Saturday, November 5, 2011
Halftime thoughts on ACC's early games
By Heather Dinich
We've got two interesting games going on this afternoon, but the bigger surprise is in Chapel Hill, where NC State leads 10-0 at the half. Here's a look back at the first half of the ACC's first two games:
NC State 10, UNC 0
At least so far in this half, NC State gets this week's Jekyll and Hyde award in the ACC. Up against Virginia. Down at Florida State. Now up again in the first half against the rival Tar Heels. NC State's defense has been the difference so far, as UNC has started out 0-of-5 on third-down conversions, and is just 1-of-8 at the half. The Tar Heels have minus-11 rushing yards, and Giovani Bernard, with just 21 yards, is going nowhere. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon and his receivers got off to a slow start, but eventually found their groove, and Dana Bible has been mixing it up just enough to keep UNC's defense leery of the running game.
I know it's a rivalry game, and records go out the window and all of those great cliches, but c'mon -- NC State lost to Florida State 34-zip a week ago and was beaten soundly in every phase of the game. Meanwhile, UNC receiver Erik Highsmith told me last week that the Tar Heels had just played their most complete game of the season in the win against Wake Forest, which beat NC State. Now it's UNC looking for answers. If they don't make some adjustments and find them soon, the Wolfpack will get its fifth straight win in the rivalry, and interim coach Everett Withers should probably start adjusting his resume.
Virginia 14, Maryland 13
This one has been pretty evenly matched and fun to watch. One big difference in the first half was a forced fumble by Maryland's Joe Vellano -- one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league this season. The Terps were able to score off of that Virginia mistake and take their first lead in the game. Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien started the game, but C.J. Brown came off the bench following the turnover and was 2-for-2 with a 13-yard touchdown pass and also had a 25-yard run to UVa's 13-yard line to set up the score. Holding Maryland to a field goal in the first quarter was a victory for Virginia's defense.
UVa quarterback Michael Rocco, who seemed to hit his stride in the win against Miami last weekend with true freshman David Watford's role limited to one snap, is building on that success. He has been the better quarterback so far, and Maryland's defense is again failing to stop the run, as they have allowed another 100-yard rusher, this time in Perry Jones, who has 10 carries for 100 yards in the half. As long as the Hoos don't turn the ball over anymore or hurt themselves with penalties, they should be able to continue to take advantage of a young Maryland defense, especially in the running game. Maryland clearly hasn't quit on this season yet, and it's far from over on senior day in College Park.