Florida State Seminoles: Pittsburgh Panthers
Paul in Roanoke, Va., writes: As a lifelong UVA fan, of course I would love to see Mike London turn things around this fall and get the program back to respectability. However, many fellow Wahoo fans seem to think he will not make it past 2014 and have already begun to speculate on who AD Craig Littlepage will target for the next head coach. With Al Golden turning down the Penn State job, his potential return to Charlottesville has become a dream scenario for many fans, and I honestly don't think it seems that far-fetched. His suit-and-tie personality fits in well with UVA, and he had a great deal of success coaching Ahmad Brooks, Chris Canty, and others under Al Groh before taking the Temple job. Given UVA's top-notch facilities, great academics, solid fan base and location near the Hampton Roads recruiting hotbed, it seems to be a desirable location for someone who already has a history of winning there. And an intra-conference coaching move isn't unprecedented given that Tom O'Brien did it when he moved from BC to NC State. Do you think there is any chance at all that Golden could be lured away by the Wahoos, or do you think he will call Coral Gables home for the foreseeable future?
Andrea Adelson writes: Paul, I appreciate the question, but I cannot speculate about two men still employed as head coaches. I completely understand your concerns about Mike London, given what has happened the past few seasons. And I completely understand the coaching connection between the school and Golden, who has done a solid job at both Temple and Miami. I have no idea what the future holds for either coach. Golden has drawn interest from Wisconsin and Penn State (his alma mater) the last two seasons and stayed with the Canes. Does that mean he is in Coral Gables for the long term? Only time will tell. As for London, he absolutely has to get the ship righted as quickly as possible. He signed a terrific class in February, so I want to see what he does with these incoming players and a second year with his coordinators in place.
Adelson writes: BC has only had three practices so far, Tony, so you have not missed out on many big updates. In talking to coach Steve Addazio before practice began, I know he was really pumped about Josh Keyes at linebacker, and the return of just about everybody in the secondary. That remains a huge area that has to improve headed into next season. BC ranked last in pass defense and wore down as the season went on. This will be a much more veteran group in 2014, and Addazio believes that will translate to better results on the field.
Adelson writes: Great question, Ethan. The Coastal has been muddled the past two seasons, and I do not think 2014 is going to be much of an exception. I could legitimately make the case for six teams to win the division this fall. While I believe North Carolina and Duke are the top two at this point, if Virginia Tech can solve its offensive issues, the Hokies absolutely will be in the mix. I also think Pitt could have a great shot as a darkhorse, given some of the players it returns to the team. The Panthers have more talent at the skill positions than the Hokies do headed into the spring. Miami, with a healthy Duke Johnson, cannot be counted out. And Georgia Tech always hangs around the Coastal race. I am happy I don't have to slot my teams in 1-7 until July!
Adelson writes: Gil, given how much of a head start Clemson and Florida State have on him, it is going to take at least a few years for the Cards to compete for an ACC championship. I think they will win their fair share of games, but they need some excellent cycles on the recruiting side to begin building the consistent talent and depth we have seen from their two biggest Atlantic foes.
Adelson writes: Thanks for reading, John. I think what Winston is doing with baseball is completely relevant and totally fascinating. Players as skilled as Winston have been told for years they had to pick one sport over another. This is the rare exception when he is not only allowed to do both, but excels at both. I understand how all the Winston mania may be getting a little bit old for some people. But his status as the Heisman Trophy winner on the No. 1 team in America makes his baseball career worth following. Especially if it ends up impacting what happens on the football field.
- Is Sammy Watkins a Top 10 pick?
- Here is the latest mock draft from Mel Kiper Jr.
- Travis Haney explains why Florida State's title hopes could worsen.
- Georgia Tech picked up a commitment this week.
- Matt Hayes of The Sporting News praises Bobby Petrino's ability to coach quarterbacks.
- Eric Ebron talks about his future as a potential top draft choice.
- NC State punter Wil Baumann is spending his spring break in Romania.
- Pitt's depth at defensive end has taken a hit.
- Syracuse should be deep at running back again.
- Could Logan Thomas be a tight end somewhere down the line?
(*Target totals courtesy ESPN Stats & Info.)
Much has been made about the enormous turnover at quarterback in the ACC, where nine of the league’s 14 teams will feature a different starter in Week 1 of 2014 than at the conclusion of 2013.
The new arms throwing the football will be a major storyline for the spring, but the players on the other end of those passes will be much different this year, too. Eight of the top 12 receivers in the ACC last season are moving on, including likely first-round NFL draft picks Sammy Watkins, Eric Ebron and Kelvin Benjamin.
The obvious standout is Jamison Crowder, who was targeted a whopping 174 times in 2013. Nationally, only Fresno State’s Davante Adams (180 targets) was thrown to more often, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It’s also worth noting that Fresno State had 203 more passing attempts than Duke did. Crowder was on the receiving end of 37 percent of Duke’s passing attempts last season, compared with just 27 percent for Adams. Among ACC receivers, only Boston College’s Alex Amidon accounted for a higher percentage of his team’s throws (41 percent). Given his contributions on special teams, too, there's a case to be made that, aside from Jameis Winston, no player in the ACC means more to his team than Crowder.
It’s worth noting, too, that Duke is one of the five ACC teams with the quarterback position already settled, with Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette both returning for 2014, giving the Blue Devils easily the most tested quarterback-receiver combo in the conference.
Beyond Duke’s established QB/WR combo, Florida State is in good hands with senior Rashad Greene returning for his senior season. In 2013, he was on the receiving end of 27 percent of Winston’s throws, and with Benjamin and Kenny Shaw both gone, Greene’s role figures to only get bigger in 2014.
David Watford returns along with receiver Darius Jennings, who was targeted 78 times last year. Of course, the Virginia passing game was far from effective for much of the season -- and Jennings only hauled in 49 percent of his targets with a paltry 4.3 yards/target average -- but the rapport Watford and Jennings were able to build throughout 2013 offers some hope for the Cavaliers’ offense.
In terms of pure explosiveness, North Carolina could have an interesting combination with Marquise Williams back at quarterback and emerging talent Quinshad Davis at receiver. Davis hauled in an impressive 67 percent of his targets and gained an average of 10.1 yards per target last season, including 10 touchdowns. Of course, he’ll need to prove he’s as effective without Ebron hogging so much of the attention from opposing defenses this year.
Similarly, the ACC will get its introduction to Louisville standout DeVante Parker in 2014. While Parker won't have the luxury of Teddy Bridgewater throwing to him, his numbers last season were immensely impressive. He averaged nearly 11 yards each time he was thrown to, and he hauled in two-thirds of his targets.
While Crowder and Greene represent the cream of the crop for receivers with returning quarterbacks, the player with perhaps the most upside of the group is Tyler Boyd. Pitt might be in search of a new starting quarterback to replace Tom Savage, but few first-year starters will have a weapon as reliable and explosive in the passing game as Pitt has in Boyd. As a true freshman in 2013, Boyd finished third in the conference in targets (behind only Crowder and Watkins), hauled in nearly 70 percent of his targets (tops among returning receivers with at least 70 targets) and his 10 catches of 25 yards or more is second only to Crowder among returning receivers in the conference.
But perhaps the most intriguing names on this list are the trio from Virginia Tech. The Hokies account for one-third of all the ACC’s returning receivers with at least 70 targets, meaning that while Frank Beamer works to find his new quarterback, he’ll have a veteran group of receivers to target. Of course, experience only matters if there’s talent to back it up and that’s the big question in Blacksburg.
Virginia Tech ranked 63rd nationally in passing offense last season, 68th in yards per attempt and 89th in QB rating. While Demitri Knowles, Willie Byrn and Joshua Stanford were all among the ACC’s most targeted receivers, they also hauled in just 56 percent of the balls thrown their way and averaged just 7.9 yards per target. They’ll need to be far more reliable in 2014 with a new QB throwing to them.
- Boston College running back Andre Williams improved on his speed at pro day.
- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney raves about the move T.J. Green has made to safety.
- Duke safety Deondre Singleton shares his thoughts on the Blue Devils' spring practice.
- Congrats to Chris Fowler, who adds Saturday night football play-by-play duties to his job as "College GameDay" host.
- Evaluating the Florida State tight ends headed into spring.
- Georgia Tech defensive lineman Justin Akins has left the team.
- Eric Ebron fits the mold of game-changing tight end to a tee, Russ Lande writes on Sports on Earth.
- Pitt finally has depth at running back.
- Syracuse has moved Rob Trudo to center.
- Here is a look at the Virginia Tech running backs headed into spring.
- Athlon Sports ranks the top coaching jobs in the ACC. Can't argue with the top 2.
- Is Clemson capable of becoming the No. 1 defense in college football?
- Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris spent time in Columbus, Ohio, talking football with Ohio State and Texas A&M assistants.
- Two Florida State football players got into a dispute that led to an alleged shooting.
- Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is in no hurry to choose a starting quarterback.
- Former Miami football player JoJo Nicolas was laid to rest this weekend.
- Pitt's oldest known living football letterman turned 100 Saturday.
- Highly-touted recruit Andrew Brown eases into spring practice at Virginia.
- Recruiting forced Virginia Tech coordinators Bud Foster and Scot Loeffler to join Twitter.
- Former BC center Dan Koppen has taken a volunteer coaching job at Hendrickson (R.I.) High, Carolyn Thornton writes in the Providence Journal.
- Clemson has a countdown clock for the South Carolina game — with a not-so-friendly reminder.
- Duke has promoted GA Jeffrey Faris to receivers coach.
- FSU is searching for new leaders as spring looms, Brendan Sonnone writes in the Orlando Sentinel.
- Bill Parcells met with former Louisville quarterback coach Teddy Bridgewater in Florida.
- Miami is breaking for spring break, Christy Cabrera Chirinos writes in the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
- AthlonSports ranks the top 10 ACC quarterbacks of the BCS era.
- Athlon also previews North Carolina's spring.
- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner looks at the Panthers' quarterbacks entering this spring.
- The (Syracuse) Post-Standard's Nate Mink looks at which former Orange players are unsigned as NFL free agency nears.
- Keeon Johnson is ready to take the next step for Virginia, Jeff White writes on VirginiaSports.com.
- Wake Forest athletics received a $7.5 million donation from former player Bob McCreary.
None of them has ever started a game.
“This is probably the most slim it’s been since I’ve been here,” said Leal, a fifth-year senior. “We’ve always had at least five or six guys, but right now it’s only three.”
As spring practices begin throughout the conference, the ACC kicks off its 2014 season with a complete overhaul at the quarterback position. It was only a year ago that Florida State’s Jameis Winston was an unproven rookie who had yet to start a game. Now, the 20-year-old reigning Heisman Trophy winner is the veteran of the league, as nine of the 14 schools will have a first-year starting quarterback, and the competition is open at 11 programs. Florida State, Duke and NC State are the only programs that have definitively named starters, and even NC State doesn’t know what to expect out of first-year starter and Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett, though, knows what’s expected.
“Go make sure it was earned,” he said, “not given.”
Count on that to be a trend in the conference this spring.
Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are all starting from scratch, without any starting experience at the quarterback position. Some of the league’s most recognizable names have to be replaced, including Tajh Boyd, Logan Thomas and Teddy Bridgewater. Coaches at North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia have deemed their competitions open, in spite of experienced starters returning.
“I looked at that and was kind of surprised,” said Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, the frontrunner to take over the job after Vad Lee’s decision to transfer. “It should even the playing field out a little bit, but at the same time, we all have to go through our parts.”
Not to mention spring and summer auditions.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said it’s likely the competition between Chad Kelly, Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson will extend beyond this spring -- and possibly into the season.
“Going in, Cole starts out as No. 1 simply because of where we finished the season -- basically by default, if you will,” Swinney said. “He’s the senior. It’s basically his to lose going in, but it’s incredibly close. You’re talking about -- in my opinion -- three guys who are going to play in the NFL. I believe with all my heart that Cole Stoudt is going to play in the NFL. And the same thing with Chad Kelly, and the same thing with Deshaun Watson, if they stay healthy. So you’ve got three NFL players competing to be the guy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people say, well, if you don’t have one quarterback then you have none. But that’s not the case here.”
It could be the case elsewhere, though.
Virginia Tech (Michael Brewer), Boston College (Tyler Murphy), Miami (Ryan Williams) and NC State (Brissett) are all hoping that transfers can give the position an immediate boost, but former Texas Tech quarterback Brewer won’t join the Hokies until this summer. While none of them has started a game at their current schools, all but Brewer have started at least three games at their previous programs.
Williams started 10 games while he was at Memphis, and he’s the leading candidate to replace Stephen Morris, but “it is wide open,” according to offensive coordinator James Coley. And Williams knows it.
"You have to earn it, you have to earn everything,” Williams told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don't want anything given to me. If it's given to me, I didn't work hard enough.”
Brissett started three games at Florida, and Murphy started six games for the Gators after starter Jeff Driskel was lost for the season. Murphy went 2-4 with 1,216 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions before missing the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury.
Nothing is guaranteed in Chestnut Hill this spring, either, as the Eagles also have Darius Wade, a true freshman who enrolled early, and James Walsh, who will be a redshirt freshman.
All eyes will be on Louisville’s quarterback competition, as the Cardinals enter their first season in the ACC without Bridgewater, who left early to enter the NFL draft. Will Gardner and Kyle Bolin will be the top two candidates this spring, and they’ll be joined by incoming freshman Reggie Bonnafon this summer.
“It’s wide open,” first-year coach Bobby Petrino said. “We’ll go through spring and see who comes out 1-2-3 and then obviously we’ll give Reggie an opportunity in the fall to compete with those guys.”
With the addition of Louisville, the ACC enters this season perceived by many to be the strongest it has ever been.
Now it just needs to find a few quarterbacks to help prove it.
- Defensive linemen filled in big shoes admirably during Duke's spring game, Steve Wiseman writes in the (Durham) Herald-Sun.
- Jameis Winston had an efficient week on the diamond.
- The funeral for former Miami player JoJo Nicolas is Saturday.
- The (Raleigh) News & Observer's Andrew Carter looks at three questions facing North Carolina as spring practice opens.
- NC State's upcoming practice facility could cause some parking issues.
- Mike Haywood and Pitt have settled their lawsuit, Brian Bowling writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The (Syracuse) Post-Standard's Nate Mink looks at variables that could help the Orange land prized New York prospect Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
- SI.com's Martin Rickman and Joe from The Key Play discuss the state of Virginia Tech.
- SI.com's Martin Rickman looks at burning questions for each ACC team going into spring practice.
- Duke's spring game offered the Blue Devils a chance to evaluate their play in the trenches, Brian Mazur writes in the Duke Chronicle.
- AthlonSports' Braden Gall ranks college football's top rosters, with Florida State coming in tied for No. 2.
- NFL.com's Bucky Brooks says Teddy Bridgewater is facing a make-or-break pro day.
- Tim "Ice" Harris has rejoined Miami's staff as assistant director of football operations.
- UNC coach Larry Fedora will be the honorary pace car driver March 30 at Martinsville Speedway.
- NC State will be very young in 2014, Joe Giglio writes in the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
- Aaron Donald and nine teammates participated in Monday's Pro Day at Pitt, Jerry DiPaola writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Syracuse receiver signee Steve Ishmael had surgery on his torn meniscus, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- BC Interruption's AJ Black wonders if BC should go the Pitt route with its spring game.
- The gang at Cardiac Hill, meanwhile, is not pleased with the Panthers' decision to cancel their spring game.
- Old and new stars shined in Duke's spring game on Saturday, Brett Friedlander writes in the (Wilmington) Star News.
- Jameis Winston had an easy ninth inning on Sunday.
- Bonuses for on- and off-field achievements could raise Bobby Petrino's Louisville salary to more than $4 million annually, Jeff Greer writes in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
- Al Golden reflects on what was an emotional week for the Miami program, Dieter Kurtenbach writes in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
- Syracuse recruiting director Eric White is OK with the lack of 2015 commitments so far, Nate Mink writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard.
- There will be no spring game at Pitt.
- Stop me if you've heard this before: UVa needs a quarterback.
- Here are five storylines to watch at Miami this spring.
- Georgia Tech's sales department is getting smart with its ticket package.
- Mavin Saunders, a Florida State recruit, might have been a hoops star.
- How has Syracuse fared in putting players in the NFL?
- Morgan Moses is heading into the draft thinking he's a first-rounder.
- Kyle Fuller's draft stock is on the rise.
- BC wide receiver Alex Amidon is giving up the game to become a Navy SEAL.
- Pitt DT Aaron Donald
- Florida State S Terrence Brooks
- Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
ACC fans understand how terrific these players were throughout their careers so it is no surprise they each did well in Indianapolis. But what sticks out the most is the way Donald continually has to prove himself. Not only was Donald a consensus All-American this past season, he won every single major defensive award in the country. And yet, Donald has to continue to fight skeptics because he is considered small to play in the interior in the NFL.
That could all change now that NFL scouts are getting a full appreciation for what Donald can do. ESPN Insider Bill Polian said Donald was one of the most impressive players at the combine. Kiper and McShay write:
Donald has hit the trifecta: great regular season, great Senior Bowl week, great NFL combine. He ran 4.68 and bench-pressed 225 pounds 35 times, and did so at 285 pounds. He could be a mid-first-round pick.
Interestingly enough, his performance may even vault him ahead of more highly-regarded Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, pegged as a first-rounder since he declared himself eligible for the draft. Jernigan has continually had to answer questions about his stamina during the draft process, and then turned in a so-so performance in Indianapolis. Kiper and McShay list him as one of three defensive fallers, writing:
Jernigan didn't have a single area in which he really distinguished himself in terms of the drills, which may lead to some questions about his upside after a fantastic season. I still think he's a first-round prospect, but a guy like Donald could jump him.
Both players have been disruptive forces during their careers, but the combine has been known to send stocks soaring or tumbling. Having said that, the draft is not until May. Both have their pro days to look forward to, and scouts will continue to break down film and ask questions. Many more mock drafts will be released in the days, weeks and months to come.
I still believe Jernigan will be a first-round pick, but it seems there are more believers in Donald today than there were a month ago. What took so long?
Here's a quick rundown of the start dates and spring games for each school:
Spring start: March 12
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 5
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: February 7
Spring game: March 1
Spring start: March 19
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 24
Spring game: April 18
Spring start: March 18
Spring game: April 11
Spring start: March 1
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 5
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 4
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 16
Spring game: N/A
Spring start: March 18
Spring game: April 19
Spring start: March 1
Spring game: April 12
Spring start: March 27
Spring game: April 26
Spring start: March 25
Spring game: April 26
You can check out all the final results here. Rather than fill a post with endless numbers and 40-yard dash times, we thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse of the combine experience through the players' eyes. Here is a look at selected tweets from ACC players during their time in Indianapolis.
Enjoyed my time in Indy felt a lot of things went well and got some great feedback, gotta keep on climbing and improving thanks for the love— Tajh Boyd (@TajhB10) February 24, 2014
I can't even explain this feeling right now. My feet hurt but I'm glowing right now. So proud of the RB's man. God is good all the time— Andre Williams (@drewill44) February 24, 2014
Blessed with the opportunity to be here http://t.co/xOi87VLoAr— IG:Heartbreak_uno4 (@Heartbreak_mea) February 22, 2014
I would say that was a good day. 4.42 40 yard dash, 38 inch vertical jump and 9 feet 11 inches broad jump ;)— Terrence Brooks (@_Showtime31) February 25, 2014
- It's Bashaud Breeland's turn at the NFL combine.
- Former Georgia Tech defensive back Jemea Thomas got off to a good start in Indy.
- Andy Bitter has the latest on how the Hokies have performed at the NFL combine.
- Aaron Donald and Kareem Martin also had good performances.
- The ACC championship game has found a home in Charlotte.
- Miami has added another recruit to its 2014 class.
- Former Pitt receiver Devin Street didn't do too much to improve his draft stock.
- Syracuse fans could see a new young face at linebacker this fall.
- Jameis Winston vs. ... the Yankees?
Hamilton Talks Bojanovsky
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35