Sunday, October 9, 2011
What we learned in the ACC: Week 6
By Heather Dinich
It was another unpredictable weekend in the ACC, and it was a thriller, especially in Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech hung on for the wild 38-35 win over Miami. Here’s a look back at what we learned in Week 6:
Florida State and Miami are on life support. The ACC’s two brand-name programs are now 0-2 in conference play and on the outside of the conference race looking in. Florida State’s loss to Wake Forest was devastating to the Seminoles’ chances of repeating as division champs, and Miami’s loss to Virginia Tech was an equally big setback for the Canes in the Coastal Division race. The difference for the Noles is that both losses came to Atlantic Division opponents, while one of Miami’s losses was to Maryland. Regardless, two conference losses puts the Canes two steps behind, and Miami is now the only team in the Coastal Division with a losing overall record. FSU was picked to win the division and the ACC this season, but the Noles have underachieved and they were also overrated.
Quarterback Logan Thomas presents a challenge through the air (2,799 pass yards in 2011) and on the ground (416 rush yards, 10 TDs).
Georgia Tech and Clemson are bowl-eligible. Two teams that had losing seasons a year ago were the first to become bowl-eligible in the ACC, and they did it by the midpoint of the season. The Yellow Jackets were fortunate to hold off Maryland, and Clemson could have crumbled after losing starting quarterback Tajh Boyd to a hip injury, but both teams found a way to win and remain undefeated at 6-0. It’s the earliest Clemson has been bowl eligible since 2000.
Wake Forest is a contender in the Atlantic Division race. We knew Wake Forest was better. But it wasn’t until Saturday’s win over Florida State that the Deacs proved just how much better. This team is clearly capable of making a run at the Atlantic Division standings, though Clemson remains the team to beat. Wake Forest, though, is 3-0 in ACC play for the first time in school history. While FSU was overrated this season, the Deacs were clearly underrated. Wake had the edge at quarterback in the game, and the defense had the edge with five turnovers.
Virginia Tech isn't done yet. The comeback kids are at it again. One week after looking listless and lifeless on offense against Clemson, the Hokies put together their most complete performance of the season and racked up 482 yards in their 38-35 win over Miami. Quarterback Logan Thomas looked like a senior and made a complete turnaround in a week. It was a breakout performance by Thomas, who completed 23 of 25 passes for a career-high 310 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. The win kept the Hokies in the mix to defend their Coastal Division title.
Questions abound at quarterback. Clemson's Boyd is questionable for the Maryland game, Maryland has a quarterback controversy, and Florida State's quarterbacks combined for four interceptions. Boyd's injury was the biggest news of the weekend, as it raised the question of whether the Tigers can remain undefeated without their star player. Boyd, the heart of the Tigers’ offense, had negative X-rays and a negative MRI on Saturday night, which is good news for the Tigers. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt finished the game 6-of-10 passing for 37 yards after Boyd went down with an injury. It was his first appearance since the season opener against Troy.
Maryland starter Danny O'Brien, the ACC’s 2010 Rookie of the Year, was benched after starting 1-for-6 with an interception against Georgia Tech. Backup C.J. Brown entered the game in the first half and didn’t fare much better in the passing game, but his 77-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave Maryland the spark coach Randy Edsall was seeking. Which quarterbacks will line up on Saturday in College Park remains a mystery.