Tag:Bryn Renner
Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 4:10 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 7 Clemson 59, North Carolina 38

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WON. North Carolina kept things close in the first half, but six Tar Heel turnovers and a 35-point third quarter turned this conference matchup ugly fast as the Tigers poured on the offense in a 59-38 victory. Tajh Boyd kept the fireworks going until the starters took a seat, completing 27 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and no interceptions.

HOW CLEMSON WON: While standout freshman Sammy Watkins has been stealing headlines this season, Saturday was truly a team effort from Clemson's offense. Fourteen different skill position players got touches on Saturday, but few had the impact of DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins. Hopkins led the Tigers with nine receptions for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown. He was one of five Clemson receivers to see the end zone in the blowout victory.

WHEN CLEMSON WON: After halftime, the Tigers made adjustments that paid off on the field in the third quarter. It only took the Tigers just over two minutes of game time to go 66 yards in five plays for the first of five touchdowns in the third quarter. Even when North Carolina kick returner T.J. Thorp took ran back a kickoff for a touchdown to cut Clemson's lead to 14, the Tigers answered with a Sammy Watkins 42 yard touchdown on the very next drive.

WHAT CLEMSON WON: More confidence in their ability to outscore the opponent. Tight end Dwayne Allen reportedly marched up and down the sideline at Maryland declaring they would score however many times they needed, and it looks as though they'll be able to do that on most of their remaining schedule. Only Georgia Tech's ability to keep the ball out of the Tigers' hands presents a real threat when looking at the rest of Clemson's conference schedule.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: A lot of confidence in their offense. As explosive as Clemson offense was, North Carolina did a lot to keep themselves from winning on Saturday. The Tar Heels offense converted on only two of 12 third downs, going through almost three entire quarters without converting any. There were also six turnovers and nine penalties to add to the list of frustrations for interim head coach Everett Withers.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Clemson's high scoring effort was boosted by not one, but TWO touchdowns from redshirt senior defensive lineman Kourtnei Brown. The first pick six helped Clemson gain some momentum after being tied at 10 earlier in the second quarter, but the fumble recovery touchdown was adding insult to a 3+ touchdown lead. Making Brown's day even more impressive was tipping the pass that became Renner's third interception of the day.



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Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Keys to the Game: North Carolina at Clemson

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: If Clemson's defense can keep North Carolina's drives short, the Tigers will not need much time to wear down the Tar Heels' defense. The defensive unit has suffered injuries all season, and starting linebacker Ebele Okakpu was dismissed on Monday for "conduct detrimental to the team." Clemson's pace and speed can wear down a team's back seven, and that's exactly where the Tar Heels are the most vulnerable. After giving up 291 rushing yards to Maryland, the Tigers defense needs to make a statement and shut down star freshman Gio Bernard. Bernard is currently 3rd in the ACC in rushing (109.57 yards per game), just ahead of Clemson junior Andre Ellington.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: North Carolina has to figure out a way to get pressure on Tajh Boyd with their front four. The Tigers have too many weapons on the outside for the Tar Heels' secondary, and the best way to slow down that fast offense is with a sack. Jacory Harris exposed North Carolina's weaknesses at defensive back with his career-high 233 first half passing yards on Saturday, and things only get more difficult having to face Sammy Watkins and DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins. North Carolina should be able to move the ball on the ground with Bernard, and keeping that ground game productive will be essential to keeping the game low scoring. Quarterback Bryn Renner has shown the ability to play catch up late in a game, but a shoot-out does not play to the strengths of the Tar Heels.

X-FACTOR: North Carolina's offensive line gave up four sacks for 23 yards against Miami on Saturday, and the Hurricanes were in Bryn Renner's face all day forcing quick throws and ill-timed passes. Dwight Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the ACC, but if Renner does not have time the sophomore quarterback won't have a chance to get him the ball. Clemson's secondary has been good, but is arguably the weakest aspect of their defense. The offensive line must keep Renner's jersey clean in a hostile road environment or the Tar Heels could see the game get out of hand quickly.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 5:01 pm
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 7


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: Sammy Watkins

Best freshman in the game? Best freshman in the game.

With 345 all-purpose yards, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins broke C.J. Spiller's single game school record. Spiller re-wrote most of the offensive record book for the Tigers, and seven games into his collegiate career Watkins is already making a dent. The special teams play may become a non-factor as teams learn to kick away (as they did with Spiller), but there is just not an answer for a player of Watkins' caliber and potential at this point in the ACC. The freshman's combination of physical attributes and understanding of the game have been well documented, mostly by his coaches. Swinney started singing his praises days after his arrival on campus in the offseason, and never has his ability come in handy more than in leading the Tigers' greatest comeback in program history. Clemson still has plenty of challenges left between now and their ultimate goal of an ACC title, but I struggled to find a newcomer that has made a more significant impact on his team than Watkins.

LOSER: Clemson's not-so-kind reputation

Until proven otherwise, the Tigers' comeback has silenced Clemson's "watch them pull a Clemson" critics. The Tigers have started plenty of seasons with a talented roster that wows fans and experts alike, only to fall to an opponent they should defeat. Saturday night in College Park was the perfect opportunity to "pull a Clemson." But thanks to outstanding play of Boyd, Ellington, Watkins, and enough plays by the Brandon Thompson and the defense; they pulled a 2011 Clemson. The 2011 Clemson is an act that is not so dissimilar from a 2010 Auburn. They just find a way to win. Expecting a similar result to the Tigers' national title run is outrageous. But expecting a comparable finish (ACC title and BCS bowl win) might not be so crazy at this point.

WINNER: Jacory Harris

The oft-criticized Harris has been silencing the nay-sayers with his most recent performances against two talented defenses. Ever since halftime of Miami's loss to Virginia Tech, Harris has been sharp and on point with his delivery. Against North Carolina on Saturday, Harris got off to a fast start thanks to big plays from Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter. The senior signal-caller torched North Carolina's secondary for 233 yards in the first half, a new career high. But even with an impressive production, the most important improvement has been his lack of turnovers. Harris' most frequently detrimental fault has been his tendency to misread a route and toss the ball to the opposing defense.

But since getting picked off in Miami's 28-24 loss to Kansas State, Harris has been perfect in the interceptions column. Miami could not afford to fall to 0-3 in the conference, and the Hurricanes got the fast start they needed to ensure it didn't happen in Chapel Hill. The win was a huge step forward for first-year head coach Al Golden, and another building block in Jacory Harris' final season with The U.

LOSER: Maryland's confidence

Quarterback controversies, suspensions for team rules, reports of locker room unrest - it's all been present in Maryland's roller coaster start to the Randy Edsall era. As the Terrapins pushed Clemson to the brink and had Byrd Stadium rocking like it was Labor Day all over again, it seemed like all of the issues were evaporating. A win over No. 8 Clemson could have been the jolt of positivity this team in transition has needed, but instead they suffered a deflating loss. Blowing an 18-point lead is no moral victory, and now the onus will be on Edsall to spin this into the best possible learning experience for Maryland. Sitting at 2-4 with plenty of ACC play left, the Terps are now in jeopardy of missing the postseason. Such a finish would not send great vibes through a program looking to rebrand around their new coach.

WINNER: The Mike London Movement


Throughout the offseason, there was a definitive buzz around second-year coach Mike London at Virginia. The former Richmond head man took the job as one of the touted young coaches in the game, but London's fast impact on the recruiting trail raised eyebrows across the nation. After a slow start, the happy feelings of hope around Virginia football seemed to have turned from a bubble to a fizz until the Cavaliers' upset win over No. 12 Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers got it done by winning the battle in the trenches, physically dominating the Yellow Jackets on the offensive and defensive line. That physical attitude is embodied in London's steadfast attitude towards his football team, and it showed on the big stage against the undefeated Yellow Jackets. With an off-week to prepare, the Cavaliers entered the game with an unwavering confidence defensively and held Georgia Tech to a season-low for rushing yards and total yards of offense. As the fans rushed the field, London celebrated the big win with his players. This might not be THE year for Virginia, but Cavs fans have to feel like they have found THE coach moving forward.

LOSER: Duke

The Blue Devils walked into a losing situation facing Florida State after three straight losses. After losing three straight games over a four week span, the talented Seminoles roster was angry and looking for redemption. EJ Manuel got his first start since the Oklahoma game, and got to work early with three 50+ yard passes in the first quarter. The junior quarterback finished with 239 yards and two touchdowns on the day, sharing the spotlight with freshman running back Devonta Freeman. The lack of a consistent rushing attack has been the most common criticism of Florida State this season, and Freeman's 109 yard outing led the way for an impressive 242 team rushing yards. Duke never really had a chance against this angry Florida State team.

WINNER: Logan Thomas' maturation

The only for Thomas to follow his 23 for 25 outing against Miami with a game-winning touchdown was to repeat the routine again in a crucial road game against a surging Wake Forest team. Thomas was not as accurate statistically, but he was just as effective in providing the big plays needed for the Hokies to bounce back from an early 14-0 deficit. Star receiver Jarett Boykin was the target of choice for the big redshirt sophomore, snagging in seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his 280 yards and two touchdowns through the air, Thomas once again was a threat on the ground and punched in two goal line scores.

Thomas' maturation as a passer and rushing threat has forced defenses to focus less on running back David Wilson. Focusing less on Wilson is a bad thing, as he demonstrated on Saturday with a 136 yard outing against the Demon Deacons. After another slow start and early season loss, Virginia Tech is hitting their rhythm at the right time. If things continue to progress in Blacksburg, a rematch against the Tigers in Charlotte could be in the cards for Virginia Tech.

LOSER: Bryn Renner

After starting as one of the ACC's most efficient passers, Renner seems to have regressed since starting conference play. There were only eight incompletions on the stat sheet, but the sophomore looked uncomfortable under center against Miami on Saturday. He was uncharacteristically off-target on a few routine throws, and seemed unhappy with his pass protection throughout the entire game. The numbers may look sharp from Saturday's game, but many of the completions were screen passes and check downs to star running back Gio Bernard. Renner knew he was going to face an uphill battle against Miami's defense, now he needs to help his team bounce back on the road against an undefeated Clemson team.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 3:04 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Big East Winners and Losers: Week 6



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: West Virginia's rushing game

Freshman running back Dustin Garrison broke out a week ago as the Mountaineers best option running the ball, piling up 291 yards against Bowling Green. Because of the option, it was hard to say that West Virginia had done much more than get a start on fixing their one-dimensional offensive problem. However Garrison had a commendable showing once against against Connecticut, picking up 80 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The numbers weren't flashy, but when Geno Smith is carving up the defense for 450 yards it serves as a nice compliment. Connecticut also entered the game as the Big East's second leading rushing defense, so the Mountaineers have to feel good about having a more balanced attack as they proceed in conference play.

LOSER: Louisville

North Carolina did not show up to play offensively, and Louisville had several chances to take advantage of mental lapses by the Tar Heels on defense. But the Cardinals were unable to make the most of the opportunity to steal a win on the road and dropped to 2-3 after the 14-7 loss. The defense sacked North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner four times, and held the usually productive offense scoreless in the first half. The Tar Heels were lucky to escape with a win, and Louisville missed out an opportunity to grab potential confidence booster for the young team.

WINNER: Gary Nova

After taking over for starting quarterback Chas Dodd and leading the Scarlet Knights to a double overtime victory against Syracuse, head coach Greg Schiano made the this week's starter a game time decision. When Nova got the nod, he made the most of the opportunity and led the team to a 34-10 win over Pittsburgh. A huge portion of Rutgers' victory on Saturday is due to the play of the Scarlet Knights defense picking off Pitt quarterbacks four times, but the freshman signal caller did just enough to turn those turnovers into the points needed to push Rutgers to the top of the Big East standings.

LOSER: Tino Sunseri

For the second time this season, Pittsburgh's starting quarterback was replaced by backup Trey Anderson after committing one to many turnovers. No need to bring up the "quarterback controversy" topic, head coach Todd Graham has already said Tino is still the starting quarterback for now. But Sunseri's three interception performance was particularly frustrating for the Panther fans who were singing his praises following the beatdown of USF on national television last Thursday. Sunseri has thrown five touchdowns compared to seven interceptions on the season, and has yet to prove he can throw deep in this new high-octane offense. Ray Graham is still the heart and soul of this offensive unit, but he can't do much to prevent or reverse the Panthers' turnover problem.

WINNER: West Virginia's pass rush

In addition to Geno Smith's high-powered passing attack and a growing ground game, the Mountaineers defense was a nightmare for Connecticut on Saturday. Huskies quarterback Johnny McEntee was sacked five times, including once for a safety, and was on the run all night from West Virginia's pass rush. Once West Virginia began building a lead, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel turned up the pressure and muted any chance for momentum from the Connecticut offense. The Mountaineers held the Huskies to 97 yards of total offense in the second half, keeping drives short while the offense extended the lead. If West Virginia can continue that kind of formula against their other conference opponents, it should result in several more league victories like the one in Morgantown on Saturday.

LOSER: Paul Pasqualoni

When the former Syracuse head coach took the Connecticut job, I am not sure the Huskies' 2-4 start was what he had in mind following a Big East title. The defending league champs got off to a rough start in 2010 before turning the season around in league play, but there has been little to cheer about for the Huskies at this point in the season. Pasqualoni finally solved the quarterback situation, but has no answer for a defense dealing with injuries and inexperience along with a significantly downgraded rushing game. The only UConn victories have been against Fordham and Buffalo, and at this point bowl eligibility is already looking doubtful. Pasqualoni is too far into his career to think of this as a rebuilding opportunity, but his loyalty to his home state makes me think it will take a lot more than one bad season to derail his passion for coaching the Huskies.

WINNER: Syracuse

The Orange are off to a 4-2 start in the 2011 season, thanks to yet another close victory in the final minutes. Syracuse has gone to overtime in three games (2-1) and had every victory decided by seven points or fewer. After the non-victory overtime victory against Toledo, I wrote that the double overtime loss to Rutgers was some weird kind of karma. After Syracuse's 37-34 victory over Tulane on the road, I'm convinced their is voodoo at work.

LOSER: 3,000+ no-shows in Morgantown

The official attendance at Saturday's game was 56,179. After head coach Dana Holgorsen's tirade this past week, all 3,000+ no-shows deserve a stern look from the head coach. NOW DEAL WITH YOUR STERN LOOK.

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:22 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 24)



Posted by Chip Patterson

1. After stealing headlines in Week 3, the ACC (and future ACC) struggled in Week 4. A week ago, I was writing praises for commissioner John Swofford for taking action to ensure the ACC had a place in the uncertain future landscape of college football. The ACC was gathering praise for their off-field transactions and on-field victories over Auburn and Ohio State. In a fashion typical of this fluid college football world we live in - things have changed in seven days. Florida State was so beaten emotionally and banged up physically after their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma they could not play to their potential against Clemson in Death Valley. Maryland got embarrassed 38-7 by Temple at home, Virginia lost to Southern Miss at home, and Miami followed their defeat of the Buckeyes with a home loss to Kansas State.

Making the perception even worse, incoming members Pittsburgh and Syracuse both embarrassed the conference on Saturday. The Panthers could not muster a single fourth quarter score in their 15-12 loss to Notre Dame at home while Syracuse beat Toledo in an overtime that should have never happened. The week wasn't all bad - the games certainly revealed new legitimate conference contenders in Atlanta and Death Valley - but in comparison to the praises showered on the conference a week ago this was a pretty weak encore.

2. Georgia Tech ready to challenge Virginia Tech for Coastal Division. After gaudy victories against Western Carolina and Middle Tennessee, we were intrigued by Georgia Tech. After decisive victories against Kansas and a talented North Carolina team, we know Paul Johnson's team is back and ready to compete for an ACC title. When Josh Nesbitt broke his arm last season, Tevin Washington took over and the offense struggled to maintain the level of production due to a rough adjustment period and an unhealthy habit of turning the ball over. The changes in the offense which the coaching staff has discussed all offseason have been clearly visible in the Yellow Jackets' 4-0 start. Not only is the triple option sharper with less turnovers, but Tevin Washington has gotten comfortable throwing the ball as well. With the physical Stephen Hill as his favorite target, Washington actually leads the nation in passing plays of more than 50 yards.

The Yellow Jackets dominated the Tar Heels on Saturday, much more than the 35-28 victory would suggest. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has not faced any opponents of note for comparison and has not looked particularly impressive offensively. While the Hokies defense seems to have found their grit back, holding teams basically no yards on the ground, Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson are still getting used to their new full-time starting positions. Virginia Tech is still the favorite to win the division thanks to a favorable draw, but the Yellow Jackets are right up there with a more convincing resume at this point for the strongest team in the Coastal Division.

3. Clemson's win does not put them in the driver's seat yet. Clemson's victory over Florida State in Death Valley was reaffirming. It was reaffirming to Dabo Swinney that his efforts to recruit players like sophomore Tajh Boyd and freshman Sammy Watkins would pay off for the program. It was reaffirming to offensive coordinator Chad Morris that his newly installed system could roll against the best defensive units in the nation when executed properly. It was reaffirming to a fan base who doubted their team's ability to beat two ranked opponents in a row, that the 2011 Tigers could compete for an ACC title.

But this "driver's seat" talk that is being tossed around? That's a little much.

Two wins over ranked opponents do not automatically erase several seasons of inconsistency within Clemson football in recent history. A 1-0 conference record with a win over Atlantic Division favorite Florida State does not pencil you in to the ACC Championship Game, but it does eliminate one of the most difficult obstacles on the schedule.

The Tigers faced Florida State at THE most opportune time. EJ Manuel out with a shoulder strain. Greg Reid and Bert Reed both out with injuries. The entire team coming down after losing the biggest game of the regular season 23-13 on the biggest stage. But those intangibles are not the sole reason the Tigers put up 455 yards of total offense on Florida State, in fact they are likely a small fraction. The Clemson defense, which has received very little attention so far this season, dropped back against a suddenly one-dimensional Florida State offense while the front four applied pressure to redshirt freshman quarterback Clint Trickett. They were able to come up with just enough stops to secure the 35-30 win and set up the Tigers with an incredible opportunity to jump ahead in the ACC Atlantic Division race.

Are the Tigers in the "driver's seat?" No. But if they can do it again at Virginia Tech, we might have a different conversation on our hands.

4. Jury is still out on Miami and Maryland. Maybe it is because they played a memorable season opener against each other on Labor Day, but Miami and Maryland both have started the season in different yet equally confusing fashions. Miami bounced back from the loss to the Terps with a defensive showcase against Ohio State with four of their suspended players back in the lineup. Maryland has come back from making headlines with the Miami win and shockingly memorable jerseys with two straight losses to West Virginia and Temple. As we saw on Saturday night, West Virginia is a formidable opponent and far from an embarrassing loss. Temple, on the other hand, should be a cause for concern for Terps' fans.

Additionally, Miami's win over Ohio State was supposed to be a signature win for Al Golden and this new attitude in the Miami football program. But the defense that looked so sharp against Ohio State gave up 265 rushing yards to the Wildcats, and forced the Hurricanes offense to scramble just to get back in the game. On paper both of these teams should be among the best in the conference. But their performances have been inconsistent and difficult to interpret, making it tough for any fan to judge exactly how good these teams could be come November.

5. Gio Bernard is ready to be the feature back in Chapel Hill. Entering the season, it was expected that redshirt senior Ryan Houston would be the starting running back. A big bruiser with an ability to withstand the first and second hit, Houston was going to be featured with sophomore Giovani Bernard as the change-of-pace back. It only took two games before interim coach Everett Withers started splitting the workload more evenly, and when the Tar Heels faced Georgia Tech in their first road test of the season it was Bernard who was the featured running back in the offense.

The 5-foot-10 shifty back from Florida answered the call with an impressive performance that basically kept the Tar Heels competitive for our quarters against the high powered Georgia Tech offense. Bernard rushed 17 times for a career high 155 yard and two touchdowns. He was also a threat in the screen game, with 5 receptions for 47 yards. As sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner has become more conservative against tougher defenses, Bernard's role has increased. If he can replicate Saturday's performance on a weekly basis, it would make life much easier for the first-year starter under center.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 3:37 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 25 Georgia Tech 35, UNC 28

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WON. The Yellow Jackets outlasted a relentless North Carolina squad, using their high powered option offense to pull away with a 35-28 win over the Tar Heels in Atlanta. Stephen Hill broke loose for 151 yards receiving while six different Yellow Jacket rushers combined for 311 yards on the ground. Georgia Tech is off to their first 4-0 start since 1990, when the Jackets went on to claim the national championship.

HOW GEORGIA TECH WON: After giving up a touchdown on the game's opening drive, Georgia Tech's defense toughed up and picked off North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner twice to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead. Once again Georgia Tech's offense was impressive, totaling 495 total yards of offense. Orwin Smith, Tevin Washington, and David Sims all contributed more than 70 yards rushing and Roddy Jones delivered the fourth quarter killstroke to set up the winning touchdown.

WHEN GEORGIA TECH WON: After Giovani Bernard stepped with a momentum-swinging 55-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 28, senior running back Roddy Jones took a pitch 48 yards down the sideline to set up first and goal for the Yellow Jackets. Tevin Washington then punched in the touchdown to put Georgia Tech ahead 35-28.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH WON: Georgia Tech's impressive victories thus far this season have come with an asterisk because of the competition. But Saturday's performance against a stout North Carolina front seven proves that this offense can roll against the beset in the conference. Georgia Tech picks up a crucial Coastal Division win, and the folks in Blacksburg should take note. There is another contender for that division crown.

WHAT NORTH CAROLINA LOST: The Tar Heels came very close to picking up that treasured 4-0 start as well. Giovani Bernard put together an incredible performance, and the defense did their best to bend and not break in the first half. Ultimately this loss will not be terrible, and I imagine they will learn from this experience, but it could have been a signature win for this team and first-year coach Everett Withers. The key here will be turning this loss into a learning experience before the Tar Heels have to travel to Greenville to face East Carolina under the lights next Saturday.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Tevin Washington entered the game as the nation's leader in pass plays of 50+ yards and long touchdowns. He added one to both counts with his 59 yard touchdown to Stephen Hill in the second quarter. With Georgia Tech's offense usually being around 75% rushing plays, Washington is not the first name that comes to mind for such an accolade.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:10 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 1:23 am
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 10)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Time to re-rank the ACC Atlantic. Two weeks into the season, and my projected order of finish for the division in the ACC Preview already looks way off. I'm trying to be careful not to jump to any conclusions, but I think it's safe to say my predictions (below) will not be very similar to the final standings.

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. NC State
3. Maryland
3. Boston College
6. Wake Forest

See what I mean? No chance. So based on what we've learned from the last two weeks, here is how I would re-rank them. Consider it a "power ranking" of sorts.

1. Florida State (2-0) - No real surprise or change here. Who we thought they were.

2. Maryland (1-0) - The Terps made our jaw drops twice on Labor Day. Once when they ran out of the tunnel in those uniforms, and again when they completed the 32-24 defeat of Miami.

3. Wake Forest (1-1) - Tanner Price has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the ACC so far this season, and if the Deacs can learn how to hold a lead they could end up giving a lot of teams trouble this year.

4. NC State (1-1) - Quarterback Mike Glennon put together a great second half on Saturday, helping the Wolfpack fight back from a 27-6 third quarter deficit and nearly steal a win from Wake Forest. 315 yards passing and three second half touchdowns will help the first-year starter build some confidence moving forward.

5. Clemson (2-0) - The Tigers have more talent on paper than many teams in the ACC, but they also have more talent than both of their opponents this season. Unfortunately things are still a work in progress for this young team, and their showing against Troy and Wofford have been less than impressive. Can be better, should be better, just not putting it together right now.

6. Boston College (0-2) - That defense can only do so much when the offense struggles like they have been this season. From Montel Harris to losing their top receiver for the season, injuries will unfortunately be the story of the 2011 Eagles.

2. North Carolina/Bryn Renner not so flawless anymore. I opened last week's What I Learned with a glowing review of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner. Well the sophomore faced a new challenge on Saturday with the Rutgers defense, and his performance did not match his 22-for-23 debut. Renner did complete 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards, but half of those incompletions were once again thrown to the other team. But Renner's mistakes were hardly the only frustrations for interim head coach Everett Withers. The Tar Heels were penalized 9 times for 94 yards, and finished the game with five turnovers in their narrow 24-22 win over Rutgers. After looking so sharp a week ago, the Tar Heels will have some work to do this week before kicking off the conference schedule against Virginia in Chapel Hill next Saturday.

3. Virginia Tech's greatest opponent is Virginia Tech. The Hokies have one of the most favorable schedules in the ACC, and it has been a reason that many people have penciled them in to repeat as Coastal Division champs. Virginia Tech's mental mistakes and inability to get a passing game going nearly cost them a game on Saturday in their 17-10 victory over ECU. The Hokies were penalized 12 times and turned the ball over twice, while quarterback Logan Thomas completed only 8 of 20 passes for 91 yards and no touchdowns. The defense was doing their part, holding the high-powered ECU offense to just 112 total yards. But there were too many mistakes that almost cost the No. 11 Hokies an early loss that would have crushed their potential bowl resume.

4. Duke's "breakthrough" will not occur until they fix red zone woes. Preseason All-ACC kicker Will Snyderwine shocked us when he missed a 28-yard field goal against Richmond that could have won the game. But on Saturday the streak continued with two more field goal misses in Duke's 44-14 loss to Stanford. Those missed field goals complimented a turnover on downs from the Stanford 14 yard line to equal a day of red zone troubles for the Blue Devils. Sean Renfree, Conner Vernon, and the Blue Devils offense entered this season with a lot of hype, but the inability to finish will keep the Duke in the ACC cellar in 2011 unless something changes.

5. No more coach speak, let's talk Oklahoma. All through training camp and the first two weeks of the season, the media has been frowned upon when asking questions about the early-season showdown between Oklahoma and Florida State in Tallahassee. With the Seminoles' 62-10 win over Charleston Southern, "Oklahoma Week" has officially begun for the FSU fan base.

The defense looks as ready as they could be for the Sooners' potent offense, after only allowing one touchdown in eight quarters of play. On Saturday the Seminoles' defense did not even let the Buccaneers get a first down until the third quarter, and this week they will get Greg Reid and Telvin Smith back from one-game suspensions. Head coach Jimbo Fisher admitted the Seminoles "didn't play perfect," but he was able to use the big lead to get extra quality snaps for his offensive line and running backs as they work to advance a rushing game that hasn't hit 2010's production yet.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:05 pm
 

Four games to watch for undefeated Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

For the first time since the conference's formation in 1991, every Big East team won on the opening weekend of the college football season. A lot of teams in FBS AQ conferences choose the opening to schedule an FCS or inferior team to ease into the schedule, but rarely can a conference kick off the season undefeated.

A majority of the Big East slate was similar to that formula, but the conference's undefeated record occurred as a result of thrilling victories over an ACC opponent (Wake Forest)and a ranked Notre Dame squad. The conference has been defending themselves against national criticism all offseason after finishing 2010 with no teams ranked in the Top 25. Now heading into Week 2 the Big East's 8-0 conference record will be tested against a much more difficult slate. If Week 1 was a celebration of the Big East's promising future, Week 2 might be more of a reality check.

There are four games on the Big East schedule which will threaten/end the league's undefeated streak:

1) Cincinnati at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. Saturday - After an embarrassing 4-8 campaign in Butch Jones' first season, the Bearcats put on a show jumping out to a 41-0 halftime lead against Austin Peay. By the time the damage was done Cincinnati had more points than any FBS team, defeating their Ohio Valley Conference opponent 72-10. Traveling to Neyland Stadium to face the Vols will present a very different challenge, and possibly a different outcome for the Bearcats. Cincinnati's secondary was one of the worst in the nation a year ago, and they will quickly get one of their most difficult challenges on the schedule with Tyler Bray and the receiving duo of Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. Don't be surprised to see a shootout in Knoxville here, but unless the Bearcats defense steps up and creates some turnovers I'd guess the Vols emerge victorious.

2) Rutgers at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m. Saturday - Last season the Scarlet Knights had a 10-0 lead over the winless Tar Heels before the Tar Heels battled back and eventually escaped New Jersey with a 17-13 win. But without Tom Savage under center to throw a late game interception, Scarlet Knights fans are hoping that Chas Dodd can exact revenge against their annual non-conference opponent. North Carolina also has a new quarterback this year in sophomore Bryn Renner. Renner set an ACC record in the Tar Heels' opener by completing 22 of his 23 passes, with an interception as his only incompletion. The Tar Heels offensive line kept Renner's jersey clean, and getting into the backfield will be a key for the Rutgers front line. The Scarlet Knights are not favored in this matchup, and a victory would be huge for another team trying to make up for an uncharacteristic 2010 season.

3) Florida International at Louisville, 7:00 p.m. Friday - FIU has been slowly climbing up the ranks of the Sun Belt Conference, and last season joined the perennially dominant Troy at the top of the final standings. All-purpose threat T.Y. Hilton will be a challenge to contain, especially after seeing Louisville give up 143 yards on the ground against Murray State. The Panthers will be hungry for the upset on the national stage Friday night, and the onus will be on the Louisville defense to match that speed and intensity for four quarters. On offense the Cardinals will have an advantage over the Panthers defense, but they cannot afford to turn the ball over four times like they did in the opener. This should be a very competitive game, and I would not be shocked if the Panthers pulled the upset.

4) Connecticut at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m. Saturday - The Huskies still haven't decided on a starting quarterback, or even a two-quarterback rotation. Running back Lyle McCombs looked strong in the absence of projected starter DJ Shoemate, rushing for 141 yards and four touchdowns in the opener against Fordham. But Vanderbilt presents a very different caliber of opposition. That matchup will pit Commodores head coach James Franklin (former Maryland offensive coordinator) against his 2010 Maryland counterpart Don Brown, now the defensive coordinator at Connecticut. Franklin has stated that he's willing to take risks on offense, and Brown has been known for his aggressive blitzing schemes. While it certainly won't be a marquee matchup to steal headlines, this SEC-Big East showdown should at least be interesting for those involved. This game will probably come down until the fourth quarter, but I'm giving Vanderbilt the advantage due to Connecticut's uncertain personnel.
 
 
 
 
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