All 14 ACC squads were in action again last week, and while many performed admirably, several manged to disappoint as well. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.
1. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) (LW: 1): We really don’t know how to properly evaluate the Seminoles after
two 1.75 games against FCS opponents, but they have won by a combined score of 124-3. So at least there’s that. The team’s first true test is coming up next week, however, as they are paid a visit by constant nemesis/thorn-in-side, Wake Forest. Also of interest: FSU has run the ball very effectively up until now. We’ll be curious to see if that continues now as they face better competition.
2. Clemson Tigers (2-0) (LW: 2): The Tigers’ second half defense against Ball State gave some fans reason for concern, as did the run D, which has been particularly poor. While it’s understandable that Auburn would be able to rack up 180 yards on the ground against them, for the Cardinals to total 252 is simply unacceptable. It’s great to have Sammy Watkins back this week, but unfortunately, he can’t play defensive line.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0) (LW: 4): The Hokies looked tired and disinterested against Austin Peay on Saturday, despite the fact that they won 42-7. We knew this offense would struggle coming into 2012, but it does appear that QB Logan Thomas will have to carry nearly the entire scoring burden. But should he continue his issues with accuracy, Tech could have a real problem on their hands as the season wears on.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1) (LW: 5): Unlike their Labor Day counterparts, Georgia Tech did not give off any signs of exhaustion Saturday, amassing 712 yards of offensive en route to a big 59-3 rout of Presbyterian. Mixing it up against an inferior opponent, Tech was also able to give extended playing time to Vad Lee and Zach Laskey. The two combined for 217 rushing yards and two scores on just 20 carries, including a huge 79-yard gain by Lee.
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0) (LW: 12): Wake’s big win over UNC was just another touch of Jim Grobe magic, though let’s also keep in mind that the Heels were without their main offensive weapon, RB Giovani Bernard. Eager to prove the win over their cross-state rivals was no fluke, expect Tanner Price and the Deacs’ passing game to come out firing against Florida State this weekend.
6. Virginia Cavaliers (2-0) (LW: 6): The Hoos got very lucky in their close 17-16 win over Penn State, relying on four missed field goals and a big touchdown pass by Michael Rocco with a minute to spare. Though Rocco ended up putting in a good day’s work, the brewing quarterback controversy also can’t be ignored. Whether that’s what coach Mike London wanted is up for debate, but at this point, he’s openly inviting questions about Rocco and backup Phillip Sims.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels (1-1) (LW: 3): Carolina slipped and fell without their main weapon, Bernard, and now have to do their best to rebound. Their biggest issue, however, wasn’t the running game (they managed 157 yards on the ground anyway), but their atrocious pass D. Wake Forest unloaded 362 yards on 39 attempts Saturday, and Price isn’t even the best QB they’ll see in conference play. Those secondary issues must be rectified as soon as possible.
8. NC State Wolfpack (1-1) (LW: 8): Due to some key plays on defense (specifically from safety Earl Wolff), the Wolfpack eked out a 10-7 victory over Connecticut and avoided the worst-case 0-2 start. Looking at this team, though, they don’t appear competent on either side of the ball, especially on offense, which was supposed to be their biggest strength.
9. Syracuse Orange (0-2) (LW: 9): “Best 0-2 team in the country” has become a moniker thrown around the Orange by many commentators, and I’d be willing to agree with it. SU has lost two games — to USC and Northwestern — by a combined 14 points, and also possess one of the country’s most potent passing attacks. As long as they can take care of business this weekend and notch their first victory, these opening struggles will be a small blip on the radar.
10. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (1-1) (LW: 7): The Hurricanes’ defense is the same mess of a unit we thought it was during the preseason. Giving up 288 yards on the ground to Kansas State, along with 210 through the air (on 11 attempts!!) and 52 points, is completely unacceptable. With freshman Duke Johnson mostly silenced, the offense also reverted back to its toothless form and failed to generate any sort of momentum.
11. Maryland Terrapins (2-0) (LW: 14): Well it looks like this Maryland team may have figured something out on offense. QB Perry Hills, while still very green, looked much more confident in his delivery Saturday, and the Terps managed to hold off a feisty Temple team at the end. Should he continue to make progress, we may be looking at one of college football’s most surprising early subplots.
12. Boston College Eagles (1-1) (LW: 11): It’s too obvious that QB Chase Rettig is improved under the new offensive system. But what does the rest of the team look like? Beyond the man under center, we’ve still yet to get a good read on what this BC squad truly looks like. This week’s big out-of-conference matchup against Northwestern should help provide a more accurate barometer.
13. Duke Blue Devils (1-1) (LW: 10): This year’s Duke squad was supposed to be better than last year’s, while the 2012 Stanford Cardinal were supposed to be worse than last year’s. So excuse me for being surprised while watching the “Blue Devils are Back!” bandwagon crash headlong into a wall over the weekend, to the tune of a 50-13 drubbing. Duke’s O-line is still iffy, and the running game can’t seem to get anything going either. Also very disheartening to see their corners get completely left at the line of scrimmage.
14. Pittsburgh Panthers (0-2) (LW: 13): It’s come to this. After two games, Pitt has lost by a combined 38 points (both losses), has no running game to speak of, and their defense looks deplorable. And again, we’re just two weeks in. If this team’s going to turn things around, it’ll have to start on both the offensive and defensive fronts. Winning those battles should open up the sorts of opportunities they’ve been missing to this point, and maybe provide some positive energy.