Welcome to ACC Action! Each week our staff will divide up the conferences, watch the games pertaining to the the assigned conference and then write up an overview with the key takeaways from that weekend.
With 5 inter-conference games on Saturday, there was a lot revealed and several prospects who cashed in big performances.
Let’s dig into the notable impressions and what we learned from Week 5 in the ACC.
Joe Jackson Makes Big Plays
Miami easily handled UNC on Thursday Night with a strong defensive effort leading the way. After being held without a sack over the first three weeks of the season, Jackson picked up a sack against UNC which gives him 2.5 over Miami’s last two games. With that said it was of the coverage sack variety but was a credit to his hot motor to continue his rush and make a play. I still don’t see the burst and flexibility within him to be taken seriously as a first-round edge prospect.
He did also have a pick-six against the Tarheels on a ball that was thrown right to his gut on a failed screen attempt by UNC. The splash plays were nice to see but he is more of a technician/power/effort guy than a fluid and explosive edge rusher.
Daniel Jones Back
Jones only missed two games with a fractured clavicle, returning to action Saturday against Virginia Tech. Duke ultimately fell 31-14 but Jones looked healthy. Early on, his receivers let him down by letting some deep shots bounce off their finger tips but ultimately Jones was slow with his trigger and was held to 23 completions on 35 attempts for 226 yards with a TD and INT.
Before going down with injury, I wrote about how Jones was blossoming as an NFL Draft prospect. Like him or not, the NFL is VERY interested. I spoke to several scouts recently and they were swooning when we talked about Jones.
Big Night for Hokies S Reggie Floyd
One of my favorite sleepers entering the season, Floyd had a big night in the Hokies bounce-back win over Duke. The junior safety racked up 8 tackles, 2.5 for loss and hauled in an interception, showcasing impressive playmaking skills.
Listed at 6-foot and 221 pounds, Floyd is a big safety but his range is impressive for his size. One of only four returning starters from last year’s defensive unit, Floyd has been a critical piece in the Hokies defense gelling. The Old Dominion disaster aside, Virginia Tech’s defense has been excellent this season. A big test in Notre Dame awaits next Saturday in Blacksburg.
You’re being lied to about Ryan Finley
Stop this nonsense with Finley as a first-round QB prospect. He’s a fine QB that will certainly be a draft pick, but his physical upside and processing skills are nowhere near first-round caliber.
I saw Finley live for the 5th time in the last 2 years on Saturday and his accuracy beyond 15 yards is underwhelming. The NFL Scouts I spoke with agreed. Against Virginia, I was especially unimpressed with his slow trigger. While there was some good pocket mobility to extend plays, there were plenty of examples where he needed to see it and rip it much quicker.
He distributes the ball well for the Wolfpack and his WR corps is one of the top 5 in college football but he profiles more as a backup than the QB some are touting as a first round pick.
Bryce Hall vs Kelvin Harmon was a tremendous battle
This was fun to watch. Catching 6 passes for 94 yards a TD, Harmon made his plays but I came away extremely impressed with how Hall battled throughout the contest. He broke up 2 passes, increasing his total to 9 over the last 4 games. Harmon is an alpha at the catch point but so was Hall, who now firmly has my attention as a prospect.
They matched up all game and Hall did well to compete and challenge Harmon at the catch point. Poorly thrown balls from Finley robbed us of more chances to see them compete but Hall was generally in-phase and wasn’t over-matched by Harmon’s physicality. I’m anxious to dig into some tape and see more of Hall.
Resume Game for Garrett Bradbury
If you’ve ever listened to a conversation between an NFL Scout and a prospect, you will always hear them ask the prospect what his best game was. It wouldn’t surprise me if NC State C Garrett Bradbury responds to that question this winter with “Virginia 2018”.
It was a dominant effort.
Late in the 2nd quarter, NC State committed to the run game and Bradbury created a ton of space. Whether it was working laterally along the LOS to open and seal running lanes or working to the second level as a vertical blocker, Bradbury was the catalyst for the Wolfpack’s 176 rushing yards on Saturday. He was smooth in pass pro and controlled the line of scrimmage.
Bradbury has the makings of a Day 2 draft pick with early starter upside in the NFL. Check him out.
- After a modest start to the season, Miami RB Travis Homer now has 27 carries for 202 yards over the Canes last two games.
- Miami Senior QB Malik Rosier was benched in favor of RS Freshman N’Kosi Perry who was 8-of-12 for 125 yards with a TD and INT in his starting debut. While he didn’t light up the box score and the U leaned on its rushing attack/defense to rout UNC, he did flash some impressive accuracy and decision-making that was a pleasant surprise compared to what we’ve seen from Rosier.
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) September 28, 2018
- UNC DE Malik Carney is a player we need to keep an eye on. After serving his suspension for selling shoes, Carney played in his second game of the season and is filling up the box score. In two games, Carney has racked up 13 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He’s was a steady contributor in 2016 and 2017 and is fully breaking out as a senior.
- Miami WR Ahmmon Richards has not played since Week 1 against LSU with a bone bruise on his knee. Hurt guys stay hurt…
- Clemson RB Travis Etienne proved he can handle a heavy workload. In the Tigers’ narrow win over Syracuse, he carried the rock 27 times for 203 times and 3 TDs. He isn’t eligible this year but will be part of a LOADED 2020 crop.
- How many times is Clemson WR Hunter Renfrow going to haul in ridiculous catches until he’s taken seriously as an NFL prospect? Won’t be me sleeping on him.
— The Draft Network (@DraftNetworkLLC) September 29, 2018
- Random Thought: UCF would be a really fun addition to the ACC. They romped Pitt 45-14 and were scheduled to play UNC a few weeks ago but it was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. The UCF margin of victory would have been significant.
- Boston College DL Zach Allen had a monster game against Temple. The Senior tallied 8 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, a forced fumble and 2 pass breakups.
- Virginia WR Olamide Zaccheaus is going to be such a fun NFL slot receiver. He caught 9 passes for 109 yards with 2 TDs while also adding 39 rushing yards on 2 carries to bring his yards from scrimmage total to 148 against NC State. Watching him live on Saturday, I came away most impressed with his footwork against press coverage.
Virginia WR Olamide Zaccheaus facing press coverage, shows gorgeous footwork to get a clean release, puts the corner in a blender on his break and creates a ton of space for an easy completion.
This dude is going to be a fun NFL slot WR.
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) September 29, 2018
- Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch had 11 catches for 163 yards while matching his own school-record with 4 TDs in the Deac’s 56-14 win over Rice. Remember who told you he was the next Jamison Crowder.
- I called out Louisville WR Jaylen Smith in this column last week and he responded with his first 100-yard game of the season against Florida State.
- Florida State QB Deondre Francois had an impressive showing in a come-from-behind win over Louisville. He completed 16-of-27 passes for 294 yards and a career-best 4 touchdowns.
Power Rankings After Week 5
- NC State
- Virginia Tech
- Boston College
- Florida State
- Wake Forest
- North Carolina
- Georgia Tech