ACC Winners and Losers: Week 6
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:46 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 3:15 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Logan Thomas
The struggles of the Virginia Tech offense and sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas were well documented after the 23-3 loss to Clemson a week ago. But Thomas absolutely silenced his critics with a near-perfect performance in the 38-35 win over Miami on Saturday. With 2010 ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor watching from the sidelines, Thomas did his best Taylor impression orchestrating a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes of the game. Thomas may have capped his memorable night with a 19-yard touchdown rush to win the game, but it was performance through the air that showed the most improvement. Thomas completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions against a Miami back seven with NFL-caliber talent at nearly every position. The young quarterback had shown flashes of potential, but not quite put it all together until Saturday's victory. If Thomas can replicate that kind of production, the Hokies may not be as far removed from division contender status as we thought.
LOSER: Miami's defense
Miami defense - For the first time all season, the Hurricanes did not turn the ball over once on offense. Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller had the offense humming in the second half against Virginia Tech, giving the defense an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes. The unit has become significantly thinner in recent weeks, particularly with the loss of seniors Ramon Buchanan and Marcus Forston to season-ending injuries. That lack of depth showed late in the game, with the Hurricanes defense a step slower all over the field as the Hokies stormed back and won the game on a 19-yard Logan Thomas run up the middle.
WINNER: Wake Forest, your new ACC dark horse
With a 3-0 conference record, the Demon Deacons are tied with No. 8 Clemson and No. 13 Georgia Tech as the best team in the ACC. A national ranking may arrive for Jim Grobe's squad on Sunday, but the team's arrival as a contender was made on Saturday with the victory over Florida State. Sophomore Tanner Price and Josh Harris were impressive against a talented Seminoles defense, but the play of Wake's defense has changed the team's outlook in conference play. Nearly the entire starting lineup was part of 2010's disastrous 1-7 ACC record, but the unit is back and playing at an unexpectedly high level. Grobe is notorious for being tagged as a "player development" coach, but 2011's team might be another one of those squads that keeps that reputation going. The unit forced five Florida State turnovers on Saturday, picking off both Clint Trickett and EJ Manuel two times each to set up a short field for Price and the unpredictable spread offense. There are plenty of challenges left on Wake's schedule, including next week's contest against Virginia Tech, but the similarities that some have drawn to the 2006 team don't seem to be that radical.
LOSER: Florida State's offensive line
There are a lot of aspects to Florida State's team that aren't going as planned, but the struggles of the offensive line can be blamed for many of the most glaring problems. The Seminoles were one of the most productive rushing teams in the conference in 2010, and now the running backs have become a non-factor against quality opponents. The line is not opening up the lanes, and the backs are not finding their holes. The inability to rush the ball has now begun to have an increasingly negative effect on the passing game, as Florida State's opponents treat them as a one-dimensional team. The unit entered the season dealing with injury issues, and has continued to search for a working rotation. Getting EJ Manuel healthy brings 2011's best rusher back to the lineup, so that should be a start. But the line has to improve if Florida State wants to try and make the most of the season after this three-game losing streak.
WINNER: Clemson's winning streak
The Tigers improve to 6-0, even losing Boyd to the strained hip. Luckily the Tigers had built a lead at the time of the starting quarterback's injury, so Cole Stoudt's job was not too difficult. But considering how much time Boyd spent mastering the intricacies of Chad Morris' system in the offseason, it has to be comforting for Tigers fans to know that Stoudt can keep the machine moving forward while under center. If Stoudt gets the start against Maryland next week, there will be some drop-off. But after seeing the freshman move the ball against Boston College's defense, head coach Dabo Swinney was able to get some comfort in Stoudt's ability if Boyd is unable to play. Rushing Boyd back and/or causing further injury would be the worst possible situation for the undefeated Tigers, and if there is any question regarding Boyd's health the Tigers should be able to continue performing at a high level with Stoudt.
LOSER: Georgia Tech's ability to close out opponents
Georgia Tech was not a loser on Saturday, but they took a step back with yet another poor defensive showing in the fourth quarter. In their three ACC contests combined, the Yellow Jackets have given up 48 fourth quarter points, while only allowing 31 points in the first three quarters of play. The reasons seem to be different every time, but the result is always the same. Against Maryland, it was allowing backup quarterback C.J. Brown and Davin Meggett to establish a powerful downhill running attack. Against N.C. State it was soft coverage and lack of focus with a big lead. The Yellow Jackets are 6-0 and sitting on top of the ACC standings, but they might not be so lucky if they let another opponent climb back into the contest late.
WINNER: Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown
Maryland's inconsistencies and offensive struggles since their opening night win have been well documented, but a quarterback change in the loss to Georgia Tech introduced a new aspect to the offense. Sophomore quarterback C.J. Brown took over for 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien in the second half, and led two touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to bring the Terps back into the game against the Yellow Jackets. Brown presented a new rushing threat for the opposition, and was able to get an effective read game going with running back Davin Meggett. The backup quarterback finished as the game's leading rusher, thanks in large part to a 77 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Brown struggled mightily trying to move the ball through the air, but he at least presents offensive coordinator Gary Crowton the option of possibly using a two-quarterback system to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Imploring the two quarterback tactic can be toxic to a team in certain situations, but at 2-3 Maryland needs something to jump start the sputtering offense.
LOSER: This Clemson fan
Tajh Boyd's hip was not the only Clemson thing slightly out of place on Saturday. CBSSports.com's Adam Jacobi pointed out this lost soul from the Michigan-Northwestern game.
WINNER: N.C. State CB David Amerson
N.C. State's sophomore cornerback was responsible for two of the Wolfpack's four interceptions in the second half against Central Michigan. After the Chippewas came out firing and took an early lead in Raleigh, N.C. State's defense answered with big stops and turnovers in the second half while the offense piled on the points and N.C. State picked up a much-needed bounce back win after dropping two straight.
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Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Andre Williams, Boston College, C.J. Brown, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, CJ Brown, Clint Trickett, Cole Stoudt, Dabo Swinney, Danny O'Brien, David Amerson, David Wilson, Davin Meggett, EJ Manuel, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Gary Crowton, Georgia Tech, Jacory Harris, Jim Grobe, Jimbo Fisher, Josh Harris, Lamar Miller, Logan Thomas, Marcus Forston, Maryland, Miami, Montel Harris, N.C. State, NC State, Ramon Buchanan, Randy Edsall, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Sean Spence, Tajh Boyd, Tajh Boyd Hip, Tajh Boyd Injury, Tanner Price, Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:27 am
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Since: Sep 12, 2008
Posted on: October 10, 2011 7:27 pm
GEORGIA TECH IS A WINNER
Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: October 9, 2011 11:17 pm
ACC Winners and Losers: Week 6