Pack embarrassed by Cincinnati, 44-14

Posted by J.J. Greenstein on September 26, 2011 under Other ACC Coverage | Comments are off for this article

The State sideline looked lifeless as Cincinnati embarrassed the Wolfpack to the tune of a 44-14 beat down at Nippert Stadium last Thursday night. To make matters worse, the whole nation saw it happen- at least until halftime or so when they changed the channel to find something more interesting.

Sitting just a few rows behind the team, it was one of the weirdest things I’ve seen attending a game. As I sat amongst the State player’s families and friends, one could hear voices from the crowd, screaming at the players to “pick their heads up” or to “look alive.”

Even when T.J. Graham scored the first of his two touchdown receptions to cut Cincinnati’s lead down to 21-7 in the second quarter, an 87 yard pitch and catch on third down, the bench was lifeless. No cheering, no excitement, just defensive and special teams players putting their helmets back on and getting ready to go back on the field.

Graham, who now leads the nation in all-purpose yards, finished the game with 176 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Graham also added 160 yards on seven kick returns. He has been a huge surprise for the Pack’s receiving core, and without a doubt has been the team’s MVP for the season.

But Graham and the passing game can only do so much. Coming into the season, State’s passing game was the big concern, but after another 300+ yard passing performance against a BCS conference team, Glennon has put some of those worries to rest. As it turns out, the Pack’s rushing attack has been the Achilles heel for the offense. State finished with -26 yards rushing- yes that is negative 26 yards. The statistic includes sacks, but James Washington finished with negative one yards, and Curtis Underwood led the team with six yards on six carries.

A continuing theme for the Pack this season, as nine receivers caught a pass from either Glennon or backup Tyler Brosius, a redshirt freshman who is now 5-6 on the season. Graham’s seven catches for 176 yards led the Pack. But Glennon threw two costly interceptions, putting him at ten touchdowns and three interceptions for the season.

The defense was once again atrocious as Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros and running back Isaiah Pead ran wild on the Pack. Pead ran for 167 yards and a touchdown while Collaros ran for 52 yards and finished 25-34 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and one interception- by NC State sophomore corner David Amerson, who is now tied for first in the nation in interceptions.

That was the only positive all night from the Pack’s defense, as they gave up third-downs of all varieties, as the Bearcats finished 9-16 on third down conversions. Cincinnati finished with 503 yards of total offense and just one turnover.

If State continues to play with zero emotion it will finish this games miles under .500, and Head Coach Tom O’Brien will find himself without a job. Hopefully the Pack can shut down Georgia Tech like they did last season and get the win that saves the Pack’s season.

Player of the game: T.J. Graham. The senior now leads the nation in all-purpose yards after his seven catches for 176 yards and 170 yards on kick returns. Graham scored the Pack’s only two touchdowns on receptions of 87 and 49 yards.

What went right? T.J. Graham. Really, there weren’t any other positives the Pack could take away from this one. Special teams were competent, as freshman Niklas Sade was 2-2 on extra points and punter Wil Baumann had six punts for an average of 42.5 yards with a long of 52 yards.

What went wrong? Besides the obvious of the defense giving up 44 points, the rushing game was just as bad- well probably worse. As a team the Pack rushed for -26 yards, as Curtis Underwood was the only State player who finished in positive yards rushing (6), four others finished in the red.

What’s next? A home game against 21st ranked Georgia Tech, Saturday at 3:30 on ABC. State’s defense is banged up and missing a bunch of starters, this will only lead to disaster against the Yellow Jackets’ triple option offense. This could be a very long afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium, where NC State currently has a five game winning streak.

ACC Blogger Power Poll – Week Four

Posted by Brandon Rink on under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd continued to impress against FSU's fifth-ranked defense Saturday in a 35-30 win. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

ACCBlogger.com ranks the ACC after week four…

Rank..(LW)..Team…………………………………Record
1)..(1)..Virginia Tech Hokies…………………4-0 (0-0 ACC)
The Hokies concluded the preseason with a 30-10 win at Marshall this week, and jump right into ACC play, hosting a hot Clemson Tigers team for a night game in Lane Stadium – I’ll be there…and absolutely cannot wait for it.

2)..(4)..Clemson Tigers………………….4-0 (1-0 ACC)
After a strong first half, Clemson flirted with disaster in the second with the ‘Noles – a Tajh Boyd fumble right into the hands of FSU DE Bjoern Werner starting the snowball downhill, but Sammy Watkins came up clutch again with a 62-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter and the Tiger D was able to make the stop they needed with under two minutes to go. It gets no easier for Clemson with a trip to Blacksburg this weekend.

T-3)..(2)..Florida State Seminoles………….2-2 (0-1 ACC)
FSU had a shot, which is what you ask for with a freshman backup QB running the show like Clint Trickett, but Clemson made one more play and one more stop to get a leg-up on the Seminoles. Florida State gets a badly-needed bye to rest up this week before going to Duke and Wake Forest the next two weeks.

T-3)..(3)..Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets…………..4-0 (1-0 ACC)
We found out against UNC – Georgia Tech can still keep the offensive locomotive going in conference play, as they racked up 312 rushing yards on the Heels to a 35-28 win. The Jackets hit the road to a reeling NC State this week.

5)..(5)..North Carolina Tar Heels…………2-1 (1-1 ACC)
If you’re UNC, it’s hard to feel bad about this performance, with running back Gio Bernard rushing for 155 yards and two touchdowns – storming back in the fourth quarter to tie it up against Georgia Tech’s highly-efficient offense. North Carolina doesn’t resume ACC play until October 15 against Miami.

6)..(8)..Wake Forest Demon Deacons…2-1 (1-0 ACC)
Wake Forest takes a trip to Chestnut Hill this week to improve on their 1-0 start in ACC play.

7)..(7)..Miami Hurricanes………………………1-2 (0-1 ACC)
It was the letdown we talked about, and Miami couldn’t afford. Kansas State jumped on them from the start and held on at the end – keeping Jacory Harris out of the endzone on a rush on fourth-and-the-game from the K-State two-yard line.

8)..(6).. Maryland Terrapins………..1-2 (1-0 ACC)
Oof. Bernard Pierce just scored another rushing TD for Temple.

9)..(11)..Duke Blue Devils…………………………2-2 (1-0 ACC)
Duke is on a winning streak. Yessir, After dominating Tulane 45-27, the Blue Devils improved to 2-2 before a primetime TV game at 3-1 FIU this week on ESPNU.

10)..(9)..North Carolina State Wolfpack ………..2-2 (0-1 ACC)
Minus-26 rushing yards against Cincinnati in a 44-14 Thursday loss. Minus-26. MINUS-26.

11)..(10)..Virginia Cavaliers…………………..2-2 (0-1 ACC)
Southern Miss QB Austin Davis picked apart Virginia’s secondary for a 27-for-41 day with 313 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 30-24 win in Charlottesville. Just as the ‘Hoos bowling chances were trending up, this happens, and after a strong performance at UNC last week. Puzzling.

12)..(12)..Boston College Eagles………………1-3 (0-0 ACC)
BC ensured we won’t have a 0-12 team this season in the ACC by downing UMass 45-17 Saturday. Montel Harris got back in action with nine carries for 27 yards.

Ballots

Brandon Rink: 1) VT 2) Clemson 3) GT 4) FSU 5) UNC 6) Wake Forest 7) Miami 8) Duke 9) NC State 10) Maryland 11) Virginia 12) BC

Griffin Wong: 1) VT 2) FSU 3) Clemson 4) GT 5) UNC 6) Wake Forest 7) Miami 8) Maryland 9) NC State 10) Duke 11) Virginia 12) BC

J.J. Greenstein: 1) FSU 2) Clemson 3) GT 4) FSU 5) UNC 6) Wake Forest 7) Miami 8) Maryland 9) Duke 10) Virginia 11) NC State 12) BC

ACC Football Midweek Links/Pick’em – Week Four

Posted by Brandon Rink on September 22, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

All eyes on FSU QB E.J. Manuel's non-throwing shoulder this week as the Seminoles try to stave off a two-game losing streak. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

With the Thursday night game this week, we’re mashing up the Midweek links and Pick’Em…ACCBlogger.com picks week four in the ACC…

Last week (Overall)

Brandon Rink – 8-2 (25-5)

Griffin Wong – 7-3 (23-7)

J.J. Greenstein – 7-3 (24-6)

  • 09/22/10  NC State Wolfpack @ Cincinnati Bearcats / ESPN / 8:00 p.m. ET

The Lead: NC State returns the favor of a Bearcats/Wolfpack Thursday night game, but trying to complete the home-and-home series sweep.

Must-See Matchup: NC State QB Mike Glennon vs. second road test

Glennon  was solid against Wake Forest in a 34-27 loss (24-41, 315 yards, 3 TDs-1 INT), but gets his first taste of a Thursday night road game at Cincinnati.

Quotable Coach (Tom O’Brien): On defensive injuries including LB Terrell Manning this week – “It’s been a tough season to play defense. We lost a corner to start the year, we lost our captain and best defensive lineman, we lost the next-best defensive lineman, we lost the back-up middle linebacker, lost a corner, lost a linebacker.”

Bringing the Noise: Backing the Pack previews Cincinnati with a Q&A. ESPN ACC Blog previews via video. State Fans gives the bottom-line on this game. Tom O’Brien gets his Wolfpack the national spotlight Thursday in a homecoming for him.

Watch 4: Home Thursday effect plus Cincinnati offense to take advantage of injuries

The Bearcats aren’t a great team, as they lost their only BCS game so far, 45-23 at Tennessee, but then again, so has NC State on the road, 34-27 at Wake. Just don’t think we’ve seen enough from the Wolfpack to have confidence in pulling this one off, and winning on the road on a Thursday is tough.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Cincinnati 28-21; Griffin Wong – Cincinnati 38-21; J.J. Greenstein – NC State 35-31.

  • 09/24/10 North Carolina Tar Heels @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets / ESPN / 12:00 p.m. ET

The Lead: The nation’s top offense at Georgia Tech hosts a 3-0 UNC team with the ACC’s top-rated passer Bryn Renner.

Must-See Matchup: GT top-ranked offense vs. UNC 36th-ranked defense

While you’ve been reading this, the Yellow Jackets ran another 100 yards on Kansas, and UNC hasn’t faced an offense near as efficient as Georgia Tech so far.

Quotable Coach (Everett Withers): Defending Georgia Tech – “To me, with this offense you have got to take things away from the inside out. You’ve got to take the dive away; they’ve always had that guy in that B-back position that’s always been their number one guy. And then you’ve got to take away the quarterback and then on the perimeter you’ve got to leverage the ball and take the pitch.”

Quotable Coach (Paul Johnson): Defending UNC pass attack – “Hopefully you don’t let him (Bryn Renner) have the little dink and dunk short passes that they throw. You’re going to complete a high percentage if you’re not throwing more than three or four yards downfield, so you’ve got to try to take some of that away. I think he’s a very talented guy; hopefully you can put some pressure on him.”

Bringing the Noise: Carolina March takes a look at the prolific offense of Georgia Tech so far. Georgia Tech’s defense flying under the radar at this point. From the Rumble Seat previews the Jackets/Heels game with a Q&A. The Sports Network has Georgia Tech pulling this one out. Inside Carolina previews the matchups. UNC will probably miss kicker Casey Barth again this week.

Watch 4: Georgia Tech offense to roll on enough to 1-0 ACC start

Against better UNC defenses, Georgia Tech has rolled up 448 total yards in a 30-24 road win, and dominated 24-7 in Atlanta two years ago. The Heels should be able to move the ball, but just not enough for a road ACC win.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Georgia Tech 30-21; Griffin Wong – Georgia Tech 27-17; J.J. Greenstein – Georgia Tech 35-24.

  • Temple Owls @ Maryland Terrapins / ACC Network / 12:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: Maryland is in the middle of a three-game out of conference stretch – losing last week 37-31 to West Virginia, and facing Temple and Towson the next two weeks.

Must-See Matchup: Danny O’Brien’s confidence vs. decent Temple passing D

Temple took Penn State to the wire last week, falling 14-10, while Danny O’Brien fired three interceptions against West Virginia. Tend to think O’Brien will recover just fine, but the Owls could take advantage if he isn’t sharp.

Quotable Coach (Randy Edsall): On Danny O’Brien – “Danny is a victim of his own circumstance some times, he has so much confidence in his own ability that he might try to throw a ball into a very small window when he shouldn’t. As I told him sometimes an incomplete pass is the best thing that can happen instead of forcing something.”

Bringing the Noise: Temple faces a bit of QB controversy coming in. Terps QB Danny O’Brien ready to rebound from the rough WVU game.

Watch 4: Temple to hang tough, Maryland to pull away late

With Al Golden as coach, Temple beat Randy Edsall’s UConn team by two touchdowns at home – and have one of the top running backsin the country with Bernard Pierce. I expect this to be similar to what FIU did in College Park last season, where they eventually fell 42-28.

The Picks: Brandon RinkMaryland 31-17; Griffin Wong – Maryland 24-20; J.J. Greenstein – Maryland 34-17.

  • Massachusetts Minutemen @ Boston College Eagles / ESPN3 / 1:00 p.m. ET

The Lead: Before a stretch of five ACC games in six weeks, BC goes for win No. 1 against Massachusetts.

Must-See Matchup: BC rushing offense vs. Minuteman rush D

Soon-to-be FBS Masschusetts is allowing 65.50 yards per game – the Eagles aren’t doing much better on the ground at 80.67 (106th nationally).

Quotable Coach (Frank Spaziani): Team mood at 0-3 – “They are obviously disappointed.  These things are long-term, cumulative attitudes.  If they can see the areas they’re improving in and see the areas they need improvement…it’s a long season and we have to work hard.”

Bringing the Noise: BC Interruption breaks down the depth chart this week. Soaring to Glory looks at the matchups BC offense vs. UMass D and five big questions.

Watch 4: Eagles to get the ‘W’

Outside of last week, BC has a reputation for beating the teams they should and even winning games they aren’t expected to do. The Eagles get back on the right track here (or whatever you call beating an FCS team).

The Picks: Brandon Rink – BC 31-21; Griffin Wong – BC 24-10; J.J. Greenstein – BC 21-17.

  • Southern Miss Golden Eagles @ Virginia Cavaliers / RSN / 3:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: Virginia goes for win No. 3 on the young season hosting C-USA foe Southern Miss.

Must-See Matchup: Southern Miss rushing attack vs. Virginia run defense

The Golden Eagles racked up 335 rushing yards against Southeastern Louisiana – last week, Virginia gave up 222 to UNC.

Quotable Coach (Mike London): On So Miss – “They’re a BCS team, too.  The young man-Lampley, No. 1-is a dynamic return guy.  Punts, kickoffs-he has career touchdowns in both categories there.  This is a team that’s very, very fast, again, very athletic.  Most of the teams they play in Conference-USA, I believe, are spread offense teams-hurry up, quick tempo-so their offensive and their defensive looks are geared towards stopping those type of looks.”

Bringing the Noise: Streaking the Lawn previews ‘Hoos/Eagles. Virginia OC Bill Lazor says they need to up their production starting this week. This is a big game for Virginia’s bowl chances.

Watch 4: Virginia offense to move the ball effectively

Vegas doesn’t seem to be too confident in Virginia, but I don’t see the upset here as the ‘Hoos looked solid at UNC last week.

The Picks: Brandon RinkVirginia 34-20; Griffin Wong – 28-17; J.J. Greenstein – Virginia 30-21.

  • Kansas State Wildcats @ Miami Hurricanes / ESPNU / 3:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: Kansas State and the top total defense in the country (sample size small with opponents of Eastern Kentucky and Kent State) come to town against a Miami team riding high after dominating Ohio State.

Must-See Matchup: Miami RB Lamar Miller vs. Kansas State’s 8th-ranked rush defense

The definition of an inflated stat – the Wildcats gave up 10 rushing yards to FCS team Eastern Kentucky and a more average 118 to Kent State two weeks later.

Quotable Coach (Al Golden): On Kansas State – “But certainly Kansas State, with their reputation as an excellent football team, with how they played in September, being the number one total defense in scoring defense in the country, and obviously when they turn on the tape, here’s this quarterback running all over the place, I think that’s going to get their attention, it better get their attention.”

Bringing the Noise: Eye of the Hurricane has your ‘Canes/’Cats previews. Al Golden on Kansas State and more here.

Watch 4: Miami to run effectively, defense to hold Wildcats offense

This has the potential to be a letdown game – a big test for Al Golden’s influence on this Miami team. They should be able to run nearly at will and shut down a middling Kansas State offense, but we shall see.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Miami 24-10; Griffin Wong – Miami 27-17; J.J. Greenstein – Miami 28-17.

  • Florida State Seminoles @ Clemson Tigers / ESPN / 3:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: A battered ACC preseason favorite Florida State Seminoles comes into Clemson’s Death Valley, possibly down starting QB E.J. Manuel and several receivers in a crucial divisional game.

Must-See Matchup: Clemson offensive line vs. FSU defensive line

The Seminoles d-line was disruptive against No. 1 Oklahoma last week, and Clemson has had its share of issues over the years with opening holes and protection – they’ll get a huge test from one of the nation’s best.

Quotable Coach (Jimbo Fisher): On facing a tough environment at Clemson – “You mentally prepare them and you talk to them.  But you can’t — you don’t want to scare them, because I mean in the end, those fans, they can’t jump on the field and jump all over you.  So it’s still a football game and they are still just yelling.

Quotable Coach (Dabo Swinney): On FSU – “They’re just a typical Florida State team in every regard. Special teams could be the difference in the game in a situation like this. That’s what happened last year. They whipped us in special teams. We’re going to have to have a great week on special teams.”

Bringing the Noise: With Manuel and several WRs in question, this is a big game for FSU receiver Rodney Smith. Tomahawk Nation takes a look back at Tulsa/ECU from 2008 for some clues for this one. Orlando Sentinel has some notes from Wednesday’s practice. OS profiles the FSU QB you could see starting Saturday, Clint Trickett. If Manuel plays, Clemson is coming for him, says DT Rennie Moore. TN says Clemson TE Dwayne Allen vs. LB Christian Jones is a matchup to watch. Shakin the Southland breaks down the depth charts. STS takes a look at the odds here. Swinney knows he needs all he can get from his Tigers this week to beat FSU – OC Morris says they’re a top-5 team “no doubt.” Backtracking a bit, a look at E.J. Manuel’s injury. Getting to know the Tigers.

Watch 4: FSU’s ability to run the ball as key of the game

E.J. Manuel’s running ability really opened things up for the FSU offense in their 16-13 win over Clemson last season in Tallahassee. Without Manuel (possibly), a lot of pressure falls on a Seminoles RB unit that’s underperformed so far. All in all, I hesitantly pick Clemson because these are the games they traditionally lose – reversing my preseason pick of FSU here…just too many injuries and uncertainty on the ‘Noles side.

You pick'em game of the week: FSU @ Clemson

  • Tigers (58%, 7 Votes)
  • Seminoles (42%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The Picks: Brandon Rink – Clemson 20-17; Griffin Wong – Clemson 23-14; J.J. Greenstein – FSU 28-24.

  • Virginia Tech Hokies @ Marshall Thundering Herd / CBS Sports Network / 3:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: Virginia Tech continues its tour through mediocre to bad out-of-conference teams with a trip to Marshall (1-2) and their 105th-ranked offense/91st-ranked defense.

Must-See Matchup: Hokies vs. looking ahead to ACC opener with Clemson

Virginia Tech is game away from the friendly confines of ACC play, where they went 9-0 last season.

Quotable Coach (Frank Beamer): Talking Marshall – “Well on Saturday they turned the ball over and got out of it early, but that’s not the team that you saw against West Virginia, they hung right in there.  We know that’s the team we’re going to see Saturday.”

Bringing the Noise: Tech Sideline is picking Virginia Tech in a blowout. VT Effect scouts Marshall. Gobbler Country crunches the numbers in the Herd/Hokies matchup and what to watch for with a pick. Game guide.

Watch 4: Hokies to roll

Marshall gave WVU a game for awhile, and beat Southern Miss – but the last time these teams met, the Hokies won 52-10 (at Lane).

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Virginia Tech 45-17; Griffin Wong – Virginia Tech 31-3; J.J. Greenstein – Virginia Tech 42-7.

  • Tulane Green Wave @ Duke Blue Devils / ESPN3 / 3:30 p.m. ET

The Lead: The Blue Devils try to keep the momentum rolling from the ACC win over BC against Tulane.

Must-See Matchup: Duke QB Sean Renfree vs. Green Wave pass defense

Renfree passed 53 times against BC for 368 yards, two touchdowns and an INT – UAB was held to 145 passing yards on 28 attempts last week at home versus the Green Wave.

Quotable Coach (David Cutcliffe): On Tulane – “They are good on offense. They are good on defense. They are playing special teams extremely well. Their defense scored twice last week. Their offense dominated the ball and kept the football.”

Bringing the Noise: Duke improving offensively.

Watch 4: Blue Devils to pick apart Green Wave for second-straight win

This is a team that lost to Richmond, so, nothing is a given with the Blue Devils, but Duke might just have a little momentum after a decent game against Stanford and road win at BC.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – Duke 28-20; Griffin Wong – Duke 24-17; J.J. Greenstein – Duke 20-16.

ATS Section

Last week (Overall): 4-3 (10-9)

On to the picks…

  • Cincinnati -7 vs. NC State

Take to Bank %: 15%

More often than not, you side with the home team on a Thursday.

  • Tulane +10 @ Duke

Take to Bank %: 15%

Last week could’ve been a turning point for the Blue Devils, buuuuuut I’ll take another week to see if they can actually blow out an opponent.

  • Miami -12.5 vs. Kansas State

Take to Bank %: 25%

This is probably a trick, but if Miami just pounds the ball and plays great defense like last week – this shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Maryland -9 vs. Temple

Take to Bank %: 40%

This has letdown written all over it, but I’ll have a little confidence in Danny O’Brien to recover and pull away late.

  • Virginia Tech -20.5 vs. Marshall

Take to Bank %: 35%

After we took Arkansas State last week and won, Virginia Tech is due for a blowout win going into ACC play.

  • Georgia Tech -4.5 vs. UNC

Take to Bank %: 55%

Maybe I’m a sucker here, but with the history of UNC at GT…and how the Yellow Jackets are playing – they should cruise to this number.

  • Clemson -2.5 vs. Clemson

Take to Bank %: 10%

I’m never confident in Clemson winning a big game when they’re expected to.

  • Virginia -3 vs. Southern Miss

Take to Bank %: 60%

Puzzling line o’ the week – Vegas really not liking the ‘Hoos for some reason.