Each Monday morning (or sometimes Tuesday), we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 4 of the ACC football season:
1. Clemson got very, very lucky: There’s no guarantee that Clemson would have proceeded to lose to NC State had Bryan Underwood‘s huge touchdown catch stood, but there’s also no doubting a win would’ve been much harder for the Tigers. They certainly didn’t bring their A-game last Thursday, with a strong defensive effort and a dubious out-of-bounds call being the biggest factors in the 26-14 win. It was also a huge boost to the ACC, which avoided losing a BCS title hopeful for the second straight September. I won’t be fanning the conspiracy flames here, but you can jump to whatever conclusions you’d like…
2. Georgia Tech‘s a Coastal Division contender this year: Things looked grim against North Carolina for awhile on Saturday, but after starting down 20-7, the defense rallied, the offense got going and tech came away with a big conference victory. The win gives the Yellow Jackets a nice head start on their Coastal competition — namely fellow supposed contender UNC. There’s still Miami to deal with of course, but a hard-fought, complete win like this one certainly gives a lot more credence to this team, which is now 3-0 on the year (2-0 in the conference).
3. The Terrel Hunt era has officially begun: Forget whatever it is you think you know about this Syracuse team, because since Hunt’s taken over, everything looks and feels different for the Orange. Yes, he’s primarily faced weak competition, but that shouldn’t take away from the great success he’s had in what’s amounted to just two games (one start). The redshirt sophomore has shown himself to be tough, dynamic and a smart playmaker; all qualities it appeared the Orange lacked through the first two contests. Of course, the defense is still a bit of an issue, but if the offense can score like this, it becomes a much lesser concern.
4. Vic Beasley: Pass-rushing force: There were preseason murmurs Clemson’s Beasley could have a breakout year, though I’m not sure anyone saw this coming. Even if you just watch a few plays, you see right away what a force he’s become for the Tiger pass-rush — an absolute missile that’s in the backfield quicker than most offensive lineman can stop him. Against NC State, he racked up another three sacks (he already has five on the year), plus defended two passes as well. For those future opponents still sleeping on Clemson’s D, Beasley should provide a quick wake-up call.
5. Is Virginia‘s running game finally “back?”: Since the beginning of last season, it appeared the Hoos’ formerly strong running game had simply disappeared. But Saturday, that was far from the case as UVa managed to compile a big 357 yards against VMI. Led by Kevin Parks and Daniel Hamm, the rushing attack was lethal — especially as the passing game continued to putter along. Obviously, it’s just VMI, but getting to see Hamm put in such a great performance was particularly encouraging for those hoping to see Parks spared the burden of the entire offense.