Week 1 lessons have to be taken with a grain of salt, as scores against unheralded opponents can often be misleading. Taking these games at face value, here are a few things revealed in the ACC after this weekend.
New coaches made a difference. Mike London led Virginia to its first season-opening win since 2005, and he did it against his former team and alma mater, Richmond. The Spiders are a championship program to be respected (just ask Duke, which lost to Richmond last year), and was the biggest threat at an upset, but the Cavaliers ran the ball effectively and got what they needed despite scheme overhauls on both offense and defense. In Tallahassee, first-year coach Jimbo Fisher had his offense running with precision in a commanding route of Samford. He left no doubt who was the better team, unlike last year when the Seminoles escaped with a win over Jacksonville State. The Noles looked focused and prepared and ready to make a statement.
North Carolina won’t back down. There were many reasons North Carolina could’ve folded against LSU -- including its 30-10 deficit heading into the fourth quarter, but the Tar Heels rallied together and with six seconds still remaining had a chance to win. There were young players and walk-ons seeing their first collegiate snaps, but there was enough leadership to keep the team together -- and in the game.
BC linebacker Mark Herzlich is back. It was one of the most anticipated comebacks of the season, but in the weeks preceding the Eagles’ opener against Weber State, it was in doubt because of a stress fracture in his foot. Herzlich delivered, though, and he was in good enough shape to deliver a few hits, too, as he was in on five tackles.
The ACC avoided embarrassment. There were no losses to FCS teams, and no implosion in Atlanta -- two scenarios the ACC has encountered in recent years. Last year, Virginia lost to William & Mary at home, and two years ago Clemson was embarrassed by Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. This year, the ACC started out 9-1 with the only loss to LSU, the toughest competition of the weekend. Two games remain -- against Boise State and Navy -- but both are respectable bowl opponents.
There’s life after C.J. Spiller. Clemson running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper proved the Tigers’ offense can function without their former star. Each of them scored twice against North Texas, and both surpassed the 100-yard mark. It was the first time Clemson has had two players top 100 rushing yards in a game since James Davis and Spiller accomplished it against Maryland in 2007.