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Derek Medlin

Extra Point: A Triangle football weekend to remember

Posted October 8, 2012

Extra Point is a sometimes serious, always sarcastic Monday morning recap of what you missed from ACC football action over the weekend.

It's not often that North Carolina, Duke and NC State all win home ACC games on the same weekend. OK, "not often" may be a bit of a misnomer. It's only happened four times since the schools started playing football. 

Prior to this weekend, it hadn't happened since Oct. 15, 1994, a string of nearly 18 years. On that Saturday, Duke beat Clemson, UNC beat Maryland and NC State downed Wake Forest.

Go crazy Triangle football fans! Go crazy!

There isn't a good way to explain why it happens, but every now and then, offensive coaching staffs seem to forget about their best players. In the opening minutes of North Carolina's game against Virginia Tech, someone forgot about running back Gio Bernard. 

On their first three offensive possessions (not including Sean Tapley's kickoff return touchdown), the Tar Heels tried to attack the Hokies through the air, resulting in an underwhelming nine plays, 25 yards and three punts. The Twitter chatter at that point even included discussion of how Virginia Tech's defense was finally coming together. 

Funny how quickly things change. 

Four hours later, Bernard had tallied a career-best 267 yards on 23 carries while helping the Tar Heels score 48 points on Virginia Tech, the most the Hokies have given up since joining the ACC. The career day was part of an impressive effort by the Tar Heels (4-2, 1-1), who racked up 533 yards of offense on what was supposed to be the second-best defense in the ACC.

Defensively, the Tar Heels, who allowed just 40 yards rushing, were great against the run and good enough against the pass. Considering the inconsistent play from nearly every ACC defense so far this season, being good against one or the other is usually more than enough to keep teams competitive. 

Moving forward, Saturday's balanced offensive effort (Bryn Renner threw for just 194 yards) should be the blueprint North Carolina employs. Bernard is clearly the league's best back, and he deserves 25-30 touches a week. 

Another week, another win for the refreshing Blue Devils. 

Following a pedestrian first half, Duke allowed just five first downs in the final two quarters, outscoring Virginia 28-0 over the final 36 minutes of the game to move to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. At this point, the bowl game discussion isn't if, but where. That's not a joke, folks. Tough schedule or not, this Duke team is good enough to compete with any team in the league. 

The Blue Devils didn't miss starting quarterback Sean Renfree one bit, as first-time starter Anthony Boone transitioned from goal line wildcat expert to everyone's favorite gun slinger. Boone finished 18-of-31 for 212 yards and four touchdowns. 

Two of those scoring plays went to Conner Vernon, who became the ACC's all-time leading pass catcher midway through the opening quarter. Vernon's second touchdown catch, which covered 45 yards, capped a 7-reception, 93-yard afternoon and was the highlight of Duke's impressive second-half run. 

The health of Duke's defense will be a concern as the Blue Devils head toward the tougher part of their schedule, but at this point, it's hard to doubt what the unit has been able to do in spite of all the injuries. Considering Virginia Tech's on-again, off-again offense, this weekend's trip to Blacksburg doesn't look nearly as imposing as it did even three weeks ago. 

As for the bowl game discussion, a couple of Sunday projections placed the Blue Devils in Charlotte for the Belk Bowl. Wins over North Carolina (Oct. 20) and Miami (Nov. 24) would all but lock up a trip to the Queen City. 

Wolfpack rally to stun third-ranked Seminoles

Following NC State's ugly loss to Miami a week ago, more than a few people floated the "wouldn't it be the most ACC thing ever for the Pack to beat Florida State" idea. Not many of them (myself included) did it with a straight face, but the talking point was acknowledged. 

Next time, don't forget to make that joke with a straight face. Signed, Tom O'Brien's grin. 

While Florida State (Jimbo Fisher) deserves plenty of blame for NC State's ability to rally from a 16-0 halftime deficit Saturday night, the Wolfpack, who made halftime adjustments on both offense and defense, deserve just as much credit.

Mike Glennon and Co. went uptempo, essentially negating a huge disadvantage up front to allow a patchwork offensive line to more than hold its own against the ACC's best defensive line. In the final minutes, it was that edge – and FSU's inability to cover anyone inside the hashmarks – that allowed the Wolfpack to march down the field and steal a win

Defensively, NC State was able to put pressure on E.J. Manuel while also slowing down Chris Thompson, who looked unstoppable at times in the first two quarters. Considering how terrible the unit was a week ago in south Florida, Saturday's effort is really the least surprising aspect of the entire game. Look at the rest of the season. Inconsistency is the new consistency. 

Following a much-needed bye week, don't be surprised to see the Wolfpack go on one of Tom O'Brien's patented late-season runs. The Wolfpack travel to Maryland, Chapel Hill and Clemson and host Virginia, Wake Forest and Boston College. 

25 Comments

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  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Oct 9, 2012

    LOL at Holes trying to blame FSU losing on one bad call.

    You guys were expecting a 40+ point blowout. Didn't get no satisfaction, did ya? LOL again!

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Oct 9, 2012

    View quoted thread



    And it was reviewed and (I believe) it was confirmed, not just stands as called. Confirmed means the call was correct. Stands as called means there is not enough video evidence either way.

  • VT1994Hokie Oct 8, 2012

    VT's secondary is playing like the youth that we are right now. Out of position for the most part. Our safety didn't line up properly on the 63 yard burst. Not many Foster defenses allow this when a team needs 1 foot to make a 1st. I sure hope that we don't line up in a junk defense like this again. We should have at least 3 back by 3-5 yards off of the LOS. UNC won. My 3rd congratulation.

  • Got Peart Oct 8, 2012

    Great weekend for football in the triangle! I was shocked by all 3 outcomes. Thought Duke would win against UVa, unc and VT would be a battle, but not the shootout it became, and I certainly didn't expect Bernard to run for 260! Good gracious! I thknk he's still running!

    BUT - the SHOCK of the season happend at Carter Finley! I happiy ate crow yesterday. Turned down tickets because I expected a blow out. Now, I wish I had been there.

    So much better than the NFL garbage we got to watch here yesterday

  • StunGunn Oct 8, 2012

    View quoted thread



    I'm a Heels fan, but I have to agree with you about that "bonus" T/O FSU got. That stop in play did allow Fisher to talk to his players, just as long, if not longer than an actual T/O. State won that game fair and square and anybody who says otherwise is just bitter.

  • VT1994Hokie Oct 8, 2012

    My hat is off to all 3 teams. Gio played like an All American. State did a super job in the 2nd half and never relented to FSU. Duke is playing above any year that I can remember lately. What 92? VT had better coach some people this week.

  • Tarheel born Oct 8, 2012

    Congratulations to all three Triangle teams. What a football weekend it was! UNC, State and Duke all took care of business plain and simple. State has a remarkable comeback to echo Jimmy V's famous quote "Never give up, never ever give up", Duke catches fire in the second half and UNC's Gio scorches the grass with his running attack beating VT to stop the skid of 13 consecutive wins in N.C. To quote an old Wolfpacker friend of mine whose gone on to that "football stadium" in the clouds "How sweet it is! Great God 'amighty how sweet it is". I'm sure Fletcher enjoyed this past weekend.

    GO HEELS!!

  • heelsforever Oct 8, 2012

    View quoted thread



    I thought we were talking about State's game....

    As for UNC, I'm still not convinced one way or another about them because I don't have a good fell for any of the three teams they've played not called Elon or Idaho. Furthermore, I don't expect to know anything more about the Heels until at least the State game. Who knows if Miami is any good, and I'm still not convinced that Duke is anything more than average. Honestly, UNC could run the table and I'm not sure one could say with certainty that they are anything more than average also. I look at their remaining games and don't see anyone who has set the world on fire. I personally think all of their remaining games, except maybe UMd, are toss ups.

  • kornfan2448 Oct 8, 2012

    HOOOOOORRRAAAYYYYYYY FOOTBALL!!

  • BenFranklin Oct 8, 2012

    Congrats to all three teams! We need a few more weekends like this one when bball begins!

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