Scattershooting around the ACC, while taking notice that Virginia believes its future offensive line has lots of promise …
Chatting with UVa offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim on Wednesday, I asked him to talk about the freshmen linemen, three of which are playing and two are redshirting.
Obviously Eric Smith (6-5, 295) is starting at right tackle and has relieved senior Morgan Moses some at left. Smith is backed up by Sadiq Olanrewaju (6-6, 28). Eric Tetlow (6-6, 300) is a backup at left guard. Meanwhile, Jack McDonald (6-5, 275 preseason weight) and George Adeson (6-6, 295 preseason weight) are sitting out this season.
We’ve written about Smith this week, so you’re already familiar with him. Wachenheim said that Olanrewaju has gotten in for close to 100 plays and he will work to get the Maryland native 20 to 40 plays in each of the remaining three games.
“Your column about Eric Smith captured his personality well,” Wachenheim said. “I haven’t coached a young man with as high an IQ in my career. To play offensive line as a freshman and with his ability to understand football is amazing.”
Coach Wach also said that Olanrewaju is getting better each week and would be further along had he not suffered a concussion the week of the Maryland game.
Then there’s Tetlow, who also has a great football IQ, Wachenheim pointed out.
“He’s been in for close to 100 plays, can play guard or center,” the coach said. “There’s a chance he will play more this week. He came in a little overweight, as freshmen do, but he’s slimming down and getting stronger.”
McDonald is from Quincy, Mass., where he attended Boston College High School.
“Jack’s dad (John) is a fireman and was called to the Boston Marathon site the day of the bombing to put out a fire in a library,” Wachenheim said. “Jack is one of (strength coach) Evan Marcus’ favorite guys in the weight room. Evan invited Jack to a personal workout with him on a Saturday morning, which is rare.”
Adeosun, from Alpharetta, Ga., was considered a recruiting coup when Virginia landed him late in the process. The native Nigerian “was coming along fast,” Wachenheim said, “but hurt his knee.”
“He had ACL surgery and will miss spring ball, but then we’ll get big George rolling,” the coach said.
Another lineman to watch for is Mike Mooney, a redshirt freshman from Malvern, Pa., a Philadelphia Daily News first-team All-City selection in high school.
“Mooney had his best practice as a Cavalier today,” Wachenheim noted. “I hope that’s the light switch turning on for him. Linemen mature at different time frames. But the best five are going to play and the next best five will back up.”
It should be noted that UVa nominated Moses for ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors after grading out at 92 percent against Clemson and held Tigers DE Vic Beasley, one of the nation’s top sackers, to only one tackle in the game.
“Morgan’s playing the best football of his career,” Wachenheim said. “The NFL scouts thinks so, too. They’ve invited him to play in the Senior Bowl, our second offensive lineman in a row to do that (Oday Aboushi was the other).”
Heels ready for new UVa
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said that he’s prepared for Virginia’s new schemes under coordinators Steve Fairchild and Jon Tenuta (who was formerly at N.C. State).
“Offensively, [UVa] is really quite a bit different than they were for the other years that I’ve faced them,” Fedora said. “They’re doing much more with the quarterback, with a kid that can run and throw. They’ve got a very talented running back. There are a lot of formations, lots of motion shifts, lot of movement to get you out of position and create problems for you.
“Defensively, it’s a Tenuta-coached defense,” Fedora continued. “They’re blitzing somewhere around 55 to 60 percent of the time, probably a little bit more man blitzing that he’s been in the past. He was more of a zone blitz team. But he’s going to blitz and put some heat on you, we know that we’re trying to prepare for that.”
Coach Frank Beamer said back-to-back losses are easy to explain but that his team won’t have any trouble focusing on Miami.
“I think it’s very simple,” Beamer said. “A couple weeks ago we had won six in a row by not turning the ball over and the last two games we turned the ball over. So, to me it’s pretty simple.”
Hokies QB Logan Thomas leads the ACC in interceptions with 12, two more than UVa’s David Watford and Miami’s Stephen Morris.
Who’s back there?
UNC coach Larry Fedora said that his Tar Heels aren’t in a “woe is me” mood after losing starting quarterback Brynn Renner, who had successful shoulder surgery Wednesday (non-throwing shoulder) that will sideline him the rest of the season.
“The fortunate thing for us is (backup) Marquise (Williams) has played in the last three to four weeks I’ll be honest, a lot of times the offensive line doesn’t even know we’ve changed quarterbacks in a lot of situations because we’re running them in and out so many different times they really don’t know,” Fedora said. “That’s probably a good thing.”
Quote of the Week
“I think this is the best Florida State team that we faced since I’ve been at Wake Forest … that’s 13 years of football.” — Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe
Stat of the Week
We keep hearing that Virginia has played the toughest schedule in the nation, but can’t find any rankings that confirm that.
However, when the NCAA put out preseason rankings on toughness of schedule, UVa was ranked No. 28, based solely on 2013 opponents won-lost records from the season before: 87-65 (.572).
So far this season, there’s reason to believe the Cavaliers have played the toughest if not close to the toughest schedule. Counting VMI’s 1-8 record, UVa’s 12 foes have a collective W-L record of 68-33 (.673). Toss out VMI and things are much different: 67-25 (.728).
Other than the eight ACC opponents on UVa’s schedule, here’s how the nonconference foes are faring this season: Oregon 8-0, Ball State 8-1, BYU 6-2, VMI 1-8.
Righting a wrong
Maryland will pay tribute to the family of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh in Saturday’s game at College Park, a moment that visiting Syracuse coach Scott Shaffer called a learning experience for his football team.
Sidat-Singh was Syracuse halfback who was banned from playing in the 1937 game between the Orangemen and Terps because he was black. Sidat-Singh later joined the military and became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and was killed in a training exercise during World War II.
Syracuse players will wear No. 19 helmet decals in his honor on Saturday.
“I talked to our kids about the fact that Maryland was doing a good job at kind of taking the better-late-than-never approach to honor the Singh family,” Shaffer said. “It’s been 76 years ago that the ugliness of our country’s battle with racial injustice reached to the football field. It’s a teaching moment and an opportunity for our kids to look backwards and look at the history of our country and the history of our country’s ugliness at times and be part of righting a situation that was horribly wrong, 75, 76 years ago.”
Short yardage …
…When asked if the season ended now, would Dabo Swinney be happy with Clemson’s season, the coach said: “If it ended today and we were seventh in the country and undefeated on the road and only one loss, I’d say that’s a great year. I don’t think we’ve ever had a team start in the top 10 and stay in the top 10 all year.” …Maryland coach Randy Edsall said that QB C.J. Brown has been cleared to play in this week’s game vs. Syracuse. …Wake Forest has lost its greatest offensive weapon, wide receiver Michael Campanaro, for the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.
Last week: 7-0. Last week’s Upset Special (BC over VT, 1-0). To date: 78-18. This week: Boston College 40, New Mexico State 19; Duke 33, N.C. State 17; Florida State 37, Wake Forest 20; Notre Dame 27, Pitt 17; Miami 24, Virginia Tech 17; North Carolina 24, Virginia 17; UPSET SPECIAL: Syracuse 36, Maryland 20.
Hootie’s power rankings
1. Florida State, 8-0 (1). Having destroyed two Top 10 opponents, I think there’s an excellent argument for the Seminoles to be No. 1 in the nation over Alabama.
2. Clemson, 8-1 (2). Tigers are a shoo-in for a BCS bowl spot if they don’t screw it up against South Carolina at the end.
3. Miami, 7-1 (3). Can Hurricanes hold on and win the Coastal without Duke Johnson? Miami’s offense needs a knockout punch.
4. Duke, 6-2 (5). The most improved team in the ACC. Devils get a shot at Miami and the Coastal lead in two weeks. Are they ready?
5. Boston College, 4-4 (8). Steve Addazio has Eagles nearly playing at level of the Tom O’Brien days. He should, he’s using the same blueprint to build a winner.
6. Virginia Tech, 6-3 (4). Hokies fans are discouraged after losing back-to-back games. Now they have to go to Miami.
7. North Carolina, 3-5 (6). Tar Heels are getting their act together but losing QB Brynn Renner isn’t going to help.
8. Georgia Tech, 6-3 (7). Yellow Jackets have won three in a row and now enjoying a bye week. They could finish very strong.
9. Syracuse, 4-4 (9). The Orange have been inconsistent and our guess is they will remain that way.
10. Wake Forest, 4-5 (10). One step forward, two steps back.
11. Pittsburgh, 4-4 (11). After facing option teams the past two weeks, the Panthers get to host Notre Dame.
12. Maryland, 5-3 (12). Still not sold on Terps.
13. Virginia, 2-7 (13). If only the Cavaliers could prevent themselves from imploding every game.
14. N.C. State, 3-5 (14). Already lost to Wake and UNC. Now they face Duke. ECU licking its chops down the road.