Florida State Seminoles: Al Golden

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
First prediction I've gotten right all tourney.

ACC mailblog for Friday

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
The mailbag has returned. Make sure to keep those questions coming so we have enough to fill up this space each week!

Paul in Roanoke, Va., writes: As a lifelong UVA fan, of course I would love to see Mike London turn things around this fall and get the program back to respectability. However, many fellow Wahoo fans seem to think he will not make it past 2014 and have already begun to speculate on who AD Craig Littlepage will target for the next head coach. With Al Golden turning down the Penn State job, his potential return to Charlottesville has become a dream scenario for many fans, and I honestly don't think it seems that far-fetched. His suit-and-tie personality fits in well with UVA, and he had a great deal of success coaching Ahmad Brooks, Chris Canty, and others under Al Groh before taking the Temple job. Given UVA's top-notch facilities, great academics, solid fan base and location near the Hampton Roads recruiting hotbed, it seems to be a desirable location for someone who already has a history of winning there. And an intra-conference coaching move isn't unprecedented given that Tom O'Brien did it when he moved from BC to NC State. Do you think there is any chance at all that Golden could be lured away by the Wahoos, or do you think he will call Coral Gables home for the foreseeable future?

Andrea Adelson writes: Paul, I appreciate the question, but I cannot speculate about two men still employed as head coaches. I completely understand your concerns about Mike London, given what has happened the past few seasons. And I completely understand the coaching connection between the school and Golden, who has done a solid job at both Temple and Miami. I have no idea what the future holds for either coach. Golden has drawn interest from Wisconsin and Penn State (his alma mater) the last two seasons and stayed with the Canes. Does that mean he is in Coral Gables for the long term? Only time will tell. As for London, he absolutely has to get the ship righted as quickly as possible. He signed a terrific class in February, so I want to see what he does with these incoming players and a second year with his coordinators in place.

Tony Milano in Marco Island, Fla., writes: Andrea, I have not read anything about the defense at Boston College. Can you tell me how it is doing?

Adelson writes: BC has only had three practices so far, Tony, so you have not missed out on many big updates. In talking to coach Steve Addazio before practice began, I know he was really pumped about Josh Keyes at linebacker, and the return of just about everybody in the secondary. That remains a huge area that has to improve headed into next season. BC ranked last in pass defense and wore down as the season went on. This will be a much more veteran group in 2014, and Addazio believes that will translate to better results on the field.

Ethan in N.Y., writes: While the Hokies haven't exactly been spectacular these past two seasons, they have still been major contenders in the Coastal Division. In 2012, they were 55 seconds away from beating No. 10 FSU and were still a contender in November. In 2013, they were one North Carolina victory away from playing in Charlotte. Whether this pays tribute to the Hokies or shows how bad the Coastal has been the past two seasons, I don't know. This just tells you to never count out the Hokies. I pick them behind UNC to finish second in the Coastal in 2014, but they could easily win it, or be fifth. Where do you see them finishing in the murky pool of chaos that is the ACC Coastal Division?

Adelson writes: Great question, Ethan. The Coastal has been muddled the past two seasons, and I do not think 2014 is going to be much of an exception. I could legitimately make the case for six teams to win the division this fall. While I believe North Carolina and Duke are the top two at this point, if Virginia Tech can solve its offensive issues, the Hokies absolutely will be in the mix. I also think Pitt could have a great shot as a darkhorse, given some of the players it returns to the team. The Panthers have more talent at the skill positions than the Hokies do headed into the spring. Miami, with a healthy Duke Johnson, cannot be counted out. And Georgia Tech always hangs around the Coastal race. I am happy I don't have to slot my teams in 1-7 until July!

Gil Torres in Mobile, Ala., writes: With Bobby Petrino going to Louisville, how long do you think it will take him to compete for the ACC championship and possibly competing with SEC? Thanks in advance for your answer.

Adelson writes: Gil, given how much of a head start Clemson and Florida State have on him, it is going to take at least a few years for the Cards to compete for an ACC championship. I think they will win their fair share of games, but they need some excellent cycles on the recruiting side to begin building the consistent talent and depth we have seen from their two biggest Atlantic foes.

John in Arlington, Va., writes: Hi Andrea, Big fan of the blog and read it just about every day. I was just wondering why we keep getting updates about Jameis Winston's baseball career? I understand he's the most well-known player in the ACC, and it's the slow time of the year for a college football blog, but this is just that, a college football blog. If I wanted information on how well he's doing in baseball, I would follow college baseball. Just saw a link to "Winston's easy ninth inning", which fueled this rant. Other than that, keep up the good work and thanks for all you do.

Adelson writes: Thanks for reading, John. I think what Winston is doing with baseball is completely relevant and totally fascinating. Players as skilled as Winston have been told for years they had to pick one sport over another. This is the rare exception when he is not only allowed to do both, but excels at both. I understand how all the Winston mania may be getting a little bit old for some people. But his status as the Heisman Trophy winner on the No. 1 team in America makes his baseball career worth following. Especially if it ends up impacting what happens on the football field.

ACC's lunch links

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Miami, NC State, North Carolina and UVa are all on spring break and resume practice next week.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
Oscars '14: Selfies setting records.

ACC mailblog

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
Hi again.

Tim in Blacksburg writes: I just read the article about the rivalry weekend being a good thing for the ACC, and I noticed your comment with regards to Pitt-Miami being the only lackluster pairing in the bunch. I did some thinking and why not try to work out a deal with the Big Ten to continue the Pitt-Penn State rivalry and then schedule Miami-Notre Dame.

[+] EnlargeAl Golden
AP Photo/Alan DiazMiami visits Notre Dame in 2016, but nobody will complain if Al Golden's team played the Irish earlier than that.
I feel like this idea could create two even better rivalry games, as well as renew two great CFB rivalries.

Andrea Adelson writes: I shall forward these thoughts to the ACC office. Now THIS would be an absolutely epic rivalry weekend. Pitt and Penn State do have their rivalry set to resume in 2016. Miami travels to Notre Dame in 2016. So perhaps for this season, the ACC schedule-makers could add these two to make it a super bonanza rivalry weekend. It can't happen every season, though, since Miami and Notre Dame won't play every year. But at least once? Totally worth it.

Brian Iannone in Due West, South Carolina writes: "I give credit to Auburn for doing what it had to do to try and win the game." REALLY???????? That's about the saddest thing I have ever read by a so-called sports reporter. … Cheating should never be tolerated. What are you gonna come out in favor of next, bounties on players heads?

Adelson writes: Well, if Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is OK with it, then I guess he tolerates cheating, too. This is what Fisher said when asked about Auburn stealing signs during the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game. "That's part of the game. I don't have a problem with that," and "that happens, people do it, and that's our fault."

BuffaloCane in Buffalo, N.Y., writes: Andrea, there was a line in your article talking about Al Golden, in which you talked about the lack of strength and skill on defense. During the Russell Athletic Bowl, the announcers couldn't talk enough about how much talent and size that Louisville took out of the Miami area. Do you think Al Golden feels he owes his staff at least this recruiting class (which already looks to be adding a lot of that size and talent) to show the kind of changes fans want, due to his staff weathering the storm with him? Do you think that should the defense get manhandled again that both the defensive and strength/conditioning positions will get overhauled?

Adelson writes: I should think Golden and his staff know they have to be better up front. That has been a glaring problem area for a few years now, and I do believe Golden has worked to address this area of need. But beefy, physical linemen who are ready made to play immediately are extremely rare. Look at Mario Edwards over at Florida State. He was the No. 1 prospect in his class, but it has taken several years of development for him to get more consistent. And he still is not physically dominant on every play. That example is not meant to pick on Edwards but to show that developing players on the offensive and defensive lines is perhaps the toughest job any coach has to do. But Golden is going into Year 4 now. His players have to be better up front. I can't predict the future, so I don't know what happens if Miami doesn't improve. But this really is a critical year for the defensive staff.

Kevin Dondrea in Godollo, Hungary writes: I'm an Ohio State fan, born and raised in Ohio. Grew up with Urban Meyer in Ashtabula. Urban gets bashed a lot by SEC fans. I spent 3 years in Louisville during the Bobby Petrino years. So I have a little Louisville fan in me. I can understand Louisville fans being pretty mad at Bobby. I'm still pretty miffed at LeBron for screwing my Cavs and others who dined and dashed my other Cleveland teams. But when it comes to Louisville, I think they will really benefit from Coach Petrino leaving Louisville. While at Louisville, he started getting a big head. Since leaving, he has gotten knocked back down to Earth. Like Bill Belichick, he (stunk) as a coach in Cleveland -- now he's led the New England Patriots to success. Do you think Bobby Petrino can take Louisville to the next level and win a national championship?

Adelson writes: I think everybody is hoping the Petrino who is at Louisville now has been completely humbled and changed. The man can coach, and he has proven that at every stop along the way. So can he now take the next step? That is a great question. Louisville has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to knock off division counterparts Florida State and Clemson. Those two programs already have a leg up on the Cardinals. It also has to make sure it stays ahead of in-state rival Kentucky as well. The schedule gets a lot tougher with this move to the ACC, but in one respect, it is easier than the slate Petrino faced with Arkansas in the SEC West. Still, making the transition to a new staff and new conference will take some time. If Louisville does reach the next level, it may not be until a few years down the line.

Michael W. Holbrook in Syracuse writes: Hi Andrea! I'm just curious of your expertise! How long do you think until (when or if) the Syracuse Orange will become an ELITE FOOTBALL TEAM?!?!?!?

Adelson writes: It is hard to put timetables to these last two questions. I think Syracuse exceeded expectations in Year 1 in the ACC, but like Louisville, the Orange have a lot of work to do to catch up to Florida State and Clemson after getting completely blown out by both this past season. Syracuse is not yet recruiting at an elite level, and that has to be the first thing that changes. The Seminoles and Tigers are not only the best the ACC has right now, but they also have been the best at assembling outstanding recruiting classes and then developing that talent.

ACC mailblog

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
Step into my (unusually chilly) office ...

James Hanson in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: Does Auburn stealing FSU's signals change the way we view the BCS championship game? When comparing the scores of before the towels went up to after ... there is a huge difference. Maybe this team was much better than thought.

Andrea Adelson: It doesn't change my view. Florida State should have probably predicted Auburn would try and do something like this with former assistant Dameyune Craig on the Tigers' sideline. I give credit to Auburn for doing what it had to do to try and win the game.

[+] EnlargeLouisville's Bobby Petrino
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesOnly time will tell if Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has truly changed.
Luke in Louisville writes: Hey Andrea, Nice to be back in the same mailbag as you. I was wondering if you could try a not wholly pessimistic review of the Petrino hire? Perhaps you could, instead of portraying him as a cartoon villain, single-dimensional and unchanging, characterize him as a multi-dimensional human being capable of both making mistakes and correcting them? Or is it basically the ESPN line? I noticed that Mark Schlabach and the Grantland writer have also written essentially the same piece. And note: I'm not dissing you -- your piece as usual was solid; I'm just curious if anyone's given any consideration to the possibility of change.

Adelson writes: Nice to see you again, Luke. If you are implying that ESPN has dispersed an email giving us talking points about the Petrino hire, I have to laugh. My thoughts are mine alone, same goes for Schlabach and everybody else who has written on this subject. I would love to believe every single thing Petrino said during his press conference. If he stays for 10 years and retires a Cardinal, that would be a great time to praise him for truly being a changed man who recognized his terrible mistakes and went about fixing them not just for himself, but for his family and his players first and foremost. Until then, I have to remain skeptical about a coach who has left behind a long trail of deceit. I do wish him luck, and I do hope he has changed. If he has, then I look forward to being proven wrong.

Matt in Winston-Salem writes: AA, looking at some of the Commissioner's comments about scheduling led me to believe that A) FSU is griping that the Atlantic is disproportionately tough, and B) that the conference is going to do whatever it can to protect FSU as we move into the playoff era. The schedules were just done! How else can you explain this sudden shift in thinking? Please don't refer me to that commish-speak, either. I have a simple solution for Mr. Swofford ... if he wants flexibility, add a conference game.

Adelson: I don't think this has much at all to do with Florida State, actually. How would it protect Florida State to potentially make the ACC championship game more difficult with, say, a rematch against Clemson? I think this has more to do with griping from a lot of teams about going so long between playing games against cross-divisional opponents. Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross made very candid comments to Swofford and the league's athletic directors in an email to that end, and suggested going back to the idea of adding a ninth league game and eliminating mandated rivalry games. I am not sure abolishing divisions will solve all the problems, but there are major scheduling problems this league will face moving forward that should be discussed.

Carla in Houston writes: Just curious: How do you think the ACC will be viewed going into next year? Will the committee be impressed by a team doing well in-conference, or is the ACC still thought to be weak? On one hand we have Florida State, THE national champion! Boy it feels good to say that! The Seminoles were unstoppable this year and have a Heisman winner to prove it. Not to forget Clemson, who finally seemed to break its big-game curse! But the rest of the conference worries me. Virginia Tech underperforming yet again? Miami face-planting? Georgia Tech being unable to move the national radar for another year? We have Louisville coming in so that will be a plus, but even that might not be enough. I am worried the ACC will start being viewed as a top-heavy conference, where beating Florida State and Clemson is the *only* way a team can get respect. Thoughts?

Adelson: You bring up an excellent point, Carla. The ACC already is viewed as a top heavy conference, one reinforced by the way the 2013 season ended. I wonder whether Florida State winning the national championship gives extra brownie points, though. Remember midway through this past season, Alabama and Oregon were thought to be better than Florida State when the three were unbeaten. Would that be different in 2014, with the Seminoles as defending champs? I think it would be different. But at the same time, the overall conference schedule will not be viewed as more difficult than the SEC or the Pac-12 based on the reasons you mentioned above. As Heather wrote Thursday, it is absolutely critical for the ACC moving forward to have at least four Top 25 teams WITH a “traditional” power like Miami and Virginia Tech in that group. I think an unbeaten ACC team would be in the top four for a playoff, but I can't make guarantees about the seeding. The ACC does remain behind the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 in overall conference strength, even with BCS wins from Florida State and Clemson.

Ricky in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: Good Morning Andrea, FSU season ticket holder here. Please clarify for me the following regarding the new college football playoff. If the Seminoles go the distance and make it to the NC game again next year, will I now have to pay to travel to TWO bowl locations to see them play?! Sure, the distance to even the furthest assumed semifinal location (Orange Bowl) is "driveable" (6-8 hours from Tallahassee), but there's still gas, hotel, ticket, and incidentals to pay for. Then I'd have to turn around and do it again to see the NC game??? The trip to Pasadena this year was costly enough (roughly $2,000). I don't think the average fan or students can afford to do that twice in one season. Am I missing something or does it seem like the fans are getting the short end of the stick?

Adelson: You forgot travel for the ACC championship game, Ricky. Sorry if this depresses you further. But if you are a fan who wants to see your team advance all the way in person, it will cost you more. Next season, semifinals will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1. The national championship game is set for Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12. Better start saving those pennies now if you want to hit the league title game-semifinal-national championship game trifecta. But I think tough decisions are going to await a lot of students and fans who simply cannot afford to go to all these games.

Tom in Santa Monica, Calif., writes: As a Miami fan, I commend your recent piece on Coach Al Golden. The last two years have fielded the worst defensive units in the program's history. The numbers are horrific. ... The bloom is most definitely off the rose with this guy. He's made some notable improvements in terms of recruiting, strength & conditioning, and some aspects of the culture (though that has understandably dampened with all of the losing), but his game day woes continue and show no sign of abating. While at Miami, Golden is 0-9 against Top 25* teams (*teams that have ended the year ranked in the Top 25). And those contests haven't even been close -- we're losing them on an average of nearly 3 TDs a game. Outcoached and outplayed in every facet. His ShamWow infomercial talk has almost exhausted itself. He'll reel in a great class in February, and he'll continue to get a lot of mileage out of the NCAA situation (the "cloud" that wiped out his "time table"), but for those willing to look closer, as you have done with your article, Al Golden is looking more and more to be the wrong guy to return Miami to any place of actual relevance. Keep up the good work.

Adelson writes: Thanks for your note, Tom. I am not writing Golden off yet. The defense has been abysmal, and I think staff changes were warranted. But he did get this team to nine wins this year, which should count as progress. At the same time, he needs to definitively prove he is closing the gap on Florida State and can deliver more than nine wins. He's on the clock.
1. Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said Sunday that he expected a feeling-out period in the first quarter against Florida State, largely because of the 30-day layoff. Alabama scored touchdowns on its first two possessions a year ago, but those were the first first-quarter touchdowns in the BCS Championship Game in five years, since Beanie Wells of Ohio State broke for a 65-yard score against LSU.

2. Auburn has won with more than its share of improbabilities, but the fact that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher replaced six assistant coaches after the 2012 season and the team improved is, to say the least, unusual. “A lot of those guys I’ve known in the past,” Fisher said. “There were a lot of guys who philosophically believe a lot of the same things I do. … We get along. There’s a bunch of guys there that truly like each other and hang out together and it’s been a tremendous group.”

3. Mama called and Al Golden didn’t answer. The Miami head coach released a statement Sunday that he will not be leaving for Penn State, his alma mater. To be fair, I don’t know if Penn State wanted to hire Golden or not. But it should be pointed out that after three seasons of living in the shadow of an NCAA investigation, Golden may be excused for not returning to the Nittany Lions and their NCAA problems.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 30, 2013
Not bad, Week 17. Not bad at all.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 24, 2013
Have a wonderful holiday!

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 13, 2013
Enjoy the weekend, gang.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 10, 2013
Two ACC Heisman finalists. How about that?

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 2, 2013
Better a little late than never ...

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 12, 2013
Cannot wait for this 30 for 30.

ACC mailblog

November, 8, 2013
So it seems I oversimplified the conference race post earlier this week. To the mailbag!

[+] EnlargeMiami defense
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesAl-Quadin Muhammad (98) and the Hurricanes control their own destiny to reach the ACC title game.
Donald in Christianburg, Va., writes: Your information on the Atlantic and Coastal races is incorrect. Clemson can win the Atlantic with a loss to Georgia Tech should Syracuse win out and FSU drop its games against Wake Forest and Syracuse. Under this scenario, Clemson, Syracuse and FSU would end up in a three-way tie in the Atlantic, each 1-1 against the other two teams. The next tiebreaker is their divisional record. Syracuse and Clemson would be 5-1 in the division (Syracuse lost to Clemson, Clemson lost to FSU) while the Seminoles would be 4-2 (losses to Wake and Syracuse). This would then revert to the two-team procedure, where Clemson beat the Orange head-to-head. Further, a 6-2 Virginia Tech can still win the Coastal tied with Duke if there is a three-way tie with Georgia Tech. The teams would, like in the Atlantic, be 1-1 against each other and the tiebreaker would go to divisional records. The Hokies would be 5-1 in the Coastal (loss to Duke) while Georgia Tech and Duke would both be 4-2 (GT losses to VT and Miami, Duke losses to GT and Pittsburgh).

Andrea Adelson: Thank you, Donald. Generally speaking, we provide the least convoluted scenarios for each division every single week based on information from the ACC office. These alternate scenarios are definitely worth posting.

Duke fan in Miami writes: Hi. I am wondering about the current race in the Coastal division. If Duke wins out, Georgia Tech wins out, and Miami loses only to Duke, (which is all possible as far as I am aware) who wins the division? Each team would have two losses, and Duke would have the tiebreaker against Miami, Miami would have the tiebreaker against Georgia Tech, and Georgia Tech would have the tiebreaker against Duke. Being a rock-paper-scissors scenario, I am wondering what would be the next line of tiebreakers, and who would come out on top?

Adelson: The next tiebreaker would be division record, and Miami would win that with a 5-1 mark. Duke and Georgia Tech would finish 4-2 in the Coastal. Here is a list on how the ACC breaks three-team (or more) ties to determine the Division rep for the ACC title game.

Mike in O'Fallon, Ill., writes: Have you heard any punishment for Miami Hurricane DE Anthony Chickillo for his facemask/eye-gouging incident during the FSU-Miami game? Seems to me that with the obvious video evidence shown on national TV, there would be some sort of punishment handed down by at least Al Golden. I've heard nothing from Miami, but for FSU, Jimbo Fisher verbally admonishing both Winston and Bobby Hart for their participation.

Adelson: Have not heard anything. Chickillo refused to answer a question about what happened postgame, too.

Robert in Dallas writes: You wrote: "A flawed polling system that gave Alabama and Oregon an edge before the games even kicked off is most to blame, as voters determined in the preseason that the Tide and Ducks -- not the Seminoles -- were among the best teams in the nation." However, it will be the computers that doom FSU, as their strength of schedule deflates, not the voters.

Adelson: Not necessarily true, Robert. I checked in with our resident BCS expert Brad Edwards, who told me the only way for Florida State to make up ground on strength of schedule is to pull ahead in the human polls. "From the start, it's been pretty obvious to me that FSU will need to finish ahead of Oregon in the polls to have a chance of finishing ahead in the BCS," Edwards wrote in an e-mail. "That's why I've repeatedly stated that Oregon is in a stronger position than FSU, even when Florida State has been ranked No. 2 in the BCS. This past week, FSU finally gained some decent ground on Oregon in the polls but is still not all that close. ... It basically comes down to the ACC schedule not being as strong as the Pac-12 schedule, according to the BCS computers. At the moment, FSU's schedule is stronger, but I expect that to change as November plays out. As FSU loses ground in the computers, it can only make up for that by gaining in the polls."

Jeff in Toledo writes: Do you know the game time for the Miami @ Pitt game Nov. 29th or know when it will be decided? I will be attending that game from out of town and need to book a hotel.

Adelson: Game time will not be released until Nov. 18 at the earliest. It might be later than that if the network exercises its six-day window option.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
Don Juan Moore/Getty ImagesJameis Winston and the Seminoles are doing everything they can to climb the BCS standings.
BD Pisani in Palm City, Fla., writes: Andrea, Nicely done on the Hurricanes article. You concisely and objectively crafted exactly where the Canes program stands today. Al "The Tie" Golden is a classy coach but he'll remember this game next year. Looking forward to more professional articles.

Adelson: Thanks, BD!

Jeff in Tampa writes: Hi, Andrea. I've been doing a lot of number crunching, and for the life of me, I cannot see how Oregon would have a better top-to-bottom strength of schedule when compared to FSU. (In truth, even Alabama's schedule doesn't quite measure up to FSU's, but that's another story for another day.) I have been calculating schedule strength in a number of ways, for years, and never has the disparity between two "top teams" been so glaring. FSU to date has the toughest resume of any undefeated team, ANY. My question is this: Why does the media think the ACC is a bad conference this year? The ACC might end up with more bowl teams eligible than any other conference. Assuming each of the top three wins out, FSU will be playing another inferior team in the Orange Bowl. Any chance the AP will declare FSU national champs if they are left out? If not, why don't we just do this like we used to in the Bowl Coalition days? Oregon can take the easier game against Ohio State, and play in the Rose. FSU can take Oregon's place in the BCS Championship game. If FSU and Oregon win, they can both claim championships, right? I can't think of a more fitting way to satisfy all four undefeateds. Can you?

Adelson: Well, all the concerns about Oregon have been rendered moot after the Ducks lost to Stanford on Thursday night, though there remain more unbeaten teams than national championship spots. Even still, I never thought I would hear the day when somebody pined for the old Bowl Coalition days! It is worth discussing your first question re: ACC perception. Stereotypes die hard, and the ACC has had to deal with plenty of stereotyping in the last 10 years. The league has had no teams remotely close to a BCS championship game, and the conference has been weak top to bottom over the last several seasons. Virginia Tech's BCS record does not help matters. People think because Alabama and Oregon have been good recently, they automatically deserve more credit than Florida State. In my opinion, history should not factor into the decisions dealing with the 2013 season only. But yet on the Oregon-Stanford broadcast Thursday night, David Pollack said he thought the Cardinal win over the Ducks was more impressive than Florida State's win over Clemson. I completely disagree with his opinion, but his viewpoint just shows the ACC has a ways to go to begin changing perceptions with some media members.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
Clemson and Georgia Tech have the weekend off. The other 12 ACC teams take the field for Week 11, which includes two nonconference contests, with one serving just slightly bigger than the other.

Here is what to keep an eye on as we enter the home stretch in the ACC:

1. FSU looks to avoid letdown: The Seminoles have a lot to lose the rest of the way, starting Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., where they lost two years ago. It is telling, in a good way, that the word "adversity" has been thrown around so much in regard to Florida State's most recent contest. It was a 41-14 win against a previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Miami team. And its quarterback, despite whatever criticisms were lobbied his way, finished with an adjusted total QBR of 94.6, sixth best in the nation for the week. If this team ever got its act together …

2. Wake adjusts to life without Campanaro: Wake Forest is without all-time leading receiver Michael Campanaro, probably for the season, after the redshirt senior broke his collarbone in a loss at Syracuse. Coach Jim Grobe was honest about how difficult things now are offensively without Campanaro, who, despite missing the first game of the season, had 67 catches -- or 52 more than Jonathan Williams and Sherman Ragland III, the Demon Deacons' next-highest catchers, with 15 apiece.

[+] EnlargeMarquise Williams
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCan Marquise Williams lead North Carolina to a bowl game?
3. Marquise Williams' time at UNC: Bryn Renner's North Carolina career is over because of a detached labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder suffered in a win over NC State. He had split plenty of time lately with Williams, who started the Virginia Tech game, but now it is the redshirt sophomore's chance to carry the Tar Heels to the postseason. They can inch a step closer toward with a win over Virginia that would make them 4-5. Williams has completed better than 60 percent of his passes this season for 537 yards with six touchdowns and three picks, adding 201 yards and a score on the ground.

4. C.J. Brown's return: Maryland is on the brink of its first bowl berth under third-year coach Randy Edsall, and the expected return of its quarterback should provide a big boost against Syracuse. Caleb Rowe has been so-so in Brown's place as starter, going 1-2. Brown's return after a concussion and then a "trunk injury" cannot come at a better time for a Terrapins team that has dropped three of four, though he will have to adjust to a receiving corps that has been decimated by season-ending injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

5. Terps honor former Cuse halfback: Kudos to Maryland, which will pay tribute Saturday to Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who was barred from the Syracuse-Maryland 1937 game because he was black. Orange players will wear No. 19 decals on their helmets in memory of Sidat-Singh, whose family will join both schools' athletic directors and Maryland pioneer Darryl Hill between the first and second quarters for an on-field tribute. Sidat-Singh had joined the Army after Pearl Harbor and was in the first graduating class of the group later known as Tuskegee Airmen. He was killed on a training flight in 1943 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

6. Duke looks to finish strong: Whether it is fair to criticize the Blue Devils' late-season slide last season, the fact remains that they went winless after clinching bowl eligibility in 2012. Things are different this time around, especially with a defense playing night and day from earlier this season and with the Coastal Division potentially up for grabs. Duke will need to keep its foot on the pedal as it comes off a historic win and a bye week to face a desperate NC State team that has dropped four straight and remains winless in ACC play.

7. Logan Thomas looks to rebound: Virginia Tech's redshirt senior quarterback was unusually defiant this week when speaking to reporters in Blacksburg, Va., about criticism that has come his way. Thomas had appeared to turn a corner midseason but his turnovers woes have bubbled to the surface these last two weeks, as he threw four picks in a loss to Duke and threw two more, and lost two fumbles, in a loss at Boston College. Still, a strong performance at a Miami team coming off its first loss of the season could play the Hokies right back into the thick of things in the Coastal Division race.

8. Crawford, Miami look to rebound: It's Dallas Crawford's time to step up, as the Hurricanes will turn to the redshirt sophomore first after losing Duke Johnson for the season. In looking to rebound from its loss No. 1 and maintain control of the Coastal Division, coach Al Golden said all three backs will probably see time in the first quarter Saturday against Virginia Tech. Crawford is expected to get the bulk of the carries after rushing for 294 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season.

9. ND-Pitt theatrics: Will it be like the four-overtime game from 2008? The ugly 15-12 contest from 2011, a game that, fittingly, featured 666 total yards of offense? Or last year's triple-overtime near upset? When the Irish and Panthers take the field, craziness ensues, and who knows what awaits a prime-time audience at Heinz Field in a game featuring two banged-up teams.

10. Pitt's offense looks to get it together: The Panthers defended the option well in recent weeks, holding Navy and Georgia Tech to 24 and 21 points, respectively. But the offense simply has to score points after breaking the 21-point plateau just once in its past five games, against Old Dominion (35). The run game in particular has struggled, tallying minus-5 yards last week against the Yellow Jackets, but the passing game could use some big plays as well.


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