Around the ACC: September 14, 2009

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Another week of ACC football is in the books, and there were two more close
calls against 1-AA teams. A big game between Clemson and Georgia Tech in Atlanta
on Thursday night highlighted the week, and there is more ACC football coming up
this Thursday.

It’s too early to start naming favorites, but the Coastal Division is 2-0 in
matchups with the Atlantic Division. Miami beat Florida State last Monday night,
and Georgia Tech knocked off Clemson on Thursday. The Hurricanes and Yellow
Jackets will face each other in a big Coastal Division matchup on Thursday

Atlantic Division

Boston College (2-0, 0-0)

Boston College is the only 2-0 team in the Atlantic Division. Everyone else
is 1-1. The Eagles defeated Kent State 34-7 at home, a week after pounding
Northeastern 54-0. BC limited Kent State to just 179 yards of total offense.

BC is still trying to find a full-time quarterback. Justin Tuggle finished
6-of-12 for 150 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Dave Shinskie
was 9-of-16 for 73 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The BC running
game wasn’t very effective, with the team averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.

Defensively, Boston College looks tough, but their competition has been less
than impressive so far.

BC travels south to take on Clemson this Saturday. We’ll know a lot more
about the Eagles after that game. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and it will be
televised by Raycom.

Maryland (1-1, 0-0)

A week after getting trounced on the road by Cal, Maryland barely knocked off
1-AA powerhouse James Madison 38-35 in overtime. The Terps trailed late in the
game, but got a touchdown pass from Chris Turner with five minutes remaining to
force overtime.

Maryland was actually outgained 417 to 359 on their home field by James
Madison. The Dukes ran for 268 yards on the soft Terp defense, averaging 6.4
yards per carry in the process.

This looks like Maryland’s worst team under head coach Ralph Friedgen. He
doesn’t have good players on the defensive side of the ball, and the defensive
line is very soft.

Maryland hosts Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. The game will be on
ESPN360 at 3:30pm.

NC State (1-1, 0-0)

NC hosted 1-AA Murray State and came away with an easy 65-7 victory. Murray
State was limited to just 36 yards of total offense by an NC State defense that
has looked terrific through the first two weeks of play. The Wolfpack defense
forced two fumbles and also intercepted a pass. 18 of Murray State’s 36 yards
came on one play.

Quarterback Russell Wilson shrugged off a tough start against South Carolina
by throwing for 228 yards and four touchdowns. However, the NC State offensive
line is still struggling. They averaged just four yards per carry against Murray
State, while the rest of the team was physically dominant.

The Wolfpack get another 1-AA team this Saturday when they host Gardner-Webb
at 6pm. The game will not be televised.

Wake Forest (1-1, 0-0)

Wake Forest trailed Stanford 17-3 midway through the third quarter, but they
rallied to score 21 unanswered points in the 24-17 home win. Head coach Jim
Grobe reportedly expressed his displeasure with his team at halftime, and they
performed much better in the second half. Stanford did not score in the final 30
minutes of play.

Wake managed to put up 458 yards of total offense, though they still
struggled on defense, allowing 391. The Demon Deacons pounded out 251 rushing
yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The offense was very difficult to
defend. No Wake Forest player had more than eight carries.

The Demon Deacons get 1-AA Elon at home this Saturday at 6:30 in a
non-televised game.

Clemson (1-1, 0-1)

Clemson rallied against Georgia Tech after trailing 24-0, but they ultimately
came out on the losing end 30-27. Dabo Swinney was completely out coached by
Paul Johnson in the first half, as his team allowed a fake punt for a touchdown,
and one of their own pooch punts was returned for a touchdown.

The Tigers showed a lot of determination to come back after trailing 24-0.
Kyle Parker, their r-freshman quarterback, was very poised in the second half.
He threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns as his team rallied to take a 27-24
lead. The Clemson defense was pretty bad in the first half, but they tightened
up in the second half. However, it wasn’t enough, as Georgia Tech scored the
final six points of the game.

Clemson gets Boston College at noon on Saturday, and they can’t afford to
start 0-2 in ACC play.

Florida State (1-1, 0-1)

Florida State trailed 1-AA Jacksonville State for most of the game on
Saturday, but a 1 yard touchdown run by Ty Jones with 25 seconds remaining gave
them the lead, then Kevin McNeil’s fumble return for a touchdown iced the 19-9
win. The game was played in rainy conditions, with Florida State losing three
fumbles to keep Jacksonville State in the game.

The FSU defense allowed over 300 yards of total offense against a 1-AA team,
a week after getting torched by Miami. The Seminoles don’t have the talent on
the defensive side of the ball that they used to. Christian Ponder threw for 324
yards with no interceptions. Despite only 19 points scored, the major problem
for FSU could be their defense, not their offense.

Well find out more about Florida State this weekend. They travel to Provo to
take on #7 BYU at 7pm on the Versus Network. BYU has already defeated Oklahoma,
and they’ll look to claim another major scalp this weekend.

Coastal Division

#14 Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0)

Georgia Tech defeated Clemson 30-27 in Atlanta on Thursday night. It counts
as a win in the standings, but the Yellow Jackets were outplayed from the end of
the second quarter to nearly the end of the game. Clemson was able to shut down
the inside running of Jonathan Dwyer, and Clemson limited Josh Nesbitt to
3-of-14 passing with two interceptions.

The Yellow Jackets scored two special teams touchdowns against Clemson, and
that was the difference in the game. This is still a high-powered offense, but
it is possible for a disciplined, athletic defense to play well against them.
Clemson basically copied Virginia Tech’s game plan from 2008, and Josh Nesbitt
cost his team by showing his inability to throw the football.

Defensive end Derrick Morgan looks like he could be the best at his position
in the ACC. He finished with four tackles for loss and three sacks.

Georgia Tech will be in for another major challenge this Thursday when they
host Miami at 7:30 on ESPN.

#20 Miami (1-0, 1-0)

Miami defeated Florida State 38-34 in Tallahassee on Monday night, and then
took this weekend off. True sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris was impressive,
throwing for 386 yards and two touchdowns against an FSU defense that is
seriously lacking in talent in the secondary.

While Harris looked very sharp against FSU, he’ll have greater challenges as
the season progresses. The Miami defense could use some work, as they allowed
over 400 yards of total offense against a Florida State offense that is very

Miami was blown out in their game with Georgia Tech last year, as their
freshman-laden defense was not disciplined enough to stop the Yellow Jacket
flexbone attack. They’ll get a chance to redeem themselves this Thursday night
at home on ESPN. This will be one of the games that decides the Coastal Division

#24 North Carolina (2-0, 0-0)

North Carolina trailed 10-0 in the fourth quarter, but came back to claim a
12-10 victory on the road at UConn. The Tar Heels have a struggling offense with
the loss of three NFL wide receivers, and their defense is being forced to carry
the team. That’s working right now, but it’s unlikely to be the case as their
competition gets stronger.

UNC is very limited at wide receiver. Greg Little caught eight passes, but 11
of T.J. Yates’ 23 completions went to tight ends or running backs. In this game
UNC had to depend on their passing game, and Yates threw two interceptions. The
running game was held to just 35 yards, and Yates was sacked six times. The UNC
offense is a mess right now, and it will have to get a lot better if they want
to challenge for the Coastal Division.

Defensively, UNC is very good. They held UConn to 196 yards of offense and
recorded a safety (on a holding call in the end zone) to take the lead with
under two minutes left in the game.

UNC returns to action this Saturday when they host East Carolina in what
should be a very competitive game. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game
will be shown by ESPN2.

Duke (1-1, 0-0)

Duke rallied from their season opening loss to Richmond by beating Army
35-19. Quarterback Thad Lewis threw is 50th career touchdown pass during the
game. Duke was outgained 385 to 236, but cornerback Leon Wright returned two
interceptions for touchdowns to help his team pull out the victory.

Duke also played freshman quarterback Sean Renfree for the first time. With
Lewis struggling and completing just 5-of-16 passes for 60 yards, Renfree
finished the game 7-of-8 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Duke is very high on
Renfree as a quarterback, and it appears they will have a capable player under
center after Thad Lewis departs.

However, the Blue Devils still don’t have much of a running game or a
defense, so they will likely continue to struggle. They play at Kansas this
Saturday at noon, and the game will be televised by Versus.

#13 Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0)

A week after producing just 155 yards against Alabama, the Virginia Tech
offense racked up 605 yards of total offense against Marshall in a 52-10 win.
Ryan Williams finished with 164 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, while
true freshman David Wilson had 12 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Josh Oglesby added 60 yards on 12 carries, while Tyrod Taylor ran for 58
more. The result was the third-highest rushing output under Frank Beamer. The
Hokies ran for a total of 444 yards and averaged 8.4 yards per carry. Pass
protection still needs work, as Tech quarterbacks were sacked three times and
pressured on other plays.

The Tech defense allowed just 252 yards of total offense, and 121 of them
came on two big plays by Marshall. Bud Foster’s unit will improve as the season
progresses, and they’ll certainly have a challenge over the next two weeks.

Ryan Williams leads the ACC in rushing, averaging 117.5 yards per game. David
Wilson is fourth with an 82.5 yards per game average.

The Hokies will host #19 Nebraska this Saturday at 3:30 on ABC.

Virginia (0-2, 0-0)

Virginia trailed TCU by as much as 30-0 before two late touchdowns made the
final score 30-14. The Hoos are struggling in virtually every facet of the game.
They had just 177 yards of offense against TCU, and they were sacked eight

UVA ranks 12th in the ACC in scoring offense, 10th in scoring defense, 12th
in total offense, 9th in rushing offense, 11th in pass offense, 12th in pass
efficiency, 12th in kickoff returns, 12th in sacks allowed, 12th in first downs,
12th in opponents first downs, 10th in third down conversions, 9th in penalties,
12th in time of possession, and 12th in turnover margin. They really aren’t good
at anything right now.

Things won’t get any easier this week. The Hoos travel to play a solid
Southern Miss team, and UVA is a historically poor road team under Al Groh.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 EST, and the game will be televised by CBS College
Sports Network.

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