What we learned: Week 3 in the ACC

September, 14, 2008
9/14/08
1:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With three teams off this week -- Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest -- there weren't many questions answered and just one true surprise -- Maryland.

The Terps' upset of Cal was the lone shocker, although UNC's road win against Rutgers was also impressive. Florida State did what it was supposed to do, expectations were low for Virginia without its starting quarterback, and Clemson continued to shake the ghost of Alabama. Duke beating Navy wasn't exactly an upset if you've been paying attention, and the featured game between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech could have gone either way.

There were still a few things to be gleaned, though, from the weekend:

1. Maryland can stop the run -- The Terps had to replace six starters on defense heading into the season, and defensive coordinator Chris Cosh has faced some scrutiny during his past two seasons in College Park. Saturday, though, the front seven looked impressive. Yes, Cal might have been snoozing through the first three quarters since it was playing a 9 a.m. game in its home time zone. And Pac-10 leading rusher Jahvid Best wasn't the same after he took a hard, sharp hit in the second quarter from cornerback Kevin Barnes. But the Terps held the Golden Bears to just 38 yards on 23 carries one week after Cal rushed for 391 yards in a 66-3 romp of Washington State. Maryland also recorded five sacks.

2. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will live and die by their quarterbacks' legs -- All afternoon, the duo of Josh Nesbitt and Tyrod Taylor got their respective teams out of jams with their shiftiness. Both are working behind struggling offensive lines and can make things happen on their own. They looked like mirror images of each other, neither throwing the ball more than 14 times. The Hokies are in dire need of playmakers on offense, and even lined up cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris at wideout to find one. Georgia Tech is still working out the fundamentals and technique of Paul Johnson's offense, but the main problem could be its line, save for veteran Andrew Gardner.

3. UNC reasserted itself as a legitimate contender for the Coastal Division -- The Tar Heels were picked to finish second in the division behind the Hokies, but didn't look much like a contender in their season opener against McNeese State. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech didn't exactly play stellar football on Saturday night, but North Carolina looked impressive in all three phases of the game against Rutgers. Quarterback T.J. Yates threw three touchdown passes, Hakeem Nicks caught two of them, and the defense intercepted four passes. Freshman Jay Wooten also made three field goals, making for a complete game. It was a significant improvement from Week 1.

4. Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford is emerging from Aaron Kelly's shadow -- Tommy Bowden said the staff intended to get Ford a significant amount of touches against NC State based on a strong week of practice, and they made good on their plan. Ford, finally healthy, translated his best week of practice onto the field and was the Tigers' top playmaker. He had two carries for 48 yard and caught six passes for a touchdown and a team-high 106 yards. There's a good possibility this trend will continue.

5. It's official: There's little, if any, hope for Virginia and NC State -- Expectations were low to begin with, but this is bad. Virginia has had problems on and off the field, and NC State hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against a BCS team in 13 straight quarters, dating back to 2007. Both teams have had quarterback issues, and NC State has been plagued with injuries, but that doesn't explain things like a missed extra point or the missed 26-yard field goal. Virginia's defense gave up 506 yards to Connecticut and NC State managed 288 yards against a Clemson defense that has allowed 423 yards per game this season. Since neither team has shown significant improvement in the first few weeks, why should we expect any in the next few?

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?