Carolinas College Football: Weekend in review 09.07.14

Charlotte (2-0)

Beat Johnson C. Smith 56-0

What worked: Just about everything against the overmatched Golden Bulls of the CIAA. The 49ers offense rolled up 546 yards in total offense, led by efficient quarterback Matt Johnson (13-for-18 for 285 yards and one touchdown) and running back Kalif Phillips, who scored three touchdowns for a third consecutive game. Defensively, Charlotte limited the Golden Bulls to 197 yards and forced three turnovers.

What needs work: Charlotte heads into a stretch of schedule against seven consecutive Football Champion Subdivision opponents, so the 49ers will need to tighten everything after opening the season with victories against nonscholarship Campbell and Division II’s J.C. Smith.

What’s next: The 49ers visit N.C. Central (1-1) on Saturday. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s Eagles are coming off a 34-7 victory against the CIAA’s Elizabeth City State.

David Scott

Clemson (1-1)

defeated South Carolina State 73-7

What worked: Everything. Offensively the Tigers rolled up 32 first downs, converted 10 of 17 third downs and gained 735 yards. Defensively the Tigers held S.C. State to 44 yards. But temper all that with the difference between a ranked FBS team and an FCS team visiting Death Valley.

What needs work: This isn’t a flaw or even a problem, but it could be a complication (although a pleasant one) – freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson is so electrifying in spot duty that offensive coordinator Chad Morris has to find ways to use him more. He completed eight of nine passes Saturday for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Starter Cole Stoudt hasn’t done anything to lose his status, but Watson is already pushing Stoudt hard.

What’s next: After a bye week, Clemson plays at Florida State on Sept. 20.

Rick Bonnell

Duke (2-0)

Beat Troy 34-17

What worked: The Blue Devils were able to put aside a quarter to forget and outscore the Trojans 31-3 in the final three quarters. Quarterback Anthony Boone started making more accurate throws and reads on option plays, and his three primary targets – Jamison Crowder, Issac Blakeney and Max McCaffrey – did a nice job hauling in balls and getting extra yards. The defense also settled in and gave up just 195 yards the rest of the way (not counting the yardage on Troy’s final drive, which came when the outcome was no longer in doubt).

What needs work: Playing just three quarters won’t be enough to win many ACC games. After recording just two penalties all game last week, the Blue Devils had two in the first three snaps. Left guard Lucas Patrick and left tackle Laken Tomlinson were each penalized twice – Tomlinson for two false starts and Patrick for a false start and a hold. Sunday night, Cutcliffe suggested part of the fault with the false starts lay with Boone, who needs to do a better job with his cadence.

What’s next: Another nonconference game, this time at home with lowly Kansas. The Blue Devils opened as a 20-point favorite with the bookkeepers in Las Vegas.

Laura Keeley

East Carolina (1-1)

Lost to South Carolina 33-23

What worked: East Carolina knew if it was going to have any chance of upsetting No. 21 South Carolina (1-1) on the road it would have to get off to a fast start, and it was able to do just that.

The Pirates scored on their first two possessions to take a 6-0 lead and were up 13-7 early in the second quarter before the Gamecocks responded with a 13-0 run.

Playing in the home of a Power Five opponent, ECU held statistical advantages in total offense (453-441), passing yards (321-266) and first downs (27-26). However, USC held the edge in points off turnovers (10-3), which proved to be the difference.

Senior wide receiver Justin Hardy’s domination of defenses continued. Despite being the clear No. 1 option in the passing game, Hardy tallied game-highs in receptions (11) and receiving yards (133). In three career contests versus South Carolina, he has 30 catches for 345 yards.

What needs work: The Ruffin McNeill era has been productive inthe red zone, but Saturday night wasn’t.

The Pirates marched down to the USC 8-yard line on their first drive but were forced to settle for a Warren Harvey field goal. ECU advanced to the 18 on its second series, and once again was only able to hang three on the board, which is something that just can’t happen against a quality opponent.

The normally stellar Shane Carden stumbled in the third quarter, throwing two interceptions that led to 10 points as the Gamecocks pushed their lead to 30-16 heading into the fourth quarter.

Carden, who finished with 321 passing yards, did guide his unit on an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive early in the fourth to cut the deficit to 30-23, but the damage was already done.

What’s next: East Carolina will play the second of three straight Power Five opponents this Saturday when it heads to Blacksburg, Va., to take on a Virginia Tech (2-0) team that topped No. 8 Ohio State 35-21.

Brian Haines

North Carolina (2-0)

Beat San Diego State 31-27

What worked: For the second consecutive week, the Tar Heels overcame a lot of mistakes with some opportunistic, game-changing plays – Brian Walker’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown, Mack Hollins’ 91-yard touchdown reception and Tim Scott’s game-saving interception among them. UNC has some fight in it, we can say that, and there’s something to be said about persevering through the first 2 1/2 quarters on Saturday night, which were mostly dreadful. The Tar Heels made plays when they had to. Marquise Williams’ long touchdown pass to Hollins swung the momentum early in the fourth quarter, and then Scott intercepted a pass in the end zone with 14 seconds to play – ending a San Diego State drive that began at its 25-yard line and ended at the UNC 3.

What needs work: Once again, the answer here is a resounding “everything.” Outside of those three interceptions, the defense wasn’t good. It allowed the Aztecs more than 500 yards. And outside of Williams’ 91-yard pass to Hollins, the offense lacked big plays and rarely seemed in rhythm – though the Tar Heels were much better offensively during the second half than the first. UNC has a lot of work to do up front, where the neither the offensive or defensive lines have played all that well through the first two games. And the Tar Heels have to cut out the mental errors, too. There were more of them on Saturday night – a running into the kicker penalty that kept alive a San Diego State drive after a punt, and a personal foul that kept alive a drive that ended with the Aztecs scoring.

Up next: UNC doesn’t play this week, and it will be a welcome break for a team that needs to do some healing – both physical and mental. Physically, the rest should help Landon Turner, the offensive guard who left the game on Saturday with an injury toward the end of the second quarter, and Norkeithus Otis, the bandit who sat out with an injury. The off week will also allow the Tar Heels some extra time to prepare for their game on Sept. 20 at East Carolina, which embarrassed UNC in Chapel Hill last season.

Andrew Carter

N.C. State (2-0)

beat Old Dominion, 46-34

What worked: The Wolfpack ran for 242 yards, the most in 14 games under coach Dave Doeren. Junior Shadrach Thornton had 86 yards on 14 carries and sophomore Matt Dayes had 79 yards on 13 carries. Thorton ran for three touchdowns and Dayes scored a pair of touchdowns //(one rushing, one receiving).

Not to be outdone, quarterback Jacoby Brissett added 45 yards on the ground on seven carries and threw for 253 yards without an interception.

The Wolfpack did not help ODU with turnovers (none) or penalties (one for 5 yards).

What needs work: The defensive line got no push in the first half on quarterback Taylor Heinicke (35-for-49, 274 yards, two TDs, one interception). The Monarchs were able to exploit the Pack’s run defense up the middle, too. Running backs Ray Lawry and Gerard Johnson had 103 rushing yards between them in the first half.

N.C. State receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught two passes for 51 yards, plus a two-point conversion, but dropped a touchdown pass in the first half and a total of three.

Senior kicker Nik Sade, the team’s best player last season, missed a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter. Sade missed two longer field goals in the opener last week.

What’s next: N.C. State goes to South Florida (1-1), which led Maryland 17-14 in the fourth quarter on Saturday before losing 24-17 at home. The Wolfpack was winless in four road games last season. The game starts at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by CBS College Sports Network.

Joe Giglio

South Carolina

defeated East Carolina 33-23

What worked: The running game gained 175 yards against the Pirates. More importantly, it was essential to a drive of nearly 11 minutes in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Tailback Mike Davis had 101 rushing yards on 18 carries. Shaq Roland caught seven passes for 94 yards and Marvin Ridge’s K.J. Brent caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson.

What needs work: The pass-rush has been awful, and that might be something the Gamecocks must live with all season. Texas A&M and East Carolina combined for 106 passing attempts, resulting in one sack. Pirates quarterback Shane Carden threw interceptions on back-to-back possessions, but he also threw for 321 yards.

What’s next: A 3:30 p.m. showdown with Georgia at Williams-Brice Stadium. The obvious hole in coach Steve Spurrier’s resume as Gamecocks coach is an SEC title. Start 0-2 in conference play and the prospect of reaching the conference title game is quite dim.


Wake Forest (1-1)

Beat Gardner-Webb 23-7

What worked: The Deacons got an encouraging game from true freshman quarterback John Wolford, who completed 30 of 38 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.

What needs work: Wolford also threw three interceptions. And the Deacons got off to a slow start, coming up with only three field goals in the first half. Penalties and turnovers were a problem for the Deacons against the Big South’s Bulldogs.

What’s next: The Deacons head west to face Utah State (1-1) Saturday. The Aggies beat Idaho State 40-20 for their first victory.