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)?