As usual, here are your 10 things to watch in the ACC this week, in no particular order:
1. Miami freshman quarterback Stephen Morris. Morris, a true freshman who just a few weeks ago was the Hurricanes’ fourth-string quarterback, is likely to get his first start on Saturday against Maryland in place of injured starter Jacory Harris (concussion). The staff is confident in him, but freshman mistakes are hard to avoid.
2. Miami’s running game without Damien Berry. As if losing their starting quarterback wasn’t enough, the Canes will also be without their leading rusher. Miami has depth at the position, but Maryland has held its four ACC opponents to just 1.9 yards per carry, the best run defense in the league.
3. Tajh Boyd appearances in Death Valley. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this week that backup quarterback Tajh Boyd will play, but when and how much remains to be seen. Starter Kyle Parker would have to have a disastrous game to be benched, but taking him out even for a series or two could disrupt the flow of the game.
4. Virginia’s secondary vs. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree. Both are coming off record-setting performances this past weekend. Virginia tied a school single-game record with five interceptions against Miami, doubling its total for the season in one day. And Renfree set a school record for single-game completion percentage with .993 (28 of 30) in the win over Navy.
5. The ACC’s rushing record by a quarterback. Needing only 44 rushing yards to set the ACC record heading into the Clemson game, many of us thought Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt would set the record on Oct. 23. Instead, he was held to two yards. Now, heading into the Virginia Tech game, Nesbitt needs 42 yards to become the ACC’s most prolific rushing quarterback.
6. Al Groh’s defense. Georgia Tech is undefeated when holding opponents to 24 points or less. Unfortunately for the Jackets, Virginia Tech is averaging 37 points per game.
7. Bruce Taylor’s backup. The Hokies’ leading tackler is listed as probable with an ankle injury for the Georgia Tech game. If he can’t go, it will be up to former walk-on and redshirt freshman Jack Tyler. Georgia Tech’s run-based offense is suited to Tyler’s strengths, but Taylor would obviously be missed.
8. Turnovers in Tallahassee. Florida State has lost the ball 12 times this year, and six of those turnovers have come in the past two games. The Noles were fortunate to beat BC after four turnovers, but a fumble inside the 10-yard line in the fourth quarter against NC State proved costly.
9. ACC’s junior rushing record. Boston College running back Montel Harris is just 80 yards away from running for more yards than any junior in conference history. North Carolina’s Amos Lawrence currently holds the record. He rushed for 3,273 yards in his first three seasons in Chapel Hill. Harris has accumulated 3,194 yards through the first 34 games of his career.
10. UNC in the fourth quarter. Carolina is outscoring its opponents 59-19 in the fourth quarter this season. The Tar Heels have not allowed more than seven points to any team this season in the fourth quarter. The only three teams to score on the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter this year are Miami (7 points), Clemson (6 points) and Georgia Tech (6 points).