Around the ACC: September 21, 2009

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This week was better for the ACC. Though Maryland was beaten by a Sun Belt
team, Florida State and Virginia Tech came away with victories over two ranked
non-conference teams. Miami’s win over Georgia Tech is also getting the ‘Canes
some major play in the press, and the ACC needs teams like Miami and Florida
State to get back to their old ways.

There are more good games between ranked teams in the ACC this week, and
Clemson will have a chance to knock of a Top 15 non-conference foe at home.

Atlantic Division



Clemson (2-1, 1-1)

Coming off a heartbreaking loss at Georgia Tech, Clemson pounded Boston
College 25-7. The Tigers held Boston College to just 54 yards of total offense,
and they ruined quarterback Justin Tuggle’s afternoon. The Clemson defense
sacked Tuggle four times, and they intercepted three of his passes.

Clemson remains offensively challenged in the passing game. Kyle Parker, a
r-freshman, was just 13-of-27 for 103 yards, with no touchdowns and two
interceptions. Tailback C.J. Spiller picked up the slack by rushing for 77
yards, and he also returned a punt for a touchdown.

The Tigers outplayed Georgia Tech in the previous week, and probably should
have won the game. They could easily be 3-0, with a 2-0 start in the ACC.
They’ll try to get to 3-1 with a home win over #15 TCU this Saturday. Kickoff is
scheduled for 3:30pm, and the game will be on ESPN360.com.



NC State (2-1, 0-0)

NC State blew out their second straight 1-AA opponent this week. This time
they beat up on Gardner-Webb 45-14. Quarterback Russell Wilson set the NCAA
record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He has now gone
325 passes without throwing a pick.

For the game, Wilson was 26-of-36 for 345 yards, with four touchdowns and no
interceptions. NC State put up 477 yards of total offense, while Gardner-Webb
had just 213.

So far, NC State is 2-1. They lost 7-3 to South Carolina, and now have two
blowout wins over 1-AA teams. It’s tough to get a read on how good they are
right now. We’ll know more when they host Pitt on Saturday at 3:30pm. The game
can be viewed on ESPNU.



Wake Forest (2-1, 0-0)

Wake Forest knocked off Elon 35-7 on Saturday in Winston-Salem. The Demon
Deacons had 426 yards of total offense after struggling in games against Baylor
and Stanford to open the season.

Quarterback Riley Skinner threw for 289 yards, with three touchdowns and one
interception. However, the Wake Forest running game was still shutdown. The
Deacons averaged just 2.9 yards per carry against 1-AA Elon.

The Wake offense will get a bigger test when they take on Boston College on
the road this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2pm on ESPN360.com.


Maryland (1-2, 0-0)

Maryland is apparently trying their hardest to be the worst team in the ACC,
though they have competition from a couple of other schools. The Terps have
started the season by getting blown out at Cal, barley beating James Madison in
overtime, and now losing to Middle Tennessee State for the second straight year.
MTSU knocked off the Terps 32-31 in College Park on a field goal as time
expired.

The Maryland defense continues to struggle, this time allowing 438 yards of
total offense. MTSU quarterback Dwight Dasher threw for 324 yards and two
touchdowns, and he also ran for a touchdown. Maryland had 446 yards of total
offense, but they lost three fumbles and threw an interception on their own home
field.

Maryland hosts Rutgers this Saturday at 3:30pm on ESPN360.com.


Boston College (2-1, 0-1)

The Boston College offense found the Clemson defense to be a little tougher
than Northeastern and Kent State. Clemson defeated the Eagles 25-7 in Death
Valley on Saturday afternoon. The BC offense managed just 54 yards, 29 through
the air and 25 on the ground. The Eagles were whipped at the line of scrimmage,
their quarterback play was poor, and their only touchdown came off a Clemson
fumble at the 13.

Boston College quarterback Justin Tuggle had an awful game. The r-freshman
was just 4-of-20 for 23 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. He
was BC’s leading rusher with 21 yards, which says a lot about the way the Eagles
moved the ball on Saturday. At halftime, they had -2 yards of total offense.

In a bit of good news, BC did limit Clemson to 253 yards of offense. However,
the Eagles aren’t going to win games in the ACC with 54 yards of total offense.

The Eagles will host Wake Forest this Saturday at 2pm, and the game can be
seen on ESPN360.com.


#18 Florida State (2-1, 0-1)

Florida State looked pretty bad when they nearly lost to 1-AA Jacksonville
State last week. This week they looked really good in a 54-28 road thrashing of
then-#7 BYU on Saturday night. The Seminoles looked dominant in the blowout of a
team who had defeated Oklahoma 14-13 in the opening week of the season.

The FSU offense appears to finally be improving. They gained 511 yards on a
defense that shut down the Oklahoma offense and knocked quarterback Sam Bradford
out of the Heisman Trophy race. Christian Ponder was 21-of-25 for 195 yards,
with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Tailback Ty Jones added 109 yards on
13 carries.

FSU did allow 475 yards of offense, but they forced five turnovers. While
there are still major question marks defensively, the ‘Noles look like they
could be the team to beat in the Atlantic Division, despite the 0-1 start.

Coastal Division


#9 Miami (2-0, 2-0)

Miami crushed Georgia Tech 33-17 on Thursday night, sending the ‘Canes to #9
in the AP Poll and #13 in the USA Today Poll. Miami has big wins over ranked
teams to start the season, and they’ll go for their third in a row this weekend
when they take on #11 Virginia Tech.

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has made huge strides since last season. He
has not faced a great passing defense yet, but he is 41-of-59 (69.5%) for 656
yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. As much as Harris has
improved, the Miami pass protection has improved even more. He has been sacked
just once in two games. Clearly new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was a
great hire for head coach Randy Shannon.

The ‘Canes are also fully capable of running the ball. Graig Cooper is
averaging 5.2 yards per carry, while Javarris James is averaging 4.3. They will
bring a balanced offense into Lane Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for
3:30pm on ABC.



Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-1)

Georgia Tech doesn’t look as good as people thought they would be. The Yellow
Jackets were pounded by Miami 33-17 on Thursday, and could have lost at home to
Clemson in their previous game. They are very close to an 0-2 start in ACC play,
and they have another tough opponent this week.

Opposing defensive coordinators are starting to copy Bud Foster’s game plan.
They are focusing on the center of the offensive line, taking away the fullback
dive to Jonathan Dwyer. They rely on good tackling and disciplined play by their
defensive ends and linebackers to take away the outside pitches. Dwyer was held
to 66 yards on 18 carries against Clemson, and Miami limited him to five carries
for seven yards.

As a team, Georgia Tech had just 228 yards of total offense against the
‘Canes. They’ll have to shape up quickly, as they host #22 North Carolina this
Saturday at noon. The game will be televised by Raycom. Check your local
listings.



#22 North Carolina (3-0, 0-0)

UNC has a chance to start out their conference slate with a win against
Georgia Tech. They are coming off a big 31-17 victory over East Carolina this
past Saturday. It marks UNC’s first 3-0 start since 1997.

After struggling offensively for the first two weeks of the season, the Tar
Heels put up 433 yards of total offense on ECU. T.J. Yates was 19-of-24 for 227
yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Tailback Shaun Draughn added 84
yards on the ground, and a very good UNC defense held ECU to just 247 yards of
total offense.

UNC wasn’t flashy in their first two weeks, but their offense improved this
week. They have a very good defense, which has the strength and the athleticism
in the front seven to do the same things to Georgia Tech’s option that Miami and
Clemson did to it. UNC could be off to a 4-0 start this week.

You can catch that game at noon on Raycom.



#11 Virginia Tech (2-1, 0-0)

Despite the offensive output against Marshall, the Hokies were back to their
old ways against Nebraska. The offense put up just 278 yards, 87 of which came
on the final drive of the game. However, those 87 yards were the most important,
as the Hokies scored late to beat the Cornhuskers 16-15.

We could spend this time addressing Tech’s offensive issues, but they have
problems defensively as well. Pass defense is very good, but the Hokies are
allowing a little over 200 yards per game on the ground. That ranks dead last in
the ACC. The schedule has been tough so far, but those are strange numbers for a
Bud Foster defense.

Boundary corner Stephan Virgil’s absence doesn’t help, and John Graves is
banged up as well. Tackling was poor against Nebraska, but you can bet Bud
Foster will work hard on the tackling drills this week in practice. The defense
did not allow a touchdown against Nebraska, which kept the Hokies in the game.
That allowed Tyrod Taylor to play the hero role in Tech’s last drive, completing
two huge passes for the win.

The Hokies face an even more talented team this week, when #11 Miami rolls to
town. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30pm on ABC.



Duke (1-2, 0-0)

Duke went on the road to #20 Kansas and got hammered 44-16. The Blue Devils
jumped up early with a 21 yard touchdown run by quarterback Thad Lewis, but it
was all Jayhawks the rest of the way. The Duke defense allowed Kansas to gain
490 yards of offense, and they continue to be the weak spot of the team.

Duke played two quarterbacks, and Thad Lewis is not performing well while
knowing that he’s being challenged by r-freshman Sean Renfree. Lewis was
16-of-27 for 184 yards, but he threw two interceptions. Renfree was 14-of-23 for
115 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions. It looks like the Blue Devils
have a full-fledged quarterback controversy on their hands.

Duke hosts North Carolina Central this Saturday at 7pm.



Virginia (0-3, 0-0)

Virginia led Southern Miss 34-17 midway through the third quarter on
Saturday. However, Freddie Parham’s 100 yard kickoff return sparked the Golden
Eagles, and they scored 20 consecutive points to come back and beat the visiting
Hoos 37-34.

The good news for Virginia is that they were much better offensively this
week than in their previous two games, putting up a total of 390 yards.
Quarterback Jameel Sewell threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns. He is slowly
shaking off the rust that comes with sitting out for a year. However, the
running game was shut down yet again. UVA averaged just 1.8 yards per carry.

Virginia has lost seven games in a row now, and at this point you have to
start wondering when Virginia’s first win of the year will come. They are off
this week, and then travel to North Carolina on October 3.



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