Each Monday morning (except when there’s a national holiday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 1 of the ACC football season:
1. Jameis Winston Has Arrived: There was plenty to like about Florida State‘s true freshman quarterback prior to the season, but many believed it would take a few games for him to get settled as the team’s starting passer. Not at all the case. On national television last night, Winston was nearly perfect in all aspects of the game. His 25-for-27 passing effort for 357 yards and four scores (plus a rushing touchdown) single-handedly guided Florida State to the victory over Pittsburgh and immediately surrounds the ‘Noles with plenty of buzz. If you didn’t buy the hype before, it’s time to get on board.
2. Clemson is Ready for the National Spotlight: Winston wasn’t the only buzz-worthy ACC player, either. Clemson and quarterback Tajh Boyd proved that Monday night in beating no. 5 Georgia, 38-35. Boyd’s own five-touchdown performance was the bulk of the Tigers’ offense as the team managed to meet the call of critics claiming they were held in too high regard in preseason. The win over UGA marked the second straight win over a top-10 SEC opponent for Clemson too — the first team to ever accomplish such a feat.
3. Virginia Tech‘s offensive struggles remain: Forget the fact that it was Alabama. The Hokies still couldn’t move the ball at all, which was a serious problem last season and appear to be one again in 2013. In a game in which the Tide only managed 206 yards against a staunch Tech defense, the ingredients were obviously there for an upset. But by pulling off just 212 yards themselves, some of which was Logan Thomas‘s 59 yards passing and one interception, Virginia Tech cut themselves off at the knee in this one.
4. Can we believe in Maryland?: In his first actual game since November of 2011, C.J. Brown looked to ascend to the levels always projected for him, with 386 total yards and five scores. Of course, that was against Florida International, but it’s very tough to top such a sterling start, regardless of the opponent. If he can keep this up, the Terps offense becomes a very serious weapon — one that helps this squad far surpass the .500-type expectations laid out for them in preseason.
5. Syracuse, Pittsburgh Looking Questionable Early: Things did not start off well for either of the ACC’s newcomers, each experiencing varying degrees of failure. The Panthers’ demolition was everything one would’ve expected at the hands of Florida State, but it still starts the year off on a very bad foot. The offense might improve, but the defense — thought to be a strength — simply looked out of sorts all night. For Syracuse, the offense was the big issue, as the Orange appeared to have little in terms of gameplan and a messy flow on that side of the ball. Expect SU to get crisper with play-calling as OC George McDonald and QB Drew Allen get more settled, but tough to see the offense give one away by such a slim margin after the defense more than put them in position to beat Penn State.