ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 7: Anthony Boone, Duke

Duke Blue Devils' Quarterback Anthony Boone is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 7

Duke Blue Devils’ Quarterback Anthony Boone is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 7

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 7: Anthony Boone, QB/Duke

Since Boone exited the lineup with an injury in week two, Duke has not lacked for offensive production, though the team’s play has also been littered with mistakes — most notably turnovers. It’s not to take away from the job Brandon Connette did filling in, but rather to point out the fact that Boone had been named the starter months ago for a reason. In his first game back, the junior was accurate, composed and mistake-free, guiding the Blue Devils’ offense to a grand total of 435 yards and 35 points. Not only was he able to play a very smart game against a feisty Navy team, but he also moved away from over-reliance on Jamison Crowder as his primary receiver. While he certainly get the ball to the star ball-catcher, Boone was able to spread it around on 31 completions and run a much more fluid offense. If there was any doubt as to who’d be captaining this ship, the questions are over. Boone is back in charge and eying another bowl bid.

Honorable Mention:

Vic Beasley, DE/Clemson (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD)

Prince-Tyson Gulley, RB/Syracuse (9 carries, 132 rushing yards, 1 TD)

Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (30/44 passing, 367 total yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)

Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech (19/34 passing, 276 total yards, 1 TD, 0 INT)

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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.

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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)

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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 Football 2013 Season Preview: Duke Blue Devils

Duke's Now Established They Can Make the Postseason; But Can They Stay There?

Duke’s Now Established They Can Make the Postseason; But Can They Get Back There?

Team: Duke Blue Devils

2012 W-L: 6-7 (3-5)

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe (21-40; sixth season)

Returning Starters: 11 (6 Offense, 5 Defense)

The monkey’s off their back, so to speak. Finally, after 18 seasons, the Duke Blue Devils returned to the postseason. And they could’ve had a winning season too, if not for some poor luck at the end of the Belk Bowl. But now the real work begins. It’s not all that difficult to win six games at the FBS level if you know how to schedule correctly. Doing so consistently, however, is the bigger challenge. David Cutcliffe has done a great job managing one of the toughest BCS jobs there is, and now he’s tasked with continuing that trend.

Of course, it would be easier to do so if he still had a couple of his program’s most important players: QB Sean Renfree and the ACC’s all-time leading receiver, Conner Vernon. Both graduated after last year, which means all new blood on the offensive end for a team that’s actually become quite proficient at picking up yardage through the air, finishing 31st in the country with over 289 yards per game. And surprisingly, that may not be a bad thing. In limited action last year, newly-minted starter Anthony Boone threw for 531 yards and five scores on 95 attempts, while adding two rushing touchdowns as well. While Renfree may have had the stronger arm of the two last year, Boone’s much more mobile and just may be able to take a bit more punishment than his predecessor could. Given the offensive line’s overall lack of size, it’s an essential trait for any Duke quarterback, but especially Boone, who’s just 6’0″.

At the skill positions, Boone will have additional help, but one less elite target to go to. Jamison Crowder nearly matched Vernon’s productivity last year, so there’s little concern about what he can do in the open field. But beyond him, there’s uncertainty. Isaac Blakeney and David Reeves both showed some glimmers of big-play ability last year, and will now have to step into much more prominent roles with Vernon and Desmond Scott now departed. Even if the passing game picks up where it left off though, there’s still the question of the running game. Last year’s was among the worst in the country, ranking 100th overall while completely vanishing from view for weeks on end. And yet, everybody’s back. So can we expect improvement? I actually think so. Jela Duncan, Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson failed to receive enough carries to truly establish success last year. That’s likely to change with a more green quarterback at the helm, especially one who’s more prone to carry the football himself. They won’t be stars, but there’s no reason to believe Duke can’t figure out a way to move the ball more effectively than last year’s effort. Even if it’s just by adding 5-10 carries per game.

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #35, Rashad Greene

Florida State’s Jamison Crowder is #35 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Florida State’s Rashad Greene is #35 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

We’re less than 40 days 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. 35, Rashad Greene, WR/Florida State (Last Season: NR)

For Florida State, last year’s weak schedule actually hindered quite a bit of production from their core offensive players. Between that and Jimbo Fisher’s overly conservative play-calling, potential stars like Rashad Greene found themselves putting up much lesser numbers than they were capable of — a large source of complaint for FSU fans throughout the fall. But that shouldn’t be the case this season. With a well-spaced schedule of competitive matchups, you won’t see the Seminoles starters sitting on the bench nearly as much, meaning big days from the entire offense.

Despite the limited playing time and emphasis on the run last season, Greene did still manage to put in an impressive effort as a sophomore. His 57 catches led the team, as did his 741 receiving yards and six scores. And he has an ability to get involved in the running game too, as he showed while scoring a rushing touchdown against USF. It’s Greene’s speed (4.47 40-yard dash time) that truly allows him to be everywhere on the field, and let him excel in 2012. Now, he’ll be counting on Fisher to let this offense turn him loose. The evidence is clear that he can be an enormous asset (see the USF or Virginia Tech victories in particular), but can he deliver those types of game-changing performances every single Saturday?

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #36, Jamison Crowder

Duke’s Conner Vernon is #36 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Duke’s Jamison Crowder is #36 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

We’re less than 40 days 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. 36, Jamison Crowder, WR/Duke (Last Season: NR)

Former top receiver Conner Vernon was the star of the Duke offense, and rightfully so. But in focusing on the ACC’s all-time leading receiver last season, you end up forgetting about Crowder, who’s a force in his own right. Just a sophomore in 2012, Crowder racked up 1,074 yards on 76 catches, along with eight touchdowns. And he even got to play hero for a few seconds too, catching the game-winning score against North Carolina that secured the Blue Devils’ bowl eligibility. That was all well and good — obviously he was happy to pay his dues and win six games… those are all positives. But now, Crowder has a real opportunity to become one of the ACC’s best receivers in his own right.

As the top receiving option on Duke now, it’ll be interesting to see how Crowder responds to the added spotlight and responsibility that comes with that. It’s not outlandish to say his breakout season in 2012 was greatly assisted by another top option (Vernon) lining up on the opposite side of the field. So what happens now that he’s the primary receiver? And in the same vein, how does he help along the development of new quarterback Anthony Boone? His 4.6-second 40-yard dash time will pay big dividends, but his lack of size (5’9″ and 175 pounds) allows some doubts to creep in. As one of the smaller players on the field in most situations, Crowder has mismatches to worry about all over the field, from linebackers that outweigh him by 70 or 80 pounds, to even defensive backs who’ve got four or five inches on him.

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