Florida State Seminoles: Pittsburgh Panthers
- 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?
- Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater will be one of the most watched players at the NFL combine, but he’s not sure he’ll throw, writes the Courier-Journal.
- It’s been a long road back to full health for Virginia Tech corner Antone Exum, but he’s ready to put on a show at the NFL combine, writes The Roanoke Times.
- Jameis Winston-mania has made its way over to the baseball field, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
- Miami landed two new 300-pound commitments for 2015, writes the Miami Herald.
- Former Syracuse DT Jay Bromley has something to prove at the NFL combine, writes The Post-Standard.
- Clemson has sent three underclassmen receivers to the NFL in the past two seasons, making wideout a position of emphasis on the recruiting trail, writes The State.
- A Clemson grad is helping Tajh Boyd, Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland get ready for the NFL combine, writes The Post and Courier.
- UVa’s Morgan Moses figures to have some tough questions to answer when he gets in front of NFL GMs, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Virginia is looking for a new strength coach, writes The Roanoke Times.
- An assistant coach hired during the Michael Haywood debacle in 2011 is suing Pitt, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Panthers have a new receivers coach with an NFL pedigree, writes the Post-Gazette.
- Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu has his work cut out for him at the combine, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- A Boston College grad made some history in an indoor football game, writes BC Interruption.
- Four ACC quarterbacks are among the litany of QBs transferring in search of playing time this offseason. SI.com wonders why it’s happening in such large numbers.
- SB Nation digs into some really interesting numbers on how top schools are recruiting to separate contenders from pretenders. Not surprisingly, it finds a huge drop off in the ACC after Florida State and Clemson.
- Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller has first-round talent, writes The Roanoke Times.
- Syracuse running back Jerome Smith is hoping to turn some heads at the NFL combine, writes The Post-Standard.
- Boston College saw significant improvement on the field in 2013, but attendance went in the wrong direction, writes BC Interruption.
- Pitt nabbed a commitment from a local linebacker, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Pitt’s Aaron Donald has his sights set on a bright NFL future, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Clemson lost some depth in it defensive backfield, writes The State.
For now, here is a quick look at team-by-team attendance numbers for the 2013 season, with the percent change from 2012.
Clemson 82,048, up less than 1 percent
- Notes: The Tigers set a new single-season school attendance record thanks to home games against Georgia and Florida State. Memorial Stadium was filled to 101 percent capacity.
- Notes: Despite a lackluster home schedule, the Seminoles drew slightly fewer than the 75,601 they averaged in 2012 (when Clemson and Florida played in Tallahassee). Doak Campbell Stadium was filled to 92 percent capacity.
- Notes: The Hokies had their 93-game home sellout streak snapped against Western Carolina, ending the third-longest active sellout streak in the country. There was no marquee home game this year. Lane Stadium was filled to 97 percent capacity.
- Notes: The Hurricanes got a big bump this past season thanks to their nonconference showdown against Florida, which drew 76,968. Sun Life Stadium was filled to 71 percent capacity.
- Notes: The Wolfpack struggled on the field in 2013, so their numbers dipped slightly. Carter-Finley Stadium was filled to 92 percent capacity.
- Notes: A Thursday night game against Miami drew 56,000 fans, while the regular-season finale against Duke drew 62,000. Kenan Stadium was filled to 82 percent capacity.
- Notes: The Panthers had a blockbuster home schedule with games against Florida State (on Labor Day night), Notre Dame and Miami. Compare that to 2012, when the Panthers played two FCS teams, Louisville, Temple, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Heinz Field was filled to 76 percent capacity.
- Notes: The Jackets benefited from a Thursday night home game against Virginia Tech and the regular-season finale at home against Georgia. Bobby Dodd Stadium was filled to 89 percent capacity.
- Notes: Though the Hoos have struggled to win, attendance didn't drop that dramatically thanks to a home schedule that featured Oregon, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Scott Stadium was filled to 75 percent capacity.
- Notes: This attendance figure counts the game against West Virginia played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, which drew 55,677.
- Notes: The Orange hosted Clemson and Boston College but have struggled to fill the Carrier Dome for years now. The Carrier Dome, among the 10 smallest in the power five conferences, was filled to 78 percent capacity.
- Notes: Even though the Eagles were vastly improved this past season, they did not have Notre Dame on the home schedule, and that has to be one of the biggest reasons for the attendance drop.
- Notes: The Deacs, with the smallest stadium among the power five conferences, did fill their stadium to 89 percent capacity thanks to home games against NC State and Florida State.
- Notes: The Blue Devils had a historic season, but they did not have North Carolina or Clemson on the home slate this season. Wallace Wade Stadium, the third-smallest in the power five conferences, was filled to 77 percent capacity.
One more item of interest. Louisville joins the league in 2014, so that should help the overall ACC attendance numbers. Last season, the Cardinals averaged 52,914 fans, and Papa John's Cardinal Stadium was filled to 95 percent capacity.
- UNC coach Larry Fedora and Duke coach David Cutcliffe have spoken out about a proposed NCAA rules change.
- Cutcliffe said he and many of his peers "felt blindsided" by the proposal.
- Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffer likes the quarterback the Hokies brought in.
- Several former Clemson players got in another NFL audition before their pro day.
- FSU has its recruiting eyes set on a middle-schooler, according to Fox Sports.
- Of course, FSU already has a top QB in its 2015 class.
- Pitt's new DB coach is looking forward to his return in the ACC -- and some more interceptions.
- Former Pitt players Tom Savage and Devin Street are getting ready for their NFL auditions.
The league had three schools ranked in the Top 25 in the nation in attendance in 2013 -- the usual standouts Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Clemson, in fact, set a school record this season with an average of 82,048 fans per home game, thanks in large part to blockbuster home matchups against Georgia and Florida State.
Only four schools had attendance drop more than a negligible amount. Just two had them drop more than 5 percent. Only two schools were filled to less than 75 percent capacity. Pitt was one of five FBS schools to see an attendance increase of more than 8,000 per game. All seemingly good news for the league.
Meanwhile, the ACC only has two stadiums that seat 80,000. Functionally speaking, the ACC does not have stadiums big enough to compete with the average attendance in the SEC (75,674) or Big Ten (70,431).
But that is not to say everybody is satisfied with attendance levels across the league. The average attendance in 2012 was the lowest in the ACC in 12 years. The goal, of course, is to continue to grow attendance everywhere, at the smallest schools and the largest.
Now, obviously winning and home schedules are huge factors in how well school fare at attracting crowds. Pitt benefited greatly from a vastly improved home schedule that featured Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami. Georgia Tech saw a 10 percent increase in its attendance thanks to home games against Virginia Tech (on a Thursday night) and Georgia.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, had its 93-game home sellout streak snapped against Western Carolina last September, ending the third-longest active sellout streak in the country. The Hokies did not have the best home slate, with no Thursday night games for the first time in 11 seasons, and the program has not won at the same clip as it did several years ago. Its average attendance dipped 2 percent.
Winning helped Florida State average nearly the same attendance in 2013 as it did the season before despite a lackluster home schedule. But the Seminoles also had several promotions scheduled going into the season to help make games more attractive to fans. They touted the return of Bobby Bowden against NC State, and honored the 1993 national champions against Syracuse.
Also, the athletic department added retention team to the sales staff just this month as a way to create a better experience for season ticket holders. The goal is to be more personable, and more accessible for questions or concerns. In addition, the school hired former ACC official Karl Hicks as deputy athletics director for external operations, where he will oversee, in part, tickets, sports information, marketing and promotions, and communications.
Georgia Tech is considering an auction-style sales format to help increase revenue from the biggest home game on the 2014 schedule -- against Clemson on Nov. 15. Northwestern used a similar format last season against Ohio State and Michigan and ended up getting more per sideline ticket for both games than its highest ticket price in 2012.
League schools exchange ideas on how to increase attendance throughout the course of an academic year. Recently at the winter meetings, one of the topics discussed was how to improve connectivity at venues to keep fans happy. People so wired to cell phones and technology that frustration often sets in at packed stadiums when fans cannot get a signal or send a text or tweet.
Next season, the ACC trades out Maryland for Louisville. The Cardinals have a bigger stadium than the Terps and filled it to 95 percent capacity in 2013 -- compared to 80 percent for Maryland. And that was playing a weak American schedule.
Still, Louisville sold out its season ticket allotment and expects even better crowds in 2014, with home games against Miami, Florida State and Kentucky. Florida State expects a big home boost, too, with games against Clemson, Florida and Notre Dame in Tallahassee.
So there are reasons for optimism as the league looks toward the future.
Five Programs Expecting 2014 Boost
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