With the ACC in such disarray, might Georgia Tech benefit?

Tech was brought low against KU. But the chance to rise remains. (AP photo)

Tech was brought low against KU. But the chance to rise in the ACC remains. (AP photo)

Five ACC teams were ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll. After two weeks, only one remains — Miami, at No. 17.

Results from last weekend: Miami lost at Ohio State; Florida State lost at Oklahoma; Georgia Tech lost at Kansas and Virginia Tech lost to James Madison of the FCS (formerly Division I-AA). This after an opening weekend that saw half-strength North Carolina fall to LSU and Virginia Tech blow a lead against Boise State.

The fallout was swift and predictable: The ACC, which is seen as a basketball league, has again been cast as the weakest of the Big Six BCS football conferences. And it doesn’t look good when Georgia Tech, the reigning ACC champ, loses to a Kansas team that had been beaten by North Dakota State one week earlier, or when Virginia Tech, widely considered the ACC’s strongest football program, begins its season 0-2. That said …

At least ACC teams dare to go out and play non-conference games away from home. And even if the watching world doesn’t view the basketball league as worthy of full-blown BCS status, somebody from the ACC is going to play in the Orange Bowl. And that somebody could be Georgia Tech.

Four teams from the ACC Coastal Division are, or at least were, considered high-quality. The Jackets must face two of the other three on the road. The first key in-division game is Saturday at North Carolina, which still counts 12 players under suspension. (Tailback Shaun Draughn was cleared to play this week.) Win in Chapel Hill and Tech will take the first step toward defending its division title.

For the Jackets, the other big Coastal games don’t come until November: At Virginia Tech on Nov. 4 and against Miami here on Nov. 13. A split of those two could put Georgia Tech in Position A to return to the conference championship game, which will be held in Charlotte this time. (Something to note: Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech don’t have to face Florida State in the regular season; North Carolina and Miami do.)

I know. It’s a substantial leap to go from losing in Lawrence to returning to the Orange Bowl. And it’s not yet clear if Georgia Tech is all that good. What does seem clear is that nobody else in the ACC is very good, either.

108 comments Add your comment

Hankie Aron

September 16th, 2010
8:24 am

Mark, Thanks for all of your columns. I enjoy them. This being another good one

GTHorsie

September 16th, 2010
8:24 am

Aw, c’mon Mark. First you jinx my Braves, now you’re going after my Jackets?! Yes, the ACC is weak right now, but I have full faith that Coach Paul Johnson will right the ship.

Mark Bradley

September 16th, 2010
8:25 am

Thanks, Hankie Aron.

B

September 16th, 2010
8:26 am

Hankie Aron

September 16th, 2010
8:29 am

GTHorsie- Me being the UGA die hard variety, The ACC is definately up for grabs and GT has just as good a chance to win it as VT, UNC, or Florida State. You have to admire the teams for going against some quality OOC opponents so early in the season.

Hankie Aron

September 16th, 2010
8:30 am

Even Miami, who knows

ty webb

September 16th, 2010
8:32 am

Duh! And how is this any different to 2009?

Eastman Jacket

September 16th, 2010
8:35 am

CPJ doesn’t lose two games in a row. Look for the Jackets to win a tough game saturday and then get on a roll for several weeks. I’ll agree the road games are going to be tough, but the outlook is still bright for the season and for the potential of another ACC championship. Who knows? Tech could very well run the table. Don’t care which conference you are, that would be a nice feat.

Red Fox

September 16th, 2010
8:36 am

Nesbitt has to toss it a little better and we have to take better care of the ball.

GTHorsie

September 16th, 2010
8:37 am

Hankie Aron – Agreed, it’s definitely up for grabs. But it usually comes down to the VT/GT game.
With the Dawgs lost last weekend, I’d say the SEC East is also.

Ted M

September 16th, 2010
8:39 am

I now think the pivotal game is this week at NC. They looked pretty good and inspired despite missing all those starters last week. A big win will give Tech momentum as they play teams who are not quite as good as everyone thought.

How hard could it be to get just average on special teams? and maybe complete 12 to 14 forward passes?

mtraininjax

September 16th, 2010
8:39 am

Tech should have won in Kansas, they had the ball so much, and dropped passes, bad passes, heck they ran the same play on just about every down in the 3rd qtr and Kansas could not stop them. Johnson knows how to coach to win, he did last Saturday. He will do the same this Saturday, I think the players, led by Bedford and Nesbitt will show up with a better effort. Question is with T.J. Yates will show up for UNC?

Big Red Machine

September 16th, 2010
8:40 am

I’ve been sayin for years, PJ’s high school 1 trick poney offense is too 1 dimensional to win it big. The team just can’t pass. 5 for 15? Horrible. Now, Ga Tech has defensive problems too. Backs arn’t breaking the long runs, folks are catching on to the triple option.

Paul Johnson has lost 3 out of 5 of his last 5 games.

Fire Paul Johnson!

collegeballfan

September 16th, 2010
8:42 am

I’m telling you guys winning at NC Saturday is gonna be next to impossible. They really looked pretty good against LSU.

Daniel Larusso

September 16th, 2010
8:42 am

Yeah, the losses by the ACC last weekend really was a downer. And then the Falcons, Braves, Ga State, UGA…. at one point last weekend I was about to give up on Atlanta sports. But a few days go by, and I am already excited about this weekend’s games. Tech UNC is so important now for the Jackets, and the Falcons opener seems like a must win with the Saints waiting in week 3.

Parker

September 16th, 2010
8:43 am

Yeha right. Gt is a joke. They will get beaten badly against unc even with players out. You can’t beat kansas, you aren’t beating half the sad acc.

YLOJKT

September 16th, 2010
8:56 am

Right now, it looks like NC is the class of this division, beat them and the Jackets can and should roll. The loss to KS hurt, no doubt, but I agree with what was said earlier in regards to CPJ having them in position to win. KS came out looking for redemption and played hard, we gave them a free TD with our first second half drive and shanked punt, which ended up being the insurmountable score.
The main problem I saw last week that cost us the game though was Hill’s route running. Nesbitt threw quite a few nice passes and he was on a different route than the play. He missed a TD while running around in circles while the ball was in the air with no defender near him, and he also cost us our last drive when he tried to go deeper than the route on fourth down. For those who complained about Nesbitt’s passing, those and a few other passes were where they should have been and should have resulted in points and drives being kept alive. It was obvious that the problem was with Hill and not Nesbitt and I expect that to be corrected this week.

RamblinRecluseRd

September 16th, 2010
8:58 am

To GTHorsie- I don’t expect CPJ to right the ship because the ship is on it’s side since CPJ runs it to the sidelines instead of straight downfield to the goal line. CPJ has no other offense to run such as an I formation, a shotgun, and a wishbone during the same game to confuse the defense. Iowa practiced against a team running a triple option and totally shut Tech down. This year CPJ uses the same offense, and Kansas got so used to it that they knew who to tackle and where they would be during runs. It just proves that running it to the sidelines is running it to the wrong direction unless a block is made springing the runningback down the sidelines. That block’s a real “if”, about like risking a pass. For that matter, the last split second pitchouts from Nesbitt are cliff-hanger risky. I’m surprised there haven’t been any uncaught pitchouts, but perhaps the law of averages is about to catch up. And the defense seems to hit the runners, but not grab on or knock them over. Butterfingers. Trick or Treat. And Nesbitt should crawl before he can walk and throw short passes, maybe even three in a row, before he goes long. Kansas did this. Nesbitt has to quit the in the pocket passing demonstration for pro scouts watching the games. He needs a more varied passing reportoire, particularly if he wants to win The Heisman. After last week, he needs to balance those incompletions, the yin, with many completions, the yang, against NC. The oriental philosophy of the yin must be balanced by the yang means the bad must be balanced by the good as soon as possible.

Paul in RDU

September 16th, 2010
8:59 am

Mark – FCS (Football Championship Series) was formerly Div 1AA. FBS (Football Bowl Series) was Div 1.
You are right about the ACC – not looking good this year and GT does have a good chance to win it. The game in CH this week is crucial and I view it as a toss up. The ACC does have a chance to show that they are better than the Big East with tonight’s game between a mid pack ACC team (NC State) and last year’s Big East champion (Cincinnati) and then there are 3 games against the Pirates of ECU to measure up against Conference USA! ECU will put points on the board against VT this week but their defense leaves a great deal to be desired.

O.P. Dorksweller

September 16th, 2010
9:07 am

At least GT has done better in its Division than UGA.

UGA is 10-11 in last 21 games in SEC East.

The reality is the ACC is so crummy they are hardly relevant.
They have earned this unlofty regard.

Nativebird

September 16th, 2010
9:11 am

Not without a passing game.

T3

September 16th, 2010
9:14 am

Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzz Mark.

Man, get your S**T straight.

FBS = Football BOWL Subdivision
(i.e. schools like GT, Ohio State, VT, Texas, etc.)

FCS = Football CHAMPIONSHIP Subdividion
(i.e. schools like Ga Southern, James Madison, App State, Villanova)

James Madison IS NOT FBS, they are FCS !!

Ed

September 16th, 2010
9:17 am

Those that question GT and Paul Johnson’s coaching need to relax. You have to look at a full body of work to judge someone’s abilities. Yes GT was beaten by a strong Iowa team, then upset by Kanasas. Crap happens in college sports. Bloggers giving coaching advice to Paul Joihnson? Now that is funny. I am sure he is writing down all the advice that is given by the football experts here.

A-She-She Conference!

September 16th, 2010
9:19 am

Enter your comments here

Ed

September 16th, 2010
9:19 am

Enter your comments here

Ron Davis

September 16th, 2010
9:22 am

In 1990, if Tech had tied UNC in the second game of the season, would everyone have lined up to say Bobby Ross’ offense was done and that Shawn Jones sucked?

PMC

September 16th, 2010
9:32 am

Yeah, they could…except GT is in disarray too.

I guess I overestimated what Al Groh could do in one summer.

PMC

September 16th, 2010
9:34 am

More than likely the team simply went into Kansas thinking they were going to roll easily and they were looking at the UNC game. It will be interesting to see if Tech is able to focus better this week and execute.

StraightJacket

September 16th, 2010
9:38 am

The reason for the ACC’s weakness in recent years was obvious: VERY poor QB performance.

THIS year is surprising in that the league has so many experienced, and decent QB’s returning: Ponder, Nesbitt, Wilson, Tyrod, Jacory …. shoot, even Parker came back. Besides that, Verica and Renfree have started well. So, for THIS year, the problems obviously go beyond the Quarterbacks.

One really odd anomaly: EVERY one of these OOC losses this year was on the Road. Norman, Columbus, Lawrence, D.C., L.A., …. none of these are ACC home stadiums. Seems odd that ALL of these games would be on the road.

ArkyTech

September 16th, 2010
9:43 am

“The ACC, which is seen as a basketball league, has again been cast as the weakest of the Big Six BCS football conferences.”

Have you looked at what the Big East has been up to?

T3

September 16th, 2010
9:45 am

Paul Johnson has been coaching college football since 1981,
and has been coaching his offensive style since 1985.

In 25 years of coaching:
at MULTIPLE programs,
at MULTIPLE conferences & locations,
at MULTIPLE levels

leaves ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to argue about.

So relax. Paul Johnson is in charge.

Asheville Dawg

September 16th, 2010
9:46 am

I’ll agree with the ACC being up for grabs. Miami, FSU, GT, VT, or UNC will emerge from the clutter of the second week of the season, and be champions. But lets get a few more weeks into the season to start our guessing game. Course we can always start now………….

JDHGT

September 16th, 2010
9:46 am

ARGH…Kiss of death from Mr. Bradley. Mark, could you kindly write a column about how the Braves are certain to miss the playoffs and have no chance to win the World Series? Thanks.

ormewood

September 16th, 2010
9:50 am

Those in the know seem to think that UNC’s starting safeties may be cleared to play Saturday. That will help them, but their two NFL-caliber D linemen (Quinn, Austin) will not play. I think the option attack will be successful, but they’re going to have to pass the ball some to win.

Brave Hokie

September 16th, 2010
9:51 am

You might want to start putting ur ACC hopes in the Klempsun basket Sat Nite in Auburn, but that hasn’t worked out too well in the past…

I would be estatic if we simply get by ECU in Blacksburg :(

Reality Check

September 16th, 2010
9:56 am

These are all great points. MB, at the beginning of the year, I though road games at UNC, VT, Clemson and UGA out of conference would be tough. After last week, I feel like VT,UNC, and Miami at home are very much winnable games. Clemson may be tough on the road but also GT could lose one or two games and make it to the championship game. I see no team on the other side that GT can not beat. I think on the Jackets side this week will be the key game to win the Division.

ormewood

September 16th, 2010
9:57 am

Clemson has played absolutely no one. The fact that they are 2-0 means nothing. Duke and Wake would also be 2-0 against that slate. In fact, Wake actually is 2-0. Clemson goes down by two TD’s Saturday nite.

Paul in RDU

September 16th, 2010
10:02 am

ormewood – Austin is done at UNC – will never play another game. The safeties may be back for Saturday but the DBs won’t

GTville

September 16th, 2010
10:04 am

What are you going to write after Duke beats Alabama this weekend?

m

September 16th, 2010
10:04 am

Mark, why don’t you show a little objectivity. Many of the these ACC losses were to Top 10 teams..anyone could have lost them. There is a whole season ahead of these teams. Let the season play out.

And why do you never mention that the sec (who is downright chicken to play decent competition out of conference) lost several games. Old missy lost to JSU, (div 1-aa), Vandy lost to Northwestern, Tennessee got stomped by Oregon, lswho barely beat North Carolina’s scout team.

The sec is mainly one team…Alabama. The rest of the conference is no better than the acc or the other conferences.

You suck in your biased opinions.

gt

September 16th, 2010
10:05 am

The ACC may be the last simplest of a real college conference. Suspensions of UNC is a joke, UNC is not a football factory, it is a university of higher learning. What is the purpose of the NCAA when they concentrate on UNC while a stroll through any football factory would produce much more damning results. Toss the ACC from the auto bid and the Orange Bowl and you have given up on any hope of running a clean program,which we are on the outpost of as is. Maybe that is what America wants, a bunch of fat nonathletic looking power brokers from the different news agencies hijacking the grassroots of college football. They will just take this from you and hand it over to “their” people. They will change starting times from Saturday to Thursday, from 2pm to 8 pm so we can drive home drunk. They will jungle the ranking so a populated Ohio has a horse in the race and a audience for television. They will keep colleges out of the polls that do not have attractive followings like Wake Forest and give legs to night schools that have entry examines on the inside of cereal boxes like South Florida and Florida International. Impoverish states in the deep south will spend millions on football while their graduates can’t get jobs, because the professors in those schools can’t teach. And when it all blows up in our faces, the ACC like the Ivy League will be totally disinterested in sport. By then the movie the Longest Yard may be in reality. Atlanta Pen vs Edgefield Fed. Why not? It could pay down the national debt in a decade and keep the thuds from making death threats and off the street.

ormewood

September 16th, 2010
10:11 am

SttraightJacket, you conveniently omitted one ACC loss, probably their worst one: Va Tech losing to James Madison. That one was at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, not on the road.

Paul in RDU

September 16th, 2010
10:11 am

Brave Hokie – I was at the ECU-Memphis game on Saturday. ECU will score points on VT but their D is much weaker than last year. VT should be able to run them off the field – even Stinespring can’t blow the gameplan for this game

juvenal

September 16th, 2010
10:11 am

m, glad to see you are surviving, & in the moment….kind of like winning a war in the Balkans, isn’t it, Mark?….

reebok

September 16th, 2010
10:15 am

the loss to Kansas hurts, but the Jackets went in flat, weren’t mentally prepared, and made massive mistakes on offense, defense and special teams and still almost pulled it out. it was not a conference game. tech has not yet lost 2 games in a row on CPJ. maybe i’m drinking the kool-aid, but i really think tech is going to roll past UNC. we’ll know by about 3:30 saturday, right?

reebok

September 16th, 2010
10:17 am

i think clemson vs auburn is going to be a fun game to watch, for what it’s worth…

CrackDaddy

September 16th, 2010
10:18 am

m, I believe you nailed it. Simple observation and rationale for some reason is beyond the reach of some. Or, they simply don’t want to face the truth.

T3

September 16th, 2010
10:19 am

Maybe not worth much so early int seaosn, but I’ll say it:

Clemson appears to have the best shot at the ACC Title.

The game vs Auburn on Saturday will tell how good they are/arent.

Joshua Barlowe

September 16th, 2010
10:19 am

Tennessee is the only SEC school who plays quality OOC opponents. Note that when Georgie tried it last year (OSU) they lost. With the exception of the CFA kickoff game, which is a new animal completely, Alarbamar and Florida are usually too busy beating up on The Citadel, Charleston Southern, and now even Georgia STATE to schedule anybody tough. Heck, Ole Miss even got out of an arranged home and home against Tech after Paul Johnson took over.

From 11-3 to 13-1

September 16th, 2010
10:22 am

As I recall,
GT dominated UNC with all their NFL caliber players last year,
so why not again.
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Go Jackets !
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