Photo by The ACC
Notre Dame Football

ACC Roundup | Clemson Cruises, UNC Rolls, Louisville Looks Dangerous

September 14, 2020
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Clemson 37, Wake Forest 13

This Trevor Lawrence kid is actually pretty good.

The Clemson quarterback and likely the next NFL #1 overall draft pick didn’t show much rust, completing 22 of 28 passes for 351 yards, a touchdown pass and running for two more on the ground. Outside of a three-and-out to open the game, Lawrence looked sharp from the start.

Lawrence is breaking in a relatively new cast of leading pass-catchers with the departure of Tee Higgins to the NFL and Justyn Ross going down with a season-ending injury. Amari Rodgers ended up as the leading receiver in the opener, catching five balls for 90 yards. Joseph Ngata is another wide receiver who showed promise, catching three passes for 48 yards while tight end Branden Galloway promises to be a featured weapon after catching five balls for 60 yards.

Tiger star running back Travis Etienne had a workman-like 102 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Etienne also caught three passes for 47 yards.

The Clemson defense was predictably relentless from start to finish, notching six sacks and 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Get ready to hear the names Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy a lot over the next few years as the former five-star prospects made their presences felt immediately in their collegiate openers.

Wake Forest, while clearly overmatched, played hard and relatively clean. In fact, the only turnover of the entire game came when the Demon Deacons picked off Clemson’s freshman quarterback Taisun Phommachanh late in the fourth quarter.

That pick set Wake Forest up at Clemson’s 30-yard-line, but the Demon Deacons still needed a pair of 15-yard penalties by the Tigers and three plays from inside the 5-yard-line before scoring their only touchdown of the game.

Bothered all night by the pressure, Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman never got much going and finished 11-for-121 for 182 yards. As a team, Wake Forest managed just 37 total rushing yards on 34 carries. Christian Beal-Smith was the leading rusher with 29 yards on 11 carries.

Wake Forest’s receivers did show the potential to make plays against top-line defenders, though. Taylor Morin caught nine passes for 93 yards and the lone touchdown while Jaquarii Roberson and Donavon Greene (one-time Notre Dame recruiting target) combined for seven receptions and 168 yards.

Notre Dame plays at Wake Forest on Sept. 26th.
The Irish host Clemson on Nov. 7th.

Georgia Tech 16, Florida State 13

The coach may have changed, but the results haven’t, at least not yet.

Mike Norvell opened up his era as Florida State head coach with an ugly loss against Georgia Tech.

The Seminoles jumped out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the offense sputtered after that.

According to CFB Data, Florida State had a 94 percent chance to win at the half, when the Seminoles still maintained that 10-0 lead.

But, after completing seven of his first nine passes for 76 yards on the first two drives of the game, Florida State quarterback James Blackman managed to complete just 16 of his final 34 passes for 122 yards.

The Seminoles didn’t fare much better on the ground, finishing with a total of 109 on 35 carries with their top two running backs – La’Damian Webb and Jashaun Corbin – combining for just 57 yards on 19 carries.

FSU wideout Tamorrion Terry finished with six catches for 52 yards, but Corbin ended as the leading receiver for the Seminoles with eight receptions for 55 yards.

Meanwhile, while it wasn’t always pretty, Georgia Tech proved its transition from the triple-option offense is coming along in Year Two under Geoff Collins. True freshman quarterback Jeff Sims completed 24 of 35 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown while also leading the Yellow Jackets with 64 rushing yards on 13 carries. GT running back Jordan Mason finished with 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Florida State will undoubtedly preach patience, but it’s unclear how much patience the fan base will have and whether Norvell will get things turned around quick enough to have his team humming when it arrives in South Bend in four weeks.

Notre Dame hosts Florida State on Oct. 10th.
The Irish travel to Georgia Tech on Oct. 31st.

The ACC
Louisville has another exciting, gamebreaking QB in Micale Cunningham.

 

Louisville 35, Western Kentucky 21

The Hilltoppers took advantage of a fumbled punt snap on the first possession of the game, which set them up at Louisville’s one-yard line. They punched it in one play later to take an early 7-0 lead.

But the Cardinals responded with a 92-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a 63-yard pass from Micale Cunningham to Braden Smith and a 28-yard scoring pass from Cunningham to Ean Pfeifer. Louisville would tack on three more touchdowns before the half to take a 28-7 lead.

Western Kentucky again capitalized, this time on a blocked punt in the third quarter, which set the Hilltoppers up for a two-play, four-yard touchdown drive.

The Cardinals responded when Cunningham hit Dez Fitzpatrick for a 70-yard scoring touchdown.

The Hilltoppers completed the scoring with a late touchdown, which again came on a shortened field.

Cunningham finished 19-for-34 with three touchdown passes and an interception. He also rushed for 24 yards on 12 carries and another touchdown. Fitzpatrick and Smith each had four catches for 110 yards while Tutu Atwell pulled in seven passes for 78 yards.

Many considered Louisville to be a dangerous ACC team in Year Two of the Scott Satterfield Era. The Cardinals definitely have the playmakers on offense and the defense was dominant enough that if they can clean up the special teams miscues, Louisville could easily be a factor in the ACC race.

The Irish host Louisville on Oct. 17th.

Pittsburgh 55, Austin Peay 0

How bad was it? The teams agreed to play 10-minute quarters in the second half after the Panthers took a 42-0 lead into intermission.

And this was with seven Pitt players reportedly being held out with COVID-19 concerns.

Kenny Pickett completed 14 of 20 passes for 277 yards and a score and ran for another. As a team, Pitt rushed for 147 yards and six touchdowns on 35 carries.

10 different receivers caught passes, including Jordan Addison, who caught seven, but for just 35 yards.

Pitt certainly took care of business, but it’s hard to glean much from this performance.

Notre Dame travels to Pitt on Oct. 24th.

North Carolina 31, Syracuse 6

The Tar Heels are a trendy ACC pick this year and at least in game one, they showed why.

But they also showed why they haven’t yet proven to be among the class of the conference.

North Carolina went 65 yards on 10 plays to score a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. The march included a fourth-down conversion from quarterback Sam Howell to receiver Dazz Newsome, two of the league’s most underrated playmakers, and finished with an 11-yard scoring pass from Howell to Garrett Walston.

But mistakes littered the rest of the half for the Tar Heels, who had an interception, missed field goal and three punts before intermission. The second half didn’t start much better as Howell was picked off on their first possession after the break.

But then, they got rolling, converting a field goal before three straight drives ended with touchdown runs by Javonte Williams to put the game away.

Howell finished 25-for-34 for 295 yards and a touchdown. Williams had 57 rushing yards on 14 carries while Michael Carter led the Tar Heels with 78 rushing yards on just seven carries. Dyami Brown caught six passes for 94 yards while Carter pulled in six for 60.

It looks like 2020 could be a long year for the Orange. Quarterback Tommy DeVito completed just 13 of 31 passes for 112 yards. DeVito was also Syracuse’s leading rusher with 30 yards on 16 carries while being sacked seven times.

Lead running back Jawhar Jordan managed just 26 yards on 14 carries. Taj Harris led the receivers with 64 yards on five receptions.

Notre Dame plays at North Carolina on Nov. 27th.
The Irish host Syracuse on Dec. 5th.

 
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