Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Virginia Tech Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 10-3 overall, 6-2 ACC (2nd Coastal Division); lost to Georgia 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl

Offense: The 2007 Hokie offense will live or die with 2nd-year starting QB Sean Glennon. His underwhelming 2006 campaign (56% completion rate, 11 TD, 11 INT) was punctuated by a Van de Velde-ian collapse in the second half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl (3 picks, 1 lost fumble). Second-string QB Ike Whitaker is clearly more talented, but alcohol-related problems have kept him squarely in the backup role thus far. On a more positive note, junior RB Branden Ore is quietly becoming one of the Hokies' best-ever running backs, and will easily nail down the all-time school rushing record if he stays for his senior season (to date, he's 1,983 yards shy of the top spot). The WR corps is in excellent hands, with Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan back for another go. The offensive line, which was a patchwork unit last year, appears to be in better shape in 2007, with all five projected starters having significant game experience. Ore, Morgan, Royal are all proven gamers and the OL should be back up to Tech standards; but, until Glennon proves that he's capable of truly taking charge, opposing defenses with stack the box and leave the game in his thus-far shaky hands.

Defense: The nation's #1 defense in 2006 returns 8 starters, most notably the killer linebacking duo of Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall (a combined 210 tackles last year). The veteran defensive line (three seniors out of the four starters) should be as ferocious as ever and the secondary is anchored by shutdown corners Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris. Expect at least two shutouts this year, and possibly four when you look at the schedule. You'd think I'd have a lot more to say in a capsule regarding the best defense in the country over the last two years, but you'd be wrong; I know they're good, you know they're good, so it's best I stop yapping and just let these guys prove it.

Special teams: Gone are long-time punter Nic Schmitt and kicker Brandon Pace, replaced by Brent Bowden and Jud Dunlevy, respectively. The return game is still in the talented hands and feet of Eddie Royal, and I trust that the punt-blocking unit will be it's usual horror show on opponents.

Coaching: Last year's coaching staff returns intact, headed up of course by Frank Beamer, returning for his 21st season as head honcho at his alma mater. Oft-criticized OC Brian Stinespring is back, but quite frankly the most important job on the coaching staff this year belongs to QB coach Mike O'Cain (who by my count is coaching at his 4th different ACC program in the last 8 years), since the offense is basically stuck in first gear if the proverbial light doesn't switch on for Glennon. On the defensive side, '06 Broyles Award winner Bud Foster is back to plot the brutal evisceration and annihilation of opposing offensive attacks. He's become the best defensive coordinator in the league, and that's saying something when Mickey Andrews and Jon Tenuta also take up residence in the ACC.

For What It's Worth: Frank Beamer ranks third in wins among active head coaches with 198; that's just 168 and 165 victories behind numbers 1 and 2 (a guy named Bowden and some dude named Paterno)....Beamer has a record of .500 or better against all current ACC schools except Florida State; he's 0-7 against the Seminoles....despite it's rousing success over the last decade, Virginia Tech has never had a Top 10 recruiting class....the Hokies now have the longest streak in the ACC of consecutive games scored (148); they were last shutout by Cincinnati, 16-0 in 1995

Schedule Analysis: Aside from that pesky little trip to Baton Rouge in week two, the first five games provide ample opportunity for Glennon to get things set between the ears, and for the defense to just toy unmercifully with opposing offensive units. The ACC slate is unforgiving, as Florida State replaces Wake Forest and trips to Clemson (against the revenge-minded Tigers), Atlanta (that other Tech routed the Hokies in Blacksburg last year), and Charlottesville (the Hoos have to win one of those Commonwealth Cups, eventually) loom. FSU and Miami visit Blacksburg in back-to-back weeks in early November. At the very least, the already formidable home-field advantage at Lane Stadium should be greatly intensified this fall by the unity of the Virginia Tech family in the aftermath of the tragedy last April.
Projected Wins- East Carolina, Ohio, William & Mary, North Carolina, @Duke, Boston College, Florida State, Miami, @Virginia
Projected Losses- @LSU
Toss-Ups- @Clemson, @Georgia Tech

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Hokie Insight: Tech SuperFans, Blacksburg Beacon

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

The Strip and The Score

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Now & Then: Chuck Amato

More tomfoolery with past and present pics of our favorite ACC personalities...


Then (1993)

Chuck Dynamite appears to have aged quite well in the last 14 years. That said, it's plainly evident that the '93 photo is from his pre-implant days, and that former Seminole WR Wayne Messam (seated) shares my uneasy discomfort with those shorts.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

N.C. State Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 3-9 overall, 2-6 ACC (6th Atlantic Division)

Offense: A unit that has been nothing short of a train wreck since Phillip Rivers' departure after the 2003 season undergoes yet another makeover for a fourth straight year. The core of this unit rests with NFL-caliber RBs Andre Brown and Toney Hall, who despite being saddled with a porous OL in 2006, combined for over 1400 yards and 10 TDs. That OL returns 5 pseudo-starters, but is perilously thin after that; nearly all the second-teamers did not play a down in 2006. QB duties are still up in the air, with last year's nine-game starter Daniel Evans most likely to get the nod. He's been pushed by freshman Justin Burke and Nebraska transfer Harrison Beck, however allow me to say that I'm not very enthusiastic about former Husker QBs who transfer to North Carolina schools. 2005 and 2006 sometime starting QB Marcus Stone has moved to TE, where he takes the place of the just-injured Anthony Hill.

Defense: Despite losing three first round draft picks in the spring of '06, the Wolfpack defense didn't drop off the face of the earth, but it did slip to 8th in the ACC (36th nationally). Six starters leave from last year's squad, but plenty of returnees saw playing time last season via constant substitutions and injuries. As of right now, it isn't clear whether the Wolfpack may switch to a 3-4 defense or stay with last season's 4-3 set, but either way, two starters are back on the DL and the LB corps has significant game experience. Shutdown corner Jimmy "Third" Sutton returns for the secondary. All in all, the Pack D should at least maintain last year's status, and more than likely will climb into the top half of the ACC.

Special teams: State breaks in a new kicker in Bradley Pierson, brought in the nation's 2nd best JUCO punter in Jeff Ruiz, while last year's top ACC return specialist, Darrell Blackman, is back. One bright spot for the Wolfpack in recent years is the holy terror they've been to opposing punters, rivalling Virginia Tech for Best Punt Blocking Program status. It'll be interesting to see whether Amato's departure and O'Brien's arrival have much affect in that regard.

Coaching: Out- Chuck Amato and The Red Shoe Diaries. After some initial success in his first four seasons, the nearly constant revolving door on his assistant coaching staff, the departure of all-everything QB Phillip Rivers, and the deplorable on-field lack of discipline finally got the best of The Chest. In- Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien, quite possibly the polar opposite of Amato in nearly every way. He brought over most of his Chestnut Hill staff, most notably OC and QB/WR coach Dana Bible. Two former head coaches in DC Mike Archer (LSU 1987-1990) and LB coach Andy McCollum (Middle Tennessee 1999-2005) are new additions for both O'Brien and State. O'Brien's approach is methodical, demanding, and strict, but he's a proven winner and he'll make NC State a perennial contender in the ACC....just not this year.

For What It's Worth: Amato's ACC record and highest league finish (25-31, 4th '01-'03); previous coach Mike O'Cain's ACC record and highest league finish (26-30, 2nd '94)....the 2006 Wolfpack ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin (112th nationally), and had the highest number of penalties per game (7.17) in the league (13th-most nationally)....Tom O'Brien's 76 total wins as a head coach since 1997 is one win short of Earle Edwards' school-best mark of 77 wins in Raleigh from 1954-1970....new OC Dana Bible tutored NFL QBs Tim Hasselbeck, Brian St. Pierre, and Quinton Porter, along with current All-ACC QB Matt Ryan

Schedule Analysis: A mixed bag....on the conference side, both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are helpfully absent, but all of the conference road games (@Boston College, @Florida State, @Miami, @Wake Forest) are most difficult. An out-of-conference matchup with Louisville is sandwiched by matchups with Clemson and FSU. The delicious but soon-to-be-grossly-overhyped Tom O'Brien return to Boston kicks off ACC play for State, in week two. Alas, no Thursday night Cardiac Pack classics are scheduled for this season.
Projected Wins- UCF, Wofford, @East Carolina
Projected Losses- Clemson, Louisville, @Florida State, @Miami, @Wake Forest
Toss-Ups- @Boston College, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Wolfpack Insight: State Fans Nation, Section Six

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Miami Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 7-6 overall, 3-5 ACC (4th Coastal Division); beat Nevada 21-20 in the MPC Computers Bowl

Offense: A unit that scored just 11 TDs in eight ACC contests last year returns nine starters, although the heavy rotation last season (due to injuries, suspensions, and all-around horrendous play) saw nearly 20 players make at least two starts in Larry Coker's farewell tour in Coral Gables. QBs Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman are to date still battling it out for the starting nod, while RBs Javarris James and Charlie Jones are back as well. The Hurricanes' WR corps does not instill fear into the hearts of men, let alone opposing secondaries...at least not yet. Senior Lance Leggett, highly recruited way back in the day, has been a mild bust so far. Sam Shields (he of 37 receptions on '06) returns as well. 2006's sieve-like OL (26 sacks allowed, just 3.5 yards per carry) returns tons of experience, but whether the new coaching staff has improved fundamentals and strength/conditioning remains to be seen. With their third different offensive coordinator in as many years, I don't see the Hurricanes returning to the Dorsey-Portis-Shockey days of yore for a while.

Defense: This unit alone is good for at least six wins on the Canes' slate this season. The question is whether it can be as good as last year's Category-5 unit. The loss of murdered DT Bryan Pata leaves not only an emotional void, but a personnel void as well, and a strong one at that. The sick skillset of DE Calais Campbell will punish many an OL and QB this season, while the deep but not-quite-star-studded LB corps should inflict plenty of damage as well. The secondary loses stalwart Brandon Meriwether, but nearly every player on the two-deep depth chart at corner and safety has significant experience.

Special teams: In the parity-infected/parity-rich (depending on your point of view) ACC, this is where the Canes could come up very, very short in those inevitable nailbiters. Gone are K Jon Peattie and P Brian Monroe, who handled those duties since roughly 1989. Their replacement is redshirt freshman Matt Bosher, who will handle both roles in 2007. Also doing double duty is Bruce Johnson, fielding both kicks and punts this year, just as he did in '06 in adequate - but not overly impressive - fashion.

Coaching: Out- Larry Coker and the Sunshine Band....well, most of it. Four holdovers from Coker's staff remain, most notably his replacement as head coach, his very own defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Shannon's DC is Tim Walton (who coached DBs for Coker the last 3 seasons). In- Patrick Freaking Nix? The most puzzling hire of all the ACC coaching changes last season, Nix's offenses at Georgia Tech in his 3 seasons there ranged from unpleasant to appalling, especially given the talent on hand (like this guy). Sure, some of it was Reggie Ball's fault, some was Chan the Man's fault, but a lot of it was Nix's doing as well. Probably more than any other reason, Miami's new OC is the biggest reason I'm a bit cool on the Canes this year.

For What It's Worth: Career coaching records- Larry Coker (60-15), Mark Richt (61-17), Butch Davis (51-20), Ralph Friedgen (50-24), Jeff Tedford (43-20); I'm just sayin'....Miami's average 2006 home attendance in the decrepit 72,000-seat Orange Bowl - 41,908 (9th ACC)....the Canes' 3-year ACC record: 14-10; their worst 3-year stretch in the old Big East (1996-98): 14-7....Miami is still the 4th-winningest college football program of this decade (71-16 since 2000)

Schedule Analysis: Despite early out-of-conference matchups with Oklahoma (in Norman) and Texas A&M (in the Orange Bowl), the slate is still more bottom-heavy, as there is a decent chance that the Canes can enter the Oct. 20 contest at Florida State with a 5-2 or possibly 6-1 record. After the FSU matchup, they get a week off before hosting NC State and Virginia, but finish up with the decidedly non-tropical late November matchups in Blacksburg and Boston.
Projected Wins- Marshall, Florida International, Texas A&M, Duke, @North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia
Projected Losses- @Oklahoma, @Florida State, @Virginia Tech
Toss-Ups- Georgia Tech, @Boston College

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Hurricane Insight: Out of Kilter

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

The Conquering "Soldier"

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Now & Then: Ralph Friedgen

Introducing a new semi-regular feature on ACC Football Report: now & then photos starring your favorite ACC football personalities. Our inaugural edition features Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen....


Then (1983)

To make jokes would be juvenile, and just way too easy. But sweet mother of pearl, it's been a hard 24 years for Ralph. The man was fairly buff and athletic back in '83 (and gloriously mustachioed as well), while today he's just....very, very, very not buff and athletic (but thankfully clean-shaven). And let's keep in mind that Fridge has looked like his "Now" picture for over 10 years, so his change in appearance really happened over about a 10-15 year span.

Fascinating, but troubling.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maryland Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 9-4 overall, 5-3 ACC (T2nd Atlantic Division); beat Purdue 24-7 in the Champs Sports Bowl

Offense: Two-year starting QB Sam Hollenbach has bowed off the stage, while his understudies - the underwhelming duo of Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis - pratfalled their way through the spring, so much so that the decision to name a successor may come down to who will likely inflict the least amount of damage to the offense. Thankfully for the Terp faithful, a more imposing duo returns in the backfield...steamroller TB Lance Ball and the equally bruising Keon Lattimore, who combined for nearly 1,600 yards in 2006 despite a battered OL. The WR corps looks to be in fine shape, with All-ACC wideout Derrious Heyward-Bey returning to torch secondaries into ashy oblivion (presuming that the aforementioned QBs can actually get the football into his hands). That beat-up OL mostly returns, although technically only three starters are back, but given the rotation on the line last year, the majority of the two-deep depth chart has seen significant playing time.

Defense: Five starters are gone from last year's unimpressive unit (10th in the ACC in total defense), and their replacements are certainly talented, but woefully unproven. The defensive line and the linebacking corps look to be roughly in the same shape as '06, while the secondary takes a huge hit with the losses of All-ACC cornerback Josh Wilson and safety Marcus Wimbush. Despite the departure of some key defensive leaders, the experience of the returnees (most notably soon-to-be-a-holy-terror-on-Sundays LB Erin Henderson) should roughly compensate for that. I don't think the Turtles will be worse on defense than in 2006, but I'm not wagering anything more than a beer (and nothing more than a High Life) that they'll be much better either.

Special teams: Let's just summarize this very quickly-- kicker Obi Egekeze has never attempted a field goal in a game, punter Travis Faltz has never punted in a game, and last year's top kickoff returner was Josh Wilson. Danny Oquendo is back to return punts, but the rest of the special teams unit is most certainly a work in progress.

Coaching: The only new face to patrol the sidelines in College Park this season is defensive backs coach Kevin Lempa, recently departed from Boston College. Second year DC Chris Cosh needs to impress after a rookie season in which the Terrapin defense took a nosedive from the steady days of Gary Blackney. Under Armour lackey Ralph Friedgen is back as the main man, along with handling the OC duties. Color me skeptical on whether the Fridge should be handling both roles, based on last season and the overall direction of the program.

For What It's Worth: Maryland '06 Total Offense Ranking - #88; Total Defense Ranking - #84; Turnover Margin Ranking - #90; Overall Record- 9-4; that's college football's biggest WTF? of '06, if you ask me (and you didn't)....of the Terps' five ACC wins last year, all were decided by 6 points or less; two of their three league losses were in blowout fashion.....despite lackluster 2004 and 2005 seasons, Maryland is one of only 18 1-A programs to post four 9+ win seasons since 2001....Friedgen's six-year record in College Park: 50-24; the Terrapins' three previous coaches' record from 1987-1999: 55-98-1

Schedule Analysis: A breezy start (Villanova and FIU in the first two weeks), and then a roller-coaster 11-week stretch in which I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Terps win or lose any of them. The 4-week span right after the FIU game is particularly unpleasant: West Virginia at home, @Wake Forest, @Rutgers, Georgia Tech at home. Thankfully, Virginia Tech is mercifully absent and Miami was replaced by North Carolina for 2007.
Projected Wins- Villanova, @Florida International, Virginia, @North Carolina
Projected Losses- West Virginia, @Wake Forest, @Rutgers, @Florida State
Toss-Ups- Georgia Tech, Clemson, @N.C. State, Boston College

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Terrapin Insight: Turtle Waxing

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:


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Monday, July 23, 2007

ACC Media Daze

This past weekend's ACC Media Days extravaganza in beautiful Pinehurst, NC yielded practically nothing of note. To wit, one of the bigger stories of the event was the realization that Boston College QB Matt Ryan physically resembles his former coach, and current N.C. State skipper, Tom O'Brien. Blah.

As usual, the most interesting topic from the event was the media pre-season poll. To little surprise, Florida State and Virginia Tech were picked as favorites to win their respective divisions, with the Hokies tabbed to win the ACC Championship Game.

Georgia Tech Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 9-5 overall, 7-2 ACC (1st Coastal Division); lost to West Virginia 38-35 in the Gator Bowl

Offense: Four-year starting QB Reggie Ball has ridden off into the sunset (huzzah!), taking Wideout-of-the-Decade, but criminally under-utilized, Calvin Johnson with him (not huzzah!). Taking over for Ball is Mayberry's very own Opie Taylor Bennett, who in his one start last season in the Gator Bowl displayed staggering competence not seen in Atlanta lo' these many years. Last year's ACC rushing champ Tashard Choice returns in the backfield. The departure of Calvin the Consummate has left the WR unit mighty thin, with James Johnson (no relation, I think) the only returnee with solid game experience. That said, receiver is the easiest - or more aptly, least difficult - skill position to replace and there's certainly talent there for the Jackets, just most of it a very dark shade of green. Four starters return on the offensive line, so look for Choice and the OL to take the reins early in the season while Opie and his receivers develop a rhythm.

Defense: One word: Loaded. One more word: Deep. Eight starters are back, anchored by the powerhouse defensive line. Leading tackler from '06 LB KaMichael Hall and All-ACC DT Joe Anoai have departed, but most of the remnants of last year's solid unit (the Clemson and West Virginia fiascos notwithstanding) are back for blood. Most of the second-teamers on the depth chart have seen significant playing time. Look for this defense to rival Virginia Tech's for tops in the ACC.

Special teams: The nation's best punter in Durant Brooks is back, eager to pin opposing offenses inside the 10-yard line so that his pals on defense can unleash bloody, murderous hell. Hot-and-cold (latest reading: hot) kicker Travis Bell is back for his final season, and the return game is in the excellent hands of sophomores Jamaal Evans and Tyler Evans (no relation, I think).

Coaching: Out- Patrick Nix, the much-maligned offensive coordinator during the Reggie Reign of Error, inexplicably hired by Coastal Division rival Miami; In- John Bond, most recently the OC at Northern Illinois, where his units finished 3rd, 2nd and 2nd in the MAC during his three seasons in DeKalb. Replacing Nix with my 8th grade math teacher (deceased) would likely have been been an upgrade, considering that Nix - armed with Calvin Johnson, Tashard Choice, and a veteran offensive line - found his offense held to 12 points or less in five games last year (the most grotesque display of ineptitude being a sordid 7-0 affair with North Carolina). Newcomer Bond may lack sizzle, but he brings solid credentials and more than 20 years of coaching experience. The rest of the coaching staff returns intact, most notably Chain Gailey as the head honcho, and the oft-praised Jon Tenuta as defensive coordinator.

For What It's Worth: Georgia Tech's national ranking in total offense in the Nix years, 2004-2006: #80, #80, #67; and that was with Calvin Johnson in the lineup each of those seasons....the overblown Chan Gailey Equilibrium was nearly put to rest last season, as the Jackets won 9 games, but still lost 5.....the Ramblin Wreck has finished .500 or above in league play for 12 straight seasons; next closest is Clemson with 8 straight....Tech's Top 20 recruiting class this winter was by far the best of the Gailey Era

Schedule Analysis: Very manageable - no Florida State or Wake Forest, and aside from a bit of a mess in late September-early October (@Virginia, Clemson, @Maryland, @Miami), all the toughies are nicely spaced apart. Notre Dame in week one and Boston College in week three are separated by a glorified-scrimmage with Samford; the Jackets get a bye week before Virginia Tech comes calling, then visit Duke the next week; and they get a home date with UNC before Georgia travels to Bobby Dodd. As I said, a very manageable slate, which leads to the somewhat surprising projections below...
Projected Wins- @Notre Dame, Samford, Boston College, @Virginia, @Maryland, Army, @Duke, North Carolina
Projected Losses- none
Toss-Ups- Clemson, @Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Yellow Jacket Insight: Georgia Tech Sports, Ramblin' Racket

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

Look Away, Clemson Fans. I Mean It.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Boston College Preview

2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 10-3 overall, 5-3 ACC (T2nd Atlantic Division); beat Navy 25-24 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl

Offense: Senior QB Matt Ryan returns, along with tandem tailbacks LV Whitworth and Andre Callender, WR Kevin Challenger (well, maybe, as he was MIA in the spring for curious reasons), and 3 out of 5 offensive linemen. New OC Steve Logan looks to be a decent fit for those who like the run-first approach that BC has long been known for. The major kink in this overall unit is the offensive line....OL coach-of-a-few-months Jim Turner departed over "creative differences" in April, and Jack Bicknell Jr was brought in shortly thereafter. On top of that, a new zone blocking scheme is being implemented. It's tough not to envision Matt Ryan frequently scrambling for dear life and a bunch of tackles-for-loss on poor Messrs. Whitworth and Callender this fall.

Defense: Eight starters return (we're not including LB Brian Toal, as it appears that he's going to sit out the season due to nagging shoulder problems), including the entire defensive line. Despite the loss of Toal, the LB unit should still among the best in Eagle history due to the depth and experience of the returnees. CB DeJuan Tribble anchors the secondary. Last year's defense allowed just a paltry 15.7 points per game, a school record.

Special teams: K Steve "Sid Vicious" Aponavicius is back, and on scholarship to...ummmm...boot. P Johnny Ayers return for his 15th season (actually 4th, but I swear he was punting for the Eagles back in that '93 upset of Notre Dame), while Jeff Smith and DeJuan Tribble are both back to handle kick and punt returns, respectively.

Coaching: Out- Tom O'Brien, just the winningest coach in school history, champion of 7 straight bowls, but never a conference champ and a big-time keister-clencher at least once per season if you believe much of the Eagle fanbase. In- Jeff Jagodzinski, O'Brien's OC from 1997-98 and then NFL'ing it for the last 8 seasons, but with nary a head coaching gig anywhere before. More importantly (to BC fans), he presents a complete 180-turn personality-wise from the stern O'Brien. Still, it's the major uncertainty regarding Jags' return to the college game, and how his style will mesh with the existing talent, that makes the Eagles such a mystery this season, on top of all the question marks and unknowns elsewhere in the Atlantic Division. In perhaps the most important move of the brief Jags Era, DC Frank Spaziani was convinced to remain in Beantown.

For What It's Worth: That Bicknell name should sound familiar; Jack Sr was BC's head coach from 1981-1990 and helped make Doug Flutie a household name.....the Eagles renew their "Vatican Bowl" rivalry with Notre Dame this year, and BC owns a 4-game winning streak over the Irish.....BC was second in the nation last year with a +15 turnover margin.....Jagodzinksi's two year stint as OC (1997-98) in Chestnut Hill yielded the 2nd and 4th most productive offenses of O'Brien's 10-year reign.

Schedule Analysis: A very interesting, and potentially lethal, trio of games kick off the year - the opener at home with Wake Forest, the I can't friggin wait to see this return of Tom O'Brien with his Wolfpack in week 2, followed by a trip to Atlanta to face the Jackets in the third week. The midsection out-of-conference slate provides a breather (yes, even the Irish, who should be hovering in the .500-zone this year). But those last five games are brutal....three road contests against Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland, mixed in with Florida State and Miami at home. Sorry fellas, no Duke or UNC to cruelly bludgeon this year.
Projected Wins- Army, UMass, Bowling Green, @Notre Dame
Projected Losses- @Georgia Tech, @Virginia Tech
Toss-Ups- Wake Forest, N.C. State, Florida State, @Clemson, @Maryland, Miami....and yes, I realize that I'm saying half the schedule is too close too call

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Eagle Insight: Eagle in Atlanta, For Here Men Are Men

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

This one never gets old

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Friday, July 20, 2007

A Few Quick Notes on Team Previews

--For those looking for long, in depth, thesis-length previews, you will be disappointed with mine. I'm not going to tell you much more than the folks at Athlon's, Lindy's, Sporting News, CFN, and Phil Steele already have. Here, you'll get concise, knowledgeable (well, mostly), possibly witty, and very opinionated outlooks. You should be able to digest my previews in a matter of minutes, so you can quickly go back to your spreadsheet when your boss makes his rounds near your cubicle and he or she will be none the wiser. Try getting away with that if you read one of MGoBlog's excellent catechism-length previews. Exactly.

--I will be projecting each team's probable wins, losses, as well as some I-don't-have-a-clue games. Just because I predict Team A to knock off Team B does not mean that I think Team A is the flat-out better team. Other factors such as when the game is played, where the game is played, and who those teams face before and after, play a crucial role. And the accursed Thursday Night Factor is probably going to screw everything up anyway.

--Keep in mind that 4 ACC teams (Boston College, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State) have brand new coaching staffs this season, with a 5th club (Florida State) sporting 5 new faces on the sideline for 2007. That's a hefty percentage of the league in which I can't use past performance as a solid basis for this year's outlook. Just covering my ass here if and when some of these previews turn out to be near-slanderous.

--Forgive any seemingly careless mistakes that may appear in a preview, such as listing a player as returning this season, when in fact said player left the team in June because he accidentally sliced off three toes in a freak street-luge mishap. I try to stay well informed on each program, but if I goof something up, let me know and please have mercy on my soul.

Strictly forbidden offseason activity

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Preview Schedule

This is just as much for me (in order to keep myself on track) as it is for you, dear reader:

Saturday, July 21- Boston College
Monday, July 23- Georgia Tech
Wednesday, July 25- Maryland
Friday, July 27- Miami
Sunday, July 29- N.C. State
Tuesday, July 31- Virginia Tech
Thursday, August 2- Wake Forest
Saturday, August 4- North Carolina
Monday, August 6- Florida State
Wednesday, August 8- Duke
Friday, August 10- Clemson
Sunday, August 12- Virginia

and then....
Monday, August 13- Atlantic Division Outlook
Wednesday, August 15- Coastal Division Outlook
Monday, August 20- ACC Championship Game Pick and Bowl Outlook
Wednesday, August 22- BCS picks & other miscellanea

And then I imagine I'll be very, very tired.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wake Forest-Georgia Tech Equivalent

Before nearly dropping dead today of heat exhaustion while mowing my lawn with the lamest mower in the history of grass (advisory: do not ever buy this piece of suck), I was thinking of how disappointing the 2006 ACC Championship Game was, and what little interest and buzz there was surrounding it.

My quickly melting brain then pondered....What would be the equivalent matchup in an SEC or Big 12 title game? A historical doormat vs. a traditionally good - but not consistently great - program? I thought of a few, but some of those still don't seem to equate, for two reasons: 1) while Wake Forest has been a traditional doormat, they've at least had a competitive pulse for much of the last 10 years, and there's another complete and total patsy in the conference (that would be Duke); 2) while Georgia Tech has an excellent football tradition, and has won a national title more recently than Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, and Notre Dame, they simply don't have the sex appeal, national following - and most importantly, rabid alumni base - that those powers have.

So, rather than let that thought melt away in the 97-degree Florida summer heat, I figured I'd still try to posit a few somewhat reasonable comparisons....mainly because I need to see this thought all the way through, and I really need to start posting more entries in this here blog.

SEC Equivalents
Vanderbilt vs. Ole Miss
Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss
Kentucky vs. Arkansas

Georgia Tech really has no equivalent in the SEC East...Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have much larger followings and have been better programs over the last few decades. South Carolina has a better statewide following but comically less tradition, and Kentucky and Vanderbilt are, well, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. They have two general equivalents in the SEC West in Arkansas and Ole Miss, although it's fair to say that the Jackets have been better over the last decade or so than the Hogs or Rebels. Tech is not equivalent to Alabama, Auburn or LSU for obvious reasons, and is obviously better and more highly regarded than Mississippi State.

Wake Forest has two general equivalents in the SEC East in Vandy and Kentucky, although Kentucky has about eight times the enrollment and exponentially more alumni and following than the Deacs. Wake has one real equivalent in the the SEC West in Mississippi State, but again lacks the local appeal, but not necessarily the national appeal, of the Cowbell Nation.

Big 12 Equivalents
Baylor vs. Colorado
Baylor vs. Kansas State
Iowa State vs. Texas A&M

Big 12 North equivalent to Wake: Iowa State, purely based on winning percentage, certainly not local following. Big 12 South equivalent to Wake: Baylor...although Wake has been much, much better on the field the last several years, the type of school is as close to Wake as any other in any major conference.

Big 12 North equivalent to GT: Kansas State and Colorado (the Jackets' co-national champ in '90), and that's based only on the last 15-20 years. Nebraska has clearly been stronger historically, while Iowa State, Kansas and Missouri have been worse and less regarded than the Ramblin' Wreck. Big 12 South equivalent to GT: Texas A&M....again, not perfect, but close. A&M is still a bigger name nationally, but the Jackets have been better recently and have a similarly regarded history. Oklahoma and Texas are obviously better, while Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor are worse to varying degrees.

Ehhhhhh. Maybe this wasn't such a great topic after all. Wake is too small a school in comparison to, well, nearly all 119 1-A programs, and Tech, while winning the national title in 1990, has been stuck in just-barely-sub-Top 25, Dec. 28-ish bowl status for the entire Dubya Bush administration.

That said, bashing the 2006 ACC Championship Game is perfectly fair, especially when you consider how poor a game it turned out to be. I'd sure as hell eviscerate a 9-6 snoozer between Kansas State and Baylor in a half-empty stadium in St. Louis, wouldn't you?

This SEC Championship Game, sponsored by Lame-O

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Coming Soon....

Now that our beloved football season is rapidly approaching, please stop by for these upcoming features:

--reasonably in-depth previews of each ACC club (starting next week)

--my commentary on the State of ACC Football

--the return of miscellaneous snarky posts regarding the college football world in general

Wow, 2 posts this week! I'm back, baby!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Blog Formerly Known as "Atlantic Coast Chronicles"

Howdy folks. If you happened to stumble upon this blog lately, you've noticed the name change. I came to realize "Atlantic Coast Chronicles" is a bit too broad and generic of a title....it actually kind of sounds like a hoity-toity upscale lifestyle magazine you'd find along the Florida, North Carolina and Maryland shorelines. And since my focus was quite clearly on ACC football, I felt that a title that encompassed the entire Chronicles of the Atlantic Coast was a tad overreaching.

And yes "ACC Football Report" certainly lacks panache, but oh well. It describes the focus of the blog quite clearly, and frankly I didn't have the energy to think of something witty. So there you have it.

Happy 4th!