The Confidential’s 2013 Football Preview

For long-time followers of the Confidential, you are familiar with our weekly polls.  This year, we will not begin our poll until after the Week 1 games.  This is something that we would like to see the major polls also do.  Watch some games before deciding 1 to 25.  But what we WILL do is provide our expectations regarding the tiers for the ACC teams (plus Notre Dame and Louisville).

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Do the Tar Heels Have a Height Problem?

Around halfway through the season last year UNC coach Roy Williams realized that his team was at their best when they went small. He plugged shooting guard P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup and played with only one big in James Michael Mcadoo. UNC went on to string off several impressive victories before making a deep run in the ACC tournament.

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NCAA… Getting it Right?

The NCAA will be implementing new rules for college basketball.  While the sporting world awaits refbots, the rule changes will help the games and the officals.  The womens’ game will now be featuring a 10-second backcourt rule, which is fairly self-explanatory.  But there will be several changes to the mens’ game.

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Lacrosse & The Future

By now, we have all heard that Johns Hopkins is going to the Big 10.  Some folks are really happy, such as the Frank the Tank faithful.  As they should be.  As a preface, there should be no illusion that this is a disaster for the ACC.  This is not the conference apocalypse.  There should not be any wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But it is kind of bad news, right?

Here is why.

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Ranking the ACC-B1G Challenge Games

The ACC-B1G Challenge games were announced a few days ago.  After looking to see who your school played, the next thought was probably to check out whether any other games were intriguing.  And there are several.  So let’s just go ahead and rank them for interest.

Gold Medal Games:

1.  North Carolina @ Michigan State.  Tom Izzo v Roy Williams. That’s a lot of Final Four appearances.  MSU always reloads, and North Carolina never stays quiet for long.  This one should be a battle in Breslin.

2.  Michigan @ Duke.  Both teams had good seasons in 2012-2013, with Michigan exceeding expectations by making a run to the title game.  Both have a lot of production to replace.  Will be a great game though.

3.  Indiana @ Syracuse.  A rematch of a March Madness game that went for the Orange.  A lot of new faces in 2013-2014, but a lot of star power will be back and new to both campuses.

4.  Wisconsin @ Virginia.  The first one to 40 wins?  Don’t expect a lot of points in this one.  But this is still a darn good matchup.

Silver Medal Games:

5.  Notre Dame @ Iowa.  Any time ANY Fighting Irish team comes to town, it is a big deal.  A nice regional battle too.

6.  Penn State @ Pittsburgh.  A battle for Pennsylvania.  This one should be close too–Penn State has experience coming back.

7.  Miami @ Nebraska.  The Hurricanes invested in their program by hiring a dynamic coach.  Nebraska is investing in its facilities.  A better game on the gridiron, but one to keep an eye on anyway.

8.  Florida State @ Minnesota.  Both teams fell short of expectations last year.  A lot of new faces.

Bronze Medal Games:

9.  Northwestern @ North Carolina State.  This game might be underrated at #9.  But until the Wildcats make a Big Dance, it is hard to take them seriously on the hardcourt.

10. Illinois @ Georgia Tech.  Still waiting for that Georgia Tech team to turn the corner.  Illinois fans may feel the same way.

11.  Boston College @ Purdue.  Not exactly the old Patriots-Colts battles featuring Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  It is what it is.

12. Maryland @ Ohio State.  Big 10 fans will be rooting for Ohio State.  ACC fans will be rooting for Ohio State.  Not much of a “challenge.”

Participation Ribbons:

Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest are left out of the challenge.  We’ll give them participation ribbons even though they are not, obviously, participating.

ACC & 2014 NFL Draft

After a great 2013 NFL Draft weekend, it is time to start looking ahead to the 2014 NFL Draft.  At least that is the case if you are a draftnik like ESPN’s Todd McShay!  He already has a ranking of the top 32 NFL Draft prospects for 2014. 

There are a handful of guys with ACC ties on this preliminary list.  Obviously, much will change in the next 12 months.  But here are the guys with ACC ties getting love from McShay:

  • #2  Teddy Bridgewater QB  Louisville
  • #7  Louis Nix III  NT  Notre Dame
  • #8  Tajh Boyd  QB Clemson
  • #14  Timmy Jernigan  DT  Florida State
  • #18 Stephon Tuitt  DT  Notre Dame
  • #20 Jeremiah Attauchu WR Georgia Tech
  • #21  Sammy Watkins WR Clemson

So that is 4 guys playing in the ACC and 7 guys with ACC ties.  Not sure what anyone else thinks, but the ACC is claiming Notre Dame effective immediately.  So we will call it 6. 

As always, the  SEC is the dominant conference, with 14 guys on the list.  The Big 2/Little 12….err… B1G has 3–exclusively represented by Michigan and Ohio State.  The Big XII has two.  The Pac-12 actually finishes ahead of the Big XII and B1G with 5 guys on the list. 

What do you think?  Who is McShay leaving out from the ACC?

College Football Playoff

The elite of college football will begin meeting soon to decide many important things, such as the name to give the soon-to-be here college football playoff.  ESPN sources are already revealing the name of this college football playoff.  The college football playoff will be called the College Football Playoff.

Hmmm….

Hopefully, the NCAA did not waste a lot of money to determine that the best way to name the college football playoff would be to simply use capital letters.  Of course, this is the same organization that has the following logos for teams:

Yes… capital letters mean a lot to the NCAA.

There is plenty more on the agenda though:

  • “Other items on the agenda this week include the naming of the first national title game site as well as the six bowls that will make up the semifinal rotation for the next 12 years.”  No word on whether “First National Title Game Site” will be the name for this first site.  We’ll see.
  • “Sources told ESPN the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-fil-A bowls will join the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls in the six-bowl semifinal rotation for college football’s new playoff.”
  • Arlington, Texas, specifically Cowboys Stadium, will be awarded the first national championship game on Jan. 12, 2015.
      Very interesting discussions will be held on determining who makes up the committee to determine which four teams make the playoffs.   If you think selection Sunday is a big deal, when 95% of the teams are beyond dispute, just imagine the furor that will be caused in determining which 4 of several possible candidates will make the playoffs.  There will be 1-loss teams excluded.  Yikes.  Witness protection program might be in order.

Speaking of the witness protection program… here is an amusing clip to finish the article, a favorite of the Confidential:

ACC Players & The NFL Draft

The much-maligned ACC football prowess is somewhat fair when it comes to BCS bowl performance.  But the ACC continues to deliver players to the NFL as if it were a top football conference.  The 2013 NFL Draft will have plenty of ACC football players being taken.  Just take a look at the ESPN projections.

First, let’s review the Todd McShay projections.  For the first round, he has the following ACC players being drafted:

  • Jonathan Cooper, guard, North Carolina: #11 to the San Diego Chargers
  • Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State: #12 to the Miami Dolphins
  • Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle, North Carolina: #25 to the Minnesota Vikings
  • Menelik Watson, offensive tackle, Florida State: #27 to the Houston Texans
  • Bjoern Werner, defensive end, Florida State: #28 to the Denver Broncos

And this is not even counting the future of the ACC, such as Notre Dame products Tyler Eifert and Manti Te’o, and Syracuse’s Justin Pugh.

Mel Kiper’s two-round projections are a bit less ACC-friendly:

  • Cooper, #8 to the Buffalo Bills
  • Williams, #18 to the Dallas Cowboys
  • Rhodes, #24 to the Indianapolis Colts

Kiper does have Eifert and Te’o in the first round as well.

But Kiper’s second round is full of ACC products, including Watson (#35 to the Philadelphia Eagles); Werner (#36 to the Detroit Lions); Syracuse’s Shmarko Thomas (#37 to the Cincinnati Bengals); Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib (#41 to the Buffalo Bills); Florida State’s Tank Carradine (#42 to the Miami Dolphins);  and Pugh (#47 to the Dallas Cowboys).

The interesting thing is that these lists include representatives of just four teams: Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Notre Dame.  While Florida State and Notre Dame producing NFL talent is not a surprise, North Carolina and especially Syracuse are a bit surprising.  And we are not talking just one player here–North Carolina will have two players selected in the first round, while Syracuse may have three players selected in the first three rounds.

Not bad for a couple of basketball schools….

 

Clemson Tigers Spring Football News

Fans of the Clemson Tigers expect a lot out of the program.  And head coach Dabo Swinney has been delivering.  The forecast for the 2013 season is most promising also.

Unfortunately, the spring football game brought some bad news in the form of a quarterback injury.  Relax, Clemson fans–it was not Tajh Boyd, who was prophetically held out of the game.  Instead, the injury was to Chad Kelly, who was competing with Cole Stoudt, among others, for the backup quarterback slot.  He suffered an ACL injury, which will likely cost him the 2013 season.  But Swinney is not ruling out a return late in the season just yet:

He had a great start [6-of-7 passing, plus 14 yards rushing and a touchdown pass to Charone Peake] on the first drive. He is going to work hard and come back. It is in his DNA. I heard Jim Kelly [Chad’s uncle] speak recently and he was told his arm was through because of injury. But he came back and ended in the Hall of Fame.

He will overcome it and come back. He could help us late this coming season. Look what Adrian Peterson did for the Minnesota Vikings this year after suffering a torn ACL.

Fans have to be a little bit concerned about the offensive fireworks the backup quarterbacks delivered in the spring scrimmage, as the Orange team defeated the White team, 34-26.  While it is good to see the offenses moving the ball, even without Boyd, an intrasquad game means that those offenses were moving the ball against the Clemson defenses!

But it is Spring, so the emphasis has to be on the positive.  Stoudt, who will be a junior, threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns.  And, according to SB Nation, he did all that in just one half.  And all four touchdown passes were more than 40 yards.  It is not surprise that he was able to connect to Heisman Trophy candidate Sammy Watkins for two of those touchdowns, but remember these names also: Stanton Seckinger (caught a 75-yard bomb); Adam Humphries (caught a 51-yard touchdown); Martavis Bryant (seven receptions for 100 yards); and Tight End Jordan Leggett (50 yard touchdown reception).  The Tigers are simply loaded offensively.

Editor’s Note:  We are still looking for someone to be the Clemson correspondent for The Confidential.  See here for more information.  A good opportunity for a Clemson fan to keep fellow Tigers on top of news, while also letting fans of other ACC schools get a glimpse of what’s going on. 

Florida State Seminole Spring Football News

The Florida State Seminoles kicked off the 2013 football season on Saturday with its annual Spring Scrimmage.  And the news was all about Jameis Winston.

ESPN was essentially gushing over Winston, the favorite to be the Seminoles quarterback this fall.  Consider these quotes:

Jameis Winston had already reached cult status before he arrived at Florida State, but for the past year, the legend has been glimpsed only from afar, burnished by tall tales from secondhand sources and, of course, the occasional YouTube video of the highly touted quarterback chucking footballs over fraternity houses.

But Saturday’s spring game at Florida State was different. The legend took the stage in front of fans for the first time, and Winston didn’t disappoint.

On his first play from scrimmage — just a few seconds into the second quarter — Winston found walk-on receiver David Tyrell for a 58-yard touchdown pass, the first of three scoring drives he’d lead the No. 1 offense on in the game. It was a show-stopping debut on the big stage and also an emphatic exclamation point on a spring that vaunted the redshirt freshman to the forefront of FSU’s quarterback competition.

Yes, Florida State fans, you’ve got yourselves the quarterback for the future in Winston

This is not to say that the defense was unremarkable.  Although the Seminoles were not giving the opposition anything useful to scout, and were not showcasing blitz packages, the defense still looked pretty good.

And, if you think about it, this is a transition season for the Seminoles.  Just take a look at all the coaches who left for promotions in the offseason, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel:

Mark Stoops, former defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach.  New job: Head coach at Kentucky

D.J. Eliot, defensive ends coach.  New job: Defensive coordinator at Kentucky

Eddie Gran, running backs/special teams coordinator.   New job: Offensive coordinator at Cincinnati

Greg Hudson, linebackers coach.  New job: Defensive coordinator at PurdueDameyune Craig, quarterbacks coach.   New job: Co-offensive coordinator/receivers at Auburn

James Coley, offensive coordinator/tight ends.  New job: Offensive coordinator at Miami

That’s a lot of coaches walking out the door.  So the new coaches at Florida State are just getting to know each other.  Most importantly, one has to think that there will be a lot of new wrinkles.  It will not be the same old, same old for Florida State.  For Seminoles fans, the hope is that the new blood will build off of last year’s return to the top.

Editor’s Note:  We are still looking for someone to be the Florida State correspondent for The Confidential.  See here for more information.  A good opportunity for a Florida State fan to keep the Seminoles on top of news, while also letting fans of other ACC schools get a glimpse of what’s going on.