ACC Football 2013 Previews & Predictions: Week 9

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday -- Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

Miami Breathed a Sigh of Relief on Tuesday — Will it Help Them Avoid Trap v. Wake?

A week after Florida State asserted itself as the ACC‘s top dog, we get a bunch of games that won’t really help us determine the pecking order beyond the ‘Noles. Despite being nearly halfway through conference play, this weekend feels like a bit of a lull — though still, plenty of chances for surprising (but hopefully not to surprising) results. 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

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3) (2-2) at Miami Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0): A matchup with a 23-point spread being the featured game of the week? #goacc… But honestly, that line’s a bit overblown and it’s not as if the ‘Canes have much of a home-field advantage anyway. Miami also struggled to get by a hapless North Carolina team last Thursday, while Wake Forest is suddenly coming on strong offensively, scoring 62 points over the past two weeks (strong for them, obviously). If Tanner Price can move the ball well on the ground, it should help set up the Deacs’ passing game for more success, though Miami’s offense might be too much for them. Whether it’s Duke Johnson or Dallas Crawford carrying the load, expect the Hurricanes to try and test Wake’s strong running defense all afternoon. Miami is likely to win this one — just not by as much as Vegas might think. Prediction: Miami 31, Wake 24

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

Louisville Cardinals (6-1) at USF Bulls (2-4): Louisville’s coming off a tough loss last Friday that killed off any national title hopes. USF’s riding a surprising two-game winning streak and actually holds a share of first in the American Athletic Conference right now. While the Bulls have played better of late, it’s unlikely that’ll be enough against a team out for a bit of redemption this week. USF is still a struggling offense that only puts up 16 points per game, and to be honest, UConn‘s the first offense they’ve really stopped all year. Teddy Bridgewater should make short work of the secondary and get the Cards back on track. Prediction: Louisville 41, USF 13

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-3) (2-2) at Virginia Cavaliers (2-5) (0-3): It’s unlikely Georgia Tech will be able to replicate last week’s 56-point output, though if there was an opponent that could happen against, I guess it would be UVa. The Hoos have been a mess all season, with an offense that can’t score (less than 18 points per game vs. FBS competition) and a defense that simply gets abused in second halves. Maybe Mike London coming under fire serves as motivation for Virginia? There’s a chance of it, though this really is a lopsided matchup of two teams going in opposite directions. Prediction: Georgia Tech 38, Virginia 20

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ACC Football 2013 Power Rankings: Week 9

After Saturday's Stunning Win Over Clemson, There's No Question FSU's On Top in the ACC

After Saturday’s Stunning Win Over Clemson, There’s No Question FSU’s On Top in the ACC

Plenty left to digest in the ACC after a weekend of national poll carnage. FSU’s obviously the king of the hill after massacring Clemson, but every other spot appears up for grabs. With the season more than halfway over, the conference appears to be angling for two BCS bids (hopefully), adding some extra intrigue to the top four or so spots as well. 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 9)

1. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) (4-0) (Last: 2): So much terror. The Seminoles undressed Clemson in a way I’m unsure any of us ACC fans saw coming, and as a result, they sit atop this subjective pile of teams for the foreseeable future. Jameis Winston has asserted himself as the ACC’s best quarterback, leader and player, and is now the nationally-relevant personality the conference has needed for some time. So is FSU “back” for all intents and purposes? We’ve been here before, but it feels very different this time. I’d take this FSU squad over just about any other team in the country right now.

2. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (4-1) (Last: 1): Bear with me here. Yes, the Tigers were demolished. Yes, they proved their doubters correct, derailed their national title hopes and murdered Tajh Boyd‘s chances at winning a Heisman, too. But one surprising blowout can’t just eliminate all the good that’s come from this season, can it? Clemson’s defense is much-improved (especially in the pass-rush) and the offense is still top-notch. When comparing them to Miami, I’d take the Tigers despite last week, and that on its own elevates them over the ‘Canes for the time being.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (6-0) (2-0) (Last: 3): That Thursday night game was horrendous, and yet Miami still managed to pull it out. Stephen Morris was about as flawed as you’ll find him (threw four INTs) and Duke Johnson was injured early. And yet, this team was able to pull out a very late win on the shoulders of their defense and backup running back Dallas Crawford. Again, not pretty, but the fact that the ‘Canes showed some resiliency against a UNC team looking to save their season is a big step in the right direction.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-1) (3-0) (Last: 5): The bye week gave the Hokies some much-needed rest and the additional reward of moving up further in the national polls. Inside the top 15, Tech is now a legitimate threat to be in the BCS picture, and with just one challenging game remaining (Miami), The key, of course, will be the offense’s consistency. If they can limit turnovers and score around 24 points per game, that should be enough to win with this D.

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ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: Virginia Cavaliers

Can Kevin Parks Help Bail Out a Virginia Team That Lacks Experience in Several Key Areas?

Can Kevin Parks Help Bail Out a Virginia Team That Lacks Experience in Several Key Areas?

Team: Virginia Cavaliers

2012 W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Head Coach: Mike London (16-21; fourth season)

Returning Starters: 13 (6 Offense, 7 Defense)

Virginia’s collected plenty of praise over the last few years for their torrid pace on the recruiting trail. Despite a minimal history of football success, Mike London has been able to attract top-tier talent to Charlottesville since he arrived, and that trend continues this offseason, with another likely top-40 class. But unfortunately, all of these recruiting wins have failed to produce actual wins for the most part. In three years, London has just one winning season (2011 at 8-5) and the current roster is based more on youth than actual proven talent. Should the team post its third losing season in four years, does that mean London’s shown the door, though?

Well, a large part of that can be answered (and prevented) by the offense. Returning four of five starters on the line, the Hoos would appear to be set, though they did lose the unit’s top player from last year in Oday Aboushi. Last season’s group also allowed 25 sacks last season, which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of their viability going forward. And it gets worse, too. Following up on a 2011 season that saw UVa average 162 yards on the ground, last year’s team had just 128 — and with the same two backs functioning as primary rushers. Starter Perry Jones is gone, but Kevin Parks still remains and the team may actually benefit from having a primary ball-carrier. Of the two, Parks was more effective, though at 5’8″ and 200 pounds, he lacks the physical make-up to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the ACC’s truly elite backs. Still, he’ll be expected to carry the entire load, and given the state of the passing game, it may end up being the entire offense.

Both of last year’s quarterbacks — Phillip Sims and Michael Rocco — are gone from the program, leaving the team in the inexperienced hands of David Watford. The sophomore hasn’t thrown a pass since 2011, so right off the bat, there’s some doubt about how quickly he’ll be able to jump in and be effective. Luckily, the Hoos do bring back a nice stable of pass-catchers, who should all help ease the transition into the starting role. Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell both have the promise of true play-making ability, though we’ve yet to really see it from either. Blame it on the fluctuating quarterback position if you want, but at this point, both need to find a way to produce at a higher level. A combined 86 catches won’t cut it to get through this year, and expect Watford to test both early to see who his most reliable target is. He’ll also have rising talent Jake McGee at his disposal at tight end. Hardly just a safety valve, McGee has some big-play ability and could be the team’s top receiver by year’s end.

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ACC Football Recruiting Class of 2014 Rankings Update (June 18)

Clemson's Demarre Kitt is the Best of the ACC's Top Recruits in the Last Month

Clemson Commitment Demarre Kitt is the Best of the ACC’s Top Recruits in the Last Month

The 2013 college football season is still a couple months away, but with the 2014 recruiting season heating up, we’ve actually got things to keep track of. Like always, recruiting rankings mean absolutely nothing, especially when they’re compiled with nine months remaining in the recruiting period and no hard, binding letters signed yet. Still, it’s fun to see where teams stand, and if your school’s doing well, you get to give yourself a badge of pride for an afternoon (or whatever else you might do to get enjoyment out of this).

Below you’ll find a breakdown of ACC recruiting rankings from Rivals, 247Sports and Scout, as well as a breakdown of ACC players currently ranked in the ESPN 300.

ACC Football 2014 Recruiting Rankings (June 18)

Each service compiles rankings with a different scoring system, using the total number of points accumulated per school to decide their rank compared to all other classes. However, this also provides an unfair advantage to larger classes, emphasizing quantity over quality. With that in mind, we also included averages (except with 247, which won’t let us sort by average), to account for high-quality, smaller classes. For school with large classes right now, like Florida State, Boston College and Louisville, the overall rankings are an advantageous figure. But for schools with just a few recruits thus far, like Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Wake Forest, it hurts — which is where the averages come in. Also note that while Scout and Rivals use the standard “stars” system (1-5), 247Sports has an algorithm out of 100 that they explain on their site. Under “composite” below, you’ll find the average ranking score for each school (using both total score and average score), so we can get a much fuller picture on the quality of respective classes using a variety of methods.

TEAM Total Players Scout (pts) Scout (avg) Rivals (pts) Rivals (avg) 247 (pts) Composite
Clemson 11 13 19 (3.25) 9 4 (3.64) 12 11.40
Florida State 15 9 20 (3.2) 8 19 (3.38) 5 12.20
Miami 12 15 26 (3) 12 14 (3.45) 13 16.00
Louisville 15 22 35 (2.93) 15 52 (2.93) 16 28.00
Virginia 7 26 22 (3.14) 30 35 (3) 35 29.60
North Carolina 14 21 37 (2.86) 16 53 (2.93) 21 29.60
Virginia Tech 10 29 51 (2.5) 28 26 (3.25) 26 32.00
Boston College 15 32 54 (2.45) 19 57 (2.87) 24 37.20
NC State 11 46 63 (2.27) 29 54 (2.9) 31 44.60
Duke 11 42 55 (2.45) 31 68 (2.7) 29 45.00
Georgia Tech 9 53 59 (2.33) 32 55 (2.89) 33 46.40
Pittsburgh 2 71 32 (3) 83 46 (3) 80 62.40
Maryland 5 63 64 (2.2) 58 61 (2.8) 69 63.00
Syracuse 4 73 68 (2) 68 43 (3) 75 65.40
Wake Forest 3 79 78 (1.67) 86 79 (2.33) 84 81.20

When checking out the ESPN 300 rankings, you can also see that the majority of the ACC’s top recruits went to the top-ranked schools. A look at the top 10 ACC recruits:

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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Virginia Prospects

Oday Aboushi Took a Step Back Last Season, But Is Still Slated to Be Picked This Weekend

Oday Aboushi Took a Step Back Last Season, But Is Still Slated to Be Picked This Weekend

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Virginia‘s program is loaded with young talent, but lucky for them, most of it is still on-campus. For the few departing Hoos, however, there will be plenty of uncertainty at the pro level. Several players could be drafted this weekend, but where they go is mostly a mystery. As Mike London’s image continues to form for the UVa football team, this draft is giving us the final remnants of Al Groh’s talent pool — with some returns greater than others.

Oday Aboushi, OT, Senior (Projected: Fourth Round)

Aboushi’s strength lies primarily in his size (6’6″ and 308 pounds), which he uses to his advantage against smaller defenders. As far as athleticism, however, scouts have knocked him for not being overly fast (5.45 40-yard dash time) or quick with his hands or feet. As SB Nation’s Streaking the Lawn has also noted, he can find himself a bit outmatched with NFL-caliber talent and struggles with secondary moves from relentless defenders. He’s both a competent pass- and run-blocker, but ideally, his driving ability makes him more of a major asset in the running game. Obviously, the rough year for UVa and its running game didn’t help Aboushi’s stock, though he’s still doing well on many boards around the league due to the aforementioned size as well as his aggressive style.

Steve Greer, ILB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)

Undersized at 6’2″ and 230 pounds, Greer projects as a ‘tweener at the next level — failing to really fit the mold of any one position. He’s not large enough to be a pro linebacker and not fast enough (5.04 40-yard dash) or experienced enough in coverage to transition to the secondary. But that said, he’s still a tenacious defender who’s garnered a reputation as an effective run-stopper with a knack for making solid first contact. Starting out as a special-teamer in camp this summer, he’ll have ample opportunities to make a roster, and eventually work himself into special packages on defense, too.

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Very Early 2013 ACC Football Season W-L Predictions

Can Tajh Boyd and Clemson Live Up to Early Predictions and Win the ACC Championship?

Can Tajh Boyd and Clemson Live Up to Early Predictions and Win the ACC Championship?

With a nod to SB Nation’s Barking Carnival for the basis of this idea, we wanted to take a very early, top-line view of each ACC team’s prospects for 2013 with regard to schedule. What we’ve done to avoid diving into each and every game, however, is limit this look to just in-conference matchups (eight per team), and provide you with the basic info you’ll need on each squad. In particular, how much experience they have at the quarterback position, how long their respective coach has been there, and how many returning starters they have. Obviously, it takes more than just that information to surmise how a team will fare in a given year, but since it’s so early, this should be plenty to get a conversation going. All figures on returning starters are from Phil Steele.

Boston College Eagles: Coach: Steve Addazio (first year); Quarterback: Chase Rettig (fourth year); Returning starters: 14 (seven offense, seven defense); Projected conference W-L: 1-7

Clemson Tigers: Coach: Dabo Swinney (sixth year); Quarterback: Tajh Boyd (third year); Returning starters: 13 (seven offense, six defense); Projected conference W-L: 8-0

Duke Blue Devils: Coach: David Cutcliffe (sixth year); Quarterback: Anthony Boone (first year); Returning starters: 14 (seven offense, seven defense); Projected conference W-L: 2-6

Florida State Seminoles: Coach: Jimbo Fisher (fourth year); Quarterback: TBD; Returning starters: 10 (six offense, four defense); Projected conference W-L: 6-2

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Coach: Paul Johnson (sixth year); Quarterback: Vad Lee (probable; first year); Returning starters: 16 (eight offense, eight defense); Projected conference W-L: 5-3

Maryland Terrapins: Coach: Randy Edsall (third year); Quarterback: C.J. Brown (probable; second year); Returning starters: 12 (seven offense, five defense); Projected conference W-L: 2-6

Miami Hurricanes: Coach: Al Golden (third year); Quarterback: Stephen Morris (second year); Returning starters: 19 (10 offense, nine defense); Projected conference W-L: 7-1

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ACC Football Head Coaching Hot Seats 2013

Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson is One of Several ACC Coaches on Tentative Ground Right Now

Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson is One of Several ACC Coaches on Tentative Ground Right Now

We’re just jumping into spring practice (you can look at every ACC team’s previews here), but for all 14 (15) squads, this is the start of the 2013 season. And for head coaches, this is where the year’s evaluations start; from their players, the school administrations, the fans and the boosters that can easily pull the plug on their position. While some of the ACC‘s head coaches are firmly entrenched where they’re at, there are also plenty that find themselves in precarious situations. Regarding both, we provide a quick evaluation of where all of them stand, new coaches and all.

Completely Safe (5)

Dabo Swinney, Clemson (sixth year): Swinney has brought the Tigers to an extended period of success they haven’t seen in decades, winning the ACC, becoming a perennial top-20 program and taking home a huge victory in the 2012 Chick-fil-a Bowl. The only things left? Consistently beating South Carolina and winning a national championship.

David Cutcliffe, Duke (sixth year): After getting Duke to their first bowl game since 1994, it appears that Cutcliffe can do no wrong in Durham. Of course, now the question begs whether he can keep it up. So long as he can consistently win between five and seven games, Cutcliffe will be just fine at Duke.

Charlie Strong, Louisville (fourth year): Strong had a real opportunity to leave this past offseason, yet chose to stick around at Louisville to finish what he started. While there’s always the threat he could head to the SEC, Strong’s ability to rebuild this program and contend on a national stage (see: Sugar Bowl) have him here long-term if he wants to be.

Larry Fedora, North Carolina (second year): Just a small sample size for Fedora thus far, but in his one season, he’s already brought UNC to a place of far more prominence than they’ve been in a decade. He’ll get several seasons to continue implementing his system, but if trends continue, he’ll be fine in Chapel Hill.

Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh (second year): Another second-year coach, Chryst has seen some results after a season at the helm, but it appears he’s set to grow the program further after (especially after a nice recruiting haul this spring). If they take a step back, questions may start, but he’s got plenty of runway to work with.

Fine for Now (4)

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (fourth year): Expectations are always high at FSU, so it’s no surprise Fisher sits here, despite winning 12 games and an ACC title last year. Now, of course, it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up year-to-year. If Fisher can’t contend more than every few seasons, patience will grow short very quickly around Florida State.

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