Appalachian State (4-5, 3-2 Sun Belt)
beat Louisiana-Monroe 31-29
What worked: Quarterback Taylor Lamb completed 25-of-35 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He had completions to nine different receivers. Running back Marcus Cox rushed for 94 yards on 21 carries.
What needs work: The Mountaineers had a rough start, falling behind 20-7 at home midway through the second quarter.
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What’s next: Appalachian State plays at Arkansas State Saturday at 3 p.m. Rick Bonnell
Lost to No. 2 Coastal Carolina 59-34
What worked: After a shaky start, the 49ers offense played a solid game, led by backup quarterback Lee McNeill (18-of-33 passing for 236 yards and two touchdowns) and running back Khalif Phillips (159 rushing yards).
What needs work: It was another rough day for Charlotte’s defense, which allowed a school-worst 690 total yards. The 49ers allowed the Chanticleers to convert 8-of-14 third downs, many of them long-yardage situations.
What’s next: The 49ers face Wesley (Del.), the nation’s fourth-ranked Division III team, Saturday. The Wolverines (9-0) were off Saturday. David Scott
No. 18 Clemson (7-2, 6-1 ACC)
Beat Wake Forest 34-20
What worked: The Tigers defense, when it wasn’t backed up after an offensive or special-teams turnover, was stout, allowing 119 yards in total offense and just 7 yards rushing. Quarterback Cole Stoudt, starting for probably the last time with Deshaun Watson expected to return from injury this week, threw for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
What needs work: The Tigers were careless with the ball, with two first-half turnovers leading to two Deacons touchdowns.
What’s next: Clemson plays at No. 24 Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets beat N.C. State 56-23. D.S.
No. 19 Duke (8-1, 4-1 ACC)
Beat Syracuse 27-10
What worked: A week after getting torched by Pittsburgh for 48 points and 594 yards, Duke’s defense tightened up and only allowed 224 yards, the lowest total for any opponent this season. Duke was able to quickly change its scheme when Syracuse started running the option with fourth-string quarterback Mitch Kimble.
Special teams were also big for Duke. Jamison Crowder’s punt return touchdown proved the be the game-winner. and Punter Will Monday consistently set the Orange up with long distances to cover on offense, and Josh Snead’s tackle on a fake punt attempt in the fourth quarter effectively ended the game.
What needs work: The offense took three quarters to find any rhythm, a lag they can’t afford against better opponents. Duke was right to try and spread the field with Syracuse committed to stopping the run, but the Orange won the blocking match-ups on the perimeter.
What’s next: Back to Coastal division play with a visit from last-place Virginia Tech (4-5, 1-4) Laura Keeley
Off last week
East Carolina followed its most disappointing loss of the season with its third bye of the year, and if the Pirates were dwelling on the 20-10 loss to Temple that all but guaranteed they would not play in a premier bowl game, they showed no signs of it at practice Sunday night.
“(The mood) has been great. It’s been fantastic,” McNeill said. “ They pull for each other, encouraged each other and love playing for one another and that’s what this week’s been all about.”
The loss to the Owls knocked East Carolina (6-2, 3-1) out of the rankings for the first time in six weeks, but the Pirates still remain in a heated race for the AAC championship.
The Pirates will look to loosen that logjam this Thursday when they hit the road to face the Bearcats.
In order for ECU to remain in the hunt for an AAC title, it must cut down on penalties. The Pirates rank 123rd in the nation in penalties per game (9.25), which is why McNeill brought in officials to oversee the team’s scrimmages during the bye.
“(The officials) did a good job explaining to our guys what and why and how,” McNeill said. “. For five years (at ECU) I’ve taught the same technique, I’ve been doing this a long time. But, what we have to do is adjust.”
N.C. State (5-5, 1-5 ACC)
lost to Georgia Tech, 56-23
What worked: Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was effective on designed running plays. He had 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, which he capped with an acrobatic dive into the end zone. Brissett finished with a team-best 77 yards on nine carries.
Freshman running back Jaylen Samuels hustled on a Georgia Tech interception to track down linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and force a fumble to momentarily give the ball back to the Wolfpack.
Tight end David J. Grinnage made a nice catch in traffic for his fourth touchdown in as many games.
What needs work: The defense had little success, after a forced fumble by linebacker Airius Moore in the first quarter, in stopping Georgia Tech’s ground game. Synjyn Days ran for 116 yards in the first quarter and really opened up the rest of the Jackets’ ground attack. Georgia Tech finished with 479 rushing yards and averaged 7.5 yards per rush.
Brissett tried to find Grinnage early, and the big man had a drop, but there were long stretches where the tight end wasn’t involved in the offense. Grinnage finished with two catches for 27 yards, including the 19-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. N.C. State offensive coordinator Matt Canada needs to find more ways to keep Grinnage and receiver Bo Hines (six catches, 70 yards) involved in the offense throughout the game.
What’s next: N.C. State hosts Wake Forest (2-7, 0-5) at 3 p.m. Joe Giglio
North Carolina (4-5, 2-3 ACC)
Off last week
The Tar Heels’ second off weekend came at a good time, a week after a humbling defeat at Miami and a week before UNC hosts Pittsburgh in what’s now the most important game of the Tar Heels’ season.
Win on Saturday and there’s still a great chance to reach the postseason. Lose and the Tar Heels will have to win their final two games – including one at Duke – to become bowl eligible.
The weekend should have allowed UNC a chance to heal both physically and mentally. Junior quarterback Marquise Williams didn’t appear at full strength in the loss at Miami, and if he’s not playing to his potential the offense isn’t nearly as effective.
The defense again endured its share of breakdowns. The Tar Heels have to limit those against Pitt’s James Conner, the ACC’s leading rusher.
“We’re kind of going back to the drawing board,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said last week, “and really breaking down the fundamentals and working on every aspect of what we need to do to be better.” Andrew Carter
Wake Forest (2-7, 0-5 ACC)
Lost to No. 18 Clemson 34-20
What worked: The Deacons frustrated the Tigers early in the game, forcing two turnovers that led to touchdowns. Freshman quarterback John Wolford threw two touchdown passes to tight end Cam Serigne.
What needs work: Wake Forest’s offensive seems to be beyond repair. The Deacons managed just 119 total yards and 7 yards rushing. They’re averaging 203 yards in total offense and 31.1 yards rushing, both easily the lowest in the country.
What’s next: The Deacons face N.C. State in Raleigh on Saturday. The Wolfpack are coming off a 56-23 loss to Georgia Tech. D.S.