Florida State Seminoles: Drew Allen

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
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Offseason? What offseason ...
The ACC has a record 11 teams playing in bowl games this season, and that means plenty of showcase opportunities for the league’s stars. But dig into the matchups and five players have the most on the line as the ACC looks to build its résumé during bowl season.

Terrel Hunt, QB, Syracuse
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27 vs. Minnesota)

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/John BazemoreVirginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has thrown 16 touchdown passes and been intercepted 13 times this season. Can he finish his career with a bowl win?
With a new quarterback and a new coach, it was clear this would be a year of transition for Syracuse, but the Orange weathered the storm of an 0-2 start to reach a bowl game for the third time in four years. The turning point came in Week 3 when Hunt took over for a struggling Drew Allen at quarterback. Hunt accounted for eight TDs against Wagner and Tulane, but the rigors of the ACC proved more difficult. In conference games, Hunt completed just 57 percent of his throws, with just three touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. But his last two games (a one-point loss to Pitt and a 34-31 win over BC) were his best (66 percent completion, 3 TDs, 1 INT), and the Orange hope that growth will continue into the bowl game against Minnesota. Hunt is a dangerous runner, but as Syracuse looks to finish strong and build momentum toward 2014, his progress as a passer offers ample reason for optimism.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31 vs. Arizona)

Williams will get another chance to leave a final impression. The senior left the Eagles' regular-season finale at Syracuse, a game they ended up losing, with a shoulder injury, but he is expected to be fine by the time his team takes the field in Shreveport, La. The early exit -- nine carries for 29 yards -- likely cost him whatever extra votes he could have picked up in the Heisman Trophy race, but now he'll have a chance to further improve his draft stock. Williams has been all over the place in the past few weeks -- from a media tour in Bristol, Conn., to awards shows in Orlando, Fla., and New York. And he might meet his match when facing the Wildcats. Their star running back, Ka'Deem Carey, is the only player in the nation who averages more carries per game (29.27 to 27.42).

Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 31 vs. No. 17 UCLA)

The Hokies need to score more than usual if they are to upset the Bruins, who rank 23rd nationally in points per game (36.5). The defense has been the backbone of Virginia Tech, ranking fourth in total defense and eighth in scoring D, but it will need help. Enter Thomas, the talented senior who has failed to meet many outside expectations the past two seasons. The victim of shoddy receiver play earlier this fall, Thomas delivered his best performance in what was arguably his team's most important ACC game, completing 25 of 31 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns last month at Miami. He will need better protection up front in his collegiate finale -- sacked 11 times in the last two games -- and will probably shoulder a bigger burden with his legs, as leading rusher Trey Edmunds suffered a broken right tibia in the regular-season finale.

Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Discover Orange Bowl (Jan. 3 vs. No. 7 Ohio State)

This is it for the Tigers' signal-caller, who has rewritten a large portion of the ACC record book but, as the narrative goes, has failed to deliver in the big games. Boyd's two worst showings this season came in Clemson's two losses: versus Florida State and at South Carolina. He is just 1-5 against those schools as a starter, despite owning a remarkable 127 total career touchdowns to his name. And he returns to the Orange Bowl, where he fared OK two years ago (282 total yards, 2 TDs, 3 TOs) but was completely upstaged by West Virginia's offensive explosion. Now he gets one more shot to deliver a strong performance against a big-time opponent in the Buckeyes, whom he passed on in favor of Clemson while coming out of high school.

Telvin Smith, LB, Florida State
VIZIO BCS National Championship (Jan. 6 vs. No. 2 Auburn)

If Jameis Winston has been the face of Florida State’s team all season, Smith has been its heart. The senior linebacker is the Seminoles' emotional leader, the biggest talker on the practice field and on game day. While teammates laud his off-the-field exploits, Smith's role on the field against Auburn will be far more significant. The Tigers will want to run the ball early and often, and Smith will be at the forefront of FSU’s effort to slow them down. For two years, Smith platooned at middle linebacker because he was far more effective against the pass than the run, but he has blossomed this season, leading Florida State with 75 tackles, including 9.5 for a loss. With Timmy Jernigan creating havoc up front, Smith has snuffed out runners routinely, and Florida State’s first-team defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all season. Of course, Auburn has more rushing touchdowns than any team in the country, so the challenge for Smith and the Seminoles defense will be far bigger in Pasadena than anything they’ve seen so far.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
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It was fun while it lasted, but I think I’m done with “Homeland.”
 

Takeaways fueling FSU's dominance

November, 18, 2013
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The play unfolded just as Jeremy Pruitt might’ve dreamed it up back in spring practice, with the lone exception being the personnel on the field. Florida State’s defense has been so dominant that the starters were already resting comfortably on the sideline by the time Dan Hicks became the 15th Seminole with a takeaway this season.

Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen takes the snap and fakes a handoff. Tight end Josh Parris comes over the middle, and Allen tosses a spiral in his direction. Hicks jumps on it, diving in front of Parris at the last second, swiping the ball from midair for the interception.

[+] EnlargeFSU/Wake Forest
AP Photo/Nell RedmondThe Seminoles have six defensive touchdowns, including this interception by Nate Andrews.
The sideline erupted, and Florida State’s offense marched back onto the field and, once again, the Seminoles’ defense was making it look easy.

"They're playing extremely well," Jimbo Fisher said. "They're very disciplined, flying to the ball, creating turnovers. We've got a lot of athletic guys that are being very physical and very disciplined."

When Pruitt arrived as defensive coordinator in January, his to-do list was extensive — evaluate personnel, adjust the scheme, shore up fundamentals. At the top of the list though was the one crucial variable that past Seminoles defenses had failed to master: Takeaways.

“As good as Florida State played defensively last fall,” Pruitt said upon arrival, “one of the things where we really could improve is getting turnovers."

Indeed, FSU’s defense had been among the best in the country two years running under former coordinator Mark Stoops, but it was hardly a turnover machine. In 2012, the Seminoles’ pass defense ranked tops in the country overall, but was tied for 65th in interceptions. FSU had one of the most disruptive defensive lines in the nation, but 103 other teams finished with as many forced fumbles as the Seminoles did.

A large portion of the formula for creating turnovers is luck, and that would even out, Pruitt believed. What he hoped to do was fix the rest of the formula by putting his best athletes in position to make more plays and instilling a mind-set to get after the football every chance they got.

Through 10 games this season, that formula is working perfectly.

“Once again, execution is the key," linebacker Reggie Northrup said. "We’re making sure everybody’s where they need to be, and we make stops like that.”

Florida State leads the nation with 19 interceptions. The FSU defense creates a takeaway once every 27 plays, the sixth-best mark in the nation and a marked improvement over last season's rate of once every 42 plays. In the Seminoles’ last five games alone, they’ve secured 18 takeaways -- a tally that would rank in the top 50 nationally for the entire season.

All that defensive success has helped key Florida State’s offensive explosion, too. For the year, FSU has scored 135 points off turnovers, tops in the nation and more than a quarter of all points the team has scored this year. The defense has already scored six touchdowns of its own, two more than it mustered during the entirety of Mark Stoops’ tenure. FSU's defensive efficiency rating -- a measure of a unit's contributions to opponent-adjusted scoring margins -- is tops in the nation, better even than Pruitt's former team, Alabama.

"It's crazy," tailback James Wilder Jr. said. "We joke around with them like, 'Y'all getting those interceptions, but stop scoring. You're keeping us off the field.' It's great. They're doing a great job. That shows how mature the defense is."

Of course, what has been most impressive about the aggressive approach to takeaways is that it hasn’t come at the cost of fundamentals. FSU is allowing 18 more yards per game than last season, but 3.5 fewer points. The secondary has been dominant, and the rushing defense, which struggled a bit early, is rounding into shape.

This was the plan all along, but the speed with which Pruitt’s formula yielded results has surprised even his players. Still, it has been fun to watch it all click into place.

“It’s something exciting to see," tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "I love watching those guys make plays behind us.”

ACC weekend rewind: Week 8

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
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Well that was quite a weekend, huh? And after all of that ... the ACC still has three top-10 teams going into Week 9. But before we look ahead, let's take one last look back at the week that was in the conference.

[+] EnlargeRashad Greene
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesRashad Greene and the Seminoles, who are ranked No. 2 in the first BCS standings, dominated Clemson, 51-14.
The good: The ACC has a clear national title contender, and that is what is needed most for this conference to establish itself as a legitimate force atop college football. Looking for someone to dethrone Alabama and the mighty SEC? You might need to look no further than Saturday night's game at Clemson, when Florida State punched the Tigers in the mouth early and dominated from start to finish, deflating a much-hyped game in a way that had not been seen in this sport since the Crimson Tide did the same to Notre Dame in last season's BCS title game. The ACC has not had so much as a one-loss conference champion since the Seminoles' 12-0 national title campaign in 1999, and it is extremely difficult to see an outfit as talented as the one that owned Death Valley this weekend dropping two contests, based on its schedule. One loss will be hard enough for any other conference foe to deliver, as Florida State checked in at No. 2 in the first BCS standings and now has every reason to believe it can compete for a national title. (Its quarterback could be pretty busy come awards time, too.)

The bad: No, this was not "pulling a Clemson." The Tigers simply got beat, badly, by a better team. And you can very well make the argument that they could and would beat every other ACC team outside of Florida State. But this was their moment, complete with a second visit from "College GameDay" and another prime-time showcase for a program with national title aspirations. Instead, this game was over shortly after it started, with Tajh Boyd not performing up to expectations and the highly touted, improved defense proving to be no match for the Seminoles' skill players. This has to be, in some ways, disheartening, considering this was Clemson's shot at home with a senior quarterback against a Seminoles team that had lost 11 NFL draft picks and will only get better moving forward. Clemson, currently ranked ninth, can still have a very strong season, so long as it doesn't reel from Saturday's rude awakening.

The ugly: Syracuse went into Atlanta with a bit of momentum after registering its first ACC win, at NC State. Instead a Georgia Tech team that had lost three in a row smacked the Orange from start to finish, winning 56-0 for its second shutout of the season, marking the first time the Yellow Jackets had shut out two opponents in a season since defensive coordinator Ted Roof was a team captain in 1985. Terrel Hunt struggled in his third conference game, failing again to reach the 100-yard passing mark and this time getting pulled for Drew Allen. Defensive tackle John Raymon was lost for the season as well with a right knee injury. The Orange could use the bye to regroup before hosting Wake Forest on Nov. 2.

The walking wounded: It was bad enough that Maryland struggled throughout a 34-10 loss to Wake Forest. But the Terrapins also lost two of their top offensive weapons, with receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long suffering season-ending leg injuries. Diggs broke his fibula and Long broke his fibula and tibia. Maryland had started 4-0 before losing 63-0 at Florida State, barely beating Virginia and then getting routed by the Demon Deacons. It had already suffered a handful of defensive injuries before Saturday, and things won't get any easier this coming Saturday as it hosts No. 9 Clemson, which is coming off its first loss.

[+] EnlargeDabo Swinney, DeShawn Williams
AP Photo/Mike StewartCan Dabo Swinney's Clemson team bounce back from its big loss to Florida State?
The history: On the other end of that matchup in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wake Forest saw a new receiver etch his name to the top of the school record book. Michael Campanaro had 11 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown, becoming the Demon Deacons' career leader in receptions with 217, passing Desmond Clark. He is second in the ACC in both catches (55) and receiving yards (704) on the season, and he also threw a touchdown pass for good measure against the Terrapins.

The second-half charge: Duke finds itself on the cusp of bowl eligibility for the second straight year after overcoming a 22-point deficit at Virginia and pulling out a 35-22 win to improve to 5-2. The Blue Devils got a boost from both quarterbacks as Anthony Boone threw two touchdown passes and Brandon Connette ran one in for a score. Duke converted four fourth-down second-half plays as it scored the game's final 35 points and delivered the reeling Cavaliers another blow as they fell to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play. Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage publicly backed coach Mike London last week, but questions will continue to mount if the Cavaliers continues to struggle.

The anomaly: Miami is No. 7 in the BCS standings after eking out a victory Thursday at one-win North Carolina. Stephen Morris struggled, throwing four interceptions, which marked the third straight game the Hurricanes had turned the ball over four times (Miami somehow won all three games). The Canes are 6-0 and host Wake Forest this weekend before traveling to Florida State on Nov. 2, but they lost Duke Johnson (head) and Phillip Dorsett (knee) to injuries in Chapel Hill. Johnson is expected to be fine, but Dorsett will miss four to six weeks with an MCL tear.

The ground boost: Pitt finally got the lift it needed from its rushing game, as Isaac Bennett carried the ball 30 times for 240 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-24 win over Old Dominion. The Panthers improved from 105th to 91st nationally in rushing yards per game (141.67). For a program that had tallied just 8 and 23 yards rushing in its previous two games, the timing could not have been better.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 4

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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Here is one last look back at the week that was in the ACC.

The good: Perhaps Clemson teams of the past would have faltered when adversity struck early Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. But the defensive line stood up, and the offense made plays when it needed to, turning a close contest into a more comfortable 26-14 win, allowing the Tigers to remain the ACC's most likely national title contender.

[+] EnlargeTravis Blanks
Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty ImagesThe Clemson defense played well in the win over North Carolina State.
The bad: Pitt's defense avoids this distinction only because Duke's was worse. The Panthers escaped Durham, N.C., with a 58-55 win Saturday for their first ACC victory. The Blue Devils surrendered 598 yards of offense and did not force a single turnover, while committing four themselves. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday that he had never been a part of any game like it before.

The ugly: Virginia Tech beat Marshall 29-21 in three overtimes to get to 3-1. The first two overtimes featured no scores. The game had five total turnovers. Marshall committed 11 penalties. Oh, and both kickers combined to go 0-for-5 on field goal attempts, with the Hokies' Ethan Keyserling going 0-for-3 while replacing Cody Journell, who was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The one bright spot was Derrick Hopkins coming oh-so-close to a walk-off fat guy touchdown after a Rakeem Cato fumble in overtime No. 2.

The wake me when it's over: The fourth quarter of Miami's 77-7 win over Savannah State was shortened to 12 minutes, as mutually agreed upon by both coaches. What more needs to be said about this matchup?

The wake me when it's over, Parts 2 and 3: In case one FCS beatdown wasn't enough for you, Virginia beat VMI 49-0 and Florida State beat Bethune-Cookman 54-6. For those keeping count, that's a combined 180-13 margin for the three ACC squads against FCS foes this past weekend.

The rebound: Wake Forest needed a win in the worst way, and the Demon Deacons came through Saturday at Army. Josh Harris had two second-half touchdowns and Nikita Whitlock notched 14 tackles, giving the Deacs a 25-11 win before they prepare to head to Clemson this week.

The statement: Nice little stories don't force six turnovers and beat West Virginia 37-0. They don't hold the Mountaineers to six first downs and 175 total yards of offense. And they don't start 4-0. It may be time to take Maryland seriously after its rout of WVU, as the Terrapins are two wins shy of their previous two-year total under Randy Edsall, who refused to call the win a signature one but is surely pleased with his team's start this season.

The what-could-have-been: Hindsight is 20/20. We don't know how ready Terrel Hunt would have been to start for Syracuse in the season opener. And Wagner and Tulane are not as good as Penn State and Northwestern. That said, the loss to the Nittany Lions was a winnable game. And Hunt's two starts after the Orange's first two losses with Drew Allen under center have been great, as he completed 16 of 21 passes Saturday against the Green Wave for 181 yards and four touchdowns. He added 39 yards and another score on the ground, and he did not turn the ball over. Hunt, as Anish Shroff pointed out, has the highest Total QBR rating in the country, though he has not played enough yet to qualify for the top spot.

The stand: Georgia Tech improved to 2-0 in the conference with a 28-20 home win over North Carolina, and it did it with its defense. The Yellow Jackets trailed by 13 twice in the first half. But they held the Tar Heels without a point over the game's final 39-plus minutes and held UNC to just 319 total yards of offense.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 3

September, 16, 2013
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Week 3 in the ACC didn't have the same high-stakes fireworks as the first two, but there were still a few stories of note.

[+] EnlargeVad Lee
Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia Tech's Vad Lee threw for four touchdown passes and ran for another score against Duke.
The good: Any worries Georgia Tech fans might have had about new starting quarterback Vad Lee should have been alleviated when the Durham, N.C., native torched his hometown team, throwing four touchdown passes and running for a fifth score in a 38-14 victory over Duke. Lee threw for 126 yards, ran for 76 more and directed the Yellow Jackets' option offense with precision. The four TD passes represented a single-game high in the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech, and Lee's six passing scores already have him halfway to last year's total of 12.

The bad: Riding the high of a two-game winning streak to start the season, Boston College was thinking upset when it headed west to take on a struggling USC team. The Eagles might be improved under new coach Steve Addazio, but they're not quite ready to play with the big boys. The Trojans' languishing offense found plenty of room to work in a 35-7 win, and BC's Chase Rettig completed just 11 of 24 passes in a homecoming game for the Southern California native.

The ugly: Head coach Jim Grobe was optimistic before the season. But three games in, things look awfully bad for Wake Forest. The Deacons lost their second game in a row -- 21-19 to Louisiana-Monroe after a failed two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter -- mustering just 15 yards on the ground in the game. Through three games, Wake Forest ranks 120th nationally at just 2.4 yards per rush.

The playmaker: Pittsburgh might not be quite ready to compete with the ACC's royalty, but the Panthers clearly have some skill on offense, led by freshman phenom Tyler Boyd. After racking up 151 all-purpose yards in Week 1 against Florida State, Boyd demolished New Mexico with a 33-yard TD run and a 34-yard TD reception. Overall, Boyd has averaged 20.4 yards every time he's touched the ball.

The rebound: Jameis Winston admitted he might have been a bit too excited for his home debut at Florida State and it showed. He opened the game 2-of-5 passing and threw his first career interception early in the second quarter. But Winston wasn't rattled by the struggles. He followed the pick by completing his final 13 passes and leading six consecutive touchdown drives in the Seminoles' blowout win over Nevada.

The rebound, part II: After two dismal weeks offensively, Syracuse finally got things going behind quarterback Terrel Hunt. Drew Allen struggled in Syracuse's first two games -- both losses -- and Scott Shafer announced he'd open up the competition. Hunt made a quick impression, completing 15 of 18 passes for 265 yards and three TDs in a 54-0 win over Wagner. What remains to be seen is whether Hunt can keep up the big numbers against better competition.

The homecoming: Randy Edsall helped usher Connecticut into the FBS as head coach of the Huskies, but he didn't do his former team many favors when he led Maryland back to his old stomping grounds. The Terps racked up 501 yards of offense and only three turnovers kept UConn in the game. Quarterback C.J. Brown gained more than 100 yards rushing for the second time in three games in the 32-21 Maryland victory.

The paradox: Virginia Tech's third game was a lot like its first. The good news was that the Hokies' defense looks legit. After an opening-drive TD, East Carolina managed just 129 yards the rest of the game and Virginia Tech forced three turnovers in a 15-10 victory. On the flip side, Logan Thomas and the offense continues to struggle. Tech had just 311 yards of its own, was 10-of-22 on third and fourth downs and averaged just 1.6 yards per rush. Meanwhile, kicker Cody Journell missed two field goals and a PAT.

The wake-up call: Duke might still get to six victories and bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season, but it seemed clear after Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech that the Blue Devils aren't quite ready to compete for a division title. Lee torched the Duke defense and quarterback Brandon Connette averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt in his first start since replacing the injured Anthony Boone.

The quote: "When I got out there, it was nothing but green grass." -- Florida State's Karlos Williams on the toss sweep that went for a 65-yard touchdown on his first career carry. He moved from safety to tailback last week.

What we learned in the ACC: Week 3

September, 15, 2013
9/15/13
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Here’s a look back at five lessons learned in the ACC in Week 3:

[+] EnlargeKarlos Williams
AP Photo/Steve CannonSeminole Karlos Williams' first carry went for a 65-yard touchdown.
Syracuse found a quarterback: Granted, it was only against FCS opponent Wagner, a team the Orange drilled 54-0, but Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt gave the offense the spark it so desperately needed after an 0-2 start. He came off the bench in the first quarter to replace starter Drew Allen and directed five first-half touchdown drives. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns. This past week, coach Scott Shafer had said that both Allen and Hunt would see playing time against Wagner. Allen struggled in the first two games as the starter, and against Wagner, he wasn’t much better, starting out with just three points on the first three series. Hunt came in with 7:07 left in the first quarter and didn’t look back.

Georgia Tech takes early lead in Coastal race: It’s still waaaaay too early to make any judgments about who will separate in the Coastal Divison race, but with a 38-14 win at Duke, Georgia Tech took a small step ahead of the rest. The next three weeks (against UNC, Virginia Tech and Miami) will reveal the Yellow Jackets’ true place in the ACC standings, but the convincing performance was exactly what Georgia Tech needed heading into the critical four-week stretch. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, continued to underwhelm with its offense and special teams while the defense was the difference in a 15-10 win over East Carolina. We learned that identity, though, years ago.

Wake Forest has bigger problems than Boston College: They’ve got … Louisiana-Monroe. The Demon Deacons lost 21-19 to ULM in what (so far) has easily been the ACC’s worst loss of the season. Wake Forest had just 15 rushing yards (on 15 attempts) and was 5-of-15 on third-down conversions. And yet the Deacs won the turnover battle, and receiver Michael Campanaro racked up a game-high 177 yards. For the second straight week, Wake’s option offense struggled and the defense underwhelmed. It’s one thing to see the offense trying to adjust to a shift in philosophy, but the Deacs’ defense was supposed to be a strength this fall, and expectations within the program were obviously much higher. If Wake can’t beat BC or ULM, who can it beat?

The ACC can’t win ‘em all. It was an impressive first two weeks for the conference, with Clemson’s upset of Georgia and Miami’s upset of Florida, but beating up on the big boys (and in Wake’s case, the little guys) came to a halt in Week 3. Boston College couldn’t get it done in a 35-7 loss at USC on Saturday. USC, which was coming off an embarrassing loss to Washington State, took its frustrations out on the Eagles, holding BC to just 184 total yards and 4 of 13 third-down conversions. The Eagles had positive momentum after a 2-0 start, but the intangibles weren’t enough to slow down USC’s running game, or get their own ground game going. Overall, the ACC went 4-2 against nonconference opponents this week, with losses to USC and … ULM.

Karlos Williams can play offense. In the season opener against Pitt, he was a safety. In the win over Nevada, he was a running back -- and a heckuva good one, too. The position change suited Williams just fine, as he ran eight times for 110 yards and a touchdown. His 65-yard run early in the third quarter gave the Noles a 31-7 cushion. His performance made Coach Jimbo Fisher look like a genius. "I'm not trying to say that I was rubbing a crystal ball, but that guy is a talented cat," Fisher said, according to the Associated Press. "He's very dynamic with the ball. He's big, he's strong and explosive. He's natural. When he gets in space, he can hit home runs and he's hard to tackle because he's a big, physical guy there, too. ... Karlos will provide us a very big piece of the puzzle, in my opinion, as the year goes on."

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has not disappointed. Neither has Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston -- at least for one game, anyway.

Even Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown has impressed in his return from a major knee injury.

The rest of the quarterbacks in the ACC? Well, their performances have not exactly risen to elite levels. Not yet, anyway.

[+] EnlargeStephen Morris
AP Photo/J Pat CarterStephen Morris is completing only 52 percent of his passes thus far.
You figured there could be some early struggles at the position, with seven teams featuring new starters. Two of those teams -- Duke and NC State -- are already playing backups after their starters got hurt. Still, several quarterbacks expected to be among the best in the league have struggled so far, too.

The latest QBR stats show the ACC has more quarterbacks underperforming than the other power conferences.

Six ACC quarterbacks rank in the bottom 38 in QBR, which measures the way a signal caller plays by taking into account his stats combined with game situations. That ranks last among the Big 12 (two), Pac-12 (two), Big Ten (three) and SEC (two). In addition, six ACC quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns so far this season.

Part of the reason for some of the early struggles can be attributed to the schedule. Three players went against top-10 defenses -- Miami quarterback Stephen Morris against Florida; Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas against Alabama; and Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen against Penn State. In addition, Virginia quarterback David Watford faced BYU and Oregon, while Pitt quarterback Tom Savage went against Florida State, a top-10 defense a year ago.

Each quarterback ranks in the bottom 38 in QBR. Morris (No. 100) and Thomas (No. 132) stand out the most in that group. Morris in particular has not been as crisp as he was when he ended the last four games of 2012 with 11 touchdown passes, zero interceptions and 1,131 passing yards.

Going into the year, Morris drew raves as a potential first-round pick thanks to his arm strength and football savvy. Many pegged him as the second-best quarterback in the league behind Boyd. So far in two games, Morris is completing only 52 percent -- down from the 58 percent he posted in 2012. He also has three touchdown passes to two interceptions and has thrown for a total of 322 yards.

Miami coach Al Golden says Morris' performance has been a function of both games the Hurricanes have played. In the opener against FAU, their ground game had more than 300 yards. Last week in a win over Florida, the entire Miami offense struggled against one of the best defenses it will face this year. Still, there were several miscommunications in the pass game, in particular between Morris and Phillip Dorsett.

"There's a lot of things we have to fix, but Stephen's not on a different page or anything like that," Golden said. "We're anxious to get in here this week and work. I know he is. We're just going to get better and move forward."

Thomas' struggles have continued, despite a new coordinator and new offensive scheme. He has one touchdown pass to three interceptions and is not even ranked among the top 10 players in passing efficiency in the latest ACC statistics. His completion percentage is down around 39 percent. Not all the problems fall on Thomas' shoulders. His receivers have not helped him out, and the run game remains inconsistent.

But given his talent and starting experience, Thomas should not rank last among all ACC quarterbacks in QBR. Many expected improvement this year after a down 2012. The tangible results have not been there for him just yet.

One other returning veteran has not been completely on point, either. North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner, also rated right behind Boyd among returning starters, ranks No. 66 in QBR and is at No. 7 in passing efficiency in the ACC. He has not been terrible; but he has not been outstanding, either.

"Bryn is playing well," coach Larry Fedora said. "The pieces of the puzzle around Bryn are a little different this year. We still have to come together as an offense. I don't think we're hitting on all cylinders yet. We have to become more effective running the football to take some of that pressure off Bryn so he can be who he can be."

Among the first-year starters, Allen has probably struggled more than anyone. He has one touchdown pass to six interceptions -- including four last week in a loss to Northwestern. Coach Scott Shafer says he will play Allen and backup Terrel Hunt against Wagner on Saturday.

"It's been frustrating going through growing pains but at the same time I think they continue to attack practice every day and continue to get better and we've just got to eliminate the major mistakes and I think we can have one or maybe two great players," Syracuse quarterbacks coach Tim Lester said.

Boyd and Winston have lived up to the early hype. Brown has been terrific, ranking No. 3 in the nation in QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks.

But there's no doubt this is a position that must see improvement across the league as the year goes on.

ACC predictions: Week 3

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
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Both Miami and BC got us last week, sending us to 8-2 records in Week 2 and 20-3 marks overall. This week will be different, though. We finally disagreed.

OK, so it was only one game, but it's progress. On to the picks!

SATURDAY
Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0), noon, FSN. Heather put the Hokies on upset alert headed into this game for legitimate reasons. Virginia Tech has underwhelmed on offense again; East Carolina has proven problematic in the past; and Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium is a pretty tough place to play. The Pirates have been solid on offense behind quarterback Shane Carden, who has seven touchdown passes, zero interceptions and is completing nearly 80 percent of his passes. East Carolina has run 140 plays so far this year – the same number as Oregon. But its first two games came against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic. Not exactly powerhouses. The Virginia Tech defense will find a way to slow down the high-tempo attack, and the Hokies will do enough on offense to win a close game.

AA picks: Virginia Tech 20, East Carolina 13

HD picks: Virginia Tech 31, ECU 28

ULM (1-1) at Wake Forest (1-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #ULMvsWAKE. Believe it or not, this is the first Saturday game for the Deacs all season, after they opened on a Thursday night and then played BC last Friday. ULM is not a pushover. The Warhawks won eight games a season ago and return a veteran quarterback in Kolton Browning and veteran running back Jyruss Edwards. ULM also just ran for over 300 yards in a win over Grambling. No need to remind Deacs fans about the way the Eagles ran the ball last week. Still, what Wake Forest needs to do in this game is be more effective running the ball. That has been a major area of concern dating back to last season. ULM has not done particularly well at slowing down the run, so Wake could have a breakthrough.

AA picks: Wake Forest 24, ULM 20

HD picks: Wake Forest 28, ULM 17

New Mexico (1-1) at Pitt (0-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #UNMvsPITT. The Panthers take the field for the first time since losing to Florida State in the opener, with an eye on making major defensive improvements. The good news is there is no Jameis Winston on the other side of the ball. The bad news is that New Mexico runs an entirely different offense based on the option, requiring much better tackling than the Panthers had against the Seminoles. Running back Kasey Carrier had 291 yards rushing in a win over UTEP last week. Offensively, Pitt has an opportunity to get its running game going against one of the worst rush defenses in the nation. No question, the Panthers need to do a better job on first down.

AA picks: Pitt 34, New Mexico 13

HD picks: Pitt 35, New Mexico 7

Boston College (2-0) at USC (1-1), 3 p.m., Pac-12 Network. #BCvsUSC. As tempting as it is to pick the upset in this game, given the horror show that was USC last week, it is tough for me to see the Trojans losing back-to-back games at home to inferior opponents. USC has too much talent to keep falling on its face, even with Lane Kiffin as its head coach. While I have been impressed so far with the job coach Steve Addazio has done with the Eagles, I think the Trojans bounce back in a low-scoring slugfest. USC has a terrific defense (No. 12 in the nation right now in total D) and I do not think Andre Williams will have nearly the same success he did against Wake Forest. BC does not have a reliable second option at receiver, either. USC will get just enough out of Cody Kessler and Marqise Lee to win.

AA picks: USC 17, Boston College 10

HD picks: BC 14, USC 10: Forget about the disaster that is the Kiffin era. This Boston College team has gotten back to its roots under Addazio. They are a well-coached, fundamentally sound, physical team that can run the ball, and that’s a recipe for beating teams they’re not expected to. Yes, USC’s defense is very good -- hence the low-scoring game -- but there are intangibles at work here. The Eagles are all-in on Addazio’s playbook, while the Trojans don’t even seem to be on the same page.

Nevada (1-1) at No. 10 Florida State (1-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPN. #NEVvsFSU. Act II of the Jameis Winston show begins Saturday against a Nevada team that gave up 58 to UCLA two weeks ago. So that clearly means the Seminoles will score 116, right? All joking aside, the most interesting aspect of this game is watching the revamped FSU defense defend the vaunted Pistol offense. The Noles need to get a better performance out of its defensive front than they got against Pitt in the Week 1 opener. The Wolf Pack do have a talented quarterback in Cody Fajardo, but clearly the defense is a work in progress. Jameis Time again.

AA picks: FSU 45, Nevada 17

HD picks: FSU 58, Nevada 10

Georgia Tech (1-0) at Duke (2-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #GTvsDUKE. The Jackets enter a critical four-game stretch against Coastal Division rivals, a make-or-break month that will have a large impact on their season. They have owned the series against Duke of late, winning nine straight while averaging 37 points per contest. Duke appears to be playing better on defense this year -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said, "They look like the old Pittsburgh Steelers." But the truth is, neither team has played a quality opponent yet. We will know plenty more about both teams after this game ends. I do think Duke is better defensively, but not good enough yet to slow down the Georgia Tech offense.

AA picks: Georgia Tech 34, Duke 20

HD picks: Georgia Tech 35, Duke 28

Wagner (1-1) at Syracuse (0-2), ESPN3. #WAGvsCUSE. No Big Ten team on the schedule this week for the Orange, but there is no time to relax. Not when there are so many issues that need to be fixed on offense and defense. Where to begin? Syracuse has to take better care of the football, as it stands at minus-3 in turnover margin right now. Drew Allen has to find a way to cut down on his mistakes. The ground game needs to get supercharged. And the defense has to do a better job up front. Wagner did win its conference last year, a point Syracuse coach Scott Shafer has hammered home this week, so this could be closer than some expect.

AA picks: Syracuse 35, Wagner 17

HD picks: Syracuse 42, Wagner 3

Maryland (2-0) at UConn (0-1), 7:30 p.m., ESPN3. #MDvsUCONN. The Randy Edsall Bowl closes the ACC schedule for Week 2, and the truth is, this game should not even be close. The Huskies had myriad issues at just about every position on the field in their loss to Towson, an FCS team, gaining just 290 yards in total offense. The Terps are hot right now, particularly on offense. Both the running game and passing game have worked well so far, giving them the No. 1 offense in the ACC. The defense has also been strong, ranking No. 4 in the league in total D. The heart of the Huskies the past two years was their defense, but they lost their coordinator to BC and their best players to the NFL. Maryland romps.

AA picks: Maryland 38, UConn 10

HD picks: Maryland 28, UConn 7

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
9:04
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It's time for a fresh set of power rankings with another week in the books. The top four teams remain the same from last week, but there was some shuffling the rest of the way down.

1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.

3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.

5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.

6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.

7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.

8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.

9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.

10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.

11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.

13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.

14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.

ACC lunchtime links

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
12:00
PM ET
That other brand of football starts tonight ... if you're in to that sort of thing.

C.J. Brown and Marcus Whitfield earned game balls for their performances against FIU, but they didn't get them. Chalk it up to an arcane NCAA rule that the Baltimore Sun uncovered.

Tickets are tough to come by for the big Florida-Miami showdown, writes the Sun-Sentinel.

Meanwhile, there are still plenty of good seats available for Virginia Tech's game against Western Carolina. School officials tell the Richmond Times-Dispatch they're expecting a 93-game sellout streak to come to an end.

The Charlotte Observer has a great piece on Clemson running back Roderick McDowell, who overcame a childhood disability to reach star status with the Tigers.

It was a strong debut for Boston College left tackle Matt Patchan in the opener, writes the Boston Herald.

Junior Darius Jennings has taken the lead role in Virginia's receiving corps, writes the Roanoke Times.

Pitt is hoping to learn from its mistakes against Florida State as it continues its first season in the ACC, writes the Post-Gazette.

Syracuse's defense will be walking a tightrope if QB Drew Allen can't take a step forward against Northwestern, writes the Post-Standard.

NC State receiver Rashard Smith is finally getting a chance to show what he can do, writes Backing the Pack.

The Raleigh News & Observer takes a closer look at the freshmen who saw action in Duke's opener and wonders who might end up with a redshirt.

Florida State tailback James Wilder Jr. is day-to-day with a shoulder injury, writes the Miami Herald.

Add Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson to the growing group of coaches frustrated by the no-huddle offense, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Athlon offers its Week 2 predictions around the ACC -- and shockingly, there's not a lot of love for South Carolina State.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 2

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
9:00
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One week after Clemson and UNC took center stage with big nonconference games, Virginia and Miami step to the plate. Here's what to keep an eye on in Week 2 of ACC action.

1. A rivalry renewed: Once one of the most high-profile rivalries in the country, Florida and Miami have faced off just once in the past nine years -- a 26-3 Gators win in 2008. But the sparks fly again this week, and the matchup figures to live up to its rich history. Florida enters ranked No. 12 in the country, the latest SEC foe to provide a significant hurdle for the upstart ACC. Miami enters with its highest hopes in years, and a win over its in-state rival would solidify the notion that the Hurricanes are finally ready for the national spotlight again.

2. A big test for Virginia's defense: The Hoos sure looked impressive in their first game under coordinator Jon Tenuta last week, with Anthony Harris & Co. turning in a virtuoso performance in a come-from-behind win over BYU. Their reward? That'd be Oregon's high-flying offensive attack that managed to reel off 71 plays in less than 20 minutes of possession time in its opener.

3. David Watford put to the test: The bottom line for the first-year starter is that Virginia got the win, but it certainly wasn't a pretty offensive performance against BYU in Week 1. Watford was just 18-of-32 passing for 114 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His Total QBR ranked 107th nationally, and Virginia had eight three-and-outs. Fifteen of its 17 drives lasted six plays or fewer -- a major problem when trying to keep Oregon's up-tempo juggernaut off the field.

4. Syracuse vs. the Big Ten: For the second straight week, the Orange will take on a Big Ten foe, but after falling to Penn State 23-17 in Week 1, life won't get any easier this time around with a trip to No. 19 Northwestern. The defense looked solid against the Nittany Lions, but QB Drew Allen must improve on a performance that included 16-of-37 for 189 yards passing and two interceptions.

5. A rebound for Logan Thomas: Of the 121 Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks who qualified last week, none had a lower Total QBR than Thomas' 1.9. It was a dismal performance -- 5-of-26 for 59 yards and an INT -- and underscored numerous problems on Virginia Tech's offense. The receivers let Thomas down again and again, and the line didn't exactly provide smooth sailing. An overwhelmed Thomas shouldering the burden for the entire offense was the Hokies' downfall last season, and the situation doesn't appear to have changed much. On the upside, Western Carolina should feel like a weekend at the beach compared to Alabama's defense in Week 1.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Logan Thomas started the season just 5-of-26 for 59 yards in Virginia Tech's loss to Alabama.
6. NC State's quarterback rotation: Brandon Mitchell's surgery to repair a broken foot appears to have been a success, but now there's the small matter of getting through the next four to six weeks without him. Dave Doeren says Pete Thomas will get the start this week but he wants to "explore his options." That's not exactly a vote of confidence, particularly when it might mean seeing some receivers and tailbacks getting a look at QB.

7. Tajh Boyd burnishes his Heisman candidacy: After the first week of games, the Clemson quarterback appears to be the Heisman front-runner, and he'll get a chance to add to his gaudy numbers against Football Championship Subdivision foe South Carolina State on Saturday. But offensive coordinator Chad Morris actually criticized his QB a bit, saying he'd like to see a faster offensive tempo.

8. Identifying a contender: Wake Forest and Boston College are both coming off down seasons in 2012, both struggled early against FCS foes in Week 1 and both eventually managed to win with relative ease. So what did we learn? Probably not much, but both teams will get a chance to prove they belong when they face off against one another Friday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

9. North Carolina's run defense: It wasn't Jadeveon Clowney who proved to be the Tar Heels' nightmare in a 27-10 opening-week loss. It was their own defense, which coughed up 228 rushing yards to the Gamecocks, including a whopping 9.6 yards per carry to sophomore Mike Davis.

10. More offense for Maryland, Duke: Both teams offered question marks entering the season. Duke was retooling its offensive pieces, while Maryland was happy to simply have a few more of its offensive stars -- namely quarterback C.J. Brown -- back at work. Both turned in dominant performances in their openers, both topping 40 points and 480 yards of offense. The Terps get newly minted FBS Independent Old Dominion this week, and Duke faces off against Memphis (9-39 over the past four seasons), meaning more fireworks are likely in store.
Week 1 was filled with introductions in the ACC, as several fan bases got acquainted with first-year starting quarterbacks. Vad Lee led Georgia Tech to a 70-0 romp over Elon, Drew Allen was named the starter at Syracuse, NC State’s Brandon Mitchell played well until he injured his foot, and the Anthony Boone era officially began at Duke. None of them, though, made the kind of splash Florida State’s Jameis Winston did in the Noles’ season opener against Pitt.

Winston completed 25-of-27 for 356 yards with four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the 41-13 win. He set the school’s completion percentage record and record for passing yards by a freshman in his first start.

Jameis Winston
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesSeveral ACC schools debuted new QBs, none with more fanfare than Florida State's Jameis Winston.
Even Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher conceded he’d never seen anything like it.

“For a first game, I haven’t seen [a performance] of that caliber,” he said, “there’s no doubt.”

For the most part, ACC coaches were pleased with what they saw from their rookies -- or in Pitt’s case, their veteran. Senior Tom Savage hadn’t taken a snap in over two years before he lined up against the Noles at Heinz Field. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“He was enjoying playing again,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “When you sit out that long, sometimes you see it with older guys who get their first start. All of those plays are really appreciated. He was a guy who truly enjoyed playing football again. I loved his demeanor throughout the whole game, when something good happened or something bad happened.”

There was bad news in Raleigh, where Mitchell broke his foot after just three series in the first quarter. The Pack will now turn to Pete Thomas heading into Saturday’s game against Richmond. Thomas replaced Mitchell in the 41-14 win over Louisiana Tech and threw for 212 yards on 15 of 27 passing. NC State coach Dave Doeren said the coaches are going to have to be “a little more creative” with their running game because Thomas isn’t as mobile, but that Thomas doesn’t have to be a superhero to win games.

“We need him not to beat us,” Doeren said. “Just distribute the ball to the right people. Don’t try to win the game, just don’t lose it. That’s something quarterbacks can try to make too many plays when they don’t really have to. … Pete can do that. We’re looking forward to seeing him take this opportunity and do something with it.”

Doeren said the staff is trying to redshirt backup quarterback Manny Stocker, and that Stocker’s playing time last year “was premature for his growth as a player.”

“I just think a year going against our starting defense as the scout team quarterback will really benefit him,” Doeren said.

There was a lot of hype and anticipation amongst Syracuse fans about transfer quarterback Drew Allen, but the Orange’s offense looked flat in the 23-17 loss to Penn State. Christian Hackenberg, the Nittany Lions’ freshman quarterback, stole the show, while Allen threw two interceptions and no touchdowns.

“If you just look at the stat sheet, you say, ‘boy, we wish we could’ve done better,’” Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. “But big picture, I was real pleased with the way Drew played. The things I was most pleased with, he never really was flustered on the sideline. I thought he had good control and command. He kept working towards making the next play go, and we had a few dropped balls in there and a couple of missed routes by the supporting cast, but I liked the way he worked through those situations. I’m looking forward to seeing him getting his second start this weekend against Northwestern.”

More news and notes from around the ACC …

Randy Edsall’s money quote: Maryland coach Randy Edsall was asked on Wednesday’s ACC teleconference how much he concerns himself with the school’s financial struggles and what his role is in trying to raise attendance and sponorships. “That’s somebody else’s job to worry about the financial problems,” he said. “I wasn’t the one that got them into those problems.” Talk about passing the buck.

‘Camp’ starts: Wake Forest standout receiver Michael Campanaro missed last week’s season opener against Presbyterian with a sore hamstring, but coach Jim Grobe said his top playmaker will be ready to go at Boston College on Friday, the first league game for both schools. “I think Camp could’ve played last week,” Grobe said. “He’s been having problems with his hamstring since our third scrimmage. He didn’t have a pulled hamstring, but it tightened up and it was sore, and he didn’t practice much in the week leading up to the opener. We just felt like it would be not in his best interest and ours to try and play him against Presbyterian, but he’s full speed again, and he should be fine against Boston College.”

High praise for Ducks: Virginia coach Mike London knows his defense will have its hands full against No. 2 Oregon -- twofold. “If you get tired enough, you can see double of everything,” London said. “They are as good as advertised.”

VT RB on the mend: Injured Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman (sprained ankles) didn’t make the trip to Alabama, but coach Frank Beamer said Coleman is on the mend for Saturday’s game against Western Carolina. “I think today is an important practice for J.C. He’s back, but exactly how far back he is, I think we need to see yet. He did some things very well yesterday, but today we’ll see exactly where he is.”

No seats in Sun Life: Miami coach Al Golden said he’s not sure how many recruits will attend Saturday’s home game against Florida, but that “it’s a who’s who from what I understand.” In order to accommodate the expected crowd, Golden said 2,000 seats have been added to Sun Life Stadium. “There’s no seats left for anybody,” he said. “We’re running out of seats for former players, high school coaches, recruits, all the way down the line. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

James Wilder Jr. day-to-day: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Wilder injured his shoulder in Monday night’s win over Pitt, but that it’s not serious. “He’s doing fine,” Fisher said. “He’ll be day-to-day. He’s got a banged up shoulder, but nothing very serious. Give it a little bit of rest, and I think he’ll be fine.”

ACC Power Rankings: Week 1

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
9:00
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Clemson stole the show in Week 1, solidifying its hold on the top spot, but it was Virginia that made the most noise by knocking off BYU. Here's how the power rankings shake out after the first round of games.

1. Clemson (1-0, 0-0 ACC; LW No. 1): They are who we thought they were. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers proved they were every bit the national championship contender with a huge win over Georgia on Saturday, and while a handful of significant obstacles remain, Clemson is clearly in control of its destiny from here. Boyd was the star, but the Tigers should be thrilled, too, to see a rejuvenated Sammy Watkins, a disruptive Vic Beasley and a punishing running performance by Roderick McDowell.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; LW No. 2): If Boyd set the bar for ACC quarterbacks on Saturday, Jameis Winston eagerly leapt over it Monday. The much-hyped freshman had a debut for the ages against Pitt, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four TDs, while rushing for another. Jimbo Fisher spent the offseason trying to quiet the buzz around his QB, but it's only getting louder.

3. Miami (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 3): This just in: Duke Johnson is pretty darned good. The Miami sophomore stole the show in a 34-6 win, burnishing the hopes that Miami has finally turned things around. That theory will be put to the test this week though, when SEC foe Florida comes to town. The Hurricanes have won 11 of the past 15 games against Florida, but this marks only the second time the two schools have faced off since 2004.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 6): It's hard to take too much from a big win over Elon, but it's also hard to find any faults after one week for the Yellow Jackets. Vad Lee looked good, the running game didn't miss a beat, the defense was impressive, and the end result was the largest margin of victory for an ACC team in history.

5. Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 5): This was one of those good news-bad news games for the Hokies. The good news was, the defense looked great, holding the two-time defending champs to only 206 yards of offense (and sending Alabama fans into panic mode in the process). The bad news is, Virginia Tech still got smoked thanks to repeated special-teams breakdowns and a woeful performance by the passing game. Logan Thomas struggled mightily, and the receiving corps looks dreadful. But hey, at least they don't have to play Alabama again.

6. Virginia (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 13): The task is daunting in Week 2, when the Cavaliers host Oregon, but for now, fans should bask in the beauty of a tremendous defensive performance in a win over BYU -- easily the second-best win of the week for an ACC team. Anthony Harris was the star with 11 tackles, a sack, a blocked punt and an interception that set up the winning score, but he was just one of five UVA defenders with double-digit tackles in the game.

7. North Carolina (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 4): The good news is, North Carolina largely contained Jadeveon Clowney -- even if a few pundits chalked it up to the South Carolina defender's condition or apathy. Beyond that, however, it wasn't much of a debut for the Heels, who were burned by big plays and never really recovered from an early 14-0 hole.

8. Maryland (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 9): Well, it looks as though the Terrapins found their quarterback. C.J. Brown turned in a dominant performance in his return from an ACL injury that forced him to miss all of 2012. He accounted for five first-half touchdowns, while throwing for nearly 300 yards and running for more than 100. With a relatively manageable schedule ahead, it's not impossible to think Maryland could be riding high at 4-0 when it heads to Florida State on Oct. 5.

9. NC State (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 8): Dave Doeren's Wolfpack did a nice job in thumping a Louisiana Tech team that didn't figure to be a pushover. The key was the time of possession, where NC State held a whopping 30-minute edge, keeping Louisiana Tech's offense off the field. The only downside was the loss of starting QB Brandon Mitchell, which is why the Wolfpack drop a spot behind the suddenly QB-stacked Terrapins.

10. Duke (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 12): No Sean Renfree? No Connor Vernon? No problem for the Blue Devils in their 2013 debut. A 45-0 win over NC Central was hardly a major test, but Duke looked good in all phases of the game -- outgaining NC Central by nearly 300 yards and racking up a 76-yard punt return TD from super sophomore Jamison Crowder.

11. Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 7): The Deacons won easily, so why the drop in the Power Rankings? Mostly, it's splitting hairs. The early struggles against Presbyterian weren't exactly inspiring, and with a cluster of teams in the middle of the pack, Wake Forest simply was the least impressive of a group that mostly looked pretty good.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC, LW No. 10): It's hard to say whether Pittsburgh was that bad or Winston was that good. Either way, the result was a blowout in the Panthers’ ACC debut. Pitt should be encouraged that it moved the ball relatively well against an athletic FSU defense, and the Panthers appear to have some legitimate playmakers.

13. Syracuse (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 11): It was obvious Scott Shafer was going to have to do some rebuilding in 2013, but a 23-17 loss to start the season against Penn State only underscored how far the Orange have to go. Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen was supposed to be an answer at QB, but he didn't look good (16-of-37 for 189 yards and two INTs). This week's game against Northwestern won't get any easier.

14. Boston College (1-0, 0-0, LW No. 14): Sure, the Eagles won. That's worth celebrating. But they struggled early against Villanova, and it's clear Steve Addazio still has his work cut out for him. Make it two in a row this week against Wake Forest, however, and BC is guaranteed to climb out of the basement.

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