Triangle schools should be on upset watch in Week 2
Posted September 6, 2013
Updated September 7, 2013
After a relatively positive opening weekend for the Atlantic Coast Conference, the second week of the regular season is littered with potential potholes – especially for Duke, North Carolina and NC State, who all face weaker opponents.
According to former ECU coach Steve Logan, preparing a team to face an opponent it should beat is one of the harder aspects of leading a college program. It's hard to convince players to take teams seriously, even when they know the risk and the potential to lose, Logan said.
"When William & Mary went to UNC and won, we had to play them that same year," Logan said of his time at ECU. "I showed my team that film every day of the week leading up to our game. You have to show them what happens when you walk into a stadium thinking the game will be over in the first quarter."
In the first week of the season, Boston College was the only ACC team to struggle against a lesser opponent. The Eagles needed a 17-point second half to come back and secure a 24-14 win against FCS foe Villanova.
Nationally, several major conference schools fell to their FCS opponents in week one – Connecticut to Towson, South Florida to McNeese St., Kansas State to North Dakota State and Iowa State to Northern Iowa, just to name a few.
According to Logan, ACC teams looking for easy wins in Week 2 should strap their chinstraps a bit tighter. Duke, North Carolina and NC State face Memphis, Middle Tennessee State and Richmond, respectively, and other ACC schools (Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland) are all heavily favored in their matchups with smaller schools.
"Some of these games are going to be dogfights, because they always are," he said. "Teams better be ready at kickoff."
North Carolina vs Middle Tennessee State – Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ACC Network
More than a week after falling to South Carolina in the Aug. 29 season opener, the North Carolina Tar Heels will be in Kenan Stadium Saturday afternoon for a matchup with Middle Tennessee State. The Raiders beat Western Carolina 45-24 a week ago, and in 2012 they made headlines by beating Georgia Tech by 21 points in Atlanta.
The Tar Heels shouldn't be down after their loss to the Gamecocks, Logan said, but the offense will need to become more explosive for the team to have sustained success the rest of the season.
"Between the first game and second game, it's when a coach finds out the most he will find out all year," he said. "UNC found out they are not going to get explosive touchdown runs like they had a year ago from Gio Bernard. Bryn Renner is going to have to provide those explosive plays for the UNC offense – him and their group of receivers."
Duke vs Memphis - Saturday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN3
Fresh off an easy win over crosstown rival North Carolina Central, Duke hits the road Saturday for an important game against Memphis. The Blue Devils are favored in Las Vegas, and that fact alone is something Logan said would have him worried.
"If I were standing in front of the Duke football team, I'd probably say something like, 'If you think we have arrived, we're dead. We're completely dead,'" he said. "Duke has to get better at everything they do. Memphis is waiting, and they aren't afraid. They want an ACC scalp."
Memphis didn't play in the first week of the season, and the Tigers were 4-8 a season ago, giving up better than 30 points per game. Led by Sean Renfree, Conner Vernon and Jamison Crowder, the Blue Devils downed Memphis 38-14 on Sept. 22, 2012. Logan said Duke would be wise to rely on Crowder again.
"I don't know what Crowder has done in practice, but on game day, he's making plays," Logan said. "He's a playmaker, and you have to get the ball in his hands as much as you can."
NC State vs Richmond – Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN3
In Raleigh, the Wolfpack will take on the Richmond Spiders without quarterback Brandon Mitchell, the Week 1 starter who broke a bone in his foot against Louisiana Tech. Pete Thomas will get the nod, and he will be backed up by two freshmen, Joshua Taylor and Bryant Shireffs.
"With Brandon Mitchell out of the equation now, that section of the offense that he was really good at is off the table," Logan said. "Pete Thomas comes in, and you have a whole new part of the playbook to employ. It will look different."
Thomas led the NC State offense to 26 points after Mitchell's exit Saturday, but four of the six scoring drives ended with field goals instead of touchdowns. Logan said he wouldn't be surprised to see head coach Dave Doeren and his staff rely on the ground attack early in Saturday's game.