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Thursday, October 7, 2010
What to watch in the ACC: Week 6

By Heather Dinich

Here are 10 things to keep an eye on this week in the ACC, in no particular order:

1. Miami freshman offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson. He made his first career start last week in the win at Clemson, and impressed coach Randy Shannon. He’s likely to continue to see more playing time, sharing snaps at right tackle with Jermaine Johnson.

2. Defenses in Miami. Florida State and Miami are among the nation’s best at getting pressure on their opponents. FSU leads the nation in sacks and is second in tackles for loss, while Miami is first in tackles for loss and second in sacks. Quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Jacory Harris will be playing under pressure. Harris has thrown eight interceptions in the past three games while Ponder and E.J. Manuel have been interception free over the past 89 pass attempts.

3. Ailing quarterbacks. Wake Forest is hoping Tanner Price (concussion) is healed in time for Saturday’s game against Navy and the status of Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig (ankle) is expected to be learned today. The injury-laden position has been a disaster for the Deacs, as three have been sidelined. Just when the Eagles seemed to find someone who could manage the offense without turning it over, Rettig hurt his ankle and they’re “back at square one.”

Andre Ellington
Clemson's Andre Ellington has rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
4. Clemson sophomore running back Andre Ellington. He needs 129 more yards in his next 19 rushing attempts to break C.J. Spiller’s school record for fewest rushing attempts to reach 1,000 yards. Ellington leads the ACC in rushing (95.0) and touchdowns (7) so far this season. For his career he has 871 yards in 122 carries. It took Spiller 142 carries to reach that milestone in 2007.

5. NC State’s third-down defense. NC State leads the ACC and ranks seventh nationally in third-down conversion defense. The Wolfpack is allowing opponents to convert on just 26.6 percent of third-down attempts (17-of-64). The Wolfpack has also forced opponents into 23 three-and-outs this season, an average of 4.6 per game. That mark ranks sixth in the nation.

6. North Carolina’s secondary. The Tar Heels will have both starting safeties in the lineup against Clemson with the return of strong safety Da’Norris Searcy and free safety Deunta Williams. Searcy, who missed the first three games of the season, came back last week with a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. Williams ranks third at UNC with 12 career interceptions.

7. Virginia’s offense vs. the 3-4 defense. The Cavaliers should be well-prepared as they face their former coach in Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh. Groh said this week that Virginia has the advantage because of coach Mike London’s familiarity with Groh’s philosophies.

8. Clemson’s receivers. Coach Dabo Swinney made a change this week. Out: Xavier Dye, Terrance Ashe and Brandon Clear. In: DeAndre Hopkins, Bryce McNeal and Jaron Brown. Why? It took nine minutes into the third quarter until a Clemson receiver caught a pass against Miami. The Tigers will face a similar challenge against the Tar Heels.

9. BC’s running game. Or lack thereof. Despite a veteran offensive line and one of the most productive running backs in the ACC in Montel Harris, the Eagles rank 108th in the country in rushing offense at just 87.5 yards per game. NC State’s rushing defense took a hit against Virginia Tech and is now allowing 164 yards per game. The Hokies ran for 317 and 8.6 yards per carry.

10. Virginia Tech’s secondary. Nine different players have broken up passes this season, and Jayron Hosley is coming off an impressive performance in which he tied a single-game school record with three interceptions against NC State. Central Michigan has the No. 19 passing offense in the country with 290.8 yards per game.