Florida State Seminoles: Shadrach Thornton

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
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Enjoy the weekend!

ACC Week 10: Did you know?

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
10:00
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Miami and Florida State renew their rivalry in Week 10 in a battle of top-10 teams. For fun facts from that contest and all other ones in the ACC this weekend, we thank the schools' sports information departments and ESPN Stats & Info.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Andre Williams leads the ACC and ranks fifth among FBS players with 144.3 rush yards per game this season. Since joining the ACC in 2005, only one BC player has led the conference in rushing over an entire season: Montel Harris in 2010 (113 yards per game).

CLEMSON: Through five games, Tajh Boyd had thrown 14 touchdowns, two interceptions, notched an 80.9 Total QBR rating and was sacked 11 times. In his three games since, Boyd has thrown just three touchdowns with three interceptions while tallying a 56.5 Total QBR rating and getting sacked eight times. Sammy Watkins, meanwhile, has an AQ-high 516 yards after the catch this season, including a season-high 109 yards after the catch last week against Maryland.

FLORIDA STATE: Jameis Winston has an opponent-adjusted QBR of 92.6 this season, third among FBS players. He leads the country in passing touchdowns per attempt, throwing the highest percentage (12.6) of touchdowns per pass attempt in the nation. Of his 183 pass attempts this season, 23 have gone for touchdowns. The Seminoles have won every game by at least 14 points and are one of only three FBS teams that haven’t trailed yet in the second half this season (Alabama and Oregon).

GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets have won two in a row after a three-game losing streak. They have rushed for 394 yards in each of their last two games, and only 11.8 percent of their runs went for zero or negative yards. By contrast, during the three-game losing streak, Georgia Tech averaged 234 rushing yards per game and nearly a quarter of its rush attempts (23 percent) resulted in zero or negative yards.

MIAMI: Stephen Morris has a 26.9 third-down Total QBR this season, 106th-best out of 127 qualified FBS quarterbacks. Morris converts a first down on 30 percent of his third-down passing plays (sacks and pass attempts), tied for 95th-best in the FBS and seven percentage points lower than the national average. His opponent, Jameis Winston, has an FBS-high 99.5 third-down Total QBR, on pace to be the highest by any player in the last 10 seasons. Andrew Luck currently has the highest third-down Total QBR for a completed season (98.9, 2010). Duke Johnson, meanwhile, is averaging an ACC-high 3.3 yards after contact per rush (min. 50 rush).

NORTH CAROLINA: Eric Ebron leads the Tar Heels with 35 catches for 599 yards and needs just six catches and 26 yards to eclipse his school-record marks for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. Ebron caught 40 balls last season for 625 yards.

NC STATE: Shadrach Thornton rushed for a career-high 173 yards in last week's loss at Florida State, the most rushing yards in a game by a Wolfpack player since 2006 and 18th-most all time. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for his career, too, as he now sits at 1,051 career rushing yards through 16 games.

PITT: Since its 598-yard effort in a win over Duke in its third game, Pitt has averaged just 279.2 yards per game during its last four games. That's the fewest YPG over that span in the ACC. The third quarter could be the difference when the Panthers play Georgia Tech, as Pitt has a negative-19 scoring margin in the third quarter, worst in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are outscoring opponents by a combined 63 points in the third quarter, second-best in the conference behind Florida State.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have played Wake Forest just twice before, but the most recent contest was a memorable one, as Syracuse scored 22 straight points in the final nine minutes and overtime to rally for a 36-29 win. The Demon Deacons won the other contest, in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 2006.

VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers face No. 8 Clemson, and Virginia’s last win against an AP top-10 team came in 2005 when it knocked off No. 4 Florida State in Charlottesville. Since then the Wahoos are 0-6 vs. AP top-10 teams, including a 59-10 shellacking by Oregon earlier this season.

VIRGINIA TECH: Logan Thomas threw a career-high four interceptions in last week’s loss to Duke. Virginia Tech is 19-4 in starts by Thomas in which he’s thrown one or fewer interceptions, including a perfect 14-0 mark when he’s pick-free. The Hokies are just 5-7 when he throws multiple interceptions. The Hokies lead FBS schools with 17 interceptions this season and have picked off 17 Boston College passes since 2005, tied for their most against any team over that span (Duke).

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe is tied with "Peahead" Walker for the most coaching wins all time with the Demon Deacons, at 77. Quarterback Tanner Price is three total touchdowns away from matching Riley Skinner's school career record of 65.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
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The following links contain no "Breaking Bad" spoilers.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
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Been saying it since the summer: Virginia Tech is a contender.

ACC predictions: Week 1

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
9:05
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The most anticipated post of Week 1 has finally arrived: Prediction time! Heather and I both got out our crystal balls and looked into the future. Here is what each of us sees for opening week in the ACC:

Thursday

North Carolina at No. 6 South Carolina, 6 p.m., ESPN. #UNCvsSC. The headliner in this game is Jadeveon Clowney, for obvious reasons. If North Carolina still had its offensive line from a year ago, I would like its chances in this game more. But with two redshirt freshmen starting on the offensive line and a new starting running back, the Tar Heels have major questions at the two strongest positions on the team in 2012. Defensively, North Carolina is thin at linebacker, so that is a concern, along with replacing Sylvester Williams up front. Bryn Renner will be able to keep North Carolina in the game, but South Carolina will ultimately win because it is stronger on the offensive and defensive lines.

AA picks: South Carolina 34, North Carolina 21

HD picks: South Carolina 24, North Carolina 21

Presbyterian at Wake Forest, 6:30 p.m., ESPN3. #PREvsWAKE. Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe goes into the season needing four victories to become the all-time winningest coach in school history. After this game, that number should shrink to three. Presbyterian won only two games last season, so I am not sure how much of a challenge a bad FCS team will present. Still, a few things to keep an eye on: the Wake Forest running game -- both Josh Harris and the offensive line. How much more will Tanner Price be used in running situations? Wake has a big game in Week 2 against BC, so Grobe is going to want to see what he can build on.

AA picks: Wake Forest 50, Presbyterian 3

HD picks: Wake Forest 45, Presbyterian 10

Friday

FAU at Miami, 8 p.m., ESPNU. #FAUvsMIA. The Hurricanes open the season without a resolution from the NCAA. Shocking, right? But that should not be a distraction. The bigger distraction could be the "look-ahead factor," with Miami playing rival Florida the following week. FAU has a long way to go if it wants to compete with Miami. Simply put, this won't be much of a test for the Hurricanes. The talent gap is too wide. Coach Al Golden just has to make sure his team remains focused on FAU.

AA picks: Miami 45, FAU 10

HD picks: Miami 42, FAU 17

Saturday

Elon at Georgia Tech, noon, ESPN3. #ELONvsGT. This is the schools' first meeting in football. It is not much of a matchup, either. Elon only won three games last year, so the Jackets should not have many problems in this game. They do have some injuries at a few spots, but with a bye the following week, Georgia Tech should be much healthier for its Sept. 14 game at Duke. It will be good to see how Vad Lee plays, what type of backs rotation Paul Johnson uses and how Ted Roof's new defense looks.

AA picks: Georgia Tech 55, Elon 3

HD picks: Georgia Tech 55, Elon 0

Villanova at Boston College, noon, ESPNews. #VILLvsBC. Coach Steve Addazio is pretty familiar with Villanova. When he was head coach at Temple in 2011 and 2012, the Owls opened the season against Villanova and won both games easily. This will be a good early test for the Eagles with Addazio in charge. First priority is to see how much better the offensive line and running game do. Second priority is to see more physicality from both sides of the ball. Both will be important, with the league opener against Wake Forest the following week.

AA picks: Boston College 35, Villanova 13

HD picks: Boston College 35, Villanova 17

FIU at Maryland (12:30 p.m., GamePlan/ESPN3. #FIUvsMD. Maryland has a very favorable nonconference schedule to open the season and kicks things off against an FIU team that took a big step back in 2012. The Panthers have a new head coach and only eight returning starters, to boot. Maryland, meanwhile, has a healthy C.J. Brown ready to open the season and the best player on the field in Stefon Diggs. Three keys to watch for the Terps: 1. How does the retooled offensive line hold up? 2. Will the running game be better? 3. How does the retooled defense with six new starters fare?

AA picks: Maryland 33, FIU 10

HD picks: Maryland 38, FIU 21

Louisiana Tech at NC State, 12:30 p.m., GamePlan/ESPN3. #LATECHvsNCST. The Dave Doeren era begins against one of the better teams from outside the power conferences a year ago. Louisiana Tech has a new coach in Skip Holtz and a first-year starting quarterback, but it also returns 1,000-yard rusher Kenneth Dixon and defensive end IK Enemkpali, a first-team WAC selection a year ago. NC State has not named a starting quarterback yet, and running back Shadrach Thornton is suspended for this one. Plus, the Wolfpack will have new offensive and defensive schemes and return only 11 starters. I expect for it to take some time to work out the kinks. Louisiana Tech upset Virginia a year ago, so this is not a team to overlook. This will be a good first test for Doeren.

AA picks: NC State 35, Louisiana Tech 24

HD picks: NC State 42, Louisiana Tech 7

Syracuse vs. Penn State, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2. #CUSEvsPSU. Neither team plans on naming a starting quarterback going into this one, so the big unknown is who will be under center when the game kicks off. What is known is that Syracuse should have a powerful running game going into the season with 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Smith returning, along with Prince-Tyson Gulley. There are definite questions for the Orange not only at quarterback, but at receiver, offensive tackle and along the defensive line. But I like what coach Scott Shafer has preached so far. His team is going to be hard-nosed and physical, and I believe it will be able to eke out a very close win.

AA picks: Syracuse 24, Penn State 21

HD picks: Penn State 31, Syracuse 21

BYU at Virginia, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #BYUvsUVA. There is no doubt the Cougars go into the game with a stout defense, led by outstanding linebacker Kyle Van Noy. But I am going with the Hoos in this game for a few reasons. First, they are at home and should have an advantage with BYU traveling from the Mountain time zone. Second, I think they will be a much more sound team on offense and defense. David Watford's mobility should help against the Cougars' D. Third, BYU has not been as good on offense in recently. If the Hoos can establish the run the way they did in 2011 and be more aggressive on D, they win. One more note: In his career as a head coach, Mike London has won all five of his openers. This will be his first as UVa coach against an FBS team.

AA picks: Virginia 21, BYU 20

HD picks: BYU 28, Virginia 21

NC Central at Duke, 4 p.m., ESPN3. #NCCUvsDUKE. The Blue Devils should have a relatively easy time against NC Central, the way they did last season. What they want to see is how Anthony Boone plays in his first game as starting quarterback and what types of strides the defense has made since last season. Both are going to be big keys for Duke if it wants to get back to a bowl game.

AA picks: Duke 48, NC Central 13

HD picks: Duke 48, NC Central 10

No. 1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m., ESPN. #BAMAvsVT. A few months ago, I thought the Hokies might have a fighting chance in this game. But I just don't think they have the personnel to do so now that game week has arrived. Given the uncertainty on the offensive line, at running back and in the secondary, it is going to be tough sledding for Virginia Tech to score more than two touchdowns against one of the best defenses in America. If Virginia Tech finds a way to win, it will be because it was able to establish the run, control the clock and pressure AJ McCarron into mistakes. Not out of the question. But it appears improbable at this point.

AA picks: Alabama 31, Virginia Tech 13

HD picks: Alabama 45, Virginia Tech 20

No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson, 8 p.m., ABC. #UGAvsCLEM. The game of the year, or at least the game of the week, has finally arrived after months and months of buildup. We finally get to see whether the Tigers can continue the momentum they established in the bowl win over LSU last season. Georgia has a veteran quarterback and the best rushing duo in the country. How Clemson handles Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall is the biggest key for an improving defense. But this is why Clemson wins the game: Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and a veteran offensive line have the upper hand over a defense that only returns three starters, including just one up front.

AA picks: Clemson 35, Georgia 31

HD picks: Clemson 38, Georgia 35

Monday

No. 11 Florida State at Pitt, 8 p.m., ESPN. #FSUvsPITT. A big opening week concludes with a huge game for both teams. Pitt begins its first season in the ACC with a marquee opponent at home, while Florida State begins its quest for another ACC title with a freshman starting at quarterback. Heather put Florida State on preseason upset watch last month, but it's hard for me to see the Panthers pulling the upset for two reasons: 1. They are banged-up at running back and have no depth at the position. 2. Florida State has a big-time advantage on the offensive and defensive lines. Pitt will give Florida State all it can handle, but the talent disparity is too wide for the Panthers to overcome in the opener.

AA picks: Florida State 27, Pitt 17

HD picks: Florida State 31, Pitt 21

Florida State 10: Week 6 power rankings 

October, 8, 2012
10/08/12
9:00
AM ET
Putting together a list of Florida State's top 10 performers for the season seems a bit incongruous considering the somber mood among Seminoles fans and the lack of impact any of FSU's talented starters made down the stretch against NC State. But the season must go on, and so, too, the power rankings. Here's how things stack up after six weeks. (Previous rank in parentheses.)

1. Chris Thompson, RB (3)
Sure, Thompson wore down in the second half against NC State, but it's hard to find much fault in his performance. He matched a career high with 25 carries and he provided the bulk of the first-half offense, but Jimbo Fisher should have found a way to get the fresher, stronger James Wilder Jr. a few touches late in the game if he wanted to run the football with power.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Christian Jones can hardly count all the times it was over, only to find out that NC State still had life.

[+] EnlargeBryan Underwood
Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images Bryan Underwood's game-winning TD reception with 16 seconds left was the last of countless tiny cuts FSU suffered against the Wolfpack.
It was over at the half, when Florida State's defense had dominated. It was over when Tyler Hunter thumped Shadrach Thornton short of the marker on a fourth-down play with just 2:47 remaining. It was over on any one of the three third-down stops on NC State's final drive that were followed each time by failure on fourth down.

That's what nagged at Jones after it really was over, after NC State pulled off the 17-16 upset of No. 3 Florida State, surely ending the Seminoles hopes for a national championship. There had been so many stops, so many big plays, so many moments when it might have turned out differently -- until it didn't.

"There wasn't much devastating, but those fourth downs, we had an opportunity to get off the field and we didn't," Jones said.

The vaunted Florida State defense never collapsed under the weight of mounting pressure and, defensive tackle Everett Dawkins insists, it never caved amid the furious pace of NC State's no-huddle offense in the waning minutes of the game.

This was death by a thousand pin pricks.

(Read full post)

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