Florida State Seminoles: Bud Foster

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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Wishing everybody a great holiday weekend!

ACC's lunch links

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
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The madness is almost ready to begin.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
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"We'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go/ Long as he wants to go opposite to the foe" ...
 

ACC weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
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Another top-10 clash between undefeated teams is on the horizon. Before we get to that, however, we'll take a look back at how we got there in our Week 9 weekend rewind.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cutcliffe
Mark Dolejs/US PresswireDavid Cutcliffe has Duke pointed in the right direction.
The good: Duke may deserve its own "great" category (more on that in a bit), but the ACC finds itself at the center of the college football world for the second time in three weeks. Florida State took care of business against NC State, Miami survived a scare from Wake Forest and here we go again, as the No. 3 Seminoles and No. 7 Hurricanes take aim for conference (and possibly national) supremacy. ESPN's "College GameDay" will be in Tallahassee for the clash between the in-state rivals, marking the third time in 10 weeks that the show will originate from an ACC campus.

The bad: Pitt players used the words "complacent" and "overconfident" to describe the second half of their 24-21 loss to Navy, per the Post-Gazette's Sam Werner. What exactly the 4-3 Panthers were complacent or overconfident about is up for debate. Pitt lost a lot of leeway in its quest for another bowl berth, as it dropped a very winnable game and the chance to carry the momentum of a two-game winning streak into Saturday's trip to Georgia Tech. Navy scored 10 points in the final 3:52 to steal the victory. The schedule will be considerably more difficult for the Panthers down the stretch, as they face both Notre Dame and Miami over the final four weeks of the season. (On a positive note, congratulations to Devin Street for becoming the school's all-time receptions leader with 186.)

The ugly: Georgia Tech turned the ball over five times and still won at Virginia by 10, which should probably tell you all that you need to know right now about the Cavaliers. The Yellow Jackets escaped with the victory despite forcing just one turnover and holding the ball for nearly 10 fewer minutes than Virginia. Mike London took two huge gambles, first failing on an early fourth-and-1 try in field goal range and then calling a run play from the 1 with six seconds left that was stuffed for the last play of the first half. Georgia Tech, by the way, had Vad Lee throw the ball a whopping five times, completing three of those throws for 75 yards with no touchdowns and one pick. Kudos to the ground game, which had three 100-yard rushers, but this contest otherwise filled the "ugly" column capably.

The Blue Devils: Because really, what more can you say about them? Duke is 6-2 and likely going to a bowl for the second year in a row, which would be a school first. It is simply a remarkable feat for a program that, until last season, had not been to a bowl since 1994. The Blue Devils' 13-10 win over No. 14 Virginia Tech was their first victory over a ranked team since 1994, and their first road win over a ranked team since 1971. Hats off to David Cutcliffe for his rebuilding job in Durham, something everyone can appreciate a little more after seeing the coach get doused with a Gatorade shower following the stunning upset in Blacksburg.

Speaking of Tobacco Road … : About time, North Carolina. The Tar Heels finally put a complete game together, running over Boston College in a 34-10 win that ended a four-game losing streak. Bryn Renner was on point, completing 18 of 21 passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. And the defense was stout, holding the Eagles to just 261 total yards of offense and limiting Chase Rettig to 10-for-20 passing for 57 yards. Maybe, maybe, things can open up a bit now for UNC, which is 2-5 but has a much easier second-half slate that should give it a chance to gain bowl eligibility, starting this week at NC State.

The refreshing take: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lifted his starters for most of the second half after a 42-0 halftime lead. NC State made the 49-17 final seem a lot closer than it was in the second half, but credit Fisher for why he would not put his starters back in: "I’m not going to go out there and embarrass this game and the integrity of how you’ve got to play. If that’s the way they’re going to do it, they need to re-evaluate. If they can’t tell we dominated that game early and put it away -- I just think that's bad for college football, in my opinion." FSU fell to No. 3 Sunday in the latest BCS standings. In State College, they probably wish the nation's No. 4 team had such perspective.

The quote: Virginia Tech receiver Willie Byrn, via The Virginian-Pilot's Andy Bitter: "What more can the defense do, really?" The Hokies held Duke to 198 total yards of offense, picked off four passes and held the ball for nearly twice as long as the Blue Devils. Credit Byrn for being more humble in defeat than defensive coordinator Bud Foster, though.

Mr. Reliable: Clemson went blue collar in its recovery from the Florida State loss, relying on fifth-year senior running back Roderick McDowell to help the Tigers escape Maryland with a 40-27 win. McDowell carried the ball 30 times for 161 yards, and the Tigers ran the ball 57 times for a season-best 247 yards. McDowell notched two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, his first two scores of the season. He lost one fumble, as did Sammy Watkins, but the Tigers were still able to impose their will on a defense that had been stout against the run.

ACC predictions: Week 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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Like the ACC, we went 7-0 with our picks last week. Andrea is now 34-4 through four weeks, while Heather is 33-5, but Week 5 brings one big disagreement.

On to the picks!

Thursday

Virginia Tech (3-1, 0-0) at Georgia Tech (3-0, 2-0), 7:30 p.m., ESPN. #VTvsGT. One of these teams has gone to the ACC title game every single year. Will the same hold true in 2013? Both teams come in off a short week and hard-fought wins, but this happens to be the ACC opener for Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 8-1 in ACC openers, with the lone loss coming from Clemson in 2011. They also are good at beating the Jackets, winning three straight meetings and five of the last six. AA gives the nod to Virginia Tech this year based on the defense, ranked No. 5 in the nation. Bud Foster generally finds a way to slow down the Georgia Tech offense enough to give the Hokies a chance at the win. In the last two years, Georgia Tech posted rushing and total offense numbers below its season averages. The Jackets, meanwhile, looked sluggish for most of the day offensively last week against North Carolina. Virginia Tech is much better defensively and that is the difference. AA calls for an UPSET. Virginia Tech 21, Georgia Tech 20.

HD picks: Georgia Tech 24, Virginia Tech 21. The Hokies are coming off a triple-overtime win against Marshall and had a five-day turnaround to prepare for a completely different offense. Foster said he is going to be relying on the retention of his veteran defenders who have played against the spread option offense and have had success against it before. Georgia Tech, though, is No. 2 in the country in third-down conversion percentage, and while the Hokies’ D will do enough to keep them in this game, the offense will struggle enough again that this time it won’t be enough to win it.

Saturday

No. 15 Miami (3-0) at USF (0-3), noon, ESPNU. #MIAvsUSF. Only three seasons ago, USF upset Miami to end the regular season. But things have been downhill for the Bulls since then. USF is off to an 0-3 start for the first time in school history, in large part to its offense and its tendency to turn the ball over. Five times in three games so far, the opponents have scored defensive touchdowns. Penn State transfer Steven Bench gets the start at quarterback this week, while Miami plans to play Stephen Morris, working through a bruised ankle. Truthfully, Miami could win this game even without Morris.

AA says: Miami 35, USF 3

HD says: Miami 51, USF 10

East Carolina (2-1) at North Carolina (1-2), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #ECUvsUNC. East Carolina plays its second straight ACC opponent, having lost to Virginia Tech a few years ago. The Pirates run the same type of tempo offense the Tar Heels run so there will be plenty of no huddle in this game. What North Carolina coach Larry Fedora wants to see is better offense overall. He called the performance of the group in the second half of a loss to Georgia Tech "inept." Bottom line -- the Tar Heels are averaging more than 100 yards fewer on offense this year than last. North Carolina, in fact, ranks an unsightly No. 82 in the nation in total offense.

AA says: North Carolina 35, East Carolina 17

HD says: North Carolina 31, East Carolina 28

Virginia (2-1, 0-0) at Pitt (2-1, 1-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #UVAvsPITT. The Hoos cannot afford to get in a shootout with the Panthers because they do not have the type of offense that can keep up. What Virginia does have is a more aggressive defense that will try to ramp up the pressure on Tom Savage, rattling him enough so he has a more difficult time getting the ball to Tyler Boyd and Devin Street on the perimeter. Pitt has its own problems on defense it has to deal with, but Virginia is still trying to find its identity there with a consistent run game. Give the nod to the Panthers based on their offensive playmakers.

AA says: Pitt 30, Virginia 23

HD says: Pitt 28, Virginia 24

Troy (2-2) at Duke (2-2), 3 p.m., ESPN3. #TROYvsDUKE. The Blue Devils need to find a way to fix their problems on defense in a hurry after dropping two straight ACC games. The big key is limiting the explosive plays. In the loss to Pitt, the Panthers had 17 plays that picked up 25 or more yards. Troy does not have the same type of offensive skill players as Pitt, or even Georgia Tech for that matter. The Trojans also do not have anybody on their roster like Duke receiver Jamison Crowder, who had nearly 300 all-purpose yards in the loss to the Panthers.

AA says: Duke 35, Troy 20

HD says: Duke 52, Troy 21

No. 8 Florida State (3-0, 1-0) at Boston College (2-1, 1-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2. #FSUvsBC. The Eagles had a bye to prepare for Florida State, along with the experience of playing against one of the best defenses in the nation in a loss to USC two weeks ago. But those combined may not really do much to help the Eagles in their upset bid. Here is a stat that sums up how good the Seminoles have been early: Through their first three games, 11 different players have scored touchdowns.

AA picks: Florida State 45, Boston College 13

HD picks: Florida State 35, Boston College 17

Central Michigan (1-3) at NC State (2-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #CMUvsNCST. NC State coach Dave Doeren is quite familiar with Central Michigan, having played the Chippewas the last two years as Northern Illinois coach. He went 1-1 in those games. The key here is to see how the Wolfpack bounce back after a tough loss to Clemson last Thursday night. The last time they played a team they were favored to beat, they struggled with Richmond. The focus has to be better.

AA picks: NC State 35, Central Michigan 13

HD picks: NC State 31, Central Michigan 10

Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1) at No. 3 Clemson (3-0, 1-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #WAKEvsCLEM. Wake Forest has not won in Death Valley since 1998. That streak is not going to end Saturday. The Deacs have too many problems on offense to keep pace with the Tigers, who are trying to get back in sync after an up-and-down performance against NC State. Two of the best receivers in the ACC will be featured in this game – Sammy Watkins and Michael Campanaro – but Vic Beasley could end up making headlines once again for the Tigers.

AA picks: Clemson 45, Wake Forest 10

HD picks: Clemson 48, Wake Forest 13
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Shh. Don’t tell Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher that his No. 10 Seminoles didn’t look like a top-10 team for much of Thursday night.

Don’t even insinuate it.

Because in the end, it really didn’t matter.

Fisher, quarterback EJ Manuel, and probably everyone else within the program left Lane Stadium on Thursday night deservedly ecstatic and validated by their 28-22 come-from-behind victory against a gritty Virginia Tech team that refused to quit. It was an important win not only for the ACC, but also for the Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC), who are now just one win away from clinching the Atlantic Division title for the second time under Fisher. Florida State reached 9-1 for the first time since the 2000 team played for a national championship.

Much like the stunning 17-16 loss at NC State on Oct. 6, it was another down-to-the-wire thriller, but this time, Florida State avoided another disaster on the road in the final minute of the game.

[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
Bob Donnan/US Presswire"I'm just so happy for our team, ecstatic," Florida State QB EJ Manuel, a Virginia native, said.
“We had all kinds of mistakes, there’s no doubt,” Fisher said. “You’ll fix 'em and go on. But you come in here on a Thursday night and win, guys. I’m not disappointed at all. To go 9-1, and be right here and beat Virginia Tech on a Thursday night here. … We can criticize everything we want to criticize, but we came in and won a football game and did a heck of a job competing in the game.”

Florida State proved it can win on the road outside of the state of Florida. This was arguably FSU's toughest road trip of the year, but the Noles made it more difficult than it had to be.

An astounding minus-15 yards rushing by the No. 14 rushing offense in the country? No problem -- the Noles came up with enough big pass plays.

Two turnovers? Small potatoes. The Hokies (4-6, 2-4 ACC) couldn’t convert them into points.

Five sacks? No sweat. Manuel delivered in the clutch.

Only 3-of-14 on third downs? James Wilder Jr.’s fourth-down conversion on the game-winning drive was bigger.

“People might look and see we didn’t execute on a lot of things, and we have to go back and fix those things, but that being said, Virginia Tech, historically, they’ve always played well on Thursday nights, especially at home,” FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins said. “I expect more from our guys, and I know everybody else in the locker room does, it’s not just me saying that, but at the same time it does feel good to come out of Lane Stadium with a win, because it’s not easy.”

Even against a Virginia Tech team in the midst of its worst season in 20 years. The Hokies have lost three straight and five of their past six.

Yet somehow they looked like the preseason Coastal Division favorites many expected them to be this season.

That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the Hokies are 11-3 in Thursday night games, and Lane Stadium is one of the most unforgiving road venues in all of college football. Virginia Tech's defense played its best game of the season.

“I told our teammates you’re not going to see the same team you see on film,” Manuel said. “Virginia Tech is always going to be up and ready to play, especially us. And me being from Virginia, I know those guys, they want to beat me. … I’m just so happy for our team, ecstatic."

With 40 seconds remaining, FSU receiver Rashad Greene took what probably should have been an 8-yard catch and instead sprinted 39 yards downfield to give the Noles a 28-22 lead. It was a situation and a scenario the team has practiced numerous times, in its two-minute drills at practice every Thursday.

“When I told them what we were going to call and do, they said, ‘That’s just like Thursday,’” Fisher said. “I said, ‘You’re right, here we go.’”

The defense, which had underperformed for much of the game (Tech had 385 total yards and 5.5 yards per play), came up with its most crucial stop when Tyler Hunter intercepted Logan Thomas with 27 seconds remaining.

Virginia Tech’s defense blitzed over and over and over again, leaving the Hokies’ defensive backs on an island, and eventually, Florida State exposed that. In a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword gamble, defensive coordinator Bud Foster went with man coverage on the Seminoles’ final touchdown drive. For the majority of the night, though, the Hokies had the better defense.

Until the final minute.

The Noles have now beaten the top three teams from the Coastal Division most likely to earn a spot in the ACC championship game: Miami, Duke and Virginia Tech.

They’re not quite ready, though, to take the crown.

“We’ve got to go win a game at Maryland,” Fisher said. “I don’t ever feel like we’ve got anything wrapped up. I’ve been in this long enough to know that. No matter how you play somebody, a second time makes a difference. I just hope we get that opportunity.”

With the win over Virginia Tech, FSU got one step closer to it.

ACC predictions: Week 1

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
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Ah, it’s that time of year again. The time when you guys get to point and laugh when I am wrong, when you’re shocked into silence when I’m right, and when 12 fan bases are convinced I always pick against their team.

I heart predictions, don’t you?

As usual, my goal this year is to beat the guys over there in SEC land with a better picks percentage, but they’ve got a real tough job picking LSU and Alabama every week. Over here in ACC land, we’ve got a real conference race going on, and the unpredictability is a fabulous excuse for erroneous picks. Speaking of the SEC, I’m going to go out on a limb -- walk a plank, actually -- and say the ACC leaves Atlanta 2-0.

Undefeated … you know, just like my picks? Here we go, 2012 …

Miami 17, Boston College 14: The Eagles will give it everything they’ve got in a hard-fought game, but they’ll come up short late in the fourth quarter. Miami’s speed will be too much for a defense that will sorely miss tackling machine Luke Kuechly.

Clemson 34, Auburn 31: This has a high-scoring, last-play-of-the-game feel to it, and I’m willing to give Clemson the benefit of the doubt. Losing Sammy Watkins is going to hurt, yes, but the Tigers have enough surrounding talent that they’ll be able to compensate for his loss with a group effort.

Florida State 66, Murray State 10: Somehow I get the feeling Jimbo Fisher won’t call off the dogs in this one until later in the game. This will be a good chance for the offensive line to get the kinks and jitters out, and for the Seminoles to adjust to life without Greg Reid.

Maryland 24, William & Mary 14: Even with true freshman Perry Hills making his debut at quarterback, this is a home game the Terps should still win. It might get uncomfortably close at times, but Maryland has been embarrassed enough already not to let it happen again in the opener.

NC State 28, Tennessee 24: The Volunteers desperately need this victory, and it should be another down-to-the-wire game, but the Wolfpack will have the edge up front, and quarterback Mike Glennon will make enough plays down the stretch to be the difference.

Wake Forest 24, Liberty 10: This should be a ho-hum game for the Deacs, as long as they’re not looking ahead to next week’s game against North Carolina.

Florida International 34, Duke 31: The Blue Devils beat FIU on the road last year, but Duke’s injuries have accumulated over the past two months and will be a factor on both sides of the ball.

Virginia Tech 31, Georgia Tech 20: Did I mention this game is in Lane Stadium? Virginia Tech will come out fired up by its home-field advantage and force a fumble or a turnover that gives the Hokies the momentum early. The Hokies have questions on offense, yes, but it’s going to be Bud Foster’s defense that is the difference in this game.

North Carolina 38, Elon 10: Larry Fedora’s offense will work just fine in Week 1, but don’t expect to see the full repertoire against Elon. This will be a chance for the Tar Heels to work on the execution of new schemes on both offense and defense at game speed, and give them some game film to make corrections and adjustments before the Wake Forest game.

Virginia 24, Richmond 21: The Spiders, coached by quarterback Michael Rocco’s uncle, will keep things interesting against the Hoos. The familiarity between the coaching staffs will make this game better than it should be, as UVa coach Mike London was formerly the Richmond coach, and it is his alma mater.

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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