Sunday, December 5, 2021

Wake’s Clawson, Mid-Year ACC Awards atop NWN Pitt’s Pickett

Wake Forest have turned years of solid victory into a potential breakthrough at the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Pittsburgh has leapt into the growth of defender Kenny Pickett.

They top the Associated Press’s midseason league laureates.

With his 16th Demon Deacons undefeated rating, Dave Clawson was unanimously selected as the ACC head coach for the first half of the season by a vote by NWN contributors covering league teams. Pickett was voted the league’s best attacking player for 23rd in the Panthers’ rankings.

In addition, Wake Forest was named the most unexpected team, with Pittsburgh coming in second.

Now in his eighth year, Clawson has led Demon Deacons to five games in a row with a plan built around developing contributing veterans over time, not just bringing in five-star recruits every year. They brought back all but a few starters, creating an experienced and deeper lineup that tends to avoid self-destruct.

“The advantage of depth is that there is more internal competition here,” Clawson said. “And then … the guys need to train harder, because if they don’t train harder, they won’t play. So it’s actually easier to train these years. “

Maybe, but Clawson did the right thing with the team selected to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division of seven teams.

Demonic deacons – 6: 0 for the first time since 1944. – nine years before the formation of ACC – and 4: 0 in ACC for the first time in history. They are also the league’s highest ranking team in the league’s unusually open race. featuring the Panthers and No. 18 of North Carolina.

Pickett, who was in his fifth year, has sparked hype around the Heisman Trophy with a growing number of NFL drafts., ranking eighth in the Bowl Division rankings on throws at 322.3 yards per game and fourth with 21 touchdown throws, throwing just one interception for the Panthers (5-1, 2-0).

“He made a lot of money coming back, I can tell you that,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzi said after pickett’s four-TD game at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“He’s just a smart footballer. It takes time to get what you want. He put in the effort and deserves what he is getting right now. ”

As the league gets closer to the second half of the schedule, here are some of the best, worst, and most visible ACC events since the NWN contributors vote:

TOP DEFENDER

Virginia Tech defender Jermaine Waller leads the FBS with four interceptions. A fourth junior course helped the Hokies rank third in the league for passing protection.

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TOP FRESHMAN

Syracuse defender Darian “Duce” Chestnut contributed immediately. The defender has two interceptions and 19 tackles in all seven games this year.

MOST AMAZING PLAYER

The surprise for Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong was how much he improved his game.

The fourth-year junior is second in the FBS, shooting 403.4 yards per game, including a record 554 yards. – most of all FBS players this year – losing in North Carolina. By comparison, Armstrong averaged 235.2 yards ahead last year.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM

North Carolina is the top pick of the year with many options for the six-time reigning league champion Clemson and Miami, all three unrated.

Mac Brown’s “Tar Heels” (4-3, 3-3) opened as the 10th favorite in the Coastal Division with the return of star quarterback Sam Howell and veteran attacking line. But they struggled to protect Howell and overcome losses from major NFL threats to Havonte Williams, Michael Carter and Diami Brown, who did not vote until October.

BEST SEAT

The pressure on Miami’s Manny Diaz and Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente is growing.

The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) finished 14th in the preseason and are projected to be the top contender for the UNC Coast title. But Miami has its first 2-4 starts since 1997, when the program faced NCAA probation and scholarship restrictions. And Diaz for three seasons with the Hurricanes sits at 16-14.

Hoki Fuente (3-3, 1-1) – 41-29 in six seasons, including a team that played 5-6 last year and dropped out of the postseason to complete a 27-year streak in the bowls.

BIGGEST INJURY

Diaz’s job was only made more difficult by D’Eric King’s shoulder injury at the end of the season.… The six-year-old dual-threat quarterback was injured in the second half of the third week of defeat against Michigan, and until last week the team hoped King could recover through rehabilitation rather than surgery.

King threw 2,686 yards and 23 points, running 538 yards and four TDs in 2020.

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NWN Sports journalists Gary B. Graves from Louisville, Kentucky; Will Graves in Pittsburgh; Pete Jacobelli in Columbia, South Carolina; John Keckis in Syracuse, New York; Hank Kurtz in Richmond, Virginia; and Charles Odum in Atlanta; contributed to this report.

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More on NWN College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Subscribe to the NWN College Football Newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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