2015 Around the ACC Week 7 Preview


  • Louisville @ #11 Florida State, Saturday 12 p.m. on ESPN
  • Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 12:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Virginia Tech @ Miami, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU
  • Syracuse @ Virginia, Saturday 3:30 p.m. on ESPN3
  • Boston College @ #5 Clemson, Saturday 7 p.m. on ESPNU
  • Wake Forest @ North Carolina, Saturday 7 p.m. on ESPN3


Louisville (2-3, 1-1) @ No. 11 Florida State (5-0, 2-0)

Everett Golson has faced some criticism this season from fans frustrated at the periodic struggles of the FSU offense. He’s actually been very good, completing 66.9% of his passes for 1,077 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. Those aren’t all short passes either.

The passing offense is only ranked 64th in the nation, but it’s been effective when needed, including against Miami when the ‘Noles trailed for the first time this season. “You have to
trust your eyes and take what’s there,” Jimbo Fisher said about Golson. “I think there’s multiple times in the game he did that.”

Louisville is coming off a bye week and pulled a near upset of FSU last season.The Cardinals have to feel good about their chances against Florida State. One thing that’s been missing is the big play for Louisville in the passing game. Lamar Jackson has broken off some big runs, but there’s an element missing to the attack. “That is something we focused a lot on in the bye week and being able to get where we can throw it down the field and make plays on the ball down the field,” Bobby Petrino said this week. Whichever team stretches the field best likely has the upper hand in this matchup.


Pittsburgh (4-1, 2-0) @ Georgia Tech (2-4, 0-3)

Georgia Tech is in a bad way right now, and at least part of that can be traced to the youth that has been pressed into action on offense. “I mean, I looked out there on the field Saturday, we’ve got five true freshmen,” Paul Johnson told the media. “You’ve got the B-back, both A-backs, one receiver and an offensive tackle…There are going to be some growing pains now.” Young or not, The Yellow Jackets are at home and backed up against the wall. That makes them very, very dangerous.

Pitt comes in tied for first in the Coastal Division with Duke — let that sink in a moment — and with the Blue Devils on a bye, they could take the lead in the coastal, but there’s a lingering issue of letting teams hang around. The Panthers have failed to put games away and nearly every result has been in doubt until the final moments. “We like to make you guys hang out and not get the story out too early. Keep everybody in suspense,” Pat Narduzzi joked. He then got serious and isolated six plays on offense and six on defense that featured mistakes that need to be cleaned up. “This is a game of inches and if you lose inches, sometimes it doesn’t get you this week, but it’ll get you the next week.”


Virginia Tech (3-3, 1-1) @ Miami (3-2, 0-1)


Miami is in the rivalry portion of the schedule, facing the Hokies a week after a heartbreaking loss to Florida State. “Our guys did a good job. Everyone in the building did a good job of coming in, evaluating ourselves and learning from it,” Miami coach Al Golden said about the FSU loss. “I think when you watch Virginia Tech, and how they’re settling in now and making plays, I think that’s helped too. It has really caught our guys’ eye.”

The Hurricanes lead the all-time series 19-13, but the Hokies are 13-7 since getting the program’s first win over the ‘Canes in 1995. These are two of the most inconsistent teams in the nation, which means this will either be one of the weekend’s best games, or one of the worst. Everyone knows Brad Kaaya — who’s coming off a career-high in passing against FSU — but Brenden Motley has played very well for Tech and is still fairly unknown. He’s second in the ACC in touchdown passes (10) behind only Clemson’s DeShaun Watson and sixth in passing yards (1,019). ” His throwing is accurate and I think it’s getting more accurate all the time, Frank Beamer said. “He certainly gives you an element to run the football and can pick up some valuable first downs.” Michael Brewer is listed as probable for the Hokies.


Syracuse (3-2, 1-0) @ Virginia (1-4, 0-1)

Virginia is the worst team in the ACC. They have more talent than that however, which can make the Cavaliers a tough out. Syracuse is a bit more inconsistent. The Orange proved capable of playing great defense and fought through injuries on offense to hang with LSU…and then got pummeled by South Florida. It’s hard to make much sense of that, but it would appear Syracuse’s 3-0 start was indeed fool’s gold thanks in large part to the familiar refrain of “youth” on defense. “14 of the 22 on the two-deep have three years left, and with that comes some freshmen, youth moments,” Scott Shafer pointed out. “The best way to learn is by having a game that we just had and then come on back and have to fix things and learn from your mistakes and play a better brand of ball in the next game.”

Virginia is at home, which helps a bit, but the stout Orange defense presents some challenges. “They show you different fronts, and they bring different people. So us being very detailed in how we put the plan together and execute the plan is going to be critical for us,” Mike London said this week. That’s been a significant issue for the ‘Hoos who currently rank 98th in the country in both total offense and total defense. Virginia hasn’t been able to run the ball at all with just 102.8 yards per game (109th nationally), which has forced quarterback Matt Johns to manufacture everything through the air. Rushing won’t get easier against ‘Cuse so expect another air assault in Charlottesville.


Boston College (3-3, 0-3) @ No. 11 Clemson (5-0, 2-0)

Boston College has the best defense in the country, but the offense is one of the worst. That fact crystallized in the 3-0 loss to Wake Forest and has Steve Addazio searching for answers. He’s said that he’ll name one starting quarterback this week and stick with him for the rest of the season, but as of yet he’s keeping that choice to himself. ” We’ve got a body of work now and you’re evaluating that and trying to go in the right direction,” Addazio said about his quarterbacks. “Usually when you pick two it’s because you don’t have one that’s ready.” Whether it’s Jeff Smith or Troy Flutie, they’ll need a lot of help to make a dent in a Clemson defense that has become the strength of the team.

Clemson is ranked 13th in total defense, allowing just 288.8 yards per game. For reference, that’s more than double what BC has given up (140.3 YPG) but still very impressive. The Tigers should certainly win this game, but I’m curious to see how much of a fight the Eagles can muster. Particularly, if BC can slow the Clemson offense and score some points of their own, and how do the Tigers react after coasting to a huge win last week? “This is definitely the best defense we’ve seen and they know what they’re doing,” Dabo Swinney said. “Schematically, they present some real challenges with some unique blitz looks. It will be a big challenge for our offense.”


Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2) @ North Carolina (4-1, 1-0)

This game will fly under the radar, but I think it will be a good one. Wake Forest is currently 15th in the nation in total defense and gave Florida State all they could handle a few weeks back. It will be an interesting clash of styles when Wake’s defense steps in against the dynamic Carolina offense. “This is the No. 1 offense in the ACC,” Wake coach Dave Clawson said of UNC. “They’re scoring 38, 39 points per game, 470 yards of offense. They’ve got 120-130 combined starts on the offensive line. Their quarterback is a true dual-threat, he can beat you with his arm and he can beat you with his legs.”

This is a great opportunity for UNC to start 2-0 in ACC play and keep pace for a Coastal Division crown that seemed seriously in doubt after dropping the opener to South Carolina. “As long as our tempo is good when we want to be, we’re in good shape there,” Larry Fedora told the media. “I think we’ve got experience on offense, I think that’s helped. I think these guys understand what’s expected and they know what has to be done.”

Call me crazy, but this sets up as an interesting clash of styles with two athletic quarterbacks in Wake freshman Kendall Hinton and Carolina senior Marquise Williams both taking on much improved defenses. And if you think Wake winning would be an upset, well, maybe not.

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