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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

Archive for the tag “preview”

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.

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2016 Syracuse Football–Are Any Prognosticators Optimistic?

The Confidential has already disclosed its over-under for Syracuse, placing it at 4.5 regular season wins.  Turns out, many are projecting Syracuse to win 3 or fewer games, and perhaps even finish last in the ACC Atlantic.  Well, for whatever its worth, Las Vegas used an over-under of 4 wins for Syracuse.  But, most of the feedback to the Confidential was that 4.5 regular season wins was a fair estimate given the new coaching staff, existing talent, and the typical overscheduling by the Orange.  But any prognosticators projecting Syracuse to go “over” the 4.5 regular season win total?  Did some research today.  Turns out there are some:

TodaysU predicts that the Orange will go 5-7, beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, and Boston College.

CollegeFootball News was more optimistic for the Orange, predicting 6-6.  They have Syracuse beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

CampusInsiders, similarly, has Syracuse at 6-6 by beating Colgate, South Florida, UConn, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina State.

Way back in January, Brent Axe predicted 5-7, with wins over Colgate, UConn, Wake Forest, Boston College, and NC State.

The NunesMagician blog also did some “fuzzy math” projections in January, coming up with 4.6 wins.  Hey, it’s “over” the 4.5 over-under!

SB Nation had a TON of analysis of the 2016 Orange football team, settling on 5.5 wins.  Definitely check out that article.

So… Syracuse fans… not everyone is doom and gloom.  There is some reason to not already look ahead to 2017 and instead see the very real possibility of a bowl game in 2016.

Did we miss anyone’s positive preview/projection?  What do you think?

 

Belk Kickoff Classic – Watch for a Carolina Victory

Just days away from what should be an exciting game in Charlotte between North Carolina and South Carolina, it’s time to preview the two teams and pick a winner.

In one of the more intriguing matchups coming Thursday night, a high powered Tar Heel offense and questionable defense meet a questionable offense and below average defense in the Gamecocks. So we’ll divide the two teams up by these two lines (and these two alone) and predict a winner.

Battle Fronts (stats from 2014 via ncaa.com)

North Carolina offense – 35th in the nation with 55 touchdowns and 429.8 yards per game.
Returns one of the most underrated dual-threat QBs in the nation in Marquise Williams.

South Carolina defense – 92nd in the nation allowing 432.7 yards per game.
Returns 8 starters

North Carolina defense – ranked 117th in the nation allowing 497.8 yards per game
New scheme under first year DC Gene Chizik

South Carolina offense – ranked 33rd in the nation with 51 touchdowns and 443.4 yards per game
Returns 5 starters and will begin with a new QB.

Expect South Carolina to improve on their defensive numbers from last year having returned 8 starters from the defensive line. Expect North Carolina to improve from their offensive numbers from last year having returned essentially an entire offensive line headlined by dual-threat QB Marquise Williams. Expect South Carolina offense to be about average in this game and/or slightly off their averages from last year given the new QB and questionable North Carolina defense. Expect North Carolina to improve slightly from their defensive numbers (or the defense that wasn’t) from a season ago.

Having said that, what happens with this game? North Carolina SHOULD win in a thriller over a new QB even though it will be a homecoming of sorts for the former Wakefield star Conner Mitch. The biggest question mark surrounding the Tar Heels is that defense. You’ve all seen the numbers and graphics from what new DC Chizik has been able to do in his first year at every team he has gone to, and if you have, you know some of us have been saying that ANY defense that isn’t last years’ will put us in position to win some games. This is one of them.

Week 7 ACC Preview & Game Thread

Welcome to Week #7.  Check out our latest poll, and remember to get your week’s entry in for our fantasy football contest.  It is free… with prizes.   And you can join anytime.  Here are this week’s games:

Saturday

#1 Florida State (5-0) @ Syracuse (2-3).  If all was going well for Syracuse, we would think Florida State would win comfortably.  But all is NOT well for Syracuse, which is suffering from such poor offensive performance that it is making midseason coaching changes of questionable appropriateness (to some).  Meanwhile, Syracuse will be playing without its QB (Hunt), as well as its two biggest offensive threats (Broyld/Estime).  So…   this one will likely get ugly.  You probably do not want to let young children watch.

Cincinnati (2-2) @ Miami (3-3), 12:00 pm.  As much as the Confidential likes Al Golden, it is questionable whether he is losing the fan base.  Miami has had enough “average” seasons recently.  It has been mostly mediocriami of late.  They are looking for something more.  At the same time, Golden seems to be beating the beatable teams–which is a start.  If Cincinnati does not have Kiel at the QB position, the Hurricanes should get to 4-3.

Duke (4-1) @ #22 Georgia Tech (5-0), 12:30 pm.  The narrative is that the ACC Atlantic is way ahead of the ACC Coastal.  But Duke/Georgia Tech have the same number of losses as FSU/Louisville.  If Georgia Tech can somehow run the table, it would be HUGE for the ACC.  So far, the Yellow Jackets have beaten Virginia Tech and Miami, two huge foes.  Duke is the next biggest foe.  This is a game that the old Georgia Tech loses.  Meanwhile, Duke is just as likely to win the Coastal–making this a game that may decide who gets to play (likely) Florida State in Game #13.  HUGE game!

Boston College (3-2) @ North Carolina State (4-2), 3:30 pm.  It is hard to figure out BC, who has beaten USC and lost to Colorado State.  North Carolina State is easy to figure out–having beaten 4 weak teams and having lost to Florida State (narrowly) and Clemson (not so narrowly).  If NC State wins, it will say something about how the first 6 games prepared them for the more doable last six.  If NC State loses, one begins to question whether the team peaked during the Florida State game.  Either way, one of these teams will move closer to a realistic bowl game.

North Carolina (2-3) @ #6 Notre Dame (5-0) 3:30 pm.  This game is big for ACC fans.  If Notre Dame can get by UNC, this will have them travel to Florida State at 6-0–which is good for both teams.  If UNC beats Notre Dame somehow, this will prevent FSU from having an important scheduling boost.  North Carolina is reeling, especially on defense, which should bode well for the Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame having a good season helps the ACC.  It just does.

ACC GAME OF THE WEEK: Louisville (5-1) @ Clemson (3-2), 3:30 pm. Regardless of the Coastal, these may be the two best teams in the ACC not named Florida State.  If it is so, it is because both teams have stout defenses–even if not able to stop Florida State (Louisville will get its chance).  These two teams may also be battling for second to Florida State in terms of fan passion, which is why this game was elevated to Game of the Week over the Coastal showdown between Duke and Georgia Tech.  The Confidential is looking forward to seeing whether Bobby Petrino’s defensive staff can stop the Clemson offense.  An equal challenge is whether they can move the ball against a defense that is likely better than Virginia’s.  This is a game to watch.

What do you think?   Let us know your thoughts during the games on Saturday too…

 

 

 

 

Week 6 ACC Preview

Welcome to Week #6.  Check out our latest poll, and remember to get your week’s entry in for our fantasy football contest.  It is free… with prizes.   And you can join anytime.  Here are this week’s games:

Friday

Louisville (4-1) @ Syracuse (2-2), 7:00 p.m.  Louisville’s season is off to a good start–even if not the national champion contender season that last year was.  In contrast, Syracuse is a reeling, desperate team.  It does not get easier for the Orange, with Florida State and Clemson looming.  If the Orange can win this one, they have a realistic bowl chance.  That gives them the ability to “only” win three of Pitt, BC, NC State, and Wake Forest.

Saturday

Virginia Tech (3-2) @ North Carolina (2-2), 12:30 pm.  The Hokies have fallen off the map after a win over Ohio State.  North Carolina has been awful on defense.  With a wide-open Coastal, neither of these teams can afford a second conference loss.  Larry Fedora’s squad needs this game badly.

NC State (4-1) @ Clemson (2-2), 3:30 pm.  After last week’s near shocker against Florida State, nobody would blame you for thinking that Clemson could be upset here.  However, with a new QB, and two-thirds of its toughest games played, the Tigers are looking to go on a run.  NC State can win.  The more likely result is that Clemson will continue righting the ship.

Wake Forest (2-3) @ #1 Florida State (4-0), 3:30 pm.  The Seminoles made it interesting last week, sending a message that this is not last year’s team.  With or without Winston.  Although Florida State rallied to win, it was an ugly win by any definition.  Wake Forest has played good defense, but they have not faced anything like what Florida State will bring to the table offensively.  And Florida State’s surprisingly weak defense gets a chance to get confidence against a struggling Demon Deacons offense.

Pittsburgh (3-2) @ Virginia (3-2), 7:30 pm.  It was bad enough for Pitt to lose to Iowa.  Losing to Akron… at home… was an embarrassment.  Now the Panthers travel to a rejuvenated Virginia, who is already above last year’s win total.  Both schools are 1-0 in conference play, with Pitt beating BC and Virginia beating Louisville.  Virginia’s losses to BYU and UCLA are nothing to be ashamed of.  Gotta figure the Wahoos will take care of business.

Miami (3-2) @ Georgia Tech (4-0), 7:30 pm.  Hurricane sighting last week!  Miami got back on track with a very nice win over a good Duke team.  Georgia Tech had three unimpressive wins for surprising everyone with a win over Virginia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets can win this game and gain a leg up in the Coastal.  Miami’s Al Golden cannot afford another let down.  Miami is not about 6 win seasons… it is about 8+ win seasons.  4-2 at the halfway point is exactly what the Hurricanes need.

ACC GAME OF THE WEEK: #14 Stanford (3-1) @ #9 Notre Dame (4-0), 8:00 pm. Last week, Notre Dame showed it could overcome 5 turnovers and still win handily over Syracuse.  The win over Michigan now looks dubious.  Of course, Stanford’s loss to USC looks bad, especially given that BC beat USC and then lost to Colorado State.  Notre Dame’s defense looks as solid as ever this year, and Stanford is routinely stout on defense.  Expect this one to be fairly low scoring.  Notre Dame’s home field advantage and veteran QB should be the difference.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

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).

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

Read more…

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.

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