Steve Spurrier took Duke to back to back bowl games in ‘88 and ‘89. David Cutcliffe has taken this team to three straight bowl games. Overachieving? This word is a staple in Duke’s vocabulary.
Ho hum (I said the same thing in ’12, ’13 and ‘14!). GT has gone to a bowl for an amazing 18 straight years but in the public eye they remain a fringe top 25 team at best in a lower rated BCS conference. They played in a BCS game in ’09, and consistently finish top 5 in running. Once again the same question comes to mind: Can they do just a little bit more to gain additional respect?
Are you kidding? I know Miami had a true freshman at QB thanks to a serious injury prior to the start of ’14 but the team took a step back by going 6-7. They stood 6-3 and had FSU beat but that close loss put them in a downward spiral. Despite being heavily favored, they lost to Virginia and Pitt (thanks) by a combined 29 points! The bowl loss, also when favored has now put Al Golden and his staff on the hot seat for ’15.
Things are easily explained when discussing how the Tar Heels can improve. Despite not facing Louisville or FSU, North Carolina allowed about 40 points per game, with only Duke held below 27! 10 starters return to an offense that could be scary good in ’15. All eyes will be on former head coach, turned sports talk show analyst Gene Chizik to turn around the defense.
For the third straight season VT fell short of expectations. Once again the defense held up their side of the bargain, producing exceptional pass D (47.6%) and sack D (46, regular season) numbers. But any team that scores just six points at home vs. an average Miami defense, and is held scoreless for 60 minutes in a 6-3 overtime loss to lowly Wake Forest has issues. VT seems at the crossroads for ’15. Do they finally get better offensively and return to double digit win seasons or are they morphing into a 7-5 type team? Like I said a year ago, is it possible that the Hokies may be distancing themselves from past glory days?
Syracuse regressed in ’14. Injuries played a role, with QB Hunt out seven games and the OL never 100%. The defense did their part (acceptable 24 point ACC defense, solid 3.55 overall run defense) but the offense scored 47 points in games 8-12. Hunt returns, but many questions remain. Head Coach Scott Shafer has his hands full in ’15.
Boston College (BC) exceeded my expectations in ’14. The rush ratio was stout and their QB (Tyler Murphy) was a perfect match for this offense, leading the team in rushing. I noted how much I liked their defensive coordinator (Don Brown) but did not expect he would fix the defensive numbers like he did with little talent to work with. Murphy is gone, and so are seven other offensive starters. Achieving another 7-5 season might be something special.
Last year I was thrilled that NC State paid more attention to its run game. In year two of the Dave Doeren era the Wolfpack exceeded all expectations by running 5.45-208, leading to a bowl berth (and bowl win). I expected 7-5 in ’14. Read on to see what the expectations are for this season.