ACC: Yawin Smallwood

UConn holds on to beat Maryland

September, 15, 2012
A defensive struggle through the first three quarters turned into a down-to-the wire finish between UConn and Maryland in the "Edsall Bowl" on Saturday afternoon.

In the end, the Huskies defense proved to be too much for the young Maryland offense, and they held on to beat former coach Randy Edsall 24-21 in College Park. UConn linebackers Sio Moore and Yawin Smallwood wreaked havoc all day long, but Maryland quarterback Perry Hills made some big fourth-quarter plays to help give his team a shot at the win.

After getting the ball back with 3:29 left, Hills made a few nice passes, including a third-down conversion to Stefon Diggs to keep the drive alive. But a third-and-13 at the UConn 35 resulted in a loss of 4 yards, and then Hills threw incomplete in the end zone to end the game.

Hills continued to mature, but he also had his share of mistakes. Maryland had two turnovers -- all to Hills (one interception, one fumble). He finished 10-of -24 for 109 yards, after going 2-of-11 for 24 yards in the first half. What really kept Maryland in the game were some big plays from Diggs, who had 223 all-purpose yards as a receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner. His 29-yard touchdown catch was pretty terrific, considering it was tipped by a teammate and into his hands.

For the third straight game, the UConn offense was completely ineffective. The Huskies got a huge lift from their special teams, as Nick Williams returned a punt 58 yards to start the scoring. But it almost seemed as if the Huskies had no confidence in Chandler Whitmer or their pass game. Whitmer went 10-of-16 with no touchdowns and no interceptions. With a chance to ice the game late, he threw a terrible pass incomplete that gave the Terps their final shot at the win.

UConn finished with 223 total yards -- and won. It can thank its defense. Despite some ragged play in the fourth quarter, that unit stepped up when it needed to, and came up with the big plays on the final Maryland drive.

ACC upset watch: Week 2

September, 5, 2012
I was shocked -- shocked I tell you -- that none of the teams on last week’s Upset Watch fell. Usually there’s at least one surprise in the ACC every week, but the conference pretty much stuck to the script, with Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland all winning. (I remind you the upset watch is not a list of predictions, rather it is a look at the teams with the best chance to be upset or cause one). With four FCS schools, one MAC school and two Big East schools on the schedule this week, there should be no reason for concern this week … right?


Here’s your Week 2 upset watch (and no, a Temple win against Maryland is no longer considered an upset. It’s expected):

1. NC State at Connecticut: The Wolfpack is notorious for its slow starts and strong finishes under coach Tom O’Brien. Was the loss to Tennessee an anomaly, or was it the continuation of that trend? We’ll find out when the Pack travels to Storrs, Conn. NC State had four turnovers on Friday, and Connecticut beat Massachusetts, 37-0. UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood had seven tackles, including 3.5 for lost yardage, as the Huskies limited UMass to 59 total yards. Connecticut is one of the better teams in the Big East, but it’s still a game NC State should win.

2. Duke at Stanford: Considering the way Stanford played in its 20-17 win against San Jose State, Duke’s biggest obstacle might be the cross-country travel and 10:30 p.m. ET kick. The Blue Devils are confident after their 46-26 win against FIU last week. Duke receiver Conner Vernon became the school’s career leader in receptions last week with 208, and linebacker Austin Gamble had 11 tackles, a forced fumble and blocked kick.

3. Miami at No. 21 Kansas State: This is going to be an uphill battle for a team that played 12 true freshmen in its road win against Boston College, but that’s the point -- the Canes managed to win their ACC opener on the road with such a young team. It’s brimming with potential, but Kansas State is a better team than Boston College. Miami will need to improve quickly to pull this off. Watch the running backs in this game, as Miami freshman Duke Johnson scored on touchdown runs of 54 and 56 yards against Boston College, and Kansas State running back John Hubert rushed for 152 yards on 12 carries vs. Missouri State.