The Confidential

An A.C.C. Blog With a Christian, Socially Conservative Perspective

Archive for the tag “Football”

ACC Football Rankings: Week 5

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for week 5:

  1. Louisville 4-0. The Cardinals are averaging 63 points per game.  That makes the 58 points against Marshall a disappointment.  And it is odd that Marshall scored more points against Louisville than Florida State.  But all eyes–including GameDay–turn to Death Valley where Louisville faces its toughest test of the regular season (well, maybe it will be @ Houston).  If Louisville can get by this one, look out.  But Clemson has the offense and defense to keep up with Louisville, and home field should be an advantage.
  2. Clemson 4-0.  While Louisville has looked impressive racking up its 4 wins, Clemson has not.  The nice win over Georgia Tech is another step in the right direction.  Louisville coming to town will be Clemson’s biggest challenge to date as Lamar Jackson is every bit the QB that Watson is.  The Heisman hype has shifted from Watson to Jackson too.  This should be a great game.
  3. Florida State 3-1.  Florida State’s offense put up 55 points on a decent South Florida defense.  But the defense is allowing a lot of points.  With North Carolina coming to town, things need to get righted pretty quick.  The playoff picture may be bleak for the Seminoles, but a prime bowl is still in the mix.
  4. Miami 3-0.  Miami got a week off… giving them two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech’s unique offense.  That is a nice advantage.  This is the type of game Miami has lost during the past decade.  They are only cautiously slotted at #4.
  5. Wake Forest 4-0.  The Confidential told you that the Demon Deacons had the potential for 9 wins.  And they are already almost halfway there.  NC State is a big rivalry game, and it is on the road (again).  If they can win this one, a bowl is almost a certainty.
  6. Virginia Tech 3-1. This was a tough one.  Both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech lost to highly ranked teams, with Clemson being a better team than Tennessee.  Both teams beat Boston College, Virginia Tech very handily.  But the Hokies are really starting to put up some offensive and defensive numbers… cannot ignore that.  East Carolina has been a thorn, but was quickly weeded and dispatched.  
  7. Georgia Tech 3-1.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-1, with only a loss to Clemson… no shame in that.  If the Yellow Jackets can beat Miami, they will rise substantially.
  8. North Carolina 3-1. The Tar Heels have three straight wins, as 2016 is setting up just like 2015–a disappointing loss to an SEC team that fades into obscurity and then a lot of wins.  But this year, Florida State is on the schedule.  And a trip to the Seminoles will show whether North Carolina is going to have a season similar to last year.
  9. Pittsburgh 2-2.  The Panthers have now lost two straight… albeit to decent teams.  Penn State is not the Penn State of old though, and Pitt seems to be taking a step back all of the sudden.  They get Marshall this week, who just got a taste of Louisville.  They will be ready.
  10. NC State 2-1.  NC State gets to host Wake Forest this week.  In August, this game looked like a tune-up game.  Now, Wake is 4-0 and has some momentum.  Things get pretty scary if NC State loses this game.  With Notre Dame replacing one of their four annual OOC cupcakes, and the other Atlantic foes looking solid, there are few spots for wins after this game.
  11. Duke 2-2.  Duke rebounded from the loss to Northwestern by beating Notre Dame at Notre Dame.  In fact, Notre Dame went ahead and fired its defensive coordinator thereafter.  Virginia comes to town, fresh off a win off its first win.  And with Army looming, Duke is still in the hunt for bowl eligibility.
  12. Notre Dame 1-3.  Notre Dame is in trouble.  Brian Kelly fired the defensive coordinator.  Texas is better, but not Texas.  Michigan State is good, but looked terrible against Wisconsin.  And Duke is not a juggernaut this year.  If Notre Dame cannot beat a Syracuse team that is giving up points aplenty, it is time to panic.
  13. Syracuse 2-2.  The Orange got past UConn, which is nice.  The offense is struggling to put up points, but generally moving the ball.  The defense is porous, but did better against UConn’s deliberate offense.  Few Orange fans expected a win against Notre Dame, and fewer still expected a win after the losses to Louisville and South Florida.  Somehow, however, Notre Dame’s struggles are giving the ‘Cuse optimism.  We’ll see.
  14. Boston College 2-2.  Boston College beat up on Wagner, and its embarrassingly easy OOC schedule continues with Buffalo next.  Not the Bills, but the Bulls–losers to Albany this year.  If B.C. is to have any chance of a bowl, it has to win this week.
  15. Virginia 1-3.  Virginia got a win!  A win is a win, and Central Michigan is no pushover.  Next up?  A trip to Duke.

So, what do you think?  Are we being too harsh on Georgia Tech for a loss to Clemson?  Is Florida State too high given their defensive woes?  Any other errors in your opinion?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 3-4

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for the week between Weeks 3 and 3:

  1. Louisville.  The Clemson win at Auburn was nice, but what Louisville did to Florida State was staggering.  The Confidential actually expected the Cardinals to win, but to win so convincingly was a surprise.  Again, Lamar Jackson is the real deal. Louisville needs to handle Marshall and not look forward to the game at Clemson in two weeks.
  2. Clemson.  Clemson finally started looking like Clemson.  Unfortunately, it was against an FCS opponent.  Clemson needs to get it together ASAP against an improved Georgia Tech squad that is 3-0 with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt.  If Clemson is looking ahead to Louisville, there could be trouble.
  3. Florida State.  Logically, Florida State should drop substantially given that they have one loss, while a few ACC teams are still undefeated.  But the win against Ole Miss is still better than the wins that Miami< Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest have put up.  As bad as Louisville made the Seminoles look, we’ll leave them at #3. They travel to South Florida this week, the second straight week of playing a team on the road that just beat Syracuse on the road.
  4. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are 3-0, with wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt.  Nobody else below them in these standings has two wins over P5 teams (Louisville does, though).  If Georgia Tech can beat Clemson, they will be the early favorites in the Coastal.
  5. Miami.  Miami continues to win and is starting to make some noise about being an ACC contender.  The schedule strength is going to ramp up and we’ll learn a lot in two weeks when the Hurricanes make their ACC debut this year against Georgia Tech.
  6. Wake Forest.  Don’t look now, but the Demon Deacons are 3-0, and their next three opponents are @ Indiana, @ NC State, and home against Syracuse.  They still have Boston College, Army, and Virginia on the schedule.  It is not impossible for them to sweep all of these games en route to a 9-3 season, right?  We’ll see.  But better to be 3-0 than what the teams below have.
  7. Virginia Tech.  At 2-1, the Hokies have wins over Liberty and Boston College.  The latter was impressive, given that the Eagles defense is ordinarily quite stout and 49 points was surprising.  Still, it is “just” Boston College, so the Hokies are plugged in at #7.
  8. Pittsburgh.  At 2-0, Pitt had a real chance to make its mark against an Oklahoma State team that had lost to Central Michigan.  But the Panthers defense was not strong, allowing 45 points in a 45-38 loss.  For Pitt, this puts them squarely in the middle of these standings, and the team on their heels is, no pun intended, the Tar Heels–Pitt’s next opponent.
  9. North Carolina. The Tar Heels went to Illinois and won and then held serve against James Madison.  They get to host Pitt this week to battle for a more significant move up these standings.
  10. NC State.  NC State bounced back from the East Carolina loss to beat Old Dominion 49-22.  This puts them at 2-1 and the slight edge over what is likely a “better” Notre Dame team.  Of course, the Fighting Irish come to town on October 8, so this edge will have to be earned shortly.  Next up is Wake Forest, though.
  11. Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is 1-2, having lost to an improved Texas team and a solid Michigan State team.  Of the 1-2 teams, these are the two most impressive losses (so far, anyway).  Duke is up next.
  12. Boston College.  Boston College is 1-2, like Syracuse.  B.C.’s losses were to 2-1 Virginia Tech and 3-0 Georgia Tech.  The Eagles have a win over UMass, and FBS opponent.  This gives them the slight edge over Syracuse (and Duke).  Next up are Wagner and Buffalo–two good chances for wins.
  13. Syracuse.  The Orange “D” was atrocious against Louisville and not much better against South Florida.  After jumping out to a 17-0 lead, the Orange stopped moving the ball and stopped stopping the movement of the ball.  As Louisville and South Florida are better opponents than Wake Forest and Northwestern, Syracuse gets a clear edge over Duke for the #13 spot.  The FCS opponents favor Syracuse slightly too.  Up next, a chance for a win against similarly-talented UConn, albeit on the road.
  14. Duke.  Look, losing to Wake Forest at home is not the end of the world, but losing to a Northwestern team with losses to West Michigan and Illinois State is not great.  1-2 keeps them out of the basement, but Duke is trending down.  And Notre Dame is up next.
  15. Virginia.  The only 0-3 team–Virginia looked better against Oregon than Richmond, and looked much better against UConn.  Perhaps Virginia can pull out a few victories this year after all?  Well, with Central Michigan up next, you would think MAC opponent, but the Chippewas beat Oklahoma State on the road, which Pitt could not do.  We’ll see.

So, what do you think?  Should we have dropped Florida State farther?  Any other errors in your opinion?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 2-3

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for the week between Weeks 2 and 3:

  1. Clemson.  The Tigers did not look impressive against Troy, barely winning 30-24.  Troy did win their first game, however, by 40+ points.  So maybe this is a better than expected Troy team.  Regardless, Clemson gets the nod here because of its win AT the Auburn Tigers, which is the best win of the top 3 teams.
  2. Florida State.  The Seminoles took care of its FCS opponent, Charleston Southern, 52-8.  Coupled with a win on a neutral site against Ole Miss, FSU is a clear #2.  Whether they keep it after this week is another story.
  3. Louisville.  As good as Louisville looked in beating Charlotte, they looked even better beating Syracuse.  But Syracuse is no Auburn or Ole Miss.  So Louisville will have to earn its surge up these standings on the field… which comes this week in a game against Florida State.  Lamar Jackson is the real deal.  The Louisville defense looks stout.  Not only is Louisville “capable” of winning, Louisville may actually take it to the Seminoles.  We’ll see.
  4. Miami.  Miami continued its parade of games against middling Florida opponents, beating Florida Atlantic, 38-10.  With Kaaya at QB, the Hurricanes get to keep their slot–even if the true tests do not come until later.
  5. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets are 2-0, adding a win over Mercer to their resume.  Vanderbilt is up next–we shall see what happens.
  6. North Carolina. The Tar Heels went to Illinois and won–and, although Mac teams seem to do it every year–for a P5 team to win at a Big 10 school is always worthy of maintaining its spot in the standings.  So, we keep UNC here.
  7. Notre Dame.  Notre Dame beat Nevada, entitling it to also keep its place in the standings.  Next up for the Fighting Irish is Michigan State.  We’ll learn a lot about Notre Dame’s fortunes this week.
  8. Wake Forest.  Although most ACC power rankings had Wake Forest low, they had a win over Tulane, whereas other schools had wins over F.C.S. opponents.  Well, the Demon Deacons went to Duke and got another win.  At 2-0, with a win over Duke, Wake Forest deserves its #8 ranking all the more.  It stays ahead of Pitt by having a road win.  Not sure Penn State is any better than Duke.
  9. Pittsburgh.  5 teams were tied for #10 last week because they were 1-0 with a win against an FCS opponent.  only one pulled out a victory in Week 2, as the Panthers beat Penn State, albeit at home.  A win over Penn State has to be enough to put a 2-0 team ahead of a 1-1 team.
  10. Boston College.  Boston College is 1-1, with a loss to Georgia Tech and a win over UMass–an FBS opponent.  Despite the win, B.C. at 1-1 with a win over UMass simply cannot be atop Pitt with a win over Penn State.
  11. Virginia Tech.  There are 4 ACC teams at 1-1 with a win over an FCS foe only.  Of them, Virginia Tech lost on a neutral site to a top 15 team in Tennessee.  This is more impressive, or less unimpressive, than the other three teams combined loss/win characteristics.  Ergo, the Hokies get the nod.
  12. Syracuse.  The Orange “D” was atrocious against Louisville, but the Cardinals may make a lot of defenses look atrocious.  Compared to Duke losing at home to Wake Forest and NC State losing to East Carolina, Syracuse gets the #12 spot this week.
  13. NC State.  East Carolina may or may not be “better” than Wake Forest, but Duke lost at home, while NC State lost on the road.  Both teams were playing in-school opponents, but this loss just seems more understandable overall.  Edge to the Pack.
  14. Duke.  Look, losing to Wake Forest at home is not the end of the world, but it might just show that the Duke surge of recent years may be waning.
  15. Virginia.  The only 0-2 team–Virginia looked better against Oregon than Richmond.  Perhaps the Spiders are better than the Ducks?  Well, this happens from time-to-time.  At least there is some momentum for the Wahoos–who do have prior history to look at in terms of FCS losses and rebounds.

So, what do you think?  Should we have re-arranged Clemson, Florida State, and Louisville?  Are you finally ready to believe that Wake Forest is top 8?  

ACC Roundtable of the Confidential Correspondents: Week 1/2

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?

ACC Football Rankings: Week 1-2

Each week, the Confidential will rank the top 15 teams (includes Notre Dame) in the A.C.C. and provide a brief explanation for the decision.  Feel free to list your own below or otherwise comment.  Here it goes for the week between Weeks 1 and 2:

  1. Clemson.  The Tigers get the nod here because they did not fall way behind against Auburn.  That gives them a slight edge over Florida State.
  2. Florida State.  Again, Clemson looked slightly better in beating Auburn, but Florida State certainly dominated the second half.  Then again, the opposite happened in the first half.  These things will sort themselves out in due time.
  3. Louisville.  We are having some fun at Bobby Petrino’s expense, and others have REALLY taken him to task, but Louisville looked real, real good in beating Charlotte.  The Confidential may have under-valued Louisville by a win.  Still, need to take care of business against upstart Syracuse.
  4. Miami.  With a lot of teams beating FCS opponents, the nod has to go to a team beating an FBS opponent, even if a lesser opponent, but a substantial margin.
  5. Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets beat Boston College, but it is possible that “hapless” may end up being a modifier for Boston College this year.  Then again, the Eagles have a pathetically easy schedule.  So we’ll slot Ga Tech behind Louisville and Miami, but ahead of the other winners.  Also skeptical that Georgia Tech can stay here, while the above teams have more perceived staying power.
  6. North Carolina. This came down to a battle between Notre Dame and North Carolina for the 6th spot, with the Tar Heels taking the edge this week.  Georgia was primed for a victory under its new coach and had a home field advantage (despite a technically neutral location).  If UNC cannot topple Illinois, could be a big step back for the Tar Heels this year.
  7. Notre Dame.  Losing to Texas usually is not shameful.  Losing to Charlie Strong usually is not shameful.  But the recent struggles suggest otherwise.  Plus, Texas played Notre Dame last year, so there should have been some familiarity.  Edge to the Tar Heels.
  8. Wake Forest.  On the one hand, Wake Forest beat Tulane–a well coached team in the American.  On the other hand, Tulane’s not a defensive team and the Demon Deacons mustered only 7 points.  On yet another hand, Wake Forest BEAT an FBS foe.  SO we give them #8.
  9. Boston College.  If losing to Texas and Georgia are enough to keep UNC and Notre Dame above Georgia Tech, what about losing to Georgia Tech?  Well, B.C. just did not look good enough to inspire confidence.  But fair is fair.
  10. Pittsburgh/Virginia Tech/Syracuse/Duke/NC State.  Rather than try to separate them this week, we can just lump them together into one slot–as they all did what they needed to against FCS opponents.
  11. Virginia.  If beating an FCS foe is unimpressive, losing to one is disastrous.  Being blown out is indescribable.  The easiest ranking of the week is Virginia in last.

So, what do you think?  Should we have dropped Wake Forest and BC behind the FCS beaters?  Swapped Clemson/FSU?  Let us know.

ACC Football Stockwatch: Buy, Sell, and Hold

After one week, all those local newspaper “puff pieces” are reduced to the compost bin.  Everyone has games to talk about now.  And the ACC football teams have each played one game each.  So who are you buying, selling, and holding?  Here are a few teams for each category.

BUY

Louisville.  The Confidential took some slack for using a 7.5 win over/under.  And the Confidential still does not think that Louisville will beat FSU, Clemson, or Houston.  So all it takes is one upset to get Louisville down to 8 wins. And maybe that upset will come this week against Syracuse.  But, make no mistake, Louisville has a very good team.  70 points against any FBS foe is worth taking not of.  And Lamar Jackson looks like the real deal.

Miami.  Like Louisville, Miami beat its week 1 opponent handily. The win is not as impressive as the way that the team won.  The Hurricanes need to get their swagger back… for the sake of the ACC as a whole.  The Coastal has been far too unimpressive.  Perhaps Miami can change that.

Syracuse.  Unlike Louisville and Miami, Syracuse only managed to score 33 points.  And that was against an FCS foe.  But Dino Babers is bringing a new offensive system that may help Syracuse improve on “holding serve” against peer opponents, and perhaps even sneak up on someone for an upset.  The theme was that this was a long-term investment, but maybe there will be some short-term dividends in the Carrier Dome in 2016.

SELL

Virginia.  Sorry Wahoos.  Brono might build something at UVa, but losing to Richmond convincingly was a horrible way to start and makes it likely that it is already “on to 2017.”   If Virginia was a stock, you would want to put it in the safe deposit box for a few years.  You definitely do not want to be checking the quotes on a daily basis.

Notre Dame.  Amazingly, the Fighting Irish are not out of the playoff picture.  But, unless Texas has a great season, Notre Dame will likely find itself on the outside looking in–even at 11-1.  So that makes it a tough way to start the season.  And now Notre Dame has no margin for error.

HOLD

Clemson and Florida State.  Both teams defeated SEC foes, albeit not in a way to inspire a substantial amount of confidence.  Florida State needed to rally, while Clemson was a Hail Mary away from losing.  Still, both played solid opponents and deserve credit for pulling out wins.  These teams will get better.  These two teams are stocks that were battered last week, giving the potential for a short-term quick profit when they round into form.  Both are in the hunt for a playoff spot until you hear otherwise.

Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech.  These two schools are in contention for a Coastal… look, everyone but Virginia can win the Coastal.  But Pitt had a great season last year and Virginia Tech has some new juice with its new coach.  That makes them sneaky picks to edge the field.  Both looked good, but not great, in their openers.  Both play tough OOC games this week.  If they can pull off wins this week, you have to slide both up into Coastal contenders.  If they lose, they will still be contenders, but you will have that much more doubt.  So, see how this week goes.

What do you think?  Who would you put in for each category?

 

Virginia Hits Rock Bottom Against Richmond

If you are a Virginia sports fan, you thought that the football team had hit rock bottom.  You fired a decent football coach in Mike London, who recruited well but failed to win games on the field.  You hired a well-known coach in Bronco Mendenhall away from Brigham Young.  You were ready to begin a new era.  And then you learned that there was a new level to “rock bottom,” with an embarrassing loss to FCS neighbor Richmond, 37-20.

Yes, the FCS-level Spiders beat Virginia by 17 points.  This was not a FG for the win situation.  And Virginia is not just an FBS team, it is an FBS team in a P5 conference.  How often does any of this happen?  Rarely.  But, take some comfort Virginia fans, you are not even the first ACC school to be embarrassed by an FCS opponent in the modern era.  Footballgeography.com lists a few recent examples:

  • In 1999, Furman beat North Carolina 28-3.  That is a larger margin, and a far more futile offensive showing by the Tar Heels.  This same UNC team was pretty bad, but also manager to finish the season by beating both NC State and Duke.
  • In 2006, Richmond shutout Duke, 13-0.  Sure, that Duke defense did a better job than Virginia yesterday.  But to be SHUTOUT by an FCS foe is beyond shameful.
  • In 2012, current ACC school Pittsburgh–then a Big East team–lost to Youngstown State 31-17.  Similar score, similar margin.

So, while it is rare, it does happen that an ACC school will get thumped by an FCS foe.

Outside of the ACC, it has also happened.  In 2011, North Dakota State beat Minnesota 37-24.  In 2006, New Hampshire beat Northwestern 34-17.  In 1996, Montana beat Oregon State 35-14.  And so on.  The past twenty years have seen a number of comfortable wins by FCS opponents over FBS P5 foes.  Outside of the P5, last year Portland State beat North Texas 66-7, resulting in the firing of North Texas’s head coach immediately after the game.  And, for whatever its worth, South Florida lost to McNeese State 53-21 in 2013 in Willie Taggert’s debut, only to stay within 15 points against a 13-1 Michigan State team the following week.  They say the most improvement is done between weeks 1 and 2, and apparently that was the case.  And it may be for the 2016 Virginia Cavaliers.

And the good news is that it usually means that “rock bottom” has been hit.  The 1999 UNC loss was dreadful, but UNC was 6-5 the next year and in the Peach Bowl in 2001.  Duke would lose to Richmond two more times (2009 and 2011), (and would be generally horrible from 2006 to 2008 at 5-31), but go bowling from 2012 to 2015.  Pitt actually went to bowl game in 2012, and has gone bowling every year since.  The great thing about “rock bottom” is that it usually cannot get worse.

So, while rock bottom is not a fun place to be, it is at the very least the “cannot get any worse” place.  For Virginia fans, that means the future is necessarily brighter than the present.

 

 

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Week 1

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are just hours away from the season starting, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: Which ACC team is the biggest risk for being an upset victim in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  Pittsburgh Panthers.  Many ACC teams play weak competition in week 1, with teams like Charlotte, Liberty, William & Mary, and Florida A&M lined up to face ACC teams. I’ll go with the Pittsburgh Panthers to possibly falling victim an upset to the Villanova Wildcats. Even though they are a FCS team, the Wildcats have talent on the offensive side of the ball and will looking to upset their in-state opponent to send a message in week one.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Hard to say what is and isn’t an upset this early in the season, but we do know that Clemson is in a lot of playoff projections, and this isn’t a gimme with Auburn. This is an SEC team that runs the kind of offense that is tough to prepare for. Sure they had the whole offseason, but the Tigers probably have other things to worry about.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse better be very, very ready for Colgate, an experienced team.  Not a gimme.  I disagree with Villanova only because I think Pitt under Narduzzi is the real deal.  They may not win the Coastal, but this is not the typical mediocre Pitt coaching hire.  So I will go with Tulane over Wake Forest.  Assuming the former Georgia Southern coaches can implement some semblance of what they did before at Tulane, Wake Forest may get itself into a shootout.  If so, could be trouble.

Q2: What are the three things your school’s team must do to win in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With Notre Dame kicking the season off at Texas, the Fighting Irish must take the excitement out of the crowd and score first. If they can build an early lead and have the Longhorns play catch up, they will be in better position to win. The second key to victory is to put pressure on true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele early and often. The third key is to get the ball in the hands of captain Torii Hunter Jr.’s hands, as he will set the stone for the otherwise young receiving corps the Irish have.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): 3 things? I hope it doesn’t take 3 things to beat William and Mary. They beat State in basketball, so I guess it isn’t out of the question, but there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. I’m a big FCS guy, and W&M isn’t North Dakota State. More than 3 things would have to go horribly wrong for this to be a loss.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Syracuse is many years past where it could look past an FCS school.  This is just reality.  Villanova should have beaten Syracuse and Colgate may be more primed to pull an upset.  Syracuse will need to avoid turnovers–which give instant life to an opponent.  While most will be concerned about Syracuse looking past Colgate, what is even more important is that Syracuse use its superior athletes–bigger players should push around smaller players, faster players should play faster than slower players–and so on.  Up to the coaches to use the size and speed advantages.  And then, of course, fundamentals…block, tackle, hang on to the ball, avoid penalties…. amazing how often that matters.

Q3: What would have to happen for your school to lose in Week 1?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): The Fighting Irish would have to come out unfocused and nervous to lose in week one, as a defense with six starters should feast against a true freshman quarterback in his first start.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): There’s no QB1 or QB2 on the depth chart, so both would have to play terrible. Add on some injuries to the running game, and the defense would just have to implode.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): It would not take much, sadly.  If Syracuse is turnover prone or allows a special teams touchdown, it could be game on.  If Syracuse starts slow, Colgate will stay in the game that much longer.  In the end, if you give an FCS team reason for hope, expect them to run with it.  We have seen it far too many times at Syracuse–from Coach P losing to Rutgers/Temple when they were miserably awful… to Doug Marrone allowing Maine to hang in there… to Scott Shafer nearly losing to Villanova.  And, of course, we see it every year during the Big Dance (looking at you, Middle Tennessee State).

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

Notre Dame Season Preview: Wide Receivers

This year the Notre Dame wide receiving corps will have to step it up due to the loss of their best player last season. Wide receiver Will Fuller left Notre Dame for the NFL after an outstanding junior season in which he recorded 62 receptions, 1,258 yards, and 14 touchdowns in 13 games. Over his three-year career with the Fighting Irish, Fuller was good for 144 receptions, 2,512 yards, and 30 touchdowns over 32 career games. Fuller left Notre Dame with the receiver with the second most career touchdowns (Michael Floyd 37), 5th all-time in receptions, and 4th all-time in receiving yards. The Houston Texans drafted Fuller with the 21st overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

So who will fill in Fuller’s huge shoes? The first man up will be redshirt-junior Torii Hunter Jr. Hunter is a two-sport athlete (baseball, obviously), who caught 28 balls last year for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter was recently named one of the four captains for the Fighting Irish for the 2016 season.

Hunter witnessed leadership as a college athlete from players like Nick Martin, Sheldon Day, and Jaylon Smith, but also from his father. Hunter has said

“I take a lot of the stuff that he done with a lot of ball clubs, and him being an older guy in a lot of younger clubhouses. That’s one of the biggest things I try to stress is keep it fun, joke around but also go out there and get work done. I think that’s one of the biggest things my dad does well is keep it chill, keep it lose and make guys go out there and play.”

Head coach Brian Kelly is counting on Hunter saying,

“He is a veteran on our team, hasn’t played maybe as much but he’s played big roles for us. He’s a guy that I think this year will be counted on to do quite a bit. But again, again, a guy that walks the walk and talks the talk and back it up both on and off the field will be a great mentor to a lot of young receivers.”

Hunter will be leading a young, inexperienced receiving corps that will be highlighted by Miles Boykin. Boykin is a former four-star recruit who redshirted last season. He comes in at 6’3”, 225 pounds with good hands, but according to wide receiver coach Mike Denbrock, Boykin needs be more aggressive.

Another young wide receiver who will make his debut this season is Equanimeous St. Brown, also known ESB. ESB will be the deep threat in the Irish offense given his height (6’5”) and ability to track the ball in the air. Cj Sanders, who has kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns last season, but rarely saw the field in any offensive sets will also likely make an impact this season. Sanders has the speed and playmaking ability to play slot, especially with Hunter and ESB on the outside.

The Notre Dame offense has high expectations. With Hunter returning in a leadership position, Mike McGlinchey holding down the offensive line, and Tearean Folston returning in the backfield, this offense is ready to go, regardless of whom the quarterback is. Hunter is obviously the player to watch in his senior year, but players like Boykin, St. Brown, and Sanders will have the opportunity to be playmakers this season as well.

The Confidential’s ACC Football Roundtable: Preseason 2016

Every week, some or all of the Confidential’s correspondents will “roundtable” issues regarding the ACC, as well as recapping the week that was and previewing the week to come.  As we are still in the preseason, we are looking forward exclusively this week.

Q1: OK, with the football season right around the corner, who are the 5 best teams in the ACC (including Notre Dame) in order?  Which two are playing in the ACC Championship Game?  And who, if anyone, from the ACC will make the playoffs?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame):  The Clemson Tigers are the best team in the ACC. Following them, is Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and the Miami Hurricanes.  ACC Title Game: FSU vs UNC. Playoffs: FSU

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, Louisville. Clemson and Miami playing in Charlotte.  I think any ACC champ would make the playoff assuming they only have a loss or two

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): 1, Clemson; 2, FSU; 3. Notre Dame; 4. Miami; 5. Louisville.  Clemson vs Miami, with Clemson in the playoffs.

Q2: Looking objectively at your team, which team is your team most likely to upset?  And which team is most likely to upset your team?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): With an early home game and the Spartans having holes to fill in their starting offensive line, the Irish have a very good chance of beating Michigan State at home in the third week of the season. Since the Fighting Irish’s schedule doesn’t give them many opportunities to pull off an upset, Michigan State would be my choice, even if they are close in the rankings.  With only three away games this season, Notre Dame will avoid hostile environments and be less likely to get upset. I will pick the Miami Hurricanes as one team who can upset the Irish this season. Quarterback Brad Kaaya is special and will be looking to increase his draft stock with a big win in South Bend.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): That’s easy: FSU. It’s in Raleigh, and for whatever reason, NC State always does well against the Noles at home. I think Syracuse has the best chance to pull an upset, just because it’s on the road. Normally I’d say BC or Wake, but both are at home this year so State SHOULD be ok against these guys.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): Most Syracuse fans will say Virginia Tech because it is a home game.  But in Week 2, Louisville will have very little film to scout (and Colgate may not provide a preview of the entire offense), a Syracuse team without depth may be as healthy as it will be for any game all year, Louisville will still be “green” on its own, Syracuse is at home, etc.  I would not bet your kids’ lunch money on an upset, but it is my pick.  As for upsetting Syracuse, it is difficult with so few games to choose from. UConn is likely to be an underdog if Syracuse starts strong, so look for that as a potential loss in the same spirit as the USF win over Syracuse last year.  Sadly.  Frankly, it would be better for the ACC if B.C. or Wake Forest is the answer to this question–but both may be favored.

Q3: Who is one offensive player from your school for fans of other schools to keep an eye on in 2016?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): I know it may be cliché to choose the starting running back, but Tarean Folston is ready to be the star of the Notre Dame offensive attack. Folston was all set to be the starter last season but tore his ACL after three rushing attempts in the season opener. In 2014, Folston had four 100-yard rushing games, including 120 yards and a touchdown at #2 Florida State. Keep an eye out for the senior running back, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): You won’t see Jaylen Samuels on many watch lists, but that’s because he has no position. He can play RB, WR, TE, and anywhere in the backfield. He’s big and fast, a great combination.

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): In this Dino Babers system, gotta go with the QB: Eric Dungey.  If he stays healthy and grasps the system, Dungey could put up huge numbers.  But those are some big “ifs” to watch for.  With a fairly decent compliment of skill players (relative to past seasons), we really may see Syracuse play fast and be fast.

Q4: Who is one defensive or special teams player for fans of other schools to take notice of?

Steve Callahan (Notre Dame): Cole Luke will be the leader in the secondary. The senior is coming off a little disappointing season after his breakout sophomore season. Luke only had 6 passes defended last year meanwhile he had 11 in 2014. Watch the 5’11” senior come back to form in his last year with the Fighting Irish.

Harrison Huntley (NC State): Nyheim Hines is a guy that’s so fast, he lines up at RB and WR. This speed is what makes him a great option when returning kicks and punts

Anthony Caffrey (Syracuse): After 7 years of Scott Shafer as defensive coordinator and head coach, and with a very inexperienced and not-so-deep defense, this could be a struggle.  All the more reason that Syracuse will need to score a lot and actually convert turnovers (however many) into points.  With linebacker perhaps the area with most returning depth, and Zaire Franklin the junior that was a captain last year as a sophomore MLB likely to anchor that unit, watch Franklin.

Well, that is what these correspondents think.  What do you think?  Please feel free to share below.  And if you are interested in being a correspondent, see here.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: