It’s happened everywhere else in the country. The Pac-12 is doing it at record pace. The Big 12 is not longer just a grind-it-out league. And now, passing numbers are way up in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season thanks to a stable of veteran returning QBs.
“I think we have some quarterbacks who are stepping up in the league this year,” Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said last week. “That’s what I would attribute it to. Put the quarterbacks in with a good system, and there you go.”
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More Conference Notebooks
Big 12: K-State keeps hype in perspective
Pac-12: USC struggles upend Pac-12 South
Big Ten: Future brighter in Twin Cities
ACC: Experience paying dividends at QB
Big East: Strange road at the top
SEC: Bulldogs on track for SEC title shot
The conference returned 10 starting signal callers from last season and their experience has proved beneficial. NC State’s Mike Glennon (306.8), Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (292), and Miami (Fla.) signal-caller Stephen Morris (276.7) all rank among the top 20 quarterbacks in passing yards per game.
It’s also no coincidence that the two ranked ACC teams, No. 9 Florida State and No. 10 Clemson, have the most efficient quarterbacks in the conference.
Boyd, a junior, is 10th nationally in pass efficiency rating with a 163.93 mark. EJ Manuel’s mark of 174.03 for FSU is third.
“Look at the NFL. It’s the way it’s spread out. I think the kids are getting developed better at quarterback across the country right now because now that football has taken on all the seven-on-seven things, kind of like AAU basketball has,” coach Jimbo Fisher said last week. “The kids are more developed. When they get to college, they can adapt better.
“But experience does matter at the quarterback position. I think having an experienced quarterback is making a big difference, too.”
Last Saturday, Mike Glennon posted 467 passing yards and five touchdowns against North Carolina. Just a few days earlier, Tajh Boyd put up a school-record 428 passing yards.
Eight teams in the ACC currently average more than 270 passing yards per game, a number that far exceeds statistics from years past. In 2010 and ’11, only four teams managed to top 270 passing yards per game.
“They used to say how many bad things can happen when you throw the ball. Well, you don’t see it as much anymore,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “So I think it’s a combination across the board. But it’s also not just the Atlantic Coast Conference. I think it’s nationwide.”
Passing has become more prevalent in professional football and the ripple effect is evident in the college ranks, too. The ACC is one example of a conference emphasizing its aerial attacks as a result of its experienced quarterbacks.
Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC)
• Chase Rettig connected with Jonathan Coleman on a 14-yard touchdown with 52 seconds left as Boston College snapped a five-game losing streak, topping Maryland 20-17. Eagles receiver Alex Amidon had nine catches for 137 yards, his fifth game with more than 100 receiving yards this year. Amidon leads the conference in receiving yards per game (117.9).
• The Eagles have a chance to move out from the basement of the Atlantic division against the Demon Deacons. The Eagles offensive line will need to do a better job of protecting Rettig against the Wake Forest pass rush after it allowed four sacks against the Terps.
Next Game: at Wake Forest Nov. 3
No. 10 Clemson (7-1, 4-1 ACC)
• Tajh Boyd reminded fans of the Tigers’ potent offense against Wake Forest when he threw for a school-record 428 yards in a 42-13 rout. Clemson improved to 2-9 in Thursday night games.
• Sammy Watkins did not start for Clemson against the Demon Deacons because he was three minutes late to a team meeting, but managed to notch 202 receiving yards against Wake Forest, a Clemson record. The 202 receiving yards matched the amount he amassed in four starts this year. DeAndre Hopkins’ school record of 197 receiving yards only lasted a few weeks.
Next Game: at Duke Nov. 3
Duke (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
• Florida State reminded Duke that while it is postseason bound for the first time since 1994, it still has a long road ahead until it can compete with the best team in the conference. The Noles limited Connor Vernon, the all-time ACC leader in receptions, to three catches for 12 yards.
• The Blue Devil defense faces another steep challenge against the Tigers’ offense. Through eight games, Clemson has averaged 41 points per game.
Next Game: vs. Clemson Nov. 3
No. 9 Florida State (8-1, 5-1 ACC)
• No Chris Thompson, no problem for Florida State, whose rushing attack flourished despite the absence of its leading rusher. Sophomore Devonta Freeman rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries in the 48-7 win versus Duke.
• FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins hit a 56-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The kick was a career-long for Hopkins and set a conference record for most field goals made (81), passing former Maryland kicker Nick Novak’s mark.
• The last time the Noles played the Hokies, Virginia Tech took down FSU in the 2010 ACC championship game 44-33. The two sides last met in the regular season in Blacksburg on Nov. 10, 2007, also went in the direction of the Hokies; however, unlike now, the Noles were unranked five years ago.
Next Game: at Virginia Tech Nov. 8
Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC)
• The Cougars accomplished something few teams do against Georgia Tech’s triple option — BYU ran for more yards (183 to 117) than the Yellow Jackets. A week after GT held the ball for more than 43 minutes against BC, it only maintained possession for 21:01 against BYU in a 41-17 loss.
• Georgia Tech’s losing record is its first after eight games since 1994. For the first time since the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU on Dec. 31, 2008, coach Paul Johnson’s club failed to score an offensive touchdown.
• The Yellow Jackets have a pair of road games coming up against the Terrapins and the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech’s defense will have an opportunity to confuse an inexperienced quarterback, Caleb Rowe, and Maryland’s young offensive line before facing UNC’s strong ground game and RB Giovani Bernard.
Next Game: at Maryland Nov. 3
Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
• Maryland has suffered a rash of injuries this season. The quarterback position has been ravaged, forcing the Terps last week to start Caleb Rowe, a player the Terps hoped would redshirt this year. Rowe was the last healthy scholarship quarterback on the team’s roster before being knocked out of action Saturday with a torn ACL, causing Brian McMahon and Shawn Petty, two freshmen who played QB in high school, to switch positions to provide QB depth. McMahon and Petty moved away from their spots at tight end and linebacker, respectively, and Petty will likely start Saturday.
• After eight games, the Terps have scored an average of 20.8 points per game — the lowest mark in the conference. Maryland has scored 20 touchdowns, 18 less than Georgia Tech.
Next Game: vs. Georgia Tech Nov. 3
Miami (Fla.) (4-4, 3-2 ACC)
• Coach Al Golden gave the Hurricanes three days off last week to try to recuperate after a grueling stretch of action. Quarterback Stephen Morris had a chance to rest his ankle during the team’s week off.
• Golden said that even though VT is 4-4, he does not judge a Frank Beamer-coached team by its record.
“They have been the champions on our side, on the Coastal side, six of the eight years that we’ve both been in the league,” Golden said last week. “This league has gone through them. They’re the champion. So whether they’re 4-4 or 8-0, is immaterial to me.”
Next Game: vs. Virginia Tech Nov. 1 (Thursday)
NC State (5-3, 2-2 ACC)
• Last week coach Tom O’Brien said that Giovani Bernard was really explosive in the return game and those words proved accurate. Bernard’s 74-yard punt return touchdown with 13 seconds left gave North Carolina the lead and proved to be the difference as the Tar Heels completed a comeback in a 43-35 win.
• Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and five touchdowns in the loss.
Next Game: vs. Virginia Nov. 3
North Carolina (6-3, 3-2 ACC)
• Coach Larry Fedora said that Giovani Bernard rolled his ankle “a little bit” during the NC State game, so he took him off punt return duty. Bernard said he called his backup off the field once he saw the punt return call.
“Once I saw that [call], I had to get in there,” Bernard said after the game. “I had to tell myself to get in there no matter how bad my ankle was hurting. It was something you have to dig deep to do.”
• The Tar Heels might be the best team in the Coastal division, but are not bowl eligible in 2012. UNC is undefeated at home (5-0) and two of its final three games are at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill.
Next Game: vs. Georgia Tech, Nov. 10
Virginia (2-6, 0-4 ACC)
• The Cavaliers won the close games last season as coach Mike London snuck UVa to an 8-5 record. This year, the close games have not gone London’s way. His squad has lost three games by seven points or less.
• Virginia’s defense has played better in its past two games, after it allowed 44 points to Louisiana Tech and 42 points to Duke. Its secondary will need to be at its best to slow down Mike Glennon and the Wolfpack’s explosive passing game.
Next Game: at NC State Nov. 3
Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-2 ACC)
• The Hokies play consecutive Thursday night games starting this week. Virginia Tech will travel south to challenge the Hurricanes before it plays host to the Florida State Seminoles the following week.
Next Game: at Miami (Fla.) Nov. 1
Wake Forest (4-4, 2-4 ACC)
• Thursday night did not go the way the Demon Deacons hoped. Clemson moved the ball with little trouble and spoiled Michael Campanaro’s return to the lineup. Campanaro had six catches for 52 yards in the loss, his first action since he broke his right hand against Duke.
• Tanner Price and the Demon Deacons have averaged 312.9 yards per game on offense and 20.9 points per game, the second-lowest mark in the conference. Wake Forest’s anemic offense has a chance to shine against the Eagles, who allow 31.3 points per game.
Next Game: vs. Boston College Nov. 3
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