On Preseason Expectations and…Such.

I’m an optimist. I believe that, no matter how much civilization will try to screw things up, it will always prevail. If a nuclear winter hits, my first thought will be “Is my family okay?” and my second will be “at least we’re rid of that damn kudzu infestation”. I find it a waste of time to dwell on glass-half-empty emotions.

And yet, even I wonder of the hyperbole surrounding the 2009 Heels football team may be a bit much.

UNC ranked #20 in the AP Poll: WHOOOOOOOO!!! I was wondering if we’d make the poll. 16-25 is where most of the “speculation” teams go, and I think we’re one of the better speculative teams out there. So yeah, fair enough.

UNC ranked #16 on the NBC Sports Poll: Okay, now we’re pushing it. If you’re basing your poll on on our schedule and what our record might look like in December, then okay. But if you think that the Heels are the 16th best team out there…I just don’t see it. There are too many questions, and we won;t have enough answers until at least September 26th when UNC visits Atlanta.

Shaun Draughn on the Doak Walker Award Watch List: WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTT

now, this isn’t to say that Shaun Draughn isn’t a good back: he is. Nor is it to say that the Doak Walker people shouldn’t cover as many bases as possible (although why do they need a list this early?). But this is a bit much. I only see three backs getting Award-type numbers: Jonathan Dwyer, C.J. Spiller, and Darren Evans. Those players have one benefit in common: the offense is geared specifically to them, or any player in the same position. UNC runs a pro-style offense, which places more emphasis on the pass that Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech will for an entire season. Also none of these players have competition at the position. Ryan Houston will take quite a few carries, including short yardage touchdowns. Adding Jamal Womble into the RB mix could shrink Draughn’s numbers even further. Even if Draughn plays exceptionally well under this system, the offense that Butch Davis and John Shoop want to run will prevent him from getting the gaudy numbers he needs to win the award.

To put it simply: it’s not gonna happen. (Of course, I’m not sure a Tar Heel wants to receive anything bearing Doak Walker’s name; CHOO CHOOWUZ ROBBED !!!)

I’m a huge fan of outlandish expectations; I dream of an 11-1 season in 2009, even though the back of my mind tells me that dream will be crushed by October 30th. It’s just that after 9 years under the Iron Mustache Curtain (dear leaders Torbush and Bunting), I don’t expect outsiders to be every bit as pie-in-the-sky about Carolina football as I am. In an Allegory of the Cave sort of way, it’s shocking. But hey, I’m out into the light and there’s a beautiful hillside waiting for me ahead.

Until the storms come in couple of months, of course.

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ACC Roundtable Roundup #2

Would you like to take a survey?

Welcome to the roundup of this week’s ACC Roundtable. Our esteemed panelists for this week are Myself, BC Interruption, Block C, College Game Balls, From Old Virginia, Gobbler Country, and The Legacy x4.

Okay, first things first: could someone please explain what the hell just happened this past Saturday?

The general consensus here is that the events of Saturday are less unexpected than at first glance. Sure, Wake, UNC, and Virginia Tech may have all been ahead in the standings. But, as From Old Virginia points out, those were all conference road games, which are never, ever easy.

BC Interruption sees the reason for the ACC’s “fluctuation” has less to do with the teams themselves and more to do with that the media “is easily distracted by shiny things” and constantly re-assesses the state of the conference from week to week.

College Game Balls, however, may have the best answer of anyone:

Heather Dinich used her Greek Goddess abilities to flip the league on top of its head, again.

Dinich bathes in the schadenfreude emanating from the ACC. Of course, CGB’s statement requires the suspension of disbelief that Ms. Dinich has abilities, is Greek, or is anything close to Godliness.

I happen to be of the belief that what happened last Saturday was less a product of superstition and more a product of the three offenses scoring nineteen combined points in regulation. An extra fourteen, of course, came courtesy of Chris Crane throwing to Hokies.

Block C takes his answer in another direction, answering what happened to Clemson against Georgia Tech. The saga of their beloved Tigers’ season is enough to fill a book. Hopefully, it has a happy ending with a new, smashingly successful coach. Wait, did I just use the word smashing?

Good Maryland, Bad Maryland, we’ve seen a fair share of both in 2008. Good Maryland may be the best team in the ACC, while Bad Maryland could probably lose by 20 to anyone left on their schedule. Which Maryland do we see for the rest of the season and where do you expect the Terps to finish?

No one on the panel is particularly optimistic about the Terps for the rest of the season. Currently at 5-2, No one except me expects them to do any better than 8-4, and everyone expects the Bad Terps to show up at least once. Most panelists, like From Old Virginia and The Legacy x4, point out their now-backloaded schedule will keep them from winning more than 3 games. Both Virginia Tech panelists mentioned that the Bad Terps usually show up on the road, while the Good Terps come out of the shell at home. (Hooray for more bad puns!) Most interestingly, Gobbler country discusses Maryland big weakness:

The key for the Terps this year has been their rush defense. If you can run on Maryland, you can beat them handily. But if they stop you from running the ball, things aren’t going to go well for you.

Whatever the case may be, the Roundtable is unanimously bursting Maryland’s Atlantic bubble.

Injuries are a part of college football, but they seem to have ravaged ACC offenses this year. Wake Forest has been without Sam Swank, Clemson is without C.J. Spiller, UNC is without T.J. Yates and Brandon Tate, Virginia Tech is without Kenny Lewis Jr., and NC State is without just about everybody. Which team misses their fallen star(s) most and why?

There seem to be two distinct camps here. Both BC Interruption and College Game Balls say that the conference’s most costly offensive injury is the one to Wake’s Sam Swank, the closest thing to an automatic kicker in college football and a big difference in close games. Which makes sense, until you consider that is reasonable to expect the Wake Forest offense, with all its talent, to score more than one TD in three conference game. Then there’s the factor that Wake’s defense usually keeps them in every game and–

You get the idea.

From old Virginia goes a different direction and points to the gradual loss of staff in Virginia Tech’s offense that has led, in part, to their 110th ranked offense. (And UNC gave up a 14 point lead to it? Yeesh.)  On defense, FoV references the injury to BC linebacker Brian Toal.

With four votes, however, the player whom the panel thinks is missed the most is UNC quarterback T.J. Yates. This completely florred me, not because it isn’t a good answer but because I never expected my conference brethren to have any sympathy toward the injuries of my beloved Tar Heels. Then again, I probably probably shouldn’t confuse sympathy with acknowledgement.

The primary reason seems to be, despite the admirable job that Cam Sexton has done in his stead, that the Heels just plain don’t lose that game of Virginia Tech if Yates had remained healthy. And that’s probably true. But that throws into question all of the other games that followed. Of course, if we have the same 5-2 record but with losses to Miami and Notre Dame instead of those teams from the Commonwealth, we’re probably in much better shape in the conference race.

Last one: the pretty much unanimous division champs were Virginia Tech and Wake Forest last week. Given all the craziness that just happened, give us your updated ACC Championship scenario.

But enough about my team. With two losses to teams ahead of them in the division, it would take a miracle for UNC to win the Costal at this point.

Many panelists (CGB, Gobbler Country, BC Interruption, and The Legacy x4) are opting for homerism and picking their own teams to go to Tampa. Fortunately for them Virginia Tech, Boston College and Georgia Tech are three of the teams in better position to win. Both BC and GT have daunting schedules, though, and the Jackets would lose any tiebreakers with the Hokies. Despite the Terps’ lights-out performance this past Saturday, no one has the guts to put Maryland in the Championship game as of yet (see Question 2). Of all the CG predictions, my own FSU-Miami pick was probably the most ambitious, and while I had reason to defense the pick, it ultimately boiled down to “this conference is crazy”.

In the final tallies, though, it’s 2.5 votes for Georgia Tech, 3.5 vote for Virginia Tech, 1 vote for Miami, 3 votes for Boston College, 2 votes for Florida State, and 2 votes for Wake Forest.

No team won a majority, but the plurality points to a rematch of last year’s championship game between Virginia Tech and Boston College.

You can almost feel the cynicism oozing out of your screen right now.

If you are an enterprising ACC blogger and are interested in joining the roundtable, just send an email with a link to your site. The more panelists, the merrier.

HeelTube: A Tribute To Our Pugilists of the Motherland

Now, that earlier post with the 1975 game was quite fascinating, but I also an ulterior motive for posting it: so I could provide this “Irish” video compilation without karmic retribution later today. It’s just all in good fun, though.

We’ll start with “Danny Boy”, as performed by Beaker, Swedish Chef, and Animal. Because honestly, who isn’t going to watch that?

Next, we bring you Wayne Campbell as “The Leprechaun”.

This news piece from Mobile, Alabama might be the funniest Leprechaun-related incident in modern history.

Bear Grylls spend time as a kid in Ireland, and even had an episode of Man vs. Wild in west Ireland. Therefore, I have full authority to show you Bear eating beetle larvae.

And now, moving on to the actual Fighting Irish. We start with the Obligatory Jimmy Clausen Yakety Sax video.

No one wants to see anybody, much less a coach, tear his ACL. Therefore, I will only show a re-enactment of Charlie Weis’ injury from the Michigan game. I will say this however: Charlie is the closest thing to a life-size plush toy I have ever seen.

And what Notre Dame compilation would be complete without everyone’s favorite fake Irishman, Lou Holtz?

If the Heels turn the ball over 6 times today, I would like to take the time to apologize in advance.