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Opponent Watch: 9/25

Posted on September 26, 2018, in Football by StLouHoo.

Welcome back to our newest football feature, Opponent Watch, where we recap the weekend's results of the other teams on Virginia's remaining schedule, to help the fans develop an understanding of what's upcoming.  Additionally, this week we unveil our ACC Coastal Power Rankings, now that everyone's played 3 or 4 games, including most with at least one ACC game.

 

NC STATE

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 9/29 @ NCSU

This week's result: Won 37-20 vs Marshall (Away)

As Virginia Tech demonstrated (oh, you didn't know? read on!), winning on the road at a C-USA team's house is not a gimme. So credit to NC State for playing a true road game and coming home with a 17 point win, especially given the distractions of last week's hurricane cancellation. State was efficient on 3rd down, converting 9-16, with Marshall unable to slow down State QB Ryan Finley (23/40 for 377 yards, 1 TD, no INTs), though the running game failed to impress (averaging 3.7 ypc). The defense had an okay day, allowing only 13 points (one of Marshall's TDs was a fumble return), and most of that was on one 82-yard Marshall TD bomb, and the Pack defense even chipped in with a Pick 6 of their own during garbage time. Hosting UVA next week will be State's first P5 game of the year (JMU, Georgia State, Marshall), since their West Virginia clash got cancelled.

Record: 3-0 (0-0)

 

MIAMI

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/13 @ UVA

This week's result: Won 31-17 vs Florida International (Home)

The final score may look closer than you think it ought to, but Miami took a 31-0 lead into the fourth quarter before taking their foot off the gas over the last 8 minutes or so. The story of the game is the emergence of QB N'Kosi Perry, the redshirt freshman (former?) backup who entered the game during Miami's 3rd series, giving starter Malik Rosier a break, and then never letting go of the job. He went 17/25 for 224 yards and a 3/1 TD/INT, adding 32 yards on the ground, and creating a possible QB controvery in Coral Gables. The defense looked fine while the game was still being contested, with two takeaways and holding FIU to only 17 rushing yards on the day. 

Record: 3-1 (0-0)

 

DUKE

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/20 @ Duke

This week's result: Won 55-13 vs North Carolina Central (Home)

Duke returned from a 2-week road trip (wins at Northwestern and Baylor) to relax against NCCU. Missing starting QB Daniel Jones for the second straight game, the Blue Devils rolled the FCS behind 628 yards of total offense while allowing only 187. Duke's only blemishes on the day were failing to force any turnovers and drawing an unnecessary 8 penalty flags (for 75 yards given up). Not much else to see here, though their QB depth will be a concern going forward as Jones looks to return soon and Quentin Harris (Jones' backup, getting his second start in this one) also getting banged up in this one (non-specific lower leg injury).

Record: 4-0 (0-0)

 

NORTH CAROLINA

Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 10/27 @ UVA

This week's result: Won 38-35 vs Pitt (Home)

UNC took a necessary first step to salvaging its season, as a number of players returned from suspension for the Pitt game. UNC's offense did most anything it wanted in this one, going 7-15 on 3rd down, generating 486 yards of offense, only coughing up 1 TO. Their defense was dangerously generous, however, letting Pitt rush for 228 yards and allowing 2 fourth down conversions, though they did get 3 sacks and held just enough to get the win. Next week in a trip to ranked Miami, we'll see if UNC is ready to start taking its season seriously given the highly distracting September. 

Record: 1-2 (1-0)

 

PITTSBURGH

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Fri, 11/2 @ UVA

This week's result: Lost 38-35 vs North Carolina (Away)

Pitt continues to be perplexing, going flat in the second half against a UNC squad they were favored against on the road. Pitt and UNC traded TD's through the first half, but after the intermission, Pitt went cold, getting outscored 17-0 before a late garbage time TD made it close. Wunderkind QB Kenny Pickett had another inconsistent outing, totalling 3 TDs with no turnovers, but only going 19/33 for 174 yards and getting sacked 3 times. But the Pitt defense deserves all the blame here, letting UNC QB Nathan Elliott torch them for 313 yards on 31 attempts with 2 TDs and UNC RB Antonio Williams have a great day to the tune of 114 yards on only 16 carries and 2 TDs. Pitt's September they'd rather not remember continues next week with a trip to visit a ranked UCF squad, one of four ranked squads they have left on their schedule (@ND, Duke, and @Miami as well). 

Record: 2-2 (1-1)

 

LIBERTY

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 11/10 @ UVA

This week's result: Lost 47-7 vs North Texas (Home)

All the momentum that came from their season-opening thumping of ODU has been squandered with a 40-point drubbing by C-USA powerhouse North Texas. The Flames offense looked good on paper, with 344 yards, converting 8-19 on 3rd down, and only 1 TO. But they failed on a pair of attempted fourth down conversions, and QB Sean Calvert was an abysmal 16/39 on the day. Their defense was equally porous, giving up over 500 yards of offense and a head-shaking 7 TDs. Liberty now goes west for a pair of road dates in New Mexico (the indignities of being a no-name FBS independent).

Record: 1-2

 

GEORGIA TECH

Matchup Date/Location: Sat, 11/17 @ GT

This week's result: 49-21 vs Clemson (Home)

No shame in losing to the ACC's clear-cut best team. GT's defense held strong on the first two drives but then collapsed starting in the second quarter, allowing 3 TDs that period, and another two to start the 2nd half. GT's defense ultimately surrended 480 total yards, though did manage to pick off two CU passes. GT's offense was disappointing as long as the game was contested, giving up a fumble return for a CU TD, having to recover another SEVEN of their own fumbles, and only managing one scoring drive before they were down 42-7 and CU took their foot off the gas (and even that one TD drive started at the CU 23 yard line after an INT). GT's passing game went a combined 3/8 for 57 yards and one TD, with starter Taquon Marshall being replaced by Tobias Oliver late in the game, directing their final TD drive.

Record: 1-3 (0-2)

 

VIRGINIA TECH

Hoo Matchup Date/Location: Fri, 11/23 @ VT

This week's result: Lost 49-35 vs Old Dominion (Away)

And we get to the Virginia Tech game, which goes down as one of the largest D-1 upsets in recent decades, and ranks up their with their historic upsets at the hands of Temple (1998) and JMU. VT's offense was okay but could've been better, completing only 50% of their passes (Josh Jackson was 8/16 before his injury, and backup Ryan Willis was 9/18), for 3 combined TDs and 1 INT. The running game fared somewhat better, totalling 318 yards on 48 attempts, though 87 yards of it came on one play. They couldn't convert when it counted though, going 5/16 on 3rd and 4th downs. VT's defense was inexcusably bad, however, letting ODU backup QB Blake LaRussa shred them for 495 passing yards, picking on VT's young corners with deep balls all game long. Josh Jackson broke his leg and could lose the season over it, and after the game VT dismissed star DE Trevon Hill for misconduct (how bad does it have to be for VT to actually kick someone off the team?!). They're on the road at Duke next week, in a game critical to restoring their psyche.

Record: 2-1 (1-0)

 

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Coastal Division Power Rankings

1. Miami

2. Duke

3. Virginia Tech

4. Virginia 

5. North Carolina

6. Pittsburgh

7. Georgia Tech

Miami is the clear #1 here, especially if the switch to the raved-about freshman QB Perry works out. Duke is playing very consistent ball, winning two true road P5 games, and once they get Daniel Jones back at 100%, watch out. After that, how you rack and stack #'s 3-7 is anyone's guess. VT got whipped at ODU, yes, but they're still a team that went into Tallahassee and destroyed the Noles on national TV. Yes FSU sucks this year, but I'm still giving that game some weight. And honestly, the losses of QB Jackson and DE Hill could be addition by subtraction, given the QB's technical limitations and the poor attitudes of both at times. Virginia looks good through four games, but the injuries are starting to mount on defense (Burney, Cook, and Mack) and I worry that could take its toll as the season grinds on. UNC has a chance to redeem itself with its suspended players returning, the Pitt win was huge in that respect. Pitt is just a mess without any identity, and with probably losses to UCF and ND coming up, will need to keep their heads up in toss-up games such as Syracuse and Duke in October. Georgia Tech, at 1-3 (0-1) really needs a good performance once they resume ACC play @ Louisville in 2 weeks. They'll blow out Bowling Green this weekend, but without an ACC win, I just don't trust their defense or passing game to beat many teams left on their schedule.