Week 1 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the ACC. The league fell short in some of its non-conference affairs, but Florida State's defense played well against Alabama, and Virginia Tech picked up a huge win versus West Virginia on Sunday night. Virginia, Duke, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Syracuse each picked up easy victories in the opening slate for 2017.
With the first weekend of 2017 in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the ACC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 1:
ACC Week 1 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The reigning Heisman winner carried Louisville to a 35-28 victory over Purdue on Saturday night. Jackson led the Cardinals with 107 rushing yards and threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns on 30 completions.
Defensive Player of the Week: Stacy Thomas, LB, Louisville
Thomas was all over the field for new coordinator Peter Sirmon during Saturday night’s win against Purdue. The senior linebacker collected six stops, recovered a fumble and a quarterback hurry and also broke up one pass. However, his biggest impact came late in the third quarter. Thomas picked off Purdue quarterback David Blough and returned the interception 61 yards for a score.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Brad Cornelsen, Virginia Tech
Cornelsen and coach Justin Fuente deserve credit for the development and preparation of quarterback Josh Jackson. The new Hokies’ signal-caller was nearly flawless in Sunday night’s win against West Virginia. Additionally, the offense averaged 6.5 yards per play and scored on its final two drives to clinch the victory.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Charles Kelly, Florida State
Florida State’s defense showcased against Alabama why it ranks among the best in the nation and certainly wasn’t at fault for the loss in Atlanta. Kelly’s group has depth, talent and athleticism at all three levels and limited the Crimson Tide to just 269 yards (4.5 yards per play) on Saturday night. Additionally, Alabama had only one drive longer than 50 yards and 87 of its total yards came on two plays.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Josh Jackson, QB, Virginia Tech
After Sunday night’s win over West Virginia, it’s clear the Hokies have found their next standout at quarterback. Jackson was steady all night in his first start, throwing for 235 yards and a touchdown on 15 completions, and rushing for 101 yards and one score on 11 attempts.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Bricen Garner, FS, Pitt
Garner got the start at free safety in the opener against Youngstown State and was instrumental in securing the victory for coach Pat Narduzzi. In addition to four tackles and one pass breakup, Garner intercepted a pass in overtime after Pitt’s touchdown to end the Penguins’ upset bid.
Team of the Week: Virginia Tech
The Hokies picked up the ACC’s marquee win of Week 1 in a 31-24 victory over West Virginia on Sunday night. Quarterback Josh Jackson was impressive in his first start, and the defense came up big with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter.
Unsung Hero of the Week: TaQuon Marshall, QB, Georgia Tech
Marshall made a strong case for offensive player of the week honors in Monday night’s overtime loss to Tennessee and deserves a tip of the cap somewhere on the weekly Athlon Sports awards. In his first start at quarterback, the former A-back rushed for 249 yards and five touchdowns on 44 carries and completed 5 of 9 throws for 120 yards.