Duke (4-1, 0-1 ACC)
Lost at Miami 22-10
What worked: Punter Will Monday had his strongest game of the year. He had plenty of chances and averaged 49.2 yards on nine punts. Three times he pinned the Hurricanes inside the 20 and kicked another two into the end zone, minimizing the return damage.
What needs work: The offense as a whole needs to do the basics better: throwing, catching and snapping the ball (there were multiple mishandled shotgun snaps and snap infraction penalties). And while the offense is figuring out its issues, the defense needs to minimize big plays.
What comes next: A well-timed open date for Duke. In two weeks, the Blue Devils will resume play at Georgia Tech.
North Carolina (2-2, 0-1 ACC)
Lost to Clemson 50-35
What worked: The Tar Heels didn’t fold after trailing 20-0. That was one positive, and perhaps the greatest positive – especially given the team’s shaky mental state following the embarrassing loss at East Carolina the week before. This time, though, the Tar Heels tried to come back and they made it interesting, at times, during the second half. UNC scored four second-half touchdowns – two on passes to T.J. Thorpe and Ryan Switzer, both of whom turned short passes into big plays. UNC finished with 478 yards and Marquise Williams passed for 345 yards and four touchdowns.
What needs work: It’s the same old, same old for UNC: Defense and penalties. The Tar Heels aren’t going to face the kind of quarterbacks they’ve faced the past two games every week, but even so, UNC’s pass defense has been abominable. Sometimes Saturday, UNC’s best pass defense was to commit an obvious interference penalty rather than give up a touchdown. And the penalties: There were 15 for 130 yards, including three personal fouls.
Up next: The Tar Heels will host Virginia Tech at 12:30 Saturday at Kenan Stadium. Statistically, the Hokies rank in the 60s nationally in total offense, and their per-play average of 5.42 yards ranks 81st.
N.C. State (4-1, 0-1 ACC)
Lost to No. 1 Florida State 56-41
What worked: Nearly everything N.C. State’s offense ran in the first quarter. The Wolfpack jumped to a 24-7 lead behind junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett and running back Shadrach Thornton. Brissett threw for a career-best 359 yards with three touchdowns. Thornton rushed for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Freshman receiver Bo Hines, who scored on the second play of the game, caught eight passes for a season-best 103 yards.
What needs work: The defense couldn’t sustain its fast start. The Wolfpack gave up 49 points after the first quarter and 35 in the second half. Florida State was able to get its running game going with 126 yards from Karlos Williams, and Jameis Winston threw for 365 yards and four touchdowns. N.C. State’s secondary gave up a lot of room to top receiver Rashad Greene, who finished with a game-high 11 catches for 125 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.
What’s next: N.C. State will travel to Clemson (2-2, 1-1), where it hasn’t won since 2002. The Tigers are coming off of a 50-35 home win against North Carolina. The Tigers have won nine of the past 10 meetings in the Textile Bowl. The game will kick at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.
Wake Forest (2-3, 0-1 ACC)
Lost to Louisville 20-10
What worked: The Deacons limited the Cardinals’ potent offense, which had been averaging 38 points, to 20 points and 206 yards passing.
What needs work: Wake Forest continues to struggle running the ball, finishing with minus-22 yards. The Deacons ended up with 100 total yards.
What’s next: Wake Forest will play at top-ranked Florida State.