Extra Point: Defense optional in wild Week 5
Posted October 1, 2012
Extra Point is a sometimes serious, always sarcastic Monday morning recap of what you missed from ACC football action over the weekend.
NC State...still shooting itself in the foot
Although it's been nearly 48 hours since Phillip Dorsett hauled in Stephen Morris' 60-yard bomb to give Miami an absurd 44-37 win over NC State, the jury is still out on exactly what happened. The game, which included dozens of big plays, thousands of yards of offense, multiple turnovers and penalties galore, was essentially a picture-perfect example of how ridiculous the ACC can be at times.
For the Wolfpack, who moved to 3-2 on the season with the loss, Saturday's game was a comedy of errors sprinkled with momentary flashes of brilliance. The much-hyped secondary, facing its second elite passing offense of the season, got torched, giving up seven passing plays of more than 40 yards and an ACC record 566 passing yards to Morris.
The game was particularly rough for David Amerson, who was victimized on four of Miami's touchdown passes, including the game-winner. He topped it off with a key offsides penalty on a Miami field goal attempt in the third quarter. The 'Canes scored a play later to go up 30-21 in a game that was a complete toss up at that point.
Despite the defensive issues and the Wolfpack's six turnovers (four fumbles, two interceptions), NC State tied the game at 37 with 1:58 left on a 50-yard Niklas Sade field goal and had another chance to score about a minute later following a Miami punt. Mike Glennon's arm punt quickly ended any thoughts of a miraculous comeback while simultaneously setting the stage for Morris' heroics. Given how the first 59 minutes of the game went, it was a fitting end.
Five weeks in, it's still tough to know what NC State team is going to show up on any given Saturday. Like this weekend, for example, when the No. 3-ranked Florida State Seminoles come to town for an 8 p.m. kickoff. The Wolfpack should (and probably will) get dominated by the 'Noles, but wouldn't it be the most NC State thing ever for them to make a game of it?
Duke ends an incredible streak at Wake Forest
The march to bowl eligibility continues for the Blue Devils, who were efficient offensively and made just enough clutch plays Saturday to beat Wake Forest 34-27and end a dozen years of futility against the Demon Deacons.
Because Duke's losing streak to Wake was so painful, it's worth recapping. Since 2002, six of Duke's losses to the Demon Deacons were by a combined 18 points. The Blue Devils lost by one point in 2006 and 2011, two in 2004, three in 2008, five in 2007 and six in 2010.
Amazingly, Duke got the win Saturday despite injuries to several key defensive players and starting quarterback Sean Renfree. That fact alone highlights how far the program has come under Cutcliffe and proves that this iteration of the Blue Devils is his best team yet.
Despite the win, Sean Renfree's health has to be a concern moving forward after he left Saturday's game with an elbow injury in the third quarter. Cutcliffe called Renfree day-to-day Sunday afternoon, and an MRI following the game revealed "nothing conclusive." If he can't go, ground-oriented backups Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette will have a tall order against the Cavaliers.
With another win in the books, it's also time to reexamine Duke's bowl chances. As mentioned a week ago, this Saturday's home game against Virginia is a must-win. After that, the most likely W's on the schedule will be in home contests against North Carolina (Oct. 20) and Miami (Nov. 24).
UNC gets second home shutout
Maybe there really is something to playing at home in front of hundreds of people. What?! People can't make North Carolina crowd jokes anymore?
Kidding aside, the Tar Heels are now 3-0 at home this season, racking up an absurd 155-6 edge on Elon, East Carolina and Idaho. Sure, the Phoenix, Pirates and Vandals had plenty to do with that, but shutouts can't go unnoticed, especially considering some of the silly offensive stats we saw in the ACC and nationally Saturday.
North Carolina held Idaho to 189 offensive yards and just nine first downs, with the shutout pushing the defense's streak of touchdown-free quarters to 10, an impressive stat against any competition. The Tar Heels picked off Dominique Blackman four times and only allowed two plays more than 25 yards in the 66-0 win.
While the defense was dominating, Bryn Renner and Co. were easily rolling up 575 yards and 45 first-half points. North Carolina set records for points scored and margin of victory. It's hard to analyze what the Tar Heels offense did against Idaho because of how bad the 0-5 Vandals looked, but according to Larry Fedora post-game, the unit is finally playing at the speed he'd like. Why yes, that was a subtle Red Bull joke.
Expect the winning streak to continue Saturday when one of the ACC's most underwhelming teams, Virginia Tech, comes to Chapel Hill. Logan Thomas and the Hokies have been inconsistent at best, and that formula was on display again Saturday in a 27-24 loss to Munchie Legaux and Cincinnati.
Who says you can't start making picks on Monday morning?
Defense is optional nationally, too
As someone who appreciates a good defensive battle, perusing Saturday's box scores -- both in the ACC and nationally -- was extremely painful. Seventy points here, 600+ yards of offense there. It was ugly.
Looking at the five major leagues (sorry, Big East), 19 teams scored more than 35 points. Thirteen teams scored over 40, and seven tallied more than 50. In the ACC, North Carolina (66), Clemson (45) and Miami (44) led the scoring barrage. In the defensive-minded SEC, Georgia and Tennessee combined for 95 points and 1,038 yards in the Bulldogs' 51-44 victory over the Volunteers.
The one person not impressed by all those yardage and point totals Saturday was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. The senior demolished school, conference and national records in WVU's 70-63 win over Baylor, throwing for 656 yards and 8 touchdowns on a 45-of-51 performance. The Heisman Trophy frontrunner now has 1,728 yards, 20 touchdowns and only 28 incompletions (!) through four games. For the number nerds out there, he's on pace for 5,184 yards (which would rank third all time in the 16-game NFL) and 60 touchdowns.
Say what? Quotes of the weekend
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen analyzes Geno Smith's effort: "Can you please tell me how you can improve on that?"
Going to go out on a limb and say there isn't a way for Smith to improve on his record-setting day. Unless, of course, WVU can play Baylor's awful defense every week.
Tom O'Brien his team's comedy of errors Saturday against Miami: "I don't know, in 38 years I've never been involved with a team that made this many mistakes."
A lot of mistakes can happen in 38 years worth of games. Sheesh.
Urban Meyer on whether Ohio State sent doctored game film to Michigan State: "I don't know anything about that. I don't handle the video. What are they saying? There is no video issue here."
THIS IS NOT A VIDEO ISSUE, FOLKS. I REPEAT: NOT A VIDEO ISSUE.
Miami head coach Al Golden on what he was thinking following Stephen Morris' game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds: "Holy ----."
Only response I can think of: welp.