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October 4, 2007

Clemson must bounce back against VT

MORE WEEK 6 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

This week's games
Overview: There are five conference games on tap, including a key inter-division contest matching Clemson and Virginia Tech. Clemson suffered its first loss last week because TBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller were shut down. The Tigers need to get those guys going this week, and that's a possibility against a Hokies run defense that isn't as strong as usual. In addition, the Hokies need more production from true freshman QB Tyrod Taylor in the passing game. If they don't get it, Clemson and all future opponents will sell out to slow TB Branden Ore. Two other intriguing league contests are Miami-North Carolina and Georgia Tech-Maryland. UNC coach Butch Davis is going up against his former employer for the first time. The Yellow Jackets and Terrapins are coming off upsets of previously unbeaten opponents. Florida State (against NC State) and Wake Forest (against Duke) should get relatively east league victories, while Boston College and Virginia are playing nonconference games against teams they should beat comfortably.

Best matchup: Clemson TBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller vs. Virginia Tech LBs Xavier Adibi, Vince Hall and Cam Martin. Just like last season, Clemson is going to have trouble consistently moving the ball unless Davis and Spiller produce. Tigers QB Cullen Harper is solid as long as he doesn't have to win the game with his arm. Adibi and Hall already have combined for 97 tackles, and they'll be vital in keeping Davis and Spiller under wraps.

The pressure is on: Florida State QB Xavier Lee. Lee came off the bench to spark the Seminoles past Alabama last week, and his reward this week is the starting job. Lee hasn't handled success well in the past, though, and the Seminoles need him to play under control Saturday against NC State. It's hard to imagine the Wolfpack having much success against FSU's aggressive defense, so unless Lee turns it over often FSU should cruise.

Who's hot: In his past two games, Miami QB Kyle Wright has completed 81.6 percent of his passes for 505 yards and four TDs. In his past four games, Virginia TB Cedric Peerman has averaged 137 yards per game and scored five touchdowns. Cavs DE Chris Long leads the league with six sacks. Miami has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season.

Who's not: North Carolina has committed at least two turnovers in every game this season and has 13 overall. That's tied with Wake Forest and trails NC State, which has committed 18. NCSU QB Harrison Beck already has thrown nine interceptions. Two starting quarterbacks Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett and Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor are struggling. Both barely are completing 50 percent of their passes (Bennett is at 50.0 percent, Taylor at 50.6) and neither has more TDs than interceptions (Taylor has one of each, and Bennett has one TD and two picks).

Keep your eye on: Georgia Tech TB Tashard Choice ran for 145 yards in the Yellow Jackets' upset of Clemson last week. Tech is 3-0 when he reaches 100 yards in a game this season and 0-2 when he doesn't. He'll be running against a physical Maryland front that paved the way for an upset of Rutgers last week. Given the travails that have beset Tech's passing attack (one TD pass in five games), Choice knows that he has to produce if Tech is to win.

Numbers game: Virginia Tech TB Branden Ore went over the 2,000-yard mark last week; he has 2,082 career rushing yards. Maryland TB Keon Lattimore leads all ACC running backs with four 100-yard games this season. BC is looking for its first 6-0 start since 1942. Wake Forest already has five non-offensive touchdowns this season, as many as the Demon Deacons had in the past two seasons combined. Wake Forest has forced three turnovers in each of its four games this season. Florida State has made 57 first downs, the fewest in the league. Wake is next-worst, with 72. Boston College will play its fifth home game this weekend; BC has gone on the road once this season.

Freshmen to watch: North Carolina redshirt freshman quarterback T.J. Yates started off the season hot (910 yards in his first three games) but has cooled down (267 yards in his past two). He'll need to be sharp if the Tar Heels are to hang with Miami on Saturday. The Hurricanes already have allowed 10 TD passes this season. Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett raved about the play of redshirt freshman center Ryan McMahon and guard Rodney Hudson - a true freshman - after last week's victory over Alabama. That duo will be going against a weaker defensive front this week when the Seminoles play host to NC State.

Boston College3-05-0
Wake Forest1-12-2
Florida State0-13-1
N.C. State0-21-4
Virginia Tech1-04-1
Georgia Tech1-23-2
North Carolina0-21-4
Injury update: Clemson WR Rendrick Taylor (hamstring) is questionable for the game against Virginia Tech. Florida State OT David Overmyer (knee) is doubtful for the game against NC State, and RB Marcus Sims (broken right ankle) is expected to miss the rest of the season. Georgia Tech WR Correy Earls (neck) is expected to miss at least two weeks, and SS Joe Gaston (hamstring) is questionable for the game against Maryland. Maryland QB Jordan Steffy (head) is questionable for the game against Georgia Tech. Miami SS Lovon Ponder (knee) is questionable for the North Carolina game. North Carolina CB Kendric Williams (torn left ACL) will miss the rest of the season. NC State QB Harrison Beck (shoulder) is out indefinitely. Virginia OT Eugene Monroe (knee) is questionable for the game against Middle Tennessee State. Wake Forest DE Matt Robinson (ankle) is questionable for the Duke game.

They said it:
"We've had some problems in basic identification and getting lined up correctly. Instead of lining up and seeing the formation and knowing what play is coming something you develop over time our kids are looking around, thinking, analyzing. In time, the game will slow down for them."
North Carolina defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, on the problems plaguing his young unit

"It isn't me against Butch or the University of Miami against Butch. It's just a regular football game."
Miami coach Randy Shannon, on UM playing against former coach Butch Davis, now at North Carolina

"I hope my team responds like they did last year. We lost to Boston College last year and went on to win six games after our first loss. So I'm hoping they will do the same this year after the first loss, but this is a different team with different chemistry and leadership."
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, on how he thinks his team will bounce back from its first loss of the season

"I lived the life of a college football fan. I woke up and watched a lot of college football and kind of enjoyed having the week off. It felt kind of weird at first because usually you're up in the morning having meetings and stuff. But I got used to it. And there were a lot of big upsets."
Wake Forest TE Zac Selmon, whose team didn't play last week, on how he spent last Saturday

Etc.: Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is going against a familiar foe this week; he had two tenures as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator (1987-91, 1997-2000). North Carolina coach Butch Davis also knows all about his foe this week. He served as coach at Miami from 1995-2000. Florida State linebacker coach Chuck Amato is another that fits in this category. He was coach at NC State from 2000-06. Virginia will become the first ACC team to play at Middle Tennessee State this week. Boston College's Matt Ryan has three of the league's four best single-game passing performances this season.

MORE WEEK 6 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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