Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:50 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 4:41 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1) Unproven UNC QB Bryn Renner answered doubters with a record setting day. Renner only attempted two passes during his freshman year, one of them fell incomplete. In his first career start on Saturday against James Madison, the sophomore quarterback once again only missed his receiver once. Unfortunately it was intercepted, but it was the only miscue in Renner's 22-for-23 performance against the Dukes. Renner's 95.7% completion rate set a new ACC record and was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to give Everett Withers his first head coaching victory.
Renner's opposition will get much more difficult as the season goes on and teams get to prepare for the first-year starter, but that's where he will be aided by a two-headed rushing attack that also looked sharp on Saturday. Redshirt senior Ryan Houston and redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard both returned from injuries just in time to combine for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Combine their success with the reliable Dwight Jones receiving, and the quarterback position no longer looks like a question mark in Chapel Hill.
2) The ACC at least has the capability to put up big points - Of the ten ACC teams with a game under their belt, eight teams scored at least 29 points with the entire conference averaging AVERAGE points on the weekend thus far. Granted, only Wake Forest and Boston College played teams from an AQ conference (both lost) and six of the conference's opponents were FCS teams, but for a conference that has been criticized at times for a lack of offensive talent it was a nice change to see some points. For Clemson it took awhile before Chad Morris' signature offense got clicking, but the 31 second half points were testament that it is capable of wearing down a defense. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech's 60+ point performances can be attributed to a combination of their opposition (Appalachian State and Western Carolina) and some explosive playmakers. North Carolina and North Carolina State both piled on late TD's against their FCS opponents, and Florida State's defense contributed as much as their offense in the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe.
3) FSU's greatest offense might be their defense. Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles had a matchup advantage over the Warhawks as soon as the teams hit the field. But that fact should not take anything away from the impressive performance from the Florida State defense. ULM's offense was held to just 191 yards of offense and despite 39 rushing attempts, the Warhawks could not collect more than 99 yards. Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine were physical in the trenches while the Seminoles' back seven, led by safety Lamarcus Joyner, swarmed to the ball to stuff Warhawk receivers when quarterback Kolton Browning tried to utilize under routes on third downs. In fact, Florida State's ten third-down stops were a key in keeping ULM's running game from gathering any kind of momentum. The coaching staff will be focusing on Charleston Southern, but I'll say it: that kind of defensive performance will be needed if the Seminoles want to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.
4) Georgia Tech's offense shows explosion, and more of the same bad habits. Paul Johnson's first two seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach had 9+ wins both seasons and an ACC title. So there was no surprise that Yellow Jacket fans were concerned with 2010's 6-7 finish that included dropping five of their final six games. One of the reasons Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch was trouble holding onto the ball. No FBS team lost more fumbles than Georgia Tech (20) in 2010, and they ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin. So while there was plenty to celebrate with the offensive performance in the season opener, there are also plenty of red flags.
The Yellow Jackets totaled 662 yards of offense, the most for any Georgia Tech team since 2000. Tevin Washington had more passing yards in the first quarter (148) than any quarterback had in an entire game during the 2010 season. Stephen Hill's four catches for 181 yards provided support to claims that he was set to be the next great Georgia Tech receiver in the line of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. But Georgia Tech still fumbled the ball six times, luckily only losing the ball twice. Thursday's season opener showed Georgia Tech fans that this offense is dangerous. They can be dangerously good, but also dangerously destructive if they can't fix their turnover issues.
5.) Maryland - Miami - The opening weekend in the ACC wraps up on Monday night when Miami visits College Park with a shortened roster to kick off the conference schedule. It will be the first game for new head coaches Al Golden and Randy Edsall, and I'm positive we will have plenty to learn about both squads. Keep it here at the Eye on College Football for all your ACC coverage.
Tags: ACC, Appalachian State, Boston College, Brandon Jenkins, Bryn Renner, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Dwight Jones, Everett Withers, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Giovani Bernard, Kolton Browning, Lamarcus Joyner, Louisiana-Monroe, N.C. State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Paul Johnson, Ryan Houston, Tank Carradine, ULM, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Western Carolina, What I Learned
Posted on: September 2, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 5:15 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here's the podcast I recorded with Adam Aizer earlier today, looking at the three studs and three duds of Thursday. I picked four studs. I can't do anything right.
Click here to listen in a new window, or listen in the embedded player below.
I should have given extra kudos to Vick Ballard, by the way, mainly because of his name. One, it sounds like the name of a 265-pound running back, the type of guy who really has no business trying to run a 40-yard dash or wearing a form-fitting uniform. It's almost a disappointment that he's an average-sized tailback. And two, because I feel like America needs more young men named Vic, or Vick, or Victor. That's the kind of man that ends up owning an auto care shop -- or at the very least a non-ironic, grease-stained mechanic shirt with that name stitched onto the breast. Vic won't screw you over on that muffler repair. Vic does an honest day's work.
Past all that, we talk Wisconsin and Russell Wilson a little more, and also Jordan Jefferson and LSU. I suppose I'm more on Adam Aizer's side than is evident in our answers to the question, in that I never thought this was LSU's year to begin with, but the odds of a win over Oregon are sufficiently lower now with Jarrett Lee under center than with Jefferson that it's fair to say that Jefferson's suspension is costing LSU the shot at the title (rather than, say, costing them the title outright).
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Bernard Pierce, Big East, Big Ten, Casey Bridgewater, FCS, Georgia Tech, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, MAC, Montee Ball, Murray State, Non-BCS, Russell Wilson, SEC, Sun Belt, Teddy Bridgewater, Temple, Tevin Washington, Villanova, Western Carolina, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 5:56 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Each Thursday we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:
Steve Spurrier: are you really going to voluntarily saddle his team with a full-blown quarterback controversy? The Ol' Ball Coach has always done things his way, and it's safe to say very few other coaches' ways would include telling a fourth-year senior starter he's going to share snaps in a potentially challenging season opener, threatening to bench him if his competition outplays in said opener, and publicly declaring said competiton has outplayed him in preseason scrimmages.
Stephen Garcia has seen and heard it all from his head coach before, of course, and given his off-field history, it makes a certain amount of sense for Spurrier to keep Connor Shaw's confidence and focus at its highest possible point at all times. If the Gamecock schedule gave the team a few weeks' worth of breathers, it would make sense to keep Shaw engaged and Garcia on his toes.
But Spurrier doesn't have that luxury; East Carolina isn't Western Carolina, and the Gamecocks' critical trip to Georgia arrives right on its heels in Week 2. If Shaw (pictured) plays well enough Saturday to force another week's worth of Spurrier waffling, Carolina is going to enter the single most important game of its entire season with a colossal question mark still hanging over the team's collective head. And though we're not Steve Spurrier, we retain serious doubts as to whether that's the best way for it to prepare.
Jarrett Lee: can you avoid making the killer turnover? We won't hide from it: when we wrote in this space not long ago that Les Miles had failed his LSU team by not finding a better replacement for Jordan Jefferson than Zach Mettenberger in his first year out of JUCO or fifth-year senior Lee, yes, that was a knock against Lee. To this point, Lee's career -- a 53.5 career completion percentage, those nation-leading 16 picks in 2008 -- is the sort which, frankly, has to be knocked.
But if Lee has matured into the kind of under-control, safety-first game manager that always seems to be under center at LSU's rivals at Alabama, there's nothing stopping the Tigers from being, well, Alabama; the overpowering line, breakout running back (we see you, Spencer Ware), and lockdown defense are all in place.
Now we just have to find out about Lee, and fortunately, we won't have to wait long. Oregon forced 37 turnovers a year ago, the second-highest total in the nation; even without Cliff Harris, if Lee is loose with the ball, the Ducks are going to take it the other way.
Georgia: how comfortable are you in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense? Much of the pregame chatter regarding Georgia's chances against Boise State have revolved around whether Isaiah Crowell can live up to his considerable hype, and there's no question Crowell's potential impact would give the Dawsg a huge boost.
But just as key -- if not moreso -- will be how the Bulldog defense handles a Bronco offense that's going to come out guns blazing. Chris Petersen and his staff have always been at their best with extra time to prepare, and if the Bulldogs haven't shored up what was an improved-but-hardly-airtight defense from 2010, Kellen Moore and Doug Martin are going to punish those leaks with a quickness. Some of the Dawgs' personnel issues with the 3-4 have been resolved (starting with the ascension of nose tackle Kwame Geathers and the shift of hard-hitting safety Alec Ogletree to inside linebacker), but that doesn't mean all the kinks are ironed out just yet.
And if there's one or two too many kinks remaining, the Broncos could be up big before the Dawgs even know what hit them, much as Virginia Tech discovered a year ago. The Hokies were able to mount a full comeback behind Tyrod Taylor, but with an angry Dawg crowd "behind" a psychologially-fragile 6-7 team, Mark Richt may not be so lucky. Grantham's unit had best be prepared.
Also worth asking: What can Ole Miss accomplish in the air, either offensively or defensively? (Some measure of competence from Barry Brunetti and the rebuilt Rebel secondary would go a long way towards SEC competitiveness.) Does Kentucky have any offensive playmakers? (No Randall Cobb, no Derrick Locke, no Mike Hartline, no Chris Matthews. What's left?) Quarterbacks: how do they look? (In addition to Ole Miss and LSU, there's some level of uncertainty at Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt ... the number of teams in the league that know what they're getting from under center are vastly outnumbered by the ones that don't.)
Tags: Alabama, Alabama, Alec Ogletree, Auburn, Barry Brunetti, Boise State, Chris Matthews, Chris Petersen, Cliff Harris, Connor Shaw, Derrick Locke, Doug Martin, East Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Isaiah Crowell, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kwame Geathers, LSU, Mark Richt, Mike Hartline, Ole Miss, Oregon, Randall Cobb, SEC, South Carolina, Spencer Ware, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Todd Grantham, Tyrod Taylor, Vanderbilt, Western Carolina, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: August 31, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 10:00 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson raised some eyebrows when he announced that senior A-Back Roddy Jones was questionable/doubtful for Thursday's opener against Western Carolina.
Johnson changed status while speaking on his weekly radio show Tuesday night, saying that Jones - who was selected as a captain for that game by the coaches - will play. Jones has 39 career starts for the Yellow Jackets, and has only missed one game.
Thursday begins a aggressive campaign for the Yellow Jackets to bounce back from a disappointing finish in 2010. After a 5-2 start Georgia Tech dropped 5 of their last 6 contests, only defeating Duke by an embarrassingly-narrow 30-20 margin. Jones will be joined in the offensive backfield by sophomore quarterback Tevin Washington and redshirt sophomore B-Back David Sims. But expect to see lots of rotation as the key players in the option offense must show improvement after finishing dead last nationally in both fumbles (37) and fumbles lost (20). Johnson has said that while Washington is the starter, backup quarterback Synjyn Days will see some time under center as well.
The Yellow Jackets will kick off against Western Carolina, Paul Johnson's alma mater, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in Bobby Dodd Stadium.