2015 Around the ACC: Week 2 Preview

  • Miami @ Florida Atlantic, Friday 8 p.m. Fox Sports 1
  • Florida State vs. South Florida, Saturday 11:30 a.m. ESPN
  • Louisville vs. Houston, Saturday 12 p.m. ESPN3
  • Clemson vs. Appalachian State, Saturday 12:30 p.m. ESPN3
  • Syracuse vs. Wake Forest, Saturday 12:30 p.m. ESPN3
  • Boston College vs. Howard, Saturday 1 p.m. ESPN3
  • Virginia Tech vs. Furman, Saturday 3:30 p.m. ESPN3
  • Virginia vs. Notre Dame, Saturday 3:30 p.m. ABC
  • Georgia Tech vs. Tulane, Saturday 3:30 p.m. ESPN3
  • Pittsburgh @ Akron, Saturday 6 p.m. ESPN3
  • Duke vs. North Carolina Central, Saturday 6 p.m. ESPN3
  • North Carolina vs. North Carolina A&T, Saturday 6 p.m. ESPN3
  • NC State vs. Eastern Kentucky, Saturday 6 p.m. ESPN3


Boston College vs. Howard

This is another good game for quarterback Darius Wade to gain more experience as the starter for the Eagles. Howard got thoroughly dominated in its opener, losing 49-0 to Appalachian State, so this should be another decisive win for BC. The Eagles will continue to lean on the running game, but star Jon Hilliman had an off first game only gaining 47 yards on 16 carries. It was junior Tyler Rouse who dominated the opener with 81 yards on just eight carries. We’ll see if those yardage totals were just a blip on the radar or a bigger trend to keep an eye on. As for what to expect against Howard, “I don’t want to get in there, get all game-planny,” coach Steve Addazio said Wednesday. “No, right now, I want to go back and those ten plays that weren’t right, why weren’t they right and let’s get them right. That’s the mindset we have right now.”


Clemson vs. Appalachian State

Star receiver Mike Williams is out indefinitely after suffering a small fracture in his neck in the opener. That makes Artavis Scott the main target for Deshaun Watson, but freshman Ray-Ray McCloud and senior Charone Peake will be a big help as well. McCloud made eight catches for 80 yards in his collegiate debut and Peake will start in Williams’ place. The Tigers should win this one, but Dabo Swinney’s “coach-speak” is in mid-season form after he told the media, “If people don’t think they can come in here and win, they’re crazy.” There are certainly plenty of areas to shore up for the Tigers, who committed more penalties than Wofford in week one. “We had mental errors, we had two turnovers, we had a really bad decision on a punt return. Those are things we have to correct because those things will cost you a game,” Swinney added.


Duke vs. North Carolina Central

Duke won its first season-opening road game since 1988 and the team will look to refine things in a tune-up against MEAC opponent North Carolina Central. NCCU won its opener 72-0 over St. Augustine, but this is a major step up in competition. The Eagles will make the trip across town for the fourth game in this series that began in 2009. Duke is 3-0 against NCCU. It also marks the first game in newly revamped Wallace-Wade Stadium. “It’s going to be gorgeous. And the spectators are in for a treat,” David Cutcliffe said this week. “I think it’s great for our players, this opportunity to come through a tunnel that’s been renovated onto a playing surface that’s first class. I know our seniors have talked about it a lot.”


Florida State vs. South Florida

FSU’s Everett Golson was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week after his impressive Seminole debut against Texas State. He’ll look to continue to get comfortable with his teammates in a game that really shouldn’t be close. Florida State played 23 redshirt freshmen in the opener and they’ll likely have the luxury of getting them some more experience this week. Jimbo Fisher is 11-1 against teams from Florida, and a win against USF would give the ‘Noles a 16-game home winning streak and a 33-4 home record under Fisher. South Florida comes in after a lopsided victory over Florida A&M. “There’s still so many little things that can really make a difference and really improve us,” Fisher said. “We’re going to have to continue to push on that and continue to build depth.”


Georgia Tech vs. Tulane

After an opening loss at home to Duke, the Green Wave travel to Georgia Tech. Tulane’s run defense allowed 206 yards to the Blue Devils, which doesn’t bode well against a Yellow Jacket rushing attack that churned out 476 yards in the season-opener. Quarterback Justin Thomas only played the first quarter against Alcorn State because Tech raced out to a 34-0 lead, but he should see more action in this one even if the score gets out of hand, which is likely. The master of the undersell this week, Paul Johnson seemed to be mildly pleased. “I thought the first quarter went about as well as it could go. We played fairly well,” he said.


Louisville vs. Houston

Houston scored 52 points in an opening win over Tennessee Tech, but the Cougar defense allowed 24 points and 312 yards passing. That’s the way they win games traditionally, but it will be tough against a Louisville team that looked very capable in a tough opening loss to Auburn. The matchup to watch will be that Cougar passing attack against a Louisville defense that allowed just 137 yards through the air and frustrated Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson. Talented but unpolished freshman QB Lamar Jackson appears to be the guy going forward for Bobby Petrino. “He made a lot of big plays, some of with his legs and some of with his arm,” Petrino said. “He showed great competitiveness, I liked what I saw on the sideline not just from him but the entire offense.”


Miami @ Florida Atlantic

Howard Schnellenberger, the Godfather of both programs, will be present for the coin toss in this one as Miami makes the quick trip north to Boca Raton for a Friday night tilt. Some might be quick to write this one off, but FAU can play. “We’re excited. We understand the challenge that we face up there and in this team in all three phases,” Al Golden said. “I’ve been very impressed with them.” Florida Atlantic lost in a shootout 47-44 on the road against Tulsa in week one. The Owls ran a balanced attack totaling 263 passing yards and 300 rushing yards which was the 14th highest ground total of the opening weekend. Quarterback Jaquez Johnson is an experienced senior with tremendous athleticism who takes care of the ball and will present a good early test for Miami.


North Carolina vs. North Carolina A&T

Marquise Williams threw three interceptions, including one in the closing minutes near South Carolina’s goal line. Who’d he consult for advice? Peyton Manning, who has worked with Williams at the Manning passing academy. Peyton pointed out that he set the record for interceptions in a season as a rookie and still became a Hall of Famer. Williams and company will attempt to clean up the mistakes this week against a lesser opponent. One correction that’s simple enough is getting more carries for Elijah Hood. “When he’s healthy and running the ball productively, we need to get the ball to him more, there’s no doubt,” Larry Fedora said this week. Hood gained 138 yards on just 12 carries against South Carolina.


NC State vs. Eastern Kentucky

Eastern Kentucky steps up to the plate this week as part of the Wolfpack’s early-season cupcake buffet. EKU is coming off an easy win over Valparaiso, but this one is a glorified scrimmage that should allow Jacoby Brissett to continue to gel with his receivers and still allow the backups to get plenty of live reps. The Wolfpack defense has some room for improvement after allowing 21 points to Troy in the opener and this game should be a chance to refine that side of the ball. State will wear all black uniforms for its, “Pack in Black” promotion, which seems to be the main concern this week. “The guys are excited about it,” according to Dave Doeren. “I think if they work really hard, throwing them a bone like that every now and then is a good thing to do.”


Pittsburgh @ Akron

Pitt lost outstanding tailback James Conner for the year to an MCL tear, but they plugged in Qadree Ollison and he won ACC Rookie of the Week after gaining 207 yards on the ground. “Chris James, Darrin Hall, we have them back there stepping up and making a play after a guy goes down. So we feel good with where we can go with that,” Pat Narduzzi told the media. “Obviously we feel sad for James and everything he has to go through. It’s tough but our kids will stick with him and he’ll continue to be a big part of this football team this season.” Defensive back Avonte Maddox was Specialist of the Week after an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Nicholas Grigsby was named the ACC’s best linebacker after 10 tackles, two sacks and three total tackles for loss in the narrow win over Youngstown State. Akron lost 41-3 to Oklahoma last week but did perform well against the run just 100 rushing yards.


Syracuse vs. Wake Forest

It’s only week two, but our first ACC conference game is here. Syracuse attempts to move forward with freshman quarterback Eric Dungey after senior Terrell Hunt was likely lost for the season with an Achilles injury. “The thing I was impressed with the most coming out of the Rhode Island game was really Eric’s ability to make the right decisions,” head coach Scott Shafer said. “He was on the right reads. It’s funny because he is almost too quick on his reads sometimes, which is a good thing because I would rather have to slow him down then have to try and get him to speed up with seeing things.” Wake Forest will see if they can run the ball against a much better defense than they faced a week ago. The lack of a run game was a crippling weakness in 2014, and something the Demon Deacons have worked hard to improve. They also struggled considerably on the road. “If we’re going to be successful this week, we’re going to have to be better than we were a week ago,” Dave Clawson said. “We are going to have to go on the road and play well, which we certainly didn’t do last year.” This game might not tell us a lot about either team, but someone will be atop the Atlantic division standings when the dust settles.


Virginia vs. Notre Dame

UVA’s brutal opening stretch continues with the Irish at home. A week after losing handily to UCLA on the road, Virginia hopes to find some kind of an offense. It won’t be easy against a strong Notre Dame defense that completely shut down Texas in the opener. The Irish will be without starting tailback Tarean Folston, who tore his ACL against the Longhorns, but quarterback Malik Zaire must be licking his chops after UCLA true freshman Josh Rosen absolutely torched the Wahoo secondary in Pasadena. Virginia’s offense was almost entirely “Smoke” Mizzell, who led the team in rushing and receiving so they’ll need others to step up, but his performance is no surprise to Mike London. “Those are the types of things we need from a guy like that, with his skills. We knew what he was capable of. And he showed a little bit of it on Saturday,” London said.


Virginia Tech vs. Furman

The Hokies played one great half against Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes at halftime, but things came crashing to a halt when quarterback Michael Brewer got hurt. Brewer is out 4-8 weeks with a broken collarbone, and the Hokies are without a proven backup. Brenden Motley will start against the Paladins, but expect to see redshirt freshman Chris Durkin and possibly even true freshman Dwayne Lawson get some action as well, as Tech looks for a way to pass without their only proven signal caller. “I think the great thing is that we have three exceptionally talented guys at quarterback,” Frank Beamer said Wednesday. “I think all of them already have some tremendous pluses but it’s game week and you don’t have a lot of reps and trying to figure out who’s the guy going to be.” The Hokies won’t have long to sort out the depth chart with just four days of rest between the Labor Day opener and Furman’s visit.

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