By the numbers: ACC Week 2 recap

With two games in the books for most of the ACC, we're taking a look at some stats that have stood out thus far.

* There’s plenty of credit to go around for Virginia Tech’s huge win at The Horseshoe on Saturday, but it should start with the defensive front. Ohio State had three drives with a chance to tie the game at 28 in the fourth quarter that included 14 total plays. Two resulted in incompletions, six in sacks and two more in interceptions.

* The Hokies were particularly strong up the middle. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ohio State had 14 designed runs between the tackles that netted the Buckeyes a total of 42 yards, only four of which came before contact. Virginia Tech defenders hit Ohio State’s ball carrier at or behind the line of scrimmage on nine of those 14 runs.

* Of course, plenty of credit also goes to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who had an exceptional game plan. Knowing that his secondary could operate in man coverage, he brought the blitz on 79 percent of Ohio State’s dropbacks. Those 20 dropbacks resulted in more sacks (7) than completions (6).

* And here’s just how important all that was: From the start of the second quarter on, Ohio State’s starting field position was its own 41-yard line (including 10 drives that started at its own 30 or better). On four of those drives, Ohio State went backward. On three more, the Buckeyes failed to pick up a first down. On only two did they score — and one of those was a drive that began at the Tech 15. In other words, Ohio State spent virtually the entire game with advantageous field position and did nothing with it.

* It’s been tough to get too excited about NC State’s 2-0 start to the season, given that the Wolfpack trailed in the second half against both Georgia Southern and Old Dominion. But while the defense has been concerning (106th nationally, surrendering 6.24 yards-per-play), quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been impressive.

Through two weeks, Brissett’s passer rating (158.25) and touchdown passes (5) lead the ACC, and his completion percentage (71 percent) and yards per attempt (7.9) are second in the conference. In fact, erase a shaky start in the first half of NC State’s opener and here’s what Brissett has done in his last six quarters of action: 39-of-52 (75 percent) for 466 yards (9.0 YPA) with five touchdowns and no picks. NC State has scored on 10 of 14 drives during that stretch.

* It’s not that Cole Stoudt has struggled, but Clemson fans are still getting antsy to see their highly touted freshman get more work. Both Stoudt and Deshaun Watson had some early success against Georgia before struggling, and both put up gaudy numbers against South Carolina State last week. Here are their total numbers from two games:

Stoudt: 38-of-60 (63 percent) for 446 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Watson: 10-of-13 (77 percent) for 213 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT

Both benefitted from easy competition last week, and both made at least one or two throws that might have been picked off by better opposition. Watson, too, has had the luxury of a small sample size, while Stoudt had to endure the bulk of that awful second half in Athens, Georgia.

But there’s also this: On Stoudt-led drives, the Tigers are averaging 5.1 yards per play and have cashed in for points nine of 21 times. On Watson-led drives, Clemson averages 9.5 yards per play and has scored touchdowns on five of seven drives.

* Watson isn’t the only true freshman getting work at quarterback this year, but he’s certainly performed a bit better than the others.

Miami’s Brad Kaaya has completed 57 percent of his throws, averaged 6.9 yards per attempt, tossed three TDs and four interceptions in two games, while Wake Forest’s John Wolford has completed 70 percent of his throws for 388 yards with two TDs and four interceptions.

Both saw marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, but both also played more accommodating opposition, too.

* How good has Pitt’s James Conner been? The sophomore has 366 yards rushing so far, which leads the ACC and is 179 yards more than any other running back in the conference (Duke Johnson is second with 187 yards). That difference between Conner and Johnson accounts for more yards than all but one other ACC running back has mustered thus far (Louisville’s Dominique Brown, 183 yards).

* Johnson has the second most rushing yards in the conference by a tailback, but Conner’s closest competition on the ground is actually Boston College QB Tyler Murphy, who has racked up 210 yards rushing and averaged 7.2 yards per carry so far. In fact, Murphy’s rushing and passing (307 yards) account for 66 percent of all of the Eagles’ offense.

* It’s not surprising that Jamison Crowder is again among the ACC’s leading receivers. His 14 catches is tied for second in the conference behind FSU’s Rashad Greene. But what’s encouraging for Duke is that the Blue Devils seem to have identified a true second option in 6-foot-6 senior Issac Blakeney. Before the season started, QB Anthony Boone described Blakeney as “Kelvin Benjamin-like” and so far, that’s looked accurate. Blakeney’s three receiving touchdowns matches Pitt’s Tyler Boyd for the most by an ACC receiver.

* Blakeney has hauled in 82 percent of his targets this season, which ranks third among receivers with at least 10 targets in the ACC. Ahead of him? NC State true freshman Bo Hines (93 percent) and UNC sophomore Ryan Switzer (82.4 percent).

* Last season, Virginia Tech targeted its tight ends just 41 times (with 26 receptions). Through two games this year, Ryan Malleck and Bucky Hodges have already been targeted a whopping 22 times (17 catches) and the Hokies’ tight ends are on pace for 143 targets this season. So, Frank Beamer wasn’t kidding when he said the lack of tight end options last season limited what the Hokies wanted to do offensively.

* Michael Brewer hasn’t been lauded for his arm, but no ACC QB has more completions on throws of 10 yards or more than he does (17).

* He got benched in Week 1, but oddly enough, Virginia’s Greyson Lambert leads the ACC and is second in the nation in completion percentage (76.3 percent). Of course, 29 of his 38 attempts (and 24 of his 29 completions) have come on throws that traveled 5 yards or less. Lambert’s percentage of attempts that traveled 5 yards or less is by far the highest in the ACC (Brissett is next at 65 percent), while no one in the conference has a lower percentage of short passes than Clemson’s Watson (23.1 percent).