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Tag:Dabo Swinney
Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:28 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 9



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: Georgia Tech's ACC title hopes

"I know a lot of people are disappointed that wrote us off," head coach Paul Johnson said after the game. "Let us finish the season before you do our tombstone."

The Yellow Jackets were reeling. Their offense was sputtering, and pundits nationwide had hopped off the Yellow Jackets' bandwagon following their 3-2 start in ACC play. But head coach Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Al Groh know all too well how fast things can change for the better - or for the worse. Georgia Tech dominated time of possession and their defense forced turnovers from a young and hasty Clemson offense that, for the first time in several games, showed their youth. With leading rusher Andre Ellington (ankle) sidelined, Georgia Tech's defense capitalized on fumbles from both D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy to give the ball right back to Tevin Washington. Washington's 176 rushing yards (most ever by a Georgia Tech quarterback) displayed the preparation by Georgia Tech's staff and players. Just two weeks ago Maryland quarterback CJ Brown burned the Tigers' defense with his legs, forcing the 56-point performance to secure the win.

But this was not Maryland's defense, this was Al Groh's swarming and opportunistic unit. Credit the linebackers and secondary for manning up with Clemson's playmakers and taking advantage when Tajh Boyd began to force throws into coverage. As Clemson failed to chip into Georgia Tech's lead as the game extended, the urgency turned to recklessness for the Tigers. The Yellow Jackets smelled blood, and when it was time to deliver a play defensive back Jemea Thomas was in the end zone to snag the interception and seal the win.

Georgia Tech now gets a much-deserved week off before hosting Virginia Tech on a Thursday night in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Considering what we saw from the Yellow Jackets and the Hokies, it is fair to say the game could serve as an unofficial ACC Coastal Division title match. If Georgia Tech can win out in conference - including a defeat of No. 15 Virginia Tech - they win the division thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

LOSER: Clemson's BCS title hopes

It's hard to say that "Clemson pulled a Clemson" with their 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night, because a ton of credit goes to Georgia Tech for their preparation and execution. But the loss does likely knock Clemson out of contention for a shot at the national championship. The Tigers will fall from their position in the Top 5 of the BCS and now refocus on winning the ACC Atlantic Division. With Wake Forest and NC State left on the conference schedule, the Tigers can win out and earn a bid back to the ACC Championship Game in December. Winning the title game will put the Tigers in their first-ever BCS bowl game. It won't be the title game in New Orleans, but it will be a big step for Dabo Swinney and this young Clemson squad.

WINNER: David Wilson

Virginia Tech did not do much to impress the voters with their 14-10 victory, but when it comes to the ACC standings the only thing that counts is wins. With the road in on Saturday, the Hokies improve to 8-1 and maintain their hold on first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Ugly wins have become of a reoccurring practice for Frank Beamer's squad in 2010, with the win over Duke looking eerily similar to East Carolina, Marshall, and Boston College. One similar aspect to those wins, and most of the Virginia Tech games this season has been the production of junior running back David Wilson. For the eighth time this season, Wilson led the way offensively for the Hokies with 120+ rushing yards. It has become Virginia Tech's M.O. in 2011: establish a lead, then let a Wilson-led ground attack eat up the clock while Bud Foster's defense creates turnovers and delivers stops. It's not pretty, but it has worked. Without Wilson, Virginia Tech is a .500 team. With Wilson, they are set to make a run at another ACC Coastal Division crown.

LOSER: Placekickers in the ACC

Week 9 featured some horrendous kicking performances in the ACC. In some cases, like Boston College's Nate Freese, missing on both of your field goal attempts wasn't that costly in the 28-17 victory over Maryland. Duke's Will Snyderwine, however, cost the Blue Devils dearly by missing three field goals in the 14-10 loss to No. 15 Virginia Tech. As a conference, the ACC's place kickers combined to hit only 9 of 23 field goal attempts this weekend. It wasn't as though weather was a factor to blame, there was just inaccuracy all across the board. Only Wake Forest's Jimmy Newman and Georgia Tech's Justin Moore were mistake-free, each connecting on 1 of 1 from inside 25 yards.

WINNER: Roland Finch

It has been a frustrating season for Boston College. Considered to be a possible ACC dark horse coming into the season, the Eagles have battled through injuries to key players and close losses in their disappointing first half of the 2011 season. But Boston College had something to celebrate on Saturday, thanks to the play of Roland Finch. The sophomore running back was listed behind star Montel Harris and Andre Williams when the season began, but injuries in the backfield have given Finch a chance to step up. He delivered against Maryland, torching the Terps' defensive for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 39 carries. Williams added 16 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown as well in the Eagles' 28-17 win. Finch had never broken the 100-yard mark before, and he accomplished that feat before halftime.

LOSER: Miami's consistency 

Just when it seemed like Miami had turned things around, the Hurricanes suffer another close loss in part because of penalties and mental mistakes. All four of the Hurricanes' losses have come by eight points or less, with Miami's offense having a chance to take the lead or win the game in each failing effort. But Thursday's loss 28-24 loss to Virginia came with some embarrassment, losing at home in front of the 2001 National Championship team. That team, arguably one of the best championship teams of this decade, saw the Hurricanes have game-changing plays called back because of penalties, missed blocks, and giving up the big play. After the 24-7 victory against Geogia Tech, Miami submitted themselves as Coastal Division contenders. Their encore performance against Virginia just four days later retracted that application.

WINNER: Mike London

The second-year head coach has now led Virginia to victories over Georgia Tech and Miami, and positioned the Cavaliers for their first bowl appearance since 2007. Virginia needs just one more victory to reach six wins, and even if they fall to Maryland in College Park there is a winnable date with Duke the following Saturday. London was identified as a rising star in the coaching business, and his work on the recruiting trail is now complimented with some early success. After the loss to Southern Miss and narrow victories over Indiana and Idaho there was some doubt throughout the Cavaliers' fan base. But after the big division wins and a 5-3 start, the support for London has never been stronger in Charlottesville.

LOSER: Tom O'Brien

Hard to imagine that NC State head coach Tom O'Brien would be mentioned in the "hot seat" discussion, but the buzz began to grow after the Wolfpack were shut out 34-0 against Florida State in Tallahassee. Just 10 months ago, O'Brien was hoisting the Champs Sports Bowl trophy after the first 9-win season since Phillip Rivers was suiting up for the Pack.

O'Brien's teams at NC State have often been injury-plagued, and last season was arguably the healthiest roster he's had since arriving in Raleigh. But with two of NC State's four 2011 wins against FCS teams, and a 15-21 record against ACC competition, O'Brien will likely begin to face job security questions in the coming weeks. It is not normal to think a coach would be on the hot seat after a successful 2010, but when the ACC Coach of the Year can be dismissed in a matter of weeks (see: Ralph Friedgen) it seems as though few jobs are safe anymore in the ACC.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 12:05 am
 

QUICK HITS: Georgia Tech 31, No. 6 Clemson 17

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WON. Entering the game on a two-game losing streak with a sputtering offense, few teams in the ACC needed a win Saturday night more than Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets had slid out of the polls and down the conference standings in a matter of weeks, as Georgia Tech's high-powered offense began to struggle in conference play. But Saturday night's victory was a full-team effort, with Al Groh's defense shutting down Clemson's playmakers and Tevin Washington providing the big plays needed to keep the Yellow Jackets offense on the field.

HOW GEORGIA TECH WON: Georgia Tech's linebackers and secondary put on one of their best performances of the season, manning up with Clemson's playmakers. The productive drives by the offense forced Tajh Boyd to push when the Tigers did get the ball, and the Yellow Jackets were opportunistic when mistakes were made.

Starting running back Andre Ellington (ankle) was missed sorely, as his backups (both freshmen) combined for two costly fumbles that were recovered by Georgia Tech. Between the turnovers and Clemson's inability to punch in the score when they did reach the red zone, the Tigers offense never got comfortable. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, ran their patented offense with pristine execution. Clemson's defense was on their heels for the final three quarters of play, getting frustrated and overwhelmed by Georgia Tech's offensive line and downfield blocking.

WHEN GEORGIA TECH WON:
Clemson looked as though they had second-life in the fourth quarter after Rashard Hall ran back an interception inside the 10 yard line to set up 1st and Goal. Down just two touchdowns, a quick score and stop could give Clemson the opportunity to tie the game. But Tajh Boyd was picked off by Jemea Thomas in the end zone on the very next play, allowing Georgia Tech to milk the clock as Clemson burned timeouts and seal the upset.

WHAT GEORIGA TECH WON: The Yellow Jackets were rejuvenated on Saturday night, bouncing back in a big way after two straight losses. Now the team gets a much-needed off week to prepare for the next challenge, hosting Virginia Tech on Nov. 10. If the fans can pack Bobby Dodd Stadium on a Thursday night the way they did on Saturday, it should make for another fantastic environment for a game that could decide the ACC Coastal Division.

WHAT CLEMSON LOST: Their status as a BCS title contender. As the list of unbeatens began to shrink, Clemson emerged as a possible title contender if they could run the table. Those possibilities were likely erased with Saturday's loss, and now head coach Dabo Swinney must re-focus the Tigers on winning the ACC. With Wake Forest falling to North Carolina as well, the Tigers maintain their lead in the Atlantic Division and now must avoid letting the loss derail them from the goal of becoming ACC Champions.

Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 10:45 am
 

Clemson RB Ellington (ankle) game-time decision

Posted by Chip Patterson

Georgia Tech center Jay Finch isn't the only notable offensive starter likely receiving a scratch from Saturday night's showdown between the Yellow Jackets and undefeated Clemson. Running back Andre Ellington, who leads the Tigers with 745 yards rushing (5.1 yards per carry) on the season, is likely to sit out Saturday - according to CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik.

"I think [Ellington] will be a game-time decision as far as how sudden he is and how explosive he is in warmups Saturday night," head coach Dabo Swinney announced after practice on Thursday. "D.J. [Howard] and Mike [Bellamy] will carry the load for us early, and hopefully things will go well."

Swinney explained that Ellington's ankle injury is "not anything severe" but could benefit from the extra rest for full recovery. Freshman D.J. Howard has already been named the starter, and freshman Mike Bellamy should see his touches increase significantly in Ellington's absence. Bellamy has reportedly been unhappy with his usage in Chad Morris' offense, and Saturday would be a great chance for the talented freshman to showcase his abilities to the coaching staff.

Ellington injured his ankle in the 59-38 win over North Carolina last week, but the Howard/Bellamy combo was not able to get going against the Tar Heel defense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd ended up throwing 46 passes before taking a seat to backup Cole Stoudt in the fourth quarter. Georgia Tech statistically has been vulnerable against the run, ranking 10th in the ACC in rushing defense giving up 170.25 yards per game. It sounds like Swinney wants to give the freshmen a chance to take advantage of the Yellow Jackets defense, leaving Ellington on an "as needed" status.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 11:14 am
 

PODCAST: Week Nine Preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

Last weekend provided some clarity in the national title picture, with two more unbeaten teams falling late Saturday evening. Now Week Nine features several road teams favored to win, which means there is always a chance for an upset - particularly in conference play. Stanford's new status as title contender will be challenged immediately with a trip to face USC in the Coliseum, Clemson also goes on the road to take on a reeling Georgia Tech squad looking to bounce back, and Kansas State will get a visit from the one-loss Oklahoma Sooners.

Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst also preview the Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and make some points about the Georgia defense you might not have considered. West Virginia also looks to bounce back from their first conference loss in a trip to face Rutgers, and Michigan returns to the field after a bye week to take on Purdue. Preview all of these games and more in this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast.

Your emails could be read on the next edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, so send them in to podcast[at]cbsinteractive [dot] com.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.

You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.



Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:36 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at Georgia Tech

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: The Tigers play their game. Clemson has displayed a wealth of offensive talent in recent weeks that suggests there are no teams in the ACC that should out-duel the Tigers. Focusing on Sammy Watkins leaves DeAndre Hopkins open, and even when Andre Ellington and Mike Bellamy are on the sideline freshman D.J. Howard has shown he can be just as effective. Clemson is able to jump out to leads and force the opposition to play catchup. That's when the Tigers unleash Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, two pleasant surprises in the pass rush game for defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. The biggest key down the stretch for Clemson is to maintain their focus and not look past any opponent. With 20+ true or redshirt freshman taking the field every Saturday, youth seems to be the only concern left on the schedule for the Tigers.

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can possess the ball for at least 40 minutes of game time. With an offense as explosive as Clemson's, the best defense is to keep Tajh Boyd and Co. off the field. Luckily, Paul Johnson's option based offense - when run effectively - gives the Yellow Jackets an opportunity to dictate the pace of the game. Georgia Tech has struggled in their last two games to keep drives alive, converting on less than half of their third downs in both losing efforts. The other key to the long, time-consuming drives is turning them into touchdowns. Georgia Tech has struggled in the kicking game this season, and field goals are not enough to hang with Clemson. Every A-back and B-back needs to be a threat, and Georgia Tech needs to turn long drives into seven points to pull the upset.

X-FACTOR: Georgia Tech's linebackers. The unit started off the season much-improved in their second year of Al Groh's 3-4 scheme. They were able to frustrate opposing offenses by using the extra linebacker to disguise blitzes and make plays in coverage. But the start of conference play lined up with injuries to starting linebackers Daniel Drummond and Jeremiah Attaochu. Both are finally have been deemed "100 percent" after suffering leg injuries against N.C. State on Oct. 1, and must play the best game of their seasons in order to knock off the Tigers. North Carolina was able to find some success in the first half by sending an extra rusher to get in the face of Tajh Boyd. Attaouchu has been the best pass rusher on the team this season, and needs to show up for the Yellow Jackets to have a chance.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 24, 2011 8:44 pm
 

UNC S Merletti (knee) done for the season

Posted by Chip Patterson

North Carolina's secondary takes a big hit with the loss of senior safety Matt Merletti for the rest of the season. The school announced on Monday Merletti will undergo surgery within the next two weeks to repair a sprained MCL and ACL, suffered in the loss to Clemson on Saturday. Merletti has already received one medical redshirt, and the injury likely ends his career with the Tar Heels.

"Obviously that's a big loss. It's really a hard blow for me, having coached him and been real close to him," said interim head coach Everett Withers. "We'll try to keep Matt around to help coach some of the rest of our guys."

Merletti was the team's defensive captain, and considered one of the leaders in the secondary. He will likely be replaced by either Gene Robinson or Tre Boston in the starting lineup. The Tar Heels secondary is talented, but their inexperience has shown at times during the season. With high-powered Wake Forest coming to town on Saturday, North Carolina needs to be disciplined to avoid being beat by the big play.

Elsewhere in ACC injury updates…

Clemson running back Andre Ellington will be limited in practice this week after suffering a left ankle sprain in the win over North Carolina. CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik reports the junior running back is likely to play against Georgia Tech Saturday night.

While Miami cornerback Brandon McGee returned to practice on Monday and is likely to play against Virginia Thursday night, starting offensive tackle Jon Feliciano is doubtful. Feliciano embarrassingly suffered the injury while celebrating a touchdown with a chest-bump.

Maryland starting linebacker Kenny Tate will apply for a medical hardship waiver after being ruled out for the season with an undisclosed injury. "I recently had a chance to sit down with Coach Edsall, my family and the medical staff to discuss my options," Tate said in a statement. "This is the best course of action to get healthy."

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:02 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 8


Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. With Oklahoma and Wisconsin falling from the ranks of the unbeatens, the list of national championship contenders has already begun to dwindle.  

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.


1. LSU : The Synthetic Three were not necessary for LSU to take care of business in the Battle of the Tigers on Saturday.  The easy 45-10 defeat of the defending champions highlighted LSU's depth, and Les Miles' ability to circle the wagons in the midst of controversy.  The suspended players are expected to return for THE GAME, which we now know will be under the lights. - Chip Patterson

2. AlabamaAfter crushing Tennessee with a 31-0 second-half run, the Tide are one win away from ascending to the top spot in the BCS rankings and becoming overwhelming favorites to play for their second national title in three seasons. Too bad for them that win has to come against LSU--even if it's so good for those of us who'll get to sit back and watch - Jerry Hinnen

3. Oklahoma StateYes, Oklahoma State was already ranked first by the computers last week, but now the Cowboys are the undisputed darlings of the Big 12 with Oklahoma going down to Texas Tech. If OSU can run the table (hardly a given, but hardly out of the question), with this ranking, it's got the inside track to a BCS Championship Berth. - Adam Jacobi

4. Boise StateThe bad news: Stanford and Clemson look more likely than ever to eventually leapfrog the Broncos. The good news: no one in Boise's all that worried at this point, not with two gigantic hurdles to the national title game cleared thanks to Texas Tech and Michigan State. And the Cardinal, Tigers, and Cowboys all have their toughest games still ahead of them. -JH

5. Clemson: The scariest thing about the Tigers' offense right now is the depth they highlighted in the 59-38 win over North Carolina. Twelve different skill position players got touches on Saturday, and Tajh Boyd delivered five touchdowns to five different players. But undefeated Clemson will need to survive an ACC title game (in addition to their remaining schedule) and get some help if they want to move into a position of national title contender. - CP

6. Stanford : Stanford finally got a game against a ranked opponent, and Andrew Luck and company blew Washington out of the water. The computers, not seeing the margin of victory in that game, remain unimpressed. But really, it's too early to accurately evaluate Stanford's BCS worthiness until after the Oregon game. That's the Cardinal's season, right there. - AJ

7. Oregon : The Ducks are getting healthy, and just at the right time too.  The toughest part of their Pac-12 slate lies in the coming weeks, and with their only blemish being the loss to LSU, there are plenty of opportunities for Oregon to state their case as the nation's best one-loss team.  Unfortunately there is likely no life after another loss for Chip Kelly's team, so every game is a must-win from here on out if they want to return to the title game. - CP

8. Kansas StateSay what you will about Kansas State's season so far, but KSU just keeps winning, and that's what pollsters and computers want to see most. A legion of difficult games remains on KSU's docket, but if Bill Snyder can guide his charges past both OSU and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, Kansas State is going to be rocketing up the list. - AJ

9. OklahomaMake no mistake for OU: while the Texas Tech loss was extremely damaging in a field full of undefeated teams, the dogfight has just begun. Games against Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma State all remain (as well as Iowa State, we suppose), and if the Sooners can run that table and get some help from the Upset Gods, they probably stand the best chance of anybody outside the SEC of being a one-loss title contender this year. - AJ

10. ArkansasThe Hogs a serious player in the national title chase and aren't likely to even make a BCS bowl this season with LSU and Alabama ahead of them in the SEC pecking order. But their visit to Baton Rouge on the final week of the regular season might represent the only serious threat to the SEC finishing the year without an undefeated team. - JH

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:23 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 8

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

6/6. Clemson

Head coach Dabo Swinney told reporters he made it very clear to his team at halftime (as they led North Carolina 24-17) that they needed to decide right there whether or not they wanted to be 8-0. The Tigers answered his query with a 35-point third quarter performance as they kickstarted the shootout in Death Valley to put the Tar Heels away. Tajh Boyd was able to rest for much of the fourth quarter, after throwing for 367 yards and five touchdowns to five different receivers.

Clemson's offense hasn't shown the ability to be stopped for four quarters. Several teams have limited the Tigers from hitting a rhythm for a quarter or half, but no one has had an answer for their explosiveness over 60 minutes. One team that can control the pace of the game is Georgia Tech, who await the Tigers arrival in Atlanta on Saturday. The game will be under the lights, and the Yellow Jackets need a win after dropping two straight. It is arguably Clemson's toughest game left on the schedule, as the Tigers are now one of eight unbeaten teams remaining in FBS play.


15/15. Virginia Tech

After two impressive performances that launched them back up the polls, the Hokies sputtered in the first half against lowly Boston College. But after trailing 7-6 at half, Virginia Tech got rolling and outscored the Eagles 24-7 in the second half. David Wilson continued to be a workhorse out of the backfield, carrying 17 times for 134 yards. The second half rout is also a credit to the defense, which despite missing several playmakers due to injury was able to come up with two second half turnovers.

With Georgia Tech's second straight conference loss, the Hokies now sit alone on top of the ACC Coastal Division standings. But any repeated performances like the first half against Boston College might end up hurting their hopes of defending their ACC championship in Charlotte. The four remaining games on Virginia Tech's schedule are all division opponents, two Thursday night games, and three games on the road. Their resiliency on Saturday at home was commendable, but Hokie fans would prefer not needing to feel that nervous again.

Others receiving votes: Georgia Tech's name reappears in this category after falling from No. 12 over the last two weeks. Miami also saw some decent action from the voters, after defeating the previously-ranked Yellow Jackets for their second straight conference win. Wake Forest also received some votes in the Coaches Poll. No offense to Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons, but I'd guess those Coaches/SIDs did not watch the 24-23 barn burner at Duke on Saturday.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com