Around the ACC: September 29, 2011

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Two weeks ago, the ACC had a pretty good weekend. Clemson beat Auburn, Miami
beat Ohio State, and Maryland and FSU put up a fight in two tough losses against
good teams. This past weekend was a lot different, as ACC teams stumbled and
bumbled their way to some embarrassing losses.

Last week was not pretty.

Cincinnati 44, NC State 14
Temple 38, Maryland 7
Kansas State 28, Miami 24
Georgia Tech 35, UNC 28
Boston College 45, UMass 17
Clemson 35, Florida State 30
Duke 48, Tulane 27
Southern Miss 30, UVA 24
Virginia Tech 30, Marshall 10

Non-Conference Stinkers

NC State is banged up, and they had to travel for a Thursday night game after
playing just five days earlier. But losing by 30 points? Come on, man.

Maryland beat Miami in their season opener, and then nearly beat a good West
Virginia team in their second game of the year. And they lost to Temple, 38-7.
And it wasn’t even that close, because Maryland’s only touchdown came late in
the fourth quarter against Temple’s backups. Temple is a good team, there’s no
question. But losing by 31 at home? Come on, man.

A week after beating Ohio State in convincing style, Miami was defeated by
Kansas State 28-24 at home. Jacory Harris threw his usual interception, but it
was Miami’s run defense that was blasted by the Wildcats (44 carries, 265
yards). The Canes have most of their suspended players back, so there are no
excuses. Come on, man.

Kansas State might be a pretty good team this year, but Miami should win that
game. Temple is a good team, but Maryland shouldn’t lose to them by 31. As soon
as the ACC took a step forward, these teams made it take a step back.

Quarterback Controversy in Charlottesville

Virginia’s 28-24 loss to Southern Miss in Charlottesville on Saturday opened
up a quarterback controversy, and head coach Mike London still hasn’t decided
what he’s going to do about it. Starting quarterback Mike Rocco threw three
interceptions, and was pulled in favor of true freshman David Watford. The
decision to bring in Watford opens up a number of different discussions.

Should Watford be playing as a true freshman in the first place? Rocco and
Chase Metheny are both sophomores, just one year ahead of Watford. A redshirt
would have created some more spacing between Watford and those guys, and it’s
almost always a good idea to redshirt a quarterback. Mike London is supposed to
be rebuilding the program, and his decision to play Watford this year is
questionable, especially in a backup role. Now he’s not going to get that
redshirt year, and he’s going to lose a year of development. That could hurt
Virginia, long-term.

At any rate, London says that Rocco will play on Saturday against Idaho, but
it’s not clear whether he’ll start. If he doesn’t, it would seem that Watford
will get the nod. He was 10-of-20 for 81 yards and a touchdown against Southern

If both quarterbacks do end up playing against the Vandals, we could have a
quarterback controversy brewing. It will be interesting to see how London
handles it.

The Year of the Offense

In the ACC, we’ve seen very poor offenses in the past, and many times that
led to inflated defensive stats for conference teams. This year, offenses have
been very productive so far, and as a result, defensive numbers around the
league are down.

Eight teams in the ACC are averaging 400+ yards per game. A ninth team, UNC,
is averaging 399 yards per game. Only Miami (380), NC State (364) and Boston
College (328) aren’t close to 400 yards of total offense per game. Virginia Tech
ranks fourth in the conference in total offense (430), just two yards behind
Wake Forest (432).

Defensively, we haven’t seen particularly good numbers. Only three teams in
the league allow fewer than 300 yards per game: Virginia Tech (231), Florida
State (257) and Wake Forest (287). Everyone else in the league allows at least
315 yards per game. Four teams allow over 400 yards per game: Clemson (405),
Boston College (406), NC State (408) and Maryland (424).

Offensive lines around the league appear to have improved, though there are
notable exceptions (Florida State and NC State, for example). With better
offensive lines, it’s hard for offensive production to not go up.

Meet the New Jacory, Same as the Old Jacory: Miami is the Same Team as Always

Miami began the season with a 32-24 loss at Maryland, which was
understandable considering the Canes were missing eight players. They followed
that up with a 24-6 whipping of Ohio State at home. Then they turned around and
inexplicably lost to Kansas State 28-24 last weekend. So basically, Miami is the
same team they were last year, and in all other recent seasons. You never know
what you are going to get from week to week.

However, there are two things that you can rely on with Miami: bad run
defense, and Jacory Harris interceptions. Last season, Miami was very bad
against the run, and this year they are allowing 196.7 yards per game on the
ground, and 5.1 yards per carry. Despite their talent in the front seven, the
Canes are just not a good run stopping team.

Jacory Harris has played in two games for Miami, and he is averaging 1.5
interceptions per game. He threw one pick against Kansas State this past
weekend, and had two interceptions in Miami’s win against Ohio State.

Even with Al Golden roaming the sideline, the Miami coaching staff still
seems the same. The Canes were up 17-6 with four minutes left against Ohio
State, and they were still letting Harris throw the football. In fact, at one
point he threw the ball into the hands of an Ohio State defender, who could have
returned it for a touchdown had he held on. It just wasn’t smart coaching.

The Weekend Schedule and Picks

Weekend Schedule
Game Time TV
Wake Forest at BC 12:30 ACC Network
Bethune-Cookman at Miami 3:30 ESPNU
Georgia Tech at NC State 3:30 ABC/ESPN
Idaho at Virginia 3:30
Towson at Maryland 3:30 RSN
Clemson at VT 6:00 ESPN2
Duke at FIU 6:00 ESPNU

There aren’t a lot of compelling matchups there. Georgia Tech should hammer NC
State. UNC at ECU has the potential to be interesting. The only really good
matchup all day is Clemson at Virginia Tech, a game featuring two of the ACC’s
three remaining undefeated teams.

Last week I went 6-3, incorrectly picking Maryland-Temple, UVA-Southern Miss
and Miami-Kansas State. I did get the Clemson game right for the second week in
a row (a good sign, considering I’m picking the Hokies to win this weekend). For
the season, I am 30-9.

Picks for this week:

Wake Forest over BC
Miami over Bethune-Cookman
Georgia Tech over NC State
Virginia over Idaho
Maryland over Towson
Virginia Tech over Clemson
FIU over Duke
UNC over ECU

Assuming Georgia Tech beats NC State, there will be just two undefeated ACC
teams remaining after this weekend: the Yellow Jackets and the winner of the
Clemson-Virginia Tech game. Either way, that November 10th matchup of the Techs
will likely decide the Coastal Division.

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