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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. 

The Other Final Four Story

Update II: Disregard the below.  The CBI is a 3-game format.  Good grief. 

Update: Congratulations to the Broncos of Santa Clara for winning the CBI.

THE FINAL FOUR is in Atlanta this weekend.  But it is not the only final four in March.  There are three other tournaments, including the venerable National Invitational Tournament (the “NIT”), still ongoing.  The other two tournaments are the CIT and the CBI.  There are more champions to be crowned.

For the NIT, Big 10 basketball is coming to your television set tomorrow.  Although it is unclear who televises the NIT, the NIT semifinals include a barn-burner between Iowa-Maryland.  It is a barn-burner in the sense that, if Iowa loses, they will set their barns on fire.  Maryland, cash poor after being incompetently run for a long long time in the ACC for all these years, does not even have barns.  Yet.  So this is far from a true, double-barn barn-burner.  In any event, this matchup promises to be a preview of all the great Maryland-Iowa rivalry games to be seen in the future.  Jim Delaney must be so very proud.

If one game has a rather plain Big 10 aftertaste, the other game has some Big XII intrigue.  Current Big XII power Baylor takes on a school that most expansion experts like to shift right into a non-existent Big XII vacancy, Brigham Young University.  So we are looking at an NIT final–on whatever day the NIT final is–between teams between the Big 10 (kinda) and the Big XII (OK, a stretch).  One of these teams will take home the crown of being #69.  Commence giggling.

The CIT and CBI are both are past the final four stage.  The CIT is down to its final game, featuring a future member of the “Big East Leftovers,” East Carolina, and Weber State.  We are not sure what the CIT was thinking, they are holding this game on the same day as the NIT semifinals.  A lot of tough remote control decisions across America.

Did you know?  There is no state named Weber.  Weber State is in Utah. 

Meanwhile, the CBI, which may stand for the Cinderella Basketball Invitation, will hold a championship game between George Mason and Santa Clara.  Santa Clara made a name for itself by beating #2 seed, Arizona, in the 1993 Big Dance.  George Mason made a name for itself a few years ago, with a magical run to the Final Four.

Did you know?  The CBI Tournament Championship Game was actually last night.  Do you know who won?  Seriously, let us know.  It’s hard to find the scores on ESPN.com. 

While the festivities in Atlanta promise to be memorable this weekend, just remember that there are other tournaments wrapping up.  We’ll even let you root for Maryland.  It would be cute if they won something, even if they do end up pawning the trophy to buy socks for their lacrosse team.

The ACC Has At Least Two Final Four Teams to Root For

As the march to Georgia Tech’s hometown of Atlanta continues, fans of the ACC can be certain that they will have at least two teams to root for.  By beating Marquette handily in yesterday’s Elite 8 game, Syracuse ensured that there will be someone from on that side of the bracket to root for.  Meanwhile, there is no doubt that one of Duke or Louisville will be heading to Atlanta too.  So ACC fans can be certain that they will have a rooting interest for two of the teams next weekend.  But that just leads to two more questions.

#1.  Who are you rooting for in today’s game between the Blue Devils and the Cardinals?

For Duke fans, that is easy.  For Louisville fans, that is easy.  But if you are a fan of one of the other thirteen schools, who are you going to be cheering for?  Is the Duke hatred so strong that you are leaning Louisville?  As a future ACC member, it would be fine to root for Louisville anyway.  Then again, they currently represent the Big East (or the leftovers, or whatever they are being called right now)?  And then there is the coaches–some people have strong feelings about Coach K and Rick Pitino.  The one thing that is clear is that both are excellent coaches.  Should be a great game today.

#2. A similar question arises out of the Michigan-Florida matchup.

The Big 10 is becoming the New York Yankees of college sports–throwing their money around without any regard for making sound decisions or the “Butterfly Effect” impact on the rest of college sports.  If that is not bad enough, how can anyone root for the Michigan Wolverines?  The cockiest of all the Big 10 fanbases, the program brought us the Fab 5, and then sanctions for apparently having bought the Fab 5.  And the football team is full of self-worth and entitlement, despite once thinking that hiring Greg Robinson was a step in the right direction for a defense.  But the other option is Florida–rival to Florida State and Miami.  Not exactly the most modest of fan bases either.  And Billy Donovan had his own core of players that, much like the Fab 5, provided two years of outstanding play.  At the very least, it is difficult to dislike Billy Donovan and his Michigan counterpart, John Beilein.

So, you tell us, who are you rooting for in today’s Elite 8 matchups?

Sweet Sixteen: Oregon vs. Louisville, LukeRuss Oil Stadium

(Credits: Disney/University of Louisville)

(Credits: Disney/University of Louisville)

When the University of Louisville takes the court to face the Oregon Ducks in the Sweet Sixteen in Indianapolis on Friday, there will be much speculation as to whether the Cardinals can extend their tournament domination by beating up on the Ducks like they did the Aggies and Rams.

Of course, the team Rick Pitino & Co. will face is unlike the previous foes in rounds two and three; Oregon hails from a power conference whereas NC A&T and Colorado State hail from conferences which are not at the top of the college basketball food chain.

The Cardinals have made their way to the Sweet Sixteen by beating their opponents by an average of 28.5 points and shooting over 56 percent from the field.  The Cardinals shot better from the charity stripe against Colorado State and scored 24 points off 20 Ram turnovers.

Enter the Ducks of Eugene.  After defeating ranked UCLA in the PAC-12 conference title game, Oregon beat its first two opponents by 13 points (Oklahoma State) and 14 points (Saint Louis) by shooting over 45 percent from the field.  One disparity jumps out when studying the statistics from the Ducks’ victories thus far – they shot 38 percent from behind the arc versus OK State and 72 percent against Saint Louis.  This inconsistency from three-point range could murk the waters in the Round of 32.

However, when the casual observer looks further into both teams’ overall shooting percentages this season, the teams appear comparable.  Louisville is shooting 44.5 percent from field goal range and Oregon is averaging 44.7 percent.  Louisville is averaging 33.17 percent from behind the arc and Oregon is shooting 33.27 percent.

In a game where offensive statistics can tell a story of two similar teams, one must dig deeper to find a true winner on paper.

Horses and Hoops prediction: this game will come down to turnovers.  Louisville committed 456 turnovers (12.6 per game) on the whole while Oregon turned the ball over 543 times (15 per game).

Guard play and defensive pressure will play pivotal roles in this matchup.  With Louisville’s tendency to force more turnovers and to score lots of points off those errors, I expect the Cardinals to keep up the intensity and stifle the Oregon offense.  Besides, the Big East was strides better than the PAC-12 in the 2012-13 season and these figures must be viewed in light of conference competition and defense.

My analysis hinges upon there being no hiccups or surprise injuries (knock on wood) in Friday’s matchup at 7:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Hopefully, Russ Arena’s furor and Luke Hancock’s consistency will travel with the Cardinals to Indianapolis and descend with the same intensity to create a LukeRuss Oil Stadium all clad in red.

ESPN’s Big Monday (UPDATE)

UPDATE:  Our guest writer just pointed out that the Miami Herald reported the following:

The ACC says it likely will take the Big East’s 7 p.m. slot on ESPN’s Big Monday next season. The new Big East – including seven Big East defectors, Xavier, Creighton and Butler – is shifting to the new Fox Sports 1, a 24-hour-network that debuts in August, replacing Speed.

So it looks good for the ACC to get the Big Monday slot.  Good news there. 

The ACC & The Postseason

While the Confidential continues to invite fans and friends to join its bracket contest, what about the ACC teams themselves?  Well, numerous ACC teams are still dancing.

From a mini-dance standpoint, Virginia and Maryland did not make it to the NCAA tournament, but both were eagerly invited to the N.I.T.  Last year’s ACC champion, Florida State, stumbled this year.  But they still landed a #4 seed in the NIT and will host Louisiana Tech tonight.   Maryland was given a #2 seed and hosts Niagara tonight.  Virginia earned a #1 seed and will be hosting Norfolk State tonight.  You may recall Norfolk State as a mainstay on the Rutgers’ football schedule.

But everyone is interested in the Big Dance.  How about Louisville?  Set to join in 2014, everyone knows by now that the Cardinals are the #1 overall seed.  Many prognosticators are prognosticating that Louisville will win it all.  Giant leap of faith there.  But it is hard to disagree with that pick.  Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame will be playing ACC games in the fall.  But all three are dancing, receiving #4, #8, and #7 seeds, respectively.  Pitt may have been screwed with its seed, but it can beat Gonzaga.  Will they?  We’ll see.  Syracuse also got sent to San Jose to play West Coast teams.  But they are all dancing.

The ACC is further represented by Tobacco Road, which placed Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State as #2, #8, and #8 seeds.  Those seeds seem fair.  Miami finishes out the ACC teams with a #2 seed in the East.  While a #2 seed is argued by some as unfair or disrespectful, it seems within the realm of appropriate.  Remember, the Committee can adjust seeds by one or two places to keep the conferences sorted out and prevent rematches.

In any event, there are eleven ACC teams left standing.  This time of year, rivalries are set aside and we can all root for our conference mates…at least until they face each other.  So good luck to all ACC teams… may your March Madness continue as long as possible…

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