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Atlantic Coast Conference football mid-week notes

Posted Thursday, September 4, 2014

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Greensboro, NC - After a year in 2013, when the ACC became the first conference with five quarterbacks who threw for 8,000 or more career yards, ACC teams fielded 10 new starting quarterbacks in the opening week of the season. Included among the new starters were two true freshmen quarterbacks Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif.) of Miami and John Wolford (Jacksonville, Fla.) of Wake Forest--which marked the first time in history the league had two true freshmen start their season openers.

With 118 rushing and 173 more in the air, graduate quarterback Tyler Murphy (Wethersfi eld, Conn.) became the fi rst Boston College quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game in the 30-7 win over Massachusetts on Saturday. The transfer from Florida recorded his fi rst passing and rushing touchdowns, throwing 17-of-24 completions, in the Maroon and Gold. It marked the fi rst time in Murphy’s career that he rushed for over 100 yards. His previous high was 84 as a Florida Gator against Tennessee on Nov. 21, 2013. The only quarterback in the nation to rush for more yards than Murphy was New Mexico’s Cole Gautsche (184 yards in a 31-24 loss to UTEP).

Following three consecutive 10-win seasons, including back-to-back top 10 fi nishes on the fi eld, coupled with four straight years ranked among the top 10 percent in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report, Clemson football again is perched in the top right corner of the Wall Street Journal’s grid of “admirable” and “powerhouse” programs. Clemson is the only FBS program nationally to fi nish each of the last three seasons in the top 25 of both polls on the fi eld, and in the top 10 percent of APR scores in the classroom. Clemson and Stanford are the only two FBS programs with a top 10 fi nal ranking in the USA Today Coaches poll and a top 10 percent ranking in FBS APR scores each of the last two years.

Duke travels to Troy this weekend having won fi ve consecutive road games. A year ago, the Blue Devils posted a perfect 5-0 ledger on the road with wins over Memphis, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina. Duke’s last loss in a true road tilt came on November 17, 2012 — a 42-24 decision at Georgia Tech. Duke’s last six-game road winning streak spanned over the 1954-55 seasons with consecutive victories over N.C. State (1954), Wake Forest (1954), North Carolina (1954), N.C. State (1955), Tennessee (1955) and Ohio State (1955). The school record for consecutive road wins is nine set between 1936-39

Florida State wore a special “I Fight Fanconi” Kidz1stFund decal on the back of its helmets in the season opener against Oklahoma State in the Advocare Cowboys Classic. The decal represents the team’s support for a very personal cause for FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife Candi. The Fishers began Kidz1stFund in 2011 to raise awareness for a rare blood disease, Fanconi anemia, which affl icts their youngest son Ethan. It’s the second straight season opener that the Seminoles donned the decal on the helmet as FSU and Pitt both wore it in last season’s opener after the story of 2-year old Logan Stevenson from Western Pennsylvania became national news. The terminally ill boy, who was born with Fanconi anemia, served as the best man in his parents wedding before passing away on August 6. For the Advocare Classic, the Fishers invited 10-year old Gage Klein of Andrews, Texas, and his family to the game. Klein, who was a promising young athlete in competitive motorcross, was diagnosed with FA a few years ago.

Founding members of the SEC – Georgia Tech and Tulane – meet on the gridiron Saturday for the fi rst time in 32 years. Tech leads the all-time series 35-13. Although the teams haven’t met in three decades, Tulane remains the Jackets’ seventh-most frequently played opponent. Tech and Tulane have been fellow members of the following conferences: SIAA (1895-1922), Southern (1922-33), SEC (1932-64) and Metro (1975-79).

Pitt is fielding one of its youngest rosters in memory. The Panthers went through training camp with 81 underclassmen (53 freshmen and 28 sophomores), the highest total of any Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in the country.

Jacoby Brissett’s (West Palm Beach, Fla.) first start for NC State ended up being a successful one, as he engineered two fourth quarter touchdown drives to give the Pack a 24-23 victory. His efficiency mark for the game was the second best for an Wolfpack QB with at least 10 attempts in his fi rst career start since the turn of the century - dating back to Philip Rivers’ first start in 2000.

Fortunately for Virginia Tech’s legendary head coach Frank Beamer he doesn’t have to burp them, but his football team is young. The Hokies played 10 true freshmen and dressed 17 in their season-opening win over William & Mary. In all, Tech has played 21 true freshmen in the past two seasons, which is more than the Hokies used in the previous four seasons (20, 2009-12) combined. One of those true freshmen--TB Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa.)--ran for 106 yards on only nine carries and was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Week, while another--WR Isaiah Ford (Jacksonvlle, Fla.)--had four catches, including a 20-yard TD grab. Ford is only the second true freshman WR to start the season opener in Beamer’s 28 years as head coach in Blacksburg.

While John Wolford (Jacksonville, Fla.) was the first true freshman quarterback to start a season-opener in Wake Forest history last Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, he’s not the first true freshman signal-caller to become a starter, Tanner Price (2010), Anthony Young (2000), Brian Kuklick (1994), David Webber (1978), Mike McGlamry (1974), Solomon Everett (1974), Bill Armstrong (1973) and Andy Carlton (1972) were all true freshmen QBs who made at least one start for the Deacons.

When Virginia and Richmond meet on the field this Saturday in Charlottesville, there’s almost too many connections between the two programs to enumerate. UVa head coach Mike London is a graduate and former FCS champion (2008) head coach for the Spiders, while Richmond head coach Danny Rocco is a former Assistant and Associate Head Coach (under Al Groh) for Virginia (2001-05). Richmond’s top two quarterbacks, starter Michael Strauss and his backup Michael Rocco, began their careers at Virginia. Three Richmond assistants (Bob Trott, Levern Belin, Byron Thweatt) have been assistants at Virginia. Richmond assistant Fontel Mines is a UVa grad and former standout wide receiver for the Cavaliers.

It’s unlikely that many other programs are getting as much out of their walk-on program as North Carolina. A total of 15 walk-ons, or former walk-ons, played in the Liberty game, including three starters on defense- LB Jeff Schoettmer (Dallas,Texas), R Ryan Mangum (Raleigh, N.C.) and S Dominquie Green (Laurinburg, N.C.). Green was named the ACC co-Defensive Back of the Week this week after recovering three fumbles in UNC’s win over Liberty.

Syracuse faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation in 2014. According to the NCAA, the Orange has the eighth-most diffi cult schedule in the country based on opponent record and winning percentage from last season. The Orange’s 2014 opponents posted a 96-57 (.628) record in 2013. The school’s remaining 11 opponents were a combined 9-2 on the season’s opening weekend with a 384-182 point differential.

Miami’s defense totaled four sacks and two turnovers against Louisville Monday night. Four different players recorded sacks: Denzel Perryman (Coral Gables, Fla.), Anthony Chickillo (Tampa, Fla.), Thurston Armbrister (Hollywood, Fla.) and Ufomba Kamalu (Fayetteville, Ga.). The four sacks equaled its combined output from the final four games of 2013.

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Atlantic Coast Conference football mid-week notes
Jacoby Brissett’s first start for NC State ended up being a successful one, as he engineered two fourth quarter touchdown drives to give the Pack a 24-23 victory.
photo by Gene Galin
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