Week Four: Five Things We Learned

Although the schedule was not nearly as good as it was in prior weeks for the ACC and college football as a whole, the week four slate was still able to answer a ton of questions about many teams across the nation. Here are five things I learned from watching the ACC games this weekend, as the schedule’s first month has come to a close.


1) Mike London’s Tenure at Virginia Will End After The Season

It amazes me that Mike London has been able to keep his job at Virginia for as long as he has, but one thing is for certain now, he will not be the head coach at the end of the 2015 season. Not only did Virginia lose on Friday night, but they were never competitive against visiting Boise State, as they got buried, 56-14. Don’t get me wrong, the Broncos are a pretty good football team, but anytime you lay down and absolutely roll over at home when a job is on the line, it typically does not end well. Matt Johns never had a chance behind his porous offensive front, and the pass defense that had played so well against Notre Dame just two weeks ago got exposed to a tune of 358 yards and three touchdowns. Ouch.

Low and behold, the Cavaliers are right where we thought they would be after the opening month of the season. However, I’m not sure even Mike London expected his team to play this poorly. Ultimately, this stretch of the schedule, no matter how tough it is in relation to the rest of college football, will effectively end London’s tenure as Virginia’s coach after the season.


2) Virginia Tech’s Defense is Overrated 

During a deflating loss on Saturday afternoon against a pesky East Carolina squad on the road, there were two things that I observed about this season’s Virginia Tech team. First, they are extremely resilient on the offensive side of the football, as displayed by the injuries they have overcome, as well as the manner in which they have played when trailing in two of the first four games. Secondly, the defense is a jumbled mess.


Outside of the second quarter against Ohio State, the defense has not been very good. Sure, the Hokies played well defensively against Furman and Purdue, but those two teams are not exactly elite programs. I get that the Hokies can only play who is on their schedule, but we didn’t learn anything about the defense from those two outings. Kendall Fuller missed the contest on Saturday, and trainer Mike Goforth confirmed what everyone thought, by explaining that Fuller’s absence was related to a knee injury that he has been nursing since camp. This largely explains the struggles of Fuller in coverage throughout the early part of the season, and without him at full health, the Hokies will continue to have issues in their pass defense with young guns like Greg Stroman being targeted and exposed due to inexperience. Tackling has been an issue all season long, which only was further manifested by the poor effort in the rain on Saturday. The projected Top 10 national defense that was supposed to be the backbone of the football team has become a flop, as they enter the conference schedule ranked 65th in the country in total defense. Not good.


3) The Coastal Division is Wide Open

We can roll through this one quick. Miami has a great quarterback, but a porous defense that nearly blew a huge lead last week against Nebraska. Virginia Tech is having some serious issues on defense without a healthy Kendall Fuller. Georgia Tech has now lost tough games two weeks in a row, and have committed turnovers that are extremely uncharacteristic of a Paul Johnson ball club, in addition to displaying little to no real hope on defense. Pitt has played well, only to lose narrowly to Iowa on the road by a field goal in their lone blemish on the early season, but are still trying to settle on a quarterback. Finally, there’s Duke, who reminded everyone who was watching on Saturday that they should not be an ACC after-thought this season, as they effectively shut down the Georgia Tech rushing attack.

As we enter the brunt of the conference schedule in the coming weeks, we will learn a ton about these teams, but until then, we are left with little to no clarity about who will emerge from this division. It remains, without question, a wide open race to see who will represent this half of the ACC in the conference championship game in December.


4) There Will Be a QB Controversy at North Carolina, and Louisville’s Controversy is Over

Senior QB Marquise Williams cost North Carolina a season opening win against South Carolina with two terrible red zone decisions that resulted in back-breaking interceptions. While he played well against North Carolina A&T and Illinois in the following weeks, Williams once again struggled early in the game against Delaware on Saturday. Although Williams officially left the game with an aggravated ankle injury, he looked well-enough to play, which coach Larry Fedora attested to after the contest when he spoke of Williams’ struggles and the team looking for a spark with QB Mitch Trubisky.

Trubisky entered the game in the second half and did not disappoint. He put up sparkling numbers, going 17-20 for 312 yards and four touchdown passes, igniting a passing offense that was stagnant at best throughout most of the early part of the game against Delaware. It will be an interesting week coming up for the Tar Heels, as they prepare for a huge game on the road for their conference opener against a desperate Georgia Tech squad. The play of the quarterbacks will dictate whether or not the ‘Heels will also be in the ACC Coastal conversation, which to date (see the third point) is a question that no team has been able to answer.

As for Louisville, who has shuffled quarterbacks throughout each of the first three weeks of the season (all losses), appears to have finally settled on Lamar Jackson moving into the foreseeable future, as he helped the Cardinals dismantle over-matched Samford by a score of 45-3 on Saturday. Jackson went 15 of 22 for 212 yards and a touchdown, while also leading the team with 18 carries for 184 yards and another touchdown on the ground. It was the first time Jackson has been used in a legitimate capacity since his valiant effort in the opener against Auburn, and he appears to be the correct choice to help Louisville try to right the ship in the coming weeks as the Cardinals try to salvage their season.


5) Boston College Still Needs a Quarterback

Northern Illinois, after playing extremely well against #1 Ohio State a week ago, entered their game in Chesnut Hill looking to silence a pesky Boston College squad in front of their home crowd. The result was an offensive effort that only amassed a mere 153 total yards against the Eagles in a 17-14 loss. So the defense of Boston College? Yeah, it’s still legit.

On offense, with Troy Flutie at the helm, it was apparent that the game plan was going to be much different, as he does not possess the same type of dynamic running ability that the injured Tyler Murphy possesses.bc_fb_tyler_murphy_2014_02 The Eagles got back to running the football with Jon Hilliman, a ground and pound attack that has been a staple of the Steve Addazio regime throughout each of the last three seasons. Hilliman carried the ball 24 times for 119 yards and a touchdown on the day, helping the Eagles hold off their non-conference foe to improve to a 3-1 record on the season.

The big question at quarterback still remains, as Flutie was only ultimately able to complete 5 of 11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown pass. He was not asked to throw it around a ton on Saturday, but until Boston College proves that they can have an adequate passing game, they will not live up to the potential that I believe they possess as a Top 25 team later this season.


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @MikeMcDanielACC and check out InsideTheACC on Facebook and on twitter @InsideTheACC.

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