Tag:Brandon Pendergrass
Posted on: November 13, 2011 2:01 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 11



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: Virginia Tech's offensive backfield

The Hokies moved into control of the ACC Coastal Division thanks to another set of outstanding offensive performances from sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson. Wilson's gaudy numbers have become standard-issue for Virginia Tech, but Thursday night's 175 yard outing cemented his status as a contender for ACC Player of the Year. Thomas added 70 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, a nice compliment to his three touchdown passes. Between Wilson's elusiveness and Thomas' strength running the ball, they form a dangerous duo that any defense struggles to stop. Virginia Tech hasn't clinched their fifth division title in seven years yet, they still have North Carolina and in-state rival Virginia left on the schedule. But with the way Thomas and Wilson have been performing recently, I like their chances to be in Charlotte for a rematch with Clemson on Dec. 3.

LOSER: Georgia Tech LB Jeremiah Attaochu

With a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter, Attaochu appeared to have Logan Thomas stopped in his tracks on third down. The Hokies were deep in their own territory, and the punt would have given the Yellow Jackets the ball with great field position as the final period approached. But as the talented linebacker struggled to bring the 6-foot-6 250+ pound quarterback to the ground, Attaochu made a serious mistake throwing a punch.

"I just had an overdose of adrenalin," Attaochu explained after the game. "When I made contact with him, I was mad he wouldn't go down."

The personal foul penalty kept the Virginia Tech drive alive, and it ended with a 12-yard Logan Thomas touchdown run to give the Hokies a 27-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The penalty was undoubtedly the turning point of the second half, after the Yellow Jackets had put together two dominating touchdown drives. The loss knocked Georgia Tech out of contention for the ACC Championship Game, one of the primary goals for this team after last season's disappointing 6-7 finish.

WINNER: Chandler Catanzaro

Clemson's defense followed Tajh Boyd's game tying touchdown pass to Jaron Brown by forcing Wake Forest into a three and out. The field position was ideal, but Boyd was only able to drive the Tigers down to the 13 before Dabo Swinney tapped kicker Chandler Catanzaro to kick the potential game-winning field goal with less than 90 seconds remaining. Catanzaro has been streaky over the last two seasons, but from 30 yards the kick was expected to be a routine make for the sophomore from Greenville, S.C.. Catanzaro missed the kick, sending shock through Death Valley as Clemson fans saw their status as ACC Atlantic frontrunners shaken for the moment. But the Tigers' defense once again answered, giving Catanzaro another shot to win the game and lock up the Atlantic Division title. This time from 43-yards out, Catanzaro was iced twice by Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe before splitting the upright as time expired, booking Clemson's ticket to the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte.

LOSER: Jimmy Newman

Wake Forest had Death Valley silenced for a moment in the third quarter on Saturday, after the Demon Deacons scored 21 points in a five minute period to take a 28-14 lead on the ninth-ranked Tigers. But while Chandler Catanzaro got his shot at redemption and hit the game-winning field goal, Wake Forest kicker Jimmy Newman has to walk away from a three point loss after missing two field goals, including one from 32 yards in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of other breakdowns - like the defense allowing Tajh Boyd to pick apart the secondary with receivers NOT named Sammy Watkins, or the offenses sudden inability to control the Clemson pass rush - but games this close come down to execution in routine areas like special teams. While still not bowl eligible, Wake Forest was a field goal away from taking the inside track towards their second ACC Championship Game appearance. After failing to pull the upset on Saturday, the Demon Deacons head home needing a win against either Maryland or Vanderbilt to make the postseason.

WINNER: Luke Kuechly

The man they call "Superman" in Chestnut Hill was just that on Saturday in Boston College's 14-10 victory over NC State. While the Eagles were getting no help from their offense in the second half (-2 yards of total offense), the defense stepped up against a relentless Wolfpack squad led by the gunslinging Mike Glennon. All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly recorded 18 tackles int he victory, his 32nd straight game with double digits in tackles.

Not only was Kuechly all over the field making plays, but he was stepping up when his team needed stops the most. Nine of his 18 tackles were recorded in the final 13 minutes of play, as Boston College fought off NC State in a scoreless fourth quarter. Kuechly entered the game as the nation's leading tackler, and his current total of 168 already has him closing in on last season's nation-leading total of 183. Boston College has suffered setbacks in nearly every aspect of the roster, but Kuechly has been the one consistent piece of Frank Spaziani's 2011 unit. How much longer either will last in Chestnut Hill is still unclear, but coaches and fans alike will enjoy every down Kuechly has left this season.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

After listing the NC State head coach as a winner in Week 10, TOB walks away from Week 11 as one of the losers. O'Brien had all the momentum after winning the on-field and off-field war with in-state rival North Carolina. But Saturday's loss to his former team, Boston College, gives O'Brien naysayers plenty of ammo for the "hot seat" discussion. Not only is O'Brien winless on the road against his former employer, but the Wolfpack have not won an Atlantic Division road game since his arrival in Raleigh.

O'Brien's squads have often been right on the verge of bowl eligibility, but only reaching the postseason twice. For NC State to be bowl eligible this season, they now need to defeat both Clemson and Maryland at home in the next two weeks. If the Wolfpack had been able to win in Chestnut Hill on Saturday, next week's matchup with No. 9 Clemson would not be a must-win. O'Brien's record at NC State is exactly .500 after the loss, and his record against conference opponents is l6-22. The Wolfpack fans love that TOB is undefeated against rival North Carolina, but those wanting to cause a job security stir will have a stronger argument if the Wolfpack miss the postseason for the third time in O'Brien's five years.


WINNERS: Streaky Florida State

The 23-19 win over in-state rival Miami signaled both the end and continuation of streaks for the Seminoles. For the first time since 2005 the home team in the Miami-Florida State rivalry won, with the Seminoles claiming the last home victory six years ago in Tallahassee. But while that streak came to a halt, Florida State extended their current win streak to five games.

Ever since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup after suffering a shoulder injury against Oklahoma, the Seminoles have been a completely different team offensively. In the five-game stretch, the 'Noles are averaging 35.4 points per game, and the rotating running back position seems to have settled on freshman Devonta Freeman as the primary back for the future. Unfortunately, the Clemson loss earlier in the season has the Seminoles out of the ACC Atlantic Division race. The work put in now helps improve their bowl bid possibilities and builds for another shot at the ACC with many of these same players in 2012.

LOSER: Maryland's locker room

Things have gone from bad to worse for Maryland, who picked up their sixth straight loss - their eighth in nine games - in the 45-21 loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field. After a uninspiring effort in their home finale at Byrd Stadium, Maryland donned their "Maryland Pride" uniforms for Saturday's neutral field contest with the Fighting Irish in the home of the Washington Redskins. On Friday, reports of dissension within the Terrapins locker room was confirmed by players - including kicker Nick Ferrara.

"At this point, it's not like two sides of the cafeteria - this side is buying in, this side is not," Ferrara told The Washington Post. "People are keeping it to themselves. No one knows who is going to go [transfer], who is going to stay, who is feeling which way."

The Terrapins suffered yet another setback in the loss to the Irish, with sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien breaking a bone in "his upper arm" during the third quarter. The 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year has already been ruled out for the final two games of the season. O'Brien's absence leaves sophomore C.J. Brown as the only available scholarship quarterback. The Terps travel to Winston-Salem next week to face Wake Forest before wrapping up the season at NC State at the end of the month.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 9 Clemson 31, Wake Forest 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. With the ACC Atlantic Division on the line, the Tigers overcame a 14 point third quarter deficit to knock Wake Forest off in the final seconds and win 31-28. After missing a 30-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro lined up a 43-yard try and nailed it as time expired. The win clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title for Clemson, who will face the winner of the Coastal (either Virginia Tech or Virginia) in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

HOW CLEMSON WON: Wake Forest stunned the Tigers in the second half with three touchdowns in a five minute span, jumping out to a 28-14 lead. But Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington overcame early turnovers to help lead the Tigers down the field and back into the game late. The Tigers were able to get the offense going despite losing Sammy Watkins to an "upper extremity injury" in the third quarter. Boyd finished the game with 343 yards passing, looking to receivers like Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford to step up in Watkins' absence. The depth of skill position players helped keep the Tigers' offense humming, and the defensive line picked the right time to get pressure on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After trailing by two touchdowns, the Tigers didn't get to enjoy success until the clock hit zero as Catanzaro's kick sailed through the uprights. The comeback wasn't pretty, but credit Tajh Boyd and a gang of unheralded receivers for putting them in the position to win the game late.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: A trip to Charlotte to compete for the ACC Championship. The Tigers had their national championship hopes dashed by Georgia Tech two weeks ago, but they can still find their way to a BCS bowl with a conference title. Clemson's division title is their second in three years, as they strive to capture their first league championship since 1991.

WHAT WAKE FOREST LOST: The chance to steal the ACC Atlantic Division from Clemson. The Demon Deacons needed wins over Clemson and Maryland to claim the division, and with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter it looked likely. Wake Forest already stunned Florida State, and knocking off the Tigers would have added to a memorable season for a team picked to finish last in the ACC. The next goal for Jim Grobe's squad is bowl eligibility, as the Demon Deacons need one more win to make the postseason.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has had a memorable first season with the Tigers, and Saturday he broke the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Watkins currently has 1,035 receiving yards, but his future may be in jeopardy after leaving the game with an "upper extremity injury." Watkins appeared to injure his shoulder/ribs, and did not return to the game. The true freshman has been electrifying this season, and a big part of the Tigers' success. If he's out, it is a huge blow to Clemson's offense.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Wake Forest leading rusher questionable for VT

Posted by Chip Patterson

Fresh off their 35-30 upset of Florida State, Wake Forest will turn right around for another daunting challenge as they host No. 19 Virginia Tech on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, they may have to face their second-straight ranked opponent without their leading rusher.

Sophomore running back Josh Harris has been limited in practice this week, recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in last Saturday's victory. Harris rushed 13 times for 136 yards in the win, his third 100+ career performance. Interestingly enough, Harris' career high came against the Virginia Tech last season in Blacksburg. Harris ran 20 times for 241 yards, but the Demon Deacons lost 52-21 thanks to a strong showing from the Tyrod Taylor and the Hokies' offense.

Speaking to the media on the weekly ACC teleconference, head coach Jim Grobe stressed that he would like to see Harris participate fully in practice before getting back on the field in a game. Backup running back Brandon Pendergrass has been productive as a third-down and goal line back this season, but has only 40 carries total on the season.

Wake Forest (4-1) has never beaten back-to-back ranked opponents, they will kick off against the Hokies at 6:30 p.m. at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:34 am
 

Keys to the Game: Virginia Tech at Wake Forest

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: Logan Thomas performs the way he did against Miami last Saturday. Thomas had struggled with inconsistencies so far in his first year as the Hokies' starter, but his showing against the Hurricanes as good as anyone could expect. The athletic sophomore completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdowns, and the game-winning 19-yard touchdown run to seal the 38-35 Coastal Division victory. Running back David Wilson is a star, and the ACC's second-leading rusher is going to get his yards against most opponents. But Thomas' accuracy through the air now forces opponents to respect the passing game, which in turn also will open things up for Wilson to get even more yards.

WAKE FOREST WILL WIN IF: The Demon Deacons can get an effecting running game going against a thin Virginia Tech defensive front. The Hokies defense has been hit hard by injuries, particularly on the defensive line. It showed late in the game against Miami as Lamar Miller took over for the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, collecting all 90 yards on the way to Miami's final touchdown. Wake Forest running back Josh Harris is fresh off a 100-yard performance against Florida State, and backup Brandon Pendergrass has been effective in short yardage situations. The Hokies back seven is well coached and will be less likely to bite on many of the trick plays, so a solid rushing attack will be needed to keep them honest.

X-FACTOR: The Virginia Tech defense and special teams failed to force a turnover against Miami on Saturday. It is the first time the Hokies have not done so in a game since Oct. 16 of last season. Interestingly enough, the opponent on that day was the Demon Deacons. Saturday also marked the end of a 12-game steak of intercepting the opposing quarterback. Thankfully Logan Thomas put together that memorable performance, and the Hokies were able to win on the final drive. With so much of Wake's offensive success relying on quarterback Tanner Price, getting an interception or two to kill drives and rattle the sophomore's confidence could go a long way in keeping the Hokies in the ACC title hunt.

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