ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 7: Pete Thomas, NC State

NC State Quarterback Pete Thomas is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 7

NC State Quarterback Pete Thomas is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 7

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 7: Pete Thomas, QB/NC State

Before the game, rumors that Brandon Mitchell could return to the starting quarterback job seemed to tantalize NC State fans. Once they found out that Pete Thomas would again be under center however, things took a predictable turn for the worst. Operating a highly inconsistent offense for the sixth straight week, Thomas failed to ever establish consistency against Syracuse in a home game his team was favored in by a touchdown. As has been the case all season, the junior passer failed to be all that accurate (17-of-35) while throwing yet another interception, making it eight on the year. Hurt mightily by the absence of Rashard Smith at wide receiver, he relied too heavily on Bryan Underwood and mostly had to ignore a running game that never seemed to establish itself against the Orange. At this point, the Wolfpack’s only hope this year is Mitchell returning, since it appears that Thomas just isn’t up to the task at all.

Honorable Mention:

Tom Savage, QB/Pittsburgh (13/28 passing, 187 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT)

Pittsburgh Panthers offensive line (23 rushing yards, allowed 8 sacks)

NC State Wolfpack rushing defense (allowed 362 yards, 3 TD on the ground)

Vad Lee, QB/Georgia Tech (7/20 passing, 174 total yards, 1 TD, 1 INT)

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ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 5: Jameis Winston, Florida State

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 5

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 5

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC (plus Louisville) player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 5: Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State

Much has been made of Winston’s hot start and subsequent “cool down,” but much of that is caused by the dizzying highs his play was at during game one, rather than where things may have sunk to. Completing 63 percent of your passes is more than acceptable for a redshirt freshman quarterback, as is throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns. Another 67 yards is a bonus, and an important one at that, since he was also the team’s leading rusher against Boston College on Saturday. My point is that all the talk about him “falling off” is nonsensical, and that was no more apparent than the win against BC. As the the rest of his backfield and the entire defense failed him early against the Eagles, he put the team on his back and led them back from 14 down early. He also completed a Hail Mary play at the close of the first half that swung the entire narrative of the game. Call it luck, or call it skill, it doesn’t really matter. All that’s important is Winston’s continued play-making ability and his sharp ascension to a leadership role on both the offense and the entire team.

Honorable Mention:

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (380 total yards, 4 TD)

Brandon Connette, QB/Duke (379 total yards, 5 TD, 1 INT)

Bryan Underwood, WR/NC State (190 total yards, 1 TD)

Brandon Facyson, CB/Virginia Tech (3 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 defended passes)

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ACC Football 2013 Week 4 Lessons: Clemson (and the ACC) Just Got Incredibly Lucky

A Questionable Call in Thursday's Clemson-NC State Game Gave the Tigers a Huge Win

A Questionable Call in Thursday’s Clemson-NC State Game Gave the Tigers a Huge Win

Each Monday morning (or sometimes Tuesday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 4 of the ACC football season:

1. Clemson got very, very lucky: There’s no guarantee that Clemson would have proceeded to lose to NC State had Bryan Underwood‘s huge touchdown catch stood, but there’s also no doubting a win would’ve been much harder for the Tigers. They certainly didn’t bring their A-game last Thursday, with a strong defensive effort and a dubious out-of-bounds call being the biggest factors in the 26-14 win. It was also a huge boost to the ACC, which avoided losing a BCS title hopeful for the second straight September. I won’t be fanning the conspiracy flames here, but you can jump to whatever conclusions you’d like…

2. Georgia Tech‘s a Coastal Division contender this year: Things looked grim against North Carolina for awhile on Saturday, but after starting down 20-7, the defense rallied, the offense got going and tech came away with a big conference victory. The win gives the Yellow Jackets a nice head start on their Coastal competition — namely fellow supposed contender UNC. There’s still Miami to deal with of course, but a hard-fought, complete win like this one certainly gives a lot more credence to this team, which is now 3-0 on the year (2-0 in the conference).

3. The Terrel Hunt era has officially begun: Forget whatever it is you think you know about this Syracuse team, because since Hunt’s taken over, everything looks and feels different for the Orange. Yes, he’s primarily faced weak competition, but that shouldn’t take away from the great success he’s had in what’s amounted to just two games (one start). The redshirt sophomore has shown himself to be tough, dynamic and a smart playmaker; all qualities it appeared the Orange lacked through the first two contests. Of course, the defense is still a bit of an issue, but if the offense can score like this, it becomes a much lesser concern.

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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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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Head Coach Dave Doeren Ushers In a Brand New Era of NC State Football This Spring

Head Coach Dave Doeren Ushers In a Brand New Era of NC State Football This Spring

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: NC State Wolfpack

Spring Practice Start Date: March 19

Spring Game Date: April 20

While NC State certainly takes a step forward on the field by hiring former Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren, you can’t deny they lose a masterful troll letting go of Tom O’Brien. Amazing 16-wheeler aside though, this spring’s all about transition for the Pack, as Doeren brought along his own staff as part of the new regime. New terminology, new playbooks, and a new approach to games is only part of it too, as the team also ushers in a new collection of potential playmakers to replace several starters that departed for the NFL Draft. Needless to say, it’s going to be a very busy month down in Raleigh.

Off the bat, State players better be ready to run, as Doeren brings along his spread offense from NIU. After years of running a “vanilla,” pro-style scheme under O’Brien, offensive players will certainly embrace the change, but not without struggle. On top of the complete play-calling overhaul, they’ll be breaking in a new quarterback to run the show, with little indication on who may end up winning the job right now. The current favorite, however, is Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas; the only passer on the roster with notable college experience. He’ll also be challenged by sophomore Manny Stocker, who was handed little opportunity to show off his stuff last year, but appears better suited for the type of attack Doeren ran with quarterback Jordan Lynch last year (which included plenty of rushing attempts from the QB position). On the bright side, though, the Pack is more than settled at both the wide receiver and running back spots, after seeing bursts of brilliance from Bryan Underwood and Shadrach Thornton, respectively, last season. While nothing’s guaranteed under the new coaching staff for these two standouts, both will have ample opportunities to embrace leadership roles as the team adapts to their new surroundings.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

After Dropping Six Passes on Saturday, NC State’s Receivers are the ACC Goats of the Week for Week 9

No one enjoys piling on when things go wrong. But nonetheless, we’ve got to call out the ACC 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 9: NC State Wolfpack Wide Receivers

Considering the day Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon had (467 yards, five touchdowns), you’d think his receivers were actually on-point all day. But State’s receivers dropped six passes in total on Saturday, all of which you can see complied at SB Natoin’s Backing the Pack. While it’s tough to truly quantify the importance of each (in some cases, drives resulted in touchdowns anyway), it’s worth calling out Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith in particular. Underwood’s two drops took an otherwise outstanding day (118 yards, two receiving TDs) and sullied it. For Smith, his drop ended up being a tipped-ball interception, plus he also fumbled in the game as well. If the Wolfpack want to win games like this one, it takes focus on everyone’s part. The drops must be diminished going forward.

Honorable Mention:

Caleb Rowe, QB/Maryland (23/42 passing, 240 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT)

Jim Grobe, Head Coach/Wake Forest: “I don’t know that we didn’t respect (Clemson’s speed). I think we didn’t realize how fast those guys were.” (gameplan failure)

Duke defense (48 points, 560 yards allowed — despite four FSU turnovers)

Tevin Washington, QB/Georgia Tech (1/5 passing, 9 yards, 1 INT, 10 rushing yards)

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