Caulton Tudor

Ho-hum weekend ends with a swarm of B grades

Posted September 18

There wasn’t a lot of meat on the area football pig over the weekend, which made it fairly easy for four coaches to pad their report cards with a small hive of Bs.

Dave Doeren, NCSU, B: The final 30 minutes of a 49-16 win over Furman amounted to State’s most impressive two-quarter stretch of the season, and that was without the offense pressing for points in the fourth quarter.

But how much the Wolfpack actually improved in wins over the outmanned Paladins and Marshall won’t be known until after this week’s trip to 0-1 Florida State (noon, ABC). South Carolina, after wins over State and Missouri, got whipped Saturday 23-13 at Kentucky.

Florida State, even after the long delay and with new quarterback James Blackman, is favored by 11 points and should win. But the Pack couldn’t ask for better timing and needs to keep it interesting before returning to Raleigh for successive ACC Atlantic games against Syracuse and Louisville.

Previous grades: One C, one F.

David Cutcliffe, Duke, B: Even with a trip to North Carolina at hand, Cutcliffe and his staff will spend some time reflecting on the defensive breakdowns in a 34-20 win over Baylor.

Daniel Jones and the offense weren’t exceptional by any means, but the defense was burned frequently by an opponent that lacks Carolina’s offensive depth. If the trend holds, it’ll be a shootout in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils are favored by three, but it could be a long afternoon if they can’t contain the Tar Heels’ skill-position talent.

Previous grades: Two As.

Larry Fedora, UNC, B: The offense was too much for Old Dominion in the Heels’ 53-23 win, but there was a lot for Fedora to fret about on the trip home.

The defense gave up a 71-yard touchdown pass and the special teams leaked oil throughout a warm afternoon. It’s a troubling combination for a team that probably will get only one more scheduling break until season’s end.

On the bright side, the quickly rebuilt offensive unit is fully up and humming behind redshirt freshman Chazz Surratt, who seems to have already picked up where Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky left off.

Previous grades: One D, one F.

Scottie Montgomery, ECU, F: At this rate, Montgomery’s defense might give up 80 points in the Nov. 25 season-ending game at Memphis, which knocked off UCLA Saturday. In the 64-17 loss to Virginia Tech, the Pirates played their worst defense yet, and that’s saying a lot.

Maybe Montgomery can find a win Sunday at Connecticut (1-1), but only if the Huskies fail to victimize ECU’s no-cover coverage schemes. A 0-12 finish certainly isn’t an impossibility.

Previous grades: Two Fs.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers, B: A win is a win, but a 9-3 escape over Buffalo is not the way anyone in Charlotte wanted to see the home schedule begin.

The offense never got very close to being in sync, and Cam Newton spent a lot more time getting sacked than making big plays in the passing game. To add injury to insult, all-star tight end Greg Olsen suffered a foot injury and may now miss the next six or seven games. Ed Dickson and Chris Manhertz likely will share playing time until Olsen mends.

Through two games, the defense hasn’t surrendered a touchdown, but that’ll probably change this week against New Orleans and Drew Brees.

Previous grade: A.

CHEERS: Let’s hear it for Mason Veal, reserve offensive tackle for UNC. It’s not often that a big ugly shows up on the stat sheet, but Veal did at Old Dominion when he gathered in a deflected pass and got credit for a 7-yard reception. Let’s also hope someone kept the ball for the Charlotte sophomore’s mantle …

The new frontrunner for ACC player of the year is Kelly Bryant, Clemson’s junior quarterback, after the Tigers’ 47-21 romp at Louisville. Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville wound up with 317 yards passing, three TD passes and 64 yards rushing, but Bryant was right there with 316 passing, two TDs rushing and a TD pass to Ray-Ray McCloud. One of Bryant’s completions was to freshman Will Sweeney, son of Tiger head coach Dabo …

It was an interesting QB matchup at Virginia, where former ECU player Kurt Benkert outplayed Connecticut’s Bryant Shirreffs, who began his college career at NC State. Benkert completed 30 passes for 455 yards and three TDs in the Cavs’ 38-18 win. But Shirreffs had his success with two TD passes and 88 yards rushing for the Huskies …

JEERS: They’re howling in Louisiana after previously No. 12 ranked LSU’s virtual no-show in a 37-7 loss at Mississippi State and penalties erased two apparent TDs by the Tigers.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said LSU coach Ed Orgeron.

Syracuse (2-1) may have to pick up part of the Tigers’ tab this week. After an easy win over Central Michigan, the Orange visit Baton Rouge this week …

Tennessee’s Butch Jones will be another miserable SEC coach this week. The Vols gave up a game-winning Hail Mary pass to Florida in the Gators’ 26-20 win at the Swamp …

OK, so the NFL now has two teams in Los Angeles, but the Chargers couldn’t even fill 30,000-seat Stubhub Stadium in their 19-17 loss to Miami. The Rams, playing in the 85,000-seat Coliseum, announced a draw of 56,612 for their loss to Washington …

And the Panthers and Bills aren’t the only NFL teams struggling on offense. Houston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Seattle, Arizona, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago and San Francisco are in the same boat – all of which is surprising since the league is constantly tweaking its rulebook to generate more scoring.

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