2015 Around the ACC: Week 4 Preview

  • Boise State @ Virginia, Friday 8 p.m. on ESPN
  • #20 Georgia Tech @ Duke, Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN2
  • #8 LSU @ Syracuse, Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN
  • Delaware @ North Carolina, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Indiana @ Wake Forest, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Northern Illinois @ Boston College, Saturday 1 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Virginia Tech @ East Carolina, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2
  • Samford @ Louisville, Saturday 6 p.m. on ESPN3
  • NC State @ South Alabama, Saturday 8 p.m. on ESPNNEWS
    • Virginia_OLD5Boise_St_G

      Boise State (2-1) @ Virginia (1-2)

      Boise State knocked off former coach Chris Peterson’s Washington club in the opener and nearly beat BYU in the next gae. This is yet another solid Broncos team, but they’re doing things a little differently in 2015. Boise is ranked 21st in total defense and 2nd nationally against the run. “They’ll play multiple fronts. Even front, four-man front, they’ll play an odd front, which is a three-man front,” Mike London said Wednesday. “They’re very physical tacklers. They get a lot of people around the ball.” The usually dynamic Boise offense is lagging, ranked just 51st nationally and now facing quarterback questions after starter Ryan Finley was knocked out of last week’s win over Idaho State. Finley’s status for Saturday is unknown, but backups Thomas Stuart and Bret Rypien both looked good in relief last week. UVA will have some personnel changes as well with some shuffling along the offensive line and receiver T.J. Thorpe expected to join the starting lineup. The O-line changes are a reflection of a woeful running game ranked 108th in the country (111.7 YPG).


      No. 20 Georgia Tech (2-1) @ Duke (2-1)

      Both of these teams came back down to Earth a bit last week after tough losses to good teams. Duke was completely unable to establish a downfield passing game in a nine-point home loss to No. 17 Northwestern. Duke currently ranks 22nd in total offense, but those numbers are inflated by early season romps against Tulane and North Carolina Central. Against Northwestern, Duke converted on just 3 of 17 third downs, largely because they put themselves in a lot of third and long situations. “We had some bad first-down plays and some bad second-down plays that led to long third-down conversions,” David Cutcliffe said of the struggles. “It’s hard to be very successful when you have a bunch of long third-down conversions to make.” The Duke defense looks good however, after allowing just 70 passing yards and intercepting two Wildcat passes. Georgia Tech will look to avoid the strong Duke secondary and continue to grind away on the ground. “We’re going to do what we do. We’ve just got to get better at it,” Paul Johnson told reporters. The Yellow Jackets gained nearly 4.6 yards per carry against Notre Dame, and Duke held Northwestern to 3.7 yards per run.


      No. 8 LSU (2-0) @ Syracuse (3-0)

      Syracuse is 3-0 against poor competition, and those victories have been costly. The Orange are on the team’s third starting quarterback with Eric Dungey unexpected to play this week after he suffered an apparent concussion against Central Michigan. Some combination of walk-on Zack Mahoney, Austin Wilson and possibly even A.J. Long will try and pull a shocker against LSU though Mahoney is slated to start. The good news is that receiver Steve Ishmael, center Rob Trudo, and tight end Josh Parris are all cleared to play after getting banged up so that helps any and all Orange QBs. The ‘Cuse defense has been terrible in the secondary, but the real concern against the Tigers is running back Leonard Fournette. Through just two games, Fournette has rushed for 387 yards (8.2 YPC) and six touchdowns against SEC foes Mississippi State and Auburn. Slowing him down will be a tall order Saturday in the Carrier Dome. “I don’t know if we’ve gone against a guy this talented in my career,” Scott Shafer said this week.


      Delaware (1-2) @ North Carolina (2-1)

      Delaware has lost to Jacksonville and Villanova so far this season, and a trip to Chapel Hill might not be the tonic they need to right the ship. Carolina has found its rushing attack in the form of Elijah Hood and Marquise Williams. Hood has gained 323 yards (7.2 YPC) from his running back position and Williams has 127 yards (7.3 YPC) so far. Williams still needs to cut down on his interceptions (4) but he’s completed 68% of his passes for 646 yards and six scores. “He’s made a few mistakes there in the first game and then threw a pick in this last game early but responded very well to it, didn’t let it affect the way he played the next play or the next series,” Larry Fedora said of Williams. All of these numbers should only get better after the final tune-up for Carolina before conference play begins.


      Indiana (3-0) @ Wake Forest (2-1)

      Indiana has the 11th best offensive unit in the country on paper, but as we’ve been cautioning with many other teams, the early competition hasn’t been that stiff apart form a solid Western Kentucky squad. Hoosier running back Jordan Howard leads the nation in rushing yards with 507 so far. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld has been extremely efficient with 938 yards passing, five touchdowns and just one interception. Wake Forest is coming off its first road win since 2013 at Army and the Deacons found some added offensive versatility in the process. Freshman quarterback Kendall Hinton came in after John Wolford was injured and sparked the offense with 101 yards and two touchdowns rushing, plus 159 yards passing with an interception. Wolford’s status Saturday was described as, “somewhere in that questionable to doubtful range,” by head coach Dave Clawson.


      Northern Illinois (2-1) @ Boston College (2-1)

      The Ohio State offense is “Discombobulated right now,” according to Urban Meyer, and you can thank Northern Illinois for exposing it. Cardale Jones threw two interceptions and J.T. Barrett tossed another, in a narrow 20-13 win over the Huskies last week. On offense, Drew Hare has been good early as he’s completed 67.4% for 798 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. He’ll be facing an Eagles defense ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense. BC held Florida State to just 14 points, seven of which came on a fumble return for a touchdown. The Eagles are yet another program that will play with patchwork quarterbacks. Darius Wade is out for the year, so a mix of true freshman Jeff Smith and redshirt freshman Troy Flutie will hope to generate some fireworks for an offense that had been lacking them. “I think both guys did a great job yesterday and even today,” Steve Addazio said Wednesday. “We’re young all over the place on offense. It’s fun to watch them develop, respond from last week, and just learn and understand the game.”


      Virginia Tech (2-1) @ East Carolina (1-2)

      It will be another step up in competition for the Hokies as quarterback Brenden Motley will make his second road start against the Pirates. Motley has improved rapidly as a passer and is currently ranked 27th in the country in passer efficiency (158.9). “I think that’s just Brenden,” Frank Beamer said Wednesday. “He’s not an up-and-down guy. I don’t think his play will be up and down. I think it will be very consistent.” ECU has a new quarterback this season in Blake Kemp who replaced Shane Carden. Kemp has thrown for 893 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions this season and has completed 70.7% of his passes. The Pirates have gained just 260 yards on the ground so far this season, but they’ll attempt to take advantage of a Tech defense currently ranked 98th against the run. The Pirate offense will go against a Hokies’ secondary currently 20th against the pass and clearly the strength of the defense. Something that desperately has to change for Tech are the flags. The Hokies are tied for 118th in the nation in fewest penalties so far.


      Samford (2-1) @ Louisville (0-3)

      Louisville is one of the few ACC programs that has almost seems to have too many quarterbacks. Kyle Bolin and Lamar Jackson split time last week, with opening week starter Reggie Bonnafon entering as a potential receiving/rushing threat. So far, no one has locked down the job. “Yeah, I’d really like to see them separate, you know, and get a guy that gets out there and just starts running the offense and getting better,” Bobby Petrino told reporters. “It’s not all the quarterbacks’ issue. Some of it is how the other 10 guys on the field have been playing.” Indeed, the offense ranks 105th in rushing and 96th overall in total offense. One potential boost to the passing game could come if receiver James Quick is able to return Saturday which Petrino described as, “a good possibility”. After this game things get serious with road trips to play NC State and Florida State in conference play.


      NC State (3-0) @ South Alabama (2-1)

      NC State concludes its non-conference slate with a game at South Alabama. The Jaguars enter after a close win against San Diego State, but they were easily defeated by Nebraska the week prior. It’s still a bit difficult to evaluate the Wolfpack after three games against a weak schedule. The defense is ranked 2nd in total defense but the offense is only 46th against the less than challenging slate. The average margin of victory has been 29 points, so Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been asked to do too much. He’s completed 77.8% of his passes for 591 yards but just four touchdowns. “The teams we’ve played, they’ve played high safeties, that’s why we’ve been very effective running the football,” head coach Dave Doeren said. “This week I think we’re going to get both safeties in the box. It will be a big week for him throwing.” Most of the scoring to this point has come from Matthew Dayes and Jaylen Samuels who have combined for 11 rushing touchdowns. On paper at least, this seems like yet another early-season mismatch in State’s favor against an undersized Sun Belt opponent.

      Follow me on Twitter @BestCates. Like us on Facebook and check out @InsideTheACC.

Leave a Reply