3 Points: ACC's giving football powers an edge

The Clemson Sports Blog

Football Awards - Senior Tajh Boyd

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football Awards - Senior Tajh Boyd

Analyzing the latest goings-on around TigerTown...

1) Playing favorites – Curious – that's how I'd describe the ACC's football schedule now-a-days.

Florida State opens in Dallas against Oklahoma State and then hosts The Citadel before a bye week and the Atlantic Division title game on Sept. 20 with Clemson. It's the second year in a row one of their byes just happened to fall before the matchup.

Clemson opens in Athens at Georgia then hosts S.C. State before a bye week and the trip to FSU. It's the second year in a row one of their byes just happened to fall before their road ACC opener.

Before arguably their toughest road trip, the Seminoles' other open week occurs before a Thursday nighter at Louisville, while Clemson has a similar allowance before their Thursday game at Wake Forest on Nov. 6.

But then there's N.C. State, which doesn't have a bye until week nine, and in a four week span hosts Florida State, heads to Clemson, hosts Boston College and then is off to Louisville.

There's Syracuse, which has an open week fall in week two between Villanova and Central Michigan, and plays Notre Dame, Louisville (on a Friday), Florida State, at Wake Forest and at Clemson in a row before two more games to their next bye.

There's Virginia, where in succession they're at division-champ Duke, then UNC and travels to Georgia Tech and Florida State back-to-back.

Point being, the ACC's scheduling clearly favors its football elites, which works out just fine for Clemson and Florida State. The conference wants its most-talented teams in a position to compete nationally.

The early season matchup helps in its own right as well.

The loser of the Atlantic title game has nine games to rebound and work their way back up the rankings and bowl possibilities.

Of course, it could also work against the Tigers, staring down the possibility of matching their '12 and '13 loss total through three games. However you look at it, this is a more challenging conference slate despite the ACC's allowances - and some green-but-talented QBs will have to grow up fast.

2) "Undraftable" – I imagine there are few jobs more inane in sports than "draft analyst"...or if they're really important, "draft scout."

Somebody in the Green Bay Packers organization floated to a scout that every-Clemson-record-holding quarterback Tajh Boyd looked "undraftable" in Senior Bowl workouts...after one day of practice. When May comes around, be sure to expect Boyd backing up Aaron Rodgers.

But the pack of NFL draft scoutalysts have piled on the former Tiger QB's accuracy and decision-making all week. Boyd has been the go-to story in Mobile as either the example of why you shouldn't come back to school - or vice versa. Either way, Boyd isn't minding the flack, but he is hearing it. After day one, he took to retweeting Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's postgame tweet Sunday: "A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinions of a sheep." Adding later, "Making strides every day and improving just (trying to) be the best me I can be!"

By most accounts, he's bettered his standing as the week has gone on, and we'll see Saturday at 4 p.m. the final product as he and a couple ACC peers command the North squad.

In some respects, Boyd's pro debut is kind of reverting back to his Clemson debut as a starter, where he had issues with the shotgun snap. He recovered to have an okay career though, and that's likely to happen here as well. After the myriad of workouts and interviews, Boyd should be a top-three round pick, and find his way onto the field just fine in coming years.

3) Basketball: *Thud* – We've seen the highs (72-59 win over No. 16 Duke) and the lows (56-41 home loss to FSU; 76-43 road loss at No. 20 Pitt) in the first third of the ACC season. Coming up Sunday, the immortal streak is on the line between a Tigers team three conference wins better (4-2) than UNC (1-4).

Pitt's passing game, which Brad Brownell hailed pregame, eviscerated what had been a stout Clemson defense most of the season. Luckily for Clemson, there's really only two teams that can do that to them left on the schedule (Syracuse, and Pitt again).

The troubling factors were the turnovers and bad shots. Once K.J. McDaniels was knocked out early with foul trouble, Clemson lost any sense of an offensive identity (which makes some sense, since he was averaging a team-best 34 minutes a game going in. It was weird not having him on the floor).

What's next? If they can flush the bad loss, everything is very much on the table still, but they're going to have to notch a couple more road wins to be in any Big Dance conversation. Projecting out the final two-thirds of conference play, I'll be conservative and say 18-12 (9-9 ACC), a mid-seed in the ACC Tourney (6-8) and an NIT bid, but 10-plus wins is doable if they play well enough at home. A win in Chapel Hill this Sunday is pretty doable as well.

Reaction: Like how Clemson's schedule sets up (any early record predictions)? Where do you think Boyd will be selected? What's Clemson basketball's final ACC record (postseason play)?

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Comments » 10

clmtgr92 writes:

Brandon,
I think the bye week for each team before the Clem/FSU game was a reward from the conference for both school's willingness to schedule a top team for opening week the past few years. Add in the fact that each school closes with its SEC rival, why not give them the most advantageous use of bye weeks. Other schools should take note.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

in response to clmtgr92:

Brandon,
I think the bye week for each team before the Clem/FSU game was a reward from the conference for both school's willingness to schedule a top team for opening week the past few years. Add in the fact that each school closes with its SEC rival, why not give them the most advantageous use of bye weeks. Other schools should take note.

Clemson and FSU should never play so early in the season. The 8th or 9th week would be perfect for this game, especially if both team are undefeated or highly ranked. It would have a lot more meaning nationally late in the year than the 3rd game of the season. If we let UGA keep the money you reckon they would let us switch dates of the SC State game and play them first and then go to Athens. I think that's a good idea and someone should suggest that to somebody, somewhere, sometime tween now and then.

KIMOSAMI (Inactive) writes:

Yeah. "They" started the narrative that Tajh wasn't NFL caliber...all of a sudden.

He's looked pretty dam good for the last three years.

meb4077 writes:

Scheduling Clemson and FSU early in the season is to give the loser of the game the chance to work back up the standings since an early loss hurts less than a late loss. While not as dramatic, there is a certain logic from a final rankings perspective, and both schools have big out of conference games for national attention at the end of the year. Even if we have been blowing it.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

Clemson and FSU should never play so early in the season. The 8th or 9th week would be perfect for this game, especially if both team are undefeated or highly ranked. It would have a lot more meaning nationally late in the year than the 3rd game of the season. If we let UGA keep the money you reckon they would let us switch dates of the SC State game and play them first and then go to Athens. I think that's a good idea and someone should suggest that to somebody, somewhere, sometime tween now and then.

The ACC knows what they're doing. It's better for the conference to have them play earlier in the season b/c it gives the loser the rest of the season to have a chance to climb back up the national rankings. All games should count the same but that's not reality. A late-season loss is worse than an early season loss. It shouldn't be but it just is. If you look at 1-loss teams that make the national championship game, they usually suffered that loss early in the season. Besides that, if you're going to have a game to showcase the ACC then you want the best players to be in the game. Injuries happen in football and a big game early in the season means there's less chance of getting injured before the game.

You should want to play UGA on August 30. That game won't be on national TV if you played it a week later. The networks want a big game to kickoff the season on Labor Day weekend that they can promote for a long time leading up to it. If you say "no thanks, we don't want to play a big game to start the season" then there's a long line of teams more than willing to setup a big game on that day and take the national TV exposure that you're turning down.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

1) The reason that NC State and UVa have a tough schedule is b/c every game is tough when you're not very good. Clemson's season will largely be determined before October. They play a minimum of 3 games and a maximum of 5 games all season. @UGa, @FSU, and SC will be tough games. UNC and Louisville might be capable of making a decent game and pulling an upset or they could lose by 3 TDs. Everyone else on the schedule is a mess.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

2) I don't think anyone is going to draft Boyd with the idea that he's going to one day be their franchise QB. I could see him being drafted in the 3rd round with the idea that he could potentially be a quality backup. BTW, there's nothing wrong with that. People with NFL teams say a lot of things leading up to the draft. You never know what's true and what's misdirection. It all comes down to can he make the NFL throws, how quickly can he pickup an NFL offense, and how good is he at real-time processing and decision-making on the field. Those 3 things determine how well any QB does in the NFL. We'll find out.

TigerNE writes:

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule about losing late in the season versus early. What influences the rating more is the caliber of opponent than the timing of the loss. And the losers current ranking. After all, Bama didn't drop THAT far by losing to Auburn at the end of the season. Losing early to a highly ranked opponent is different mostly because other teams have a chance to lose 1 (or more) along the way clearing some spots in the rankings.

Impact on a playoff invitation will be a different story/circumstance over just being ranked high and getting to a decently paying bowl, though. I suppose there could be an argument that losing only to UGA early but beating FSU and everyone else later in the season still keeps us in the playoff running. But that might still be true if we beat everyone but simply lost the last game to a highly ranked SCar, too.

TigerNE writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

1) The reason that NC State and UVa have a tough schedule is b/c every game is tough when you're not very good. Clemson's season will largely be determined before October. They play a minimum of 3 games and a maximum of 5 games all season. @UGa, @FSU, and SC will be tough games. UNC and Louisville might be capable of making a decent game and pulling an upset or they could lose by 3 TDs. Everyone else on the schedule is a mess.

Don't underestimate Adazzio's ability to work some magic with less than top talent especially playing in Chestnut Hill. I worry more about that than UNC in DV, personally. Louisville will be a complete mystery until I get to see how they play in their first game against Miami. But even after that Petrino could also work some magic in their next 5 games even though none will be as challenging and difficult as Miami (theoretically) and us. But if they show some serious offensive recovery from 2013 exodus, especially against Miami and maybe Cuse, then I too will worry more about their DV visit. But for now, BC could be the "surprise" challenge in the ACC for us to me.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to TigerNE:

Don't underestimate Adazzio's ability to work some magic with less than top talent especially playing in Chestnut Hill. I worry more about that than UNC in DV, personally. Louisville will be a complete mystery until I get to see how they play in their first game against Miami. But even after that Petrino could also work some magic in their next 5 games even though none will be as challenging and difficult as Miami (theoretically) and us. But if they show some serious offensive recovery from 2013 exodus, especially against Miami and maybe Cuse, then I too will worry more about their DV visit. But for now, BC could be the "surprise" challenge in the ACC for us to me.

It's telling that you're worried about Steve Addazio and his inferior talent. Clemson has superior athletes and superior talent to BC. BC has no real home field advantage and they make no commitment to football. We're talking about a school where Tom O'Brien left for NC State b/c it was a SIGNIFICANT upgrade in facilities.

The only thing left to worry about is being out-coached. You didn't extend Dabo 8 years to worry about BC and the wizardry of Steve Addazio.

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