ACC: Florida Atlantic Owls

ACC weekend rewind: Week 1

September, 2, 2013
There's one more game to go, but here's a look back at the weekend that was in the ACC:

The good: You have to start with Clemson, which came away with a signature, 38-35 home victory over favored Georgia from the SEC and has earned the early status of national title contender. The Tigers became the first non-SEC team ever to defeat consecutive top-10 SEC opponents. Tajh Boyd looked like a Heisman contender and Sammy Watkins looked like the guy everyone remembered from 2011. Dabo Swinney stressed that it was just one game, but it was certainly a major one for the ACC and its national perception.

The bad: North Carolina's offensive line played respectable against Jadeveon Clowney and the vaunted South Carolina front. But the defense surrendered too many big plays, including a 75-yard touchdown run, a 65-yard touchdown pass and a 29-yard touchdown pass. The Tar Heels scored just one touchdown in three red zone trips in their 27-10 season-opening loss.

The ugly: Beamer Ball was missing Saturday, as Virginia Tech gave up a punt return touchdown and a kickoff return touchdown to Alabama's Christion Jones. Vinnie Sunseri also notched a pick-six off Logan Thomas, whose 5-of-26 passing line was far from spectacular, too. (Honorable mention: FAU coach Carl Pelini ordering a spike on fourth down late in Friday's 34-6 loss at Miami.)

The surprise: Jim Grobe was not kidding when he said he was going to play more true freshmen this season. Wake Forest broke in nine first-year players during Thursday's 31-7 win over Presbyterian. In his previous 12 years, Grobe had only played 22 true freshmen in total. (In opponent news, Villanova's fake punt against BC has to qualify here as well.)

strong>The history: In beating Elon 70-0, Georgia Tech tied a school record for points in the modern era and set a school record for margin of victory in the modern era. The Yellow Jackets also broke the ACC record for margin of victory, and their 10 touchdowns tied a school record as well.

The delay(s): UNC and South Carolina took a nearly two-hour break Thursday because of lightning. Virginia's opener Saturday against BYU was delayed more than two hours because of bad weather, too. How bad? Just take a look at the picture BYU posted on Twitter of the flooding in the tunnels of Scott Stadium.

The unfortunate turn of events: Dave Doeren unveiled Brandon Mitchell as his quarterback choice. It looked like the right one before Mitchell suffered a foot injury that will force him to miss four to six weeks. The Arkansas transfer went 3-of-3 for 93 yards and orchestrated consecutive touchdown drives to start the game. Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas shouldered the load after Mitchell's injury.

The playmaker: Duke Johnson gets this honor after tallying three plays of 35 yards or more in the first half Friday night for Miami. Johnson looks like he won't be taken down by a sophomore slump this year, as he opened with 186 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Duke Johnson reminded everybody why he should be considered one of the best running backs in the nation against Florida Atlantic on Friday night.

There's no sophomore slump in sight.

Johnson followed up a dazzling freshman season with a spectacular debut to 2013, setting career highs with 19 carries for 186 yards and a touchdown in Miami's otherwise ho-hum 34-6 win over the Owls. He ripped off long runs with ease.

Consider: Johnson had seven plays of 35 or more yards in 2012. He had three before halftime.

[+] EnlargeDuke Johnson
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsMiami sophomore Duke Johnson was off and running against Florida Atlantic, racking up 186 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson was the hands-down highlight of the game as the Hurricanes ended up rushing for over 300 yards. But Johnson also was involved in the scariest moment of the game. After throwing a block on a reverse that Herb Waters ran in for a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter, Johnson stayed down on the field, and doctors had to help him off.

He was given a concussion test and showed no symptoms but he stayed on the sideline for the remainder of the game. No disputing that decision, though you have to wonder what Johnson was doing throwing a block with his head down. It's doubtful that the Canes are going to want him to do that again.

Aside from Johnson, it was an uneven performance on offense. Miami had way too many drops early in the game, drops that should have resulted in touchdowns. Freshman Stacy Coley had two of them, one coming in the end zone. Coach Al Golden delivered quite the quote at halftime when he told ESPN's sideline reporter that he would tell Coley to "relax, bro." Miami also struggled on third down once again, an area Golden targeted for improvement this season.

As for the defense, it's simply too tough to tell how far this group has come given the opponent. What did stand out was that the Hurricanes got an immediate impact from the additions to its defensive line. David Gilbert, a transfer from Wisconsin, forced a fumble that the Canes converted into a touchdown. Miami also had much better success with its pass rush, an encouraging sign with Florida looming next week.