Coastal Division members had a strong showing against the Big Ten last weekend. With Virginia Tech and North Carolina notching large victories, Coastal contenders are righting opening weekend wrongs with momentum building performances before heading into conference play. Along with these developments, the Hurricanes' future Atlantic Division opponents, Florida State and Clemson started their campaigns for Charlotte. Here's what we learned from week three.
Notre Dame's veteran defense held Georgia Tech's option-attack in check, giving hope to Coastal Division contenders.
With Notre Dame's lead mounting after the half, Georgia Tech was forced to rely on its passing game to close the gap. Coming into the game with just 13 pass attempts, quarterback Justin Thomas would nearly double that total, though with little success. Thomas rallied for two late scores in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, finishing with 121 yards on 8 for 24 passing. Those numbers are inadequate for most offenses, but for Georgia Tech, they are acceptable with an overpowering rushing attack. Last Saturday against the Fighting Irish, Georgia Tech did not have an overpowering rushing attack, topping out at 216 rushing yards.
- Broderick Snoddy finished with the highest totals of the Yellow Jacket backs, with 77 yards on 7 carries, including a long 48-yard rush.
- Stanford transfer Patrick Skov had a rougher outing, averaging just 3.7 yards on 18 attempts, and leading the Yellow Jackets in carries.
- Injury notes: Georgia Tech A-back Qua Searcy to miss multiple games due to lower extremity injury.
The Fighting Irish didn't just hold the Yellow Jackets to 2015 season lows, but 2014 as well. Per ESPN: "the Yellow Jackets were held to their worst performance in points per drive, third-down conversion percentage and average drive distance in a game since the start of last season."
Another area of concern is on the Georgia Tech defense. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise is a tremendous athlete, and for the first two quarters the Yellow Jackets held him in check, allowing just 21 yards in the half. However, in the second half Prosise broke through, rushing for a career-high 198 yards, and doing so between the tackles. With under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Prosise made his most devastating run. A weathered Georgia Tech defense allowed a 91-yard rushing score, giving the Irish a 30-7 lead.
The Virginia Cavaliers are a scrappy team, playing up (and down) to competition.
How does Virginia nearly upset top-10 Notre Dame one week, but barely survive a matchup with William & Mary the next? Whatever the case, they're going to make life difficult for ACC opponents.
Junior quarterback Matt Johns is still struggling to hit his mark. Despite throwing for 263 yards, three touchdowns and having a 73.9% completion percentage against the Tribe, Johns gave away two easy interceptions.
How has the ACC fared against Power 5 competition?
After three weeks of college football, ACC members have already squared off with the bulk of their non-conference schedule. Most of which were lower-level FBS or FCS opponents, but it's the pairings with the Power 5 that have our interest.
Again, for whatever reason, the Virginia defense only showed up for one quarter, forcing three three-and-outs in the third. The Tribe was having its way with Virginia, passing for 226 yards and rushing for 145 yards, while dominating in time-of-possession.
North Carolina is hitting a good streak, running through North Carolina A&T and Illinois before entering conference play.
Marquise Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels had a big day against Illinois, winning 48-14 in Chapel Hill. Williams threw for 203 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception on 17 of 24 passing. Williams also had his biggest impact in the rushing game this season, running for 105 yards on 9 carries. The defense, however, while successful in keeping points off the board, surrendered 399 total yards to the Fighting Illini.
Clemson appears vulnerable to Clemsoning, thanks to Louisville.
Louisville took Clemson down to the wire last Thursday night and if not for clock mismanagement, a bad snap, and various other miscues, may have topped the Tigers. It's fair to say the only remaining conference member on Clemson's schedule that plays to the level or greater of Louisville is Florida State, or perhaps Miami. But, that still doesn't put Clemsoning far from reach. N.C. State, Boston College and Syracuse have all given the Tigers fits in recent years.
On defense, Clemson's front seven is talented, but losing eight defensive starters will set any team back. While allowing just 19 yards rushing to Louisville, the defense was floundering late, letting the Cardinals drive and stay in contention. After a 9-play, 65 yard drive, Clemson was fortunate that the Cardinals missed the 38-yard field goal attempt that would've tied the game. Then, as noted earlier, Louisville had the chance to rally but squandered the opportunity.
On offense, Deshaun Watson is blossoming into one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, but the offensive line is young, and susceptible to the four-man rush. This had Deshaun Watson struggling against the Cardinals. With little time to throw, the preseason ACC Player of the Year threw two interceptions, and at least one interception was solely on Watson.
If you are able to find anything else pertaining to our future opponents that I failed to include please post the source in the comments section.