ACC Football Player of the Week, Week 2: Andre Williams, Boston College

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

Boston College Running Back Andre Williams is the ACC Player of the Week for Week 2

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 2: Andre Williams, RB/Boston College

Chief among Boston College’s struggles over the past couple of years has been the running game. After finishing 119th in rushing yards per game in 2012, it was a core focus of new head coach Steve Addazio to fix the issue, even without former starter Deuce Finch in the fold after leaving the program in April. Luckily, Andre Williams has already more than filled the role of starting running back, capped off by his 204-yard effort on Friday night against Wake Forest. Without much going on in the passing game, the Eagles were forced to rely on the ground game to move the ball. In response, Williams delivered the best effort of his career, with averaging 5.8 yards on 35 carries, plus a score. Boston College took home its first ACC win and second overall win of the season (both tying last year’s marks already), and now with a legitimate running game, they can aim for even more.

Honorable Mention:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB/Louisville (397 passing yards, 4 TD)

C.J. Brown, QB/Maryland (305 total yards, 4 TD)

Stefon Diggs, WR/Maryland (179 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Detrick Bonner, S/Virginia Tech (2 INT, 1 TD)

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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 Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #5, Stefon Diggs

Maryland’s Stefon Diggs is #5 in Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Maryland’s Stefon Diggs is #5 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. 5, Stefon Diggs, WR/Maryland (Last Season: NR)

If anyone suffered the “most” from Maryland’s quarterback issues in 2012, I’d argue it was Stefon Diggs. The freshman wideout was still able to show glimmers of some real excellence, but it was obvious that his production was severely hampered by the team’s injury-induced carousel at the passer position. So if anyone’s excited about everyone coming back healthy, it’s probably Diggs. I mean, the team even considered using him at quarterback last year after the rash of injuries tore through the Terps entire depth chart. Of course, it never got to that point, and Diggs himself appeared to beg fans to “hang in there” with him. But if we’ve learned anything from Maryland’s 2012, it’s that we haven’t even come close to figuring out how good their star wide receiver can be.

On the surface, Diggs’s receiving numbers did not look overly gaudy (and we’ve covered why they wouldn’t). But when you consider them further, 54 catches, 848 yards and six touchdowns ain’t too shabby for a freshman. When you add in his rushing and return yards, however, that’s when you’re floored. In just 11 games, Diggs amassed nearly 1,900 yards and eight scores, taking the league by storm in much of the same way that Clemson WR Sammy Watkins managed to back in 2011. Halfway through the year, it almost appeared as if we’d see a new highlight reel play from Diggs every weekend, and all for a team that was sputtering along as it dealt with injury after injury.

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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: Maryland Terrapins

After Two Very Rough Seasons, Is a Young Maryland Team Ready to Bounce Back?

After Two Very Rough Seasons, Is a Young Maryland Team Ready to Bounce Back?

Team: Maryland Terrapins

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

Head Coach: Randy Edsall (6-18; third season)

Returning Starters: 9 (5 Offense, 4 Defense)

The Terrapins’ ACC farewell tour sets up rather well. Outside of the top two spots, the Atlantic Division is largely up for grabs. They play a very manageable schedule. And they’ve got an offensive star on their hands in wide receiver Stefon Diggs. All of that sounds great, but there’s plenty to overcome as well. Coach Randy Edsall has won just six games total in two season in College Park, and while the team has talent coming in, there’s not a whole lot of experience to speak of either. Plus, the entire athletic program is pretty much bankrupt and there’s declining fan interest across the board (but notably in football). So how does this all end up playing out?

For starters, Maryland should automatically be better on the offensive end, now that they have quarterback C.J. Brown back from last summer’s torn ACL. Though they trotted out four different players to under center (including a freshman linebacker) in 2012, things actually didn’t start off half bad for the team on offense. With a huge assist from Diggs’s play-making, they started off 4-2, moving the ball reasonably well and scoring 22 points per game. But then the injuries struck, and the Terps would end up with one of the country’s worst offenses across the board. Brown will change things immediately by bringing a versatility to the quarterback position (had seven passing TDs and five rushing TDs in 2011), and help them fix their weakest link from last year. There are still plenty of questions about Brown — fans forget that he completed less than 50 percent of his passes in 2011 — but at least it’s better than what they dealt with last season. Along with the dynamic Diggs catching passes, he’ll also have transfer Deon Long at his disposal. Last playing for New Mexico, Long had 47 catches for 809 yards in 2011, and paired with Diggs, should surpass those numbers this year. So long as Brown can get the ball to both of them, Maryland’s obviously looking at a much more dynamic passing game compared to what it had (104th in passing yards per game).

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ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #32, Quinshad Davis

North Carolina’s Quinshad Davis is #32 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

North Carolina’s Quinshad Davis is #32 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Off-topic: I’ve been gone for the past few weeks for my wedding and honeymoon (thank you), but now the site will be charging full-bore toward the start of college football season. Appreciate everyone for continuing to stop by — even during my absence — and rest assured, we’ve got plenty of content set for the next few weeks.

Less than three weeks until college football kicks off! 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. 32, Quinshad Davis, WR/North Carolina (Last Season: NR)

Through the early part of North Carolina’s 2012 schedule (the very easy part), you didn’t know what to think of then-freshman wide receiver Quinshad Davis. His first four games yielded just 11 catches and a little over 100 yards, plus zero touchdowns. But over the next eight games, it was an entirely different story. Maybe even more so than tight end Eric Ebron, Davis was the Heels’ top receiving target for the rest of the season, nabbing 50 catches, 665 yards and five touchdowns. His final three games in particular were a show of force for what may be to come for the rising ACC wideout. In three stellar team offensive performances, he had 32 catches, 417 yards and three scores. So yes, his production may have appeared to be spiked by a few great games. But it’s easy to see how this could be a harbinger of some exciting things to come.

Part of that is due to the team’s quick transition to coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense. After it appeared there would be a slight learning curve for the group of formerly pro-style players, they wound up averaging over 40 points per game and looked to get stronger as the season progressed. In just 12 games, the team ran 898 plays (nothing too stellar), but averaged a highly efficient 6.49 yards per (tied for 14th in the country). For 2013, Fedora wants to go faster. If they manage to, while still maintaining that level of efficiency, that offense becomes nearly impossible to stop, and makes it much easier for Davis (and his fellow receivers) to find holes in opposing defenses likely to already be on their heels.

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ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Sammy Watkins is the ACC's Top Receiver, But Does a Different Team's Wideouts Outpace Clemson's?

Sammy Watkins is the ACC’s Top Receiver, But Do a Different Team’s Wideouts Outpace Clemson’s?

While we’re still (barely) over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we’re on to the wide receivers and tight ends (we’ve also covered running backs and quarterbacks thus far). Like virtually every other conference in the country, you can’t necessarily call the overall receiving product in the ACC “stellar.” For some reason we’ve arrived at a dearth of talent at the position of late. But nonetheless, the league still possesses a strong group of receivers at the top, plus a ton of depth, even on the teams that are lower on this list.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual wide receiver or tight end is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of pass catchers is. Also note: Louisville (as has been the case since November) is included here. Additionally, since these are completely subjective rankings, the difference between the seventh and eighth team is almost entirely negligible (especially in the case of this position). Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

1. Florida State Seminoles: FSU just has too many players who can catch the ball in the open field, and that’s a good thing, especially when fielding an inexperienced quarterback. After a productive season last year (57 catches, 741 yards, six scores), Rashad Greene looks ready to take a huge leap forward for this group, and could be one of the better pass catchers in the ACC. Along with Greene, look out for Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin, especially Benjamin, who could end up being a breakout player for the ‘Noles this season following a productive freshman campaign. At tight end, Nick O’Leary should continue his improvement, but with so man other players looking for the ball, it’s uncertain how many passes are thrown his way.

2. Clemson Tigers: Replacing Brandon Ford (TE) and leading receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson certainly has their work cut out for them. But you can’t underestimate the receiving depth Chad Morris and Dabo Swinney have built on this Tigers roster. After an uneventful offseason, Sammy Watkins should be back to his freshman year form, which immediately takes the load off of Adam Humphries and Charone Peake. While not overly experienced, the two still caught 66 combined passes last year, which should trend even higher in 2013. Tight end is a question mark, though Stanton Seckinger likely has the inside track to starting there.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels: In year two of Larry Fedora’s offense, it’s time opposing teams started to fear this group. Quinshad Davis put up one of the best freshman receiving seasons in ACC history last year and there’s little doubt he’ll continue to produce at that level again. And he’ll have help, too. Fellow starter Sean Tapley brings further speed on the outside, while tight end Eric Ebron will be putting his athleticism to use against linebackers and corners alike. Ebron’s slated to be one of the best TEs in the country this year, and one look at his 6’4″ 245-pound frame leaves little question as to why.

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