Week 10: MVPs, Helmet Stickers and Power Rankings

Week 10 was full of surprising results. It started Thursday night when Virginia Tech beat themselves with poor special teams play. The surprises continued into Saturday when Georgia Tech’s offense opened up at Maryland, UVA blew out NC State, and Duke once again laid down against a superior opponent. Florida State and Clemson continue to separate themselves from the rest of the conference. The Coastal Division race is competitive and interesting, but the fact is that the division winner will likely end the year unranked and will be far less talented than the Atlantic Division winner. If only Clemson and FSU could play for the ACC Championship this year.  That would be interesting…

> Biggest Surprise Week 10: Week 10’s biggest surprise to me was how UVa manhandled NC State. Many of you might have expected me to write about Virginia Tech’s performance at Miami, but that really wasn’t surprising to me. VT has had poor/inconsistent offensive production and mistake-prone special teams play all year long. Back to the game that was a real shocker to me. UVA entered this game with no confidence. Coming off six consecutive losses, several of which weren’t even competitive, you have to wonder if a team has given up or not. Over the past six weeks the UVA offense averaged just under 19 points per game while their defense has allowed an average of over 35 points per game. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out of you’re giving up twice the amount of points you are scoring, you probably aren’t winning much. On top of the point differential, the issues at quarterback and the inconsistent run game factored into many of those defeats. On the defensive side, many observers have noticed a lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback. Well that all changed Saturday. Coming into the week, UVA was ranked 118th in the country in total sacks, with a total of seven through eight games. They also ranked 99th in the country in tackles for loss. You wouldn’t have guessed those rankings if you watched the game this Sunday. The Cavs were relentless with their pressure on NC State quarterback Mike Glennon. The defense forced four turnovers and six sacks Saturday. On top of the stellar defense, the offense tallied 426 total yards and just one turnover. The Cavs had possession of the ball for more than 60% of the game and took advantage of most of the scoring opportunities that were presented to them. This performance was a representation of what many had expected UVA to look like this year. Although it may be a long shot, with three wins to close out the season, UVA can still become bowl eligible.

> MVP: Tajh Boyd, Clemson QB. I think its safe to say this guy has become a regular when it comes to outstanding performances. His most recent was Saturday afternoon at Duke. Boyd finished the day with 344 passing yards and five touchdowns. He has now completed 67.8% of his passes and totaled 25 passing touchdowns this year. Not bad.

> Helmet Stickers

1.) Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest WR. Campanaro caught three touchdowns in the first half of a 28-14 win over Boston College Saturday. He finished the day with those three touchdowns and a total of 123 receiving yards on sixteen catches. He is now the eighth player to tie for the ACC record for most TD catches in a game (3)

2.) UVA Defense. The entire unit deserves a pat on the back this week. The Cavs D held NC State to just 19 yards rushing, forced six sacks, two fumbles, three interceptions, and one safety. The defense was
dominant for the first time this season and may have sparked a late season run for bowl eligibility.
3.) Shawn Petty, Maryland QB/LB. This sticker isn’t about astronomical numbers or setting records. This is for the fact that the guy started quarterback this week, as a true freshman, when he was signed to be a linebacker. In case you have been living under a rock, Marland has lost four quarterbacks this year to injuries. They are now so desperate that they have put in a freshman linebacker who was projected to redshirt this year. The reason? He happened to play QB in high school. Petty finished the day 9/18 for 115 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. The helmet sticker is for him showing poise and improvement throughout this entire process and even within the game Saturday. Tip of the hat to this young man.

> ACC Power Rankings

1.) Florida State. Week 9: Bye. Florida State was off this week. They travel to Blacksburg Thursday night to face a struggling Virginia Tech squad. As bad as VT has done this year, you have to expect them to be up for this game, so FSU will need to come prepared for anything.

2.) Clemson. Week 9: W 56-20 vs Duke. Clemson continues to improve each week. Boyd is tossing up record number no matter what the team or location. The defense has gained confiedence and become more physical. In the past three games, Clemson’s defense has only given up an average of 16.7 points. Compare that with the offensive output of 42.7 points per game this year and you spell disaster for opponents.

3.) Miami. Week 9: W 30-12 vs Virginia Tech. Could this be the year that Miami finally reaches the ACC Championship game? Well one thing is for sure, it’s their own to lose. With the Thursday night victory over rival Virginia Tech, the Canes now control their destiny in the tight race for the ACC Coastal Division. The remaining schedule is as follows: @UVA, vs South Florida, @ Duke. Now with the way UVA played this past weekend, you don’t want to sleep on that game. And we all know Duke is a worthy opponent. My belief is that the Canes will win all three of these games and the ACC will get their “Dream Matchup” FSU vs Miami in the Championship game.

4.) UNC. Week 9: Off. UNC was off this weekend and will host Georgia Tech on Saturday.

5.) Wake Forest. Week 9: W 28-14 vs Boston College. With Saturday’s victory at Boston College, Wake is now just one win away from bowl eligibility. However, the three remaining games are tough matchups for the Demon Deacons. This Saturday they play at NC State, who is coming off a tough loss against UVa. Then they have to travel and play at Notre Dame, a team that will need to beat Wake convincingly for
National Title game implications. And then they finish at home against Vanderbilt, who is playing well as of late and just beat Kentucky 40-0 this past weekend. Wake’s offense will be the determining factor in
these games. In the four losses this year, Wake’s offense has only managed to score an average of 13.5 points per game. They will likely need more than that to beat any of the three remaining opponents.

6.) Duke Week 9: L 56-20 vs Clemson. Duke took another tough loss this week against one of the better teams in the conference, Clemson. Clemson’s offense just seemed to be too much for the Blue Devils to
handle, as the Tigers managed to rack up a total of 718 total yards on what is supposed to be a tough Duke defense. Luckily the Blue Devils have a bye week this Saturday before two very important conference matchups. The remaining two games are @ Ga Tech then back home to play what could be a division championship game against Miami. Who would’ve guessed that back in August?

7.) Georgia Tech. Week 9: W 33-13 vs Maryland. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of a Maryland team who was breaking in a brand new true freshman quarterback. Give GT credit though; they haven’t had much success recently, and this was an important win for the team and program as far as pride goes. GT will need to win two out of the three remaining games to become bowl eligible. The slate begins next
Saturday at UNC.

8.) Virginia Tech. Week 9: L 30-12 vs Virginia Tech. I think it’s pretty apparent that Virginia Tech has many problems. Beamerball? That’s a thing of the past. The Hokies aren’t even the best special
teams unit in their division, much less the country. The Hokies once again looked awful this week. The offense was miserable. Logan Thomas threw many horrendous passes. I think a good debate would be: “Which is worse, his decision making or his accuracy?” I’m going to copy what I wrote after the week 3 loss at Pitt because all of it remains true: “…The problems begin with their inexperienced offensive line that seems to be overmatched in every game. From there they cannot establish a run game, which applies pressure on quarterback Logan Thomas and a group of receivers who are not used to being primary targets. The lack of offensive success then snowballs onto the defense because they spend way too much time on the field. Over the course of the game you will notice the defense deflating and missing tackles and it’s all because they are tired and unmotivated…” Once the Hokies can fix the offensive line, many of these other problems will fix themselves. Coaching turnover (in particular the offensive coordinator and play callers) may be a good option too, but I just don’t see that happening under this regime. What I am worried about is two or more consecutive years like this and recruits starting to choose elsewhere. Remember that the recruiting efforts of today will show their results 2-4 years from now. Here is something interesting to think about: In the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes
Virginia Tech signed just five offensive line recruits. Only one of which was four stars, who is Vinston Painter. It is safe to say that Painter has been a bust. He had some injury issues early in his career and hasn’t been a regular starter until now, his senior year. Even with the starting role, he isn’t playing very well. In comparison, Alabama signed 10 offensive line recruits in that same time span, six of which were four or five stars. My point is that the offensive line is the most important part of a football team. They make everyone else’s life easier. Beamer and his staff have neglected this aspect of recruiting and now we are all paying for it. This isn’t something you can fix with a coaching or player switch. It’s something you attack through recruiting and may take years to overcome. I fear that the worst has yet to come for VT and the fans. The Hokies host Florida State Thursday night in what has to be the biggest underdog role I can remember since they joined the ACC.

9.)Virginia. W 33-6 vs NC State. This was a momentum burst for a UVA team that hasn’t had much to be proud of recently. The offense was efficient and the defense was dominating. Finally the Cavs found a way to pressure the quarterback and slow down an opposing offense. They will need to win out to become bowl eligible but Saturday’s win was a good start. The slate starts this Saturday when they host Miami.

10.) NC State. Week 9: L 33-6 vs UVA. This was a surprising and embarrassing loss for the Wolfpack. The Cavs were coming off six straight losses where they weren’t producing much offense at all. NC State got blown out and now find themselves trying to regroup. They are now back to the drawing board as they will face Wake Forest next.

11.) Maryland.  Week 9: L 33-13 vs Georgia Tech. Maryland is in a situation that few teams in history have ever had to face. They are now working with their 5th string quarterback who was actually recruited to be a linebacker; he just happened to play QB in high school. There isn’t much you can expect from this offense for the rest of the year, but we are seeing improvement from the defense. On top of that, the Terps travel to Clemson next.

12.) Boston College. Week 9: L 14-28 vs Wake Forest. The Eagles took another loss Saturday in what has to be the worst season BC fans have seen in a long time. Its not just that they are losing, but that they don’t seem to be competitive with anyone they are playing. To make things worse, they will play Notre Dame on Saturday.

Week 10 ACC Game of the week: Miami at Virginia

This week pairs up two division foes as the Coastal Division leading Miami Hurricanes hit the road to play the Virginia Cavaliers. After the way UVA dominated NC State last week, the Hurricanes should be concerned coming into this contest. For this first time since they entered the conference, Miami now controls their destiny in the race to the ACC Championship. Even though UVA played well last week I believe Miami is clearly the better team. The key to this matchup will be the run defense on both teams. Both teams have struggled with this all year and I believe the team who struggles more will lose this game. The superstar freshman Duke Johnson will be looking to add to his list of accomplishments in this one. I believe he will be the difference in the game and Miami will escape Charlottesville with a win.

My prediction: Miami 31 Virginia 17

Don Deibler is a college football enthusiast and Virginia Tech alumnus who has had a passion for college sports since he was a young child. Outside of the ACC, he follows Notre Dame and South Carolina intently. He currently lives in Frederick, Maryland where he works in the mortgage banking industry and is in training for Air Traffic Control. You can reach him at [email protected].

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