Florida State Seminoles: Shawn Petty

Did you know? ACC bowl games

December, 26, 2013
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Thanks to ESPN Stats & Info, the ACC office and sports information departments for these tidbits.
  • This marks the first time in the ACC's 61-year history that three ACC teams have ended the regular season with at least 10 wins (Florida State, Duke and Clemson).
  • Throughout the year, the ACC has had three different top-10 teams (Three teams in the top 10 for three weeks, two teams in the top 10 for all but two weeks.)
  • ACC student-athletes have combined to win as many national individual awards as the other Power 5 conferences combined.
  • The ACC is the first conference in history to sweep the Heisman, Doak Walker, Davey O’Brien, Outland, Lombardi, Bednarik, and Nagurski awards in the same year.
  • As of Dec. 18, the ACC ranked second nationally with a total of 97 selections to postseason All-America teams (Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association, Football Writers Association of America, Walter Camp, Sporting News, USA Today, ESPN, CBS and Sports Illustrated.) The ACC’s 57 total first-team selections were also the second-most of any conference.
  • For the first time, the ACC boasted two of the top five vote recipients for the Heisman Trophy in Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Boston College running back Andre Williams. They were also among the five finalists for the Walter Camp Foundation National Player of the Year, with Winston receiving that honor.
  • Duke will try to do something it hasn’t done in 53 years: Win a bowl game. The Blue Devils haven’t won a bowl since the Cotton Bowl following the 1960 season. They’ll battle Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A bowl on Dec. 31 (8 ET, ESPN). It could be the final collegiate game for Johnny Manziel. The Aggies haven’t beaten a ranked team this season (0-4).
  • The AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31, 12:30 ET on ESPN), features two of the best running backs in the nation in Boston College’s Williams and Arizona’s Ka'Deem Carey. Williams finished fourth in the Heisman voting, while Carey finished 10th. One big difference is the load each player has been forced to carry. Williams has accounted for 80 percent of the Eagles rushing yards this season, while Carey has some help in the running game and has only accounted for 54 percent of Arizona’s rushing total.
  • Pitt is appearing in a bowl for the sixth straight season, but this will be its first bowl game not named the BBVA Compass Bowl since 2009. The Panthers have won just two of their last seven bowl appearances. Bowling Green has lost its last three bowl appearances with its last win coming in the 2004 GMAC Bowl.
  • One of the keys to Maryland’s improvement this season has been health at the quarterback position. Last season four players took snaps at quarterback, including four starts by Shawn Petty, who started the season as a linebacker. C.J. Brown, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, has thrown for over 2,000 yards and accounted for 23 touchdowns this season.
  • Syracuse’s Terrel Hunt finished the regular season with 426 rushing yards, fourth among ACC quarterbacks in 2013. According to the school's game notes, it's already the most by an Orange QB since Donovan McNabb in 1998 (510).
  • North Carolina’s redshirt-sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams, who grew up in Charlotte, leads a very young Tar Heel offense. 42 of their 50 touchdowns this season have come from freshmen or sophomores, including the last 26.
  • Miami receiver Allen Hurns needs just 19 more receiving yards to set the school single-season record. Hurns already is one of just four players in school history with a 1,000-yard receiving season. Hurns hasn’t found the end zone as frequently as one might expect, though. Only two ACC players have more receiving yards than Hurns this season, but nine players have more touchdown catches than Hurns’ six.
  • The last time Georgia Tech and Ole Miss met in football was exactly 42 years ago: the Dec. 30, 1971 Peach Bowl. Ole Miss won that game, 41-18, its only win in three all-time meetings vs Georgia Tech. A bit of a surprise that this is just the fourth meeting all-time, considering that both were conference opponents when Georgia Tech was in the SEC from 1933-63.
  • Virginia Tech is making its 21st straight bowl appearance, the longest active streak recognized by the NCAA (Florida State is making its 32nd straight bowl appearance this season but vacated the 2006 Emerald Bowl). Rivals Georgia and Georgia Tech are tied for the second-longest active streak with 17 straight appearances. The Hokies need a win to avoid posting consecutive five-loss seasons for the first time since 1990-92 (three straight). To put that streak into perspective, all other current members of the ACC have notched consecutive five-loss seasons since the Hokies joined the league in 2004.
  • Florida State can become only the third team since 1950 to win all of its games by at least 14 points. The last to do it was Utah in 2004. The other was national champion Nebraska in 1995. FSU’s Winston can become just the third QB since 1950 to go undefeated with a national championship and a Heisman Trophy all in the same season. The two to do it were Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010 and USC’s Matt Leinart in 2004.

What we learned in the ACC: Week 1

September, 1, 2013
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With a bunch of big games for the conference, there figured to be some major implications from Week 1. Here's what we learned:

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesTajh Boyd accounted for five touchdowns against Georgia in a statement win for Clemson.
Clemson is a legitimate national title contender. This game shouldn't have been a referendum on the Tigers' legitimacy, but the win nevertheless cements them as real contenders to win it all. The game lived up to its advanced billing, and both teams had their runs. In the end, Clemson proved it was just a little better, and that's due in large part to senior quarterback Tajh Boyd, who was exceptional. He accounted for five TDs, while Georgia's Aaron Murray once again struggled against a highly ranked opponent. There's still a lot of football to be played, but for now, Boyd is in line for a Heisman, and Clemson has a clear path to a championship.

The ACC's profile still hasn't changed much. This weekend was supposed to tell us a lot about the ACC, but after five games against teams from other AQ conferences, there's still plenty of room for debate. Yes, Clemson is in the national championship hunt, but that's not a huge surprise. Virginia was on the ropes against BYU, but a late turnover and lateral helped the Cavs eke out a win. Virginia Tech lost handily, but the Hokies did manage to expose some weaknesses in Alabama. And OK, Syracuse and North Carolina didn't do a lot to change hearts and minds. In the end, Clemson offered the big win, Virginia helped the cause, and at the end of the day, there probably weren't a lot of fans who changed their minds about the ACC one way or the other.

The Hokies' D is good. The offense and special teams need some work. The scoreboard showed a blowout, 35-10, but Virginia Tech actually outgained Alabama 212 yards to 206. So how'd things get so ugly? Alabama racked up two long touchdowns on special teams and returned an interception -- thrown by Logan Thomas -- 77 yards for a score. The special-teams breakdowns are galling for a program once known for success in that area, but Thomas' struggles might be an even bigger concern. The senior was a woeful 5-of-26 passing for 59 yards.

Maryland is better with its No. 1 QB than its No. 5 QB. No offense to Shawn Petty, who did a serviceable job in emergency duty down the stretch last year, but Randy Edsall has to be doing cartwheels that he has C.J. Brown back and healthy. After Brown missed all of the 2012 season, he returned to action Saturday and demolished FIU. Brown was 20-of-23 passing for 281 yards and rushed 11 times for 105 yards, and he tallied five touchdowns in the first half alone. It had been a decade since any Maryland quarterback accounted for five touchdowns in the same game. For the game, Maryland racked up 576 yards of total offense.

Some new QBs had a rough Saturday. NC State certainly looked like it had an answer at quarterback as Brandon Mitchell started strong, but a foot injury in the first quarter now means he'll miss the next 4-6 weeks. Meanwhile, Syracuse didn't get the emphatic performance it wanted from new quarterback Drew Allen, who completed just 16 of 37 passes for 189 yards and two interceptions. Virginia got slightly better results from its new quarterback, but David Watford still wasn't overly impressive, completing just 50 percent of his passes for 118 yards, a TD and an INT. The weather in Charlottesville did Watford no favors, but the Cavaliers certainly will expect more moving forward. Of course, the whole group can take solace that they were better than Virginia Tech's Thomas.

ACC QB battles in final rounds

August, 27, 2013
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher said the decision was agonizing, but the truth is, the Florida State coach had it easy.

Fisher may have debated the merits of both of his quarterback prospects for months before finally tabbing redshirt freshman Jameis Winston over sophomore Jacob Coker as FSU's starter, but any ambivalence was a result of the Seminoles having two strong options. Fisher couldn't go wrong.

"You’re splitting hairs when you really get down to it," Fisher said. "That’s not coach talk or anything else. That’s the truth. That was a great competition."

If Fisher reveled in the quarterback drama, however, he wasn't alone. More than half the ACC's coaches are getting used to life with a first-year starter at QB, and not everyone has enjoyed the same luxury as Florida State when it comes to picking a winner.

While the preseason favorites -- Clemson and Miami -- share the common thread of stable quarterbacking situations, there's no shortage of question marks across the ACC. Look no further than NC State and Syracuse. Both schools are looking to replace immensely successful quarterbacks, and neither has officially tabbed a starter for the season opener yet.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Mitchell
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireIs Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell the answer for NC State at QB? We won't know until game day.
This spring, NC State coach Dave Doeren wasn't entirely satisfied with his options, so when fifth-year senior Brandon Mitchell transferred from Arkansas, the Wolfpack's quarterback carousel took get another turn. Mitchell is a versatile athlete who probably fits Doeren's offense better than Pete Thomas, but that doesn't mean it's an open-and-shut case. Doeren said he's not planning to announce a starter until game day.

At Syracuse, new coach Scott Shafer is planning to let the drama simmer a bit longer, too. Drew Allen and Terrel Hunt have been battling for the starter's job throughout camp as the Orange look to replace Ryan Nassib, and Shafer won't announce a decision until Saturday when Syracuse takes on Penn State.

Life is a bit simpler at Pittsburgh, where Tom Savage officially won the job last week. He'll get an up-close look at Winston when the Panthers host Florida State on Labor Day, making the job of preparing a bit more challenging on both sides.

“You know there’s some stuff you won’t be prepared for, but you try to do the best you can,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “As a coach you try to prepare for the unknown — but how do you do that? I don’t know.”

At Duke and Georgia Tech, there isn't nearly so much mystery. Yes, Sean Renfree and Tevin Washington are gone, but their replacements have already offered extended sneak peeks.

The Blue Devils turn their offense over to Anthony Boone, who appeared in 12 games last season and made one start against Virginia when Renfree was sidelined. Replacing Renfree's big numbers from 2012 won't be an easy task, but the athletic Boone figures to slide into the new role with ease. The same is true for Vad Lee at Georgia Tech. Washington was a key contributor in 2012, rushing for an ACC-best 20 touchdowns, but Lee may be an even better fit in Paul Johnson's triple-option offense. The sophomore appeared in 12 games last season, racking up over 100 yards on the ground against both Presbyterian and North Carolina.

Virginia is excited about its quarterbacking situation, too, which comes as something of a surprise after months of drama. Last season saw a two-man QB battle play out throughout the year, with both Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims getting turns as the starter, and when the season ended, both left the program. But this summer, sophomore David Watford emerged as the clear favorite, and coach Mike London made it official just two weeks into fall camp.

And if Virginia is happy to have a stable starter for the first time in a long time, Maryland is downright elated just to have a cache of healthy bodies. The Terps' 2012 campaign was sunk by a rash of injuries to its quarterbacks, with four different players lost for the year. Eventually, coach Randy Edsall was forced to turn to linebacker Shawn Petty as his only remaining option.

Things are looking much better for Maryland now, where C.J. Brown is finally healthy. Brown tore his ACL during fall camp last year, but the injury is completely healed and the athletic senior is eager to get back to work.

Of course, the Terps' trials and tribulations last season offer an easy reminder that even the most settled quarterback situations can unravel quickly. That's a big reason why Fisher was so pleased to see FSU's QB battle remain so close throughout fall camp.

“No matter what you say, you’ve got to have two guys ready to play,” Fisher said. “And I think both guys have shown they can go in and play.”

3 Up, 3 Down: FSU 41, Maryland 14 

November, 18, 2012
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For the second time in Jimbo Fisher's three years on the job, his Florida State Seminoles are champions of the ACC Atlantic Division, thanks to Saturday's 41-14 win over Maryland.

The running game rebounded, the pass rush dominated, and FSU jumped out to a quick 27-0 lead after dominating the first half. While it didn't require fans to sweat out the finish the way last week's win over Virginia Tech did, there were still some notable performances.

THREE UP
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A win at Maryland is all that stands between Jimbo Fisher and his second ACC championship appearance in three years. Regardless of lofty preseason expectations, that alone represents an accomplishment.

"It’s important with what we want to do and it’s always on our goals at the beginning of the year, to be the ACC champion," Fisher said. "But to get there we need to focus on Maryland and play a great game against Maryland. That’s the only team in America right now."

It's the familiar refrain of Florida State's 2012 campaign, and it's a particularly resonant one this week.

Indeed, Maryland is all that stands in the way of the ACC championship game, and it would be easy for the Seminoles to take the 4-6 Terrapins lightly. After all, Maryland is down four quarterbacks already, and converted linebacker Shawn Petty will get his third start at QB on Saturday. Add a host of other injuries, including an ACL tear for top linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, and Florida State will be a heavy favorite for good reason.

But the road hasn't been particularly kind to the Seminoles, and regardless of any offensive shortcomings, Maryland might be the best defense FSU has faced this season. So Fisher has been quick to remind his players once again that looking ahead opens the door to failure, even if the Terrapins appear to be an easy adversary just a week ahead of a top-10 matchup against rival Florida.

"We just have to go out and prepare for Maryland," EJ Manuel said. "They have a great defense. I know they have some injuries on offense but we can’t look down upon them just because of that, they want to win. They are going to have their home crowd just like Virginia Tech did. I’m sure it is going to be cold, and we just have to go out there and be ready to play.”

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