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
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).
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.