What we learned from the spring in the Coastal

Spring football has come and gone in the ACC, answering a few winter questions for us and leaving several more unanswered. So, what are our biggest takeaways? Let’s take a team-by-team look to see what we know and what we don’t. Now let's take a look at the Coastal:


One thing we know: The plan is to go with quarterback Parker Boehme, who emerged as the starter after Thomas Sirk injured his Achilles tendon. Though coach David Cutcliffe has said Sirk’s rehab is ahead of schedule, Boehme took the majority of reps in the spring. In the spring game (a situational scrimmage), he went 7-of-10 for 66 yards. Until Sirk is completely cleared, this is Boehme’s team.

One thing we don't know: How will the offensive line hold up? Cutcliffe expressed concern after spring ended about this unit, which has been solid for the Blue Devils over the last several seasons. Three starters must be replaced, and depth is an issue. Plus, Cutcliffe doesn’t know whether veteran guard Tanner Stone will be ready for fall practice after back surgery in the spring.

Georgia Tech

One thing we know: The offense still needs some work. Georgia Tech struggled last season to put drives together, and that was the case again during the spring. The Jackets’ starting offense only scored 13 points in the spring game. Afterward, coach Paul Johnson said, “The offense really didn’t act like they wanted to be out there. That’s about the way they played, too. That’s disappointing.”

One thing we don't know: How will the secondary come together? The Jackets have to replace four senior starters, and Johnson rattled off eight names when asked about players competing for starting jobs. Among those with playing experience they will be counting on: brothers Lawrence and Lance Austin, Step Durham, A.J. Gray and Corey Griffin. USC transfer Lamont Simmons is worth keeping an eye on, too.


One thing we know: Brad Kaaya has adjusted well to the new offense. Kaaya threw for over 3,000 yards in his first two seasons, but is hoping for his best year yet as a junior. He seems a natural fit for the pro-style offense Mark Richt brings from Georgia. In the spring games and scrimmages, Kaaya threw for 10 touchdown passes and one interception.

One thing we don't know: How will the defense perform? This remains a big question mark because the scheme is different, and there are big holes to fill in the secondary. Miami coaches expressed their dissatisfaction with that group in particular during the spring, so more work needs to be done to develop enough players who can contribute in that area.

North Carolina

One thing we know: Mitch Trubisky is the starting quarterback. Coach Larry Fedora officially made the announcement after spring practice ended, though it was a given for most. Trubisky is certainly ready for the opportunity after backing up Marquise Williams the last several seasons. In the spring game, he completed 10 of his first 11 passes and threw for 148 yards.

One thing we don't know: Will the run defense hold up? This is probably the biggest question about the Tar Heels on defense after the way last season ended. In the spring game, North Carolina gave up 300 yards rushing, but it’s hard to even judge that given the circumstances. (The Tar Heels didn’t have enough healthy players for a true game.)


One thing we know: The offensive line is a strength. This could possibly be the best group in the ACC, and that is going to give the Panthers the ability to do exactly what they want to do: run the ball and run it some more. James Conner is targeting a return for the season opener, making this the only team returning two 1,000-yard running backs (Qadree Ollison ran for 1,121 yards as a freshman last season).

One thing we don't know: Who’s stepping up at outside linebacker? The Panthers return proven players Matt Galambos, Bam Bradley and Mike Caprara, but coach Pat Narduzzi still doesn’t know who will start in place of the departed Nicholas Grigsby. Oluwaseun Idowu (converted safety) and Elijah Zeise (converted receiver) are competing.


One thing we know: This team will look different in 2016. Virginia placed a heavy emphasis on discipline this spring, hoping two of its biggest problems last season -- penalties and turnovers -- become a thing of the past. Its practices have been high-tempo, too, and players already have bought into the culture the new staff has brought with them.

One thing we don't know: Who will be quarterback? Matt Johns should have the inside track because he is the incumbent, but after spring practice coach Bronco Mendenhall said Johns hasn’t significantly separated himself from Connor Brewer. East Carolina transfer Kurt Benkert is expected to join the mix in the summer, so there remains intrigue at the position.

Virginia Tech

One thing we know: Ken Ekanem is ready to anchor the defense. Ekanem is the lone returner on the defensive front, which didn’t perform up to expectations a year ago. But Ekanem is ready to change all that, and has given himself a goal of hitting double-digit sacks this season.

One thing we don't know: Who will be quarterback? Brenden Motley and Jerod Evans separated themselves during the spring, but coach Justin Fuente has yet to announce a starter. That’s not a huge surprise, considering Fuente is installing a new offense and Evans just arrived on campus for the spring.