There are really good things about ‘bye’ weeks, in this case a true two-week break between games occurred. Usually the ‘bye’ had been scheduled before a Thursday night game so it was more like 10 days of rest and repair. Will the Hokies benefit from the break, even though such lengthy pauses can cause a certain amount of momentum interruption? It’s a tad bit difficult to gauge this Sunday, but we will see, on the field next Saturday as we face the University of North Carolina for Homecoming.
ACC Turmoil and Fan Boy Gas
Clemson loses to Syracuse by a field goal, 27 – 24. The biggest news from this weekend will be the serious interruption in the flow of the ACC Championship picture. You see, the Atlantic Division of the ACC is no longer a lock for the Clemson Tigers, who found out two weekends ago, at Lane Stadium, that they were not invincible, and that last week’s ankle injury to Tiger QB Kelly Bryant was a serious problem. I wonder if Justin Fuente thought about calling Dabo to warn him of the strange vexatious nature of the Carrier Dome, and then thought “Nah! Let him find out for himself…”
You have to be suspicious of any facility that is named for an HVAC corporation in which that facility is NOT air conditioned. If it doesn’t peak your “spider senses” nothing will. Clemson seemed to take the game with Syracuse very much like we took ours; looking past an “easy” opponent for greater things. Imagine the delight in Dino Babers’ attitude when a top rated football team lollygagged into the den of the Orangemen… I mean Orange… only to encounter a serious attitude adjustment. Then they add salt to the wounds of the Tiger defeat by hitting a limping (Literally) Kelly Bryant enough times that he left the game less than half way through with symptoms of a concussion. Concussions are becoming two-week recovery periods, and Bryant’s ankle was done no favors for the outing on the ancient and nasty Carrier Dome carpet. Clemson is about to face a few less than dismissible opponents over the next six games. Clemson has gone from the favorite to win the ACC to only being in the mix for winning the Atlantic Division, IF they get by enough ACC opponents; one of which is the streaking North Carolina State.
North Carolina State pretty much dismantled Pitt; 35-17. By the end of the game, Pitt couldn’t stop the run, was having difficulty with the pass, and could do neither when it had the ball. The first half of the game was relatively even in both effort and the 14-14 score; but as time wore on Pitt wore out. It didn’t help that Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi ended up replacing starting QB Ben DiNucci with true freshman Kenny Pickett. Nardo’s post-game explanation for pulling his more experienced QB that had managed to move the ball with the inexperienced freshman was to get the freshman more playing time. From the camera shots of DiNucci, fuming away on the sidelines, I rather thing that Pat N is burning away most of his offensive player’s good will to hunt for other options. We play Pitt on Senior Night, so we’ll see if their coach has made things better or worse for the Panthers. Meanwhile NC State Quarterback Ryan Finely and their Running Back Nyheim Hines continued to dominate the action on the field. Finely and Hines are a dangerous combination and the Wolf Pack is going to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division this season. Both teams are now 6-1 but the Wolf Pack is 1st.
Virginia got by North Carolina; 20-14. The game was about as close to a snooze fest as you could get and keep the broadcasters from cutting away for the Bowie State vs. Virginia State game. I am sure that this game was assigned viewing for the football team since Tech has to play Carolina first, and then wrap the season against the Wahoos. I almost hope that there was no such requirement, because I don’t want anyone on the Hokies’ football team, including the trainers and water tenders to get any impressions on how to prepare for each team. The game looked good and competitive for the first half, and then degenerated into what could best be described as mutual ineptitude. Virginia, due to the vagaries of the ACC schedule and W/L rating system was 1st in the Coastal and off to its best start in years so it’s Offense of QB Kurt Benkert, RB Jordan Ellis, RB Olamide Zaccheaus (operating mostly as a receiver), with wide out Doni Dowling and Tight End Evan Butts scored just enough points in the second half to squeeze by Carolina. The Tar Heels’ running back Michael Carter scored two rushing touchdowns in the 3rd quarter, but their passing game just never got up off the turf and QB Brandon Harris operated below 50% complete and 100 yards, err well 50 for the entire game. The concern will be for us was that the Cavalier Defense (under the personal coaching supervision of Mendenhall) or the relative ineptitude of the Carolina Offense. We will have to wait and see what happens next Saturday at 3:30.
Miami pulled off another miracle come back against Georgia Tech; 25-24. This was the big consequential Coastal Division game and I expect the Miami Media Fanboy Club to be as glee filled as the announcers were who called the game, on Saturday. The first thing to have noticed is that the game was SLOPPY. The Yellow Jackets dominated the first quarter, as is usual for them as that Paul Johnson Cracked Option burned up big gain after big game on the Miami defense. But eventually Miami figured out that Georgia Tech was still not very good at throwing the ball, and if they could stuff the run on 1st down to force the Jackets into 2nd and long, and then 3rd and long, that the Rambling Wreck’s wheels fell off. Neither team’s offense did much dominating. GT got the 1st Quarter 7-3 with its usual clock burning running game. Then Miami struggled down field for a touchdown and field goal in the 2nd –the Jackets’ Offense actually stalled inside the 10, and had to be rescued by a short pass (someone with the organ play ominous cords). That kept Georgia Tech up by a hair because Miami’s defense largely shut down the GT Offense after the early Yellow Jacket TD. The reality of the game is that after the 1st minute of the 2nd quarter passed, the Hurricane defense totally snuffed the Georgia Tech offense. The only points that G-Tech would manage for the remainder of the game was an ill-advised and then badly played (by Miami) onside kick to start the 2nd half. It was a scoop and score for the Yellow Jackets, and that signaled the final time that they crossed the goal line. GT would grab another three with 5 to go in the 3rd, and that would end its scoring.
Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, Miami’s offense had just enough oomph to gather itself and slug through the rain and mud of the second half of the game. It didn’t put up many points but it put up enough to get within 2 points of Georgia Tech. There was that missed 2 point conversion to tie, and then with that supposed momentum, Georgia Tech would come out, run the ball. They’d Burn up the clock, and walk into the locker room wet, muddy, and a winner. Right? Wrongo! The Georgia Tech Defense (giving Fuente and Cornelsen a key to beating them) totally folded in the last two minutes of the game.
Miami’s QB Malik Rosier went to work, using short bubble screens on checkdowns under the zone that Georgia Tech’s defense did absolutely nothing with. Miami marched 9 yards here, 14 there, a noodle over there, then got to field goal range, then got knocked out by a penalty, then got back in close with a fluttery messy pass to a double covered Darrell Langham who kept his concentration on a tipped ball that the defender gave up on for a critical 28 yard play that got Miami back into range, and then followed it up with a 12 yard Travis Homer run that got it in too close to miss, even in the rain and goo of Coral Gables. We are going to have to face that team and even though they beat the Jackets yesterday, and the Fanboys will be all crazy and in love with Miami, proved that they are not as good as they think, and certainly a very beatable team. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets suddenly dropped down from extreme worry to serious concern on my can we beat them radar as well.
The Rest of the ACC Fades
Meanwhile, Louisville continues to prove that it’s just Lamar Jackson and a bunch of scrubs. They lost a shootout to none other than Boston College; 45-42. I didn’t watch that game. I think that it might have been on, but since we already beat BC for the year, and won’t be facing Louisville it was only an intellectual oddity that I didn’t have much time for. Florida State barely got by a wakening Duke team (trap detectors are out for the weekend after next); 17-10.
For now, I really don’t care much about the rankings; those are still mostly gas, sunshine, and fanboy fumes. What I care about is the ACC standings and what Virginia Tech has to do to get to Charlotte in December, and then come out of that situation with a win. The ACC will not be close to settled in until we tee it up against Pitt for Senior Night. It might actually come down to a possible brawl in Scott Stadium; who knows?
Week 8 of the NCAA Football season will be one of the turning points for quite a few teams. Clemson as we saw, but Washington State, Washington, and Auburn all collected the wrong end of upsets. Navy will drop out of the top 25 with a loss to Memphis. Texas Tech and San Diego State will take big hits as well. Week 9 is going to be a very different show with changed expectations, that’s for sure.
It is one game at a time, folks! Beat the Tar Heels!!!!!
What’s the biggest Hokie related news for Week 8?
This poll is closed
Clemson loses to Syracuse and loses Bryant for an unknown period
Both UNC and Virginia looked bad and the game was terrible
We are glad that we don’t play NC State in the stretch
Miami and Georgia Tech both showed serious weaknesses that we need to exploit
Our Record on Saturday at 9 pm should be 1-0! Nothing Else!