This was a disappointing week for the ACC. Not in terms of wins and losses (though Wake and BC lost out of the league), but because Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia were all idle. Of the teams that did play, very little was learned. This is what we in the sports writing world like to call a dead week, aka, not a dang thing happened. The lower tier of the ACC was cleared up a bit as Syracuse got on the board in an impressive win against FCS Wagner and Pitt rolled. On the flip side, BC was hammered by USC and Wake dropped a game to UL-Monroe. Duke also disappointed in their league debut, however, they were facing a very solid Georgia Tech team. Maryland dominated hapless Connecticut, Florida State dispatched Nevada with ease and Virginia Tech fought off an upset bid from a very talented East Carolina team.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out our stock report, but if it is, the above chart is the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Clemson – Idle
Duke – I’ll admit, the Tech game was ugly, but I didn’t think the Blue Devils would win so my second-straight bowl projection still stands. Pitt, Troy and Navy are the next three games. After struggling with Tech’s option, the Navy game scares me more, but is still winnable. Offensively they need to generate more points. Positives from Saturday’s game was the wide receiver play of Issac Blakeney and Jamison Crowder. Duke is only 77th in passing right now, but part of that has to be attributed to Boone going down with an injury against Memphis. Brandon Connette knows it his job for the foreseeable future, and he needs to start playing with confidence. He has two pretty nice targets out there — Blakeney and Crowder — that will free up other options. Losing a quarterback tends to cause a team to work the ground game more, but Duke needs to pass more in order to take pressure off the running game. Connette only passed 28 times against Tech in a game that they were losing the majority of the time. Let’s see him a little closer to 40 next time out. Week three grade: D-
Florida State – Other than the home debut of a certain QB, there wasn’t much about the Wolfpack game we could learn. Nevada was banged up, playing without their starting QB and the talent gap was pretty big. Too bad we won’t learn much the next two weeks either (Bethune-Cookman and Boston College). Week three grade: A
Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets went on the road in their league debut and dominated a decent Duke team. What more could you want? Vad Lee is the perfect man to run this triple-option attack and the defense, one of the major issues last season, has been clicking the beginning of this season. Many people thought Tech could make another trip to the ACC title game for a reason. Thus far they have not disappointed. Week three grade: A
Maryland – C.J. Brown might be the best player you’ve never heard of and the Terps are rolling right now because of him. I thought Maryland would be a bottom of the barrel ACC team, instead they are 3-0 with more than enough winnable games to get bowl eligible: West Virginia, Virginia, at Wake, Syracuse, BC at Virginia Tech and NC State. Sure FSU and Clemson look like like the cream of the crop, but crazier things have happened. If Brown, who essentially is the entire offense, stays healthy, the Terps stand a chance in any game. Currently 18th in the nation in giving up just 13.7 ppg, the defense isn’t half bad either. Week three grade: A
Miami – Idle
North Carolina – Idle
NC State – Idle
Pittsburgh – Pitt had a long time to chew on the Florida State loss. The Panthers came out hungrier than the Lobos and dominated a New Mexico team that is probably closer in talent to Pitt than most Panthers fans would care to admit. That tells me this club is well coached and a cohesive unit. They did have more penalties and yards than UNM, while the four turnovers have to be cleaned up, but they crushed New Mexico, 49-27, even with the errors. The balance of 244 passing and 283 rushing yards was nearly perfect. Holding a team to 57 passing yards on a 9-for-17 performance is also baffling. Well done, Pitt D. They have a pretty manageable schedule until early November, so a bowl berth really hinges on these next five games. Week three grade: A
Virginia Tech – It’s funny, Logan Thomas plays one of his best games in a while, yet Tech barely wins and the running game comes up with squat. This club just doesn’t seem in synch. Granted, I think ECU was a big reason why. The Pirates are an under-the-radar team, but to force three turnovers, register 100 more yards than your opponent and be a team expected to compete in the ACC, you can’t win by just five points. Week three grade: D+
Boston College – BC had 184 yards of offense, averaging 3.5 yards per play through the air on 11-of-24 passing. I know USC has a solid defense, but this was brutal. Andre Williams couldn’t get going either. They obviously caught USC at a bad time as the program was circling the wagons, but still. If BC is swept off the field against the Trojans, what will they do against FSU, Clemson and others? Even worse, five of their final seven games are all on the road. I know Adazzio has started to change the culture, but this looks like a losing season for the Eagles. Week three grade: F
Syracuse – Terrel Hunt had a gem in his debut and Syracuse looked strong, but it was Wagner. Again, too young and too few talented pieces in important positions to win this year. The Orange is building towards something and looking for leaders for next season and beyond. If Hunt keeps playing like he did against Wagner, the sophomore will have two more full seasons under center for the Orange. Week three grade: A
Wake Forest – Michael Campanaro tied the ACC record with 16 receptions. It is the second time he matched that mark. The Demon Deacons attempted 47 passes and rushed for 15 yards on 15 carries. Sounds like transitioning to the option is going well. Oh by the way, they lost to the Sun Belt’s Louisiana-Monroe team. A nice team, but please, this is a home game for an allegedly AQ school. Outside of Army, I don’t see a game that Wake will be favored in and none of them even look winnable. Week three grade: F
Buy These Kids Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it)
C.J. Brown (QB, Maryland) – 15/28, 277 yards, 9.9 avg, 1 TD, 1 INT, 66.3 QBR to go along with 16 carries, 122 yards, 7.6 avg, 1 TD with a along of 41; 399 total yards out of 501. Not too shabby.
Dexter McDougle (CB, Maryland) – A rough one to give out. In a fantastic day against UConn, McDougle suffered a severe shoulder injury and is out for the year. Worse, the kid is a senior so this is the end of his college career. He went out with a bang though: 8 tackles (7 solo), 2 INT, 1 TD. The kid played every game of his sophomore and junior seasons as well as hitting the field in eight out of 13 games in his freshman year. With some decent stats and decent size (5-10, 195) I hope he finds his way to the next level.
Will Monday (P, Duke) – This kid was at it again: nine punts, 410 yards, 34.6 avg, 0 tb, 3 inside the 20, 72 long. Not bad considering I saw him shank an early one.
Dunce of the Week
I think this little highlight video sums up the sloppy Tech-ECU game. Special distinction to the ECU offense for calling a shotgun play deep in your own territory and leading to the safety that sealed the win. Always brilliant.