Sunday, September 13, 2009
What we learned in the ACC: Week 2
Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
It wasn't a very revealing week in the ACC, but the conference did pick up some wins. Here are a few things we can gather from the Week 2 performances:
1. Georgia Tech’s offense can be defended. Clemson had outgained Georgia Tech 319-91 in total yards into the fourth quarter since falling behind 24-0. B-back Jonathan Dwyer -- the ACC’s reigning player of the year -- was held to just 66 yards on 18 carries. After the first quarter, the Tigers committed to stopping the option, and Georgia Tech was unable to score a touchdown for the rest of the game.
2. The ACC is resilient. It wasn’t always pretty (more like Ugly Betty), but the ACC did what it had to do to bounce back from last week’s losses. Wake Forest responded from its loss to Baylor against a tough Stanford team, Duke rebounded from its loss to Richmond on the road against Army, Maryland was able to stave off James Madison after its loss to Cal, and both Virginia Tech and NC State took out its aggression from Week 1 losses to the SEC and beat up on Marshall and Murray State, respectively. Florida State also got a win after losing to Miami.
3. Clemson looks like a true threat in the Atlantic Division. Despite its loss to Georgia Tech, the Tigers had no shame in their second-half performance on Thursday night, as they came back from a 24-point deficit to lead 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff made a comeback, along with the team, and did a better job of getting the ball to their playmakers than their predecessors did. Unlike last year in Atlanta when the Tigers were embarrassed by Alabama, this team didn’t quit on coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson’s performance, coupled with Florida State’s poor play, leaves the door wide open for the Tigers.
4. UNC desperately needs to keep its blockers healthy. The Tar Heels were noticeably weaker up front without starting center Lowell Dyer (shoulder) and offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (ankle), and they missed the blocking of fullback Bobby Rome, who stayed home with H1N1 symptoms. They weren’t able to get anything going on the ground and finished with just 35 rushing yards. T.J. Yates was sacked six times and UNC was held scoreless with just 134 yards of total offense through three quarters.
5. Duke has a winning backup quarterback. For all of the questions and inexperience surrounding backup quarterbacks in the ACC this year, look no further than Durham for a dependable No. 2. In his first collegiate action, Sean Renfree came off the bench in the second half to complete 7 of 8 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns to lead Duke to a come-from-behind 35-19 win over Army. With Duke trailing 10-7 midway through the third period, Renfree threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brett Huffman on his first collegiate pass to give the Blue Devils the lead -- their first of the 2009 season. On Duke's next possession, Renfree engineered a nine-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown to Donovan Varner for a 21-13 lead early in the final period.