What we learned from Week 2 in the ACC


Here's what we learned from Saturday's ACC action:

1. ACC hands it to SEC, Part II

Miami did its part Saturday to help the ACC regain some national respect.

For the second week in a row, an ACC team held off a visiting SEC heavyweight. Miami did it to Florida on Saturday a week after Clemson did it to Georgia.

Clemson won a shootout with the Bulldogs, and Miami's defense did yeoman's work against the Gators.

"We've been through so much. It was almost cathartic, to be honest with you," Miami coach Al Golden said in his postgame news conference. " ... We couldn't handle this setting a year ago."

On a day when Miami's offense struggled mightily, the Hurricanes' defense forced five turnovers and allowed Florida just one TD on six trips into the red zone.

Miami gets next week off, then has two easy non-conference games (Savannah State and USF) before opening conference play with back-to-back toughies against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. A big positive for the 'Canes is that they won't see another defense remotely like Florida's until Nov. 2 at Florida State. And if the defense continues to improve, UM could be 7-0 when that game kicks off.

2. Is Clowney gone?

North Carolina's offense didn't do much in last week's opener against South Carolina -- the Heels were extra-concerned about South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney -- but the Tar Heels were clicking Saturday against Middle Tennessee State. QB Bryn Renner threw for 339 yards and a TD and the Heels rushed for three touchdowns in rolling to a 40-20 victory. The defense had some issues, again, though, and they will need to be cleaned up considering Georgia Tech is the next opponent, on Sept. 21.

3. Tajh who?

Backup QB Cole Stoudt -- the son of former NFL QB Clint Stoudt -- was 19-of-20 for 143 yards and three TDs as Clemson cruised past FCS opponent South Carolina State 52-13. Heisman candidate and highly regarded pro prospect Tajh Boyd didn't even play the entire first half, when Clemson built a 38-7 lead. Boyd scored a rushing TD but didn't toss a scoring pass for the first time since Nov. 11, 2011, in a loss to North Carolina State; that was 17 games ago. Stoudt set a school record for completion percentage (minimum 20 passes).

4. Bouncing back -- sort of

Virginia Tech senior QB Logan Thomas was an otherworldly bad 5-of-26 passing against Alabama last week, but improved to 17-of-31 Saturday in a 45-3 shellacking of FCS foe Western Carolina. Thomas threw for 200 yards and a TD, but he also tossed two picks. Western had just five picks all last season. The Hokies didn't need much from Thomas; they rushed for 237 yards and four TDs. Thomas goes against two more bad defenses in the next two weeks: East Carolina and Marshall. Both those teams, though, have pass offenses that will test the Hokies' secondary.

5. Oh, well

Virginia's defense held Oregon to just 3-of-10 on third-down conversions. Big deal: The Ducks rolled up 557 yards in frolicking to a 59-10 win. Oregon outscored Virginia 31-0 in the second half, and finished with 350 rushing yards on 40 attempts (8.8 yards per carry). Ducks QB Marcus Mariota had 122 yards on just four carries. Virginia's defense had led the way in an opening-game victory over BYU. Next week should be much easier, too, with a game against FCS foe VMI.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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