ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 7

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Joins the ACC's Power Three

Now Ranked in the Top 25 As Well, Virginia Tech Makes It Four Elite Teams From the ACC

There’s a huge gulf between the top of the ACC and the rest of the conference — something that has both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, the conference is deeply involved in the national title race right now. On the other, we’re seeing a lot of blowouts, too, which hurts the league’s top-to-bottom image. 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 (Week 7)

1. Clemson Tigers (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 1): Another week, another big Clemson win. And yet, there are still some doubts about whether or not the Tigers are national title contenders. The defense can go cold for stretches and the offense is largely one-dimensional, sure. But given the country’s best resume win thus far (vs. Georgia) and a major Heisman contender at quarterback in Tajh Boyd, this team will be impossible to ignore as long as they keep on winning.

2. Florida State Seminoles (5-0) (3-0) (Last: 2): As mentioned up top, the gap between the ACC’s top teams and the rest is very large, with Florida State’s 63-0 massacre over Maryland being exhibit A. No, the Terps were not exactly a strong top 25 team at the time, but still, they were still perceived as one of the conference’s better teams going into Saturday. FSU’s absolutely dominant performance, led by both Jameis Winston and the defense, changed all that. And changed the perception of the ‘Noles too, from an interesting team to one that could easily contend for a championship.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (5-0) (1-0) (Last: 4): The Hurricanes’ offense just continues to impress, no matter how banged up Stephen Morris may seem. Down 10 early, the group fought back against Georgia Tech, and pulled off the big divisional win. But at the same time, it might’ve been the defense that was most responsible for the turnaround. Holding Tech scoreless in the third allowed the ‘Canes offense to come back and take the lead, especially the dagger touchdown to go up 45-23 with just a little over a minute remaining.

4. Louisville Cardinals (5-0) (Last: 3): Louisville didn’t do anything wrong necessarily against Temple. But as an offense, it’s tough to say their 30-point output against the Owls was overly impressive. The Cardinals are still undefeated and as predicted, this schedule’s already starting to creep up on them. All three ACC teams ranked ahead have better wins to their respective names, and will only continue to add more as the year goes on.

Continue reading

ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 5

Jeremiah Attaochu and the Georgia Tech Defense Are Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu & the Georgia Tech Defense Aiming to Deliver a Big Win Over Virginia Tech

Finally, some actual games that matter (a few anyway). The ACC‘s still got five undefeated teams (sort of six), but will that continue to be the case much longer. I’m sure we all hope so… Just like normal, we’re running down the list of every ACC (plus Louisville) game and predicting outcomes that will almost undoubtedly be wrong. Have some picks of your own? Predict away in the comments!

Game of the Week

Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (0-0) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-0) (2-0): For all but one year of divisional play, this game has decided the Coastal. And while it may seem like a remote possibility given the state of Virginia Tech’s offense in particular, that’s still on the table for this season’s edition of the matchup. But this one’s not going to last long if the Hokies can’t cut down on mistakes. The kicking game’s a mess and despite some flashes of success, Logan Thomas is still as rough around the edges as he’s ever been — and as error-prone as he’s ever been too. Georgia Tech’s aggressive defense should take advantage of those opportunities, while Vad Lee could have the offense closing the deal by the third quarter. Prediction: Georgia Tech 31, Virginia Tech 21

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

Miami Hurricanes (3-0) (0-0) at USF Bulls (0-3): In the past, this contest has actually been pretty close. But that was the old version of the USF program. The version we’ve come to know lately has fallen on some hard times, and that’ll likely continue this weekend. USF can’t seem to score points (just 12.3 per game this season), though over the last two games, the defense hasn’t been all bad. It’s certainly not the best MIami’s seen though, after facing and beating Florida in week two. Expect the ‘Canes to breeze through yet another contest en route to a 4-0 record. Prediction: Miami 30, USF 13

East Carolina Pirates (2-1) at North Carolina Tar Heels (1-2) (0-1): Considering the high expectations UNC had going into the season and the way things have gone instead, this ECU game is now a must-win. The defense is a bit of a concern, especially after last week’s second-half collapse versus Georgia Tech, but the bigger issue has been and remains the offense. North Carolina’s line is struggling to protect Bryn Renner and can’t open up holes for the running game either. The result has been a neutered attack that pales in comparison to what we’ve seen from previous Larry Fedora teams. They’ve got to figure things out this week against ECU or they’re in full-on crisis mode. Prediction: UNC 41, ECU 28

Continue reading

ACC Football 2013 Heisman Watch: Week 5

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland's C.J. Brown

Through Four Games, No Defense Has Been Able to Stop Maryland QB C.J. Brown at All

The ACC‘s top teams are still unbeaten, but that doesn’t mean we’re only choosing from a few teams here. The league is deep with playmakers this season, so plenty to choose from as we try and determine who might contend for college football’s highest honor. Have other nominees? Submit your ballots below.

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (773 total yards, 9 total TD, 0 INT, 62.2% completion) (Last: 1)

Boyd’s performances have seemingly become old hat to most viewers, which could end up hurting his candidacy in the long run (especially if the Tigers wind up losing a game at some point). And that’s not even his fault. It takes a pretty talented player to make 282 total yards and three scores seem mundane, and yet, that’s where he’s at. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and help his team keep winning games.

2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (1,250 total yards, 14 TD, 1 INT, 71.8% completion) (Last: 2)

Bridgewater never seems to stay in a game long enough to put up even bigger numbers — or his team just starts running the ball incredibly early. That’s unlikely to change as the year goes on and this schedule fails to get much harder. But it doesn’t appear that critics are complaining much thus far. The Cardinals winning, specifically on account of the junior quarterback, is all that really matters in the big scheme of things.

3. C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (1,326 total yards, 13 total TD, 1 INT, 66.7% completion) (Last: 4)

Maryland didn’t put up much of an effort in the second half against West Virginia, which explains why Brown’s numbers weren’t exactly at the season’s typical torrid pace. The senior passer really has put on quite a show overall though, and his team is still undefeated — both of which should count for something (especially the second part). He’s proved himself to be one of the best pure dual-threats in the country, and if they can pull off a monster upset of Florida State in a couple weeks, then maybe people will finally start taking notice of his body of work.

Continue reading

ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 4: Tom Savage, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Quarterback Tom Savage is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 4

Pittsburgh Quarterback Tom Savage is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 4

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 4: Tom Savage, QB/Pittsburgh

After a rough couple outings to start his Pitt career, this is certainly a surprise. But it’s tough to deny the senior passer his due after he threw for 424 yards and six touchdowns against Duke on Saturday. Aided by a miserable Blue Devils’ secondary and their own feisty offense as well, Savage got to play for the entirety of the 58-55 victory, which (not surprisingly) re-wrote several conference records. As he gets more settled, you can see Savage’s potential (very apparent back in 2010) coming to light — suddenly a comfortable passer in the pocket who’s accurate and can also throw a decent deep ball. He’s also got plenty of assistance from his phenomenal receiving corps, as Devin Street and Tyler Boyd have put on some very impressive shows and made his job a whole lot easier. Obviously, Savage can’t play to this level every single Saturday, but the fact that the ability’s there at all gives the Panthers a much more positive outlook toward the rest of the year after a rocky opening.

Honorable Mention:

Tyler Boyd, WR/Pittsburgh (8 catches, 154 yards, 3 TD)

Maryland Terrapins defense/special teams (forced six turnovers)

Terrel Hunt, QB/Syracuse (220 total yards, 5 TD)

Jamison Crowder, WR/Duke (279 all-purpose yards, 3 TD)

Comment, share this post, follow/like the blog and follow @JohnCassillo on Twitter

ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Pittsburgh Panthers

Can Aaron Donald and a Strong Defense Help Overcome Pitt's Offensive Futility?

Can Aaron Donald and a Strong Defense Help Overcome Pittsburgh’s Offensive Issues?

Team: Pittsburgh Panthers

2012 W-L: 6-7 (3-4 in Big East)

Head Coach: Paul Chryst (6-7; second season)

Returning Starters: 13 (5 Offense, 8 Defense)

Bad luck, bad hires, bad timing… just seems like nothing can go right for Pittsburgh of late. And this offseason didn’t really make things easier, as players continue to leave the program — most notably would-be standout halfback Rushel Shell this spring, who ended up at arch rival West Virginia. There are two positives: the ACC move and coach Paul Chryst actually sticking around pas the one season mark, but are they enough to outweigh the on-field losses? We’ll find out pretty quickly as Pitt’s thrown into the fire early — a Labor Day date with defending conference champion Florida State. While the Panthers aren’t exactly expected to beat the ‘Noles, a respectable showing could at least show signs that this team is ready and willing to compete in its new conference right away. If they fall flat though, it could be a very long season for a team in transition.

The offense will take on a very different identity than in years’ past, with or without the personnel to do so. Losing Shell and former starting running back Ray Graham (nearly 1,700 yards between them last season), Pitt’s usual propensity for running the ball seems to be a difficult sell. Backup Isaac Bennett will take over primary ball-carrying duties, but without much experience himself, or depth behind him, it’s unlikely you’ll see the Panthers running the ball nearly as much as normal. Making matters a bit more worrisome, the offensive line has to replace its own set of departed players, and try and account for a lack of depth as well. Several freshman could conceivably end up in the regular linemen rotation — a disconcerting thought when you think about the types of pass-rushers Pitt will face in the ACC. With positions shifting around, it may come down to tackle T.J. Clemmings‘s ability to handle a switch to the offensive side of the ball and take pressure of the veteran guards. If the line can come together quickly, it’s obviously a huge relief for both the running game (which needs plenty of help) and the also-green passing attack as well.

Continue reading

ACC Announces Student-Athlete Attendees for 2013 ACC Football Kickoff

Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd is One of 28 Players Attending the ACC Football Kickoff

Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd is One of 28 Players Attending the ACC Football Kickoff

The ACC has announced the list of football student-athlete attendees for the ACC Football Kickoff today. A fancy way of saying “Media Days,” the event will take place on July 21 and 22 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C. Each schools’ coaches will be in attendance, as will two representatives per team.

The list:

Boston College: QB Chase Rettig (Sr.), LB Steele Divitto (Sr.)

Clemson: QB Tajh Boyd (Sr.), LB Spencer Shuey (Sr.)

Duke: QB Anthony Boone (Jr.), CB Ross Cockrell (Sr.)

Florida State: WR Rashad Greene (Jr.), CB Lamarcus Joyner (Sr.)

Georgia Tech: OT Will Jackson (Sr.), DE Jeremiah Attoachu (Sr.)

Maryland: QB C.J. Brown (Sr.), CB Dexter McDougle (Sr.)

Miami: QB Stephen Morris (Sr.), DE Shayon Green (Sr.)

North Carolina: QB Bryn Renner (Sr.), DE Kareem Martin (Sr.)

N.C. State: WR Rashard Smith (Sr.), CB Dantae Johnson (Sr.)

Pittsburgh: WR Devin Street (Sr.), DT Aaron Donald (Sr.)

Syracuse: C Macky MacPherson (Sr.), DT Jay Bromley (Sr.)

Virginia: OT Morgan Moses (Sr.), DE Jake Snyder (Sr.)

Virginia Tech: QB Logan Thomas (Sr.), LB Jack Tyler (Sr.)

Wake Forest: WR Michael Campanaro (Sr.), LB Justin Jackson (Sr.)

Some additional thoughts:

Continue reading

ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #47, Devin Street

Pitt’s Devin Street is #47 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Pitt’s Devin Street is #47 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

We’re less than two months away from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! 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. 47, Devin Street, WR/Pittsburgh (Last Season: NR)

With Pitt’s quarterback, both top rushers and its top receiver from last season all gone, Street’s importance cannot be overstated. Because of right now, he is the Panthers offense. And with that responsibility comes an opportunity to dominate as no Pittsburgh player has since probably Larry Fitzgerald (you could also make a case for Jon Baldwin as well). Street’s not Fitzgerald though, and no one would even ask him to be. But just the same, Street has plenty of talent and a golden chance to prove he can be the focal point of this team’s attack this season. The question is whether or not he can take advantage of it.

Standing at 6’4″ and 190 pounds, Street’s a big target for whomever plays quarterback for Pitt, and should be one of the conference’s more dynamic threats on the outside of the field. This season, without Mike Shanahan playing opposite him, he’s bound to draw more double-coverage, but he’s also bound to be targeted more at the same time. But can he translate that to a) more catches and b) more team success? Last season, Street had two games in which he caught 10 or more passes (both times more than Shanahan), and each resulted in a loss. The big performances from Street obviously weren’t the main cause of these defeats — far from it — but this is to say that Street’s standout games don’t automatically mean wins. And therein lies the challenge for him, and this Pittsburgh team as a whole in 2013. How do they prevent him from feeling the need to do too much, while still becoming the force he has the talent to be?

Continue reading