Tag Archives: Georgia Tech

ACC Weekend Wrap Up 10/28

What a week in the ACC. Clemson defeated Miami 58-0, which brought them up to #3 in the country. Florida State lost to Georgia Tech just when it looked like Georgia Tech had nothing else to play for. Duke won a four-overtime thriller against Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh hit a late field goal to escape Syracuse, North Carolina handled business against Virginia, and Boston College’s defense still can’t score points for their offense.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from this weekend in the ACC:

 MIAMI FIRES AL GOLDEN

After suffering the worst defeat in Miami history, 58-0 to #3 Clemson, Miami decided to fire head coach Al Golden after four and a half seasons. We all knew that it wouldn’t take much for Miami to pull the plug on their coach, and a 58-0 loss to an ACC opponent was what finally did Al Golden in. Admittedly Golden was put into a tough spot having joined Miami during NCAA investigations, however no matter of circumstances will save a Miami coach who goes 17-18 in the ACC and 0-5 versus interstate rival Florida State. Perhaps the most disappointing part about the past couple seasons at Miami was the fact that Miami was able to produce good players that are in the NFL and will be in the future, Golden just could never get the best out of them on the field, culminating in a 32-25 record. Who the next coach at Miami will be is still very much up in the air at this point, but the season goes on. Miami faces a tough task in #23 Duke on the road this weekend.

 FLORIDA STATE LOSES

Florida State suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Georgia Tech after they blocked Florida State’s last-second field goal attempt, and returned it for a touchdown as time expired. The loss all but ends the Seminoles chances at returning to the college football playoff for the second straight year and puts them behind the eight ball in the ACC. This game always had the feel of a typical Seminole game where they would struggle during it’s entirety but pull the win out at the end, and that’s what looked like was about to happen when kicker Roberto Aguayo walked on the field to attempt a 56-yard field to take the lead. But a blocked kick, and a run to the end zone later and Florida State had suffered their first loss of the season.

 DUKE, PITT AND UNC AT PIVITOL POINT OF SCHEDULE

In the next three weeks, Duke, Pittsburgh and UNC will all play each other, in what will most likely decide who will come out of the Coastal division in the ACC. With all three of them sitting at 6-1, the head to head matchups will determine which of the three will emerge from the pack. The first of these matchups is Thursday night when UNC faces #23 Pittsburgh. UNC then faces #22 Duke in two weeks, with the final matchup of #23 Pittsburgh and #22 Duke occurring in three weeks. I’m not going to sit here and act like I have any idea who will ultimately come out of the division, as all three of these teams seem pretty even. All have a competent quarterback, a run game they can rely on and solid defenses. If I had to pick one though I’m going to say Duke emerges as the winner, as they seem to have better coaching over the past couple seasons. Nonetheless the games between these teams in the next few weeks will have a lot on the line.

Florida State’s defense up to the task

After watching and analyzing Florida State’s first few games it has become clear that while the offense has received most of the attention from people, the Seminole defense is what the team wants their identity to be.

Between the transferring in of quarterback Everett Golson, and running back Dalvin Cook entering his sophomore season, the offense garnered a lot of attention based on the skilled position players and the potential that the offense had. All while the defense has been a bit of an afterthought. Through three games, the Seminole defense quietly ranks in the top-10 in points allowed, and yards allowed.

I am as guilty as anybody of overlooking the Florida State defense. I was caught up in the Golson and Cook hype and was imagining an offense that was unstoppable and I thought the Noles could outscore anybody they played. It’s safe to say I got a little ahead of myself.

The most recent game against Boston College displayed what the identity of this Seminoles team is and what the recipe for success should be going forward. The offense struggled mightily against a good defense in Boston College who currently rank as the 2nd best defense in the nation in points allowed. Aside from the first drive of the game – one that was probably scripted before the game – the Seminoles’ offense couldn’t get anything going, literally anything. While the offense was searching for answers, the defense took control of the game by not allowing Boston College to score a single point during the entire game, and contributed by scoring the game-sealing touchdown on a fumble return forced by vocal leader Terrance Smith, and returned for a score by the best player on the defense, Jalen Ramsey.

Jalen Ramsey takes a fumble to the endzone providing one of the Seminoles' two TDs
Jalen Ramsey takes a fumble to the endzone providing one of the Seminoles’ two TDs

For people that aren’t Florida State fans, the game against BC was probably boring and unimpressive, but what happened during the game was indicative of what will bring the Seminoles success this season. As a result of the game the Seminoles’ defense will be brought to the forefront, and will help shift offensive concerns away from Golson. All of the sudden, the offense has become a concern for the Seminoles, while the defense has done nothing but prove that they are the unit the team should rely on going forward.

With a couple of high-flying offenses on the Seminoles’ schedule coming up against Clemson and Georgia Tech in the future, it is reassuring that the defense has already had a game that they can hang their hats on.

The Seminoles are on the road after their bye week to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 3:30pm on Saturday.

Irish Roll With Kizer

Last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the world was briefly introduced to Notre Dame redshirt freshman quarterback Deshone Kizer. In relief of the injured Malik Zaire, who was lost for the season after suffering a broken ankle, Kizer hit Will Fuller for a 39-yard touchdown pass in the closing seconds to deliver the win and send the Irish back to South Bend at 2-0.

This weekend, the world met Kizer for real, as he started his first game as quarterback of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

After surviving a scare against the Virginia Cavaliers, the 8th-ranked Irish were at home to tango with the 14th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Irish, who have garnered high expectations as contenders to participate in the College Football Playoff, were facing their first real challenge of the season. Thanks in large part to the injury to Zaire and Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple option attack, the Irish were 2.5-point underdogs on their home field, according to the experts in Los Vegas.

Despite everything that was working against them, the Irish jumped out to an early lead when Kizer hit Fuller with a 46 yard strike for a touchdown. The Irish never looked back, beating the Yellow Jackets 30-22, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated–the Yellow Jackets were able to tack on 2 touchdowns in a 26-second span with less than 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.

In his first start, Kizer lead the Irish by completing 21 of 30 passes for 242 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Kizer was aided by a solid running game, which saw CJ Prosise carry the ball 22 times for 198 yards and 3 scores. The most staggering stat may be that the Irish improved to 16-1 with a redshirt freshman quarterback at the helm in the Brian Kelly era. The lone loss came at the hands of Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Title game.

Doing his best Everett Golson impression, Kizer showed poise in moving the Irish offense up and down the field. But who is Deshone Kizer?

As mentioned before, Kizer is a redshirt freshman who spent the duration of the 2014 season as the third-string quarterback, behind Golson and Zaire. As far as quarterbacks are concerned, Kizer possess great physical tools, standing 6’4″ and weighing 230 pounds.

Before committing to Notre Dame, Kizer was a highly-touted recruit out of Toledo Central Catholic High School in Toledo, OH. Kizer turned down offers from notable programs such as Alabama, Louisiana State, and Michigan before settling on Notre Dame. Kizer was a 3-year starter in high school, helping his team to a combined 34-6 overall record and a state championship his junior year. As a senior, Kizer passed for over 2,800 yards and 30 touchdowns (to only 6 interceptions) and he also rushed for over 500 yards.

Notre Dame is no stranger to inexperienced quarterbacks–they rode redshirt freshman Everett Golson to the National Title game in 2012–and Kizer’s success prior to gaining the reigns at Notre Dame will only help him lead the Irish for the duration of this season.

Stats aside, Kizer looked very poised in his first start under center for the Irish, and  despite the assertions of many, the Irish didn’t seem to miss a beat after losing Zaire. Many may claim that a lack of experience at the quarterback position will cost the Irish in big games on the road at Clemson in two weeks, at Stanford the last week of the season, under the lights at home against the University of Southern California in mid-October, and ultimately a shot at playing for a title. Those who feel that way quickly forget that Malik Zaire had only a 3 games of real experience before going down against Virginia.

Kizer won’t be alone in his efforts, either. Notre Dame’s offensive line has been fantastic, giving the quarterback extra time to throw and allowing running backs the opportunity to get to the second level. In fact, Notre Dame has rushed for 200 or more yards in each of its first 3 games for the first time since 1996.

By now, Will Fuller is no secret, either. All he’s done to follow up his 15-touchdown freshman season is start this year with 5 scores in only 3 games.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this Irish team is their resiliency. Despite facing a season’s worth of injuries, the Irish are the first team to open their season with 3 straight wins over opponents from a power conference since 2012.

The mix of size, speed, and experience of this Irish team is perhaps the best it’s been in recent memory, and they will ride that immense amount of talent as far as it will take them this season.

The College Quickie: Conference Championships

As the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers were being consumed, college football was inching closer to clarity. Whatever clarity is this year. The four major conferences now have their conference championship games set. The Pac 12 will kick the weekend off on Friday night and the Big Ten will finish us off Saturday night.

THE PAC 12

Number 8 Arizona plays number 3 Oregon for the second time this year. In their first meeting this year, Arizona came out on top 31-24. There was the proverbial asterisk placed next to the Wildcat’s win since Oregon was missing some of their offensive lineman. Well, I see your asterisk and raise you ANOTHER asterisk. Arizona beat the Ducks last year as well. The score of that game being 42-16.

Arizona has proven that it can play with Oregon and will not be intimidated. And there is more on the line this year than there has ever been as the winner should find themselves in the inaugural college football playoff.

THE SEC

Number 1 Alabama squares off with number 14 Missouri. It has been 2 years since Alabama appeared in the championship game and this is a back-to-back appearance for Missouri. For Alabama, it is all on the line. Win and they lock up the number 1 seed in the playoff. Lose and anything is possible. Would a loss knock the Crimson Tide out of the top 4? Or would the committee simply slide them down to number 4? As for Missouri and what they are playing for? The Tigers have a chance to win their first conference championship since the 1969 Big 8 title. But, unlike Alabama, a playoff birth is an extreme long shot.

THE ACC

Number 2 Florida St. takes on number 12 Georgia Tech. I’ll be honest, i’ve fallen into the @damiEnbowman mindset. We know how this ends and i’m not interested. But in the interest of The College Quickie, i’ll say a few words on the matchup.

With a FSU win, and we all know they will win, they stay put in the playoff. A loss drops them from the top 4, but, again, we all know that is not happening. And, just to be fair, if Georgia Tech wins they probably just solidify their spot in the Orange Bowl.

THE BIG TEN

Number 6 Ohio St. against number 11 Wisconsin. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Three out of four of these games are between a team positioning itself for the final 4 and a team simply trying to improve its bowl game slot.

Ohio St just can’t catch a good break this season. First they lose Braxton Miller to injury and now JT Barrett is done for the year. Ohio St is coming close to Florida St territory for me. The Buckeyes let inferior teams hang around and then find a way to win. What makes this more impressive for Ohio St is that they seem to win in impressive fashion. And once Barrett shook off the jitters against the Fighting Beamers, it seems it doesn’t matter who Urban Meyer’s quarterback is.

PREDICTIONS

If you are looking for predictions, you’ll have to stay tuned to the podcasts this week and our conference and team specific writers. I’m offering a quick primer for each game. Predictions will come later.

*Feature image courtesy of firenicksaban.com (yes, that site really does exist)

Proposal For a New Conference

traditionConference realignment, you thought that discussion was over for a while. Well, rumors are circulating that the Big 12 is looking to expand. More specifically, they are looking eastward and that East Carolina is in the mix. I have no insight or information that the rumors are true, only that they are out there.
However, the rumors give me an open door for why there should be conference realignment, but not one where ECU goes to the Big 12. Conferences should be geographically compact, on an equal footing in the strength of their teams and have similar athletic goals and traditions. As far as East Carolina, the conference would consist of East Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Marshall, West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Pitt.
This is an improvement for all of the schools in terms of travel. The AAC spans from Texas, Louisiana and Florida to Connecticut. The ACC has Miami and Boston in its fold. West Virginia is a Big 12 member and travels to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa for its conference games. Those are long road trips for Mountaineer fans.
East Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Marshall, West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Pitt are football schools. Basketball, for the most part, is something you do because it is too cold to play football. All of the schools have a passionate fan base. Admittedly, West Virginia might have a bigger stadium than Marshall, but their little brother is growing up and deserves a chance to compete on an even level. Arguably, East Carolina could not have beaten Clemson, West Virginia, or Georgia Tech on a regular basis in the past, but a new day has arrived in Greenville. The Pirates’ success this year is only part of a continued pattern of growth that has been occurring since the 1970’s. Pat Dye, Ed Emory, Bill Lewis, Steve Logan, Skip Holtz and now Ruffin McNeill have all lead ECU to a new level in football.
A fair question is why would North Carolina State, Clemson, West Virginia and Georgia Tech leave established conferences with lucrative television deals to start a new conference. There are three reasons. First, the conference would be more geographically compact. Second, other than the SEC, the new conference would be best college football played in the east, other than the Southeastern Conference. Third, the schools in the new conference are without major scandals. It is my contention, that college football must bring order to its house and the aforementioned schools are not front page violators.
There is a basis for a North Carolina centric conference since there are six FBS schools within the borders of North Carolina, yet only ECU and NC State are a fit for the new conference with the other schools that I would place in the conference.
Appalachian is only in its first year of competition in the FBS, but does have a strong tradition in football. They are not ready competitively, but the question can be revisited in the coming years.
Wake Forest and Duke are basketball schools and do not have a history of continued success in football. David Cutcliffe, Duke’s head coach, is an outstanding coach and got Duke to the ACC Championship game in 2013. However, Cutcliffe is the exception at Duke, and even he has not been able to build strong fan support based on attendance at Duke’s home games. This year the average attendance at Duke’s home games is only 25,537. When Cutcliffe leaves, so will Duke’s football success.
Wake Forest has similar issues. They had an excellent coach in Jim Grobe and some success. However, Grobe could only use chicken wire and duct-tape for so long before the Wake Forest program descended in the number of wins they produced. I do not mean to disparage Duke or Wake; but they simply have not produced a winning tradition in football.
Then there is UNC. I remember as a child in the 1960’s coming to understand that football at UNC was mediocre. However, that was okay because UNC, and the ACC, were about academics and integrity. If maintaining standards meant a so-so football team, then it meant a so-so football team.
Unfortunately, UNC is now about no show classes, drug dealers providing cars for a UNC athlete and inappropriate contact with sports agents and much more. However, the football is still mediocre.
On a side note, as a proud North Carolinian, I wish leadership that was provided by people like William Friday in the 1950’s and 60’s was still present at UNC. Friday was the President of UNC when a cheating scandal arose at the popular Dixie Classic Basketball Tournament; he cancelled the tournament. William Friday’s name was synonymous with integrity and education.
I am an ECU fan and to borrow the cliché, “I bleed purple and gold”. However, as a North Carolinian, I am pulling for UNC to make the in-depth reforms that are needed so that the university can return to its once honored position in college athletics and as a worthy opponent. I think we all know what William Friday would do; the question remains, does the current leadership at UNC have the courage to do what is needed. The death penalty was imposed on SMU athletics by the NCAA. Perhaps, UNC should examine the record and do what William Friday had the courage to do and not wait for the NCAA.
I am ready for a conference that plays quality football and still understands college football is not a business. It has to be responsible and pay its bills, but consistently shipping kids across the country to play a game is of questionable financial value, and it is not good for the academic success of the athletes. Also, college football has to stand for something more than money and the win-loss record.

Mississippi is Football Country-For Now

Another week down and another Mississippi fairy tale chapter is written. The two Mississippi teams in the top 3, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, have now both started 6-0 after wins this week against Texas A&M and Auburn, respectively. As of today, Mississippi State has jumped Florida State in the rankings to move to number 1 after defeating (2) Auburn, 38-23. Dak Prescott continues to look like a Heisman candidate, and finished this game with 3 total touchdowns, including two on the ground. Prescott did throw two picks on the night, and so did Marshall for Auburn as the defenses frustrated both teams at some point in the game.

Ole Miss continues to surprise everybody, and as it says, "Never Quit".
Ole Miss continues to surprise everybody, and as it says, “Never Quit”.

A)Ole Miss went to College Station and knocked off (14) Texas A&M, 35-20. Bo Wallace played his best football yet for the Rebels, going 13-19 for 178 yards and a touchdown, also adding 50 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Kenny Hill looked human once again for the Aggies, although he finished with 400 yards and two touchdowns, as well as two picks. Texas A&M is improving, but the next few weeks they face Alabama, Auburn, and Missouri.
Dak Prescott adds to his Heisman resume and have now made the Bulldogs the number 1 team in the country.
Dak Prescott adds to his Heisman resume and have now made the Bulldogs the number 1 team in the country.

B)Florida State won and dropped in the rankings, somehow. Jameis Winston played mistake-free football and posted an impressive stat line of 30-36 with 317 yards and 3 touchdowns as they beat Syracuse on the road, 38-20.
C)The most interesting game of the night was in the Big 12. (5) Baylor hosted (9) TCU, and the Bears came away with this win. Bryce Petty finished with 510 yards passing and 6 touchdowns, and Boykin posted an impressive stat line for the Horned Frogs throwing for 287 yards and a touchdowns. TCU was in control for most of this game, but Baylor finished the game with 24 unanswered points, all in the fourth quarter. Baylor is now ranked fourth and in the thick of the Playoff talk.
Bryce Petty led his team to a huge victory over TCU.
Bryce Petty led his team to a huge victory over TCU.

D)Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma bounced back after a tough loss to TCU, and beat Texas 31-26. Trevor Knight and the Sooners did just enough to win, but Charlie Strong has these Longhorns playing solid football now. Oklahoma has a tough test next week against Kansas State. Also in the Big 12, Oklahoma State defeated Kansas on the road, 27-20.
E) Georgia responded unbelievably well after the loss of Todd Gurley, who is suspended indefinitely for an NCAA rules violation. The Bulldogs blanked Missouri, on the road, 34-0. The youngster Nick Chubb finished with 38 carries for 143 yards and a touchdowns on the ground, who started for Gurley. Maty Mauk and the Tigers struggled offensively and defensively in this one, and Mauk finished with a dismal 97 yards passing and 4 interceptions. Georgia has combined to number 10 this week and even without Todd Gurley look like a dangerous team.
F) The PAC 12 keeps getting more and more confusong after each week, mainly because everyone keeps beating each other. (25) Stanford defeated Washington State, 34-17 in Palo Alto. Meanwhile, USC went and upset (10) Arizona
in a nailbiter, 28-26. Javorius Allen had a monstrous game for the Trojans, rushing 26 times for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns. Arizona did play well, and scored a touchdown with one minute left in the game but failed on the two point conversion. Anu Solomom threw for 395 yards and one touchdown yesterday for the Wildcats, who dropped down to 16 while USC came back in the Top 25 after dropping out last week.
Allen played a huge game for the Trojans in their upset against Arizona.
Allen played a huge game for the Trojans in their upset against Arizona.

G) Oregon defetaed UCLA in another top 25 matchup, with a final of 42-30. Mariota responded well for the Ducks and finished with 4 total touchdowns. Brett Hundley played decnt in this one too but the high-powered Oregon Offense was too much for this Bruins defense. Oregon has now moved up to 9 and UCLA has fallen out of the rankings with back-to-back losses.
H) Alabama struggled against the Razorbacks on the road, but came out with the victory 14-13. Arkansas continues to impress especially on the defensive side of the ball, and this Alabama offense is a little concerning now. Blake Sims played another solid game and the Crimson Tide always finds ways to win.
I) Michigan State knocked off Purdue, 45-31. Connor Cook impressed again for Mark D’Antonio’s team, finishing this one with 237 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Spartans are sleepers for the Playoff and need help from other teams ahead of them. Their time will come.
cook
J) East Carolina defeated South Florida on the road 28-17, although they trailed big early on in this one. Georgia Tech was upset at home by Duke, 31-25 and the ACC continues to disappoint, aside from the Seminoles.
K) Notre Dame won a shootout against North Carolina, 50-43. Both teams had huge offensive performances by their quarterbacks. Marquise Williams finished with 3 total touchdowns, including 130 yards rushing and Evert Golson finished with 300 yard and three touchdowns. Both quarterbacks threw one pick, but the Irish found a way to win and have moved into the top 5 thanks to Auburn losing.
golson
As far as the playoff goes, this is all so crazy and unpredictable. The two Mississippi schools still have some tiugh SEC games left, and it might come down to the last game of the season when the Rebels host Mississippi State on November 29. However, Alabama is still a contender and with some help can instantly shoot right back into the conversation. As of today by top 4 have to be the top 4 in rhe rankins. However, I feel the playoff will be this: Florida State, Mississippi State, Baylor, and Notre Dame. This is all depending on next’s week game, as the Irish take on the Seminoles in a huge match up. Golson and the Fighting Irish could be poised for a huge uoset win, but the Seminoles are liking on all cylinders right now. Baylor has some tough Big 12 games and have looked vulnerable, but have also looked unstoppable. And of course one of the Mississippi schools will be here, whether its State or Ole Miss, it has to be one of them, right? The SEC will sort itself out in one way or another, and so will the Playoff.
playoff
Only time will tell.

Playoff Chaos

Around this time last year, Auburn was picking up steam on their way to the national championship game. Their most significant wins by that point were a week one 31-24 victory over a Washington State team that nobody seemed to know much about and a sweep of the two Mississippi schools, who were clearly not having the seasons that they are this year. The loss at LSU kept Auburn out of the AP Top 25. Auburn didn’t receive much attention until they beat Texas A&M. But that didn’t happen until week eight. If this season is anything like last season, that means there is a team outside of the AP Top 25 at the moment that will take one of the top two seeds of the playoffs. The only question is, who will it be?
By the looks of things so far this season, there won’t be too many teams undefeated come December. So obviously any team that runs the table and goes undefeated will be in the playoffs. The SEC West is going to beat up on each other, leaving teams in weaker conferences to come out of the woodwork. TCU, for example, is currently undefeated. With a win at Baylor this weekend, it’s easy to see TCU finishing out the rest of their weak schedule without a loss. The Big 12 will help them out by not having a championship game. It would be hard to advocate putting a one or two loss SEC team in the playoffs over an undefeated Big 12 champion, even with them having played one less game. Another dark horse undefeated team is Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech will have a tougher time going undefeated due to late season matchups with Clemson and Georgia and possibly an ACC Championship game, likely against Florida State. Most outside of downtown Atlanta would agree that an undefeated season is a bit of a stretch for Georgia Tech. But if they were able to pull of the upsets, there would be no doubt that Georgia Tech would be in the playoffs.
Perhaps the easiest path to the playoffs is Florida State’s. They have a weak schedule in a weak conference. But a loss against Notre Dame on October 18th could keep them out and hurl Notre Dame into the discussion. Both teams could easily go undefeated after this matchup. The winner will likely find themselves in the playoffs. Perhaps both will. A loss will surely knock Notre Dame out of the discussion, but a one loss Florida State team still has hope. Notre Dame and Florida State could find themselves playing a rematch in the playoffs. That’s not a matchup many people outside of Tallahassee and South Bend want to see, but it’s a possibility.
Putting Notre Dame in the playoffs would bump another a conference out. There would be two of the major five conferences watching the playoffs from the outside looking in. Many analysts are advocating that two SEC teams should reach the playoffs, and with three of the top five teams being from the SEC West, they have a point. But if that happens along with Notre Dame making their way in, that will mean that three of the major five conferences will be left out. You just thought the Big 10 was complaining now. If the playoffs consisted of two SEC teams, perhaps a rematch, and Florida State and Notre Dame, also a rematch, the college football landscape would breakdown into chaos.
Only time will tell how the season will work itself out. Perhaps there will be four undefeated teams at the end of the season that are the clear choices for the playoffs. Perhaps four teams not currently in contention break out and work their way up the rankings. There’s still a lot of football left to play. Anything can happen. Upsets and shake ups have happened/will happen somewhere along the way. We are about halfway through the season, but it’s only just getting started.

ACC Coastal: Looming Chaos?

The fourth week of the season did little to provide clarity about the pecking order of the ACC Coastal division. If anything, it looks like the coastal crown might turn into a game of “hot potato”.
GT vs. VT. I expected Virginia Tech to win this game in a romp. Georgia Tech came to Lane Stadium undefeated but with a resume of underwhelming performances against an even more underwhelming slate of opponents. The Jackets left Blacksburg with a signature win and the Hokies scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong. Virginia Tech is a team with a lot of talent. How that talent lost to Georgia Tech is a classic example of the old adage that games are played on the field, not on paper. Georgia Tech was tenacious, never gave up, and made big plays when it counted. Virginia Tech on the other hand made silly mistakes that resulted in untimely penalties and followed those up with poor decisions and blown assignments. The harsh reality for Virginia Tech fans is that if Georgia Tech had even a mediocre passing game they would have won this game by more than two touchdowns. Georgia Tech failed to convert two wide-open touchdown passes that the average Pop Warner team completes on a weekly basis.
Virginia Tech has a lot of soul searching to do this week and Frank Beamer has to decide if Michael Brewer is the quarterback to lead this team. There is no question that Brewer has the arm to make every throw in the Hokie playbook. He has shown himself to be a tough quarterback who hustles on every play – as evidenced by his fumble recovery for a go-ahead touchdown this weekend. However Brewer is also a quarterback who makes some terrible decisions and can single handedly keep both teams in the game. Michael Brewer didn’t lose this game for the Hokies, but he made it a heck of a lot easier for the Yellow Jackets to win.
Were I Frank Beamer this week, I would first thank my lucky stars that I have Western Michigan this coming to Blacksburg on Saturday. Second, I would tell Michael Brewer he has the first half to put the Western Michigan game away. I would also tell Mark Leal that he will play the entire second half and has a chance to be the Hokies’ starting QB when they travel to Chapel Hill. I might have similar conversations with the starters across the offensive line as well. With the bright glow of a big win in Columbus fading to flicker, a talented Hokie team finds itself at an unexpected crossroads early in the season.
UNC vs. ECU: I thought the VT/GT game would be the biggest surprise of the weekend. I was wrong. East Carolina thumped UNC 70-41. This game was not close to being close. What struck me about UNC was that their defense never lost its swagger. A defense that gave up 70 points and almost 800 yards to ECU after giving up over 500 yards and 29 points to an unimpressive San Diego St team a week earlier continued to strut and preen as if they were playing shutdown defense instead of giving up an average of over 8 yards a play. On offense, the UNC QB shuffle was a mystery to me. Marquise Williams, while inconsistent to date, has tremendous upside and elite potential. He pressed and made mistakes re-entering the game after watching teammate Mitch Trubisky sputter the offense which did nothing to help the UNC cause.
I recall last year Carolina fans were worried about Larry Fedora and the lure of a big contract from a big-time program. I think the Heels can relax, because Coach Fedora will likely be in Chapel Hill as long as they can stand him.

ECU. Gettin’ it done.

UVa vs. BYU: Virginia already had one moral victory this season. They didn’t need another one. Once again, a quick review of the box score suggests a UVa victory over BYU and once again that suggestion would be wrong. No other team in the country has played 3 ranked teams in their first 4 games. UVa has played well enough to be at worst 3-1. Instead, they are 2-2 and must win their next two games to remain relevant in the ACC coastal and give Mike London a chance to keep his job. The time has come for UVa to turn its improved play into real victories instead of moral victories. ‘Nuff said.
Pitt vs. Iowa: This was a great game with two teams that had to look across the field and think they were looking in the mirror. Pitt and Iowa are not teams that will beat you with overwhelming speed. They are both physical, straight- ahead, smash mouth teams. Running back James Connor and wide Receiver Tyler Boyd are all-ACC talents who had tremendous games on Saturday. Chad Voytik continued to show that he is a very solid QB who can make tough throws under pressure. Unfortunately for Pitt, when a team that looks like it is playing Big10 football encounters an opponent that lives and breathes Big10 football, the imposter usually comes up on the short end of the stick.  Pitt gets a week hone its game against the Akron Zips before a showdown under the lights in Charlottesville.
Miami vs. Nebraska: When Nebraska rushes for over 300 yards, they usually win. Saturday against Miami was no exception. Running the ball is Nebraska football. An inability to stop good running teams is quickly becoming part of Miami football. Miami was unable to stop the Nebraska ground game and squandered an impressive passing performance from freshman QB Brad Kaaya, coming up short against the ‘Huskers in Lincoln. After 4 games, Miami has two wins against overmatched opponents and two losses to very strong opponents. While Miami has an abundance of talent and an excellent head coach in Al Golden, the ‘Canes have yet to put forth an impressive 4 quarters of football 4 weeks into the season.
Duke: Duke played its fourth game in a row against an opponent that had no chance to win.
 
 

The First Three Weeks Part One: Who Sucked?

Three weeks into the 2014 season, we’ve already witnessed some pretty interesting stories. Some teams (and quite possibly, at least one conference) are already eliminated from the playoff picture. I should probably clarify the last sentence: If social media were solely responsible for determining the playoff picture, many teams would be eliminated already. While many are facing an uphill battle, it may be unfair to assume they’ve lost their chance at significant postseason play. I’m really trying to be fair here, but if I were writing with my heart, I would be laughing and saying “Wow. You guys are so screwed.” Either way, don’t let any of this concern you. There’s lots of football still to be played, and even more surprises yet to unfold. For the time being, let’s look at what has happened so far and how these incidents affect the post season for the teams involved.
va-tech-9-3-art-g6lu2pi7-1virginia-tech-beamer-football-jpeg-0784c-jpgFirst, the obvious: Ohio State has done that which is generally perceived as physically impossible for the human species. Don’t make me spell it out; I’m keeping it clean here. Braxton Miller’s untimely injury started a downward spiral that the Buckeyes have yet to correct. They were lucky to beat a pretty good Navy team with backup JT Barrett under center, and some within the fan base started to think that maybe all would be well this season after all.
Week 2 brings Virginia Tech to the Horse Shoe; and with them comes the reality that things are not alright. The Hokies steal a 35-21 victory, thanks to Ohio State’s sloppy play on both sides of the ball. The Buckeyes tumble from a top ten ranking to just outside the top twenty, and most of the country collectively laughs. Luckily, a 66-0 win over Kent State averts the possibility of Urban Meyer suffering another “cardiac event,” at least for the time being.
I’m not really sure what to say about Virginia Tech. After waltzing into the Buckeye’s house and stunning them, they do what the Hokies do best: have a hiccup game in Week 3 and lose to East Carolina. This really shouldn’t be an insult to East Carolina; if my memory hasn’t failed me, the Pirates were 10-3 last season. Unfortunately, Virginia Tech was the favorite in their matchup. Fresh off a win over a popular brand like Ohio State, the Hokies were riding high on adrenaline and obviously looking past the Pirates. I’m guessing they were already looking at their Week 4 conference matchup with Georgia Tech. East Carolina took advantage of their sluggish opponent and led the entire game. After this showing, I moved that the term “Beamer Ball” be replaced with the more fitting “Hangover Ball.” If you think about it, “Beamer Ball” and “Hangover Ball” could be interchangeable. Don’t get mad; it’s true and you know it.
Did you guys know Texas still has a college team in Austin? After Mac Brown “retired,” the Longhorns brought in Charlie Strong. So far, Strong seems to have his priorities mixed up a bit. While Texas is obviously in a rebuilding phase under the new coach, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a head coach use certain words to describe his team; words like “we won’t contend for championships,” “possibly next year, but probably not,” and “we really suck.” Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but the guy probably shouldn’t be allowed near a microphone before boosters have had the chance to review his statements. Speaking to the media doesn’t seem to be one of his stronger suits.
Week 2 saw the end of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry for the foreseeable future. The Irish dominated from start to finish, winning 31-0 and pitching a shutout for the first time in the series. Michigan is still trying to find its identity, while the Irish really look like the same team it was before Everett Golson was suspended. In fact, in my personal opinion, Notre Dame has looked pretty much identical to the 2012 squad that played in the Title Game. The Irish would likely need to be undefeated to earn a spot in the playoff, especially as an independent.
UCLA was supposed to contend in the PAC12 and possibly find its way into the playoff; but as I’m writing this and watching the Bruins play Texas, quarterback Brett Hundley has gone down, and quite possibly, so do UCLA’s hopes for a great season. The Bruins haven’t been as impressive as many expected, and the loss of their Heisman caliber quarterback may prove to kill any momentum they might have been building. Perhaps Jim Mora should call Urban Meyer and learn how to fake one of those “cardiac events.”
While I’m on the subject of PAC12 teams, Oregon seems to be trucking along right on schedule. Many people thought the seemed sluggish against Michigan State, but that was only the first half. This game was textbook Oregon from start to finish. There’s always that tiny chance that the Ducks’ opponent may actually have a chance to keep it close in the early stages. This is how the Spartans looked; and I was roped in too, believing they actually might keep it respectable. Suddenly, they were ahead by a couple scores. Could they really pull this off?  Is it possible? Um, no.  Not a snowball’s chance hell. Sparty got tired and started making mistakes. Oregon capitalized on those mistakes and before you knew it, the Ducks were right back in the game. Then, within the blink of an eye, Oregon was ahead and pulling away.
Teams cannot keep up with the insane pace that Oregon runs every week. From the moment the clock starts running, until the last second ticks off, Oregon is running full speed, wide open, just a blur, whatever cliché you like applies here. The Ducks will have the same kind of season they’ve had for the last few years. That’s not necessarily a compliment, as Oregon usually loses at the worst possible time on their schedule. I see this season being no different. It’s simply a question of which game they choke on. The Ducks’ schedule isn’t overwhelming;  but then I’m sure many people thought last season’s schedule wasn’t very dangerous either….until the blowout. You know the one; it was the one in which Oregon was on the wrong side of the beat down.  I was originally thinking it would be Stanford, but after their game with USC, I’m not so sure.
Stanford started the season strong, and then USC came to town. It was a long, boring game, but the guys in the trenches earned their keep. The Cardinal still has a chance to play in a big game in the post season, but they can’t lose another game.
USC has been impressive, particularly in the first two weeks. They destroyed Fresno State and scratched and clawed their way to a win against Stanford. The problem came in Week 3. After opening the season with a blowout win and  following it up with a win against a conference rival, all I could think while watching this game against Boston College was “who the hell is this?” This USC team was the squad I thought I would see in Week 1. It seems that the PAC12 always tries to throw a curve at you just as you think you understand how the conference plays out.
Do you see a trend yet? Several teams start out strong; and then in the third week, apparently there’s an unwritten rule stating that all hell must break loose. Teams begin to fall apart. Maybe they just haven’t had time to mesh yet. I wouldn’t say that this was “Upset Saturday,” but it did give us some much needed insight on teams projected to compete in the post season. Upset Saturday will likely provide no clarity or insight. You see, Upset Saturday is a single day in college football that was obviously invented by the NCAA after watching too much competitive reality television.

I’ve spent our time together basically bashing your favorite teams and telling you why I think they’ve either stumbled dangerously close to the Emerald Bowl or the Idaho Tater Bowl, or they’ve taken themselves completely out of playoff consideration. You should be glad I’m not responsible for inviting teams to the post season. In my next article, I’ll tell you which teams are getting it right so far. A word of caution: You will definitely see a trend. I make no attempt to hide my loyalties. You’ll either agree with me, or you’ll want to pour sugar in my car’s gas tank. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
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Georgia Tech Accepting Mediocrity

I’ll admit from the start that I wanted Georgia Southern to upset Georgia Tech last saturday, but not because I dislike Tech. No, I wanted Tech to lose because I have been waiting sometime to write this article and a loss to a team in their first year as an FBS team would have been the perfect excuse. Georgia Tech may have squeaked out the win, but I think it was close enough that I feel comfortable making this statement: Georgia Tech has accepted mediocrity for too long and it’s time to move on from Paul Johnson.
I could bore you with a 2 paragraph story about growing up just outside Atlanta and always having a soft spot for the Yellow Jackets, but instead I will just get into the meat of the subject. There is simply no excuse for a Power 5 Conference team centered in the heart of Atlanta to not be considered among the nations elite teams, especially when that Power 5 conference is the weak ACC. With the amount of high school talent produced in the state of Georgia, the Jackets should be winning 10 games every year and at least occasionally be a dark horse National Title contender.
I’m aware Georgia is constantly raided for high school talent by the likes of the Alabamas, Auburns, and Florida States of the world, but there is plenty of talent to go around, and Tech has produced decent NFL talent over the years, the problem is they are not utilized on the field while they are in school. Georgia Tech has produced one first round wide receiver and another early second rounder during Paul Johnson’s run as head coach, but no one had heard of either of them until the draft process began. Imagine Guys like Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill playing in a fast paced offense like Texas A&M or Oregon. Instead their talents were wasted in the outdated triple option of Paul Johnson, a system that maybe throws the football 10 times a game. The triple option may have worked well for Johnson at Navy. They were a team with less than stellar talent that could occasionally beat more talented teams by running a gimmicky offense that is hard to prepare for. But his style of play was never made to last in a power conference every week, and creates virtually no excitement for the elite recruits in the nation and the state of Georgia.
Georgia Tech is a historically great team. They haven’t been in the SEC for 50 years and only have 7 fewer SEC titles than their instate rival Georgia. They have 4 national championships, and are famous for scoring more points in one game than any team in history. They fired Chan Gailey because 44-32 was not good enough, but Paul Johnson has only managed a 50-32 record and yet his seat barely seems warm. I have no answer for why Tech fans seem so ok with mediocrity now.
Perhaps the greatest proof that Georgia Tech has stopped trying to be good is the symbol on the chest of their jerseys. I think we would all agree that the college football jersey hierarchy goes something like this Nike>Under Armour >>>> Adidas>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Russell. I don’t know if Umbro still exists, but I would let them make my college teams jerseys before Russell. Hell I would give FILA a shot before Russell.  No self respecting Power 5 team should allow their teams to wear Russell jerseys. This may seem like a trivial complaint, but in today’s college football style is extremely important to recruits. 18 year olds don’t want to shop at TJ Max; they want Saks Fifth Avenue. Oregon has created a powerhouse in Eugene, Oregon with style, elite facilities, and a flashy offense. Imagine if Georgia Tech went with a similar concept in Atlanta, Georgia. They would be the favorite to win the ACC every year.

Seriously though? Russell?
Seriously though? Russell?

I’m sure no one in Georgia Tech’s athletic department will read this article, but if they do, they should know the opportunity they are wasting. Fire Paul Johnson, bring in a Kliff Kingsbury like coach with a fast paced offense, let Nike make you some new jerseys, and the recruits and wins will start rolling in.
I should be running an athletic department somewhere.