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#STINGDAILY: ACC Preview: Week #2

Week #2 ACC Preview
@WesDurham

After a flurry of action in the first week of the season, including a pair of conference games, the schedule just keeps on rolling this Saturday. There are challenges for each school in one way or another. Some need to win, some would like more time to prepare, and some are trying to find out things they couldn’t answer after the first week of the season.

Penn State at Virginia, 12 noon (ABC)

You have to feel for Bill O’Brien and his team. The issues aside, there is likely no one team that will have a continuous distraction this season like the Nittany Lions will. At times last Saturday against Ohio, O’Brien’s team looked poised and polished. At other times, they frustrated their first-year head coach. The seniors will have to be the ones who set the tempo going forward. Matt McGloin is a nice player at QB, but there has to be other guys who can make a play.

In Charlottesville, Penn State will face a team that has plenty of momentum after an impressive week one victory over in-state foe Richmond. The Cavaliers ran the ball well with a combination of backs, and Michael Rocco was solid passing the ball. Where Virginia might be really good is on defense where linebackers Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds helped hold the Spiders to just 28 yards of rushing.

This is the first example of a team that has questions in week two they didn’t get answered in week one. They’ll have answers by late Saturday afternoon.

Maryland at Temple, 12 noon (ESPNU)

True freshman Perry Hills started at QB, and if not for a late scoring drive, the Terps wouldn’t have produced any points let alone a victory against William & Mary. If you subscribe to being an optimist, then take into account that Maryland did hold the FCS team without a touchdown.

The landscape changes pretty quick for Randy Edsall’s team this weekend. Temple is pretty good now. They pounded Villanova, 41-10, in their opener last Thursday, Tailback Matt Brown rushed for 141 yards and a score in his bid to replace Bernard Pierce (who lit the Terps up for more than 200 yards last year).

There will be a crowd Saturday in Philly too. Last Thursday night was the third largest crowd for the Owls since moving their games to Lincoln Financial Field.

Miami at Kansas State, 12 noon (Fox Sports Net)

Ladies and gentlemen, Randy “Duke” Johnson has arrived for the `Canes. Just ask Boston College. Highly recruited, Johnson delivered for Al Golden’s team in their ACC opener, rushing for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns in their 41-32 victory.

Miami fell behind early, but got a Denzel Perryman interception return for a score, and then settled down the rest of the way.

Saturday’s test at Kansas State will be a measuring stick for not just Miami, but also the ACC. After a sluggish start (leading only 9-6 at the half) the #22 Wildcats blasted Missouri St., 51-9, last Saturday. QB Collin Klein tossed a pair of touchdowns in the second half to lead the way.

NC State at UConn, 12 noon (Big East Network)

I don’t really know what to think about the Wolfpack. They had such a solid start last Friday night in the Georgia Dome, only to end up getting hammered by Tennessee. Early on was exactly what we thought a State team coming off their bowl win over Louisville would do. QB Mike Glennon was solid, the defense was making plays and so on.

Then the bottom fell out…on both sides of the ball. Now the Pack must go to East Hartford and face a UConn team that beat UMass last Thursday to open the season and feels like they’re on the rebound after a rough first season under Paul Pasqualoni (you likely forgot he was their coach didn’t you).

That’s where the drama of this game is for State. They have a lot invested with this team, or else they would not have played a big game like the Vols on opening night. Now, after losing badly in Atlanta, they have to go back on the road to see if they can reclaim their off-season momentum.

One thing is for sure. The secondary has to play better. I voted David Amerson, the pre-season player of the year this summer, because I felt like he was the best player in the conference after 2011. Last Friday night was not his or the Pack’s best. Hopefully this Saturday is.

Ball State at Clemson, 12:30 p.m. (ACC Network)

In case you were wondering, RB Andre Ellington is the “most important player” on the Clemson team, and last Saturday night he proved it in their win over Auburn. For all that Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins can do, Ellington is a guy who can make plays running and catching the ball, and when healthy is arguably the most complete back in college football.

The biggest problem for Dabo Swinney is that everyone will start talking about September 22nd, this week. That’s the day that Clemson plays Florida State in Tallahassee. Swinney’s team still has Furman next week at home and vastly improved Ball State this week at Frank Howard Field.

The Cardinals nearly went bowling in Pete Lembo’s first season last fall. RB Jahwan Edwards had 200 yards rushing last Thursday in their 37-26 win over Eastern Michigan. Ball State throws it around too behind QB Keith Wenning (26-41, 267 yards).

Clemson will have to battle the distractions along with the Cardinals and Paladins, this week and next.

Maine at Boston College, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)

Last Saturday in their opening day loss to Miami, QB Chase Rettig completed 32-51 passes for 441 yards and 2 TD’s. It was the best performance yardage wise from an Eagles team since 1993, and quite a change for a team that was so offensively challenged a year ago. If Rettig can keep it going, they should be able to beat FCS opponent Maine this Saturday. The Eagles need to sustain some things in the run game to help Rettig finish drives.

Defensively, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis is a tackling machine. When he left the game last Saturday, Miami was able to have more success on offense.

Austin Peay at Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN3)

After a physical, mentally taxing ball game on Monday night, it’s going to be interesting to see how both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech handle their respective games this Saturday. I’m a little surprised the Hokies aren’t playing a night game, but that shouldn’t matter with Austin Peay of the OVC paying a visit.

By the way, Virginia Tech is going to be wearing white helmets with Gobbler feet on them…just saying.

I thought that the Hokie defense was as good as advertised against the Jackets, but I’m anxious to see how they develop as the season unfolds. On offense, Logan Thomas seems to be willing to take some chances when he thinks there is a play to be made. He was successful on Monday night, and I expect he will be against the Governors this weekend.

Virginia Tech must address a more consistent run game by someone other than Thomas. The combination of Holmes and Coleman was fine, but neither seemed to wrestle the job from the other.

North Carolina at Wake Forest, 3 p.m. (RSN)

I’m not sure Larry Fedora could have asked for more in his Tar Heel debut. The coach who promised high-power offense delivered in a big way, posting a 62-0 win over Elon. QB Bryn Renner looked very good running Fedora’s high-tempo spread sets, but TB Giovanni Bernard had 200-plus yards of total offense before leaving the game at halftime.

But Carolina was also pretty good on defense. Elon has some offensive weapons, including a very good wideout in Aaron Mellette, who only had two catches for nine yards. The Heels raised havoc with Elon QB Tyler Wilson as well, and limited the Phoenix to 170 total yards.

Wake Forest was the opposite of Carolina. The Deacons struggled with Liberty from the opening kick, and had to pull victory from the jaws of defeat in some ways. The Deacons have got to be better on offense. Against the Flames, Jim Grobe’s club had just 293 yards of total offense, and only 98 yards of rushing.

Tanner Price was 16-28 passing for 195 yards, and clearly that’s not going to be enough against a team like Carolina, who wants to run over 80 plays a game…if they can.

Wake better hurry up…after Carolina, they visit Florida State.

Savannah State at Florida State, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)

I almost don’t know what to say…let’s look at numbers. The Seminoles beat Murray State, 62-3 last Saturday at home, while Savannah State lost at Oklahoma State, 84-0. FSU had 606 yards against the Racers of Chris Hatcher, while former Tech player Steve Davenport saw his Tigers generate just 139 yards in their loss to the Cowboys.

Maybe this number is the one we should use: $860,000.00

That’s the amount of money Savannah State is getting by opening the season at Oklahoma State and Florida State.

Duke at Stanford, 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Maybe the most surprising result of week one came from the Blue Devils. A year ago, they struggled to beat the Panthers of Florida International. Last Saturday night, David Cutcliffe’s team hammered the Panthers in the opener.

Duke scored 30 points in the second quarter to take a big lead, in part because of QB Sean Renfree and WR Conner Vernon. Vernon caught 10 balls for 180 yards and one TD.

A concern going into Saturday’s game at Stanford will be that the Blue Devils surrendered 348 passing yards to FIU. Stanford, who struggled in their opener with San Jose State, is pretty good throwing the football, even without that guy named Luck.

TIME OUT FOR TRIVIA:

How many Big South Conference teams have the Jackets played in football?

Last week’s queston: How many returning QB are there in the ACC this fall?

Answer: Last Saturday the number was 10. Only Miami and Maryland failed to start the same player who took the majority of the snaps in 2011. Had C.J. Brown not gotten hurt in pre-season, the number would be 11.

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