Duke coach earns mid-season award
Notebook: FSU defense holds, NC State eyes bowl bid
For the past two decades, Duke football has been inept. The results of the Blue Devils football team have usually been diametrically opposed to that of its basketball teams. Losses accrued and expectations were not high.
However on Saturday night, Duke fans stormed the field at Wallace Wade Stadium and reveled in a season that will end with at least six wins.
Based on the Blue Devils' season so far, the ACC coach of the (mid) season is fittingly David Cutcliffe. Here are more mid-season ACC awards:
Coach of the Year: Duke David Cutcliff
Cutcliffe tried a fake punt in the fourth-quarter against North Carolina. It failed and he admitted it was a poor decision after the game.
“I’m just very appreciative of our players for bailing the old man out,” Cutcliffe said of himself. “They did it.”
Cutcliffe, 58, experienced four losing seasons (15-33 overall) at Duke prior to 2012. With six wins, the Blue Devils will be invited to a bowl game, its first since 1994.
Offensive Player of the Year: Florida State QB EJ Manuel
Manuel just edged out his Clemson counterpart Tajh Boyd. Manuel’s quarterback rating of 169.15 leads the ACC and his completion percentage is a robust 71.5 percent.
Manuel has a great chance to finish with the highest completion percentage in ACC history. The Seminoles offense struggled in its one-point loss at North Carolina State, Manuel bounced back the next week. He threw for a career-high 439 yards and four touchdowns against Boston College.
Defensive Player of the Year: Florida State DE Bjoern Werner
Florida State's Werner has eight sacks, tied for the conference lead with his teammate on the defensive line Cornellius Carradine. Werner, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end from Germany, was expected to share the pass-rushing load with Brandon Jenkins, but Jenkins suffered a left foot injury that sidelined him for the season.
Werner recorded 1.5 sacks in Florida State’s win at Miami last weekend.
Rookie of the Year: Maryland WR Stefon Diggs.
Getting Diggs to commit to Maryland was a coup for Randy Edsall, as five-star recruits seldom commit to play football in College Park. Diggs has had a notable impact in the offense and has drawn comparisons to Clemson’s Sammy Watkins.
Diggs made big plays to help the Terps win their first two conference games. His 63-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest helped put the Terrapins in position to score the game-winning touchdown. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown against Virginia on the game’s first play. Edsall said last week that he hopes to get Diggs 10 to 15 touches per game.
Comeback Player of the Year: Florida State RB Chris Thompson.
Thompson had 94 of Florida State’s 112 total yards against Miami when he suffered a left knee injury.
Thompson missed most of last season after suffering a broken back against Wake Forest, which put his career in jeopardy.
Thompson ran for 197 yards on nine carries this year against the Demon Deacons, including touchdown runs of 74 and 80 yards. Through eight games, Thompson ranked third in the conference in rushing yards (687) and yards per carry (7.55)
Boston College (1-6, 0-4 ACC)
• The Eagles were unable to stop the Yellow Jackets' rushing attack in Atlanta, as BC lost its fifth consecutive game 37-17. Georgia Tech controlled the ball for 43:45 and averaged 5.1 yards per carry on its way to 391 rushing yards.
“As the sand goes out of the hour glass, there are some games left,” Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said after the loss. “We’ve been competitive in certain situations. We’re not that far away, but we’re miles away.”
• This week BC has a chance to win its first conference game at home. It hosts Maryland, a team it beat 28-17 in College Park last season.
Next Game: vs. Maryland Oct. 27
No. 14 Clemson (6-1, 3-1 ACC)
• The Tigers took down the Hokies 38-17 despite gaining 111 less yards on offense than Virginia Tech. Coach Dabo Swinney said Clemson’s defense had its best performance this season.
• It was Military Appreciation Day on Saturday and Daniel Rodriguez, a red-shirt freshman wide receiver, carried the American flag before the game for Clemson. Rodriguez, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was awarded a Purple Heart for his valor.
• The Tigers have a short week to get ready for the Demon Deacons. The two teams square off in the first Thursday night game this season.
Next Game: at Wake Forest Oct. 25
Duke (6-2, 3-1 ACC)
• Before Saturday’s 33-30 win, the Blue Devils last beat North Carolina in 2003. Duke got the ball back with 3:12 to play, trailing 30-26. It drove 87 yards on 14 plays and scored when Sean Renfree connected with Jamison Crowder on fourth down with 13 seconds left.
“I’m still tickled [for the players]. I’ve never seen a group have more fun and they deserved it,” coach David Cucliffe said. “A great win and an incredible atmosphere in Wallace Wade. All the Duke fans who came — thank you, thank you, thank you.”
• Duke, a team not known for its ground game, rushed for 234 yards on 53 carries. The offense gained a season-high 510 yards against the Tar Heels, a number that will be difficult to replicate against the Seminoles defense.
Next Game: at Florida State Oct. 27
No. 11 Florida State (6-1, 4-1 ACC)
• Florida State vs. Miami helps determine the pecking order of college football in Florida. FSU bested the Hurricanes 33-20 in Week 8, as the Seminoles defense held Miami to 29 rushing yards on 21 carries.
• After running back Chris Thompson went down with a knee injury, sophomore Devonta Freeman stepped in and ultimately led the Seminoles in rushing. He finished with 70 rushing yards on 10 carries and ran for a pair of fourth-quarter scores.
Next Game: vs. Duke Oct. 27
Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 ACC)
• Georgia Tech snapped a three-game losing streak with a dominant win against Boston College. Quarterback Tevin Washington ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Washington has 33 career rushing touchdowns, two shy of tying the conference record for most rushing touchdowns by a QB.
• The Yellow Jackets host BYU next weekend. The Cougars are 4-4 and lost by a field goal in South Bend last weekend. BYU nearly handed Notre Dame its first loss this season, but Riley Nelson’s pass was intercepted to end the game.
• The Cougars have played its opponents relatively even in the first quarter and the second half. However, BYU has outscored its opponents 78-6 in the second quarter this season.
Next Game: vs. Brigham Young Oct. 27
Maryland (4-3, 2-1 ACC)
• Terps quarterback Perry Hills left the game in the second quarter and did not return. It appeared Hills suffered a knee injury. Sophomore Devin Burns nearly led Maryland to a comeback win, but Brad Craddock’s 33-yard field goal hit the left upright with two seconds left.
• Marland may have found its starting running back in the 20-18 loss. Freshman Wes Brown became the first Terp to rush for more than 100 yards as he ran for 121 yards on 25 carries. Brown, however, did have a costly fumble and has had trouble holding on to the ball.
• The Terrapins hope to pick up a conference win in Chestnut Hill, where they will face an Eagles squad that emphasizes throwing the ball. Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig is third in the conference in attempts per game (37.3) and yards per game (273.1).
Next Game: at Boston College Oct. 27
Miami (Fla.) (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
• The Hurricanes lost their third consecutive game. Miami was unable to move the ball efficiently against Florida State’s defense.
• Quarterback Stephen Morris played a week after he sprained his left ankle. Morris threw for 223 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the loss.
• The Hurricanes have an open date next weekend, allowing them extra time to prepare for the Hokies. Miami and Virginia Tech will meet for a Thursday night showdown.
Next Game: vs. Virginia Tech Nov. 1
NC State (5-2, 2-1 ACC)
• Mike Glennon led the Wolfpack to a last-minute win against Florida State two weeks ago and did the same against Maryland in Week 8. Glennon hooked up with Bryan Underwood, Quintin Payton and Rashard Smith for first downs on the game-winning drive.
"He’s a big league quarterback, no question about it,” Tom O’Brien said of Glennon. “He wasn’t real crisp in the first half, but when it came time to make plays, he made plays.”
• NC State will become bowl eligible if it can beat North Carolina this weekend. Last weekend, O’Brien announced that running back Mustafa Greene and redshirt freshman receiver Tyrell Burriss were dismissed from the team.
Next Game: at North Carolina Oct. 27
North Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
• The Tar Heels could only watch as the Blue Devils spray-painted the Victory Bell dark blue moments after Duke beat North Carolina for the first time in nine years. UNC nearly won the game, but was unable to stop Duke on its final possession. North Carolina struggled to stop the Blue Devils running game.
“They ran it right at us,” coach Larry Fedora said. “They didn’t do anything special. They ran us a split zone and ran a power and ran it right at us and we just didn’t do a very good job.”
• North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard was one of the bright spots for the Tar Heels. His fumble recovery touchdown put UNC up with 3:12 left and he finished with 209 all-purpose yards.
Next Game: vs. NC State Oct. 27
Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
• Phillip Sims started for the Cavaliers and was 22 of 39 for 253 yards. Sims also rushed for 41 yards on eight carries in the 16-10 loss.
• The Cavaliers had a chance to get the ball back late in the game, but Khalek Shepherd fumbled a punt (the ball bounced off of his face mask) and the Demon Deacons recovered.
• The Cavaliers have an open week before they play the Wolfpack. Mike London’s squad is still searching for its first conference win.
Next Game: at NC State Nov. 3
Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
• Following a loss at Clemson, the Hokies fell to .500 overall and in ACC play. The Hokies eight-year streak of 10-win seasons is in serious jeopardy.
“I know they feel like the week off helped them as far as getting the defense adjusted a little bit,” Frank Beamer said of Clemson after the loss.
• Virginia Tech has an open date before it travels to Miami for a Thursday night contest. Then it hosts Florida State on Nov. 8 in its penultimate home game.
Next Game: at Miami (Fla.) Nov. 1
Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3 ACC)
• The Demon Deacons allowed more than 206 rushing yards per game heading into its showdown against Virginia. Wake Forest held the Cavaliers to 48 yards on 32 carries in a 16-10 win.
"We’ve had hills and valleys. We’ve had health issues and game suspensions,” junior nose guard Nikita Whitlock said after the game. “But finally we’re all back together and able to play for each other.”
• Jim Grobe, a Virginia alumnus, said that Whitlock is “back at full speed.” The Demon Deacons will need their nose guard at his best as Wake hosts Clemson this week. Wake will have only four days to prepare to stop the Tigers.
Next Game: vs. Clemson Oct. 25