September 20, 2007

Pressure builds early for some in ACC

MORE WEEK 4 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

MEGARGEE'S ACC PICKS
Thursday's game
Miami 20, Texas A&M 17
Saturday's games
Clemson 21, North Carolina State 17
Georgia Tech 17, Virginia 13
USF 20, North Carolina 13
Boston College 41, Army 7
Navy 21, Duke 17
Virginia Tech 34, William & Mary 7
Wake Forest 17, Maryland 14
Overview: Virginia has bounced back from an embarrassing season-opening loss to Wyoming by beating ACC rivals Duke and North Carolina. The Coastal Division leaders can prove they're for real by knocking off Georgia Tech at home. Clemson will attempt to remain undefeated by winning its first road game of the season at North Carolina State. Maryland opens its ACC schedule at Wake Forest, which needs to win to have any realistic hope of repeating as conference champ. All the other ACC teams have the week off or are playing nonconference foes. The most intriguing of those matchups is Miami's Thursday night tussle with unbeaten Texas A&M.

Best matchup: Texas A&M run offense vs. Miami's run defense: Mike Goodson's speed, Jorvorskie Lane's power and quarterback Stephen McGee's mobility have helped give the Aggies the nation's fifth-ranked rushing offense. McGee averages better than 9 yards per carry, Goodson averages 5.6 yards per attempt and Lane has rushed for seven touchdowns. The Aggies will face their toughest test thus far against Miami. The Hurricanes are allowing 2.9 yards per carry this season and ranked fourth in the nation against the run last year.

The pressure is on: Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets had high hopes after a season-opening 33-3 destruction of Notre Dame, but a loss to Boston College last week makes Saturday's game at Virginia particularly critical. A victory over Virginia puts the Jackets back in Coastal Division title contention. A loss drops them to 0-2 in conference action, and it's tough to imagine Tech returning to the conference championship game after digging itself that deep a hole.

Who's hot: Boston College QB Matt Ryan has thrown for at least 400 yards in two of the Eagles' first three games. Those two 400-yard performances came against Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, the participants in last year's ACC championship game. Boston College CB DeJuan Tribble ranks second in the nation in passes defended with nine. Clemson QB Cullen Harper, a first-year starter, has thrown 10 touchdown passes without an interception. Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis went 19-of-23 for 246 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions Saturday as the Blue Devils edged Northwestern 20-14 to end a 22-game losing streak. Lewis completed 15 consecutive passes at one point in the game. Florida State K Gary Cismesia is 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts. North Carolina WR Hakeem Nicks has three touchdown catches in his past two games. Virginia RB Cedric Peerman has gained 323 yards in his past two games and leads the ACC in rushing. Virginia DE Chris Long has recorded five sacks in the Cavaliers' first three games. Long ranks is second in the nation in sacks per game. Virginia K Chris Gould went 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts Saturday. Two of his field goals came from 48 and 51 yards. Virginia P Ryan Weigand leads the nation in punting with an average of 49.4.

Who's not: Clemson RB C.J. Spiller has rushed for 85 yards on 26 carries in his first three games. Spiller was held to minus-1 yard on eight carries in a 38-10 victory over I-AA Furman last week. Duke RB Justin Boyle has averaged less than 2 yards per carry over his past two games. Georgia Tech WR James Johnson has just two receptions all year and was held without a catch in his past two games. Johnson caught seven touchdown passes last season. .. North Carolina State QB Harrison Beck ranks 100th in the nation in passing efficiency.

Keep your eye on: Miami CB Glenn Sharpe could have an expanded role on defense Thursday night after playing primarily special teams last week in his first game of the season. Sharpe, who has missed two entire seasons with knee injuries, sat out the Hurricanes' first two games with injury problems. Georgia Tech OT Andrew Gardner is one of the game's most underrated offensive linemen, but he gets a chance to make a name for himself this week. Gardner could spend much of the day lining up against Virginia DE Chris Long, a near-certain first-round pick who already has five sacks this season. "It's been a great matchup for the last two years and it will be this year again, two phenomenal players going at it," Georgia Tech G Nate McManus said. Wake Forest DE Jeremy Thompson has four sacks in his first three games. This week, he'll be going against Maryland, which ranks 106th in the nation in sacks allowed.

Numbers game: After ending a 22-game skid last week, Duke is seeking its first two-game winning streak in four years. The Blue Devils beat Western Carolina 29-3 and edged Rice 27-24 in overtime in back-to-back games in 2003 before finishing 4-8 that season. Florida State held Colorado to minus-27 yards rushing, the lowest total allowed by an ACC school since Georgia Tech limited Tulsa to minus-57 rushing yards in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl. Virginia Tech's 28-7 victory over Ohio last week marked Hokies coach Frank Beamer's 200th career win.

Freshmen to watch: North Carolina State DT Markus Kuhn, a true freshman from Germany, probably will earn his first career start Saturday because of injuries to DeMario Pressley and John Bedics. Kuhn has the unenviable task of helping to slow Clemson's potent running attack. North Carolina RB Johnny White is gradually developing as the Tar Heels' feature back. White, a redshirt freshman, had 16 carries for 60 yards last week in a 22-20 loss to Virginia. ... Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer could have an expanded role Saturday if a hamstring injury sidelines starter Tashard Choice.

ACC STANDINGS
ATLANTIC DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Boston College3-03-0
Clemson1-03-0
Maryland0-02-1
Florida State0-12-1
Wake Forest0-11-2
N.C. State0-11-2
COASTAL DIVISION
TeamConf.All
Virginia2-02-1
Miami0-02-1
Virginia Tech0-02-1
Georgia Tech0-12-1
North Carolina0-11-2
Duke0-11-2
Injury update: Duke FB Tielor Robinson has an ankle injury that could keep him out for a significant length of time. Duke LB Charles Robinson and DE Ryan Radloff also are out this week. Florida State DT Andre Fluellen missed the Colorado game with a partially torn muscle in his elbow, but he expects to play against Alabama on Sept. 29. Florida State is off this week. Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice is questionable for the Virginia game with a hamstring injury. Maryland LB Erin Henderson is hoping to play Saturday despite having a shoulder injury. North Carolina State DT John Bedics has a sprained ankle that will prevent him from playing against Clemson. N.C. State DT DeMario Pressley continues to be sidelined with a knee injury. Virginia Tech RB Branden Ore has a rib injury, but it shouldn't prevent him from playing this week. Virginia Tech DE Jason Worilds (formerly known as Jason Adjepong) has an ankle injury that could knock him out of the William & Mary game. Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner has returned to practice after missing two games with a separated shoulder.

They said it:
"That was the most inept and ridiculous demonstration of football I've been around in my life. I'll tell you what, if I'm an offensive player I'm embarrassed to say I was a part (of it) with the way our defense played. Our defense won that football game. They played their tails off, and it's ridiculous the way we walked out on the field. It's ridiculous, the mistakes we keep making. And it's my fault. It starts with me. If you ain't coaching it, you are letting it happen. And I'm not letting it happen anymore."
Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher after the Seminoles gained 221 total yards in a 16-6 victory over Colorado.

"I know I've been rushing it when I get to the ball, and I have to be more patient. I'm always trying to get the big one. (Monday) the way I practiced, it's the way I'm going to continue to practice. I'm going to continue to be more patient and explode to the hole."
Clemson RB C.J. Spiller to TigerIllustrated.com on his early-season struggles.

"They're a good team, and we'll be seeing them again in Jacksonville."
Georgia Tech QB Taylor Bennett predicting a rematch with Boston College in the ACC championship game to The Boston Globe after the Yellow Jackets' 24-10 loss to the Eagles.

Etc.: Georgia Tech has lost each of the past seven times it has played Virginia on the road. Georgia Tech's last win at Charlottesville came 17 years ago in a 41-38 classic that ranks among the top games in ACC history. Something has to give when No. 20 Texas A&M travels to Miami on Thursday night. Miami has lost seven of its past eight games against ranked teams, while Texas A&M has gone 1-5 in non-conference matchups with BCS programs during Dennis Franchione's tenure. The ACC has two quarterbacks who rank among the nation's top 10 in passing efficiency: Clemson's Cullen Harper (No. 4) and North Carolina's T.J. Yates (No. 9). No ACC quarterback has ranked among the nation's top 22 players in that category since North Carolina State's Philip Rivers finished first in 2003.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.

MORE WEEK 4 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC




 

Rivals.com is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2007 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.