Tevin Washington

CFT Predicts: the ACC

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As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the ACC.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SECBig Ten, Pac-12

Atlantic Division

1. Clemson (Last year: 11-2; beat LSU in Chick-fil-A Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Tigers shook their ‘Clemsoning’ curse and previous Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia by going 11-2 and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So why are they ranked here?
Offense, offense, offense. And some offense sprinkled in. Quarterback Tajh Boyd is a legitimate Heisman candidate and he’ll have Sammy Watkins to throw to for a third straight year. Watkins had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2012 — at least by his standards — because of a variety of issues, from a suspension to injuries, but he still finished second on the team in receiving yards. His touchdown production should rise again after getting in the end zone just four times.

Anything else?
The defense improved under first-year coordinator Brent Venables. With as good as the Tigers offense projects to be, there’s more wiggle room on that side of the ball. Also, can Clemson finally beat South Carolina after dropping four straight games?

2. Florida State (Last year: 12-2; beat NIU in Orange Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The ‘Noles won the ACC and beat NIU in the Orange Bowl. They also pulled their annual head-scratcher by losing to North Carolina State. The circle never ends, it seems.

So why are they ranked here?
Talent isn’t a question Tallahassee, but there are a lot of new faces. Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has a ton of upside at the quarterback spot, it just remains to be seen at this point how he handles his first year as starter. Wide receiver depth is becoming an issue too. The defensive line loses two pass rushers in Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, but that’s an area stacked — almost unfairly — with capable players.

Anything else?
Florida State had a whopping 11 NFL draft picks in April, but Jimbo Fisher also had to replace roughly half his coaching staff. That’s a lot of turnover and it’ll be interesting to see how players and coaches jell this year.

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VaTech needs overtime to beat Georgia Tech

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Well, that was about 53 minutes of bad football. But it’s how you finish that matters and the final half of the fourth quarter proved to be exciting as No. 16 Virginia Tech needed overtime to defeat Georgia Tech 20-17.

It was the first overtime game in Lane Stadium history.

As we mentioned earlier tonight, neither team was playing particularly well offensively. Or, maybe it was that both defenses were extra awesome. Either way, there wasn’t much to be excited about for three and a half quarters. Perhaps the biggest let down of the night came from Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas. Outside of a nice 42-yard touchdown pass late in the game, Thomas was inaccurate and made questionable decisions.

But he made some important throws when it mattered most.

Ironically, it was Georgia Tech QB Tevin Washington that made more noise throwing the ball tonight. The Yellow Jackets whipped out a pistol formation down 14-10 to mount what was a longer version of a two-minute drill. Washington made a clutch throw in Hokies territory on a fourth-and-6 before throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass just four plays later to put Georgia Tech up 17-14.

But VaTech still had 44 seconds left in regulation and drove down into field goal range where Cody Journell hit a 41-yard kick to tie the game and send it into overtime. That’s where Washington committed his first — the game’s first — turnover by throwing an interception. VaTech kicked the game-winning field goal on the next possession.

As usual, the Hokies’ defense is good enough to win the Coastal division. But there was a lot of hype on Thomas heading into this season and he looked downright bad at times tonight. It’s Week 1, though — we’ve been saying a lot over the past few days — so everyone gets a pass.

VaTech’s offense needs to pick it up, though. A slate of games including Clemson and Florida State begin in late October.