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.
All 14 teams in the ACC were in action this week with 5 inter-conference games to digest.
Let’s dig into the notable impressions and what we learned from Week 12 in the ACC.
Pitt Clinches the Coastal, Proves it Can Win Through the Air
With a 34-13 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, Pitt clinched the ACC Coastal Division and secured a date with Clemson on December 1st for the ACC Championship. Pitt became the sixth different team to win the Costal in the last six seasons, leaving Virginia as the only school to not win it since 2013.
Wake Forest did well to shut down the dynamic Pitt rushing attack led by running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall. Limiting the tandem to a modest combined 25 carries for 96 yards, Pitt was challenged to win the game through the air and QB Kenny Pickett made it happen. Completing 23-of-30 passes for 316 yards and 3 TDs, Pickett proved he can be the reason the Panthers win a game. Taysir Mack, Maurice Ffrench and Rafael Araujo-Lopes had productive outing hauling in passes from Pickett.
If Pitt is going to challenge Clemson, Pickett will need a similar performance so it’s great to see him gain confidence and play well late in the season. Prior to Saturday, Pickett hadn’t thrown for more than 197 yards in any game with the rushing attack being the true identity of the team.
Noles Get a Big W
Losers of four out of its last five and in danger of falling out of bowl-eligibility, securing a 22-21 victory over 20th ranked Boston College was much-needed for Willie Taggart and Florida State. The Noles host Florida next week and can extend its streak of ending every season since 1982 with a bowl game should they beat the Gators.
Finishing with 322 passing yards, one passing touchdown and two interceptions, it continues to be painful watching Deondre Francois play quarterback considering the amount of crushing hits he takes and Saturday was no different. Facing a Florida defense next week that features the likes of Jachai Polite, coming up with a plan to keep Francois upright will be critical to a victory.
It was good to see R-So. RB Cam Akers finished with 110 yards and a TD on 14 carries, logging his first 100-yard performance of the season. He had 4 in 2017.
Clemson Contains Daniel Jones
One week after accounting for a program-record 547 total yards and four touchdowns against UNC, Duke QB Daniel Jones was held to just 165 yards and no touchdowns against Clemson. Obviously the level of competition is very different going from the worst to best team in the ACC, but the game did indicate some of the draft hype Jones is getting should be tempered for a while.
While we are all hungry for a true QB1, Jones has plenty of warts that where revealed against Clemson. First, Jones works from a limited scheme that requires him to hit mostly schemed quick throws or take vertical shots. There is very little demands on him to process coverage, work progressions and hit throws with anticipation. When he’s asked to do that, he simply isn’t comfortable. His ball placement was very spotty against Clemson compared to what he displayed against lesser competition earlier in the season.
While Jones hung tough in the pocket on several occasions and took shots from Clemson’s talented DL, there were numerous reps where he was fading away as he throws to decrease the impact of the hit. Additionally, balls were repeatedly batted down at the line of scrimmage on account of his low release point.
Jones ain’t the savior of this QB class and needs more development.
- So much for Syracuse playing spoiler to Notre Dame’s season. The Irish easily handled the Orange by a 36-3 margin. EDGE Alton Robinson had some flashes behind the line of scrimmage early on, but Cuse was dominated from start to finish.
- Boston College CB Hamp Cheevers hauled in his seventh interception of the season against Florida State.
- NC State did what it should against a Louisville program set to rebuild. Senior QB Ryan Finley completed 26-of-36 passes for 316 yards and 4 TDs. WR Kelvin Harmon caught 7 passes for 100 yards and a TD while WR Jakobi Meyers also hauled in 7 receptions for 96 yards and a score.
- Congrats to UNC for winning its second game of the season, beating Western Carolina 49-26. The Heels other win this season came over Coastal Division Champions Pitt.
- In 7 games played this season, UNC DL Malik Carney has 50 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.
- Georgia Tech beat Virginia in overtime on Saturday and is one of the hottest teams in the conference. The Yellow Jackets have won six of its last seven games. GT closes the regular season against Georgia next week.
- Virginia WR Olamide Zaccheaus had 11 receptions against Georgia Tech. It was his third games with double-digit receptions out of his last five outings.
- Georgia Tech only attempted 8 passes but that didn’t stop Virginia CB Bryce Hall from having 2 pass breakups. He’s now up to 19 PBUs and 2 interceptions on the season.
- Miami So. CB Trajan Bandy was sensational against the Hokies. He broke up 3 passes, had a tackle for loss and was a menace in coverage all night.
- Miami DE Joe Jackson had his way with VT freshman OT Christian Darrisaw. Jackson had 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks while consistently finding himself in the backfield. Jackson was sackless in the Canes last 4 games.
- Miami LB Michael Pickney was suspended against Virginia Tech for a violation of team rules.
- Miami LB Shaq Quarterman isn’t known for his ability in coverage but secured the first interception of his career against the Hokies. He quickly read the backfield, slid into the throwing lane and made the play.
- It’s going to take a win over Virginia and a makeup game victory against Marshall to extend Virginia Tech’s consecutive bowl game streak to 25.
- With 2 sacks against Duke, Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell is now up to 10.5 on the season.
Power Rankings After Week 12
- NC State
- Boston College
- Georgia Tech
- Florida State
- Wake Forest
- Virginia Tech
- North Carolina