September 8, 2009

The ACC Week that Was

The ACC didn't put its best foot forward in week one, winning only four out of ten conference games. Let's recap the week that was.

Best win of the week: Miami beating Florida State on the road in a thriller.

Both the Hurricanes and Seminoles seemed to be in midseason form, with the outcome in doubt until the final snap. The second half was not a great indication of how good these teams' defenses are, as due to the heat just about every player was dealing with cramping or dehydration.

Florida State choked away a victory as Jarmon Fortson dropped the game-winning touchdown. FSU wouldn't have had to go for a touchdown on that final drive had their kicker not horribly shanked an extra point.

Jacory Harris' play stood out above the rest. He throws a feather of a ball and kept his poise after throwing a pick-six that put FSU ahead in the fourth quarter. He made his share of mistakes, but those are the plays that happen early on in the season. He was on target for most of the game, and threw the ball away when necessary.

Christian Ponder had a solid outing with the offensive line giving him all day to throw. On one play he had roughly 10-11 seconds to get a pass off. Where Ponder got into trouble was when he held the ball too long, and tried to force deep passes, which happened at the end of the first half. He killed a scoring drive with the resulting interception in the endzone, and those lost points may have cost them the game.

With all the Seminoles preseason problems at the wide receiver position, they appear to have found three or four guys who can go after the ball. Taiwan Easterling showed his agility with a 21 yard touchdown on a flash screen late in the first half.

The take-aways from this one are that 1) Florida State's secondary can be exposed on play-action passes 2) Miami's pass rush leaves much to be desired and 3) Each team has tremendous team speed. Every play had the velocity of an NFL game.

I'm not a fan of this game being played this early in the season as each team still showed some rust, but this game was an instant classic.

Runner-up: Boston College's 54-0 drubbing of Northeastern.

This victory should not be overlooked. The running game was on par, and it was the confidence-building start that the Eagles needed. The more game experience that Justin Tuggle and Dave Shinskie can get, the better.

Worst loss(es) of the week:

Virginia losing to FCS William & Mary at home, and Duke losing to FCS Richmond also at home.

Where's Herm Edwards when you need him? You play to win the game! Richmond and William & Mary are both in Northeastern's conference. While they are both head and shoulders above Northeastern, it appears Duke and Virginia forgot to show up. Granted Richmond is the defending FCS champion, however both these teams have removed any remote chance at a bowl game with these inexcusable losses.

Runner-up: The Maryland loss was not a surprise, as they entered the game as three touchdown underdogs.

Virginia Tech looked extremely vulnerable Saturday night. Alabama essentially gave them two touchdowns, one on the kick return, and the second after they kicked to Dyrell Roberts a second time and he returned the ball to midfield then was hit late out of bounds for an extra 15 yards.

I hope Coach McGovern studies the film of this game. In third and long situations, Alabama sent everyone but the towel boy at Tyrod Taylor. The result? 9 for 20 on pass attempts for 91 yards. Taylor began to look at the rush, instead of making his reads, and Alabama had a spy on him in case he broke loose to scramble. Expect to see the rest of the ACC try to abuse Virginia Tech in the same manner.

ACC Player(s) of the Week:

Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (95 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns)

Runner-Up:Jacoby Ford, Clemson (61-yard punt return TD and 43-yard TD catch).

Power Rankings

1. Georgia Tech
2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. North Carolina
5. Florida State
6. Clemson
7. NC State
8. Boston College
9. Wake Forest
10. Maryland
11. Duke
12. Virginia

Next week's game to watch: Clemson @ Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech won last year's battle 21-17 at Death Valley. C.J. Spiller looks to rebound from a foot injury suffered in the first half last week, and he faces off against Jonathan Dwyer in what looks to be an early season showdown.

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