ACC: Syracuse Orange

ACC Power Rankings: Week 13

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
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What we learned in the ACC: Week 13

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
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Thirteen weeks into the season, and we got some surprises (Wake Forest wins!) and some not-so-surprising results (Florida State narrowly escapes!). Here’s what we learned from the penultimate week of the regular season.

North Carolina is going bowling: No, the Tar Heels haven’t lived up to expectations this season, but just as they did a season ago, they’ve proven to be one of the most resilient teams in the nation. Marquise Williams turned in another phenomenal performance against Duke on Thursday, accounting for four touchdowns in a 45-20 win that eliminated the Blue Devils from the Coastal Division race, returned the Victory Bell to Chapel Hill, and officially made UNC bowl eligible for the second straight season.

[+] EnlargeCam McDaniel
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsLouisville's victory over Notre Dame on Saturday kept the Cardinals alive for a New Year's Six bowl appearance.
Georgia Tech wins the Coastal: From rumblings about Paul Johnson’s job security in August to a division title in November, it’s been a stellar season for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets actually had Week 13 off in preparation for another rivalry showdown against Georgia, but thanks to Duke’s Thursday night loss to North Carolina, Johnson’s crew officially wrapped up the Coastal and a trip to Charlotte to face Florida State in the ACC Championship game. Tech’s players are, of course, clearly focused on upending Georgia for just the second time since 2000, but the matchup for the conference title promises to be as intriguing as, perhaps, any in ACC championship game history.

The battle for the Orange Bowl is heating up: Sure, there’s no longer any drama about who’ll make it to Charlotte, and FSU is the league’s only chance at the playoff, but the question of which ACC team will take its turn in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day is awfully interesting. First off, FSU needs to make the playoff -- and after another close call against Boston College, that’s certainly not etched in stone. But if the Seminoles go to the playoff, then the three-team battle between Georgia Tech, Louisville and Clemson for a trip to South Florida could be awfully tight. Tech is currently the highest ranked of the group, but it’s got two games against top-10 teams remaining. Clemson currently would be next up, but it’s been a long time since the Tigers have beaten South Carolina -- their Week 14 foe. And then there’s Louisville, still alive for a shot after narrowly knocking off Notre Dame 31-28. The highest-ranked team after the ACC title game gets its ticket punched.

Wake Forest doesn’t roll over: It’s been a brutal season in Winston-Salem. Wake’s offense isn’t just bad, but historically so. It would’ve been easy for the team to have cashed it in -- particularly the veterans who won’t be around to see the fruits of this rebuilding project. But it’s a huge credit to Dave Clawson’s motivational tactics and the pride of the players on the roster that they continue to fight. The Demon Deacons couldn’t muster much offense again Saturday, but their stout D overwhelmed Virginia Tech and they prevailed 6-3 in double overtime. Wake certainly hasn’t been a great team this season, but four of its six conference losses were by 14 points or less and it’s played every game tough. That bodes well for the future for Clawson and Co.

Bowl bids on the line in Week 14: With Virginia’s dominant 30-13 win over Miami, Virginia Tech’s loss to Wake and Pittsburgh’s 30-7 drubbing of Syracuse, there will be three ACC teams playing for bowl eligibility in the final week of the season. Pitt gets its shot against reeling Miami, while UVA and Virginia Tech face off in their annual rivalry game, with one gaining that crucial sixth win and the other facing a long, ugly offseason. With a win, Mike London could secure another year on the sideline for the Cavaliers. With a loss, Frank Beamer’s future is going to move from debatable topic to outright controversy.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh came into the ACC seemingly attached at the hip, Big East defectors under new head coaches who engineered key upsets and surprised many by making bowl games. Wins in those bowl games boosted expectations for Year 2 in the conference, with Scott Shafer talking eight-win seasons and Pitt looking like as good of a darkhorse shot as any to win the cluttered Coastal division.

Both scenarios are far from reality as these two gear up for Saturday's meeting at Heinz Field, with the Orange being ravaged by injuries and staff turmoil en route to a losing season, and the Panthers needing to win out to get to another bowl game.

[+] EnlargeJames Conner
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsSophomore James Conner has run wild, but it hasn't translated into wins for Pittsburgh.
Syracuse has been stellar defensively, but its offense has, for a number of reasons, been a mess. Pitt, meanwhile, has shown flashes of firepower from its offensive stars but has been done in by recent dreadful defensive performances.

"No doubt, we've got to be better (defensively) this week to give ourselves a chance," said Chryst, in his third season at Pitt. "I anticipate us doing that. I think we're in this thing together. There's not a time when there's not interaction in the hallways every week -- 'We're getting this.' 'What do you think?' 'This is what's happening.' You're going to be watching film and, every week, you make comments."

The situation did not seem so dire for Pitt entering this month, as its defense ranked 14th nationally in scoring average (18.6). It has dropped all three games since, giving up 56 points to Georgia Tech, 51 to Duke and 40 to North Carolina. The Panthers have lost six of seven games since a promising 3-0 start and have seen great offensive performances go to waste, as sophomore receiver Tyler Boyd is on the verge of a second straight 1,000-yard season (951) and sophomore James Conner has tallied 21 rushing touchdowns while averaging 156.2 rushing yards per game (both rank third nationally).

Syracuse, which ranks 115th nationally in scoring (19.1) and 103rd in total offense (356.8), as the opposite problem. The Orange have been done in by injury after injury to the quarterback position, which has seen casualties such as Terrel Hunt, Austin Wilson, Mitch Kimble and AJ Long, though Long is expected to start this weekend. Receivers Ashton Broyld (leg) and Brisley Estime (ankle) have battled injuries as well, and neither will play on Saturday.

A mid-season demotion to offensive coordinator George McDonald only added to the chaos, and it has all contributed to the undoing of a team whose defense has been respectable, ranking 27th nationally and giving the Orange chances at two major upsets this season, having forced five turnovers against Notre Dame and four against Clemson.

The last two meetings between these teams, both at the Carrier Dome, were decided by a point apiece, with Syracuse winning in 2012 and Pitt winning last year's tilt to clinch bowl eligibility. The Orange rebounded a week after that defeat to clinch a bowl berth, something that is not on the table this time around. Shafer is not worried about his players' motivation level with two games remaining in his second year at the helm of the program, though.

"What we're focused in on and what we should be focused in on is playing for the love of the game, and for the respect of what the game has given each and every one of us," Shafer said. "It's an absurd sport. It's a dead pig with air in it, and when you break it down into the rudimentary elements of what we do, it's somewhat laughable. But the passion we have for this game that was created so many years ago has given us so much."

ACC viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
10:00
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Much of the drama is already gone from the ACC slate, and the SEC rivalry games are still a week away. But there is still plenty to watch for in Week 13.

12:30 p.m.

Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, ESPN3, #VTvsWAKE
The Hokies can wrap up bowl eligibility with a win against Wake Forest, which given the litany of injuries Virginia Tech has suffered this season -- including tailback Marshawn Williams, who tore his ACL last week -- is probably commendable. The Hokies are coming off their second road win of the season against a top-25 foe, so the trip to Winston-Salem against a Demon Deacons team still looking for its first ACC victory shouldn’t be a huge test. Wake hasn’t been able to run the ball on anyone this season, but Virginia Tech’s defense allows 5.64 yards-per-carry on non-sack rushing attempts this season -- 104th nationally.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesJameis Winston and Florida State will try to produce a rare fast start this week against Boston College.
3:30 p.m.

Boston College at No. 3 Florida State, ABC/ESPN2, #BCvsFSU
A year ago, it was the Eagles who gave FSU its toughest game of the regular season. Now, BC is the ACC’s last chance to send the Seminoles to a conference loss. The matchup isn’t ideal for an FSU defense that has been gashed by the run on a few occasions this season, and after escaping a physical matchup against Miami last week, it will be interesting to see how focused the Seminoles are for this one. But with a season of close calls already in their rearview mirror, Jimbo Fisher no doubt has emphasized the importance of a fast start this week, and for FSU, it needs to start thinking about earning some style points to impress the CFB playoff committee.

Syracuse at Pittsburgh, ESPNU, #CUSEvsPITT
Pitt has lost three straight despite 1,040 yards of offense from James Conner and Tyler Boyd. The Panthers have actually dropped six of their past seven after a 3-0 start to the season, and now they must win out to have a shot at a bowl game. Four of Pitt’s six losses have been by five points or less, however, and Conner and Boyd remain two of the most potent threats in the ACC. Whether Syracuse’s underrated defense can slow down Pitt’s stars might be paramount, but the Orange will also need to find some offense against a Panthers team that has allowed 147 points in its past three games.

No. 24 Louisville at Notre Dame, NBC
The Cardinals are back in the top 25, but they will go to battle in South Bend without starting quarterback Will Gardner. Reggie Bonnafon will take over at QB coming off his best game as a college player last week when he threw for 69 yards, ran for 76 more and scored three times against Boston College. But the real intrigue might come on the other side of the ball, where Everett Golson leads an Irish offense that leads all Power 5 teams in turnovers against Louisville’s stout defense, led by safety Gerod Holliman and his 13 interceptions.

Georgia State at No. 22 Clemson, ESPN3, #GSUvsCLEM
Since Deshaun Watson went down with a hand injury last month, Clemson’s offense has more turnovers (11) than touchdowns (7), and that downward spiral hit rock bottom last week when Cole Stoudt threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns. But as bad as Stoudt’s performance was, Dabo Swinney and the Tigers believe he’s still a capable quarterback, and certainly the job gets a lot easier this week. The bigger question now is whether it will be Stoudt’s job in two weeks when Clemson looks to end a five-game losing streak against rival South Carolina.

7 p.m.

Miami at Virginia, ESPN2, #MIAvsUVA
The Hurricanes are coming off a physical and emotional loss to Florida State and looking to rebound. Virginia is still clinging to bowl hopes, and might need to win out to salvage coach Mike London’s job. The key to the game might be how well the Hoos’ defense can slow Duke Johnson and the Miami running game, but as FSU found out last week, quarterback Brad Kaaya is certainly capable of doing some damage. Virginia, on the other hand, has just 59 rushing yards combined in its past two games, and it has scored on the ground just once in its past five.

ACC morning links

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
8:00
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Dabo Swinney turned 45 on Thursday. And while he has had obvious success during his run at Clemson, his early body of work might surprise you, especially when compared to other big-name coaches.

The (Charleston) Post and Courier's Aaron Brenner broke down the numbers Thursday, illustrating just how well Swinney has fared before his 45th birthday.

Swinney has a career record of 58-26 during his tenure with the Tigers.

How did Nick Saban fare by the time he turned 45? 20-10-1.

Steve Spurrier? 20-13-1.

Frank Beamer? 19-30-1.

Jimbo Fisher? 5-1.

On and on it goes, a who's who of coaching legends current and past that Swinney is currently out-pacing. It really puts into perspective what he has accomplished since taking over in 2008.

Of course, he still has a ways to go when looking at a pair of his predecessors in Death Valley: Danny Ford had 96 wins before leaving Clemson at the age of 42, while Frank Howard had 72 wins by 45.

ACC Week 13 predictions

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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Fortuna: Can Duke handle its first Thursday night game? Can it withstand the very real target on its back that has come from beating UNC two years in a row? Can it clean up its offensive miscues from this past week against Virginia Tech? That last question will matter most Thursday, as the Blue Devils will have to score plenty of points to keep up with QB Marquise Williams and the Heels offense. Turnovers will be key for Duke's defense, but here's guessing that Williams rebounds and delivers after throwing the game-sealing pick in last year's game. UNC 35, Duke 30

Hale: Saturday’s loss was a tough one for the Blue Devils, but it was hardly a game in which Duke was outplayed. David Cutcliffe's team has thrived all season by getting all the little things right -- but against Virginia Tech, Duke looked like a different team. So what’s more likely to happen: Duke falls apart again in a must-win game or it reverts to its status as one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the country? I’m betting on the latter, but I don’t need a leap of faith to get there. The biggest difference against the Hokies was a ferocious Virginia Tech pass rush, and UNC doesn’t bring anything close to that caliber of defense to the table. Anthony Boone will have time to throw, Jamison Crowder will find space downfield, and the Duke running game should have room to run. Duke has no choice but to get a win here, and Cutcliffe will have his team ready to get it done. Duke 31, North Carolina 27

Adelson: There is one stat that illustrates why Louisville will win: Everett Golson has 19 total turnovers in his past seven games. The Louisville defense has forced 25 turnovers this season, one of the best marks in the country. And Golson will be playing with a bum shoulder. So the focus has to be on whether Golson can finally start taking care of the football the way he did earlier in the season, something coach Brian Kelly has stated publicly for weeks now. Notre Dame is coming off an emotional overtime loss; Louisville had a bye to prepare. The Cards are not going to be intimidated, either, having played in big-time atmospheres over the past several years. Louisville 27, Notre Dame 24

Fortuna: Notre Dame was not as good as its 6-0 start indicated. But it's not as bad as this current slump indicates, either. Saturday against Northwestern was the perfect storm of miscues that left the Irish vulnerable to defeat. And while the defense remains banged up, there are some talented newcomers who have slowly grown into their roles. Golson, for all of his giveaways, remains a dynamic quarterback, one who was on the fringe of the Heisman Trophy discussion as recently as two weeks ago. If he can protect the ball -- and if the Irish can go through field goals without any pre-kick issues -- Notre Dame has enough talent to resemble the offense of a month ago and withstand the Cardinals' pressure up front. Notre Dame 31, Louisville 25

Unanimous selections

Virginia Tech at Wake Forest: The Hokies believe the upset of Duke last week will spur a late-season rally, and the good news is Wake Forest should help boost that push. Virginia Tech should become bowl eligible after this game as it is hard to see the Demon Deacons' offense doing enough to beat the Hokies. Virginia Tech 21, Wake Forest 7

Syracuse at Pittsburgh: It has been a rough few weeks for the Panthers, who are fighting to make a bowl game. The Panthers have two of the conference's best offensive players in James Conner and Tyler Boyd, and it will be tough for Syracuse and its struggling offense to match the production of those two. The Panthers defense should get a bit of a break this week after allowing 147 points in their past three games. Pitt 34, Syracuse 24

Boston College at Florida State: Boston College has the ability to annoy and potentially upset FSU because of the Eagles' ground attack and stout defense. However, Jimbo Fisher said the Seminoles are physically ready for the Eagles. It would not be a shock if this game was close -- every FSU game is -- but at this point no one has been able to beat the Noles and that should continue. Florida State 27, Boston College 17

Georgia State at Clemson: The Tigers are playing Georgia State, which is 1-9 with all nine losses coming in a row. No matter who plays quarterback for Clemson, this should be an easy win. Clemson 49, Georgia State 0

Miami at Virginia: The Canes are reeling after a devastating loss to Florida State, and there certainly could be a hangover. The loss proved how far Miami has come and how talented the Canes are, though, and they should be able to beat Virginia. But don't count out the Cavaliers. The defense is good and the offense is getting better. They also had an extra week to prepare and need a win to keep their bowl hopes alive. Miami 24, Virginia 20

Current standings
Shanker: 63-16
Adelson: 62-17
Fortuna: 61-18
Hale: 61-18

ACC Show: Week 13 replay

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
10:30
AM ET
Join ACC reporters Andrea Adelson, David Hale, Matt Fortuna and Jared Shanker as they get into the Week 13 schedule, the Coastal race and Florida State's lack of national respect. They'll also answer your questions live on screen.

ACC morning links

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
8:00
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Florida State receiver Rashad Greene said he does not “entertain the foolishness” of the selection committee’s College Football Playoff rankings.

Foolish might be a strong word for the rankings, which once again placed Florida State at No. 3, but they are questionable. It’s not limited to just Florida State either, but the Seminoles are one of the lightning rods through the first few weeks.

Committee chairman Jeff Long offered several different reasons as to why teams are ranked where they are, which underscores one of the biggest issues with the rankings: There are no parameters or guidelines for the committee to follow.

Opining on FSU’s ranking is equivalent to returning to the stable each Wednesday to beat a dead horse, so we’ll relent. But at some point, game control needs to take a back seat to game, set, match. Most coaches would prefer come-from-behind wins against a schedule with 11 Power 5 schools rather than superior statistical measures.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (or whoever is tasked with his Facebook statuses) argued the Seminoles are doing what every coach preaches all year: finish.

“How many times have you heard a Coach say," We didn't finish"? Coaches harp on it continuously,” the post stated. “… Every team in the Top Ten failed to 'finish' their game at least one time, but not Florida State . One thing they have done is 'finish' the game.They have 'finished' 10 straight times this season and the last 26 games in a row.”

Elsewhere in the ACC, Clemson remains ranked despite a blowout loss to Georgia Tech in which it lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson again. It appears the committee rightfully took that into consideration, especially since the hope is Watson will return again this season as he rehabs a sprained knee.

Clemson is a legitimate Top 25 team when it has its star freshman, although he has struggled to remain healthy. This is the third significant injury Watson has suffered since the spring. The Tigers were once again strong defensively against Georgia Tech, as the score belies their effort because of two Cole Stoudt pick sixes.

Louisville is also back in the rankings at No. 24 but Duke dropped out, and Georgia Tech moved up to No. 18. All four ACC teams are rightfully ranked.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 12

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
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There's a group message including 16 or 17 of the top quarterbacks in last year's signing class, Miami's Brad Kaaya said, and he chimes in once or twice a week to join the discussion.

They'll talk a little trash, commiserate over tough practices and occasionally, Kaaya said, joke about the ugliness of another team's uniforms. As the 2014 season has progressed, however, the QBs -- along with a host of other top freshmen, particularly in the ACC -- have had a lot of game film to discuss.

[+] EnlargeBrad Kaaya
Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsMiami's Brad Kaaya, who leads the ACC in several key passing categories, cites advanced preparation as the reason true freshmen are making a considerable impact.
Kaaya is one of five true freshman quarterbacks to start games in the ACC this season, and throughout the conference, the Class of 2014 is making an instant impact. From Virginia Tech, where freshmen have ruled the offense, to Florida State, where the newcomers are playing key roles in a title defense, there's a massive youth movement going on around the league.

"Guys are coming in at all positions being prepared a lot earlier," said Kaaya, who leads the ACC in touchdown passes, yards per attempt and passing efficiency. "A lot of the high school offenses around the country are really benefiting quarterbacks. A lot of coaches are starting to adopt a lot of spread formations and pass, pass, pass. That's really preparing guys for college a lot more."

Prepared or not, the QBs have been thrown into the deep end this season.

Kaaya has started every game for Miami. John Wolford has done the same at Wake Forest and been the recipient of the highest sack rate in the country to boot. Reggie Bonnafon is now the starter at Louisville, AJ Long had his shot at Syracuse before getting hurt and this week Deshaun Watson returns from a broken finger to helm the Clemson offense. After nearly upending FSU and throwing six touchdown passes against North Carolina a week later, Watson quickly established himself as one of the most prominent members of the Class of 2014.

"He's to the nth degree of what you want in a quarterback," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's a great player, very talented, but he's smart, a natural leader, very humble, he's a giver, he's confident, great instincts. He's got everything."

But it doesn't stop with the quarterbacks.

Six of the top 25 receivers in the ACC are true freshmen. Five of the top 15 rushers are from the Class of 2014. The conference's leading tackler arrived on Virginia's campus just six months ago.

Wolford's top target at Wake Forest is freshman tight end Cam Serigne. Jameis Winston has quickly developed trust in freshman Travis Rudolph as a capable complement to star Rashad Greene. Jon Hilliman's 11 touchdown runs for Boston College rank second in the league -- the most by a true freshman in the ACC in more than a decade.

It's a tribute, in part, to all the young talent entering the league. Of the ACC's top 27 signees from 2014, 22 have seen the field this year -- including 10 of the top 11.

"I just think you see the level of play at every level evolving," said Bo Hines, an early enrollee this spring who starred in the spring game for NC State before emerging as the Wolfpack's most reliable receiver. "Players at high school are becoming more gifted from working out or coaching. I just think you see a closer playing field once you get to the next level."

The transition may not be as steep, but it still takes work and patience.

Before the season began, Frank Beamer was giddy over the impact his 2014 signing class could provide -- in particular, a tandem of receivers with a bright future. It wasn't necessarily clear that future would start immediately, given that Virginia Tech returned three receivers with at least 700 yards from last season, but Isaiah Ford had no doubts he'd be an impact player from Day 1.

Last spring and over the summer, Ford worked with his high school coaches on strength training, conditioning, route running and any other skills he thought needed refining to play with the big boys at the next level. By the time he got to Blacksburg, he was already comfortable with what Virginia Tech's coaches wanted to see from him.

"One of the biggest things coming in is I knew that's what I wanted to do so I prepared myself all summer," Ford said. "So when I stepped on the field for the first day, I had every intention of playing right away."

[+] EnlargeTravis Rudolph
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsTrue freshman Travis Rudolph has gained the trust of Jameis Winston and the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles.
Ford leads the Hokies with 41 catches, 522 yards and five touchdowns this year, but his fellow true freshman Cam Phillips has been nearly as good. Overall, 60 percent of Virginia Tech's receiving yards and 67 percent of its rushing yards have come from either redshirt or true freshmen.

But as physically fit as the group arrived, Beamer said the key is that the kids are smart, too.

"I think that goes hand in hand with being able to play early and play at a high level," Beamer said.

It's also about earning respect quickly. Mistakes are inevitable, Ford said, but having a patient coaching staff and a strong work ethic goes a long way.

For Kaaya, it's a little different. By virtue of his position, he's expected to command a huddle, but that's not always easy when the guys around him have been through a lot more battles.

"I'm a freshman who just got here and hasn't proved himself. There are guys in the huddle who have kids and are married and are five years older than me," Kaaya said. "So for me, it was just working hard, showing guys I'm a hard worker, practicing well and making good decisions."

So far, that hasn't been nearly as big a problem as fans might have expected for Kaaya or a host of his fellow newcomers.

It's a credit to the quality of talent entering the ACC, but also to the players making the most of their opportunities, Hines said. Playing time is easier to win for true freshmen these days, but it's not won with talent alone.

"My goal was to be the most reliable guy on the field," Hines said. "You want to be the guy that they want to throw to on third down or clutch situations during the game, and I've always worked on being that guy."
Syracuse linebacker Cameron Lynch has never been shy around the camera, so he decided to make something of his talents this season.

Lynch began interviewing teammates and called his video creation “Cam’s Cam,” posted weekly on the Syracuse athletics website, his way of showcasing the personalities he has come to know and love during his time with the Orange.

As perhaps the friendliest player on the team, Lynch had little trouble convincing teammates to come on the show. Lynch comes up with all the ideas, asks his own questions to his teammates, and takes questions from Twitter, too.

“People don’t get to see the good part of our team, the personality of my teammates,” Lynch said. “We had a guy from London on Cam’s Cam … so I want to bring these guys out to the world because they have personalities and they’re funny so why not put them on the show?”



Lynch first got the idea in July, when he went to ACC Kickoff in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took note of how many Syracuse graduates were in the journalism and broadcast fields. Later on, Mike Tirico, a Syracuse grad, came and spoke at the school and Lynch was inspired.

The Newhouse School of Public Communications is widely regarded as one of the top communications programs in the country, so Lynch decided he wanted to take advantage of being at Syracuse and apply there for graduate school. Once his playing days are over, the plan is to focus on his future media career.

An economics major, Lynch previously served an internship at Leigh Baldwin & Co. Investment Brokers in Syracuse. So he had no experience at all in front of a camera, besides documenting his life on snapchat.

But his own winning personality makes the show work, so much so that Cam’s Cam became an immediate hit in the locker room and players began begging for their turn on the show.

“I was jealous,” safety Ritchy Desir says with a laugh. “We’re friends and I didn’t get on Cam’s Cam until Week 9, so I got kinda mad at him about that. He’s been telling me all year just wait. I’m going to get you on there.' So I patiently waited my turn and I finally got on.”

Desir made his debut with Durell Eskridge and Oliver Vigille, in an episode centered on their backgrounds growing up in Miami. But two others stand out as favorites. In an episode earlier this season, Lynch featured Luke Arciniega and Josh Kirkland flexing for the cameras.

In “The Boy Band” episode, cornerback Joe Nassib showed some leg to reveal a Philadelphia Flyers tattoo.

There is, however, one high-profile person from Syracuse that Lynch has yet to feature.

Coach Scott Shafer.

“He’s knocking off all the big names before he gets down the list to us guys who are way down on the food chain,” Shafer said. “I’ve got to wait and see. Maybe I get a shot, or maybe I don’t but either way, I know Cam will make the best decision.”

ACC Show: Week 12 (2 ET)

November, 12, 2014
Nov 12
10:30
AM ET
Join ESPN.com's ACC reporters Andrea Adelson, Matt Fortuna and Jared Shanker as they discuss weather Miami has a shot at upsetting Florida State and the still- crazy Coastal Division.

ACC morning links

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
8:00
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Mario Edwards Jr. was a force to be reckoned with against Virginia on Saturday, racking up a career-best nine tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble in the Seminoles’ win.

The reason for the big game, writes the Tallahassee Democrat, is that Edwards is finally healthy after an injury-plagued season.

From the Democrat:
"I've been trying to get back healthy," Edwards, Jr. said. "From spraining my MCL (against Syracuse) and all that stuff and having a concussion, I couldn't do the things I needed to do to keep my weight where it is. So now I'm good and back healthy and I've got my weight where I want it to be."

A healthy and productive Edwards could be a crucial weapon this week against Miami, particularly given that the Hurricanes’ starting left tackle, Ereck Flowers, may not play due to an injury of his own.

For the season, Florida State has recorded a sack rate of just 4.9 percent — good for 90th nationally and down from 7.6 percent a year ago. But getting some pressure on Miami QB Brad Kaaya is crucial.

Kaaya has been sacked twice in each of his last three games and has been taken down multiple times in six of eight games this year. Making the true freshman uncomfortable — and ideally forcing him into a few mistakes — will be a priority for FSU. Miami QBs have six turnovers in the Canes’ four-game losing streak to the Seminoles.

A few more links:

By the numbers: Week 11 recap

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
2:00
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Looking at some statistical nuggets from last week's action in the ACC...

Boone getting it done

Since losing to Miami on Sept. 27, Duke QB Anthony Boone probably hasn't turned many heads with his play, but that's sort of the point.

Boone's numbers don't jump off the page -- 60 percent completions, seven TDs, 5.8 yards-per-attempt -- but when it comes to avoiding the kinds of plays that cost teams wins, he's been exceptional. In Duke's four games since the Miami loss, Boone has thrown just one INT, hasn't fumbled and hasn't taken a sack.

How crazy is that? If we add up sacks, fumbles and INTs for all QBs with at least 100 action plays during that stretch, they average a sack, fumble or INT every 12.3 plays. Boone has one in 164 plays.

Holliman gets lucky 13

Louisville safety Gerod Holliman went for the hat trick against Boston College on Saturday, picking off three passes in the game. That brings his season total to 13 -- tying David Amerson for the most by an ACC defender and just one shy of the NCAA record, set by Washington's Al Worley in 1968.

Here's how good Holliman has been: Not counting his own team, just nine other programs in the country have more interceptions this season total than he does individually.

Of course, Holliman doesn't get all the credit. Louisville's defensive front has forced many a bad throw this season, which has upped the takeaway numbers. Against BC, the Cards sacked Tyler Murphy twice and had him under pressure all night, despite missing leading pass rusher Lorenzo Mauldin. Against FBS opponents this season, Louisville's defense ranks sixth nationally in sack rate (9.8 percent) and has the 11th highest rate of plays going for zero or negative yardage (40.5 percent).

Georgia Tech's turnovers

The Yellow Jackets' defense hasn't fared too well statistically, ranking 114th nationally in yards allowed per play. But those struggles have been accounted for by capitalizing on takeaways.

Tech ranks ninth nationally in turnover margin (plus-9), is fourth in points off turnovers (101, including 14 on Saturday against NC State) and fourth in points-off-turnovers margin (plus-70). Since the start of last season, only five teams have scored more points off turnovers than the Yellow Jackets, despite ranking just 35th in turnovers created.

Murphy reaches 1,000

It was definitely Tyler Murphy's worst game of the season, but still worth noting that he became just the fourth QB in ACC history -- and first since 2009 -- to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Murphy's 28-yard run in the second quarter was also his 12th carry for 25 yards or more this season. In the past decade, the only Power 5 quarterbacks with more in a season are Johnny Manziel and Pat White.

Greene is go-to guy for FSU

Rashad Greene had a career-high 13 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown in a win against Virginia. Greene is now just five catches shy of his 2013 total, just 11 yards shy of topping 1,000 for the second straight season and just 16 receptions from breaking Ron Sellers' school record for catches, set in 1968. Greene is one of just five players in the country with three games with at least 11 receptions this season, and he's responsible for 34.2 percent of FSU's receptions vs. FBS teams this year, the 13th-highest rate in the nation.

Wake's woes on O

Wake Forest was held to just 119 yards of offense against Clemson. It's the fifth time this season the Deacons were held to fewer than 170. In the past decade, the only other team to tally no more than 170 yards in a game five times was Notre Dame in 2007.

Wake did still score 20 points against the Tigers, however, which ranks as just the third time in the past decade that a team had at least 20 points but no more than 120 yards of offense in a game. Oddly, Missouri also turned that trick this season (against Florida) and both previous teams to do it won their games. The other was Florida State (also against Florida) in 2011.

Clemson's stout D

The beneficiary of Wake's struggles -- or the cause of it, depending on your perspective -- was Clemson's defense. The Tigers became the first unit to hold an opponent to fewer than 170 yards in consecutive weeks this season. In the past decade, it's just the ninth time that's happened against Power 5 opposition, and the first time it's happened in the ACC.

For the season now, Clemson's D ranks first in third-down conversion rate (23.2 percent), yards-per-play (3.97), percent of plays resulting in loss or no gain (45.8 percent), percent of plays gaining 5 yards or more (30.8 percent) and tackles-for-loss (91).

Quick hitters
  • Since returning from injury on Oct. 18, DeVante Parker has 25 catches for 490 yards. That's the most receiving yards by any Power 5 receiver during that span, and no other ACC receiver is within 127 yards of his total.
  • Florida State tailback Karlos Williams scored twice in a win against Virginia, bringing his career total to 20. He's done all that on just 210 career rushing attempts -- scoring once every 10.5 rushes. Since the start of last season, no other Power 5 back with at least 200 carries has been better.
  • BC running back Jon Hilliman now has 11 rushing touchdowns this season, the most by an ACC true freshman in at least a decade.
  • Syracuse wide receiver Jarrod West ranks fifth in the ACC in receiving yards vs. FBS teams (596) despite the fact his quarterbacks rank 121st nationally in passer rating in those games.
  • Georgia Tech senior Synjyn Days had just 561 career rushing yards until three weeks ago. He's had 414 since, and only Miami's Duke Johnson has averaged more yards-per-carry in the ACC during that stretch.
  • Opponents' average starting field position against Duke this season is their own 24-yard line. Ohio State is the only defense in the nation to start with more advantageous field position.
  • Deshaun Watson is set to return for Clemson at quarterback this week against Georgia Tech. In his absence, the Tigers' offensive TD output (7) was exceeded by its turnovers (8).
After a month sidelined with a broken finger, Deshaun Watson will return as Clemson’s starting quarterback this week against Georgia Tech, according to Dabo Swinney.

That’s good news for the Tigers, of course. In the past four games, played with Cole Stoudt at QB for all but a quarter, they managed just seven offensive touchdowns and averaged just 4.54 yards per play (113th nationally during that span).

Stoudt was solid in the win over Wake Forest on Thursday, but his numbers as the starter weren’t great overall. Watson’s were much more impressive. But the timing of the two quarterbacks’ work is of note, too.

Here’s who Stoudt took the majority of his snaps against, with their rank in total defense versus FBS teams in parentheses: Georgia (21), Louisville (6), Boston College (25), Syracuse (22) and Wake Forest (57).

And here’s Watson: Florida State (47), North Carolina (125), NC State (79).

Next up for Watson? That’d be Georgia Tech, which ranks 77th in total D.

At the end of the day, the difference between Stoudt and Watson is still pretty clear though, and Watson’s athleticism has been a huge missing ingredient for the Tigers. Chad Morris has called a much different offense this year than he’d like, but Watson allows the playbook to be opened a bit, and Georgia Tech’s more accommodating defense only adds a little icing to the cake.

While Watson will be back, Robert Smith’s targeting penalty was upheld and that doesn’t make Swinney too happy.

A few other links…

It’s been a losing season for Syracuse, but the veterans on defense have been worthy of praise, writes Syracuse.com.

Virginia’s loss in Tallahassee on Saturday felt awfully familiar, writes The Daily Progress.

It was hard to find many silver linings in Boston College’s loss to Louisville, writes BC Interruption.

FSU fans are fond of calling Sun Life Stadium “Doak South” because Florida State has had its way with Miami there. The Hurricanes are hoping to put an end to that this week, writes the Miami Herald.

Reggie Bonnafon’s role in Louisville’s offense was bigger than anyone expected against BC, writes The Courier Journal.

Chad Voytik has been making progress thanks to some strong preparation, writes the Post-Gazette.

It looks like Dalvin Cook will be on the field for Florida State when it takes on Miami, writes Tomahawk Nation.

FSU legend Ron Sellers doesn’t mind that Rashad Greene is closing in on his records, writes the Orlando Sentinel.

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