Caulton Tudor

Pack's Doeren gets an 'A' as in absolutely impressive

Posted September 25

The Week 4 area coaching grades are in, and there’s an obvious class standout.

Dave Doeren, NCSU, A: The statement win at Florida State was no fluke. Doeren’s team kept the Seminoles (0-2 overall, 0-1 ACC) running backs bottled up throughout a long, hot afternoon in Tallahassee and physically dominated most of the way on both sides of the line.

There were a lot of game ball candidates simply because State (3-1, 1-0) has a lot of weapons defensively and offensively, but no one was more impressive than Jaylen Samuels and Bradley Chubb.

The new concern is a letdown this week against Syracuse (2-2, 0-0), which put up 400 yards offense in a 35-26 loss at LSU. Orange quarterback Eric Dungey already has 1,052 yards passing and is completing almost 65 percent of his throws.

Chubb gets credit for quickly apologizing after his post-game decision to spit on the FSU logo, but it was exactly the sort of thing the Seminoles will remember when they get to Raleigh in 2018.

Previous grades: One B, one C, one F.

David Cutcliffe, Duke, A: The Blue Devils (4-0, 1-0) have pass protection, special teams and red-zone issues, but a 27-17 win at North Carolina is still important enough to circle.

Freshman running back Brittain Brown rang up 90 yards rushing and now has 325 for the season, which speaks well for the blocking unit that has trouble keeping edge rushers off Daniel Jones.

There’s not a lot of time for Duke to celebrate with Miami (2-0, 0-0) arriving for a Friday night ESPN 7 p.m. game that won’t make either team a lot of friends among high school coaches.

But looking back for a moment, the win over Baylor looks more impressive now. The Bears put a big scare into Oklahoma before losing 49-41 and Baylor QB Zach Smith finished with 463 yards, 4 TD passes and no interceptions.

Previous grades: Two As, one B

Larry Fedora, UNC, C: The biggest problem against Duke was the lack of a consistent rushing attack other than quarterback Chazz Surratt. Running backs Jordon Brown and Michael Carter combined for only 41 yards on 16 carries.

The defense showed a lot improvement, and wide-out Anthony Ratliff-Williams is becoming a regular field flipper.

Injuries obviously have become a seasonal theme. Ironically, the Heels (1-3, 0-2) are going through the same curse Duke suffered a year ago.

It gets no easier, either. At Georgia Tech (3-1, 1-0) this week, the Heels will face the ACC’s most physical offense and one of the three or four most physical defenses.

Previous grades: One B, one D, one F.

Scottie Montgomery, ECU, C: The Pirates (1-3 overall, 1-0 AAC) got out of Connecticut (1-2, 0-1) with a hectic 41-38 win but only after the defense almost gave it away late.

Offensively, the decision to start Thomas Sirk at quarterback got rewarded when the graduate transfer passed for 426 yards and three scores. But the defense is in shambles and prolific South Florida is up next.

Previous grades: Three Fs.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers, F: The Panthers (2-1) never looked fully involved during a 34-13 loss to New Orleans (1-2) in Charlotte. They’re banged up and Cam Newton either is playing injured or playing miles below his potential – maybe both.

Whatever the case, the team wasn’t ready to compete Sunday and that’s the sort of thing that can get the head coach in a doghouse fast. With only three touchdowns through three games, there’s just zero offensive spark.

Previous grades: One A, one B.

CHEERS: It’s early but not too early to start mixing Stanford running back and former Wake Forest High star Bryce Love into the Heisman Trophy conversations.

The 5-10, 195-pound junior ran for 263 yards in the Cardinal’s win over UCLA and has 607 yards through four games. He’s averaging 10.7 yards per carry. Stanford (2-2 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) hosts Arizona State this week (2-2, 1-0) in what looms as a key game league game. The Sun Devils are coming off an upset win over Oregon…

It didn’t get much national play, but Virginia’s 42-23 win at Boise State probably was the impressive outing yet in Bronco Mendenhall’s 16 games with the Cavaliers. Boise didn’t score in the second half while Wahoo quarterback Kurt Benkert ended the game with 273 yards passing, three TD passes and no interceptions. The Cavs (3-1, 0-0 ACC) now get a bye week to prepare for Duke on Oct. 7…

Wake Forest escaped Appalachian State 20-19 and is off to a 4-0 (1-0 ACC) start, but is a 7-point underdog entering this week’s visit from Florida State …

Will it be a preview of the ACC championship when Clemson (4-0, 2-0) goes to Virginia Tech (4-0, 0-0) for a prime-time ABC game Saturday? The 2nd-ranked Tigers are favored by 5 points but had some offensive problems before putting away Boston College 34-7…

JEERS: If the Big Ten isn’t badly overrated, it’s a mathematical miracle. Entering the fifth week of the season, only one of the league’s 14 teams has a losing record – Rutgers at 1-3 (0-1) in the East Division. No conference plays more powder-puff, early-season, non-league opponents …

It’s been another sudden fall for UCLA, now 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12 after starting the season with a rousing win over Texas A&M. Bruin quarterback Josh Rosen is rated as a No. 1 draft candidate but already has been picked four times entering this week’s game at Colorado (3-1, 0-1) …

Who would have guessed department: The bottom three in the NFL quarterback rankings – Cam Newton, Joe Flacco (Baltimore) and Andy Dalton (Cincinnati). No. 1 is easy enough – Tom Brady (New England), but No. 2 is Case Keenum of Minnesota.

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