ACC Football Pick’Em – 8/31-9/3

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 30, 2012 under ACC Football | 4 Comments to Read

NC State will be donning the red, while Tennessee and Clemson rock the orange and Auburn home blue in Friday and Saturday's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff games - who wins?

ACCBlogger.com picks week one in the ACC…

08/31/12  NC State vs. Tennessee (-3) (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7:30 p.m. ET / ESPNU

The Lead: Game one of the Atlanta weekend doubleheader features two under-the-radar teams in the SEC and ACC, where one or the other can make an early statement before a national audience.

Watch 4: Back-and-forth affair hinging on NC State’s running game

Not exactly the most comforting of thoughts for a Wolfpack fan, but the Vols’ vulnerability was in rush defense last season and replace its most starters on the d-line. My fear for NC State is they try to force the pass and it’s not there – Glennon struggles, and Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray counters with a solid game to pull away. Before Bray’s thumb injury last season, Tennessee ranked 10th in passing offense four games in and he passed for 14 touchdowns to two interceptions. Facing David Amerson and co. will be a challenge though – it’s up to the Wolfpack run game to keep the Vols’ D off-balance to come out of the ATL with a win.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – UT 27-24 ; Griffin Wong – UT 24-20; W. Gustin Vandiford – NCSU 27-21; J.J. Greenstein – NCSU 21-17.

09/01/12 Miami (-2.5) at Boston College / 3:30 p.m. ET / ABC (Regional)-ESPN2

The Lead: The rivalry renewe…okay, it’s just Miami-Boston College on the opening week, but for teams each picked towards the bottom of the divisions, it could serve as a nice confidence builder.

Watch 4: Miami to run until BC stops it

Before injuries plagued the 2011 BC d-line, the Eagles had finished in the top-15 nationally in rush defense the previous four seasons…and a middle-of-the-road 59th last year. The ‘Canes ran over 40+ times in its first two games last year, on the road at Maryland (32-24 loss) and at home against Ohio State (24-6 win). They feature a solid three-man rotation of Mike James, Eduardo Clements and Duke Johnson and with a big day – BC’s offensive injuries aplenty during fall camp will make it hard for the Eagles to win any type of high-scoring game.

The Picks: Rink – UM 20-17; Wong – UM 27-17; Vandiford – UM 34-10; Greenstein – UM 23-17

Clemson (-3) vs. Auburn (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN

The Lead: ACC v. SEC. Tigers v. Tigers. Rubber match of a three-game, three season series. New coordinators. Suspensions. Drama. Watch.

Watch 4: Clemson’s veteran QB to be the difference

The ACC Tigers’ o-line features three new starters and another switching from guard to left tackle, and the SEC Tigers’ o-line replace two starters and a third due to suspension. Where I see the edge is in the QB battle, with All-ACC junior Tajh Boyd versus former five-star and Auburn first-year starter Kiehl Frazier. Frazier isn’t exactly green, playing a limited role in all 13 games last season, but he’s also learning a new offensive system (Scot Loeffler, former Temple OC). Boyd finds a couple new favorite targets in Sammy Watkins’ absence to take game two of the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff for the ACC.

The Picks: Rink – CU 27-23; Wong – CU 31-20; Vandiford – AU 27-7; Greenstein – CU 35-31

FIU at Duke (-3) / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN3

The Lead: After a thriller in South Fla. last season (31-27 Blue Devils win), FIU makes the return trip to Durham, seeking a second-straight season with a road BCS win.

Watch 4: Injured Blue Devils to find a way

You should probably pick FIU. One, they return 19 starters off from a team that went 4-2 on the road (one, at Louisville, 24-17) and won 8 games last season. Two, Duke is hurting, really, really hurting. Oh, and Duke openers of late…23-21 Richmond in ‘11, 41-27 over Elon in ’10 and 24-16 Richmond in ’09 (well, maybe they just shouldn’t play Richmond). That said, the experienced o-line (88 starts) is still intact and third-year starter Sean Renfree still has his top target (Conner Vernon, All-ACC WR) after a strong game against the Golden Panthers last season (28-43 for 335 yards and two touchdowns). The key is the Duke defense holding FIU in check enough that’s it’s not a shootout.

The Picks: Rink – Duke 28-24; Wong – Duke 17-7; Vandiford – Duke 21-10; Greenstein – Duke 24-21

09/03/12 Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (-7.5) / 8 p.m. ET / ESPN

The Lead: The battle for Tech and Coastal supremacy highlights your Labor Day in Blacksburg, in a series that’s entertained since Paul Johnson took over in Atlanta.

Watch 4: Hokies’ D to hold GT in check

The spread option effect on a game can negate a lot of road factors – Georgia Tech at 9-7 in ACC play under Paul Johnson (only Virginia Tech has had that kind of road success in the ACC at 12-4). In two previous trips to Blacksburg, Johnson’s Jackets have covered the spread, but not been able to breakthrough – and he has his best shot come Monday facing a Hokies’ squad looking for answers at several spots offensively. But as we pointed out Wednesday, the key to this game could very well be VT’s green RBs versus a rebuilt GT d-line. If Logan Thomas and co. can get a running game going, obviously – the pass will open up and it may not matter how effective the spread option is on the road. Virginia Tech hasn’t lost a divisional game since October 2009 (20-17 to UNC at Lane), and though it’ll be close, I don’t see that changing here.

The Picks: Rink – VT 31-24; Wong – VT 28-14; Vandiford – VT 24-17; Greenstein – VT 28-24

ACC v. FCS

  • 09/01/12 Elon at UNC / 12:30 p.m. ET / ACC Network

The Picks: Rink – UNC 45-17; Wong – UNC 28-10; Vandiford – UNC; Greenstein – UNC 28-10

  • Richmond at Virginia / 3 p.m. ET / RSN

The Picks: Rink – UVA 45-10; Wong – UVA 24-7; Vandiford – UVA 34-27; Greenstein – UVA 31-10

  • William & Mary at Maryland / 3 p.m. ET / ESPN3

The Picks: Rink – MD 27-10; Wong – MD 24-13; Vandiford – MD 36-10; Greenstein – MD 17-14

  • Murray State at Florida State / 6 p.m. ET / ESPN3

The Picks: Rink – FSU 56-10; Wong – FSU 41-10; Vandiford – FSU; Greenstein – FSU 52-10

  • Liberty at Wake Forest / 6:30 p.m. ET / ESPN3

The Picks: Rink – Wake 38-17; Wong – Wake 28-13; Vandiford – Wake 41-16; Greenstein – Wake 31-14

What to watch for: NC State vs. Tennessee

Posted by J.J. Greenstein on under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Before we jump into numbers for Friday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, someone needs to point out the irony of Tennessee fans posting videos online talking trash to State fans about how they “had the best wide receiver duo in the country” and how quarterback Tyler Bray would have no trouble with the Wolfpack’s experienced secondary.

They also said State would have no chance throwing the ball against the Vols’ defense, especially with State’s second best receiver, Bryan Underwood, out with a knee injury for the foreseeable future.

I must say, this is one cocky fan base considering this is a team that finished 5-7 last season. I know, I know, you play in the SEC and that winning five games is very impressive in that conference. But the Volunteers only won one SEC game- against Vanderbilt, at home, and in overtime. For Pete’s sake, you lost to Kentucky with a bowl birth on the line. Seriously? Kentucky- in football (10-7).

Fast forward to a week before the game and the Volunteers’ leading receiver Da’Rick Rogers has left the team and enrolled at Tennessee Tech following failed drug tests and State’s Underwood is now listed as a game-time decision. What a swing of events we have here, I guess we can get down to business now, I just needed one paragraph to rant.

The Quarterbacks

Friday’s game at the Georgia Dome will feature two experienced quarterbacks in Tennessee’s Bray and the Wolfpack’s Mike Glennon. That being said, quarterback play will be what to watch for in the season opener.

Both quarterbacks are listed at 6-6 and weigh over 200 pounds. These are two proto-typical sized quarterbacks for the NFL, and I would expect both of them to get  fairly early over the next two league drafts.

Bray is a junior who missed six games last season battling injuries, but was very effective when he was healthy. He finished the season completing 147 of 247 passes (59.5%) for 1983 yards. He threw for 17 touchdowns to only six interceptions, earning him a quarterback rating of 144.8 for the season.

His counter-part, Glennon, is a senior who has finally stepped out from Russell Wilson’s shadow and had a solid junior campaign for a first-year starter.  He completed 283 of 453 passes (62.5%) totaling 3054 yards. He would finish the season with 31 touchdowns to twelve interceptions, equaling a 136.4 quarterback rating.

The Receivers

The big question will be, which one of these receiving corps will help their gunslinger out the most.

Tennessee still has a fairly solid group without Rogers leading the way. Though, their leading receiver from last year is now tight end Mychal Rivera who had 29 grabs last season as a junior. This means junior Justin Hunter (who was much more productive in his first season than his second due to an ACL tear in the third game of the season) will be covered by NC State’s David Amerson, last year’s NCAA leader in interceptions. Junior running back Rajion Neal will really need to step up for the Volunteers catching passes out of the backfield if they hope to move the ball through the air against this secondary.

For NC State, many more questions surround the receiving group. State’s second leading returner from last season is running back James Washington. This is not surprising as Glennon loves to check down to his backs and tight ends under pressure. Senior Tobais Palmer will need to step up in only his second year as a wide receiver. With Underwood’s availability uncertain, look for running back Tony Creecy to make plays in the passing game along with tight ends Mario Carter and Asa Watson.

The Running Game

There are two parts to the running game that must be working well for a running game. The backs themselves and the offensive line in front of them.

From ESPN: “A year ago, there were only four FBS teams that were worse at running the football than the Vols, who finished 116th nationally in rushing offense with an average of 90.1 yards per game.” But Tennessee’s line is big, probably the biggest NC State will see all year, and they have talent returning this season up front. It will be an interesting match-up between the Vols’ O-line and NC State’s depth on the defensive line.

Tennessee’s running numbers reflected the Vols’ feeling of content with letting the passing game pace the offense, and junior running back Rajion Neal may not even be vital to the success of the offense if the passing game is running on all cylinders.

Its a different story for the Wolfpack ground game. A three-headed monster led by Tony Creecy backed up by James Washington and Mustafa Greene will be showcased behind the most experienced offensive line Tom O’Brien has had in his tenure in Raleigh. All three backs are expected to get a carry in the first half, and all three are potent catching passes out of the backfield.

Offensive conclusion

We can call quarterbacking a draw, balanced out by Glennon’s better leadership and Bray’s ability to get outside the pocket and make plays. Tennessee’s receiving corp is more solid than State’s but the Wolfpack’s running game might be head and shoulders better than the Volunteers’. The play of the offensive lines should be about even with the Vols’ size and the Wolfpack’s continuity.

So I guess we have a draw when comparing the two offenses. Maybe what to watch for will be the defenses…

Who wins Friday night?

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ACC Football Midweek Links – 8/29

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 29, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Sophomore Charone Peake is one of a couple young Clemson receivers who have to step up Saturday in the Georgia Dome with Sammy Watkins out. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Welcome to your weekly ACC Football Midweek Links hopefully getting you through the week to the weekend…

08/31/12  NC State vs. Tennessee (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7:30 p.m. ET / ESPNU

Must-See Matchup: Mike Glennon’s arm vs. experienced Vols secondary

Talk has centered on the other side of the ball with Da’Rick Rogers’ suspension/leaving the program matching up against David Amerson and co., but Tennessee ranked 12th in pass defense last season and return all four starters. Glennon had a strong first year as a starter and could be poised for an even better 2012.

Bringing the Noise: Sophomore WR Bryan Underwood could be back Saturday after a early camp injury. State WR Tobais Palmer says the Wolfpack could “be a hard team to stop” this season. Tennessee lost its top target, but are still a threat in the passing game says Mike Archer and they’re missing one of their own in C.J. Wilson. State Fans breaks it down unit by unit and other matchups Friday. Backing the Pack looks at the QB matchup and takes a look at the FEI rankings for the schools here.

09/01/12 Miami at Boston College / 3:30 p.m. ET / ABC (Regional)-ESPN2

Must-See Matchup: Miami running game vs. BC D

Miami has been the favorite, the underdog and back to being the favorite in this matchup in the span of a month, but the jury is still out on junior quarterback Stephen Morris coming back from offseason back surgery. The Hurricanes have a talented backfield with senior Mike James, junior Eduardo Clements and highly-rated frosh Duke Johnson with a shuffled o-line in front of them – if BC can’t shut them down, Miami has the advantage.

Bringing the Noise: BC and Miami SB Nation sites exchanged preview Q&A here and here. Miami determined its travel squad for BC and tackle Seantrel Henderson didn’t make the list. Miami center Shane McDermott gets his time to shine. Eagle Action breaks down the depth chart surprises for BC.

Clemson vs. Auburn (Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.) / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN

Must-See Matchup: Clemson WR corps sans Sammy Watkins vs. Auburn’s secondary

With an experienced and big d-line, Auburn will look to control the line of scrimmage against a Clemson o-line featuring three underclassmen and one converted defensive tackle starter. Somebody has to get open for Tajh Boyd to relieve some pressure off him and open up the running game.

Bringing the Noise: OrangeandWhite.com has the keys to the game here and here and trouble spots for Clemson. The ACC Tigers had a few surprises on the first depth chart. Dabo Swinney described new DC Brent Venables as a “caged animal” headed into the opener. Swinney is optimistic projected starting RT Gifford Timothy can return from a early fall camp knee injury. Facing a new Auburn offense, the Clemson has spent a lot of time reviewing tape of Temple. Shakin the Southland Q&A previews it with the Auburn SB Nation site.

FIU at Duke / 7 p.m. ET / ESPN3

Must-See Matchup: Renfree’s arm vs. FIU’s secondary

Renfree had one of his best games against the Golden Panthers’ secondary last season, hitting 28-of-43 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns. FIU returns four upperclassmen starters in the secondary.

Bringing the Noise: This Blue Devils’ squad is led by a veteran o-line. Duke has 12 scholarship players out.

09/03/12 Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech / 8 p.m. ET / ESPN

Must-See Matchup: Hokies’ rushing attack vs. GT D

You would think it’s the other way around, but Virginia Tech inflicted a season-worst 267 rushing yards on the Jackets last season in the 37-26 win, while the Hokies’ D held GT to its second-worst rushing game of the season (243 yards). If Virginia Tech’s green RB corps can step up here, it may not matter what Paul Johnson has up his sleeve offensively.

Bringing the Noise: The Key Play Q&A previews it with From the Rumble SeatTKP returns the favor here. TKP’s Pick Six is mixed on the ACC’s big games this weekend. It was confirmed this week what had been the sentiment going in – VT linebacker Tariq Edwards is out for the Labor Day matchup.

ACC v. FCS

  • 09/01/12 Elon at UNC / 12:30 p.m. ET / ACC Network

Bringing the Noise: Tar Heel Blog has some depth chart and press conference notes.

  • Richmond at Virginia / 3 p.m. ET / RSN

Bringing the Noise: A healthy Steve Greer ready to lead the Virginia D. In case you’ve been under a rock, Michael Rocco won the UVa. QB job over Phillip Sims and David Watford.

  • William & Mary at Maryland / 3 p.m. ET / ESPN3

Bringing the Noise: The Terrapins will likely have a couple true freshman RBs on the field Saturday. Testudo Times says Randy Edsall has 2012 to rebuild and will be back in 2013. They also have notes on Maryland’s depth chart. The Terps have some injury issues, other than the season-long ones, to deal with Saturday. D1scourse talks freshman impact in game one.

  • Murray State at Florida State / 6 p.m. ET / ESPN3

Bringing the Noise: FSU lost backup TE Dan Hicks for the season – more ‘Noles notes from Tomahawk Nation. TN says its time for FSU to take the next step.

  • Liberty at Wake Forest / 6:30 p.m. ET / ESPN3

Bringing the Noise: Redshirt freshman Sherman Ragland III looking to fill the void at receiver for the Deacs. Blogger So Dear has notes on Liberty’s depth chart.