The ACC has three new coaches this year: Boston College coach Steve Addazio, Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, and NC State coach Dave Doeren. Each of them faces different challenges at their respective schools, but they also have common obstacles to overcome. Here’s a look at what challenges they have inherited:
Biggest challenge in 2013: Depth. This seems to be a constant problem in recent years at Boston College, and it has hit the running back and wide receiver positions particularly hard in Addazio’s first season. He has spoken about the difficulties the team had this past spring trying to become a tough, physical team while at the same time trying to keep players healthy. He also called the depth at running back “alarming,” as there is no proven back behind Andre Williams. Alex Amidon is a dependable receiver, but the group behind him is thin. There is talent returning on this roster, but it has to stay healthy in order to show improvement in the win column.
Biggest overall challenge: Recruiting. It was a problem under Jeff Jagodzinski. It was average at best under Frank Spaziani. And now Addazio is tasked with replenishing the roster of a program that has won six games in the past two seasons combined. BC also faces the unique challenge of recruiting in a pro sports town to a program that is arguably overshadowed by its own hockey team. The good news is that Addazio’s plan seems to be working, as BC’s current recruiting class was recently ranked at No. 24 by ESPN RecruitingNation. The staff has recruited well in the Mid-Atlantic region, but they’ve got to keep it up.
Biggest challenge in 2013: Finding a quarterback. NC State fans had gotten comfortable in recent years with former quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon, so it’s the first time in a long time that the position is the biggest question mark on the team. Pete Thomas took the majority of the reps this spring with the first team, and Manny Stocker was right behind him, but Brandon Mitchell, a transfer from Arkansas, can play immediately. He will definitely make the competition even more interesting this summer.
Biggest overall challenge: Larry Fedora. That might be a slight exaggeration, but the truth is that NC State and UNC arm wrestle every year for state supremacy and the top in-state recruits. Right now, Fedora is obviously a step ahead on the recruiting trail because he has been on the job a year longer. The loss to UNC certainly didn’t help former NC State coach Tom O’Brien, who was fired at season’s end. NC State athletic director Debbie Yow has high expectations for Doeren and his program, and being runner up to North Carolina isn’t one of them.
Biggest challenge in 2013: Replacing big names. Syracuse lost its record-setting quarterback from 2012, its leading tackler, its two leading receivers, and its head coach. The Orange must find a way to replace former quarterback Ryan Nassib, leading receiver Alec Lemon, and former safety Shamarko Thomas, who was the top overall defender on the team. Shafer is taking over for former coach Doug Marrone, but the good news is that Shafer spent the past four seasons as Syracuse’s defensive coordinator, so it made for a smooth transition and he hired a staff that was very familiar with each other. This team, which is also entering its first season in the ACC, will be searching for a new identity and new stars in 2013.
Biggest overall challenge: Staying relevant in the ACC. Syracuse officially joins the ACC on July 1, and if the Orange are going to be a factor in the Atlantic Division, they’re going to have to recruit on par with Florida State and Clemson. Every other team in the division faces this challenge, but as new members, Syracuse has more to prove. The Orange finished last in the Big East standings every year since 2005, with 2010 and 2012 being the lone exceptions. Syracuse is definitely in much better shape than it was in 2005, and appears to be headed in the right direction -- the program has gone to a bowl game in two of the past three seasons and won a share of the Big East title last fall -- but the bar has been raised in the ACC. If Cuse couldn’t win consistently in the Big East, how is the program going to hang in the ACC, in the same division as national title hopefuls FSU and Clemson, and eventually Louisville?