Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: ACC football only half bad

Enough is enough. It's time that the ACC's Coastal Division teams did something about their sorry Atlantic Division brethren. The Coastals have already tried pounding them -- they're 5-0 against the Atlantic teams so far this season -- but that didn't work. Time for more drastic measures.

That's right. Time to secede from the union.

People want to say the ACC is bad. The truth is, the ACC is half bad. The Atlantic half.

As we approach the midway point of the season, the ACC has six nonconference victories to be proud of: Oklahoma, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Mississippi State, Stanford and BYU. To their credit, Atlantic Division teams (N.C. State over the Panthers, Wake Forest over the Cardinal and Florida State over the Cougars) snared half of those.

But interdivisional play so far has revealed the Coastal to be far superior.

Boston College, which fattened up on two of its Atlantic rivals, fell hard last week in its first trip to Coastal Country. Florida State -- the Atlantic's preseason favorite -- has lost at home in both of its matchups with Coastal teams, including a prime-timer against Georgia Tech last week. Clemson's loss to the Yellow Jackets in Week 2 squandered another shot at Atlantic respectability.

And finally, there's Duke. Yes, Duke, Coastal whipping boy, which went on the road and hammered Atlantic-foe N.C. State 49-28 last week. That should do it, shouldn't it? Secession time?

The top scoring offense (Virginia Tech) is in the Coastal. The top rushing offense (Georgia Tech), passing offense (Duke) and total offense (GT again) are in the Coastal. North Carolina leads three of the four defensive categories. That leaves rushing defense as the only category headed by an Atlantic team -- N.C. State, which allowed one rushing yard to Bud Foster's alma mater, Murray State. That was one of two Division I-AA teams the Wolfpack defeated.

This is all the more reason we should appreciate the Hokies' journey to Atlanta this week. Whoever survives the Coastal Division race should cruise through the ACC title game, but getting there is going to be brutal.

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If you think Bryan Stinespring's offense has gotten more aggressive this year, get a load of what's going on in Charlottesville.

After the Southern Mississippi game, UVa coach Al Groh revealed that the staff had made it a goal to "go downfield on the first 15 plays."

OK, so he didn't say that. Only the transcript of his press conference said he said that.

What he actually said is that the staff had made it a goal to go downfield THREE TIMES on the first 15 plays.

The transcript -- actually labeled a "draftscript," because UVa officials are kind enough to send out an edited version later -- omitted that "three times" part.

Such is the great comedic beauty of transcription work farmed out to independent parties with fast fingers but little knowledge of what they're actually transcribing. Now granted, overall, they do a great job. But the same company that does the UVa transcripts also did the Orange Bowl press conferences two years ago and quoted Bud Foster raving about what a great linebacker "Zabian" Adibi was. This week, UVa receiver Kris Burd somehow became "Chris Broadnax." Zabian I could see, but Broadnax? Seems to be a syllable issue there.

But they even topped that a couple of weeks ago. You know that UVa quarterback, Mr. Sewell? First name, Jameel?

Yep. The transcriber apparently heard that one a little differently, too. Folks, meet Mr. Sewell. First name, "Gentlemen's Meal."

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What a refreshing sight it was to see Josh McDaniels running around like a little kid Sunday, pumping his fist and leaping into one of his defensive lineman's arms in celebration of a Denver win over New England.

The 33-year-old Broncos coach showed pure, unbridled joy, a rarity in NFL grumpland. Oh, we see celebrations -- Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall performs "Swan Lake" any time he makes a play, the kind of look-at-me antics that make a 2-3 team appear even worse -- but that's canned enthusiasm. This was real.

"Sometimes," McDaniels told the media, "you're allowed to have fun."

Amen to that.

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