2011 5 Thoughts - Clemson & VT's Big Wins
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Posted Sep 5, 2011

2011 5 Thoughts - Week 1. Why Clemson and Virginia Tech's Week 1 mattered

CFN Analysis 

5 Thoughts, Sept. 5

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Week 1 Thoughts  2010 5 Thoughts 
- Fiutak: The Game The Pac-12 Couldn't Lose
- Cirminiello: Clemson & Virginia Tech's Big Wins 
- Zemek: In Defense Of Mark Richt
- Sallee: It's Over For Richt
- Mitchell: The Top Heavy SEC   

Richard Cirminiello

Opening day wins in college football are a lot like rising shares of stock. They look nice on paper, but what do they really mean?

Every September, name brand programs get out of the gate quickly at the expense of non-AQ or FCS opponents. Big whoop. The proverbial scrimmage before the schedule stiffens, right?

Not always.

Some blowouts actually produce tangible results if you take the time to look beyond just the final score. Clemson and Virginia Tech, for instance, didn't just win games on Saturday. They may have built a head of steam by sidestepping the kinds of landmines that almost did in Auburn.

Who knows what to make of Clemson in 2011? The quarterback lacks experience, the offense is new and the head coach needs to win in order to improve his job security. With a veteran Troy team coming to town, the Tigers might have been ripe for the picking. A collection of precocious Tigers skill players, however, wouldn't allow it to happen.

RB Mike Bellamy took his first collegiate carry 75 yards to break open a close game in the fourth quarter. Classmate Sammy Watkins caught a game-high seven passes for 81 yards and a score. Clemson didn't just win a game. It broke the seal on a couple of rising ACC stars who appear capable of supporting the development of untested QB Tajh Boyd.

A year ago, Virginia Tech fell to James Madison in one of 2010's most mystifying upsets. The Hokies spent the offseason making sure that they wouldn't be "Duked" again by an FCS visitor. On Saturday afternoon, they didn't just fend off feisty Appalachian State and Walter Payton Award candidate DeAndre Presley—they obliterated them, 66-13. It was a completely unexpected outcome, one that Tech can actually use as a launching point for the balance of the month. It allowed the Hokies to ease into the transition to Logan Thomas at quarterback, and earn some much-needed confidence on defense.

A win is a win, but not all are created equal, especially early in the season. Clemson and Virginia Tech, with upset-minded opponents visiting over the weekend, used their openers for far more than just picking up a W. Injecting new blood into their rosters, both schools got off to unusually fast starts to the 2011 season.