By Lee Lance.
In week one of Atlantic Coast Conference play, I think it is safe to say that things went pretty much as expected. Nine ACC teams came away with fairly easy victories over much lesser opponents, one team squeaked by a formidable opponent, and two teams came away suffering from their first defeat of the year, both at the hands of quality opponents.
In case someone here isn’t aware, the squeaker would be the three point victory that the Terrapins of Maryland were able to pull out against the Navy Midshipman, while the two teams losing this past weekend were North Carolina, to LSU 30-24, and Virginia Tech lost an Memorial Day showdown with Boise State, 33-30.
If anything at all was learned after week one, it was that every team still has some work to do, but also that Virginia Tech and North Carolina are definitely what we thought they were.
Boston College defeated Weber State 38-20.
The Eagles rolled up 38 points in the game, but they still have some concerns around the qb position. Shinskie completed only 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions. Defensively the Eagles will need to pick it up a couple of notches too, at they allowed Weber State to pick them apart with short passes and slowly stack up 234 yards passing in the game, that will hurt them against better competition.
The biggest story of the day aside from the victory was Mark Herzlich’s highly anticipated return, and he didn’t disappoint. Playing sparingly, Herzlich was still able to make and impact in the game and tallied five tackles in his first live action since the 2008 season.
Clemson defeated North Texas 35-10.
The Tigers put up some pretty impressive looking offensive numbers against the Mean Green, including having two 100+ rushers in the same game for the first time since 2006, but like Boston College, they still have questions. Clemson’s questions though, are all surrounding the defense.
Coming into the season, coaches, players and fans had all touted the Clemson defense as one that would be top ten quality this season, and while that may still turn out to be true, they have a lot of work to do to get there. Sure it was just the first game, but any time you let a team on the level of North Texas roll up damn near 500 yards of offense and hold the ball for 2/3 of the game, you better be looking for answers, quickly.
Florida State defeated Samford 59-6.
This game was really over before it started, and it was sure over at halftime as the Noles were up big, 42-3. Christian Ponder didn’t play after halftime, but had already passed for 167 yards and four touchdowns, fueling even more talk that the Noles are back and even leading some to say that the FSU offense was one of the most explosive in the country. To that, I say, it’s SAMFORD.
Maryland defeated Navy 17-14.
The Terps came out on fire it seemed, running down the throats of the Midshipmen for two quick touchdowns and an early 14-0 lead. But things took a turn after that. Navy shut down the Terrapins running game and the mobility of quarterback Jamarr Robinson, and late in the third quarter they finally tied things up at 14-14.
The Terrapins would finally take the lead for good on a field goal with just over seven minutes left, and the Maryland defense showed some serious will as they stuffed the Navy offense at the goal line on four straight plays. That is the good news. The bad news for the Terps is that even with the victory, they managed to give up almost 500 yards of offense to Navy and were upside down on the time of possession battle by almost 2-1. Those sort of numbers are exactly why Coach Friedgen will be job hunting after this season.
NC State defeated Western Carolina 48-7.
Quarterback Russell Wilson used eight different Pack receivers to throw for over three hundred yards in the impressive victory over the Catamounts. The two sport star was 21-31 on the day, including four touchdowns.
The Wolfpack used two freshman at running back, Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene. After a slow first half they looked better in the second and totaled just over 100 yards rushing between the two of them.
Wake Forest defeated Presbyterian 53-13.
The Demon Deacons started hot and never cooled off against the much over powered Blue Hose. Scoring to go up 7-0 just 1:30 second into the game, the Deacons dominated this game in every category there is. Not that this was unexpected by any means, but it was still fun for the Deacon fans to see after their team went 5-7 a season ago.
Wake Forest rolled up 415 yards on the ground alone, and played 65 of the 70 players that dressed out for the game, including four different quarterbacks.
Duke defeated Elon 41-27.
Elon struck first in this one, kicking a field goal to take the 3-0 lead just two minutes into the game, but the Blue Devils responded with three scores of their own, all touchdowns, to take a 21-3 lead just over one minute into quarter number two, and they never looked back from there.
The Devil’s starting quarterback Sean Renfree looked very strong in his first start, throwing for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Devil receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner combined for 152 yards on 17 catches to help Renfree’s cause. One concern though, the Blue Devil defense gave up over 400 yards, to Elon.
Georgia Tech defeated SC State 41-10.
If there is an ACC team that had a similar weekend to the Clemson Tigers, it would be the Yellow Jackets. Even after a 31 point victory, everyone knows there are some serious concerns. And at least one of those concerns sounds even more similar to the weekend in Tiger Town.
Georgia Tech missed tackle after tackle in the game and their defensive line looks bad, real bad. SC State amassed over 175 yards on the ground alone and had everyone scratching their heads including new defensive coordinator Al Groh. One other area of concern that may not even be fixable, quarterback Joshua Nesbitt completed as many passes to the Bulldogs as the did to his receivers; one. That’s right, 1-for-6 for eight yards and one interception on the day. Ouch.
Miami defeated Florida A&M 45-0. Perhaps one of the more balanced offensive performances in week one among ACC teams, it is hard to point out too much that wasn’t working for the Hurricanes. In all honesty though, I would have really expected more statistically from this one, a 45 point victory, than 405 yards total and only 24 minutes of possession. I mean the Mean Green of North Texas did more damage to the Clemson Tigers that this.
But in all honesty, the score and stats all could have been more lopsided, much more lopsided. Leading 35-0 at the half, the Hurricane coaches called off the dogs considerably. That is the only thing that kept one of the ACC’s most balanced offenses from making this much more ugly, or much more impressive, depending on whose side you were on.
Virginia defeated Richmond 34-13.
New Cavalier head coach did something on Saturday that first year head coaches don’t normally do in Virginia, won his first game. The Cavaliers new pro-style offense looked good for most of the game, gaining 283 yards thru the air and almost 200 on the ground. Senior running back Keith Payne seems to be the man for the job in the backfield this year, gaining 114 yards on 16 carries.
The Cavaliers defense also looked pretty good most of the night, but did give up a couple of big plays, two of which lead to scores. Before Cavalier fans start to feel to warm and cozy though, let’s remember the opponent.
North Carolina lost to LSU 30-24.
Ironically enough, the two best games for fans of any ACC teams to watch this weekend were also the only two that ACC teams lost. Enough can’t be said for this North Carolina team and how they performed during this game. As if all of the off the field distractions heading into the game wasn’t enough, then you take the core of your defense and mark them off the roster for the game, and then you go into the locker room at the half down 30-10. Take all that into consideration and then think about this, the Tarheels had the ball inside the ten yard line at the end of the fourth quarter with a chance to tie/win the game. Wow.
Offensively, the Heels deserved mixed reviews. Quarterback TJ Yates threw for 412 yards, very impressive. However, the team netted just 23 yards rushing. That isn’t going to win many games and sure won’t win any ACC championships. My bet is they get it fixed sooner rather than later, and Tarheel fans better sure hope they do. One more thing to work on in Chapel Hill, special teams. LSU rolled up a remarkable 328 yards in returns during the game, including 175 on five punt returns.
Virginia Tech lost to Boise St 33-30.
This game was the other one that ended with an ACC team suffering a loss, and like the UNC game, it was about the only other one worth watching at all. Number three ranked Boise State wasted little time jumping on top, racing to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. But Virginia Tech finally settled in, and finally proved why many including myself have labeled them as one of the toughest teams in the country. Heading into half time the score was back closer to even at 20-14 BSU.
After a see-saw game in the second half, Boise State went down the field in the last minutes to score and take the lead, and Tyrod Taylor did his best but couldn’t get just one more scoring drive out for the Hokies.
Tyrod Taylor looked strong most of the night, and should have settled any argument that he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country. Defensively the Hokies need a little work, especially on the missed tackles. And one of the things that stood out the most, Beamer Ball is dead. Frank Beamer had said himself prior to the game that the days of out scheming your opponent in special teams play were gone, and he had no clue how prophetic that would be. The Hokies ended up having one punt blocked, roughing the BSU kicker, hitting a man late after a return, and missing a 34 yard field goal. I wonder if Coach Beamer will rethink his view on special teams now?