ACC Action Week 7: Defensive Stars Shine

Photo: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse and Florida State were all idle this week but we still had 4 inter-conference games this week plus Pittsburgh squaring off against Notre Dame.

Let’s dig into the notable impressions and what we learned from Week 7 in the ACC.

Duke Disrespected, LBs Shine

Duke - road underdogs (+3) - beat Georgia Tech 28-14??? Shocking. If only someone would have told me that was a free money bet...

Coming off a bye and a disappointing loss to Virginia Tech, I expected a well-coached team like Duke to handle its business against Tech. In this week's 6-Pack Thursday I highlighted various reasons why I believed the Blue Devils would prevail, but arguably none were more important that Duke's experience of late facing option offenses. I trusted linebackers Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris to rise to the occasion and they did just that. Combining for 26 tackles and 2 tackles for loss, Giles-Harris and Humphreys were active in taking away the Yellow Jacket's rushing attack. Limiting the Jackets to under 4 yards per carry on 61 attempts is a terrific job considering how Tech plays offense.

Is Duke a threat to take down the Clemson's of the world? No - but Vegas has to know better than giving them points against Georgia Tech.

Allen, Ray Dominate in Eagles win over Cardinals

As it turns out, Eagles are mightier than Cardinals both in the Animal Kingdom and on the football field. A big reason why it proved true on the gridiron is BC senior defensive lineman Zach Allen and Wyatt Ray who had dominating outings against Louisville on Saturday.

Allen racked up 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and a sack while controlling the line of scrimmage. He was effective at the point of attack and applying heat on the passer. He offers outstanding play strength and a motor that never throttles down. Ray filled up the box score with splash plays as well, tallying 4 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Ray now has 8.5 sacks on the season with 7 of those coming in two games- 4 vs Wake Forest and 3 vs Louisville.

Thornhill a Thorn in Miami's Side

Senior defensive back Juan Thornhill made the switch from cornerback to safety this season, a move that I thought would boost his draft stock. From studying his tape this season, it was clear that he was sound processing what was in front of him and filling against the run. With that said, the ball production we enjoyed from him at cornerback has been missing. With two interceptions against Miami, we again saw a DB capable of making game-changing plays on the football.

Thornhill's versatility will be an asset to him at the next level and boosts his draft stock. He could cement himself as a Day 2 prospect with continued production throughout the second half of the season.

Quick Hitters

  • Duke QB Daniel Jones was sacked 4 times, lost a fumble and threw an interception but still completed 17-of-27 passes for 206 yards with 3 touchdown passes against GT.
  • Louisville WR Jaylen Smith did not catch a pass against Boston College. In what is shaping up to be a loaded WR class, he is declining rapidly.
  • Louisville had 32 rushes for 47 yards against Boston College in a 38-20 loss.
  • Boston College junior defensive back Hamp Cheevers recorded his fourth interception of the season against Louisville. He had 2 picks in 6 games played last year, bringing his total to 6 in the last 13 games. He entered Week 7 as PFF's highest graded DB in the ACC.
  • Pitt RB Darrin Hall racked up 82 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches in the Panthers 19-14 loss to Notre Dame.  Backfield mate Qadree Ollison had 32 less yards on 4 less touches but did score a touchdown.
  • UNC's best player, WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams, caught 3 passes for 12 yards a TD in the Tarheels 22-19 loss to Virginia Tech. He needs to see more touches.
  • Miami RB Travis Homer had 8 carries for 95 yards and 3 receptions for 50 yards in the Canes 16-13 loss to Virginia. In Miami wins, Homer averages over 15 carries per game. In the Canes two losses, Homer averages just 7.5 carries per game. Feed. Him. The. Ball.
  • Miami S Sheldrick Redwine recorded his third interception of the season. He only had 2 in his previous 28 games entering his senior season. Known for his physicality, this increased ball production is big for his draft stock.
  • Another week and another productive outing for UNC DL Malik Carney. Against the Hokies, Carney tallied 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. In 3 games this season, Carney now has 20 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. I need to take a deep look into his tape very soon.

Power Rankings After Week 7

  1. Clemson
  2. NC State
  3. Duke
  4. Miami
  5. Virginia Tech
  6. Boston College
  7. Virginia
  8. Syracuse
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Wake Forest
  11. Florida State
  12. North Carolina
  13. North Carolina
  14. Louisville

Written By:

Joe Marino

Chief Administrative Officer

CAO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Member of the FWAA.