East Carolina (5-2, 3-1 C-USA)
Beat Southern Miss 55-14
What worked: The Pirates did what good teams are supposed to do one week after losing 36-33 to Tulane in triple overtime, East Carolina bounced back and blasted an inferior Southern Miss squad. It was a dominant performance on all three sides of the ball as ECU held significant advantages over USM in first downs (30-12), total offense (476-233) and time of possession (35:34-24:26), while going 9-for-10 in the red zone with seven touchdowns
What needs work: Placekicker Warren Harvey, who missed three field goals during ECUs loss to Tulane, misfired on a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter. On the season, Harvey is a perfect 8 for 8 inside the 30, but 4 for 11 beyond it. Hardy, who fumbled a punt against the Green Wave, muffed another on Saturday; The Pirates recovered.
Whats next: After an off week, East Carolina returns to action Nov. 11 when it visits Florida International (1-5, 1-1).
Duke (5-2, 1-2 ACC)
Beat Virginia 35-22
What worked: Duke won the second half 28-0, part of the string of 35 unanswered points that started after Virginias two-point conversion to make it 22-0 with 3:16 left in the first half (the Blue Devils also outscored the Cavaliers 28-0 in the final half of last years 42-17 win). After Virginia took its lead, the Cavaliers went on five straight three-and-out drives, netting minus-14 yards in the process. After that streak ended, it didnt get much better for Virginia: the final three drives ended in a missed field goal (a 44 yards attempt after a false start penalty wiped out a 39-yard converted kick), turnover on downs and an interception.
Once again, safety Jeremy Cash once again was all over the field for Duke, recording eight total tackles, including 1.5 for loss, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Reserve defensive lineman Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo recorded two sacks for a loss of 23 yards, and redshirt freshman safety Corbin McCarthy had a crucial third-down sack that went for an 11-yard loss. Defensive end Kenny Anunike also recorded a 5-yard sack and an additional 1.5 tackles for loss.
Offensively, once Anthony Boone found his rhythm, the unit moved at will, amassing 287 yards of offense in the second half. Boone went 12-for-17 (70.6 percent) for 154 yards with one touchdown and an interception in the second half. That was after going 9-for-22 (40.9 percent) for 91 yards in the first half. Tight end Braxton Deaver caught two touchdown passes, one from Boone, one from Brandon Connette.
Dukes run game was effective as well, with 180 yards on 44 carries, an average of 4.1 yards per rush. Josh Snead led with 53 yards on seven carries (7.6 yards per carry).
What needs work: Dukes defense has a knack for playing well after halftime, dating back to the game against Pitt (where they at least played significantly better than the first half). Coach David Cutcliffe chalks that up to halftime adjustments, conditioning and mental toughness. Still, it would be ideal if the defense could play well from the beginning, not the midway point.
Cutcliffe said the team is also looking at Boones warm-up process to figure out why he also started slow.
Continuing an existing trend, punter Will Monday struggled. His six punts averaged 40 yards, and just one landed inside the 20-yard line.
Whats next: Duke travels to Virginia Tech (3:30, ESPNU). This is the second straight year the Blue Devils have gone to Blacksburg seeking win No. 6 (the team was 5-1 last year). In 2012, Duke raced out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter before surrendering 41 unanswered points and losing 41-20.
North Carolina (1-5, 0-3 ACC)
Lost to No. 7 Miami 27-23
What worked: For more than three and a half quarters Thursday, North Carolina outplayed the then 10th-ranked team in the country. The Tar Heels can take some solace in that, at least. Offensively, UNC gained 500 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per play their second-best per-play output this season. The running game still struggled but, regardless, the Tar Heels at times were in a better offensive rhythm than they had been this season. Eric Ebron, the junior tight end, had one of the most productive receiving games in school history and the most productive ever for a tight end. He caught eight passes for 199 yards 71 of which came on a touchdown reception in the first quarter. Defensively, the Tar Heels forced a season-high four turnovers, and they held Miami out of the end zone twice in the first half after the Hurricanes had moved inside the UNC 10-yard line.
What needs work: The running game and the defense both need work, as usual, but what hurt the Tar Heels the most was their inability to score in the red zone and one critical clock management gaffe late in the fourth quarter. UNC managed to score just one touchdown on its five trips inside the red zone. The Tar Heels settled instead for three short Thomas Moore field goals two of them from inside the Miami 10. UNCs reliance on field goals came back to haunt it, as did its failure to call a timeout on a third-and-inches play on their second-to-last drive. Instead, UNC took a delay of game penalty and later punted; Miami then drove 90 yards for the game-winning touchdown. There were some bright spots defensively, but it wore down in the fourth quarter and couldnt get a stop when UNC needed one most.
Up next: UNC tries to regroup again before it hosts Boston College (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday. If theres one positive for the Tar Heels, its that their schedule begins to get easier starting now. The combined record of UNCs first six opponents is 29-12. The Tar Heels final six opponents are 21-18. Even so, Virginia, with a 2-5 record, is the only team with a losing record left on UNCs schedule.
Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2 ACC)
Beat Maryland 34-10
What worked: Quarterback Tanner Price beat the Terrapins every which way, scoring a touchdown on a 4-yard run, throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Campanaro and catching a 4-yard scoring pass on a trick play from Campanaro. The Deacons played a turnover-free game and held Maryland to 39 yards rushing.
What needs work: Wake Forest also struggled in the run game, gaining just 47 yards. The Deacons pass defense also was leaky, allowing Terps quarterbacks to throw for 344 yards.
Whats next: The Deacons take their two-game winning streak to south Florida, where they will face unbeaten and seventh-ranked Miami. D.S.