|COLLEGE FB PACKAGE: Lattimore, Ball rumble for Terps|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 24 October 2007 12:54|
Seniors Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball are so good together, they deserve a Hollywood-like nickname similar to Bennifer and Brangelina. How about Lattiball?
Whatever you call it, the tandem is among the most productive in the ACC. They average more than 150 yards rushing per game and rank 2-3 in the league in scoring.
``It's really the strength of our football team. We're pretty fortunate to have two backs of that caliber,'' Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. ``What's really unique about it is that they compete against each other, but they're really close friends. One of the things I feel very good about is when Lance comes out of the game after scoring a touchdown, the first guy to great him is Keon, and vice versa.''
Lattimore has four 100-yard games, nine touchdowns, 629 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving. Ball has not yet hit the 100-yard mark, but he's rushed for 419 yards, caught 10 passes for 55 yards and scored eight TDs.
Both would have better numbers operating alone in the backfield, but the Terrapins wouldn't be nearly as productive and neither player would be as fresh in the second half of the season.
``I think it takes a lot of wear and tear off the body. Everybody wants to be that guy, getting the bulk of the carries, but it's been great for Lance and I,'' Lattimore said. ``We take a great deal of pride in it. We've been doing it ever since we were sophomores, and each year we keep getting better and better.''
BENNETT'S DROUGHT: Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett has fewer touchdown passes in his first eight games as a full-time starter this year than in a fill-in bowl start last season.
Bennett has passed for only two touchdowns and has only one 300-yard game. This, after throwing for 326 yards and three TDs in a Gator Bowl loss to West Virginia last season.
The obvious difference is that the Gator Bowl was Bennett's last game with Calvin Johnson as a receiver.
The good news for Georgia Tech is Bennett has only three interceptions, and he has rushed for three touchdowns - including two in the second half to rally the Yellow Jackets past Miami on Oct. 13.
Bennett is a junior but is still new to the position. He started one year at Lafayette High in St. Louis before waiting for his turn behind Reggie Ball at Tech. Bennett thrived as Ball's replacement in the Gator Bowl, but that probably raised expectations too high for this season.
``I'm not using this as an excuse at all, but I'm still kind of new to this whole thing,'' Bennett said recently. ``Even in high school I only had one year. I'm still trying to find my groove in playing in a game.''
Tech hasn't had to lean heavily on Bennett as long as running back Tashard Choice has been healthy. But Choice had arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday and will be held out when the Yellow Jackets, off this week, play Virginia Tech on Nov. 1.
DUKE'S FINE LINE: Even though Duke is 1-6, the Blue Devils have played several close games this season, a sign that maybe the program is finally making a move toward respectability.
Coach Ted Roof believes three narrow losses - 46-43 at Navy, 24-14 at Miami and 41-36 against Wake Forest - show his players that they are only one play away from winning games.
``I'm not trying to sell it,'' he said. ``I just say what I believe. ... I just base what I say on the truth of what I see. That's how I operate.''
STREAK OVER?: When Xavier Lee scored on a 6-yard run in last Saturday's 37-29 loss to Miami, he became the first Florida State quarterback since 1992 to run for touchdowns in three straight games. Charlie Ward, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1993, did it in four consecutive games in '92.
Lee may not get a chance to match Ward's streak because FSU coach Bobby Bowden has named Drew Weatherford the starting quarterback Saturday against Duke.
Sophomore cornerback Patrick Robinson also has a three-game streak going. He's the first Seminole to get interceptions in three consecutive games since Pat Watkins did it in 2004.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Wake Forest's defense is doing a good job of turning its opponents' offensive players into would-be tacklers. The Demon Deacons have scored six defensive touchdowns, returning four interceptions for scores and carrying two fumbles into the end zone.
Nevertheless, North Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks is refusing to concede anything to Wake Forest, even though the Tar Heels are one of only four ACC teams to throw more than 10 interceptions.
``The scout team defense is going to have to play like they play, strip the ball from us, going for the interception,'' Nicks said. ``But I feel like our receivers are strong enough that we won't let that happen.''
Not even against cornerback Alphonso Smith, who has picked off a pass in all four league games and is the only player in the nation to return three interceptions for TDs.
``He's a good player, but like I said, I don't think our receivers will let that happen,'' Nicks said.
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard in Durham, N.C., Charles Odum in Atlanta, Ga., Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C., and Associated Press Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.