ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 3: Vad Lee, Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Quarterback Vad Lee is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 3

Georgia Tech Quarterback Vad Lee is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 3

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 3: Vad Lee, QB/Georgia Tech

The Georgia Tech offense was ineffective last season because it was predictable. Of course the triple-option is inherently run-heavy, but you need to have an ability to throw the ball in order to prevent defenses from crowding the line to stop the rushing attack. They didn’t have the passing element at all in 2012, but thanks to Vad Lee this year, we’ve already seen what the offense is capable of with a competent throwing quarterback under center. Lee’s still primarily a runner, but his arm has been a driving force through Tech’s first two victories — most notably, this Saturday’s win over Duke. The sophomore completed just eight passes for 125 yards, but four of those went for touchdowns. This also helped set him up for rushing success, as he compiled another 76 yards and a score on the ground. I know it’s just Duke and Elon, but thus far, Lee appears to be the best starting quarterback Georgia Tech has had in awhile.

Honorable Mention:

James Gayle, DE/Virginia Tech (2 sacks, 1 safety)

Terrel Hunt, QB/Syracuse (287 total yards, 3 TD)

Senorise Perry, RB/Louisville (100 rushing yards, 2 TD)

Jameis Winston, QB/Florida State (259 total yards, 3 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Post-Week 1

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

After a Huge Win Over Georgia, No One Can Deny Clemson the Top Spot in the ACC

One week down, and things seem to be trending positively for the ACC. Conference teams are rising in the polls, everyone has positive things to say about the ACC and (knock on wood), things really couldn’t be much better for the league as a whole. I don’t know how long this will last, but it’s fantastic. 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 (Post-Week 1)

1. Clemson Tigers (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 1): Up to number four in the recent AP rankings, Clemson is riding high right now. And why not? You beat a top-five team in Georgia, your quarterback is now assumed to be a Heisman front-runner… There’s very little left to question about this Tigers squad, and given how unimposing the remaining schedule is for them, it’s unlikely much more doubt creeps up between now and November. This is a team capable of winning the national title, and believe it or not, they just might go ahead and do it this year.

2. Florida State Seminoles (1-0) (1-0) (Last: 2): There was hope that Jameis Winston could step right in and run this Seminoles offense. But no one could’ve known just how good the freshman would be in his debut on Monday night. Accounting for five touchdowns against Pittsburgh, Winston has quickly thrown himself into the national spotlight very early in the season. In a surprising move, his team’s also joined him, putting to rest concerns about how they’ll replace EJ Manuel and much of last year’s defense.

3. Louisville Cardinals (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 3): Louisville understands what it needs to do to keep observers’ respect this season, whether that’s fair or not. And thus far, they’ve met the challenge. Teddy Bridgewater was a star against Ohio, putting up 355 passing yards and five scores against a team that was thought to be among the best in the MAC. We’ll see if that’s true or not, but we do know is that the Cardinals will be tough to beat on both ends this year. Now, the rest may be up to the voters.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (1-0) (0-0) (Last: 4): Miami didn’t meet much of a test in Florida Atlantic on Friday, but they took care of business and collected a solid victory. Duke Johnson was the game’s standout performer, picking up right where he left off in 2012 by picking up over 200 total yards and a score. Obviously, the Owls are no worldbeaters, but it’s also worth noting the defense’s improved effort in the 34-6 win, too. We’ll see if that’s a mirage or not next week versus Florida.

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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 Television Schedule & Spreads: Week 1

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Tajh Boyd Leads Clemson Against Georgia in One of Many Nationally Televised ACC Games

Every week, we’ll be providing a quick rundown of which ACC football games are on television, and also list the latest spread on each game (should you choose to engage in gambling-related activities). Please plan your days accordingly.

ACC Football Week 1 TV Schedule & Spreads

Thursday, August 29

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks (-12), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-38), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Saturday, August 31

Special: ESPN College Gameday, Live from Clemson, S.C., 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

Elon Phoenix at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-46), noon ET, ESPN 3

Villanova Wildcats at Boston College Eagles (-16.5), noon ET, ESPNEWS

Florida International Panthers at Maryland Terrapins (-21), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at NC State Wolfpack (-13.5), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN 3/College Gameplan

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Syracuse Orange (+8), 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN 2

BYU Cougars at Virginia Cavaliers (+1), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (-33), 4 p.m. ET, ESPN 3

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (+19.5), 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Georgia Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (+2), 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Sunday, September 1

Ohio Bobcats at Louisville Cardinals (-20.5), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Monday, September 2

Florida State Seminoles at Pittsburgh Panthers (+10), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Ranking the Best ACC Football Matchups of 2013: #112-101

The ACC Plays a Competitive Non-Conference Slate This Season, But Not Every Opponent's So Tough

The ACC Plays a Competitive Non-Conference Slate in 2013, But Not Every Opponent’s So Tough

As most noticed yesterday, the 2013 ACC football schedule has officially been released, meaning we finally have some clarity as to whom the conference’s 14 teams will face-off with from week-to-week next season. So with that in mind, we thought it would be an entertaining undertaking to rank all 112 ACC football games for 2013 because, well… it’s the offseason.

So to start us off, we have numbers 112 through 101; the worst of the entire schedule. Upset to see your team appear in this section? Don’t be. Every team in the ACC scheduled at least one FCS school this season, so each one is bound to have at least one completely uncompetitive matchup.

#112: Wagner Seahawks at Syracuse Orange (Saturday, September 14)

#111: N.C. Central Eagles at Duke Blue Devils (Saturday, August 31)

#110: South Carolina State Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (Saturday, September 7)

#109: Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, November 23)

#108: VMI Keydets at Virginia Cavaliers (Saturday, September 21)

#107: Presbyterian Blue Hose at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Saturday, August 31)

#106: The Citadel Bulldogs at Clemson Tigers (Saturday, November 23)

#105: Savannah State Tigers at Miami Hurricanes (Saturday, September 21)

#104: Western Carolina Catamounts at Virginia Tech Hokies (Saturday, September 7)

#103: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Florida State Seminoles (Saturday, September 21)

#102: Elon Phoenix at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Saturday, August 31)

#101: Old Dominion Monarchs at North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday, November 23)

Some additional notes on today’s list:

  • All 12 opponents are visiting teams, and all 14 come from FCS conferences
  • All 12 games appear on one of five different dates
  • Breakdown of opponent conferences: MEAC (4), Southern (4), Big South (1), FCS Independent (1), Patriot (1), SWAC (1)
  • Breakdown of opponent home states: North Carolina (3), South Carolina (3), Virginia (2), Alabama (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), New York (1)
  • Public vs. private universities: Eight public, four private

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: North Carolina Tar Heels

In Its First Year Under Larry Fedora, North Carolina's Offense Exploded to New Heights

In Its First Year Under Larry Fedora, North Carolina’s Offense Exploded to New Heights

Team: North Carolina Tar Heels

W-L: 8-4 (5-3)

Postseason: N/A

Top Offensive Performer: Giovani Bernard, RB

Top Defensive Performer: Kevin Reddick, LB

After a very encouraging 2011 season, 2012 was supposed to be the year that UNC put it all together and finally won the Coastal division. And technically, they did. But due to a postseason ban, the school was not allowed to play for the ACC title, nor win the Coastal division. When looking at head coach Larry Fedora’s first year on the job though, it’s tough to argue that the Heels’ season was anything but a success — and another step toward the team’s goal of playing for a league championship.

When Fedora showed up at Chapel Hill, there appeared to be trepidation surrounding his spread offense. Quarterback Bryn Renner had always played in a pro-style attack, while running back Giovani Bernard was unsure how he’d continue to play a key role for an offense that appeared to be moving away from the running game. As evidenced by the team’s 14th-ranked offense this year, everything actually turned out just fine. Renner was a natural for the spread, and grew my leaps and bounds in comparison to his sophomore campaign. While attempting 72 more passes than 2011 (in one less game), the now-junior only saw a slight dip in accuracy, while throwing for more TDs (28 versus 26) with less sacks and interceptions. And Bernard actually thrived as both part of the passing game, and as a result of its importance in the offense. As a receiving option out of the backfield, Bernard caught 47 passes for 490 yards and five scores (in just 10 games). Plus, because of the spread’s emphasis on the passing game, the slashing sophomore back also saw more holes between the tackles as defenses feared Renner throwing the ball. The result? A campaign that should’ve gotten more Heisman buzz, as Bernard racked up another 1,228 yards on the ground with 12 TDs — again, in 10 games and on 55 less carries compared to last season. Not to be completely outdone, backup (and 2013 starter) A.J. Blue even got in on the act, rushing his way to 433 yards and nine scores on top of that. Overall, the UNC offense averaged 92 yards per game more than they did last year; a phenomenal jump in just one season.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Two

If Clemson’s Andre Ellington Continues Running the Way He Did on Saturday, the Tigers Could Win the ACC Once Again

After months of arbitrary offseason shuffling, we finally have some actual games to base these rankings off of. All 14 ACC squads were in action 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 (LW: 1): The Seminoles did a commendable job pummeling Murray State on Saturday. And that defense — just as impressive as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, however, the big win came with a steep price. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins injured his foot, and is now out for the remainder of the season. We won’t know how much the loss affects FSU this week, but once the real slate starts, it’ll be all too apparent.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Everything about Saturday’s win over Auburn was exceptional. Andre Ellington‘s ground game. Tajh Boyd‘s ability to make plays work through the air and on the ground. The offensive line’s maturity right in front of our eyes. And of course, the defense quickly showing they’d learned a thing or two from new coordinator Brent Venables.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 6): Everyone worried about how Giovani Bernard would fit into Larry Fedora’s offense. After the 62-0 drubbing they handed Elon, I think he’ll fit in just fine. Three TDs on just 12 touches will do that sort of thing. Obviously there’s more difficult opponents out there, but the big win appears to be an appetizer for what’s in store for this offense.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): Another slow start for the Hokies, though this year, they manage to win the opener. If Virginia Tech gave the game ball to anyone on Monday night, it should’ve been handed right over to their opponent’s QB. Aside from their late drive for the game-tying field goal, the offense appeared listless and the O-line issues are real.

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