ACC Blogger Power Poll – Week Five

Posted by Brandon Rink on September 30, 2012 under ACC Football | Read the First Comment

Clemson gave up a bunch of yards again, but stepped up in the second half to close out the road win at BC (Pic per ranks the ACC through five weeks…

1) Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1) – 5-0 (2-0 ACC)

Final: Florida State 30 USF 17 (Tampa)
Turning Point:
USF opened second half with a blocked punt-to-B.J. Daniels rushing touchdown to cut the FSU lead to 13-10, but the ‘Noles reeled off the next three scores (touchdown pass, field goal and 12-yard fumble return for touchdown) to take a commanding 30-10 lead into the fourth quarter.
Game-Ball: FSU DE Cornelius Carradine – 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced fumble.
Read Option:
FSU faced its toughest challenge on offense this season, a week after a big win and on the road, and got a passing grade and more importantly – a double-digit win before returning to ACC play at NC State next week in primetime.

2) Clemson Tigers (LW: 2) – 4-1 (1-1 ACC)

Final: Clemson 45 Boston College 31 (Chestnut Hill)
Turning Point: Stuffed on fourth-and-short, Clemson gave the ball back to BC up two touchdowns at their 46, and the Eagles hit a big play right out of the gate with a personal foul tacked on to the Tigers’ 14 with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter. Backup cornerback Garry Peters (No. 26 above in the pic), who was inserted in place of a struggling Darius Robinson, jumped a BC route for his first career interception to essentially seal the win.
DeAndre Hopkins – Single-game school record 197 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Read Option: Much like FSU, this was a test coming off a physical game, and for the most part, they passed, down Sammy Watkins with an “abdominal virus” and surviving blown-coverages-aplenty in the secondary. The good teams find a way to win games like this and Clemson showed something in Chestnut Hill.

3) Miami Hurricanes (LW: 4) – 4-1 (3-0 ACC)

Final: Miami 44 NC State 37 (Miami)
Turning Point:
I still don’t believe what I saw – 32 seconds left, Miami quarterback Stephen Morris fakes the handoff and rolls right – evades pressure – and hits an open Phillip Dorsett behind three NC State defenders for the game-winning 62-yard touchdown connection. How, in that situation, a receiver can’t get behind an entire secondary is puzzling, but it happened all day so why wouldn’t it happen there.
Miami QB Stephen Morris – 26-for-49 with 566(!) passing yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT.
Read Option: Who needs defense? The ‘Canes are tied for the most points allowed in the ACC through five weeks, and sit atop the Coastal at 3-0 headed into the Chicago trip to face Notre Dame. When they couldn’t run, Morris did more than enough and more than that in the passing game to torch a veteran State secondary. Very impressive, and a warning shot to the Coastal that these ‘Canes are going to be a factor.

4) Duke Blue Devils (LW: 9) – 4-1 (1-0 ACC)

Final: Duke 34 Wake Forest 27 (Winston-Salem)
Turning Point: After a Tanner Price bullet pass was deflected and intercepted at the Deacs 33, Duke running back Jela Duncan knifed through the Wake Forest defense untouched to the endzone to put the Blue Devils up two touchdowns with under 3 minutes to go.
Game-ball: Duke running game – The Blue Devils were determined to try to ram it down Wake’s throat (36 attempts) – not always successful (3.4 yards per carry), but capitalized in the endzone by punching in four scores.
Read Option: Huge, huge program win for Duke. With a tough schedule ahead, the Blue Devils may still not reach the elusive 6-win bowl mark, but they have proved they’ll have a shot come November.

5) Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3) – 3-2 (1-0 ACC)

Final: Cincinnati 27 Virginia Tech 24 (D.C.)
Turning Point:
Down by four with under 20 seconds left, Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux throws up a prayer to the goalline under pressure, and it’s answered with two Hokies defensive backs burned for the Bearcats’ game-winning score.
Glaring stat:
376 – The amount of passing yards Legaux dropped on the Hokies Saturday with three touchdowns completing just 19-of-42 passes (19.7 yards per completion) after averaging 206.5 YPG coming in.
Read Option: After day full of struggles on both sides of the ball, a 56-yard touchdown pass from Logan Thomas to Corey Fuller with 1:49 to go was going to be the turning point – a sigh of relief to conclude the out of conference slate with room for improvement needed headed into ACC play at UNC next week. 9 plays – 85 yards – 1:36 was all the Bearcats needed to dash that plan. Maybe it started all the way back in Charlotte last December, but this isn’t the same Hokies that’s hit double-digit wins year after year. We’ll still likely give them the benefit of the doubt in the Coastal, for now, but Frank Beamer is still looking for answers with this team.

6) NC State Wolfpack (LW: 7) – 3-2 (0-1 ACC)

Final: Miami 44 NC State 37 (Miami) 
Glaring stat:
11 – The amount of explosive plays Miami hit through the air (16+ yards).
Read Option: You’d like to think 664 offensive yards and 44 points will get it done on the road, but no, it wasn’t thanks to a scorched Pack secondary. Back to the drawing board, or just time to make changes defensively going into a matchup with one of the more efficient offenses in college football right now, No.3 FSU, next week.

7) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5) – 2-3 (1-2 ACC)

Final: Middle Tennessee State 49 Georgia Tech 28 (Atlanta)
Turning Point: Georgia Tech, trailing 28-21 in the third quarter, took 7:07 off the clock in a drive into MTSU territory, only to turn over on downs with an 11-yard pass on 4th-and-12. Next play, Blue Raider quarterback Logan Kilgore connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass with Marcus Henry for the two score lead.
Glaring Stat: 6 – Yards per carry allowed to MTSU.
Read Option: Letdown game or just bad, really bad, no-good defense? Probably a combo of both, but if last week wasn’t a signal, Saturday was a blaring tornado siren not only for the course of this season – but for some, the Paul Johnson era in the ATL.

8) North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 10) – 3-2 (0-1 ACC)

Final: UNC 66 Idaho 0 (Chapel Hill)
Turning Point: Apparently, it was when Idaho stomped on the American-flag-flavored-stylized-midfield-logo, according to UNC tight end Eric Ebron.
UNC RB Gio Bernard – Bernard showed some of the burst we saw in week one with a 68-yard touchdown run, racking up 150 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns total.
Read Option: If you had any doubts about what Fedora can do with an offense, yeah – 575 yards and 66 points will set your mind at ease (or make you uneasy as an opposing fan). Perennial Coastal power and currently struggling Virginia Tech comes to town for what will be a statement game for both teams next week.

9) Wake Forest Demon Deacons (LW: 7) – 3-2 (1-2 ACC)

Final: Duke 34 Wake Forest 27 (Winston-Salem)
Glaring stat:
4 – Deacs turnovers in a close game, and Duke scored three touchdowns off of them.
Read Option: Not sure what to make of the Wake Forest program at this point, when Duke came into its house and played like the better team in all phases of the game. The Michael Campanaro injury (broken hand) was certainly a huge blow, but the Blue Devils moved the ball and took advantage of Wake Forest mistakes. With road trips four of the next six games, is Wake making a bowl? We’ll look at that later this week.

10) Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 8)  – 2-3 (0-1 ACC)

Final: Louisiana Tech 44 Virginia 38 (Charlottesville)
Turning Point: After La Tech dropped a 14-play touchdown drive to start the second half, taking a 27-24 lead, Virginia answered with a three-and-out and two interceptions (one a pick-six) to trail 41-24 by the end of the third quarter.
Glaring stat:
625-385 – How much Virginia outgained the Bulldogs and still lost.
Read Option: La Tech is a good team. Virginia is not (or at least not as good). That’s my takeaway – good teams don’t throw three interceptions and find a way to outgain a road team by 240 yards and lose. The ray of hope? The twin Phillip Sims-led scoring drives to close the game, giving the Hoos a fighting shot at the end. It’s time to start building for next year in Charlottesville, starting with Sims at QB.

11) Maryland Terrapins (LW: 11) – 2-2 (0-0 ACC)

Bye Week
Next Up: Hosting Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m. ET.

12) Boston College Eagles (LW: 12) – 1-3 (0-2 ACC)

Final: Clemson 45 Boston College 31 (Chestnut Hill)
Glaring Stat: 4.3 – BC’s yards per play in the second half with two interceptions in the mix after averaging 7.3 yards per play in a 21-point first half.
Read Option: BC did basically what I expected Saturday – challenged Clemson, but not able to make the plays necessary to pull off the upset. That’s the Spaziani era in a nutshell, no?

Voters: Brandon Rink, W. Gustin Vandiford, Griffin Wong and J.J. Greenstein.

ACC Football Pick’Em – 9/29

Posted by Brandon Rink on September 27, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

How FSU and Clemson respond this week off the physical game last week is something to watch (Pic per picks week five in the ACC…

  • Middle Tennessee (2-1) @ Georgia Tech (2-2, 1-2 ACC) [-27.5] / Noon ET / RSN

The Lead: A swarm of mad Yellow Jackets host Middle Tennessee, who had a bye for a little extra prep time for the spread option.

Watch 4: Sluggish Jackets to pull away in second half

Georgia Tech beat Middle Tennessee 42-14 and 49-21 in 2010 and 2011 respectively. I expect the Blue Raiders to hang around, if only because the Jackets might have a hangover from the Miami loss and not take MTSU seriously. But an upset won’t be as easy as that.

The Picks: Brandon Rink – GT 38-17; Griffin Wong –GT 52-14; J.J. Greenstein – GT 42-10; W. Gustin Vandiford – GT 35-7.

  • 09/29/12 NC State (3-1) @ Miami (3-1, 2-0 ACC) [-3] / Noon ET/ ESPNU

The Lead: The Coastal-leading ‘Canes host NC State’s ACC opener – the Wolfpack tested by South Alabama and The Citadel the last two weeks.

Watch 4: Balanced Miami offense to be the difference – if their heads are on straight

I don’t like this game. At all. Miami, a team that hasn’t had to deal with success, coming in after a big road win at Georgia Tech to start 2-0 in ACC play. And then there’s NC State, playing what looks like a bad UConn team, South Alabama and The Citadel since getting dominated by what looks like a middling Tennessee team in the Georgia Dome. But what I do like is Miami running backs Mike James and Duke Johnson, and ‘Canes quarterback Stephen Morris a little more after torching Georgia Tech for 436 yards and two touchdowns. He will face a solid State secondary Saturday, but Miami’s balance offensively is the difference in what could be a fun game.

The Picks: Rink – Miami 35-34; Wong – NCSU 27-21; Greenstein – NCSU 13-9; Vandiford – Miami 35-28.

  • Duke (3-1) @ Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1 ACC) [-3] / 12:30 ET / ACC Network

The Lead: The annual ACC Network special is in Winston-Salem this season, with two teams eager to make a statement headed into the heart of ACC play.

Watch 4: Duke to break the streak

Wake Forest surrendered 559 yards and 44.5 points per game against FSU and Army back-to-back, and face a Duke team 17th nationally in passing (315.5 yards per game) and 24th in scoring offense (37.8 points per game). In that span though, the Deacs have developed a pretty good 1-2 punch at running back with Deandre Martin and Josh Harris, who both eclipsed 100 rushing yards with two touchdowns each against the Black Knights. I picked Duke preseason here, and have only seen more reason to take the Blue Devils in breaking the 12-game run Wake Forest has in the series. (With injury reports coming out now, the one to watch is Duke wide receiver Brandon Connette as questionable – he’s passed for, rushed for and caught a TD this season for the Blue Devils)

The Picks: Rink – Duke 27-24; Wong – Duke 24-17; Greenstein – WF 21-20; Vandiford – WF 28-24.

  • No. 17 Clemson (3-1, 0-1 ACC) [-9.5] @ Boston College (1-2, 0-1 ACC) / 3:30 ET / ESPN2

The Lead: Letdown game? We shall see as Clemson makes the trip to Chestnut Hill against BC – coming off a bye.

Watch 4: BC to stay in it for longer than some would think

The Eagles have been a thorn in the side of Clemson since joining the ACC in 2005, but not as much lately – Dabo Swinney 3-1 winning by a 29-14 average, including his first-ever ACC win at BC in 2008, 27-21. This is the true test for how good Clemson is in 2012, a tough divisional game after a tough big-game loss physically and mentally at FSU. Clemson gives up some first-half points to an improved BC offense, but the Tigers’ offense is just too much.

The Picks: Rink – Clemson 34-20; Wong – Clemson 42-17; Greenstein – Clemson 28-14; Vandiford – Clemson 52-14.

  • Idaho (0-4) @ North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC) [-27] / 3:30 p.m. ET / RSN

The Lead: Idaho isn’t good at football, 0-4 and with two wins in their last 16 games – ranking 115th in scoring offense, 103rd in total offense and 86th in total defense.

Watch 4: UNC to try to stay injury-free with a big game next week

Not that you would know if a player was injured or not anyway in the Larry Fedora era in Chapel Hill.

The Picks: Rink – UNC 48-20; Wong – UNC 48-20; Greenstein – UNC 41-9; Vandiford – UNC 62-10.

  • No. 4 Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC) [-17] @ USF (2-2) / 6 p.m. ET / ESPN

The Lead: Now comes the hard part – all eyes on FSU’s every move as a national title contender, starting a series of one-game seasons for the teams on the schedule with USF.

Watch 4: FSU’s defense to make life hard for USF’s B.J. Daniels

Tajh Boyd’s still sore from the havoc wreaked by the ‘Noles last week – getting pressure early and often and punishing quarterback scrambles. While Manuel and co. rack up points on the other side, USF won’t keep up.

The Picks: Rink – FSU 38-13; Wong – FSU 38-14; Greenstein – FSU 45-13; Vandiford – FSU 52-21.

  • La Tech (3-0) [-3] @ Virginia (2-2, 0-1 ACC) / 3:30 p.m. ET / ESPN3

The Lead: Louisiana Tech is a 3-point road favorite in Charlottesville, but coming in scoring 54.7 points per game with road wins at Houston (56-49) and Illinois (52-24) – the italics may be because it’s not enough.

Watch 4: High-flying Bulldogs’ spread to slow enough for ‘Hoos win

La Tech has won nine-straight regular season games, seven of them on the road, and scored 38 or more points in six in that span. Sonny Dykes might be on to something in Ruston, Louisiana. But his Bulldogs do lose the nation’s No. 8 rusher, Tevin King, with a torn ACL. Virginia’s in a tough stretch, coming off blowout losses at Georgia Tech and TCU and the home underdog to a prolific-offense-fueled WAC team. There’s not a lot to like right now with Virginia on both sides of the ball, but I’m having a hard time believing La Tech can pull back-to-back BCS road wins – we’ll see.

The Picks: Rink – UVa. 34-31; Wong – UVa. 28-17; Greenstein – UVa. 31-13; Vandiford – UVa. 24-7.

  • Virginia Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) [-6.5] @ Cincinnati (2-0) / 3:30 p.m. ET / ESPNU

The Lead: In D.C., Virginia Tech gets a second-chance at making a statement against a Big East opponent headed into ACC play, facing a confident Cincinnati team.

Watch 4: Logan Thomas to be the difference

To say the junior has been underwhelming – 51.7 completion percentage, 212.75 passing yards per game, 7 touchdowns to 4 interceptions and 2.7 yards per carry – would be on the mark. Looking at the matchups, a 12th-ranked Cincinnati rushing offense facing a 90th-ranked Hokies’ rush D isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring for the ACC side in FedEx Saturday afternoon, but Thomas is the difference against a Cincinnati defense that hasn’t been tested this season. He regains some of his 2011 form and sends a warning shot to the rest of the Coastal. On the other side, Bud Foster circles the wagons defensively to curtail Cincy quarterback Munchie Legaux and co. in the running game to edge out the current point spread.

The Picks: Rink – VT 24-17; Wong – VT 27-17; Greenstein – VT 28-20; Vandiford – VT 31-21.

Season Picks: Rink – 35-5; Wong – 34-6; Greenstein – 35-5; Vandiford – 31-9

The Deacon Meeting: Wake out runs Army (kinda)

Posted by W. Gustin Vandiford on September 25, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

After weeks of criticism by yours truly Wake Forest finally came out and ran the ball successfully in an up and down victory against the West Point Academy. Not only did Josh Harris run for over hundred yards and two touchdowns, but his back up, Deandre Martin also ran over the century mark with two touchdowns. In fact, the Demon Deacons rushed for 91 more yards than they had in their previous three games this season.

Now that I have celebrated the Deacon’s achievement let me tear it down a little. Yes, Wake Forest had excellent execution on rushing plays, but consider the opponent they were rushing against. Army ranks 110 out of 120 teams in rushing defense this season, and last year the Black Knights finished the season ranked 103rd. Needless to say Army’s front seven is not an unmovable object. In this particular game the undersized Black Knight defense was helpless to the bigger, stronger Demon Deacon offensive line. The median weight of a Wake Forest offensive lineman is 300 lbs. versus the median weight of an Army defensive linemen is 230 lbs. Which line do you suppose got the push off the snap? My point being Saturday’s performance was a sign of life to the running game, but it is by no means reason to think Wake Forest will continue to run the ball successfully against bigger and better defensives.

Wake Forest wasn’t the only team running the ball down the defenses throat Saturday. In truth, the Demon Deacons got out ran, which is hard bearing in mind they ran for 296 yards. Not to be out done Army rushed for 429 yards. The Black Knights had four players with over 75 yards rushing and two of those rushed for over a hundred. This is the second straight week the Wake Forest defense has been without the services of Nikita Whitlock, and the second straight week their opponent has gone H.A.M. running the ball. In Wake’s defense, running the ball is what Army does. The Black Knight’s QB, Trent Steelman, only passed the ball four times. He actually had more rushing yards (82) than passing yards (77). In addition, the triple option is a tough scheme to play against because so few teams still use it players are not experienced at defending the system.

Tanner Price and Michael Campanaro both connected again to have impressive games. Price threw for 221 yards on 15 of 24 passing and 2 touchdown passes. Campanaro who caught both of Price’s touchdowns also had 10 other receptions in the game for a total of 153 yards receiving. He was the only Wake Forest receiver with multiple receptions. Campanaro also had another touchdown rushing the ball in the first quarter.

The game as a whole could be described as near defenseless in which each team took turns making long touchdown drives. Both teams combined for more than 1000 yards of total offense, 12 touchdowns, and only punted the ball a combined three times. If not for Army’s lost fumble on their first drive of the second half the lead would have probably teetered back and forth until one team was lucky enough to get the last possession. That one turnover represented the difference between the two teams Saturday. No one should look at the final score and think it reflected how close the game really was. Army played well enough to win, and if it had been Wake that lost a fumble the game could have been easily swayed to Army’s side.

Next week Wake Forest host the Duke Blue Devils in a game that promises to begin sorting out the middle class of the ACC. Both of these teams are 3-1 and have only loss to ranked opponents on the road. To the Demon Deacons credit they already have an ACC victory on the season; while this will be Duke’s first ACC game of the season. I will be watching to see if Wake Forest can spin some of the rushing success they had last week forward against Duke. The Blue Devils got bludgeoned by Stanford a few weeks ago on the ground, so Wake should try to emulate the Cardinal’s success. On defense, Wake Forest’s run defense should get a break because Duke’s offense is centered on their passing game. The Demon Deacons will have to contend with Conner Vernon, All-ACC wide out, and QB Sean Renfree who has quietly had a solid season. This game is crucial for both teams’ bowl bid aspirations. I predict Wake Forest will pull out a close victory due to the impressive play of Price and Campanaro.