ACC Football Weekend Recap: Kenny Pickett enters elite company, Devin Learys balls out, Diaz falls on the road

Let’s get right to it. From outstanding passing performances, to head coaches in trouble: here’s this week’s ACC Football Weekend Recap, which features Kenny Pickett, Devin Leary and Manny Diaz, among others.


ACC Football Power Rankings: Oct. 18

This week’s ACC Football Power Rankings are out; make sure to check those out here.


Players of the Week

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, QB

Pickett had arguably his most pedestrian game of the season, so far; however, he was still terrific in the win over Virginia Tech. The veteran quarterback threw for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. For the season now, Pickett has completed 69.8 percent of his pass attempts, while averaging 9.4 yards per attempt.

With wideout Jordan Addison as his main target, Pickett has thrown 21 touchdowns and only one interception on the season. Going back to the 2000 season, only three FBS quarterbacks — through the first six games of a season — have thrown for 20+ touchdowns and one or fewer interceptions. Pickett is joined by Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (2019) and Geno Smith of West Virginia (2012).


Devin Leary, NC State, QB

Much like NC State has at times flown under the radar in the Atlantic Division race, Leary doesn’t seem to attract nearly as much attention as some of the league’s other elite passers in Chapel Hill, Pittsburgh and Charlottesville.

Leary was outstanding on the road at Boston College, though. He completed 67 percent of his throws (16-for-24) for 251 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Wolfpack to a 2-0 start in ACC play.


Stat(s) of the Week

Duke energy: Offense falls apart at Virginia

Entering Saturday’s matchup in Charlottesville, ACC opponents averaged 39.3 points per game in four games against the Virginia defense. The Cavaliers responded by shutting out Duke 48-0.

It’s the program’s most-lopsided ACC win since 2007 and its first league shutout since 2008. Virginia will look to extend its current winning streak to four games when it welcomes Georgia Tech to Scott Stadium this weekend.

(Oh, by the way, Brennan Armstrong was pretty dang good, too: 364 yards and two touchdowns through the air vs. Duke.)



Another game, another touchdown reception for UNC wide receiver Josh Downs.

Downs snagged a 45-yard touchdown pass from Sam Howell to help open things up vs. Miami. The sophomore wideout now has a touchdown reception in every game this season (8 total); he’s caught a touchdown pass in eight straight games, dating back to last season.


Scoville Scale: ACC Coaches on the Hot Seat

For the 2021 season, we’re using the Scoville Scale — which measures the pungency/spiciness of peppers — as a means to signify how hot the seats are for certain ACC head football coaches. (SHU: Scoville Heat Units)

Jalapeno Division

  • 2,500-8,000 SHU: Dino Babers (Syracuse), Scott Satterfield (Louisville)
    • Babers nearly snagged his second career victory as a head coach over Clemson; the Orange, however, fell at home to the Tigers, 17-14. That would’ve been a real boon for Babers. There have been some tough breaks, too. Syracuse has lost three straight games — by a combined nine points.


Cayenne Division

  • 30,000-50,000 SHU: Mike Norvell (FSU), Geoff Collins (Georgia Tech), David Cutcliffe (Duke), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech)
    • Norvell and Collins are coming off bye weeks, and both have experienced some success in recent outings; there’s reason for optimism, especially for Norvell, with a loaded 2022 recruiting class on the horizon. For now, though, things remain touch-and-go.
    • Cutcliffe has done great things at Duke, but things continue to trend downward. The Blue Devils have lose three straight — punctuated by a 48-0 drubbing at Virginia.
    • As far as things go for Fuente, it’s probably/definitely not a good sign when David Teel is writing these types of articles.


Thai Chili

  • 50,000-100,000 SHU: Manny Diaz (Miami)
    • Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.