Appalachian State (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt)
Lost to South Alabama 47-21
What worked: Nothing, really, for the Mountaineers, although they did have a nice ceremoney to honor former coach Jerry Moore. In what would eventually become a rout, Appalachian’s defense kept the game close until midway through the second quarter. Appalachian State’s run game was respectable (203 yards).
What needs work: Appalachian’s offense never got going, failing to produce a first down on its first four possessions. The Mountaineers continue to get off to poor starts, falling behind the Jaguars 20-0 in the second quarter.
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What’s next: The Mountaineers host Liberty in a nonconference game Saturday. The Flames (3-3) lost to Richmond 46-39 in double overtime. David Scott
Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC)
beat N.C. State 41-0
What worked: Nearly everything. Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in the first half. Defensive end Vic Beasley stripped Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett of the ball and returned the fumble 16 yards for a touchdown. The running game, which hadn’t accomplished much in previous games, accounted for 226 yards, a 4.5-yard average.
What needs work: The Tigers committed nine penalties for 103 yards. There were times in the first half when the Wolfpack’s best offensive strategy was waiting for Clemson to get flagged.
What’s next: Clemson hosts Louisville (5-1, 3-1) at 3:30 Saturday.
South Carolina (3-3, 2-3 SEC)
lost to Kentucky 45-38
What worked: The running game averaged 5.9 yards-per-carry. Featured back Mike Davis, who has been slowed by injuries this season, ran 23 times for 183 yards.
What needs work: Quarterback Dylan Thompson was intercepted three times, the last one a batted ball that was returned into the end zone for Kentucky’s winning score. This was just the second time in 22 meetings South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier lost to the Wildcats.
What’s next: The Gamecocks have a bye week followed by a home game against Furmant. Then a huge challenge at Auburn Oct. 25.
N.C. State (4-2, 0-2 ACC)
lost at Clemson, 41-0
What worked: The defense held Clemson’s offense to three points in the second half.
What needs work: Just about everything. The offensive line barely got in the way of Clemson’s rush, particularly defensive end Vic Beasley. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who entered the game averaging 272.8 passing yards per game, threw for just 35 yards and completed just four of 18 attempts.
Defensively, the Wolfpack had no answer for freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, who ran for 62 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 267 yards with two touchdowns. All four scores came in the first half.
What’s next: The Wolfpack hosts Boston College (3-2, 0-1 ACC) which is coming off an open date. The Eagles lost at home 24-21 to Colorado State on Sept. 27 and lost their ACC opener to Pitt, 30-20 on Sept. 5. The game will kick at 3:30 p.m. and be televised by Fox Sports Carolinas.
Lost to Gardner-Webb 27-24
What worked: Charlotte got all its touchdowns on big plays – an 80-yard pass from Matt Johnson to Austin Duke, a 59-yarder from Johnson to Dmarjai Devine and a 39-yard interception return by Branden Dozier.
What needs work: The special teams were a problem all day. The 49ers allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown, muffed a punt, had a bad snap on a punt and missed two field goals. Two kickoffs were also bobbled. Charlotte also had 10 penalties for 90 yards and three turnovers.
What’s next: Charlotte plays at The Citadel on Saturday. The Bulldogs (1-4) lost 17-13 to Wofford. D.S.
North Carolina (2-3, 0-2 ACC)
Lost to Virginia Tech 34-17
What worked: After two weeks of big plays and blown assignments, the Tar Heels’ defense played well on Saturday against Virginia Tech – certainly well enough to give UNC a chance to win. UNC held the Hokies to 4.2 yards per play and forced seven punts, four of them on Virginia Tech’s first four drives on the second half. The Hokies scored 34 points, which indicates a strong offensive performance, but the total was a bit misleading. Two of Virginia Tech’s touchdowns came after UNC turnovers and on drives that lasted a combined 26 yards, and the Hokies scored another touchdown on an interception return. Overall, it was another deflating performance for UNC, but it left plenty to build on defensively.
What needs work: The Tar Heels’ offense was abysmal for long stretches, and during the first half might have played as poorly as it ever has under coach Larry Fedora, who is in his third season. After a field goal drive on UNC’s second possession, the Tar Heels gained 15 yards over their next 15 plays, and they punted three times in that stretch. That time period included the early quarterback rotation between Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky – a rotation that has been mostly fruitless and was again on Saturday. Looking for a spark, Fedora reinsterted Trubisky late in the second half, and he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Fedora said the receiver on the play didn’t run his route correctly. The running game continues to be a mess. UNC now ranks 92nd nationally in rushing offense, and the three running backs who had carries on Saturday combined for 15 yards.
Up next: The Tar Heels get no relief. They travel this weekend to Notre Dame, which is 5-0 and ranked in the top 10 after a victory against Stanford on Saturday.
Wake Forest (2-4, 0-2 ACC)
Lost to No. 1 Florida State 43-3
What worked: The Deacons scored first on a 36-yard field goal by Mike Weaver and had the lead hold up through one quarter.
What needs work: Wake Forest’s offense continues to be among the country’s worst. The Deacons gained just 126 total yards, including 40 on the ground.
What’s next: Wake Forest is off this week and hosts to Syracuse on Oct. 18. D.S.