ACC Recruiting Recap

With another football letter of intent signing day passing by yesterday, the analysis begins.  The major outlets take their subjective weight given to players and look at how those players accumulated at schools.  If there was ever an example of “garbage-in, garbage-out,” it would be this task.  Nevertheless, throwing out all the subjectives, there is certainly some sort of correlation between “good recruiting classes” and results (except at Texas and Miami).  So here is what folks think of the 2016 football recruiting classes.

RIVALS

Here is the overall top ten listed at Rivals.  As you can see, Florida State and Clemson crack the top 25.

Rank School Total 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars Avg Points
1 24 5 10 9 3.83 2885
2 25 1 18 4 3.72 2816
3 24 2 15 7 3.79 2704
4 28 1 15 12 3.61 2603
5 22 3 10 6 3.59 2530
6 23 0 15 6 3.57 2515
7 24 2 10 12 3.58 2507
8 20 2 11 7 3.75 2429
9 21 2 11 6 3.62 2403
10 20 3 10 6 3.75 2387

As for all the ACC schools:

  • #2  Florida State-twitter seems to suggest a disappointment that this is not deemed the #1 class.  But the Seminoles would certainly prefer a national title over a recruiting rankings title.
  • #5 Clemson–in-state rival South Carolina was way down at #26.
  • #12 Notre Dame–between UCLA, Texas, and Florida makes sense.  Behind Mississippi does not.  And rival USC is a few spots up at #8, while Stanford is a few spots down at #18.
  • #22 Miami–Miami has never had trouble getting talent and this is a decent class for Mark Richt in just a few weeks.
  • #24 North Carolina–ahead of historical blue blood Nebraska, neighbor South Carolina, and current elite school Oregon.  Good things happening in Chapel Hill.
  • #30 Pittsburgh–Pitt has had good recruiting classes year after year–the benefit of being located in Pennsylvania, adjacted to Ohio, and next to both New Jersey and the D.C. Corridor.
  • #31 Duke–we are used to top classes in hoops, but the Blue Devils on-field success is translating into better football recruiting classes, including a class better than football stalwarts Wisconsin and Arkansas… and a top half class within the ACC.
  • #37 Louisville–a decent class, but Cards fans cannot like seeing Kentucky up at #28.  There is an SEC bias, to be sure, but who would have expected that?  Still, #3 in the Atlantic.
  • #43 NC State–squarely in the middle of the Atlantic at #4.  Ahead of Wake Forest, but behind Duke and UNC.  Ahead of Syracuse in the division, but behind Louisville.  Not good, not bad.
  • #49 Virginia Tech–as a ranking, this must be disappointing.  Houston, Northwestern, and Brigham Young should generally not out-recruit the Hokies.  Chalk it up to a new coach.
  • #57 Syracuse–being behind Washington State, Iowa State, and Indiana is ordinarily disappointing, but new coach Dino Babers worked some magic to get Syracuse above four other ACC schools in just a few weeks.
  • #62 Virginia–former coach Mike London was a good recruiter, and the coaching switch seemed to cost Virignia slightly.  Not much of a new coach bounce.  UCF, Temple, Vanderbilt, and Colorado State were among the schools to have better ranked classes.
  • #63 Wake Forest–hey, anytime the Demon Deacons avoid the basement, it is a good thing.
  • #68 Georgia Tech–having only 18 recruits hurts, but should Georgia Tech EVER be below Western Michigan in recruiting?  They do recruit for a system, though, and the system players usually suffer in the rankings.
  • #82 Boston College–sigh.  Only Kansas has a worse recruiting class among P5 schools.  Miami of Ohio has a better class.  But better than neighbors UConn and UMass.  And similar classes did not prevent BC from having a great defense.

What do you think?  Are you happy with your school’s class? Disappointed?  Dispute these RIVALS rankings?  Let us know.

2016 ACC Football: Games of the Week

The ACC released the football schedules for all schools earlier this week.  By now, fans have had their first thoughts on how positive and negative the specific schedule will be.  From an ACC fan perspective, the schedule analysis is broader–for example, what is the “must see” game of the week.  Here is the Confidential’s early prediction on what will be the games to watch each week:

  1. Week 1… with all due respect to Florida State and UNC, who are coming off great 2015 seasons, it was Clemson that carried the ACC in 2015 and the Tigers open Week 1 against Auburn.  If they can pull of that road win against a tough SEC foe, it will be a good omen.
  2. Week 2… with apologies to Virginia Tech and Syracuse/Louisville… Pitt hosting Penn State gets the nod.  These two Pennsylvania rivals have not faced each other often of late, but it will be ACC vs Big 10 in week 2.
  3. Week 3… no real contest here… if Louisville and Florida State are both 2-0 at this point, it will be all the more important to the Atlantic/ACC race.  And if either school has lost heading into this one, there could be desperation.
  4. Week 4… Duke vs. Notre Dame has historically been more interesting in basketball, but these are different times and the Blue Devils are quite competent.  They will give the Fighting Irish something to think about.
  5. Week 5…  a fair amount of good conference games, but the slight edge goes to Clemson-Louisville.  If Clemson is a top ranked team, the Cardinals will either be rolling or desperate.
  6. Week 6… Florida State traveling to Miami should be interesting.  Miami under a new coaching staff needs to start taking advantage of its talent.  An upset win over FSU would be a big momentum boost.
  7. Week 7… Virginia Tech and Syracuse used to play annually in the Big East.  While Frank Beamer coached all of those games for the Hokies, these two former rivals play as ACC foes in 2016, in the Dome, with Syracuse under a new coaching staff as well.
  8. Week 8… Speaking of new coaching staffs, Virginia has one as well.  In Week 8, rival North Carolina will come to Charlottesville.  Keep an eye on this one.
  9. Week 9… The biggest ACC game of the year in recent years has not been the conference championship game, but Clemson-FSU.  This year, Clemson will travel to Florida State.  Circle this one on your calendar for sure.
  10. Week 10… a difficult week to know which game will be the most important.  Will Clemson have looked past Syracuse in a post-FSU matchup?  Florida State has struggled at NC State recently.  Pitt-Miami is a Coastal clash, as is Georgia Tech-North Carolina.
  11. Week 11… with apologies to Duke-UNC, the Confidential ponders whether Pitt traveling to Clemson may feature the top teams in each division.
  12. Week 12… while many teams are slowing down to prepare for ACC/SEC rivalry games, a Northeast rivalry between BC and UConn will resume.  This game may feature less than 10 total points, but both schools detest each other.  Tune in.
  13. Week 13… of all the rivalry games, chances are that Florida State/Florida will be the best combination of high ranked teams and great teams.  South Carolina should struggle this year.

What do you think?  How do you rank the games of the week for each week?  Let us know.

Syracuse & Zack Mahoney

It is amazing that Syracuse fans are so quick to turn on Zack Mahoney and conclude that he is incapable of playing QB for Syracuse.  On what basis can any Syracuse fan make that statement?

Mahoney’s first game experience came against Central Michigan, where Mahoney ultimately led Syracuse to the overtime win in his first game action.  While offensive coordinator Tim Lester showed little confidence in him in regulation, overtime went well for the Orange–resulting in a victory.  In his next outing, all Mahoney did was overcome a terrible start to keep Syracuse competitive against then-#2 Louisiana State.  In his next outing, Mahoney kept Syracuse competitive against #1 Clemson.  While the passing was not good, Mahoney’s legs kept Syracuse close.

Between the LSU and Clemson games, Eric Dungey was given five games at QB for Syracuse.  Syracuse lost all five games–South Florida, Virginia, Pitt, Florida State, and Louisville.  All good opponents, but certainly not LSU or Clemson.

In the final two games, Mahoney and the Orange were defeated soundly by North Carolina State on the road, which ultimately was the end of the Scott Shafer era.  However, in the final game under Shafer, Mahoney led the Orange to the win.

The numbers are Mahoney on the season are not great.  Dungey completed 59.7% of his passes, while Mahoney only completed 46.2%.  However, Mahoney was 24 for 59 against LSU and Clemson, Syracuse’s two toughest opponents.  This certainly helped drag down Mahoney’s numbers.  Also, Mahoney did not play against Rhode Island or Wake Forest, and was only allowed to attempt 4 passes against Central Michigan (all 4 of which were completed).  Three of Dungey’s four best QB rating games were against Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and Central Michigan.  Dungey’s two worst games were at Florida State and Louisville.  Good opponents make QBs look worse than bad opponents.

None of this is to suggest that Mahoney deserves to start over Dungey.   Dungey certainly throws a better deep ball and has that certain intangible quality that you look at in a QB.  The mobility is a huge plus.  But the idea that Mahoney cannot be a 2nd or 3rd string QB on Syracuse moving forward is a bit absurd.  Not many QBs in Syracuse history have kept the Orange competitive against top 5 opponents–even in the Dome.  Mahoney did.  In his first year for Syracuse, without a ton of reps before the season due to his depth chart status.  Let’s not give up on the kid just yet.

 

ACC Bowl Projections

With the exception of two schools, ACC play is behind us. But that’s not a bad thing because nine of the teams (and Notre Dame) will be playing in a bowl game. So with that, let’s talk some bowl projections.

CFB Playoff – Clemson vs Iowa

The only team with a shot at the playoffs needs a win in the championship game to keep their spot. They struggled against their rival, South Carolina, but that won’t keep them out of the playoffs as long as they’re undefeated. They’ll likely be the 1 seed, so they’ll get whoever the playoff committee deems least deserving. For now, let’s say Iowa assuming they win a close one against Michigan State.

Peach Bowl – UNC vs Notre Dame

The loser of the ACC championship presumably gets this spot, but not always. Florida State could jump to this spot, but the recent polls show UNC over FSU, so that’s not likely. On the other side, the Peach bowl opponent could come from a number of conferences, but Notre Dame also has a tie-in. I’m sure the committee would love to have Notre Dame face off against another solid ACC team for the storyline itself.

Russel Athletic – Florida State vs TCU

This is too easy. A Florida team playing in Florida; they’re literally the only choice if they fall this far. A New Year’s Six selection isn’t out of the question, but you have to think the folks in Orlando would love to have FSU in this one. They get the third or fourth pick from the Big 12, so TCU seems like the logical choice here with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and maybe Baylor being ahead of them.

Music City – Louisville vs Georgia

The Cardinals are a natural fit for this bowl. They make sense geographically, and they’re in an SEC state so they fit in well with the bowl tie-in. They could face any number of SEC teams, but let’s pencil in Georgia for the sake of geography.

Belk – Virginia Tech vs Texas A&M

Many sources indicate that the folks in Charlotte want Virginia Tech really bad. It’ll be Beamer’s last game, and they know that means big revenue. Blacksburg isn’t too far away and Hokie fans will travel. This is another SEC tie-in that could go to any number of teams. If Georgia is in Nashville, I think Texas A&M makes sense here being another fanbase that would travel and be nationally recognized.

Sun – Miami vs Washington State

This tends to be the game no one wants, since it’s so outside of the ACC’s geographical footprint. The conference usually sends a nationally recognized program so that they can attract an audience even when their fanbase can’t make the trip. Miami fits the bill with the added bonus that they may already have a new coach. On the other side, the PAC-12 usually does the same in terms of selections, but I think Washington State is the pick here mostly because they’ll be the last 8-4 team chosen, and other teams like Arizona State can’t jump them.

Pinstripe – Pittsburgh vs Indiana

As much as the committee would love a Pitt/Penn State game, the Big 10 simply doesn’t have enough bowl eligible teams to make that happen. Pittsburgh is the the northern most ACC team that’s bowl eligible, so they’ll be the logical choice (unless Duke’s New York fanbase is taken into account). With an almost guaranteed playoff team along with possibly 1 or 2 New Year’s Six selections, the Big 10 certainly won’t be able to fill all their affiliations. Penn State will likely be pulled up to the Tier 1 bowls, leaving only Indiana in the tier 2 meaning they could go to any of those bowls. It’s entirely possible Pitt ends up playing a team from some other conference.

Military – NC State vs Navy

If Virginia Tech isn’t picked up by the Belk bowl, they obviously go here. With the assumption of them in Charlotte, NC State would be an easy pick for the Military. Raleigh isn’t too far from DC, and the fanbase travels well as a whole. Navy is all but guaranteed for this bowl unless a they get taken as a at-large by a bigger bowl. This would literally be a home game for Navy which would mean an almost sell-out crowd.

Independence/Quick Lane – Duke

Tack on the ACC to the list of conferences not able to fill all their bowl slots. The third tier of bowls includes these two, but there’s just one team left. If Notre Dame isn’t in a New Year’s Six, you could drop one of the second tier teams, but it’s tough to see them not in a NY 6 bowl. Duke is the last team left, and will probably fall to one of these last two because of how they finished.


Where will your team be playing in the post season? Post your projections below

Roundtable of the Confidential’s ACC Correspondents: Week 12/13

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (Week 12) and the Week that will be (Week 13) for the ACC and their respective schools.  Tell us what you think below.

1. What was most notable about your school’s performance in Week 12?

  • HHuntley (NC State): State put together an adequate performance this weekend. Not great, but not bad.
  • Kevin (Louisville): Most notable for UofL was holding PITT to only 3 second half points after helplessly coughing up 35 in the first half.
  • Alwin (North Carolina): The resiliency and clutch performance in OT, even though it was brought on by not taking care of the ball. Oh, and the defense seemingly carried the offense until the end there. That was new. 
  • Lenville (Louisville): The Cards experienced a complete breakdown in the 2nd quarter at Pittsburgh. That was easily the ugliest quarter that I ever remember them playing as the Panthers were overwhelmingly dominant, putting 35 points on the scoreboard. The Cards needed a QB change & a 49 yard TD bomb to pull back within 42-24 at the half.
  • Commander/ACaffrey (Syracuse): In a game that could have saved his job, Scott Shafer continued to be unduly risk averse, choosing a FG rather than going for the score on 4th and goal from the 1.  Later, down 21-3, he would go for a two-point conversion.  Not to be a hypocrite, but you have to know your football situation.  Why eschew an easy 1 point to take an offensive play from the 3 yard line (net possible gain of 1 point), when you did not try to get extra points on an offensive play from the 1 yard line (net possible gain of 4).  Plus, even if you fail on the 4th and 1, the other team STILL has to start from the line of scrimmage.  Instead, he again showed that he lacked confidence in his offense to score from the 1 and in his defense to take advantage of an opponent starting at the 1.  And in the end, the A.D. and fans lacked confidence in Shafer (who was fired).

2. What are you looking to see out of your school in Week 13?
  • HHuntley (NC State): This is the big one. A chance to spoil a nearly spotless season for the rival…doesn’t get much better than this. It would be typical NC State to win this game when it makes no sense at all.
  • Kevin (Louisville): This week I need to see a UofL team that can avoid long mental lapses and an offensive line that can create some resemblance of an average running game. Last, I want to see defensive backs who can prove they can actually tackle in space as they will get opportunities against Boom Williams and JoJo Kemp.
  • Alwin (North Carolina): I’m really looking for a complete effort in enemy territory. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be insane, and it’s going to be intense. We need to play our best game of the season Saturday for many reasons. 
  • Lenville (Louisville): Good effort & focus from start to finish. It’s the last game of the regular season & the Cards are still looking for a QB to step up & claim the position of full time starter. To prevent our in state rival from getting to 6 wins & bowl eligibility for the second straight year.
  • Commander/ACaffrey (Syracuse): As bad a head coach as Shafer turned out to be, he was still a very good defensive coordinator and helped bring Syracuse back to respectability.  He is also, by all accounts, a good man.  I hope that he has a nice send off at the Dome this week with a supportive crowd and a victory.

3. Who impressed you the most in the ACC in Week 12?

  • HHuntley (NC State): Boston College sure gave Notre Dame a scare. That’s the second time this season they’ve done this. If they were bowl eligible, they’d be scary.
  • Kevin (Louisville): I was most impressed this week by North Carolina. They held off a very stingy VA Tech team in their house who had nothing to lose and looking for an upset.
  • Alwin (North Carolina): Virginia Tech. I know that may be biased considering they pushed us to the brink in the beginning of the game it looked as if the emotion had been spent sending Coach Beamer off, but they never gave up. 
  • Lenville (Louisville):Pitts 2nd quarter performance against the Cardinals. The secondary was no match for Boyd & they took full advantage of it. The Cards were able to make some halftime adjustments & were able to make a comeback just to come up short.
  • Commander (Syracuse): Miami keeps on winning.  Is there any chance that their interim coach gets retained by the new staff?  Recall that Urban Meyer kept Luke Fickell at Ohio State.  It would not be unprecedented.

4. If the playoffs started today, who would you vote in?  Who do you think will be there at season’s end?
  • HHuntley (NC State): Clemson, Alabama, B1G champion, and Big 12 champion. Sorry Notre Dame, but getting a week off is going to cost you.
  • Kevin (Louisville):I think the following will be in……Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.
  • Alwin (North Carolina): Clemson, Alabama, Iowa, and Oklahoma (for now)
  • Lenville (Louisville):Today I would have 1 Clemson, 2 Alabama, 3 Iowa & 4 Notre Dame. My prediction for the final rankings are 1 Clemson, 2 Alabama, 3 Oklahoma & 4 Michigan State. Notre Dame could still be a factor in the final poll with a victory over Stanford.
  • Commander (Syracuse): Season ends today & season’s end: 1. Clemson, 2. Alabama, 3. Notre Dame; 4. Iowa.  By season’s end: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson, 3. B1G Champion; 4. Notre Dame.  If so, the Big XII would be left out again.  Maybe time to go to 12 teams???

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 10/11

Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents!  As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (Week 19) and the Week that will be (Week 11) for the ACC and their respective schools.  Tell us what you think below.

1. What was most notable about your school’s performance in Week 10?

  • HHuntley (NC State): This was really an encouraging win. It was the first game without either of the top 2 running backs, and the running game survived. Defense rebounded nicely from the week before.11
  • Lenville (Louisville): The Cards turned in their first complete game & got above .500 for the first time this season. The offense racked over 500 yards through the air & on the ground while the defense held Syracuse to 17 points. The Cards opponents have now committed over 50 turnovers in the last 22 games.
  • Commander/ACaffrey (Syracuse): That the Syracuse defense continues to be unable to do ANYTHING well.  It is like a chess game between a grand master and a novice.  Another QB coming off the bench to have a career day. 

2. What are you looking to see out of your school in Week 11?
  • HHuntley (NC State): Oh boy, not really for this one. NC State hasn’t had great luck playing in Tallahassee recently, and FSU is going to be coming off a tough loss against Clemson. I guess I’m looking to keep it close…
  • Lenville (Louisville): Will Bolin remain as the starter at quarterback & can the Cards put together another complete game. The Cardinals lost at Virginia last season & will look to get their first victory against their cross division rival to become bowl eligible.
  • Commander/ACaffrey (Syracuse): This week’s game will have little to do with Scott Shafer’s tenure.   If he wins the last two games, he will likely be back in 2016.  However, will the team respond with the type of performance that they had against LSU?   Will Shafer play to win, rather than his usual “play not to lose”?  I thought he turned the corner with the LSU game and had finally realized this.  Instead, he has regressed miserably.  If the game is still a game after halftime, that will be a baby step.

3. Who impressed you the most in the ACC in Week 10?

  • HHuntley (NC State): UNC looked better than ever in a dominant win over Duke. Does this say more about UNC or Duke? I’m temped to say it’s how good UNC can be, but both teams have had a rollercoaster of a year.
  • Lenville (Louisville): North Carolina is looking good & put together another dominant performance. FSU also gave Clemson a better game than what I was expecting.
  • Commander (Syracuse): How about Miami getting to bowl eligibility?  The ACC could benefit with UNC beating Miami this week, but Miami could win out and have a 10-3 season with a bowl victory.  The loss to Cincinnati stings more than the loss to Clemson.  That is the type of game that Miami HAS TO win 100% of the time.  In any event, if Miami can finish by winning 2 of its last 3, that would make it an 8-4 team heading into the bowls.

4. If the playoffs started today, who would you vote in?  Who do you think will be there at season’s end?
  • HHuntley (NC State): Chaos reigned supreme this week atop the polls, so my vote right now would be: Clemson, Ohio State, the Big 12 winner, and Notre Dame. I would choose Notre Dame over Alabama because Notre Dame has a better loss right now than Alabama.
  • Lenville (Louisville): 1 Clemson 2 Ohio St 3 Alabama 4 Oklahoma St. The Buckeyes have a chance to jump Clemson for the top spot with Michigan St & other quality opponents coming up on their schedule, including a possibly undefeated Iowa team in the B1G championship game. Oklahoma St should be in after their dominating performance against TCU. Alabama is looking like the best team in the country since their loss but they shouldn’t be any higher than #3, they have quality wins that other undefeated teams just don’t have. I would put Notre Dame, Baylor & Stanford as the next three.
  • Commander (Syracuse): Season ends today & season’s end: 1. Clemson, 2. Ohio State, 3. LSU, and 4. Baylor.   Alabama, Notre Dame, and Stanford are all in mix obviously.

What do you think?  How would you answer these questions?

NC State Give Clemson a Scare on Halloween

Fans of NC State know the recipe all too well: a lackluster NC State team hosts a nationally ranked team at home and somehow pulls off the upset. It’s happened plenty of times before, and it almost happened on Saturday, but the wheels fell off and Clemson escaped with the win.

Game Recap

This game started off at breakneck pace with four scores in the first four drives. What’s more, each team had an extra point blocked and the score was 13-13. The first drive without a score came when Brissett fumbled on a sack. Clemson was held to a field goal in a nice goal line stand by the Wolfpack. NC State was forced to punt on the next drive, but again were kept to a field goal. It looked like the game was getting away, but a risky play gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 lead. On a 3rd and 1, Brissett found Samuels on the pass for a 40yd touchdown.

Samuels

After finally getting a stop on defense, the team looked to improve on their lead. The Wolfpack marched all the way down the field, but missed a field goal. Flashes of the Troy game came back to fans as Clemson threw a hail mary and scored just seconds before the half, giving Clemson a 26-20 lead. While in the locker room, it was announced that Matt Dayes would not return for the second half.

Each team came out of the half and scored pretty quickly. Clemson scored again, and again, and again. The NC State defense fell apart in the second half, and could never slow down Clemson’s offense enough. The absence of Dayes really hurt as the Wolfpack’s running game fell flat. Clemson’s offense exploded for 30 points in the second half, while NC State was left with just 21.

Clemson

Takeaways

Wolfpack fans complaining about this loss need to take a step back. Clemson is one of about a dozen teams still undefeated and for good reason. They are a solid team and have a very legitimate shot at a national title. The fact that NC State hung 41 points on them is a big deal and shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially since Miami was shut out a week ago.

Dayes

The defense was unimpressive, which is interesting because they’ve been a strong point all season. Again, I’m willing to attribute some of this to Clemson being one of the best offenses in the nation. Still, some of these two play drives looked really bad. Hopefully the defense can turn it around next week when they go to one of the ACC’s worst offenses, Boston College

Clemson

GIF Reaction

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It was a good effort and perhaps with Matt Dayes playing the whole game, this would be a different story. Either way, you can’t be mad about this loss, but you can’t be very happy about it either.