Around the ACC
By Will Vandervort
Clemson fans may have been chanting A-C-C, A-C-C following the Tigers’ 38-35 victory over No. 11 Georgia Saturday night, but their head coach sure wasn’t.
Head coach Dabo Swinney said No. 4 Clemson’s win over the Bulldogs had nothing to do with the ACC and everything to do with the Clemson program.
“Well, I don’t know if it was a statement for the ACC. I just think it’s a statement for Clemson,” he said earlier this week. “I mean, I always tell people, it’s not about the league, it’s about the program. You know, that’s just what I believe.
“I mean, you can be a bad team in a really good league and say, hey, but we’re in this league. Well, that’s great, but your team isn’t very good. To me it’s more about the program. That’s really what I’m more concerned with. All the rest of that stuff that, all takes care of itself as long as you’re taking care of the things that you control.”
Thanks to its win over Georgia—who was ranked fifth at the time—the Tigers became the first non-SEC team to beat two top 10 SEC schools in back-to-back games. Clemson beat then No. 7 LSU, 25-24, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last New Year’s Eve to end the 2012 season.
In the last three years, the SEC has lost only eight non-conference games and four of those losses have come to Clemson.
“But there’s no doubt that we have to play games like that to give ourselves a chance to compete nationally,” Swinney said. “The SEC plays games like that; that’s something that they do. Alabama last year, heck, played up in Michigan, played Virginia Tech this year. That’s just something I think most of the top schools do.
“You’ve got to play somebody outside of your conference that is a very worthy opponent, and not only play them but you’ve got to win those games. You’re not going to win them all, but you’ve got to win your fair share of them.”
Clemson’s win allowed the ACC to go 1-2 against the SEC last week as North Carolina lost to No. 6 South Carolina as did Virginia Tech to top-ranked Alabama. The ACC will get another shot this Saturday when Miami host No. 12 Florida.
“I think we have an outstanding conference in general,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I think we have as much talent as anybody. We have some dynamic players, and we have other ones on our team, too, I believe.
“But I think it is good for the conference. I don’t think it hurts. It brings attention to our league, which I’ve said before, I think we have a tremendous league and our league is growing each week and each year. I love the addition we’ve made, and it’s going to make it better. I think the more attention we can get to the conference, I think it definitely helps.”
With four wins over the big and bad SEC, Clemson has done its part to bring the conference that attention.
“I don’t know about any type of statement. All it is, is just, ‘Hey, Clemson is a good program, and we’ve come a long way in four years and still got a ways to go, but I think we’ve made good progress,” Swinney said.
Bring on the Ducks. It just isn’t the heavy waits from the SEC the ACC is playing. Last week, Virginia knocked off BYU and now this week the Cavaliers have even a bigger challenge when second-ranked Oregon visits Charlottesville, Va., for a 3:30 kickoff on Saturday.
Virginia head coach Mike London says he likes opening the season against good competition because it’s good for the program.
“Obviously, in the process of building a program, you want to highlight things that are important. I think the staff this year was significant for us. The indoor facility, the commitment to that, is something that is probably one of the best indoor facilities,” he said. “The scheduling has also had an opportunity to catch the eye of a lot of 2014 and ’15 recruits. That’s all part of the process. Plus the ACC, with the addition of the teams that are coming in, the opportunity to play Notre Dame, just continue to increase the brand.
“That’s kind of where we are. I think, again, with the ACC, where the conference is moving, going to, those things can become more positive for a lot of schools that are in this league.”
Syracuse, who is coming off a loss to Penn State, will travel to Chicago and face No. 19 Northwestern as well.
“The thing that makes them most perplexing in preparing for them is they have two different styles of quarterbacks that they can play,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. “You have Colter and you have Siemian. Colter is the athlete back there that’s good at the designed run plays as well as creating space and time with his feet in the passing game, whereas Siemian is a little bit more traditional and a little bit more pinpoint accurate with his passing game and reading coverages.
“You’re really preparing with two types of game plans depending on who’s in the game, and that’s probably the most perplexing side of your game from a defensive point of view.”
Good start. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 356 yards and four touchdowns, while completing 25 of 27 passes in the Seminoles’ 41-13 victory over Pittsburgh last Monday night. Not a bad start for any quarterback at any age, but especially not bad for a redshirt freshman who was making his first career start on the road.
“Well, I mean, he was a redshirt freshman, he wasn’t a true freshman, but for a young guy, he played exceptionally well in his first ballgame,” Fisher said. “I think the guys around him played very well, which allowed him to function. But I think you hit on his poise and presence in the game and he competed very well and made good decisions, was accurate with the ball, and made a lot of the right run checks, had a lot on his plate.”
This week’s ACC schedule
Wake Forest at Boston College, 8 p.m.
No. 12 Florida at Miami, noon
S.C. State at No. 4 Clemson, 12:30 p.m.
Middle Tenn. at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
Western Carolina at Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m.
No. 2 Oregon at Virginia, 3:30 p.m.
Old Dominion at Maryland, 4 p.m.
Duke at Memphis, 4:30 p.m.
Richmond at NC State, 6 p.m.
Syracuse at No. 19 Northwestern, 6 p.m.