State of the ACC in 2019

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to the ACC in the last month, it’s time to start. Duke isn’t the only force on the coast as teams such as UVA made statements in late 2018 and look to make their name known in 2019 before March (which is only 2 months away!). Happy New Year! It’s time to separate the headliners and the rebuilders. Take a look.

North Carolina: Will the real Tar Heels please stand up?

These guys are hard to figure out. They looked alright playing mediocre teams, plus Stanford, at the beginning of the year, but weaknesses were exposed in an 89-92 loss to Texas. Kerwin Roach smoked the Heels’ defense for 32 points as the Tar Heels gave up 92 and couldn’t win despite Coby White’s 33 points. A win UCLA against is looking less and less impressive. The one shining star on the Tar Heels’ record would be a 103-90 win against then-4 Gonzaga, but inconsistency has been a big issue. Also, Roy Williams refuses to play athletic marvel, top recruit, and NBA prospect Nassir Little more than a few minutes a game. Little needs the exposure; he has the potential to go top-5 in the draft if he can impress scouts which I believe he can do easily. His productivity is impressive in the few minutes he is granted. The consistency lies in freshman PG Coby White: that kid is a star. UNC plays Pittsburgh on January 5.

Record: 9-3

Pittsburgh: Jeff Capel Turning A Bad Program Around

I’ve been bad about following this since former Duke assistant head coach Jeff Capel departed for Pitt, but he’s making a bad program look fun again! They’re not going to win the ACC or something, but he has them set to be a winning program. The recruits flow to him. Plus, their social media platforms have been hyped. It’s not going to happen instantaneously, but Pitt is creeping back into competition. I can’t wait to see what happens there next. Pitt contested throughout the whole game in a 68-69 loss to ranked Iowa. They play UNC on January 5.

Record: 10-3

NC State: They’re Legitimate.

This is what I can say about NC State right now: Wow! Kevin Keatts was apparently the answer for State. They’re currently ranked #18 in the country. Torin Dorn is an excellent player. I’m excited for NC State-UNC this year (an early January game): this rivalry seems to come to life more and more as NC State revitalizes itself after the Mark Gottfried disaster. Poll voters have mixed opinions as some put the Pack near the top 10 while others didn’t rank them at all. They’re an intriguing development and look good in the future. They have a strong record of 12-1 and have a huge win on the board against #8 Auburn, the only blemish being a loss to Wisconsin. Star player Markell Johnson, though, is apparently having an issue as head coach Kevin Keatts didn’t play him for “low energy”: “Markell was low energy. So when you’re low energy, you don’t play for me… It’s not about the guy that scores the most points, but the guy who plays the hardest. I wanted more energy from him, especially on the defensive end.” NC State plays Miami on January 3.

Record: 12-1

Virginia Tech: Hokies Better Than Ever

Yet another team is on the rise: Virginia Tech had high expectations at the beginning of the season and has lived up to the hype thus far. They did lose to Penn State but have otherwise kept a clean record and entered the top-10 for the first time in a while. They’re the only team in the conference with an ACC win after kicking off the conference stretch with an win vs. Notre Dame in which their offense shone. Yet again, a trip to Blacksburg will be no fun for anybody.

Clemson: A Competitor

In general, this Clemson team has a goal: to prove that last year’s Sweet Sixteen run was no fluke. They’ve beaten the teams, certainly, that they should beat with a few losses intermittently, but in general is a strong group. Marcquise Reed has returned from a knee sprain, giving them back their best player after a little under a month out. This Clemson team will certainly be a competitor in the ACC and will be no easy game for anyone. Clemson will play Duke on January 5.

Record: 10-3

Syracuse: Up and Down

They beat Ohio State, they lose to Old Dominion. They defeat Georgetown, they get beaten by Oregon. This season hasn’t been anywhere close to consistent for the Orange. Tyus Battle has continued to be a force after returning to New York for another season, but in general this team hasn’t quite found its identity. Hopefully for ‘Cuse fans, they can do so during ACC play.

Record: 9-4

Florida State: Top-10 Power

The Seminoles are set to have a pretty good season, their current #9 rank supported by quality wins over LSU and Florida (a rout). Phil Cofer is back from the squad that made the Elite Eight last year alongside Terance Mann who can both be major producers on the offensive end of the court. The ‘Noles, however, will get their first major test against #4 UVA on January 5.

Virginia: Final Four Contender (But Still, UMBC)

Well, get ready, because the Wahoos are just as good as they were last year. With lockdown defense, they can contend with anybody provided that they make something happen on offense. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome can do so at least most of the time, as well as (only) NBA prospect De’Andre Hunter. They are going to be a major favorite- though probably second to Duke- for the ACC crown and will be able to contend with anybody in the NCAA. As of now, they’re undefeated (though the strength of schedule is not there); however, Virginia has a history of choking when it matters most: March.

Record: 12-0


The remaining teams, their records, and their upcoming schedule:

Notre Dame

Record: 10-4

Next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday 12pm

Boston College

Record: 9-3

Next: @ 10 VA Tech, Saturday 12pm

Louisville

Record: 9-4

Next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6pm

Miami

Record: 8-4

Next: @ Louisville, Sunday 6pm

Georgia Tech

Record: 7-5

Next: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday 2pm

Wake Forest

Record: 6-5

Next: @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 2pm

Bleed blue. Get this: we finally get to watch our team play again! Duke takes on their first ACC foe in Clemson in Durham on Saturday at 8pm.

Duke Takes Advantage of Miscues In 28-14 Win Over GA Tech

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Duke’s Daniel Jones attempts a throw in his 200-yd, 3 TD performance vs. Georgia Tech. Photo by Charles York ❖ The Chronicle

It was a baffling game, but Duke was able to leave Atlanta with their fifth win of the season. There are few games where you find three fumbles leading to three touchdowns but that’s exactly how Duke managed to take control of the game. They didn’t exactly play magnificently, but it’s really a testament to the value of a hustle mentality. That’s the fundamentals of football and we executed that properly. Their middle school coaches should be proud.

A True Brawl

Things got chippy in this game: there were multiple incidents after the whistle and eventually, it boiled over as this happened:

Yikes. Jacob Morganstern was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty but was not ejected, while Tech’s Victor Alexander got the boot for the game.

Sorry for the delay in this post. Bleed blue. Countdown is in less than one week. Mark your calendars, people!

Duke Takes on GA Tech Saturday

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It feels like forever since Duke has played, but we get some action this Saturday afternoon as we take on the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech plays a three-option offense. Duke’s succeeded well against option offenses, but a big injury just made that harder: Junior LB Koby Quansah has a fractured foot and will not play Saturday. Quansah’s been a big piece of the puzzle for the past few weeks but we’ll have to adapt for this loss. Our thoughts are with him as he recovers and we hope that he can get back soon. As he had with other option-offenses, Coach David Cutcliffe will start three linebackers instead of the usual 4-2-5. Usually, Quansah is in that group with Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys, but Chris Rumph

A better lookout comes for our young offensive line, which will regain an important veteran in redshirt senior C Zach Harmon. Duke will have to do a lot of things right- or at least more things right than against Virginia Tech– to pick up the win in Atlanta.

Time: 12:20pm

Location: Bobby Dodd Stadium

Broadcast: Raycom

Duke Falls to VA Tech, 31-14, for First Loss

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TE Noah Gray (87) catches a pass from QB Daniel Jones. Source: USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2018/09/29/willis-leads-virginia-tech-to-31-14-upset-of-no-22-duke/37994103/

Duke fell to Virginia Tech, 31-14, for their first loss on Saturday, having gone 4-0 earlier in the season. We still have a respectable 4-1 record, but the loss hurts. Duke really didn’t play well, either: Daniel Jones started out looking great, especially coming off the collarbone fracture, but there were a few that looked not-so-great. He simply overthrew to Chris Taylor in the end zone twice, who got his fingertips on it. He was nearly intercepted multiple times, and one the Hokies did manage to pick off and got a field goal off of it. One ray of hope was that drive, actually: Duke’s defense didn’t play well for most of the game, but at the end of that drive Virginia Tech got down into the red zone and we held them there for a field goal.

Running Game Stalled

I want to say one thing about Virginia Tech: Whatever happened in that Old Dominion game did not happen last night. They were just about as good as they’ve been in years past. Old Dominion was a fiasco but it’s not a testament to the team’s potential. They are good and OD can’t change that, as much as they’ve shifted the public eye. Virginia Tech’s defense (which OD tore up) was stout in this one, and they stalled Duke’s running game to a grinding halt. They ran up the middle a lot but succeeded more on short screen passes. The running game led to a lot (a lot) of 3rd down scenarios that, if you look below, it seemed only the Hokies were able to pull off. We had just 71 rushing yards, and we average over 230. Virginia Tech’s defense played with a chip on their shoulders and we did anything but, plain and simple.

3rd Down Issues

Virginia Tech converted on the most unlikely of 3rd down situations: 3rd and 9, 3rd and 15, all kinds of things that Duke is supposed to defend. Often backup QB Ryan Willis would make us pay for the blitz with a pass that the impressive receivers could get for a first down to extend the drive. We will have to improve our third down defense if we want to succeed under the bright lights, which Duke has not shown an ability to do.

Looking on the Bright Side

This loss is not the end of the world for the Blue Devils. We’re still just two games away from bowl eligibility and we’ve got plenty of games to do that, and we can learn from this game for bigger ones in the future. Daniel Jones did not get hurt all over again- something we worried about as he entered the game just three weeks following surgery. I’m shocked at the number of sources calling this an “upset”: VA Tech is a good team, period. Duke is still a good team, period. This is a bump in the road, plain and simple. Bull City Proud!

Bleed blue. Next week we’ve got Georgia Tech: now we can have the mentality of a chip on our shoulders, like Virginia Tech had with us. We need that kind of a game right now. By the way, Three weeks to COUNTDOWN!