributed two touchdowns on the ground.

Maryland thrived on the big play with five touchdowns coming off plays of 23 yards or longer.

The offense was clicking so well, in fact, that the Terps scored three touchdowns on three consecutive offensive plays in the second quarter. That was the kind of offensive flow the team desperately missed against Temple when the Owls kept turning the ball over and Maryland could not take advantage.

The bad

Quarterback Josh Jackson left the game with an injury in the second quarter. More on that below. Junior quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome stepped in, but was largely unimpressive.

Pigrome completed 13 out of 18 passes for just 111 yards which average out to less than nine yards per completion. He clearly relied on the short routes and check downs to get by. Granted, Pigrome is more of a dual-threat quarterback and he did rush for 22 yards on five carries, but if Pigrome is going to have to lead this offense next week or possibly beyond that, he is going to have to be able to stretch the field more than he did on Saturday.

The ugly

As previously mentioned, Jackson left the game in the second quarter after what looked like a horrific ankle injury. He was hit low by two different Scarlet Knight defenders and his ankle moved in a way you don't typically see or ever really want to.

Miraculously, however, it appears Jackson managed to avoid any fractures. Head coach Mike Locksley told the media after the game that Jackson had suffered a high-ankle sprain.

Navy 34, Air Force 25

The good

Air Force battled back from a 21-9 deficit to take a 25-21 lead in the fourth quarter. Navy, however, pulled off the late-game comeback and scored the go-ahead touchdown with just 23 seconds remaining to snatch away the victory from the rival Falcons.

The difference in this one was the passing game. Last year, all Navy could do was run between the tackles and Air Force knew it. The defense pounded the Midshipmen in a 35-7 loss. This year, Navy's offense is much more versatile. When Air Force loaded the box, quarterback Malcolm Perry dropped back and threw the ball over the defender's head. He recorded 144 passing yards in the game which helped spread out the defense.

The bad

Navy would not have needed their late comeback if the Midshipmen had been able to put Air Force away. They led 21-9, but allowed the Falcons to storm back. This appears to be an issue for Navy as the Midshipmen coughed up a 20-7 lead against Memphis, ultimately losing to the Tigers 35-23.

The ugly

Navy had lost three fumbles all season heading into Saturday's game. The Midshipmen doubled that amount with three fumbles against the Falcons which Air Force turned into 10 points.

One fumble was actually from defensive lineman Jackson Pittman who recovered a Falcons' fumble, but fumbled it himself which allowed Air Force to get the ball pack. The Falcons would kick a field goal on the resulting drive.

Virginia Tech 42, Miami 35

The good

Hendon Hooker got the start at quarterback and sparked the offense, recording 184 passing yards, an additional 76 on the ground and four total touchdowns. When Miami rallied to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Hooker led a five-play, 63-yard drive down the field to retake the lead with relative ease allowing Virginia Tech to pull off perhaps the season-saving victory.

The bad

The Hokies jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first half and looked like they were in complete control. While they did manage the win, it was by the skin of their teeth as Miami came roaring back and tied the game at 35 in the fourth quarter. In fact, the game was only tied because kicker Bubba Baxa missed the extra point that would have put the Hurricanes ahead.

First, that is an all-time great name. Second, yes, Virginia Tech was able to drive for the touchdown, but would playing from behind have affected their mentality? Would the Hokies have crumbled under that pressure knowing they were trailing with three minutes left in a game they had led 28-0?

Don't discount that missed extra point and the effect it may have had on the Hokies' psyche.

The ugly

Miami's comeback bid started at the very end of the second quarter when quarterback N'Kosi Perr threw the ball into the end zone on a prayer on the final play of the half. It's a play you see happen one thousand times and 999 times, it doesn't work. This was the one time.

The pass was batted and receiver Mark Pope came away with it, giving Miami the touchdown and hope going into the second half. Instead of 28-0 with nothing going the Hurricanes' way, Miami left the field with a touchdown and a shot of confidence.


VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva declares for 2020 NBA Draft

VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva declares for 2020 NBA Draft

In this time of mass quarantining, live sports have come to a standstill across the country, but that hasn’t stopped college basketball’s offseason from churning along.

Players across the nation are deciding where they want to play next season, and the latest impactful player to take a step toward next year is VCU’s Marcus Santos-Silva.

The junior forward announced on his Instagram his intentions to enter the 2020 NBA Draft.

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It’s not yet clear how limited the NBA’s draft preparation will be as a result of COVID-19, but Santos-Silva does mention in his announcement that he will be maintaining his college eligibility in case he decides to return for his senior season.

Santos-Silva came off the bench his freshman season, but has started all 64 games in the last two years for VCU. As a junior, he averaged 12.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in 27.2 minutes.

He does all of his damage close to the rim, as he has yet to attempt a three-point shot in his college career.


How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

How Howard University coach Larry Scott is leading his team from home

Starting any new job can be stressful, but starting it under a COVID-19 outbreak? A whirlwind.  

That’s exactly how Howard University’s new head football coach, Larry Scott, describes it.  

“You take the job beginning of February and ask yourself, what all has to be done?” Scott said. “And you go, ‘Everything.’”   

And yet you can’t do anything outside of your home. 

Scott is challenged with trying to change the culture of a team that finished the 2019 season 2-10, seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He’s had to evaluate his roster, hire a new coaching staff, and hopefully bring in the right recruits.  Seems impossible, but Scott sees it completely the opposite.  

“It’s all about people, it’s all about building a strong connection within a team,” Scott said.  “Thank god I had some really good strong relationships with some coaches that I have worked with and admired from afar."

Scott coached under Dan Mullen at the University of Florida and Butch Jones at the University of Tennessee, learning leadership skills he has relied upon while installing his own system at Howard -- especially during this trying time.   

“It actually plays well into the whole concept -- football is still about people and how you make them feel,” Scott said. “Trust factors are built though connections.” 

Howard’s football team holds position meetings two times a week, staff meetings once a week, and uses Zoom to communicate with players daily.  Scott held his first full team meeting on Monday using Microsoft Teams while his strength and conditioning coach sends out daily workouts via Twitter challenging players to find creative ways to stay in football shape.  

Full-body workouts can be better than weights. Packing a book bag or finding water bottles can substitute creativity when the normal tools are not available. It’s about taking ownership of your body, when no one is telling you what time to be in the gym or standing over you counting reps.   

But all that is expected for a football team. Scott is also holding meetings that involve the full academic staff.  

“We have a plan for how we’re attacking academics and our online classes,” Scott said.  

A big part of that are talks on shifting the grade system to pass-fail concepts and where to accept letter grades. Scott wants his players to keep their scholarships and stay eligible. If they don’t keep their studies up, all the training in the world won’t matter. There is no football. Not even when football returns.   

For Scott, the cool thing about communicating all this to young men, is just that. They’re young. The virtual world is more their reality than any previous generation. They order all their food through Uber Eats. They have endless apps on their phones. They can adapt because technology lets them. And in so doing they help their coach adapt, too, during tough times. Together, when they finally return to the field, Scott believes they’ll all have a deeper appreciation for college football. 

“It’s kind of fun entering into their world into how they see things and view things and being able to still reach them and relate to them and teach them on a level that is expanding our mind,” Scott said. “It’s still about seeing young people find ways to have success, create avenues of opportunity.”   

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