Running through 10 observations from the week that was in the ACC:
Yep, it’s the return of the ACC weekly review. Theoretically, it will be a Sunday product on weekends that don’t involve travel in D1scourse and probably Monday after weekends that do require spending Sunday morning in an airport (as yesterday did).
1. Wake Forest is back as a regular annoyance. Look, no one should be popping off about the Demon Deacons being a stealthy Atlantic Division contender. They’re not, and there will be a couple days down the road when they don’t look all that great. But if you can score, you have a prayer in a lot of games. And Wake Forest can certainly find the end zone.
This was the case early last season as well, and things unraveled rather quickly. But Tanner Price seems to have made significant progress (and he had a few moments last year that suggested he could take a leap) and the Deacons’ offensive line is better. Their defense makes them vulnerable to meltdowns (they’ve blown one big lead and nearly gave away another against N.C. State), but it’s not going to be fun to head to the Dash this season.
2. Please blame someone other than Mike Glennon for N.C. State’s loss. There might not be a player in a less enviable position than Glennon, whose status as Not Russell Wilson will hang over him all season. Against Wake, he threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, didn’t take a sack and was intercepted once.
The quarterback situation in Raleigh is going to be a target for ridicule so long as Wilson is thriving at Wisconsin. That was Tom O’Brien‘s choice —- in a nutshell, giving up 2011 Wilson to keep 2012 Glennon. There was plenty to find fault with in how N.C. State played Saturday, but much of it had to do with a lackluster defense.
3. It’s time to learn something about Florida State. The Seminoles’ scrimmages are over, and Oklahoma comes to town. The only thing established in Tallahassee over the last two weeks is Florida State can be very impressive when it out-talents people.
OK, there’s another thing. Jimbo Fisher would be wise not to play his starters in the second half when he takes a 34-0 lead into the break. Top wideout Bert Reed hobbled off with what apparently was not a severe injury in what was already garbage time. The case can be made that’s the worst thing that’s happened to the Seminoles in the first two weeks of the season.
4. Boston College is toast. The Eagles are 0-2 for the first time since 1994 after falling to Northwestern and Central Florida. Even if Boston College wins its next three —- against Duke, Massachusetts and Wake Forest —- it’ll be a massive slog to reach a bowl game.
Seriously, where are the Eagles getting three more wins against the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Florida State, N.C. State, Notre Dame and Miami? Only two of those seven contests (Florida State and N.C. State) will be played at home. Now that the Eagles can’t even do what they always do —- stop the run —- they’re in an incredibly precarious spot.
5. Virginia fans might want to start planning for a December trip. Sure, it might be just a trip up Route 29 to D.C., but that would still be welcome in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers survived their visit to Indiana, and have a pair of winnable nonconference games at home (Idaho and Southern Mississippi) still to come. Snatch both, and they’ll only need two league wins (N.C. State and Duke at home, anyone?) to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
Does this mean Virginia has arrived? Hardly. Indiana is no one’s idea of a good team, though Virginia deserves credit for withstanding the Hoosiers’ rally. There’s still a lot of room for growth, and the Cavaliers could have some stumbles. But after their recent misery, it’s not unreasonable to think a bowl bid is possible this season.
6. Virginia Tech’s secondary could take the Hokies a long way. Virginia Tech didn’t dominate East Carolina in Saturday’s 17-10 victory, at least not on the scoreboard. But anyone who watched that game had to have been impressed with the Hokies’ secondary.
East Carolina’s pass-happy offense managed 127 yards through the air. The Hokies’ starting secondary broke up four passes, picked off one and had two interceptions called back by penalty. It was a stout performance, and ACC offenses will have a difficult time contending with that group (not to mention the linebackers who so quickly swarm to the ball as well).
7. Duke picked the wrong game to play a decent half. The Blue Devils have 30 credible minutes to their name after the season’s first two weeks. Unfortunately for them, they played well against Stanford rather than Richmond.
Saturday’s setback against Stanford is not a fair thing with which to evaluate Duke. But with a trip to wounded Boston College coming up, the Blue Devils will at least have a chance to snag a victory in an attempt to correct the course of the season.
8. North Carolina better fix its turnover margin problems quickly. Only one team in the country (Notre Dame) comes out of the season’s second week with a turnover margin worse than the Tar Heels’ minus-6. While luck plays something of a role, Carolina will eventually run into an opponent who will actually punish them for their miscues.
That team was not Rutgers, which besides turnovers was thoroughly outplayed at Kenan Stadium. Of course, Rutgers isn’t supposed to be all that good, either. If the team to make the Tar Heels pay isn’t Virginia, it will probably be Georgia Tech. Speaking of which …
9. Georgia Tech will be 3-0 for the first time since 2005. Don’t bank on the Yellow Jackets losing to Kansas again. It’s just not happening, not with the way Paul Johnson is effectively using the options at his disposal. There may not be many great players on the Georgia Tech offense, but there are a bunch of useful pieces who can all be incredibly dangerous.
Granted, Georgia Tech’s early success has come against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee. How the Jackets fare against non-directional foes remains to be seen. But Tevin Washington‘s work in the passing game the first two weeks was ruthlessly efficient, and Georgia Tech’s posse of slotbacks and fullbacks have mostly seen success. There’s a real chance the Jackets crack the top 25 before the end of the month.
10. Clemson already has everyone guessing. It would be perfectly appropriate for the Tigers to come off a pair of far-from-perfect victories over Troy and Wofford and beat Auburn next week. Then again, Clemson could go out and lose by three touchdowns.
The Tigers’ defense gets something of pass after dealing with Wofford’s quirky (and mightily effective) offense. It’s not easy to prepare for, but if Clemson struggled that much Saturday, heavens knows what Georgia Tech will do when the Tigers come calling later in the season. But that’s much later in the season, and it’s far too soon to tell just what Clemson will look like at that stage. As always, there’s a wide range of possible outcomes with the Tigers involved.
—- Patrick Stevens