ACC: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

ACC's lunch links

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
12:00
PM ET
Because you know you want to see Larry Fedora rapping Drake lyrics

ACC's lunch links

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
12:00
PM ET
Between this low ranking for lumberjacks and this story about shaving, it was a bad week for beards.

ACC spring games recap

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
10:30
AM ET
Georgia Tech and Syracuse finished spring practice this past weekend. Let's see how their respective spring games went:

Georgia Tech: Despite heavy rain, the Jackets went ahead with their spring game Friday night. But they did so without quarterback Justin Thomas, who sat as a precaution because of a sore shoulder. Without him, junior quarterback Tim Byerly took the headlines, rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown and passing for 69 yards to lead the White team past the Gold team 20-12. B-back Zach Laskey rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown for the White, which featured the first-team offense. Isaiah Johnson and Demond Smith scored defensive touchdowns on fumble returns for the Gold team, which featured the first-team defense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ty Griffin, who started for the Gold team, rushed 15 times for 75 yards and completed one pass.

Syracuse: One day after coach Scott Shafer named him MVP of the 2013 season, quarterback Terrel Hunt took all the snaps with the first-team offense in the first half of the spring game and made it clear he is the unquestioned starter going into the fall. Hunt went 12-of-15 for 95 yards, though he did not lead a scoring drive. He and three other quarterbacks threw for 413 yards as the offense beat the defense 34-27. Ashton Broyld, looking for a role on the offense, led all receivers with eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Jeremiah Kobena also added two touchdown catches. Safety Chauncey Scissum and linebacker Josh Kirkland led the defensive effort with seven tackles each. Kirkland had two tackles for loss and one sack. Ritchy Desir, Cameron Lynch and Ron Thompson each made six tackles.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:00
PM ET
Wishing everybody a great holiday weekend!
There are only two ACC spring games this weekend, as Georgia Tech and Syracuse wrap up on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will end spring practices next week, the final teams in the ACC to close out the spring.

Here’s a quick preview of this weekend’s games:

GEORGIA TECH

When: 7 p.m. on Friday (ESPN3)

Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium

Format: Four quarters with shortened halftime and a running clock at some point in the second half.

One thing to watch: The new 4-2-5 defensive scheme. In his second season as coordinator, Ted Roof has switched from a base 4-3 to the 4-2-5, a scheme they used frequently last season because of the offenses they faced. More importantly, the change was made in an effort to get their best athletes on the field. Georgia Tech has tried this spring to get more of a pass rush on the edge, and the switch in scheme allowed junior Jabari Hunt-Days to move from linebacker to defensive end to help with that aspect.

SYRACUSE

When: 1 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)

Where: Carrier Dome

Format: The offense will earn points the traditional way while the defense will score off interceptions, three-and-outs, turnovers on downs and touchdowns. At halftime, the trailing team will get a chance to earn points thanks to sophomore punter Riley Dixon. If Dixon can land the ball inside the 15-yard line, the team will earn a point. Inside the 10-yard line is worth two, and inside the five-yard line is worth three points.

One thing to watch: The receivers. All spring, the coaching staff has been looking for a few dependable receivers to emerge because the position collectively wasn’t as productive as it needed to be last season. In order for Syracuse’s offense to improve, the receivers have to improve, and there are plenty of options. Ashton Broyld returns, along with Jarrod West, Adrian Flemming, Alvin Cornelius, Corey Winfield, Sean Avant and Jeremiah Kobena. With so much depth at running back, the next step is for some receivers to emerge to give quarterback Terrel Hunt some options and open things up in the running game.
Scottie Montgomery returned to Duke last year from an NFL world where quarterbacks were never, ever hit in practice.

So when his quarterbacks started begging him to go live this spring, his first reaction was, ‘No way!’ He was in protection mode, the way he was as a Steelers assistant. But veterans Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette persisted, and he slowly relented -- only a few times, and with clear instructions to the defense.

[+] EnlargeJameis Winston, Jimbo Fisher
AP Photo/Phil SearsFlorida State coach Jimbo Fisher had Jameis Winston go live last spring when he was dueling Jacob Coker for the starting job.
“My initial feel is, ‘Don't ever let anybody get touched, so I have to fight myself at times, because I want to protect these guys and these guys want to compete for jobs,” said Montgomery, the offensive coordinator.

His is a dilemma that many coaches across the league have faced this spring. Do you allow your quarterbacks to get hit in practice to help simulate game situations and foster competition, knowing you have increased their injury risk? Or do you never even broach the subject because the priority should always be to protect the quarterback?

Four ACC teams allowed their quarterbacks to go live at some point during spring practice, more than any other power-five league. Clemson did it for the first time under offensive coordinator Chad Morris, believing he would see more out of the three quarterbacks vying for the starting job. Early enrollee freshman Deshaun Watson ended up getting hurt and missing the spring game.

Florida State allowed its younger quarterbacks to go live this spring. Coach Jimbo Fisher said he did the same last year, when Jameis Winston was a redshirt freshman competing to win the starting job.

“They’ve got to be able to feel things around them and react,” Fisher said. “They get in a false security blanket sometimes.”

Does that cause him extra worry?

“It’s no different than when we run the running backs, and I get nervous in the scrimmages when the backs are running and get tackled,” Fisher said. “Our guys know if they’ve got a kill shot, not to. There’s a certain limit of how we practice with each other. You know those shots that everyone wants to have? We won’t take those on each other even if we’re in a live scrimmage because it’s not productive to the organization. Tough to me is when you’re eyeball to eyeball, not when a guy’s exposed and you can do that.”

The coaches are not the only ones who wrestle with the idea. NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett was not live this spring. But when he was competing for the starting job at Florida with Jeff Driskel back in 2012, both were allowed to go live early on in fall practice. The first day they were allowed to take hits, Driskel hurt his shoulder.

[+] EnlargeDeshaun Watson
AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail/Mark CrammerClemson freshman Deshaun Watson was injured in practice and missed the spring game.
“There's a right time and wrong time for quarterbacks to be live,” Brissett said. “We haven't done live practices, but in the fall sometimes we will have a live scrimmage on a Saturday. It helps out with the game speed reps.”

For a running quarterback such as Brissett, that helps. Same for the Duke quarterbacks. Georgia Tech has its quarterbacks live during practice for that reason.

Some coaches believe going live helps separate the competition. But Clemson was the only school with an open quarterback competition to allow its quarterbacks to go live during scrimmage situations. North Carolina, for example, has Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky battling to win the starting job, but offensive coordinator Seth Littrell does not believe it is necessary to allow quarterbacks to get hit. “I’ve never done it,” he said.

Virginia Tech also is in the middle of an intense competition, but quarterbacks have been off limits so far this spring. Veteran Mark Leal would have no problem if the coaches changed their minds.

“Honestly, I'd like to be live,” he said. “I think the rest of the quarterbacks would, too, because it gives more of a game feel. If you're not live, sometimes the whistle gets blown early when you don't think you should have been sacked or the play gets messed up because when there's a rush around you, the first thing the coaches want to do is blow the whistle, rather than you continue to play or go through your reads and progressions and finish the play.”

Depth concerns often dictate what coaches do. Pitt only had two scholarship quarterbacks this spring, so there was no way they were going live. Virginia Tech only has three quarterbacks on the roster this spring.

Still, all the protections most coaches take are not enough to keep their quarterbacks injury-free. Miami quarterbacks were off limits this spring, but Ryan Williams tore his ACL during a scrimmage.

It was a noncontact injury.

ACC's lunch links

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:00
PM ET
Well, this rule ought to make games more interesting.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
12:00
PM ET
Never forget.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
12:00
PM ET
Boston strong.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
12:00
PM ET
Bo Pelini is the cat's meow.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
12:00
PM ET
Enjoy the weekend, gang.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
12:00
PM ET
Thoughts with all those affected Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis prefers to play night games – but probably not as much as his family appreciates the late kickoffs.

When the Jackets play at 8 p.m. on a Saturday, it’s about 11 a.m. on a Sunday in Gotsis’ hometown of Abbotsford, Australia, and it’s much easier for his family to watch the game live online. If it’s a noon kick, the Gotsis family is up around 3 a.m. to watch the Jackets.

And this season, with Gotsis as the expected centerpiece of a revamped defensive line, they’re going to want to tune in.

[+] EnlargeAdam Gotsis
AP Photo/David GoldmanGeorgia Tech is counting on Australian defensive lineman Adam Gotsis to be an elite pass-rusher.
Georgia Tech is working this spring to replace three starters on the defensive line, including defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, who broke the school record and finished fifth in ACC history for career sacks (31.5). Gotsis is the only returner up front who started every game last year. The nose tackle ranked second on the team behind Attaochu in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (5.5), and he blocked two kicks against Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. More is expected of him this season, and Gotsis said he “definitely wants to exceed” everything he did last year.

“In a way, yes, I feel like I need to be more of a leader, especially for the younger guys who have to step up this year, but I definitely have faith and trust in our coaching system and the guys who are stepping up to replace them,” Gotsis said. “We have a lot of youth, and a lot of guys who have been waiting to play football for a while, so hopefully they can come out and show off what they’ve been waiting for.”

With Attaochu, Gotsis, defensive end Emmanuel Dieke and tackle Euclid Cummings starting every game last year, there was plenty of waiting done behind them. Attaochu, Dieke and Cummings combined to play in 141 career games. The most experienced backups returning are sophomores Tyler Stargel and Pat Gamble, senior Shawn Green and junior Jimmie Kitchen. There were also two position changes as sophomore Travin Henry moved to defensive end after playing wide receiver last year, and Jabari Hunt-Days, a two-year starter at linebacker, is getting a chance at end this spring.

Replacing Attaochu’s pass-rushing abilities won’t be easy, but it has become a strength of Gotsis, as he has the potential to be one of the better defensive linemen in the ACC. His journey from Australia is far from over. He has a huge Australian flag hanging in his room, but he won’t be going home again anytime soon. The junior said he’ll continue to rely on Skype and text messages to keep in touch with his parents and four siblings.

“It’s tough, but my football team is pretty much my family now,” Gotsis said. “It’s pretty good, having a good bunch of guys around who go through everything with you and will always be there. It’s good knowing they’re there for me.”

They’ll expect the same in return from him this fall.

Reviewing the ACC pro days

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
2:30
PM ET
Pro days are now in the rearview mirror, with a month remaining between now and the NFL draft. With that, let's take a look back at some notable performances from ACC pro days this year.

Boston College (March 12)
Big name: RB Andre Williams. Representatives from 29 NFL teams were on hand to see the nation's top running back from last season. Williams says he improved on his combine 40-yard-dash time of 4.56. Also of note: Nate Freese, who went 20 of 20 last season on field goal tries, did not disappoint in front of his future employers, hitting a 60-yard try.

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
AP Photo/Michael ConroyClemson WR Sammy Watkins in all likelihood will be the first ACC player drafted in May.
Clemson (March 6)
Big name: WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins stood on his 40 time of 4.43 from the combine but was there to help out quarterback Tajh Boyd, doing little to change the general consensus that he is the top receiver in this year's draft. Boyd said scouts told him his performance was much better than his showings at the combine and Senior Bowl, as he connected on short, intermediate and deep routes with familiar receivers in familiar environs.

Duke (March 26)
Big name: CB Ross Cockrell. Cockrell improved on his combine results, with Duke saying that his 40 time was sub-4.4, which is better than what he ran in Indianapolis (4.56).

Florida State (March 17)
Big name: Where to begin? DL Timmy Jernigan slightly improved his combine 40-time from 5.06 to 5.03. S Terrence Brooks, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner and LB Christian Jones all drew a crowd, but they declined to run the 40 in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams, content to sit on their combine performances.

Georgia Tech (March 28)
Big name: LB Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu ran drills at both linebacker and defensive lineman, recovering nicely from a hamstring injury in the Senior Bowl that forced him out of the combine. He said his 40 time was in the 4.5s. DB Jemea Thomas also impressed, reportedly running a 4.38 40.

Louisville (March 17)
Big name: QB Teddy Bridgewater. With scouts from 29 teams watching, Bridgewater was off target with several of his throws. He ran an unofficial 4.78 40 time, but the potential No. 1 pick misfired on at least 10 passes, leaving some questions lingering heading into the draft.

Miami (April 3)
Big name: OT Seantrel Henderson. This is the name that is going to stick out, as Henderson did not finish his workouts. His agent later told reporters that it was due to dehydration. With 30 NFL teams represented, quarterback Stephen Morris took a strong step forward, reportedly completed almost all of his 67 throws.

North Carolina (March 25)
Big name: TE Eric Ebron. Ebron stood on his 40 time from the combine of 4.60, but his pro day was marred by several dropped passes, though the always upbeat tight end was not stressed about the drops when speaking to reporters afterward.

NC State (March 25)
Big name: CB Dontae Johnson. Johnson showed his versatility, as he can play corner or safety, and he said he felt better than he did at the combine, where he ran a 40 time of 4.45 and jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical.

Pittsburgh (March 3)
Big name: DT Aaron Donald. College football's best defensive player rested on his combine numbers in the 40 (4.68) and bench press (35 times), but teammates Tom Savage and Devin Street helped themselves. Savage impressed during a scripted 100-throw workout while Street said he ran a sub-4.5 40.

Syracuse
Big name: LB Marquis Spruill. Spruill recovered nicely from a combine snub, weighing in at 231 pounds, nine pounds heavier than his playing weight. He did not disclose numbers. Running back Jerome Smith, meanwhile, said he ran in the 4.5-4.6 range, which would be an improvement over his combine time of 4.84.

Virginia (March 17)
Big name: OT Morgan Moses. A considerably different-looking Moses showed up at 311 pounds, roughly 20 pounds lighter from his playing days with the Cavaliers. After clocking in at 5.35 in the 40 at the combine, he unofficially ran between 4.9 and 5.06 at his pro day, though he pulled a hamstring during one of the runs, forcing him to miss the remainder of his drills.

Virginia Tech (March 19)
Big name: QB Logan Thomas. Thomas remains a fascinating prospect to keep an eye on in the NFL, and he threw well in front of NFL scouts at pro day. Corner Antone Exum impressed as well, running 40 times of 4.53 and 4.55.

Wake Forest (March 17)
Big name: WR Michael Campanaro. After seeing his final year end prematurely because of a shoulder injury, Campanaro, the only Demon Deacon to have garnered a combine invite, again impressed in receiver drills, making his case to become a potential mid-round pick. Nose guard Nikita Whitlock, meanwhile, saw himself lining up as a fullback for the first time in his career. Weather conditions were less than ideal for the NFL hopefuls.

ACC lunchtime links

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
12:00
PM ET
Lots of news out of Tallahassee ...

SPONSORED HEADLINES