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Photo: Boston College's upset of USC is Cirminiello's game of the first half.
Rich Cirminiello of Campus Insiders breaks down his midseason honor roll for ACC Football.
2014 Midseason All-ACC Offense
QB – Jameis Winston, Soph. Florida State
RB – James Conner, Soph. Pitt
RB – Duke Johnson, Jr. Miami
WR – Tyler Boyd, Soph. Pitt
WR – Rashad Greene, Sr. Florida State
TE – Clive Walford, Sr. Miami
OL – Andy Gallik, Sr. Boston College
OL – Tre’ Jackson, Sr. Florida State
OL – Shaquille Mason, Sr. Georgia Tech
OL – Matt Rotheram, Sr. Pitt
OL – Laken Tomlinson, Sr. Duke
PK – Roberto Aguayo, Soph. Florida State
KR – Jamal Golden, Jr. Georgia Tech
2014 Midseason All-ACC Defense
DL – Vic Beasley, Sr. Clemson
DL – Eddie Goldman, Jr. Florida State
DL – Eli Harold, Jr. Virginia
DL – Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr. Louisville
LB – Stephone Anthony, Sr. Clemson
LB – Henry Coley, Sr. Virginia
LB – Denzel Perryman, Sr. Miami
DB – Jeremy Cash, Jr. Duke
DB – Kendall Fuller, Soph. Virginia Tech
DB – Gerod Holliman, Soph. Louisville
DB – Jalen Ramsey, Soph. Florida State
P – Wil Baumann, Sr. NC State
PR – Tyler Boyd, Soph. Pittsburgh
Offensive Player of the First Half: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston edges out Pitt RB James Conner because, well, he just keeps winning. Winston missed the Clemson clash, which almost cost the ‘Noles their winning streak, and underscored his importance to the defending national champs. He’s always the most pivotal player in the building, and his on-field leadership is a central reason why Florida State keeps surviving all challenges. Winston had a crucial 28-yard touchdown run in the opener with Oklahoma State, and sparked the upset-avoiding comeback over NC State on Sept. 27. Check out @theACCDN's latest Winston Watch Here.
Defensive Player of the First Half: LB Denzel Perryman, Miami
No one intimidates other teams more than Perryman, a force of nature from the middle linebacker position. He’s an old-school, textbook tackler, and one of the most instinctive defenders in the entire country. Through seven games, Perryman has a Miami-high 51 tackles, four stops for loss, a sack, a pick and a forced fumble. But numbers alone cannot define the heart-and-soul run defender, who makes opposing players wince before enduring his punishment.
Coach of the First Half: Mike London, Virginia
It began as a make-or-break season for London. It’s turned into an affirmation of his ability to coach up all of the blue-chip talent he’s attracted to Charlottesville. The ‘Hoos have already doubled last year’s win total, while jumping out to an early lead in the Costal Division. Not only is Virginia home to one of the league’s most opportunistic defenses, but the offensive attack is producing at a level not seen on this campus in a decade. London finally has this program pointed in the right direction, with an exciting second half ahead.
Offensive Rookie of the First Half: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
This honor appeared headed for Miami QB Brad Kaaya or even Duke RB Shaun Wilson. And then Watson happened. Yeah, he’s out for the next month or so with a broken throwing hand. But Watson showed more than enough before getting hurt last week versus Louisville. He leads the ACC in passer rating, by a wide margin, and he’s the only league quarterback averaging more than ten yards an attempt. It took just a few games to see why Watson was a can’t-miss recruit in February, and one of the budding young stars at the position.
Defensive Rookie of the First Half: FS Quin Blanding, Virginia
Blanding has lived up to the hype that always accompanies a five-star recruit. Nah, he’s actually exceeded it. The 6-4, 215-pound man-child has done much more than just crack the lineup of a veteran defense. He leads the ACC with 61 tackles, almost half of which are solos. Blanding arrived in C’ville with the size and the fundamentals for early success. However, he also puts in the time away from the field to ensure that he’s constantly evolving and maturing as a complete defensive back.
Game of the First Half: Sept. 13 Boston College 37 … USC 31
A highly charged night on the Heights began with a celebration of 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, a former BC lacrosse player, and ended with the exultant home crowd storming the field. In between, the Eagles shocked the same USC team that had beaten Stanford just a week earlier. Boston College had an answer for every Trojan rally, rushing for 452 yards to wrap up its first win over a top 10 opponent in almost seven years. Check out the highlights here.
5 Biggest Surprises
1. Virginia and Georgia Tech occupying the first two spots in the Coastal Division. The Cavs and the Yellow Jackets were picked in the preseason to finish seventh and fifth, respectively.
2. Boston College shocks USC on Sept. 13, 37-31, outrushing the ninth-ranked Trojans, 452-20. The Eagles were 17-point underdogs in the game. [Watch Highlights]
3. Virginia Tech upsets Ohio State at the Horseshoe in Week 2. The Hokies withstood a Buckeye rally to earn an improbable signature win for the program and the ACC. [Watch Highlights]
4. The Pitt defense hasn’t skipped a beat. Life after DT Aaron Donald in Western Pennsylvania isn’t so harrowing after all. The Panthers rank No. 4 nationally in total D, despite a lack of individual stars on the two-deep.
5. The play of the newcomer quarterbacks. An amalgam of rookies (Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Miami’s Brad Kaaya) and transfers (Boston College’s Tyler Murphy and NC State’s Jacoby Brissett) are helping elevate the ACC at the position. Three of the four highest rated quarterbacks were not yet eligible to play in 2013
Best Performances of the First Half
1) Sept. 27 – The fact that NC State lost the game made QB Jacoby Brissett’s effort versus Florida State no less dazzling. The Florida transfer completed 32-of-48 passes for 359 yards, three touchdowns and no picks, hoisting the Pack on his shoulders for as long as he was able. [Watch Brissett]
2) Sept. 27 – In a 50-35 win over North Carolina, true freshman Deshaun Watson clicked on 27-of-36 passes for 435 yards, a Clemson-record six touchdown passes and one pick … in the first start of his career. [Watch Watson]
3) Sept. 13 – BC’s upset of USC wasn’t all about the prolific ground game. Eagle LB Josh Keyes took up squatter’s rights in the Trojan backfield, making 5.5 of his eight stops behind the line of scrimmage.
4) Sept. 13 – A star was born at Duke in Week 3 at the expense of the Kansas defense. Rookie RB Shaun Wilson erupted for 245 yards and three touchdowns, despite only carrying the ball a dozen times. [Watch Wilson]
5) Sept. 5 – Pitt RB James Conner operated like a locomotive against the Boston College defense, hammering the Eagles for 214 yards rushing and a touchdown on 36 carries. [Watch Conner]