Welcome to the ACC Roundtable of the ACC Correspondents! As is and will be the plan for the remainder of the football season, some of the Confidential correspondents will discuss the Week that was (week 1) and the Week that will be (Week 2) for the ACC and their respective schools.
Q1: What stands out about your school’s performance last week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): The emergence of Ryan Finley was the big story of Week 1. The biggest question mark State had was at QB. The coaching staff wouldn’t name a starter, and made it clear that the battle would be decided on the field. I don’t know if it’s been announced yet, but Finley has to get the nod after his performance last week. He went 17-21 with 174 yards and 2 TD’s. Contrast that with Jalen McClendon’s 6-9, 88 yd and an interception, Finley seems to have ended the debate.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): The fact that Syracuse was able to play so fast in their first game under Dino Babers. Although he claimed it was slow, it was fast enough for Bobby Petrino to make comments that drew the ire of numerous Syracuse blogs. See e.g. here
. Look, Syracuse offense has been an “issue” for most of the post-Pasqualoni era. Under Greg Robinson, getting first downs was exciting. The latter part of the Doug Marrone era was a pro-style offense that moved the ball decently, but there were other times when wins came by defense. Scott Shafer’s offenses had some moments, but also had some not so great moments, but remained a defense-first program. The idea of having an offensive-first philosophy has not been the case in a long, long time. That it also happens to be fast paced and tailored to the Carrier Dome is exciting. That it worked pretty well against Colgate stood out.
Q2: What are you looking to see out of your school this week?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Wolfpack fans have made it clear that the team needs to leave Greenville with a win. There doesn’t seem to be any expectations in terms of stats, all that will matter is what is on the scoreboard. It’s the risk you take playing these kinds of games. A win over ECU won’t make many headlines, but a loss certainly would.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Well, the offense looked good (not great) against Colgate. How will it look against bigger, stronger, faster, smarter athletes? A few Dungey passes were just missed by Colgate defenders. Against Louisville, that will be a Pick Six. A few other passes were caught because of superior athleticism. That will not happen in any other game. So… how good will Syracuse’s offense be against a very good opponent? We’ll be looking at that very closely.
Q3: Did any other ACC team impress you this week? If so, who and why?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): I was pleasantly surprised with how well Florida State played, especially after trailing by so much. They seem to have solved their QB problem as well with Francois, and the defense played on another level in the second half. I still think NC State will win that one in Raleigh, but they looked very impressive in that second half.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Miami. I do not care who the opponent is, when you put up points like that, you are doing something right. And, for Miami, it is all the more important that they get some swagger back. If the conference is going to be FSU, Clemson, and a diminutive dozen, so be it. But Miami being an elite program would be good for the ACC by both restoring balance to the divisions and making the conference look better to outsiders. Miami has had good moments in the past, to be sure. The issue is whether Richt will carry it through week after week. We will see.
Q4: As of the season to date, who are you projecting in the college football playoff?
Harrison Huntley (NC State): Alabama, Clemson/FSU, Michigan/Ohio State, Houston.
Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oregon. Florida State, Michigan, and Houston are all in the hunt obviously. But Houston was upset by UConn last year–there is little room for error this year. If it comes down to 1-loss teams from major conferences–unless Houston’s only loss is to a Louisville team that is also in the playoffs, it is hard to see Houston making it in. Florida State and Michigan would be excluded based on head-to-head results.
What do you think? How would you answer these questions?