Scattershooting around the ACC, while pondering, to run or not to run? That is Virginia quarterback David Watford’s biggest question …
Ever since spring drills, we’ve heard how fast afoot Watford is when he breaks into the open, that he’s a blur. But so far, the Cavaliers’ potentially best weapon has been more of a secret weapon. Not by design.
UVa offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild has been encouraging Watford to take off. On Monday, Watford said he is overthinking the situation instead of relying on instinct.
“I was just watching film with my coach about that (running the ball),” Watford told sportswriters. “Coach told me to trust my speed just like in high school when I used to split defenders, make people miss, and just run. Now, I’m trying to find holes and lanes instead of just running. Coach said, ‘Just run. You’re fast for a reason.’”
It’s not like Watford is a stranger to running the football. He got some reps under OC Bill Lazor’s system last year when they employed some read-option but not in the Pistol. In high school at Hampton, it really wasn’t a read-option but more of a designated run to use his speed on the edge behind a pulling guard.
In Fairchild’s offense, Watford has had to learn to read the defensive end’s eyes, his body language, which they have repped continuously since training camp. Now, it’s time to just do it.
The threat of Watford running the ball will cause defenses to back off or pay the price and eventually help open up the passing game and help receivers get open downfield.
Coastal on line tonight?
Considering that in the eight years of divisional play in the ACC, the Coastal Division has been won by either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, does that make tonight’s game between the two in Atlanta huge?
“We know how big a game it is,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said during Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that while there’s a sense of urgency about tonight’s game, he’s not ready to crown the winner as division champ.
“Any time you play in the conference and play a team on your side of the conference, there is certainly a sense of urgency,” Beamer said. “But to say, hey, this game’s going to determine our season, I don’t think we can say that right now.”
Georgia Tech is about a touchdown favorite and after eyeballing both teams, the Yellow Jackets certainly appear to have the upperhand.
It’s a five-day turnaround for both teams, which will put even more pressure on the Hokies because they must go on the road without the lack of preparation time to face the Yellow Jackets’ somewhat unique triple option offensive attack.
Quote of the Week
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora on if his philosophy has changed any on how to feature his running backs after losing big-play man Gio Bernard from last year’s squad: “The philosophy has always been whoever is the hot guy, that’s the guy that’s going to go. Unfortunately, we just haven’t got anybody that’s gotten hot.”
Stat of the week
Take a guess as to how many combined appearances Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have appeared on ESPN’s Thursday Night games. Bet you won’t come close (The answer appears at the end of this note).
The two square off again tonight in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets have hosted more Thursday night battles than any ACC team (18), while the Hokies have won more Thursday night games (19).
Combined, the two Coastal rivals have 51 total appearances on ESPN Thursday night football over the years.
In defense of blowouts
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said he had no problem with the rash of lopsided games between FBS and FCS teams this past weekend. Why?
“Let me ask you this … the 10 1-AA (FCS) teams that beat 1-A (FBS) teams, do you think they thought the same thing? There’s been 10 victories (upsets). There’s been as many victories as there has been blowouts,” Fisher said.
The FSU coach said that playing games against FCS teams helps fund those schools athletic departments in order to support those programs.
Tom Scott, the legend
Don’t know what took the ACC so long to recognize Charlottesville’s Tom Scott as one of its “legends,” to be honored the weekend of the conference’s championship game in Charlotte.
All knowledgeable Wahoos have known for years that Scott and Joe Palumbo are both legendary figures in Cavalier gridiron lore.
Scott, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame, will join a player from each present ACC school for the Legends weekend on Dec. 7. Scott was a stellar two-way performer for UVa from 1950-52 at both offensive and defensive end and earned first-team All-America honors in ’52 under coach Art Guepe.
Scott, who was also a UVa lacrosse All-American, played 12 seasons in the NFL, six years with the Eagles and the last six with the N.Y. Giants, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1957 and ’58, and playing in three NFL championship games in 1961, ’62, and ’63.
Other ACC legends named Wednesday: Boston College, Mike Cloud; Clemson, Terry Kinard; Duke, Wes Chesson; Florida State, Jamie Dukes; Georgia Tech, Robert Lavette; Maryland, Boomer Esiason; Miami, Edgerrin James, UNC, Ken Willard; N.C. State, Dave Buckey and Don Buckey; Pitt, Johnny Majors; Syracuse, Floyd Little; Virginia Tech, Andre Davis; Wake Forest, Jay Venuto.
As we expected, former Virginia coach Al Groh has been a hit as a game analyst for ESPN football coverage.
Groh, who happily resides in Charlottesville, has had a game each week in his rookie season as a commentator. This week, Groh has the N.C. State vs. Central Michigan game.
Short yardage …
…Boston College is the least penalized team in the nation. …Virginia is ranked No. 2 nationally in pass efficiency defense, which could bode well against pass-happy Pitt this weekend. …It’s the 100th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s Grant Field and part of tonight’s celebration will include throw-back jerseys for the Jackets with 40 former Ramblin’ Wreck stars returning for the game. …Believe it or not, but Pitt’s leading rusher, freshman James Conner, was recruited as a defensive lineman (end) when he committed as a junior but evolved into a bullish runner reminiscent of one-time Pitt back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, his senior year, making Panther coaches change their mind about his future position. …N.C. State will boast three starting NFL QBs this weekend, more than any school in the country: Philip Rivers (Chargers); Russell Wilson (Seahawks); Mike Glennon (Buccaneers). …Maryland coach Randy Edsall said that the Terps are contracted to play six games at Byrd Stadium every year, so the only way to play games at Baltimore's M&T Stadium (like last week’s win over West Virginia) would be to play seven home games.
Last week: 10-2. To Date: 40-7. Tonight: Georgia Tech 33, Virginia Tech 27. Saturday: Florida State 36, Boston College 17; Clemson 40, Wake Forest 21; Duke 30, Troy 17; Miami 36, South Florida 24; North Carolina 27, East Carolina 20; N.C. State 19, Central Michigan 13; UPSET SPECIAL: Notre Dame 27, Oklahoma 24; UPSET SPECIAL II: Virginia 33, Pitt 30.
Hootie’s Power Rankings
(Listed by rank, team, record, last week’s rank, comment)
1. Clemson, 3-0, (1). Struggled a bit offensively at N.C. State, but Tajh Boyd is carrying this team right now.
2. Florida State, 3-0, (2). Seminoles coming off a bye week and taking a road trip to Boston. Should cruise to win, but will Winston remain hot?
3. Georgia Tech, 3-0, (4). Defense is better so far this season. Jackets must beat Hokies to have a shot at Coastal crown.
4. Miami, 3-0, (3). Canes scored 77 on Savannah State last week. Could we arrange a Savannah vs. VMI game?
5. North Carolina, 1-2 (5). Yeah, I know, what’s a 1-2 team doing ranked ahead of a 4-0 Maryland? Take on South Carolina and GT on the road, then we’ll talk about it.
6. Virginia Tech, 3-1 (6). Hokies have looked dreadful but still won despite offensive woes. Play sloppy in Atlanta and it could get embarrassing.
7. Syracuse, 2-2 (7). Seems I’m higher on the Orange that most. We’ll find out more about ‘Cuse when the other orange, Clemson, comes to the Dome next week.
8. Maryland, 4-0 (10). Jumped up after fourth win, and Terps have some offensive weapons in Brown and Diggs, but haven’t beaten a good team yet.
9. Virginia, 2-1 (8). Still searching for that offensive identity. Better come quick at Heinz Field this weekend.
10. N.C. State, 2-1 (11). Jumped up after playing respectively against Clemson. Offensive issues to resolve.
11. Boston College, 2-1 (9). Coming off a bye week, Eagles will be tested at home against high-flying Florida State.
12. Pittsburgh, 2-1 (13). The Panthers can light up the scoreboard, but can they stop anybody?
13. Duke, 2-2 (12). Just like Pitt, Devils can score, but can they score enough to win?
14. Wake Forest, 2-2 (14). Made some strides at West Point last week but still the ACC’s bottom feeders at this point.