Around the ACC: October 5, 2009

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After another week of ACC football, there are just three teams with no
conference losses. Virginia Tech is one, and Maryland and Virginia are the
others. It’s no surprise that the Hokies are at the top, but the Terps and Cavs
looked like the worst teams in the conference in the month of September. The ACC
also picked up a huge non-conference win on Saturday night, with Miami knocking
off Oklahoma.

Clemson and NC State had a chance to take control of the Atlantic Division on
Saturday, but they were both upset on the road. As of now, Boston College
appears to have a real chance to win the Atlantic for the third season in a row.

Current Standings

School Conference Overall This Week
Maryland 1-0 2-3 @Wake, 6:30,
Boston College 2-1 4-1 @VT, noon, Raycom
Wake Forest 1-1 3-2 vs. Maryland, 6:30,
Clemson 1-2 2-3 Bye
NC State 0-1 3-2 vs. Duke, 4:00, ESPNU
Florida State 0-2 2-3 vs. GT, 8:00, ESPN2
School Conference Overall This
Virginia Tech 2-0 4-1 vs. BC, noon, Raycom
Virginia 1-0 1-3 vs. Indiana, 3:30,
Georgia Tech 2-1 4-1 @FSU, 8:00, ESPN2
Miami 2-1 3-1 vs. FAMU, 7:00,
Duke 0-1 2-3 @NC State, 4:00, ESPNU
North Carolina 0-2 3-2 vs. Ga Southern, 3:30,


Atlantic Division

Maryland (2-3, 1-0)

In the month of September, Maryland went 1-3. That includes a home loss to
Middle Tennessee State, an overtime win over James Madison, and blowout losses
to Cal and Rutgers. The Terps were outscored 153-95 in those games. Maryland put
all that behind them on Saturday, knocking off Clemson 24-21 in College Park.

Maryland had struggled to stop the run all year long, but they limited
Clemson to just 81 yards on the ground. Chris Turner threw for 215 yards, with
two touchdowns and no interceptions. Turner had been throwing too many
interceptions early in the season, and that was a big reason for the loss to
Rutgers. However, he was very good against Clemson.

Will that win provide the Terps with the confidence needed to qualify for a
bowl? We’ll have a better idea this weekend. If they can win at Wake Forest,
they’ll have a shot. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm, and the game can be seen

Boston College (4-1, 2-1)

Boston College defeated Florida State 28-21 on Saturday. The Eagles dominated
the first half, leading 21-6 at halftime. FSU rallied to tie the game, but BC
tailback Montel Harris had a 42 yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the game to
give his team the win. Harris ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 25

25-year old true freshman quarterback Dave Shinskie had another good game,
going 12-of-21 for 202 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was
his second career start, and there’s a decent chance the Eagles would be
undefeated if he had started the Clemson game.

The BC defense limited Florida State to 70 yards rushing. They did allow 341
passing yards, and two FSU receivers had over 100 yards receiving. However,
their bend but don’t break style was successful in the end.

BC travels to Virginia Tech on Saturday for a matchup with the top team in
the Coastal Division. Kickoff is scheduled for noon, and the game will be
televised by Raycom. Check your local listings.

Wake Forest (3-2, 1-1)

Wake’s secondary had been struggling all year, so it seemed that All-ACC
quarterback Russell Wilson would torch them. That wasn’t the case, as Wake came
out with a 30-24 win. Wake intercepted Wilson twice, and his NCAA record of
attempts without an interception ended at 379.

Wilson threw for 275 yards on the Demon Deacons, but yardage was tough to
come by. He was just 20-of-43 against a Wake defense that will probably get
better as the year goes on. Riley Skinner outperformed Wilson. Wake’s senior
quarterback was 31-of-45 for 361 yards, with three touchdowns and two
interceptions. Skinner is still throwing too many interceptions, but he is
putting up big numbers week after week.

With the big win over NC State, Wake is now back in the Atlantic Division
picture. They host Maryland at 6:30pm on Saturday. You can see the game on

Clemson (2-3, 1-2)

Clemson had been playing better this year. They had narrow losses to two
ranked teams, Georgia Tech and TCU. The offensive line had been getting better
throughout the month of September, and it looked like they could challenge for
the Atlantic Division if r-freshman quarterback Kyle Parker improved throughout
the season. Instead, they were thoroughly whipped at the line of scrimmage by a
soft Maryland defense in Saturday’s 24-21 loss.

C.J. Spiller returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and that’s the only reason
this game was as close as it was. The running game was shut down by the Terps,
and Parker had to throw the ball 37 times, something you don’t want a freshman
quarterback to do. He only had one interception, but the passing game was
largely ineffective. Parker threw for just 180 yards, and Clemson only had 274
yards of total offense.

Clemson’s defense held Maryland to 284 yards, but the Terps had a one yard
touchdown drive thanks to a good punt return by Tony Logan. That punt return was
the difference in the game.

Clemson gets a bye this week to regroup, and then they host Wake Forest.

NC State (3-2, 0-1)

NC State came into the Wake Forest game with the #1 ranked defense in the
country. That defense was shredded Riley Skinner for 361 yards and three
touchdowns in a 30-24 loss on Saturday. NC State is hoping to challenge for the
Atlantic Division title this year, but this loss to Wake Forest is a setback.

Russell Wilson threw his first interception in 379 attempts in the second
quarter, and he threw a total of two picks on the day. He now has three
interceptions in his college career. It was an off day for Wilson, but he’s
still a top-notch ACC quarterback.

On a brighter note, the NC State defense did sack Riley Skinner six times.
Defensive end Willie Young had three sacks. He leads the ACC with seven sacks
through the first five games.

NC State will host Duke this Saturday at 4pm. The game will be televised by

Florida State (2-3, 0-2)

It’s hard to believe if you’ve been paying attention to ACC football for a
long time, but Florida State is in dead last in the Atlantic Division in the
month of October. They are one of four teams without a conference win, the
others being Duke, UNC and NC State. A 28-21 road loss to Boston College was
their latest setback. FSU is 0-2 in the conference for the first time ever.

Florida State just doesn’t have the talent that they used to have on defense.
They run basic coverage schemes with average man-to-man defenders. To make
matters worse, they have no pass rush from the defensive line. Their only sack
against Boston College came from Jamie Robinson, a defensive back. FSU has to
blitz to get pressure, which leaves their defensive backs in an even worse

Quarterback Christian Ponder is having a very good year. He is completing
66.2% of his passes, and he’s thrown for 1,082 yards. He has four touchdowns and
just one interception. However, FSU’s defense is allowing 407.2 yards per game.
It’s hard to win with a defense that bad.

FSU will now host Georgia Tech on Saturday. The game will be televised by
ESPN2 at 8pm.

Coastal Division

#5 Virginia Tech (4-1, 2-0)

After a tough September schedule, Virginia Tech played their first true road
game of the season at Duke on Saturday. It wasn’t pretty, but the Hokies escaped
with a 34-26 victory. On the other hand, the passing game was very pretty. Tyrod
Taylor was 17-of-22 for 327 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He
set a career high in passing yardage in a single game.

For the season, Taylor is 51-of-94 (54.3%) for 869 yards, with six touchdowns
and just one interception. He ranks 27th nationally in pass efficiency. For a
Frank Beamer coached team, the critical stat is the one turnover.

Tech’s pass defense had been amazing in the month of September, but Duke
quarterback Thad Lewis torched them for 359 yards and two touchdowns through the
air. There were a number of mental errors in the Tech defensive secondary.

A win is a win, and every good team has a game or two like this every season.
The Hokies will host Boston College on Saturday at noon, and the game will be
televised by Raycom.

Virginia (1-3, 1-0)

After a horrid month of September, Virginia went on the road and knocked off
UNC 16-3 on Saturday. The UVA defense held UNC to just 174 yards of total
offense. The Hoos only gained 254 yards, but Mikell Simpson finally got the
running game going, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Jameel Sewell is finally settling down after missing last season due to
academics. He was 13-of-24 for 136 yards. But the story of the game was the UVA
defense, who held UNC to 39 yards rushing and picked off two passes.

The result of this game isn’t a surprise. UVA has a solid defense, UNC had
been struggling on offense, and the Hoos are now 10-1 in their last 11 October
football games. They might not start out strong, but they are good in the middle
of the season.

Virginia hosts Indiana on Saturday, and they’ll have a chance to pick up
another non-conference win for the ACC. Kickoff will be at 3:30pm, and will have the game.

#11 Miami (3-1, 2-1)

Miami got a huge win for the ACC on Saturday night in primetime, knocking off
Oklahoma 21-20 at home. Jacory Harris threw an interception in Miami’s first two
possessions, but he settled down to throw for 202 yards and three touchdowns to
lead his team to victory.

The big reason the Canes won the game is their rushing attack. Javarris James
ran for 150 yards on just 15 carries against the vaunted Oklahoma defense.
Harris lost 32 yards in sacks, so Miami only ran for 140 yards as a team, but
that’s a deceptive stat. The Miami offensive line dominated the line of
scrimmage in the running game, a week after getting dominated at Virginia Tech.

Miami’s defense had the luxury of facing an Oklahoma offense that was missing
starting quarterback Sam Bradford. Oklahoma’s top receiver, Ryan Broyles, also
left the game early with an injury. Nevertheless, it was an impressive effort by
the Canes, who held the Sooners to 341 yards.

After playing four straight games against Florida State, Georgia Tech,
Virginia Tech and Oklahoma, Miami finally gets a break. They host Florida
A&M on Saturday at 7pm. will have the coverage.

#22 Georgia Tech (4-1, 2-1)

Georgia Tech knocked off Mississippi State 42-31 on the road on Saturday
night. The Yellow Jackets actually got more production from their passing game
than their running game. Josh Nesbitt was 11-of-14 for 266 yards, with a
touchdown and no interceptions. Tech also rushed for 213 yards, but they managed
just 3.9 yards per carry.

Demaryius Thomas, arguably the best wide receiver in the ACC, had eight
catches for 174 yards. Georgia Tech must continue to find ways to get him
involved in the offense. He’s too good a player to just block on every play for
the option.

Despite the good performance by the offense, the Yellow Jackets still have
troubles defensively. They allowed 487 yards of total offense. Antonio Dixon ran
for 106 yards, and the Bulldogs averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Quarterback Tyson
Lee also passed for 278 yards. Georgia Tech’s special teams also allowed a
kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Yellow Jackets get Florida State this week, in Tallahassee. The game will
be shown on ESPN2 at 8pm.

Duke (2-3, 0-1)

Duke played an outstanding game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, but
ultimately fell 34-26. The Blue Devils shut down the vaunted Tech running game
for much of this contest, but they were finally outmuscled by the Tech offensive
line on the final two drives of the game.

Thad Lewis showed why he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country. He
was 22-of-40 for 359 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. The
previous four quarterbacks who faced the Hokies were a combined 50-of-116
(43.1%) for 632 yards, with just one touchdown and four interceptions.

Duke managed just 38 yards on the ground, but they did get a spark from
highly touted true freshman tailback Desmond Scott. Scott ran for 34 yards on
seven carries, and he also had a 26 yard reception.

Duke plays at NC State this Saturday at 4pm. The game will be shown by

North Carolina (3-2, 0-2)

North Carolina is perhaps the most disappointing team in the ACC this year.
They’ve lost their only two conference games by an average of 15 points, and one
of them was to a Virginia team that was winless in the month of September.

UNC has serious problems on the offensive side of the ball. After managing
just 154 yards against a below average Georgia Tech defense, the Tar Heels
followed that up with a dismal 174 yard performance against UVA. They are
averaging just 280.8 yards per game, ranking 113th in Division 1A.

The UNC defense is very good. They give up an average of 251.2 yards per
game, 8th in the nation. However, they can’t overcome a very bad UNC offense
that averages just 3.1 yards per carry. Quarterback T.J. Yates has made things
even worse by throwing more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (6).

UNC will get a break this week when they host 1-AA Georgia Southern. Kickoff
is scheduled for 3:30pm, and the game will be on (you guessed it)

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