|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The ACC is definitely defensive: North Carolina couldn't get in the end zone in the first half, Wake Forest has had trouble scoring from as close as the 2-yard line, and Miami held UCF to 78 total yards. And what would Georgia Tech have done if its defense didn't hold Gardner-Webb to just seven points, or get a hand on the final field goal attempt? The touchdown-less Florida State-Wake Forest game last month was a foreshadowing of what this league would be about. Three teams -- Florida State, Boston College and Georgia Tech -- are among the top six teams in the country in total defense. Add Wake Forest and Miami in the top 20.
The Tar Heels are ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process -- If this is what they're capable of without their starting quarterback and top playmaker Brandon Tate, what can they do when everyone is healthy? Heck, will T.J. Yates even get his job back? UNC hasn't been the most prolific team on offense, but the Tar Heels have become experts at capitalizing on opponents' mistakes -- and forcing them into it. UNC further padded its stats as the nation's leader in interceptions (14), picking off Jimmy Clausen twice. What it's lacked on offense, the Tar Heels have compensated for with special teams and defense.
Virginia is to be taken seriously -- The Cavaliers caught some attention with their win over Maryland, but this weekend proved they have made legitimate progress. The talent on this team is plentiful -- Cedric Peerman, Kevin Ogletree, the linebackers, and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is an NFL lineman. They had to come together as a team, though, to find their identity, which could be determined as relentless.
Georgia Tech's offense doesn't work without its top two quarterbacks and the right offensive line -- Third-string quarterback Calvin Booker isn't suited for Paul Johnson's offense, and didn't help that he was playing behind an offensive line that has struggled all season. The more Johnson recruits, the better suited the line will be to execute the triple option. With Jaybo Shaw and Josh Nesbitt sidelined with injuries, the Yellow Jackets didn't look anywhere near a Top 25 team -- not in a too-close-for-comfort 10-7 win over an FCS team. Yikes.
Clemson is officially the biggest bust of the season -- Not just in the ACC, but possibly on a national level, too. We're talking about the No. 9-ranked team in the preseason (admittedly too high), but still a team loaded with talent -- a roster other coaches throughout the country would love to borrow from for one Saturday. And yet the Tigers have not been able to do anything with it, instead playing themselves into obscurity and almost out of the Atlantic Division race for sure.