Florida State vs. Clemson Preview: Why the Seminoles Will Win

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the 'Noles Will Win on Saturday

Part 2 of Our Florida State-Clemson Preview Explains Why the ‘Noles Will Win on Saturday

Saturday’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson is obviously a big deal. And since this is an ACC blog, it only makes sense that we discuss the game as much as possible. We’ve done so all week, but now it’s almost game day, and that means in-depth previews. I gave my short thoughts yesterday, but we want to dive in further. To help, I enlisted the assistance of none other than fellow ACC afficionado Hokie Mark — whom you know from his contributions here as well as his own site, ACCFootballRx. In this battle of ACC powers, he’ll be arguing in favor of Clemson, while I’ll present the reasons why Florida State should emerge victorious. Enjoy!

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Yes, Clemson’s got the big game experience, the battle-tested quarterback and the home-field advantage. Those things are undeniable. But Florida State brings plenty with them as well. For one, “Famous” Jameis Winston seems to be just a small step behind Clemson’s Tajh Boyd as just a true freshman, and he even makes up for that gap in talent with what can only be described as “swagger.” Two Heisman moments already, a ridiculous stat line and almost irrational confidence in his abilities are all important characteristics in situations like this. With pressure looming down, the weight of Heisman potential, ACC titles and BCS National Championships within sight — sometimes irrational confidence is the only thing that can buy you a win.

Even if confidence isn’t enough though, he’s also got an impressive cast of characters to help him out as well. The running game is a multi-headed monster, with a variety of different backs who can also do some serious damage to an aggressively-blitzing Clemson front. Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder are a lethal combination, and resemble Syracuse’s attack enough (with a bit more talent too) to give the Tigers fits all day. The Orange ran for 323 yards vs. Clemson a couple weeks ago, and have supplied a blueprint for the ‘Noles to do the same. In the passing attack, Winston has the weapons to test Clemson’s secondary too, with Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene prepped to burn them on the outside. All of this made possible by Winston and what’s arguably the conference’s top offensive line.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 3: Chase Rettig, Boston College

Boston College Eagles Quarterback Chase Rettig is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 2

Boston College Eagles Quarterback Chase Rettig is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 3

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC (plus Louisville) players who were counter-productive in helping their teams grab a victory this weekend. On the bright side for them, they can always get off this list next week. And for their sake, let’s hope they do.

ACC Goat of the Week, Week 3: Chase Rettig, QB/Boston College

Following a strong opening effort against Villanova, the production coming from BC’s passing game has gone down precipitously, with Saturday’s loss to USC being rock bottom. Chase Rettig didn’t throw any interceptions, but instead, just failed to move the ball at all against a tough Trojans defense. The senior was just 11-of-24 for 83 yards; this following a marginal yet understandable 124-yard performance last week. Rettig has talent surrounding him, and one of the conference’s top targets to throw to in Alex Amidon. The diminished numbers aren’t entirely his fault, but this team needs a lot more production from him if they hope to compete for a postseason berth this season. USC isn’t even the toughest opponent on the Eagles’ schedule either, so the hope is that he can sort things out before BC goes up against the likes of Florida State and Clemson over the next month of the season. If not, that hot start may very quickly end up a distant memory.

Honorable Mention:

Cody Journell, K/Virginia Tech (0/2 field goals, 1/2 extra points)

Trey Edmunds, RB/Virginia Tech (21 carries for 42 yards)

Brandon Connette, QB/Duke (137 total yards, 1 TD)

Duke Blue Devils rushing defense (344 yards allowed on the ground)

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ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 1 (Part 1)

Down a Few Defensive Backs, Can Georgia Keep Clemson's Sammy Watkins in Check?

Down a Few Defensive Backs, Can Georgia Keep Clemson’s Sammy Watkins in Check?

Welcome back, football!  Tonight begins another fantastic season of our favorite chaos-ridden soap opera, also known as college football. And with that, there are actual games being played, and actual predictions to be made. Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Every conference team is in action this weekend too, so we’re splitting things up into two posts to make things more easily digestible. You’re welcome, and happy football season!

Game of the Week

Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers: Two top-10 teams with National Championship dreams, facing off on the first Saturday night of the season. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Clemson has a distinct home field advantage and completely understands what’s at stake: perception, which is most of the battle in college football. If Tajh Boyd wins his second straight contest against an elite SEC defense, then expectations are off to the races and the Tigers appear to be a legitimate threat to win it all. Lose, and they spend the rest of their season digging out of a hole. Preseason injuries have seemingly ravaged this ‘Dogs secondary, and that won’t do them any favors against the likes of Sammy Watkins & co. Clemson grabs win number one. Prediction: Clemson 31, Georgia 23

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks: Old ACC rivals reunite in a battle for who gets to be called “Carolina” for the rest of the season. The Gamecocks program has risen to previously unseen heights these past few years, while the Tar Heels are looking to embark on a similar upward trajectory. It could start here for UNC, though they’ll have to figure out a way to deal with SC’s Jadeveon Clowney first and foremost. The country’s best defensive lineman will give the Heels’ line all they can handle tonight. Despite some optimism that they’re up to the task, it still won’t stop Clowney from making a huge impact, though. Prediction: South Carolina 33, North Carolina 24

Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Presbyterian was very bad last year (2-9), so this matchup is the exact type of body bag game Wake Forest needs to start off their season on the right foot. Outside of winning the football game (not a difficult task in this case), the main goal is getting out of the contest with everyone healthy — a struggle for the Deacs lately. With an ACC game coming up in week two, I’m also curious if Wake looks to break out some of the new spread-option elements of the offense, or if they’re keeping it under wraps until they head up to BC. I’d bet they keep things pretty basic tonight. Prediction: Wake Forest 38, Presbyterian 7

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ACC Football 2013 Preseason Power Rankings

Behind Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Clemson Appears Ready to Fly Past the Rest of the ACC

Behind Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Clemson Appears Ready to Fly Past the Rest of the ACC

We’re just a couple days away! I know, this has been an incredibly drawn out offseason, but at long last, kickoff is finally (just about) here. To celebrate that, we’re unveiling the final offseason power rankings, before basing these on actual games starting next Tuesday. As always, the poll includes all 14 current ACC members, plus future member Louisville. Feel like I’m totally right or completely off-base? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

ACC Football Power Rankings 2013 (August 27)

1. Clemson Tigers (Last: 1): Clemson will be tested very early in a rivalry redux versus Georgia, and should they get past the Bulldogs, they’ll be favored in the next 10 games. If this team has truly buried the term “Clemsoning” (and for what it’s worth, I firmly believe they have), they should be able to run through to the final weekend at a perfect 11-0. There, South Carolina awaits them, but it’s a long season and in order to be undefeated, you’ve got to go week-by-week.

2. Florida State Seminoles (Last: 3): The more preseason prep you do, the more you end up buying into this year’s Seminoles team being just as talented as last year’s edition. Though the pass-rush might be a bit weaker, the very strong back seven give this team the type of edge they’ll need to notch another season of double-digit wins. But again, the key is Jameis Winston at QB, and whether or not he’s up to the task of jumping in and producing right away.

3. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 2): Playing out a season in purgatory is a daunting task, believe it or not, and we’re about to find out if Louisville’s up to the challenge. With a very big target on their backs and favorable odds in all 12 games on the slate, this Cardinals team will be challenged to get up for each and every game. Charlie Strong can provide the motivation, but it’ll be interesting to watch nonetheless as the year keeps going and the pressure around the squad builds.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (Last: 5): Miami likely has the most complete set of offensive tools in the entire conference, with certifiable playmakers at all three major skill positions. This year’s slate is also much easier than 2012’s, with no Notre Dame or Kansas State, though we’ll get a quick sense of what they’re made of in a week two matchup against Florida. Win that one, and who knows how far this team might end up going.

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #13, Alex Amidon

Boston College’s Alex Amidon is #13 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Boston College’s Alex Amidon is #13 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

It’s finally game week! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.

Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 13, Alex Amidon, WR/Boston College (Last Season: NR)

Boston College’s offense struggled overall last season. But in the passing game, the team actually wasn’t terrible — in fact, they averaged nearly 259 yards per game through the air. Now, part of that was due to a flawed, pass-first attack, of course. Though that really takes away from the man behind it all: Alex Amidon. Of BC’s 256 completed passes in 2012, Amidon caught 78 of them. His seven passing touchdowns came close to half of the team’s total of 18, and at 1,210 receiving yards, he made up nearly 40 percent of the team’s total. Since the rushing game may as well have not existed, it’s easy to see that Amidon is the engine that drives the unit’s entire production, which is how he ends up this high on the list.

Going into last season, Amidon was an unknown commodity. Through his first two seasons, he’d only caught 36 passes and there were plenty of doubts about how he’d handle an increased workload. And then in the first game of last year, he exploded for 10 catches and 149 yards against Miami. Yet it was all just a preview for what was to come. Amidon was third in the ACC in catches per game, second in receiving yards per game and sixth in receiving scores. Despite a minimal amount of postseason honors tossed his way, he was among the top pass-catchers in the conference last season and again — the primary reason Boston College even managed to win the two games they did. Now as a senior, he’s due for another surprising season, despite being largely ignored by the press and coaches once again.

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Boston College Eagles

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What's Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Boston College is Looking to Rebound From What’s Been a Disastrous Program Downturn

Team: Boston College Eagles

2012 W-L: 2-10 (1-7)

Head Coach: Steve Addazio (0-0; first season)

Returning Starters: 16 (8 Offense, 8 Defense)

The Eagles hit rock bottom in 2012. The absolute lowest point you could hit — made even worse by where they’d been for much of the previous two decades. When your team and fan base become accustomed to bowl bids and contending for conference titles (as had regularly been the case since BC joined the ACC), a 2-10 train wreck is a tough pill to swallow. Yet that’s where Boston College sits now in the first year of head coach Steve Addazio’s reign. There’s talent on this roster; don’t think there isn’t. But in order to rebound and harness that talent, it’ll take the right coach. Is Addazio the right coach? We’ll soon find out…

Boston College’s offense will be completely revamped for 2013, as new OC Ryan Day tries to bring the team back to a more balanced attack than last year’s pass-at-all-costs disaster. They didn’t have the personnel to run that scheme (while they still finished 45th in passing yards per game), but I’m unsure whether they have the personnel to be run-first either. Addazio’s looking for a grind it out game, which means a lot of the onus falls on running back Andre Williams to far surpass the paltry 584 yards he amassed last season. He’ll have little help or experience there to assist him, though, which makes for a very tough hill to climb at running back. With more carries (he only had 130 last year), I’d bet we see a lot more production out of Williams, but perhaps not on the level you’ll get from the league’s elite ball-carriers.

Passing-wise, things are more settled, and we may actually see a rebound season from QB Chase Rettig. Forced to pass more often than necessary last fall, Rettig took a lot of sacks and suffered from turnovers. But with a balanced approach, maybe we see something like 17 scores, nine picks and around 2,800 yards on 55-percent passing, coupled with less sacks. Star receiver Alex Amidon should be able to help him out with all of that, however the jury’s still out on the offensive line. Replacing starters at both tackle spots is no small order, and it could make for some rough early outings as everyone gets settled.

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ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Sammy Watkins is the ACC's Top Receiver, But Does a Different Team's Wideouts Outpace Clemson's?

Sammy Watkins is the ACC’s Top Receiver, But Do a Different Team’s Wideouts Outpace Clemson’s?

While we’re still (barely) over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we’re on to the wide receivers and tight ends (we’ve also covered running backs and quarterbacks thus far). Like virtually every other conference in the country, you can’t necessarily call the overall receiving product in the ACC “stellar.” For some reason we’ve arrived at a dearth of talent at the position of late. But nonetheless, the league still possesses a strong group of receivers at the top, plus a ton of depth, even on the teams that are lower on this list.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual wide receiver or tight end is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of pass catchers is. Also note: Louisville (as has been the case since November) is included here. Additionally, since these are completely subjective rankings, the difference between the seventh and eighth team is almost entirely negligible (especially in the case of this position). Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

1. Florida State Seminoles: FSU just has too many players who can catch the ball in the open field, and that’s a good thing, especially when fielding an inexperienced quarterback. After a productive season last year (57 catches, 741 yards, six scores), Rashad Greene looks ready to take a huge leap forward for this group, and could be one of the better pass catchers in the ACC. Along with Greene, look out for Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin, especially Benjamin, who could end up being a breakout player for the ‘Noles this season following a productive freshman campaign. At tight end, Nick O’Leary should continue his improvement, but with so man other players looking for the ball, it’s uncertain how many passes are thrown his way.

2. Clemson Tigers: Replacing Brandon Ford (TE) and leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson certainly has their work cut out for them. But you can’t underestimate the receiving depth Chad Morris and Dabo Swinney have built on this Tigers roster. After an uneventful offseason, Sammy Watkins should be back to his freshman year form, which immediately takes the load off of Adam Humphries and Charone Peake. While not overly experienced, the two still caught 66 combined passes last year, which should trend even higher in 2013. Tight end is a question mark, though Stanton Seckinger likely has the inside track to starting there.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels: In year two of Larry Fedora’s offense, it’s time opposing teams started to fear this group. Quinshad Davis put up one of the best freshman receiving seasons in ACC history last year and there’s little doubt he’ll continue to produce at that level again. And he’ll have help, too. Fellow starter Sean Tapley brings further speed on the outside, while tight end Eric Ebron will be putting his athleticism to use against linebackers and corners alike. Ebron’s slated to be one of the best TEs in the country this year, and one look at his 6’4″ 245-pound frame leaves little question as to why.

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