ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 8: Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

Syracuse Orange QB Terrel Hunt is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 8

Syracuse Orange Quarterback Terrel Hunt is the ACC Goat of the Week for Week 8

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 8: Terrel Hunt, QB/Syracuse

After a hot start to the Terrel Hunt era, things have taken a turn for the worst for Syracuse as their quarterback of choice is struggling mightily. Since ACC play started, the redshirt sophomore has completed just 25 of 58 passes for 194 yards and six interceptions. Prior to Saturday’s massacre against Georgia Tech he’d been running the ball very well, but that’s now ground to a halt as well. His struggles, minimized when the team’s defense is playing well, has now hit a breaking point and SU is now searching for answers. He’s the obvious answer this season based on the rest of the roster, but is he a long-term solution? Under Hunt and offensive coordinator George McDonald, the passing game’s absolutely collapsed. It doesn’t help that the defense was ill-prepared for Tech’s triple-option either, but scoring zero points in a contest is simply unacceptable. After a mildly promising 3-3 start, the Orange and Hunt have a lot to work out during this coming bye week.

Honorable Mention:

Stephen Morris, QB/Miami (19/35 passing, 322 passing yards, 0 TD, 4 INT)

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (17/37 passing, 164 total yards, 1 TD, 2 INT)

Syracuse Orange rushing defense (allowed 394 rushing yards, 7 rushing TD)

Clemson Tigers passing defense (allowed 444 passing yards, 4 TD)

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ACC Football 2013 Week 1 Lessons: Florida State QB Jameis Winston is the Real Deal

Florida State's Jameis Winston Burst Into the National Conversation After Last Night's Pitt Win

Florida State’s Jameis Winston Burst Into the National Conversation After Last Night’s Pitt Win

Each Monday morning (except when there’s a national holiday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 1 of the ACC football season:

1. Jameis Winston Has Arrived: There was plenty to like about Florida State‘s true freshman quarterback prior to the season, but many believed it would take a few games for him to get settled as the team’s starting passer. Not at all the case. On national television last night, Winston was nearly perfect in all aspects of the game. His 25-for-27 passing effort for 357 yards and four scores (plus a rushing touchdown) single-handedly guided Florida State to the victory over Pittsburgh and immediately surrounds the ‘Noles with plenty of buzz. If you didn’t buy the hype before, it’s time to get on board.

2. Clemson is Ready for the National Spotlight: Winston wasn’t the only buzz-worthy ACC player, either. Clemson and quarterback Tajh Boyd proved that Monday night in beating no. 5 Georgia, 38-35. Boyd’s own five-touchdown performance was the bulk of the Tigers’ offense as the team managed to meet the call of critics claiming they were held in too high regard in preseason. The win over UGA marked the second straight win over a top-10 SEC opponent for Clemson too — the first team to ever accomplish such a feat.

3. Virginia Tech‘s offensive struggles remain: Forget the fact that it was Alabama. The Hokies still couldn’t move the ball at all, which was a serious problem last season and appear to be one again in 2013. In a game in which the Tide only managed 206 yards against a staunch Tech defense, the ingredients were obviously there for an upset. But by pulling off just 212 yards themselves, some of which was Logan Thomas‘s 59 yards passing and one interception, Virginia Tech cut themselves off at the knee in this one.

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Syracuse Orange

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Running Game Hope to Guide the Orange Back to the Postseason

Jerome Smith and the Syracuse Running Game Hope to Guide the Orange Back to the Postseason

Team: Syracuse Orange

2012 W-L: 8-5 (5-2 in Big East)

Head Coach: Scott Shafer (0-0; first season)

Returning Starters: 12 (6 Offense, 6 Defense)

After pulling his alma mater out from college football exile (more or less), former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone headed off to “greener” pastures this offseason: Buffalo, to coach the NFL’s Bills. While some might argue that he wasn’t exactly done with the job — after all, this was a program that just a decade or so ago was finishing in the top 15-20 every year — you can’t say he didn’t leave the program in infinitely better shape than how he inherited it. Most important in that is the Orange’s move to the ACC, and now without Marrone, they’ve got quite the challenge ahead of them. There’s faith that new coach Scott Shafer should keep the team on an upward trajectory, but it won’t be easy to keep the small private school from Upstate New York climbing.

All the concern — for this season, anyway — starts off with the changes on offense. QB Ryan Nassib is gone after a superb senior campaign, and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett (the architect of last year’s attack) followed Marrone to Buffalo. Last year’s top two receivers are gone too, as are standout linemen Justin Pugh and Zach Chibane. So needless to say, there’s plenty of rebuilding to be done. To replace Nassib, the team is still deciding between Terrel Hunt and Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen, both of whom look ready for the job (though my money’s on Allen) and a nice change of pace from the former SU record-breaker. Hunt, a junior, is a dual-threat, while Allen is a more polished pro-style passer, and it’s likely both will see plenty of playing time this year. As far as who’s catching passes, it’s Jarrod West and tight end Beckett Wales, most importantly, with a lot of unproven alternatives along with them. The line has more experience than most realize — Sean Hickey and Macky MacPherson have both seen plenty of playing time — and despite the losses, I think this group actually holds up compared to last season. Finally, George McDonald takes over the offense, and admittedly, we don’t really know what we’re getting there.

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #10, Jerome Smith

Syracuse’s Jerome Smith is #10 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Syracuse’s Jerome Smith is #10 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. 10, Jerome Smith, RB/Syracuse (Last Season: NR)

Halfway through last season, Syracuse and its pass-happy offense was 2-4 and struggling to move the ball. The running game had grown stale — though without getting a ton of carries, it was hard for the backs to actually get in the rhythm of the game. Things would change course mid-year though, as a balanced attack led SU to a 6-1 record the rest of the way. And while he wasn’t the only ball-carrier (far from it), starter Jerome Smith was at the center of it all. After amassing just 355 yards over the first six games, he had 816 over the final seven, proving himself to be a primary back, fully capable of carrying the load for this offense. He also racked up the Orange’s fifth straight 1,000-yard rushing season, entering him into an already elite fraternity and knocking on the door for much more in the team’s history books.

With much of last year’s passing game gone, the Syracuse attack will be taking on a very different look this season (or so it’s thought), likely running the ball at a much higher rate. Smith is the catalyst behind that strategy, as the 6’0″ 217-pound back mixes between-the-tackles running with home run abilities to keep defenses on their feet. Mixed with Prince-Tyson Gulley, who’s quicker and runs along the edge, you’ve got a perfect mixture of “thunder and lightning” the likes of which are difficult to fully prepare for. The two-back system already has folks excited this year — primarily offensive coordinator George McDonald, who’s regularly gushed to the media about the backfield’s abilities multiple times.

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ACC Football Chat: Discussing Non-Conference Rivals and the Evolving Recruiting Landscape

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Rivalry Past 2013

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Gridiron Rivalry Past 2013

Earlier in the week, our own Hokie Mark started up a conversation surrounding three- and four-way rivalries over on SB Nation’s Every Day Should Be Saturday. The basics: there are several three-way rivalries being played out this season, and some of them are going away for a long time after that. Some due to disinterest, others due to scheduling. But what Mark was getting at was the unique setup for three- and four-way rivalries, and which are some of the most- and least-heralded in the country.

Of course, this turned into a jumping-off point for an email conversation between he and I, which I’ve compiled below for everyone. While the main topic focused on non-conference rivals, we also branched out into what’s become an increasingly year-round discussion for everyone: recruiting. Check it out:

Mark: Hello again, John! Only 100 days until the football season begins — a very special one for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to be sure. For the Orange, the season essentially begins and ends with old rivals: Penn State and Boston College. How do you feel about renewing those rivalries, and are there other rivalries for ‘Cuse that you’d like to see reawakened?

John: I’m about as excited as you can get, considering we’re still about 100 days out. Rekindling the rivalry with Boston College has been one of my favorite aspects of the ACC move, since it easily addresses our crisis of football identity (though much of the media doesn’t think so). Penn State, while arguably our oldest and most storied rival, hasn’t filled that role in over 20 years. It’s nice to play them when we can, but I think most fans have kind of moved on from the Nittany Lions — especially those of us who aren’t old enough to remember when SU and PSU were rivals to begin with.

As far as other rivalries worth rekindling, only two come to mind, and one’s not necessarily a “rivalry” at all. West Virginia‘s always been among our most-hated opponents, and with Syracuse beating the Mountaineers the last three times out (including last December’s Pinstripe Bowl), it’s only created a more hostile tension between the two fan bases. I was at the game in December, and ‘Neers fans were not what you would call “friendly” toward the Orange contingent, by any means. The other aforementioned opponent was Virginia Tech. While never traditionally considered one of Syracuse’s rivals, the Hokies and SU played plenty of heated games toward the latter years of the original Big East football conference that are worth rehashing. Of course, the ACC’s divisional setup won’t do much to help us play Tech more often, so that one’s also kind of off the table.

What about you, from a VaTech perspective? Any rivalries you’d like to start back up — feasible or not? Have any ill will left toward Syracuse from the Big East days?

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Way-Too-Early 2013 ACC Football Power Rankings (May 6)

Do Vic Beasley and the Clemson D Decide Whether or Not the Tigers Contend for a Title?

Will Vic Beasley & the Clemson D Decide Whether or Not the Tigers Contend for a Title?

As SB Nation so aptly pointed out today, we are halfway through college football’s offseason; which means that as of right now, it’s just 115 days ’till kickoff, one of the most magical days on the sporting calendar. For the ACC, hope springs eternal at the moment, with at least one real national title contender and a collection of up-and-comers looking to crack the polls, too. Obviously, it’s all speculation, but what else do we have to get us through the next few months?

1. Clemson Tigers (Last: 1): We’ll know all we need to about Clemson after the first game against Georgia — a matchup that’s likely to pit two top-10 teams against one another in a national showcase. The Tigers offense will be fine, but were the glimmers of hope the defense provided come the end of 2012 a flash in the pan, or an indication of better things to come? I’m tempted to think the latter, actually.

2. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 2): The Cardinals’ schedule is a joke consisting of the depleted Big East American Athletic Conference, so running through it with 11 or 12 wins should not be a problem at all. What observers will find truly intriguing about Louisville this year will mostly revolve around whether voters will give the Cards enough credit in the national title conversation, and/or how much Heisman hype Teddy Bridgewater can amass.

3. Florida State Seminoles (Last: 3): New starting quarterback Jameis Winston appears to be the real deal, but we won’t know the extent of the young passer’s growing pains until the real games begin. Though the ‘Noles lost plenty to the draft (11 players in all), the last few recruiting classes still leave plenty of talent to keep this team hovering among the top 15-20, nationally.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last: 5): On paper, the Heels lost quite a bit with the departures of Giovani Bernard and Jonathan Cooper, but that discounts the extent of the offense’s evolution under coach Larry Fedora much too heavily. As a senior, QB Bryn Renner‘s poised for his best year yet, and after a strong part-time campaign last year, running back A.J. Blue could be one of the conference’s biggest surprises.

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National Signing Day 2013: ACC Team Recruiting Rankings

Matthew Thomas and Florida State Are the Class of the ACC's 2013 Recruiting Classes

Matthew Thomas and Florida State Are the Class of the ACC’s 2013 Recruiting Classes

Earlier today, we covered the ACC‘s top 15 recruits from National Signing Day. Now, we take a closer look at each team’s haul and how it stacks up against their conferencemates (plus Louisville), while also highlighting each school’s top recruit. Once again, we’ll be using ESPN’s rankings for consistency’s sake. Please don’t take that as us putting too much stock in these (or any) numbers, however.

1. Florida State Seminoles (22 commitments, 12 in ESPN300): FSU underwent a bit of a crisis a few weeks back, losing offensive coordinator James Coley to rival Miami, and possibly a ton of their recruits in the process. And yet, the collateral damage didn’t turn out all that bad. The ‘Noles still pulled down a boatload of top recruits from all across the south (especially Florida), filling most needs on both sides of the ball. This team will be forced to reload a bit in 2013, and this class helps them do that — most notably at linebacker, with five commits at the position. Top Recruit: Matthew Thomas, OLB (No. 6 overall, Grade: 90)

2. Clemson Tigers (23 commitments, 10 in ESPN300): Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney continued his recruiting hot streak, scoring another strong class packed with athletic defenders as he and D-coordinator Brent Venables fix this squad’s biggest weakness. While he wasn’t the most heralded member of the star-studded class, New York DE Ebenezer Ogundeko could end up being the hidden gem here, though he’ll need to bulk up a bit for the college game. Top Recruit: Mackensie Alexander, CB (No. 4 overall, Grade: 91)

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (22 commitments, 4 in ESPN300): Tech took advantage of a strong 2013 class coming out of Virginia, nabbing 14 in-state recruits. Overall, the group appears heavy on defense, which stays in line with what Frank Beamer’s staff has done consistently over the past two decades. Granted, that won’t help the team’s current offensive woes, but given some defensive issues this past season, bolstering that side can’t be a bad thing. Top Recruit: Kendall Fuller, CB (No. 18 overall, Grade: 88)

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