If you watched Friday night’s Florida State-Boston College game on the heels of Thursday night’s Clemson-Louisville clash, you’d swear that ACC stands for “acutely conservative conference,” with offenses unable to execute and therefore less inclined to take risks. When you wake up on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 19, you will greet an ACC that has hardly set the world on fire in terms of consistent offensive production.
After watching two primetime games in which four offenses (two Thursday, two Friday) looked anything but ready for the long season to come, you could very easily arrive at the conclusion that the ACC won’t amount to much this year.
However, that feels like an overreaction at this point.
First of all, let’s acknowledge what we’re seeing: terrible offensive football and, in particular, awful offensive line play. Big uglies in charge of blocking — not getting off blocks — are being wiped out. It hasn’t been a pretty picture to say the least. The pervasiveness of unwatchable offense on consecutive ESPN primetime broadcasts can leave a mark — it certainly has for a lot of fans and some pundits.
Therefore, with such pronounced offensive ineptitude coming into your living room the past two nights, why should one wait to offer a verdict on the ACC, for reasons beyond “it’s only September, and we have to let the season play out a bit more”?
I’ll give you the main reason: All four teams you’ve seen the past two nights — Clemson, Louisville, Florida State, and Boston College — were made to deal with a short week after a Saturday game. Playing on short rest after a bye is a terrible and egregious error (more than a merely minor one). The fact that the NFL does it is even more disgraceful, but college football should have no part in it, either.
Nevertheless, expecting crisp and coordinated offensive performances from players on short weeks early in the season is just not realistic. If you had seen these four performances from these four offenses on weeknights following idle Saturdays, one would have a much tougher time explaining them.
Flowing from this point, also consider that Boston College and Louisville face utterly unsettled quarterback situations. Florida State and Clemson both have experienced signal callers, but FSU’s Everett Golson is new to the FSU program, so this is a transition for him. Clemson has the only “solid as a (Howard’s) Rock” quarterback of the four. That’s something which shouldn’t be casually dismissed in this conversation. If a majority of these teams didn’t have to make any real transitions at quarterback, we could view their starts to 2015 in a different light.
Finally, with respect to Florida State in particular, the Seminoles have, to date:
A) played a weather-delayed opener (against Texas State);
B) played a game with an unusual 11:30 a.m. start time to accommodate ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open women’s singles final a week ago;
C) a Friday game in New England on short rest.
The Seminoles have not been able to gain a rhythm on offense, you say? With that schedule, who could blame them?
If ACC offenses are still unsettled and disorganized three weeks from now, it will be time to become hugely concerned. However, we’re just not at that point yet. Scheduling, quarterback transitions, and other factors beyond “it’s September” have entered the picture in the ACC. These factors might not hold up in the course of time, but in the present moment, they cast enough doubt about these offenses that a withheld verdict seems like the sensible response to the past two nights in Louisville and Chestnut Hill.