Monday, November 3, 2008

ACC Roundtable No. 3: Youth is Served

The guys over at The Legacy x4, a Georgia Tech blog, are hosting this week's ACC Roundtable. They deliver GT blogging often with a comedic twist. They're good, even if they don't give Virginia Tech enough credit as an engineering school.

1. There is no question as to whether the ACC is one of the toughest conferences this year as far as its constituents are concerned. Currently, 4 teams are bowl eligible while 5 are within one game of reaching eligibility. Is it mediocrity, or is the ACC on its way to being the powerhouse that expansion was supposed to bring?

There aren't any great teams in the ACC, but there are plenty of good ones. The great will come when these teams mature and become more consistent. There are a lot of young teams in this conference, particularly Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. If the young talent on those teams can develop into star players, then the ACC can become one of the best three conferences in college football.

Another trend I've noticed in the conference this year is the teams that were good in the beginning have gotten worse the last few weeks and the teams that struggled early on are getting stronger. To me, that doesn't mean the conference is mediocre. I think it just means the younger teams are maturing and starting to beat the more experienced teams.

2. With a few notable exceptions, quarterback play in the ACC has been poor across the past couple of seasons, contributing at least in some part to the lack of offensive potency in the conference. Where does the ACC stand today in terms of quarterback play, and do you think our offenses are improving?

Among the six BCS conferences, I'd rank our quarterbacks fifth, just above the Big East. The Big 12 and SEC are obvious choices for No. 1 and No. 2. Way behind them you have the Big Ten and Pac 10, which have a couple of good quarterbacks and a couple of horrible ones to boot. I'll give our guys the nod over the Big East.

Just as an example, I'm in an eight-team college football fantasy league this season. There isn't a single quarterback from the ACC or Big East on any of the rosters. That shouldn't be a deciding factor on which conference has the best quarterbacks, but it speaks a lot to the perception.

I actually thought the quarterback play in the conference was going to be much better this year because there were three guys who had won conference championships and then seniors like Lewis and Harper who were supposed to good this year as well. Weatherford, Glennon and Harper have all been benched at some point or are still benched. The younger quarterbacks have taken the reigns of this conference.

3. There are 5 out-of-conference games left for the ACC - BC/Notre Dame, Wake Forest/Vandy, Clemson/USC, GT/Georgia, and FSU/Florida. We went 3-2 in those games last year, and then 2-5 in bowl play (with the only wins coming over Michigan State and UConn). How do you feel we as a conference will compete against the rest of the NCAA in the final weeks of the season, and are you confident in our bowl play?

As a Virginia Tech fan of great cynicism, particularly when it comes to bowls, I don't think we'll do very good again. We can beat up on terrible Big Ten and Big East teams, but the fact a couple of our teams have to go all the way out West doesn't help us. Neither does playing SEC teams. I want to believe the Hokies and the ACC at large will have a good Bowl Season, but I'll believe it when I see it.

As for the non-conference games remaining, I think we'll do well. The only game that's a definite loss is FSU-Florida. BC and Wake should win. Clemson-USCE is a toss up and I'm interested to see how Georgia reacts after getting taken behind the 'shed against Florida. If they go firmly in the tank, the Jackets should be able to play with them.

4. As far as Tech fans are concerned, ACC officiating is absolutely atrocious, both in conference (helmet-to-helmet, lack of holding calls) and out of conference (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tobqLJlxDBs). Are you in agreement? List any specific, obvious grievances, or use this opportunity to verbally assault ACC refs.

I don't think it's as bad as you think. We have some good officials in the league. I consider Ron Cherry a good official. And there have been some non-conference games that ACC officials have been bias towards the ACC. The infamous Jack Childress game in 2003 between FSU and Florida comes to mind.

Look, officiating is bad in all the conferences. The ACC's aren't any worse.

5. Every college football fan has a favorite player not on their team. Who is that player for you in the ACC?

Brandon Tate was fun to watch before he got hurt. If he was still playing, he'd win hands down. But right now my favorite player on an opposing ACC team to watch is Riley Skinner from Wake. He's never the most spectacular guy on the field, but he is a joy to watch because of the way he leads his team. The reason Wake is tough in close games is because of Skinner. The kid is clutch.

I've also enjoyed watching some of the younger quarterbacks like Ponder, Marve and Wilson start to become leaders. I hope Tyrod is able to get there eventually. He needs to make this his team.

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