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The View From Section 241

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Sorry for the delay. For 35 minutes, I thought that was the best, by far, we had looked as a team this year. Unfortunately, Johnny Mac put the ball on the ground one time, on a play he absolutely didn't need to, and the wheels fell off quickly and completely. It happened on the road, in a tough environment, against the best team we will play this year. Unfortunate but not something that people should be losing sleep over. I'll spend this week dwelling on the positives of the first 35 minutes and hope that we can play 60 of those minutes Saturday at home. Because if we do, maybe this will be the week we break through.

On offense, I thought Mac played very well for 35 minutes. Made some good throws. Moved inside and outside the pocket better than I thought we'd see from him this year. I don't see how people weren't pleased. The downside to me is that he clearly, clearly, felt the pressure once it started coming and didn't stop feeling it on plays when it didn't exist. The line did a decent job until the blitzes started coming and then, I thought, looked woefully unprepared. Having watched carefully after a discussion on the board last week, I don't think Mike Ryan is at 100%. I don't think he has the footspeed he used to. Griffin had a nice bounce back game. Jones and Davis simply need to do a better, more consistent job. I liked Hinckley's game. McCombs was fine. JJL gave us another reason why we won't seee a backup TB this year. Sheesh. Make all the plays. Is that too much? Just make simple plays.

On D, the coaches' answer to Gary Wilburn's bad game was to move Byron JOnes to corner, sit Harris Agbor and start the RS Frosh from Pitt Tymeer Brown at Safety alongside Jerome Junior. We saw plenty of Harris Agvor in the nickel. I don't think we saw any of Gary Wilburn. Taylor Mack is not hurt, or redshirting, because we saw him on kick returns Saturday. So, applarently, despite the fact that we all saw that he was the third corner last year and was amazingly quick to the ball, he isn't viewed as someone who can help from scrimmage. Strange, but I'm not at practices. I thought the DL did a fabulous job pressuring Geno Smith without blitzes for the first 35 minutes, and then slowed down. The run defense remains strong. If our offense can stay on the field and convert some first downs, as it did for a while, I think we can shut down USF's offense and maybe gut one out like last year at USF or our home win against them in 07. Joseph started looking better at DE. We played all 8 DL plenty.

A fairly positive game, overall, from specials. A little more blocking on kick returns. Solid games from Christen and Wagner, along with better coverage, keeping Tavon Austin from killing us on returns like I feared he would. Another 50 plus yard FG, although another makeable miss as well. Not the problem.

A bit down and dirty this week between the Jewish holiday and Colombus Day weekend. I didn't lose faith in anybody, coach or player, based on SAturday. I certainly understand why questions weren't answered positively either, but am a little surprised by some of the criticism. I saw positives in a game I didn't think we had a realistic chance of winning. This Saturday, however, is very close to a must, must, must win game if we're going to get to .500 and a bowl. Let's see what happens them. Hopefully, crowd is there, enthusiastic and loud. I will be missing it for a parent's weekend at my younger son's college. Will have to find the appropriate sports bar in DC. Oh well.

One point on the recent realignment crap while I'm here. Flipper's quote is beyond dumb. I don't know what ESPN has actually done -- I'd be a little surprised if they did anything to open themselves up to suit myself -- but what he was quoted as saying absolutely would allow a suit against ESPN if true. Every contract carries with it what is called the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. If ESPN, while a contract partner of the Big East, actually went to the ACC and told them to take Big East Members -- well, ruh roh. I doubt they did that -- and I don't think they face liability for answering the ACC when asked what adding Syracuse and Pitt would do to the contract --but Flipper guarantied this story will now be vetted by everyone's lawyers. What a friggin idiot.
 
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no need to apologize for the delay. I don't think this team will go to a bowl, we may be bowl eligible, but I think we'll miss out. the O-line which we all though was our strength, has issues, we need to put a complete game together.
 

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One point on the recent realignment crap while I'm here. Flipper's quote is beyond dumb. I don't know what ESPN has actually done -- I'd be a little surprised if they did anything to open themselves up to suit myself -- but what he was quoted as saying absolutely would allow a suit against ESPN if true. Every contract carries with it what is called the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. If ESPN, while a contract partner of the Big East, actually went to the ACC and told them to take Big East Members -- well, ruh roh. I doubt they did that -- and I don't think they face liability for answering the ACC when asked what adding Syracuse and Pitt would do to the contract --but Flipper guarantied this story will now be vetted by everyone's lawyers. What a friggin idiot.

ESPN did it, and Flipper said they did it, to a reporter. Whatever gray area ESPN thought it was operating in no longer matters. The ACC thought they were taking orders from ESPN, and that is all that a judge needs to hear.
 
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Another great post, and a welcome voice of sanity. I too, don't understand all the criticism after this game. We got outplayed by a superior, more talented team. A team we hung with for over half a game against an opponent we had no business beating. Football is a game of momentum, and once we lost it, we collapsed like a dying star. But small improvements across the board have me feeling... I don't want to say optimistic... how about "something greater than completely hopeless"?

I'll be there on Saturday cheering on my boys, and while I can understand everybody's emotional reactions, I do think we're starting to see some real progress from the team. That being said, if we regress against USF, I expect the clamoring for P's head to continue.

I really thought we gave Geno way too much time in the 2nd half back there, and our secondary, sans Blidi, is simply not good enough to hold coverage for 10 to 15 seconds against their receiving corps. On the flip side, our receivers dropped a lot of catchable balls, and we can't afford to leave first downs on the field. McCombs is doing his best, but we really need to find someone to complement him. JJL is obviously not that person. He must be kicking himself after putting the ball on the ground.

Overall Johnny Mac is slowly building composure, totally agree on his performance. Once they started putting the pressure on, he definitely got happy feet, but I think he's still getting experience, and learning to calm down and make your reads comes with time. I hope.

A pleasure to read as always, and a nice dose of cold water for some people who are fuming a little bit too much, given the toughest game on our schedule.
 
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Despite the score, the first half showed more positives than negatives. I'm more confident in the offense going forward. We created easy situations for the WVU offense to score after the fumble, it was an avalanche after that.

I predict that our offense will erupt on a few teams between now and the end of the season. We have yet to see solid 4 quarter effort. But I think we saw that it's possible this season.
 
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Very good synopsis imo. There was much good to take away from that game right up until the point of Johny Mac's fumble.

Good to me was the funning of McCoombs whom for the first time I thought got into the holes and got going down hill very quickly. His pass blocking is simply awful and JJL will be in on passing downs for that reason alone. He laid a LB out on a blitz Sat. He must be a big strong kid.

Agree, John Mac looked really good until the pressure came consistently. Both Moores were fine as was Griffin. The young receivers need more time I guess.

Friend was owned by the DE from WVU. My sense is that the loss of Bennett was really big and it hurt us at G and OT from the required shuffling.

We definitely havea shot against SFU.

Oh, yes, GDF is an idiot, but I didn't need that article from yesterday to know that......but confirmation is always nice.
 
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Thanks BL for the assessment.

If we had played like that the first few games we would have been undefeated going in. It was a far cry from Vandy and better than Iowa State. Still the same problems on D - coverage.

WV made the decision to pressure us in the second half and we made no adjustment to stop them. Johnny is not mobile Johnny, so consequently we folded up without even a whimper on offense. Nothing else to offer. I thought that maybe we would have seen McCummings more there to keep them guessing.

McCombs looked better and almost broke a few - another year and a little more time in the weight room and maybe we have ourselves a running back. Johnny looked altogether different than he did at the beginning of the year. Receivers, especially Hinkley and Griffin, looked as good as I have seen.

We were not ready for a team like WV - they belong in the Top 10. Let's hope that we can finish the season strong.

We should stop with all the nonsense about a bad hire or one and out. I don't think we are much better with Bill Parcells.
 
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I agree on all points counselor. I do not understand some of the criticism that this program in 2011 - the players and their coaches - are getting at this point.

The goal of a post season game is still on the board. It's not gone, but every week that goes by, it's going to get harder to reach.

We need to come out on the field on Saturday and continue what was going on at Mountaineer field for 2+ quarters and stretch it to four. We do that, we win.

The only thing that can make sense as far as the unfounded criticism is that expectations are going to be high every year from now on, and that's a good thing, but some of the criticism I read and hear, is simply unfounded, misguided and in many cases kind of vitriolic. Odd. I think that it's very disappointing that we're 2-4 when we could 4-2 or better if a just a few plays turn out differently, but that just makes me hungrier to see them play well, and I'm sure makes them all in the program hungrier to play better. I suppose it all depends if you're a glass half full or half empty type of person.

I wrote a little bit about momentum the other day, but i don't see it anymore, so if it's ok with you, I'll tag along my thoughts at that time again here. Everyone in yellow and dark blue for a good 2 and one/third quarters was very nervous in that stadium saturday.

we were down 10-9, but we had the momentum. It's such a hard thing to define, in words, but it's very easy to sense and observe. I looked down the row after the McEntee completion to Kashif Moore in that third quarter, and remarked that we are playing better than I have seen in years as a football team.

This had come after key special teams plays, key defensive plays, and solid defensive stop after the second half kick.

I guarantee everybody was on top of a wave of emotion and feeling on our sideline and on that field that they might never have felt before, after that play.

We were in control. In all respects. And then we lost it, i believe on the very next play. Crashed HARD. That's what you call football adversity, on display.

We weren't able to get it back, any of that momentum, and the opportunities to get it back were there. Geno put that ball on the turf again, but we didn't get it. The arms were there to rip the ball away from the WR in the endzone. I've looked at the game on video now, and I still believe what I thought I saw on that field, that there were at least three WV catches that we ripped the ball out on defense, but were called incomplete. Close calls, but damn, all kinds of things to swing momentum back, but we couldn't get it done.

This 2011 team, to beat a top 16 team in the country needs to play near perfect football, and for a good portion of the game we did.

Johnny Mac started looking at the pass rush. I don't think he's ever done it before, and I hope he never does it again.

I also thought very much about play makers, making plays. The vast majority of the time, the play to be made, is NOT one that shows up on highlight reels. It's a very delicate balance for a player to push themselves as hard as they possibly can on the field, but to do it smartly. Can't be a more clear example of it, than McEntee's run and fumble. I still believe he's lucky he was able to get up, never mind hold on to the ball, the way he turned his back to the defense and folded up. Not a running QB, if you've got to run, get your yardage and go to ground. Slide boy, slide.

Lessons learned, the hard way, in front of thousands of people, and more on TV.

Last thing - the concept that this team is losing focus, or not giving it all, or whatever nonsense about the players not buying in or coaches losing the players intensity? Simply flies in the face of everything you see happening on the football field.
 

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The one thing that bothers me most about Saturday's game is that johnny Mac was not able to shake off that one mistake, he let it ruin him for the remainder of the game (and therefore destroyed a reasonably well working offense, at least until we hit their red zone).

I realize that he is neither an immensely talented recruit nor a highly experienced veteran so many of my expectations have been temperred. He does however need to be able move past a mistake immediately as this can happen (and has appened) to anyone. I'm not sure that this would be too much to ask for. Hopefully this will be resolved before the USF game.
 
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You are absolutely right, I think - Fairfield. McEntee has to let that one go, and I think he actually did, but especially after the safety.....

What happened, what my eyes tell me, is that McEntee started focusing on the pass rush, rather than eyes downfield when the ball was in his hands.

I don't know how else to describe it, but when a QB does that, it becomes painfully obvious, and it is a bit worrisome, and you get an offense that looks exactly, textbook, like ours did in the second half once we lost the momentum. A QB showing symptoms of looking at the pass rush can be hard to fix.

The good news is that McEntee really only has one month of playing time experience, and he clearly has shown improvement progressively and he's never really faced this lesson before.

This is just another learning experience, but this lesson is a lot harder than others. I expect he'll get it corrected and not let it happen again.
 
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I am in 100% agreement with everything in the original post. Nothing more left for me to say. Good post.

Mac lost his poise after the fumble. Changed the whole dynamic of the game.
 
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Good summary. A couple of observations --

First, we're still struggling on kick returns. I think that Williams' struggles are not his issue, but an issue of scheme. He needs space to run, and thrives on it. It seems to me that we're setting up the blocking way too far back, and Williams isn't able to develop any head of steam before running up the backs of his own teammates. It could also be that we miss the presence of Sherman on specials.

If McCombs can just improve his balance, he can become a serviceable back. You can see that he's very close to breaking some runs, but just can't keep on his feet if he's bumped while making a cut. That's not entirely an issue of strength -- footwork and technique are a big part of it.
 
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Mac lost his poise, but the meltdown wasn't all on him. After the fumble WVU pinned their ears back, rode the wave of momentum, and dominated on both sides. Their skill players left us in the dust on some of those scoring plays.

I'm still encouraged by pre-fumble Mac's performance and think the offense has made considerable strides since Vandy. We'll need it again next week in order to beat USF.
 
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Didn't realize the game was only 35 minutes long. If that's the case Towson State lost to Maryland 7 to 3. Seeing a lot of positives there where we lose by 27 after WV takes their foot off the gas is really working hard at it. Can't pass, can't run, can't stop the pass - hmmmm.

The coaches opened up 1st down to the pass, got some open looks. WV took that away (make JMac throw over the top) and it was over. WV blitz took out both the run and the pass. JMac runs like an unathletic Clausen. The running backs can't run and can't block. Plenty of open passes missed. JMac hears all kinds of footsteps.

Defense can not have Sio lined up against the slot receiver. Just don't have schemes to cover 4 reciever sets, some due to coaching and some due to personnel. WV seemed to hold on every pass play, maybe I just don't know the rules re where you can put your hands. Watching Gratz on that long TD pass where WR took out of his hands, similar play in LSU/Florida game and #7 makes the pick. #7 is world class but the difference was inches; LSU got better rush and pass about a foot short, Uconn got no rush and pass just out of reach of Gratz. Need some game luck on plays like this.

Have to have playmakers at QB and WR and RB. Do not have at QB and RB to date. Why do other teams put so much pressure on our pass defense schemes while we don't seem to put similar pressure on other teams. It has to be something - schemes/talent/execution?

Other than Cin, no BE team offense should have the possibility of WVing Uconn; if the good Pitt or Rutgers offenses show up that could be trouble also. Uconn will not be bowl eligible, with Uconn's OOC schedule and this years BE having one top 25 team, not being bowl eligible is a bad football team.

The 2006-07 team that went 4-8 is as talented as this team. Better RB's by far, DJ as good as JMac, even the defense with Branch, Butler, Lans., had as much ability. This team just does not have enough BCS caliber players and it shows. We haven't had our "Temple kills Terps" game yet and hope its coming, but overall to be pleased with the 1st 35 minutes of the game against WV is, well, it just says more than all my comments, half the season over and in the 6th game the comments are "pleased with the 1st 35 minutes - we can build on that". In case you haven't noticed - half the season is over, we'll soon (if not already) be building for next season.

Final comment - needed to give Nebrich some playing time late in this game.
 

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Mac lost his poise, but the meltdown wasn't all on him. After the fumble WVU pinned their ears back, rode the wave of momentum, and dominated on both sides. Their skill players left us in the dust on some of those scoring plays.

I'm still encouraged by pre-fumble Mac's performance and think the offense has made considerable strides since Vandy. We'll need it again next week in order to beat USF.
The meltdown was not all on him. There was no excuse for the 80+ yard TD pass and the staff erred greatly leaving a LB (Sio) on one of their WR's (Austin). As far as the defense pinning their ears back, they had been doing that all game and Johnny Mac was able to take advantage of it, often stepping up into the pocket to avoid the rush. After the fumble, as soon as he saw a bit of a rush, he tucked the ball and waited to get hit. There were at least five times he was pressured in situations similar to pressure he avoided earlier in the game.
 
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Did anyone else notice that in the first 35 minutes of the game, UConn had not scored a TD? How nice would a Husky TD have been when the fumble occurred? The sad reality is even if Trick Shot held onto the ball, UConn would have probably only picked up a FG. So not a lot to be optimistic about on the offensive side of the ball - and until that gets fixed we'll see more games like Saturday with the defense buckling under the pressure of having to play near perfect because the Huskys can't put the ball in the end zone.
 
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Mac played well for 35 minutes?

Nine points. No TDs. Zero third down conversions.

THat's one heck of a curve you are grading on.
 

jbdphi

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Mac played well for 35 minutes?

Nine points. No TDs. Zero third down conversions.

THat's one heck of a curve you are grading on.

Way to pick your statistics. How about these?
- Five drives (including the one with the fumble) which either did or should have produced points. One didn't due to a missed field goal, another due to the fumble.
- We had a total of one three and out from eight total drives in that same time period.
- 10 throws for a first down and one run for a first down, all of which occurred on 1st and 2nd down. I forget, is third down the only one that matters or do plays on 1st and 2nd down count as well?
- Completed his first five passes in a row to start the game and 8 in a row leading up to the fumble
- Was 16 out of 23 (70% completion rate) during that time frame

Of course I would prefer touchdowns over field goals as would anybody else. But I think most reasonable people would say that Red Zone efficiency is not solely a function of QB play. It's a team game and Mac played well enough for his team in those first 35 minutes. I hope he continues to improve on that 35 minutes and can replicate it over an entire 60.
 
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Way to pick your statistics. How about these?
- Five drives (including the one with the fumble) which either did or should have produced points. One didn't due to a missed field goal, another due to the fumble.
- We had a total of one three and out from eight total drives in that same time period.
- 10 throws for a first down and one run for a first down, all of which occurred on 1st and 2nd down. I forget, is third down the only one that matters or do plays on 1st and 2nd down count as well?
- Completed his first five passes in a row to start the game and 8 in a row leading up to the fumble
- Was 16 out of 23 (70% completion rate) during that time frame

Of course I would prefer touchdowns over field goals as would anybody else. But I think most reasonable people would say that Red Zone efficiency is not solely a function of QB play. It's a team game and Mac played well enough for his team in those first 35 minutes. I hope he continues to improve on that 35 minutes and can replicate it over an entire 60.

"Red zone efficiency is not solely a function of QB play". Nothing is. Receivers have to receive, hikers have to hike, blockers have to block, pretty much everyone needs to do his thing. But when you evaluate QB's, either he got you in the end zone or he didn't. If Williams took a 5 yard pass and ran it in for a 55 yard TD you would be saying nice 55 yard TD completion JMac (something equivalent to the Easley button for Zack). WV gave up yards in middle of the field, when it got tight Uconn got no TD's. Also, a couple of those FG's were pretty long, getting to the 35 yardline to kick a 52 yard field goal is not exactly driving down the field.

You did notice that Uconn did not score an offensive touchdown and that two of the 3 field goals were from more than 40 yards out.

In 3 games against AQ schools Uconn has 2 offensive TD's. One run and one touchdown pass BY MCCUMMINGS. So JMac has played however many plays against AQ schools and has NO TD passes. In those 3 games Uconn has kicked 7 field goals of distances 25, 28, 52, 50, 40, 53, 22 yards (don't have misses but most are high 30 yards or over 40). So if give 17 yards for each kick the drives ended on 8, 11, 35, 33, 23, 36 and 5 yard lines (not counting missed FG's). This is not an AQ offense, for me this starts with the QB.
 
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I dunno, the kid looked pretty damn good for the first 35 minutes against by FAR the best D we will see this season. The proverbial wheels fell off, but I'm still impressed over that early span.
 

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I was only addressing the point regarding the first 35 minutes against WVU not prior games against BCS or non-BCS competition - that was what Palatine commented on and I responded to. Going beyond that, in my opinion, QB play has steadily improved since the Vandy game until the fumble against WVU and I'm willing to wait and see if that continues into the next game.

I've also noticed that DeLeone seems absolutely opposed to calling a pass play when in 3rd and long. That's likely because he doesn't want more mistakes and maybe he just recognizes what he has to work with (and he knows better than me). Blaming the QB for not getting the first down on 3rd and extra long when the play called is an inside draw seems just a bit unfair. And the plays that led up to those 3rd and long situations? Penalties (two false starts, one ineligible man downfield) and JJL's mishandling of the pitch.

As for saying "This is not an AQ offense, for me this starts with the QB." - personally I think the offense always starts with the Offensive Line and they have not performed well at all against AQ competition. QB play can sometimes overcome this but I don't think we can with the talent on hand.
 

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Good write-up. Our OL has looked bad against the blitz all year long and you bet USF will bring Barrington, Lattimore and the like. With Johnny taking snaps, I'm not sure where our offense will come from.
 
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I dunno, the kid looked pretty damn good for the first 35 minutes against by FAR the best D we will see this season. The proverbial wheels fell off, but I'm still impressed over that early span.

I sure hope it is by FAAAAAAAR the best defense we'll face all year as in 35 minutes scoreds 9 points on offense, and 0 points the last 25 being thatWV defense is ranked 37th in NCAA in points against and gave up 31 points to the 1 win Terps. Hope Pitt doesn't bring the defense that held ND to 15 points or USF the defense that held ND to 20 points or Syracuse the defense that held Rutgers to 19 points in OT or Louisville the 13th ranked defense in NCAA in points against that held NC to 14 and Kentucky to 17 or the Cin defense that is ranked 15th in the NCAA in points against that held NC State to 14 or the Rutgers defense that is ranked 11th in the NCAA in points against that held Pitt to 10 points.
If our remaining BE opponent defenses remember to play like they are FAAAAAAR worse than WV and we play 35 minute instead of 60 minute games I think we'll be ok. If WV could have played a 43:44 game against LSU and didn't give up that late 1st half interception they might have won 21 to 20 rather than lose 47 to 21. That damn 60 minute thing ruins a lot of good games. ;)
 
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Mac played well for 35 minutes?

Nine points. No TDs. Zero third down conversions.

THat's one heck of a curve you are grading on.

I know what I saw. I thought he looked fine until the fumble. I'm sorry he isn't as good as Nebrich is in your dreams, but the rest of us can only see what has happened on the field.
 
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Not buying the AQ argument. The throws against WMU count, it was done under pressure due to being behind and clock running down. Down 24-9 at WVU we had a 3rd down throw for first down yardage at midfield dropped. First time we went empty backfield they lined up 2 men over our right tackle and it was run for your life time. At this point in the season the points rankings are skewed by the out of league matchups. Rutgers D looks very good so far, maybe the best in the conference but there are no easy defenses on the schedule. J-Mac is getting better and we'll see this Saturday if it's going to be enough.
 
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