DeCock

Decock: Plans hit a few bumps for ACC teams

Staff WriterSeptember 16, 2011 

The quarterbacks are fine, except for the one who wasn't supposed to have any issues. The defense that was supposed to be a strong point is a mess.

The program that appeared to be in decline appears to be resurgent, while the program that claimed to be in ascendance is up to its old tricks. The team that was supposed to stagger into the season is swaggering through it instead.

Two weeks into the football season, just about nothing has gone as planned for the ACC's four N.C. teams, good, bad or unexpected.

Perhaps the epitome is Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, one of only three full-time starters returning at the position in the ACC this season and equipped with what may be the best collection of receivers in the conference. He has yet to throw a touchdown pass.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest's Tanner Price is positioning himself to have a huge year, N.C. State's Mike Glennon looks more comfortable with every pass he throws and North Carolina's Bryn Renner has looked extremely comfortable from his very first pass.

"I gained a lot of confidence in Bryn before this year," North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers said. "So when spring came, and he was the guy, I saw the progression he took this spring, then obviously through camp."

Led by their quarterback, Renner's teammates, instead of being thrown for a loop when Butch Davis was fired only days before training camp, are rolling right along. How many games did North Carolina win under Davis when the Tar Heels turned the ball over five times? (None.) They did it against Rutgers on Saturday to move to 2-0 under Withers.

Duke and Wake Forest, meanwhile, are going in opposite directions, and not the way many thought either would go.

The Blue Devils began the season with bowl talk, only to lose to Richmond in the opener again. A blowout loss to Stanford followed, and even an optimistic reading of the schedule sees at most three or four wins - and yet another year tacked onto the bowl drought.

The Deacons' bowl drought is at one, but the four-year decline of the program didn't generate much optimism in August. September has been different.

Wake Forest nearly won at Syracuse, and probably would have if Price hadn't gotten hurt. Healthy, Price tore apart the Wolfpack in what could be a key result as the standings shake out.

Wake Forest did benefit from an N.C. State defense that generated no pass rush and looked lost in the secondary. Nate Irving is gone, but the Wolfpack was supposed to make up for his departure with experience. Not so far.

"I think we're (doing) the right things," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "It's the same coaching staff. It's the same philosophy, what we did a year ago. We just have to get better execution on the defense."

O'Brien expected something different from his defense. He's learning, as everyone else is, that very little is going as expected around here this season.

luke.decock@newsobserver.com, twitter.com/LukeDeCock or 919-829-8947

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