It’s mailbag time. Let’s get to the questions…
Let’s not make too big a deal out of Week 1. Yes, Louisville looked really good. And yes, Clemson’s offense sputtered a bit against Auburn. But I don’t think either of those games has particularly changed the dynamic of the ACC Atlantic. It’s clear the trip to Louisville will be no cakewalk, but I still have major questions about the Cardinals’ offensive line, and FSU showed against Ole Miss that its pass rush is going to be a big weapon. For me, that means Clemson is still the bigger threat, but it sure looks like the Atlantic is going to be a three-horse race.
@DavidHaleESPN Will UVA lose every game this season?— Griffin Benton (@gbenton88) September 8, 2016
Well, the Cavaliers lost the game that should’ve been easiest to win on their schedule, but look at last year’s Washington State team for comparison. The Cougars lost to Portland State in their opener but went on to win nine games. Virginia has more talent than that game showed, but it certainly looks like it’s going to take a while for Bronco Mendenhall to get things figured out. Right now I’d put the over/under on UVA wins at three.
@DavidHaleESPN what's your opinion on chaingazi? You buying or selling Petrino's comments?— Jimi Burress (@jimi357) September 8, 2016
Dennis Hennigan, the head of ACC officials, told Syracuse.com that the chain crew isn’t required to be set before the snap, so that seems a moot point. But Bobby Petrino’s comments are more likely about slowing down the officials, putting the idea in their heads to take an extra half-second to make sure everything is in order before Syracuse can snap the football. It’s not exactly high-level psychology, and it probably makes little difference, but as long as Dino Babers is going to push the envelope with tempo, opposing coaches are going to find reasons to complain.
@DavidHaleESPN With Watson, Jackson, Francois, Dungey, Trubisky, is it logical to say the ACC may have the most talent at QB in the country?— jpmccanney (@jpmccanney) September 8, 2016
You didn't mention Brad Kaaya, but that only strengthens your point. Again though, it’s not worth making too much out of one week, but here’s how the numbers stacked up in Kickoff Week:
There’s a good mix of quarterback talent in other leagues, particularly the Big 12, but the ACC is certainly off to a great start. The SEC ... not so much.
@DavidHaleESPN do you think Trubisky bounces back this week vs Illinois— The Josh Clark (@THeJoshClark) September 8, 2016
The reviews of Mitch Trubisky the past three years have been too good to think he’s not going to have far better days than he did against Georgia, but the results of Week 1 were concerning. He struggled with the deep ball and had among the worst yards-per-attempt in the country despite facing very little pressure. But as I wrote earlier this week, the play selection was problematic, and it’s likely that UNC won’t rely so much on its passing game moving forward and that other defenses aren’t as likely to drop so many defenders into coverage.
@DavidHaleESPN experts said that UNC must run the table to make the playoffs. Does a loss last week to a now top 10 team bounce them out— Kreston Parker (@krestonparker19) September 8, 2016
Our Mark Schlabach hasn’t yet eliminated North Carolina, but it’s clear now that there is no more margin for error. The Tar Heels have to win out and win the conference. If that happens, they’ve got a shot at the playoff, assuming there aren’t at least four other one- or no-loss teams. But the two FCS games plus the loss to Georgia certainly puts them behind the 8-ball.
@DavidHaleESPN GT is winning the coastal aren't they?— fsu 2 rahtiiid (@fsu2ratiiid) September 8, 2016
Georgia Tech didn’t exactly look like its 2014 version against Boston College, but it did get a win. And Paul Johnson has never prioritized style points anyway. And given UNC’s loss to Georgia, all the injuries at Miami and the mediocre opener for Pitt — well, it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. I’m still picking North Carolina here, but Georgia Tech always looks best when no one is expecting it.
@DavidHaleESPN How would you handle Virginia Tech's running back situation?— Andrew Shumate (@a_new_shu) September 8, 2016
Game 1 wasn’t entirely inspiring. The tailbacks averaged just 3.5 yards per carry against an FCS foe, and the offensive line didn’t exactly open any gaping holes. Jerod Evans' mobility can help the ground game, but Justin Fuente needs to find someone he trusts to carry the rock, and based on everything he’s said — and how he distributed carries in Week 1 — it doesn’t seem like Travon McMillian has earned that trust just yet. Aside from one 10-yard scamper, McMillian had just 29 yards on 12 carries, with three going for a loss or no gain. He’s still the Hokies’ most talented back, and perhaps getting a few more touches gets him in a rhythm, but this does seem like a big red flag for the Virginia Tech offense right now.