Random thoughts heading into the third Saturday of ACC football:
- A lot of people think Boston College at Georgia Tech on Saturday is a preview of the ACC championship game because of those teams’ strong starts. But it’s premature to count out preseason division favorites Florida State and Virginia Tech despite those teams’ early struggles. Florida State has looked horrible early, but that might be a result of adjusting to new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher’s system. This team could be vastly improved at midseason, though the schedule gets much stronger in November. Virginia Tech may have solved its biggest problem by replacing Sean Glennon with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. If you trust Frank Beamer to get the Hokies’ offensive line problems corrected, they shouldn’t be discounted as a contender.
- Defending ACC champ Wake Forest is another team that shouldn’t be forgotten just yet. The Deacons have just one ACC loss, and it was on the road. They didn’t have their starting quarterback when they nearly defeated Nebraska. They should roll over Army on Saturday even with Riley Skinner out with a separated shoulder that isn’t as severe as first thought. If Skinner returns Sept. 22 for Maryland as expected, the Deacons should be in good shape. They have an open date Sept. 29 followed by a game at Duke on Oct. 6, and should have Skinner back into rhythm before the schedule strengthens.
- After it took North Carolina coach Butch Davis a long time to hire an offensive coordinator, the selection of John Shoop seemed questionable. Much of Shoop’s NFL experience came with the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders, which hardly were juggernauts on offense when he was there. But after two college games, it’s already obvious Shoop is doing a good job accentuating the talent on the North Carolina roster. Speedy wide receiver Brandon Tate, a non-factor on offense last season with five receptions, already has three touchdown catches of 28 or more yards. Missed assignments supposedly held back Tate in the past, but he has done a nice job running deep routes under Shoop. Quarterback T.J. Yates throws the deep ball with excellent accuracy, and Shoop hasn’t hesitated to turn loose that arm. Shoop also did a good job punishing East Carolina’s defensive aggressiveness with bootleg passes last week. His next job? Getting North Carolina’s running game going with inexperienced backs. – Ken Tysiac