College Football: ACC Notebook
The ACC notebook …
CHAPEL HILL ó T.J. Yates is expected to start at quarterback for North Carolina this week at Duke.
Coach Butch Davis said after Wednesday’s practice that Yates has worked out enough mechanical issues to keep hold of his starting job.
Last week, he made his first start since breaking his ankle in September, but threw for just 116 yards with an interception in a 41-10 loss to North Carolina State.
Cameron Sexton won four of six starts in Yates’ absence, but his shaky play two weeks ago at Maryland prompted Davis to reopen the competition last week.
WILD & WACKY
It’s the final weekend of a wild ‘n wacky year in the ACC where four schools remain alive for a berth in the league’s Dec. 6 title game at Tampa.
Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3 ACC) and Boston College (8-3, 4-3) are in control of their own destinies, but if they lose they’re out. Georgia Tech would capture the Coastal Division if the Hokies fall to Virginia (5-6, 3-4) while Florida State would back into the Atlantic Division title should BC drop its home game against Maryland (7-4, 4-3).
Regardless, both teams in the ACC championship game will have three league losses.
“We’ve got a lot of good football teams that are close to each other,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “Every week, you’d better bring your best game.”
Meanwhile, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson are involved Saturday in their annual season finales against intrastate rivals from the Southeastern Conference.
No. 18 Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3 ACC) travels to No. 13 Georgia for a noon kickoff while second-ranked Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) visits No. 23 Florida State for a 3:30 p.m. start.
Georgia (9-2, 6-2 SEC) has won eight straight over the Yellow Jackets while Florida will be after its fifth win in a row against the Seminoles (8-3, 5-3 ACC).
Like Virginia, Clemson (6-5, 4-4) needs a victory to become bowl eligible since two of its wins are over lower-division opponents.
The jumbled standings in the ACC may serve as a predictor of how scrambled the voting could turn out for individual awards to be announced next week:
– Boston College’s Jeff Jagodzinski and first-year ACC mentors David Cutcliffe at Duke and Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech are the top candidates for coach of the year.
– Linebackers Matt Herzlich from Boston College and Aaron Curry of Wake Forest, Florida State defensive end Everette Brown and cornerbacks Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest and Victor Harris of Virginia Tech are among those who have each earned support for defensive player of the year.
– Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper was a runaway preseason pick for offensive player of the year, but teammate C.J. Spiller, a running back, and North Carolina State redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson are likely to win plenty of backing along with Georgia Tech running back Jonathon Dwyer.
– Wilson could also become the first freshman or redshirt freshman to win first-team quarterback honors the all-conference selections that will be announced next week.
Clemson’s James Davis has been much quieter on and off the field this season.
But with the “Thunder” portion of the Tigers’ “Thunder & Lightning” tailback tandem (C.J. Spiller) possibly playing in his final college game against rival South Carolina on Saturday, his teammates wondered if it wasn’t time for one of Davis’ patented guarantees?
“I told them, if you need a guarantee for this one, there’s something wrong,” Davis said. “This is a game right here you’ve been waiting for all year.”
A season ago, Davis guaranteed Clemson would win a difficult road game at Maryland. The Tigers backed him up with a 30-17 victory.
Davis has rushed for 634 yards and needs 203 to surpass Raymond Priester’s career mark of 3,966. Whether he gets the record or not, Davis hopes he’s left a a good impression.
“I think I’ll be remembered as a hardworking player who loved the fans, who enjoyed his team and who cared about the youth around here,” Davis said.