ACC: Virginia Tech Hokies
- Meanwhile, outside of the courtroom, Maryland coach Randy Edsall thinks his team is a winner.
- The ACC is trying to bolster its national reputation.
- The AJC has some ACC players for you to watch this fall.
- Clemson is having some success recruiting in Paul Johnson's state.
- Syracuse's post-spring depth chart included a few changes.
- Florida and Florida State are both recruiting the same in-state receiver.
- Virginia Tech spent $1.6 million to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is out mingling with the fans.
Nobody in the ACC has more of it returning in 2013 than Miami -- and nobody lost more of it than Florida State. How much that will matter in the conference race is yet to be determined, but it can't be overlooked.
Here's a look at who has the most starters returning in the ACC, according to numbers provided by the conference:
Wake Forest: 18
Boston College: 17
Virginia Tech: 17
Georgia Tech: 17
North Carolina: 14
NC State: 12
Florida State: 11
Here's another way to evaluate the experience returning in the ACC, as per a note from the conference office:
Three ACC teams rank among the top 10 teams nationally in the FBS in numbers of games their returning players have started. In a survey put together by Colorado sports information director Dave Plati, Texas leads all schools nationally with 393 returning starts. Duke leads all ACC schools and is third nationally in number of returning starts with 364. Georgia Tech is right behind the Blue Devils with 361 starts, and Virginia Tech ranks 10th (331).
The Nation’s Top 10:
Pl. School ....................................... Starts
1. Texas ..............................................391
2. Mississippi .....................................365
3. Duke ..............................................364
4. Georgia Tech ................................361
5. East Carolina ..................................355
7. Stanford .........................................336
9. Rice ................................................334
10. Virginia Tech ................................331
- Duke football has an impressive two-sport star who could reach All-American status in track.
- Clemson has a way with running backs.
- Virginia hasn't been so fortunate.
- Syracuse backed off a recruit who decided to go to Pittsburgh.
- There will be a hearing today for the legal arguments between Maryland and the ACC.
- Here are 10 reasons to look forward to the season in the Commonwealth.
Where do you feel the state of the program is right now? I know it’s a loaded question, but it’s in such desperate need of stability and now that you guys are in your second season, where are you at in terms of your master plan and blueprint for the program?
Joe Rudolph: You described it as a desperate need for stability. I think it changed when Paul [Chryst] took the job. It might not have been felt yet, it’s kind of that deceleration getting ready to accelerate in the opposite direction, but that is when it changed. It is the right guy for that. His approach to what this group needs is really all based on stability and consistency and accountability. When that is your mantra and that is everything you want for these young men, you do have a chance to get there a little bit faster. I feel like with this group as we finished spring, every one of them could be able to put into words what it is to be accountable, what we want in a program, what it is to truly appreciate the game and hard work. Now, to do that consistently is the next goal. To be detailed all the time, not just some of the time. I really like where it is. It’s a young group, and there’s a lot of fun in that, and also, like you said, where’s the comfort in that? You never know. You never know. There’s comfort in knowing every rep they’re taking is going to be valued because guys are going to be doing it quite a while for you.
AP Photo/John HellerTom Savage last played in a game in 2010.
JR: First, he’s blessed with a great arm. He’s got great intangibles there. He’s very smart and being able to tie those things together will be ideal. He has experience, and he has a calmness about him within the pocket and going through his progressions, accuracy, those are all strengths of his. His game is in the confidence and it is in slowing it down through his understanding and knowledge. That’s why, where we finished the spring off, I’m excited to see what he can put together as we approach fall camp.
What’s your biggest concern yet heading into fall camp?
JR: It’s probably the complimentary players, cohesiveness on the offensive line. It’s an emergence at tailback. And it’s some of the positions and players we haven’t mentioned. It’s truly someone rising up as a second and third wide receiver. It’s those types of things, those are the things you want to see happen.
Is there any greater sense of urgency because you guys know you’re starting with Florida State?
JR: It’s not something we bring up to our guys, but without question our guys know it. I don’t think that would flow with what we’re trying to say about being consistent. We’re not going to do something different because we’re opening with Florida State. Hopefully we’re doing it no matter who we’re opening up with. But without question those guys see that, and they’re aware of it. That’s not going to be hard to create some urgency by understanding that.
Are you looking forward to playing in the ACC?
JR: Very much so. I think you take a look at that schedule and it’s pretty exciting. You can see it from what’s happening here. The fan base is excited to see those teams come in here and play. I just think it’s exciting as a conference. It is great athletic programs. When you go and you talk about that coupled with true dedication to education and what those schools represent, from an education standpoint, it’s what you want. Those are the types of student-athletes you want to bring on board.
From a fan’s perspective you guys have a pretty sweet home schedule.
JR: Yeah. It’s pretty fun. And the guys are excited about that. It’s going to be challenging, but I like where the group is at right now. They’re working and they have fun. They’re truly starting to enjoy what it’s all about and the process of getting there. Those are the right steps.
What did you guys say to them last year to get that effort out of them against Virginia Tech?
JR: I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know if I could put my finger on the highs and lows of the season. You loved it when you had that rolling, but I think consistency is what we didn’t have, obviously. We went two losses, two wins, that cycle all the way through, and you didn’t have that consistency. Sometimes they played better than you thought they would going out, and sometimes they didn’t play as well as you’d hoped. There did seem to be those times when you could turn that momentum when it wasn’t going well, we really had something to turn it to make it go right. That’s what we have to strive for this year.
The folks at ESPN Stats & Info put together a list of 100 numbers you must know, and the ACC -- for better or for worse -- had its moments, including No. 1.
Here's a sampling ...
1. (Preseason No. 1): Who will be this year's AP Preseason No. 1? Whoever it is must overcome recent history. Only two teams in the BCS era have won the national title after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, 1999 Florida State and 2004 USC.
5. (Donovan McNabb's number being retired): On Nov. 2, the best quarterback in Syracuse history will have his jersey retired in a ceremony in the Carrier Dome. He was named to the Big East first-team all four years on campus (95-98).
27. (Frank Beamer's tenure): This will be Frank Beamer's 27th season roaming the sidelines at Virginia Tech. He's the longest active tenured coach in FBS.
34. (Miami win streak): Bookended by a 2000 road loss to Washington and a 2003 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State, Miami reeled off 34 straight wins, including the 2002 Rose Bowl over Nebraska that won the 2001 national championship.
Check out the full list for more interesting notes.
- The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Virginia Tech-Maryland game scheduled for 2014 in M&T Bank Stadium is off because the Terps are heading to the Big Ten.
- Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden is preparing for a return trip to Tally.
- The quarterback situation at NC State just got more interesting with the addition of Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell.
- Paul Johnson disputes the criticism that playing against his offense in practice hurts his defense.
- A rivalry between Clemson and Pittsburgh is unlikely.
- Memo to North Carolina -- these are the rings you want.
- Virginia Tech's video board is coming down to be replaced.
- Clemson got a commitment from a running back, according to a few reports.
You bet we’re counting.
If you’re Scot Loeffler, Virginia Tech's new offensive coordinator, 100 days must feel like a nanosecond. The Hokies aren’t the only ones, though, with plenty of work to do before the season begins. Here’s a checklist of five things the ACC and its teams must accomplish before the opening kickoff:
1. Name starting quarterbacks. Syracuse can’t even talk about Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen yet because he’s not on campus and won’t enroll until next month, but the Orange are just one of several teams in the ACC that still have an ongoing quarterback competition. Virginia’s quarterback controversy has seemingly gone on for years, and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has yet to officially anoint Jameis Winston as EJ Manuel’s successor. Pitt is also still searching for a dependable leader, along with NC State.
2. Find an offense in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech has become one of the ACC’s brand-name programs, a consistent winner and a representative in the Top 25 and BCS standings. That changed last season when the Hokies bumbled their way through their most disappointing season in 20 years. Coach Frank Beamer made sweeping changes to his offensive staff, but little improvement was seen in the spring game. Loeffler said it wasn’t a true indication of the progress that was made in the other 13 practices, but also conceded there is still a lot of work to be done. With Alabama looming in the season opener, all eyes will be on the ACC in Week 1. When the Hokies are good, the ACC is better.
3. Improve defensively. With the exception of Florida State, which finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country in scoring defense, 2012 wasn’t a banner year for ACC defenses. The conference usually has some of the nation’s best defenses -- including Boston College -- but there was no Luke Kuechly and no identity for the Eagles last fall. Miami beat Duke 52-45. Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50. Clemson beat NC State 62-48. Clemson took a major step forward defensively with its bowl win against LSU, but the defense must become elite in its second season under coordinator Brent Venables if Clemson is going to be a national-title contender.
4. Minimize the turnovers. Virginia Tech was No. 86 in turnover margin last year, and quarterback Logan Thomas threw three picks in the spring game. Boston College was No. 88 in the country in turnover margin, FSU No. 93, NC State No. 99, Maryland No. 104, Virginia No. 110. That’s almost half the league ranked among the worst in the country in turnover margin. The Hokies play Alabama. Virginia plays Oregon. BC plays at USC. FSU is at Florida, and the Seminoles turned it over five times versus the Gators in FSU's 37-26 loss last year. The Gators scored 10 points off turnovers in that game. If the ACC is going to stand a chance, it can’t give away freebies.
5. Stay out of the trainer’s room. Virginia Tech standout corner Antone Exum is still rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered in a pickup basketball game. The bulk of Wake Forest’s offensive line was walking wounded all spring, and that group will make or break the Deacons' season. Clemson backup quarterback Chad Kelly and starting tight end Sam Cooper both tore their ACLs this spring. If the ACC is going to beat the best this fall, it needs its best players on the field. For some programs, like Boston College, the depth isn’t there to afford injuries.
The good news in the ACC is that six teams -- Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia and Virginia Tech already have rivalries in place should the ACC decide to reserve the final week of the regular season for rivalry games. North Carolina and NC State would also make sense, but there are still six teams in need of somebody to hate.
Let the rivalries emerge and develop on their own as the conference race plays out over the next few years with Syracuse and Pitt in the mix, and preserve the rivalries that are already in place. Syracuse fans probably couldn’t even tell you who their biggest rival is. Some would argue West Virginia. Others will tell you Penn State. Boston College? Meh.
Syracuse will close its first ACC season at home against former Big East teams Pittsburgh and Boston College, respectively. Those are the two most logical options for the Orange’s top rivals, and Pittsburgh has the second-longest series in Syracuse history with 67 games against the Orange. Boston College makes sense because it’s in the Northeast, fans of both schools can travel to the games, and the two programs played almost every season from 1961-2004. There’s just nothing about BC-Cuse football right now, though, that makes this series any more than two programs trying to step over each other in the Atlantic Division.
Syracuse fans should be thrilled Penn State is on the schedule this year as the opener at MetLife Stadium in The Meadowlands, but can it be a rivalry renewed? Might Syracuse have to look outside the ACC for its next true rival, or will a reunion with former Big East foes rekindle the hate?
Syracuse needs help. Cast your votes now.
There’s only one problem: Pitt-West Virginia doesn’t exist anymore.
For half the ACC, this is a no-brainer. It’s already become an expected date on the schedule for many schools, like Virginia Tech-Virginia, Wake Forest-Vanderbilt, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida and Georgia Tech-Georgia. NC State-North Carolina is another logical option. With the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to league this July, though, the idea of a rivalry week becomes a little more complicated.
Virginia Tech fans will gladly tell you the Hokies have owned UVa for nine straight seasons and 13 of the past 14. It is a rivalry in proximity and between the fan bases, but it has lost much of its luster on the field because of the lopsided results in the series. That doesn’t diminish the importance of the game. Last year, bowl eligibility was on the line for Virginia Tech. In 2011, the Hokies clinched the Coastal Division title against a surging Virginia team that had won four straight and finally appeared ready to make a serious run at the Commonwealth Cup. It was a similar situation to 2007, and again the Hokies came out on top.
In order for a rivalry to truly exist, there must be geographical and recruiting relevance, familiarity, meaningful games and history between the programs. Pitt and Virginia Tech have all of the above as former members of the Big East. In 2000, Virginia Tech beat Pitt on a last-second field goal. In 2002, Larry Fitzgerald had his breakout season, and Pitt rallied from a 21-7 deficit to beat Virginia Tech 28-21. In 2003, Pitt scored a touchdown with 47 seconds remaining to beat No. 5-ranked Virginia Tech in what would become one of the best games played at Heinz Field, college or pro. And last year? Ugh. If Virginia Tech isn't ready to pounce on Oct. 12 in Blacksburg and redeem itself, somebody should make sure the Lunch Pail hasn't been painted pink.
Virginia Tech-Pitt is a rivalry that can continue to grow, even if it’s not played on the final week of the regular season.
Two other top rivalry options for Pitt would be Boston College and Miami -- because of their obvious history in the Big East -- but with BC in the Atlantic Division, those games could have less relevance to the division standings and their meetings would be less frequent. BC and Pitt haven’t played since 2004, but their history dates back to 1959. If you’re looking for the regular-season finale, though, Miami seems like the most logical option. The two have history in the Big East, the Canes aren’t tied up with an SEC game and the game will have meaning to the Coastal Division standings. This year’s scheduling might be the first step toward building that rivalry, as Miami ends the season at Pitt on Friday after Thanksgiving in a nationally televised game. Pitt hasn’t had much success against the Canes in recent years, though, as Miami leads the series 22-9-1 and Pitt hasn’t won since 1997. How the series with Georgia Tech evolves will also be intriguing, but the two city schools have little recent history.
The good news for Pitt is that there are plenty of options in the ACC for a rivalry to be either renewed or created -- regardless of whether or not it's played on the final week of the regular season. Which one gets your vote?
In all, 42 players from 37 different programs made the list. The Pac-12 led the way with 11 selections, while the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten each had seven. The SEC had five players chosen.
Virginia Tech was one of seven schools nationally to have multiple selections on the watch list. The Hokies were joined by Baylor, Northwestern, Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington.
Here are the ACC players on the watch list:
- Duke CB Ross Cockrell
- Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
- Boston College LB Steele Divitto
- Virginia Tech CB Antone Exum
- Florida State CB/S Lamarcus Joyner
- Clemson LB Spencer Shuey
- Virginia Tech LB Jack Tyler
The ACC has had one previous winner in the Lott IMPACT Award's nine-year history -- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly in 2011.
- Good vibes abound at the ACC spring meetings, but decisions were scarce.
- The potential for an ACC Network was discussed as well, but nothing is imminent.
- Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel says Jimbo Fisher must make Matthew Thomas live up to his commitment.
- Florida State and DeMarcus Ware are still playing the NCAA Clearinghouse waiting game.
- Thumbs up or thumbs down to Maryland's first Big Ten schedule?
- Miami coach Al Golden talks once again about how the NCAA cloud hanging over the program has taken a toll.
- NC State has landed a commitment from an intriguing quarterback prospect.
- Incoming Syracuse offensive lineman Kendall Moore promises to be worth the wait.
- Despite Clifton Richardson's decision to transfer, Virginia does have depth at running back. Virginia continues to chase after quarterbacks.
- Virginia Tech continues leading the way in research for safer football helmets.
No. 2 Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Next up: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Of Boyd, Kiper Jr. writes, "People who would question Boyd because he was throwing to a great arsenal of pass-catchers last year should watch what he did against LSU in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. Boyd might as well have gone 12 rounds with Rocky in that game. Not only did he take hits on a lot of designed runs, the LSU defense battered him. But he played through it. The kid is tough."
And yes, you knew Thomas would make this list, considering how high Kiper Jr. has been on the senior-to-be in the past. Kiper calls him a "must-watch prospect" for 2014. Boyd and Thomas are featured on ESPN Insider Travis Haney's "make-or-break scenarios" for top quarterback prospects.
Kiper also gives a shout out to Bryn Renner of North Carolina, Stephen Morris of Miami and Pete Thomas of NC State in a "more I like" category.
No. 3 Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Kiper Jr. writes: "He has the athleticism to be split out at the next level a la an Aaron Hernandez, but I like that Ebron displays a willingness, and even a bit of a nasty streak, when called on to block."
No. 5 Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Next up: Christian Jones, Florida State
Kiper Jr. says of Attaochu: "Tall, rangy and with good closing speed, he could play either outside linebacker or defensive end, but projects better at OLB for the NFL."
Want more? Haney ranks the Top 10 most talented teams in America . Florida State checks in at No. 4, and Miami is at No. 8. Clemson just misses the cut at No. 12. Of those three teams, only Miami is not projected to start the season in the Top 25. But don't be surprised if the Canes end the season there.
- On-field results don't come close to matching the league's potential.
- Notre Dame has been a factor in the optimism at spring meetings.
- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says the ACC must produce dominant teams.
- An expanded ACC now tackles scheduling issues.
- Presenting the ACC's magician: John Swofford.
- Florida State and Georgia are in talks for a neutral-site game in 2016.
- Pitt coach Paul Chryst has been energized by the spring meetings.
- Retiring Virginia Tech president Charles Steger was an advocate for athletics.
- Here is a look at how the Hokies' linebackers stand after the spring.
- ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel on finding success in athletics and academics.