Sunday, September 25, 2011
What we learned in the ACC: Week 4
By Heather Dinich
This was by far the most revealing week in the ACC, as two division games helped set the tone for the ACC race. There’s still a lot of time for the balance of power to change, of course, but here’s a look at the lessons learned from Week 4:
Sammy Watkins had two scores as Clemson upset top-ranked Florida State.
Clemson and Georgia Tech have rebounded from their 2010 losing seasons. Both programs, now 4-0, are light years beyond their respective losing seasons from 2010. With their wins on Saturday, the 2009 division champs are once again in the lead for their division races. Georgia Tech’s win over North Carolina proved the Yellow Jackets can be just as effective against conference competition, and Clemson’s win over Florida State proved the Tigers are capable of being more than a one-hit wonder.
The ACC took two steps forward in Week 3 and four steps back in Week 4. Instead of following up on the success of Week 3’s upsets of two ranked opponents, the ACC went backwards this week with disappointing, indefensible losses to Kansas State, Temple, and Southern Miss. The league was further embarrassed in NC State’s nationally televised self-destruction against Cincinnati, and Florida State – the ACC’s top-ranked team – couldn’t get it done on the road against Clemson.
Florida State backup quarterback Clint Trickett is clutch. You’d never know he was the backup quarterback by looking at his stat line in the loss to Clemson: He threw for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. It was an impressive performance, considering it was his first career start, and it came on the road against a ranked Atlantic Division opponent and before a crowd of 82,000. Trickett not only played well enough to win, but also to raise the question as to who really is the best quarterback on Florida State’s roster.
Virginia Tech still has something to prove. Four wins over unheralded nonconference games, and four unconvincing performances. Yes, the Hokies are right where they should be – at 4-0 – heading into the showdown with Clemson, but the win over Marshall revealed the same weaknesses we’ve seen all month. A missed field goal, a fumble and an interception kept Virginia Tech from dominating this game, and quarterback Logan Thomas had another uneven performance. If Virginia Tech is the best team in the Coastal Division and the ACC, it’s got to prove it.
Boston College still has fight in it. The Eagles rallied together for their first win of the season, a convincing 45-17 win over UMass. They stopped their three-game losing streak just in time to gain some confidence heading into an Atlantic Division matchup against a well-rested Wake Forest team. It was the most complete game BC had played this season, as the Eagles got what they needed from quarterback Chase Rettig and the offense, and the defense turned turnovers into points.