2015 Around the ACC Week 6 Preview

  • NC State @ Virginia Tech, Friday 8 p.m. on ESPN
  • Duke @ Army West Point, Saturday 12 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
  • Virginia @ Pittsburgh, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Wake Forest @ Boston College, Saturday 3 p.m. ESPN3
  • Georgia Tech @ No. 6 Clemson, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2
  • Syracuse @ South Florida, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
  • Miami @ No. 12 Florida State 8 p.m. on ABC


NC State (4-1, 0-1) @ Virginia Tech (2-3, 0-1)

State’s defense remains highly ranked, and fared well against Louisville last week. They’ll face an ailing Hokie offense that managed just 100 total yards last week, the lowest total since Frank Beamer’s first game at Tech in 1987. It’s a short week for both teams, so there’s no advantage there. The Wolfpack have to get running back Matthew Dayes some more touches. He gained 68 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown against Louisville.

The Hokie defense can’t slow the rush at all. The unit is currently rated 100th in the nation against the run, though it is 17th against the pass. On offense for Tech, quarterback Michael Brewer is listed as probable, so he might see some action. Brenden Motley will still play at least the majority of time depending of course on Brewer’s availability and effectiveness. Keep an eye on State freshman and former Tech recruiting target Nyheim Hines. He averaged 33.8 yards per return on five kicks last week, including a 90-yarder. He’s also proven elusive in the passing game as a slot receiver.


Duke (4-1, 1-0) @ Army West Point (1-4)

Duke is in a great spot at this point in the season with what should be a straight-forward game against a weak Army team. The Blue Devils already have wins over coastal foe Georgia Tech and Atlantic crossover Boston College. They stand a good chance to win at least seven or eight games, with the possibility of 10 or 11 and a Coastal Division crown not completely unreasonable.

The Duke defense ranks ninth nationally in total defense, which is a pleasant surprise given some preseason injuries. Jeremy Cash has been terrific as the anchor of the unit with 42 total tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. Army gave Wake Forest lots of trouble at West Point a few weeks back, but Duke is more talented than the Deacons. The Blue Devils need to continue to develop the offense and find some wrinkles to open up the passing game. Five wins after this week would all but assure a bowl bid and allow Duke to focus on winning the Coastal.


Virginia (1-3) @ Pittsburgh (3-1, 1-0)

Pittsburgh looks to make it a clean sweep of the Commonwealth with a win over UVA. The Panthers have a strong running game that has proven reliable and the quarterback jumble has settled into a reasonable balance. Qadree Ollison was dominant against Virginia Tech, turning in 19 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. It really doesn’t seem to matter who the back is, Pitt just always finds someone very productive. At quarterback, Chad Voytik is contributing rushing and Nate Peterman is the more traditional passer. The offense is still a bit raw, but it’s coming together. On the other side, the defense is ranked fourth in total defense (243.8 YPG) and got tremendous pressure on the quarterback last week against Virginia Tech.

The Cavaliers are struggling in a bad way after getting pummeled by Boise State, 56-14. A week of rest may not have yielded any answers for a team with the 103rd offense and 104th defense. The only real positive is the ‘Hoos are ranked 39th in passing offense thanks to the generally strong play of Matt Johns. Mike London’s crew has a long season ahead of them unless something shifts drastically.


Wake Forest (2-3, 0-2) @ Boston College (3-2, 0-2)

Five games in, Boston College still has the top defense in the nation. They’ve allowed just 700 total yards (2.56 yards per play) and have given up only four touchdowns. I’m curious to see if the ability of Wake’s Kendall Hinton to make plays on the move loosens up the BC defense at all. He’ll challenge the Eagle defense as much, if not more, than other QBs have so far. The challenge will be to keep Hinton mobile to open up the traditional ground attack, which has been better recently for Wake.

BC needs to find a way to manufacture offense, through the ground or in the air. Using Jeff Smith as a running QB and Troy Flutie as the passer has yielded mixed results thus far for Steve Addazio. Smith adds a nice change of pace, but the personnel change really telegraphs what plays are coming. Smith actually leads the team in rushing now with 213 yards on 27 carries. The groups of Jon Hilliman, Tyler Rouse, and Myles Willis has yet to have a single back step up to lead the rushing charge. These teams are both in the mix for postseason play, but they need to win these games against ‘mid-level’ conference competition and avoid starting 0-3 in the ACC.


Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2) @ No. 6 Clemson (4-0)

There’s no ramble in the wreck from Georgia Tech right now. The Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack has tumbled slightly to sixth-best nationally and the big plays are failing to develop. Patrick Skov has been the most consistent back, but a combination of injuries and inexperience has hampered the “home run” factor from the GT backfield.

Clemson on the other hand is doing just about everything right. The two-point win over Notre Dame last weekend solidified for many the transition from a program known for “Clemsoning” off course with an inexplicable loss to a legitimate national title contender. Dabo Swinney has an outstanding big-game record with the Tigers and his kids love to see a top ten ranking beside an opponent’s name. While it’s usually the Tiger offense that makes headlines, the defense is leading the charge lately, ranked 22nd in total D (#5 in defensive efficiency) and fresh off forcing four turnovers and bringing plenty of pressure against the Irish.


Syracuse (3-1, 0-1) @ South Florida (1-3)

Syracuse was always going to be a defense-first club, but the offense has tried to pitch in as well despite losing multiple quarterbacks to injury. That effort should receive a boost with the return of talented freshman Eric Dungey, who threw for 428 yards and five touchdowns over three games before receiving a concussion against Central Michigan. Zack Mahoney started the LSU game and had some good moments including three touchdown tosses in the 34-24 loss. Dungey is a much better passer and should open up the offense a bit compared to the game plan against the Tigers. South Florida’s claim to fame so far this season was giving Florida State a tough time in Tallahassee earlier this year. The Bulls and ‘Noles were tied at seven, but FSU cruised to a 20-point victory.


Miami (3-1) @ No. 12 Florida State (4-0, 2-0)

It’s one of the classic rivalries in all of college football, and the stakes are as big as ever this season. FSU is quietly undefeated and trying to get its passing offense to round into shape. Miami is coming off the kind of unexpected loss that has become the norm for the Canes under Al Golden, falling to Cincinnati on Thursday a week ago. The fans are restless as always in Coral Gables, but a win against the ‘Noles could finally help the program turn the corner under Golden. The offense has been excellent, ranked 26th in the country and quarterback Brad Kaaya has barely even broken a sweat. Kaaya has thrown for 1,094 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. He’ll be challenged more in this game by the eight-ranked passing defense of the Seminoles.

FSU running back Dalvin Cook has been the star on the FSU offense. He’s picked up 570 yards on just 66 carries (8.6 YPC) with five touchdowns, good for the 19th-best rushing performance in the land. He left the last game with a hamstring issue that kept him out of practice on Monday and Tuesday, but he returned Wednesday and is officially listed as day-today.

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