ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Five

Florida State’s EJ Manuel Led the Seminoles’ Late Charge Past Clemson on Saturday, Cementing Their Place Atop These Rankings

This weekend was a big one for the ACC, despite the fact that not all of its teams were in action. With all eyes on Tallahassee to still if Florida State could deliver on the weighty expectations bestowed upon them this season, the ‘Noles did not disappoint. After a big FSU victory, the conference now has a legitimate title contender and potential Heisman winner — something it hasn’t seen in a decade. Expect great things this season.

1. Florida State Seminoles (4-0) (LW: 1): About midway through the first half of Saturday’s game, I was wondering if Florida State would disappoint once again, as they were struggling to really stop the Clemson offense, and could not necessarily break through with their own attack either. But then the second half happened, and we all witnessed an impressive onslaught the likes of which may be a recurring theme for the Seminoles. This team is a bona fide national championship contender, and EJ Manuel could very well be setting up for a surprise Heisman run.

2. Clemson Tigers (3-1) (LW: 2): The Tigers fought valiantly, though in the end, there were just too many weapons on the Seminoles offense, and not enough answers from the Clemson D. Sure, the loss may sting now, but based on Tajh Boyd‘s players-only meeting on Monday, it already looks like they’re focused and ready to continue what should be a very successful campaign. As has been the case these past two years, only the defense can truly hold them back.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1) (LW: 4): Needing a big rebound win, the Hokies shut out Bowling Green on Saturday, and appear to be back in control of their season. Unfortunately, however, their offense is still only marginal at best. Even against an inferior team, VPI still managed just 150 yards in the air, and committed nine penalties. If not for Logan Thomas remembering how to run the football, the unit would have been stagnant all day. They just can’t rely on him to do absolutely everything.

4. NC State Wolfpack (3-1) (LW: 5): For all the talk of their “disappointing” start, the Wolfpack are still 3-1, and very much alive in the ACC title race. With the team’s defense seemingly coming on as of late, and their offense establishing an unexpected degree of balance between run and pass, State could actually recapture its darkhorse role and make a midseason run.

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ACC Football Goat of the Week, Week 2: Mike Glennon, NC State

After Another Poor Outing — This Time Against UConn — NC State QB Mike Glennon is This Week’s Goat

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 2: Mike Glennon, QB/NC State

A member of the Woflpack occupies this spot for a second straight week. And while the team did manage to pull off a win against Connecticut on Saturday, it was accomplished without any credit due to its offense. For the second straight week, they struggled to get things going in the rushing or passing game, with the onus falling squarely on their senior leader and QB, Glennon. His meager 15-for-30 performance, which netted just 204 yards and a touchdown, were among the worst numbers he’s put up since taking over as the starter last season. No, he’s not the only reason NC State has underperformed through two games. But if they hope to get themselves out of whatever slide they’re in, it’ll have to be with Glennon guiding the way and putting up points.

Honorable Mention:

Miami Hurricanes defensive line (allowed 288 yards rushing, en route to 52 points against)

Duke offensive line (allowed two sacks, but team rushed for just 27 yards, QBs under pressure all night)

Kevin Parks/Perry Jones, RB/Virginia (17 attempts, 40 yards total, 0 TD)

Josh Harris, RB/Wake Forest (21 attempts, 40 yards, 1 TD)

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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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ACC Football Preseason Power Rankings 2012

Kyle Fuller and the Virginia Tech Defense Are a Large Part of the Team’s High Ranking Coming Into 2012

Just days before kickoff, we’ve compiled our final offseason power rankings before the new ACC football season begins. Starting after week one (this weekend), these will go back to their typical, weekly format. Read the full rankings below, and enjoy the season!

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Florida State’s hype has gone through the roof as we’ve gotten closer to the season. On top of the typical talk of an ACC title, notable pundits have also pegged them as a true national title contender (and perhaps, winner, too). In the end, it’ll all come down to EJ Manuel‘s readiness to take them to the next level. It’s obvious the defense is fully capable already, despite the loss of Greg Reid (not as vital as some would have you think).

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Things won’t be easy without game-changing receiver Sammy Watkins during the first two games of the season. But there’s still plenty of firepower in this offense, even in his absence. We know they can score. But unfortunately, we’re still unsure whether or not this defense can stop anyone. Week one versus Auburn will be a tough test early on.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): As always, the Virginia Tech defense (led by Kyle Fuller) is on board. Now, we’ll have to see just how well this revamped Hokies offensive line holds up. If Logan Thomas can get some time to throw — instead of being relegated to scrambling too often — they’ll be just fine.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5): Manageable schedule, veteran group; the whole thing seems to lead to a big year for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The key, as mentioned far too many times before, is Tevin Washington‘s ability to throw the ball. If he’s made strides, and the passing game at least appears to be a threat to the defense, the triple-option becomes that much more dangerous.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

After a Disappointing Second Half of 2011, Wake Forest Looks to Rebound While Also Replacing Their Top Passing Target

Team: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

2011 W-L: 6-7 (5-3)

Head Coach: Jim Grobe (68-67; 12th season)

Returning Starters: 11 (4 Offense, 7 Defense)

Little was expected of Wake Forest in 2011, yet they managed to start off 4-1, including a big (customary) upset of Florida State early on. And if it weren’t for a late field goal by Clemson in November, we would have seen that Demon Deacons team play for the ACC championship. Seriously. So while the 6-7 record appears paltry and non-descript, trust us, a lot went on down in Winston-Salem last season. Despite the fact that they lost two of their three best players from last year’s team, there’s a good chance Jim Grobe’s squad still has some magic left for this season, too.

Through five games last year, the Wake offense was a delight to watch. The Tanner Price-to-Chris Givens connection was running on all cylinders, and averaging well over 30 points per game, racking up three big league wins in the process. And yet, it all seemed to fall apart after running back Josh Harris‘s injury against the Seminoles. While replacement Brandon Pendergrass was serviceable enough and continued to move the team’s ground game along, he didn’t scare defenses all that much. With defenders more focused in on the pass, Price now had less lanes to throw into, and less time to get rid of the ball. Still, he threw for 60-percent accuracy and 20 touchdown passes, along with over 3,000 yards and zero picks. In his 13 games as a starter last year, Price threw for 200 yards in nine of them, and over 250 in six. Accurate and methodical, he was the picture of poise for a team that needed a leader on the field.

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ACC Football 2012 Payback Games: Florida State Seminoles

Will Florida State’s Defense Prevent Wake’s Josh Harris From Running Away From Them in 2012?

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: Florida State Seminoles

Opponent: Wake Forest

Last Year: Loss, 35-30 at Wake Forest

This Year: September 15, vs. Wake Forest

As much as last year’s defeat at Wake hurt, dropping the ‘Noles to 0-2 in the ACC, this rematch is more about retribution for the past six seasons. Since 2006, Florida State has lost four of six to the “inferior” Demon Deacons, including three straight from 2006 through 2008. Of all the disappointing performances FSU critics point to, this string of futility against Wake Forest usually tops on the list – and with good reason, given how quick State fans are to dismiss the Deacs.  Continue reading

ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest's Josh Harris Gets a Chance to Play a Much Larger Role in the Offense As It Aims for Balance This Year

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

With ample weapons at their disposal last year, the 2011 Wake Forest offense took advantage by employing an explosive passing attack that ranked among the country’s top 40. It was easy, what with hotshot sophomore QB Tanner Price connecting with star wideout Chris Givens all day. Unfortunately, this spring will be all about trying to replicate that same success — which began to peter out come the season’s second half — but with completely different personnel. The Demon Deacons return just five starters on the offensive side of the ball, and must not only replace Givens, but all but one spot on the offensive line. Granted, Wake’s run game finished a putrid 99th nationally in 2011 and Price was sacked the second-most times in the league, so maybe it’s a good thing. Nevertheless, with an inexperienced line to develop this spring, it may gloss over the progress of rising-junior running back Josh Harris. Harris has shown he’s effective as a reserve back, but now, with the show all to himself, there’s concern in the Deacs’ camp. Most importantly, with limited assistance from the line and run-game, Price must work on his quick release and which receivers he can rely upon to make the necessary grabs as pressure bears down. Last year’s second-leading receiver Michael Campanaro looks to be the best candidate, however rising seniors Tommy Bohanan and Terence Davis should have ample opportunities to prove themselves this spring as well. Continue reading