ACC: 2011 summer summary

Summer summary: Wake Forest

August, 26, 2011
Summer, as we know it without college football games, ends here. Monday is game week. Our series looking back on the highlights of summer camp concludes now with Wake Forest:
  • The Deacs still need to settle on a punter. Alex Kinal, a true freshman from Australia, has been alternating with Alex Wulfeck.
  • Running back Josh Harris has been impressive this summer and looked good in the scrimmages, but he’s not the only talented back on the roster. Brandon Pendergrass has given Harris some good competition this month and both should help the Deacs’ offense.
  • Linebacker Kyle Wilber didn’t practice as much as coach Jim Grobe would have liked because of a hamstring injury. Receiver Michael Campanaro has also missed some time with a hamstring injury.
  • Defensively, it’s a veteran group with nine returning starters. This summer was spent trying to develop some depth and hoping that with everyone being a year older, the Deacs will be a year better. With four returning starters the offensive line should be better, but the jury is still out.
  • Some standouts include receiver Danny Dembry, who had good scrimmages, and linebacker Justin Jackson, who tore his ACL in the season opener last year. The staff is always happy with noseguard Nikita Whitlock, and quarterback Tanner Price has looked more comfortable.

Summer summary: Virginia Tech

August, 26, 2011
Not paying attention? Tsk tsk. Here's your cheat sheet for what has happened at Virginia Tech this month:
  • As expected, running back David Wilson stole the show offensively. He averaged about eight yards per carry in the three scrimmages, and was as good as advertised. As long as he stays healthy, he’s going to be a dynamic back. His preseason has been everything the staff had hoped for.
  • Quarterback Logan Thomas has looked good at times, but there have also been times when he missed open receivers and looked as if he never started a game before -- which he hasn’t. He is going to have some growing pains, but will be helped by the fact he will be surrounded by four senior offensive linemen, a senior tight end, and three senior wide receivers.
  • Defensively, James Gayle has had a stellar summer camp. He had six tackles for loss and four sacks against the No. 2 offense in the Hokies’ last scrimmage. The entire starting defensive line has looked good and should be a true strength. There’s not a lot of depth, though, as evidenced by two true freshmen backups at tackle.
  • Scott Demler won the starting punter job and averaged close to 40 yards per punt during the preseason. Receiver Danny Coale could still be used as needed, but the staff wanted a fresh leg out there. Coale is just too important on offense, and he’s also a backup punt returner.
  • The Hokies have missed starting right tackle Blake DeChristopher all preseason, but it has given Michael Via and Vinston Painter important reps with the first team. DeChristopher is expected to be fully cleared on Monday.
  • Virginia Tech’s secondary has a chance to be very good with Jayron Hosley, Antone Exum, Eddie Whitley and Kyle Fuller. Opponents should have a hard time throwing on them, and they’re good enough that they’re interchangeable. Whitley will play rover after starting 13 games at free safety last season, and Exum will start at free safety after spending spring practice at rover.
  • The staff really likes its freshman class, and the Hokies will probably dress five true freshmen on defense for backup situations: Corey Marshall, Luther Maddy, Boye Aromire, Ronny Vandyke and Kyshoen Jarrett. On offense, it’s possible the Hokies won’t dress any true freshmen, with the possible exception of center Caleb Farris, a January enrollee.

Summer summary: Virginia

August, 26, 2011
Our series looking back at the highlights of summer camp for each team in the ACC continues today with Virginia:

  • Coach Mike London’s mantra regarding his highly touted recruiting class has been “they came here to play.” So expect several true freshmen to play this fall. London threw Demetrious Nicholson right into the mix with the first team this month, and he has a good chance to start opposite Chase Minnifield at cornerback. In the past, there have always been one or two impressive freshmen at Virginia, but this month, there have been about nine or 10 whose talent could be an immediate help to the team’s depth.
  • The return of receiver Tim Smith from injury has really helped the offense offset the loss of production from Dontrelle Inman. Smith’s speed and sure hands will help whomever is named the team’s starting quarterback. All of the receivers as a group are not only healthier, but haven’t dropped as many balls this summer. It’s now a matter of getting some of the younger players to run the right routes.
  • Many have wondered how the team is going to replace Keith Payne, as Virginia returns only three rushing touchdowns from a year ago, including one from the kicker. Running back Perry Jones has looked stronger and faster and has shown he can explode through holes. Kevin Parks, although undersized, has been efficient in some goal-line situations, and the staff has liked what it has seen from fullback Max Milien.
  • Defensively, the Hoos have been visibly more comfortable now that they’re entering their second season in the 4-3 system.
  • London hasn’t named a starting quarterback, but Michael Rocco has been getting most of the first-team reps. The bigger question might be whether London uses true freshman David Watford. If he thinks Watford can help them win, he’ll play. In the most recent scrimmage, Rocco got most of the first-team snaps and always played behind the first-team offensive line. Watford, though, was the second quarterback in, and he showed a lot of athleticism and brings another dimension. London is just looking for a quarterback who can manage the game -- not win it alone.
  • Ausar Walcott was reinstated to the team at the bottom of the depth chart at defensive end, but he has since moved back to linebacker. As a player with starting experience, he’ll no doubt help the depth as a backup.

Summer summary: NC State

August, 26, 2011
Our series taking a look back at the highlights of summer camp for each team in the ACC continues today with NC State:
  • The Pack’s biggest storyline of the month was the injury to defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy, who is out for six weeks. He’s a team captain and impact player, so his absence for at least two or three games is a significant blow to the defense. The latest depth chart hasn’t been released yet, but Markus Kuhn and Brian Slay are the obvious options to compensate for the loss of Sweezy. Cornerback Jarvis Byrd was also injured before camp started, and will miss the season with another torn ACL.
  • Quarterback Mike Glennon has officially taken over the team following the transfer of Russell Wilson to Wisconsin. Glennon has looked good at times, but he has also been inconsistent. Some of that might be attributed to legitimate improvement by the defense. The Pack finally has solid experience in the secondary, the starting linebackers are strong, but it’s hard to tell how good the offense is in one-on-one situations.
  • The Wolfpack has had to turn to true freshmen at punter and placekicker, and both Wil Baumann and Niklas Sade have earned the confidence of the coaching staff this summer. It was one of the biggest question marks of the offseason for NC State, and while some of those concerns have been alleviated, the duo is still untested in game situations.
  • Running back/halfback still remains a question with Mustafa Greene out with a foot injury. The Pack is still looking for a player to take the lead there, and James Washington, who was the starter towards the end of the season last year, appears to be the frontrunner. Curtis Underwood also has a good shot to earn a lot of playing time, and Brandon Barnes is also an option. Tony Creecy has missed a few weeks because an undisclosed injury.
  • The biggest question remaining heading into game week is who will step up at wide receiver. The Pack has been playing three wide a lot, so they need more help and consistency than just one go-to player.

Summer summary: North Carolina

August, 26, 2011
Snoozing on the Tar Heels? Don’t. They’re strong up front. In case you missed summer camp …

  • Everett Withers has officially taken over, and on the field, there haven’t been many drastic changes since the Butch Davis era ended. The offensive line remains the best it has been in about a decade, and on both sides of the ball, there’s not a true weakness up front. There’s also plenty of talented depth behind them.
  • In addition to a new coach, the Tar Heels have ushered in first-year starting quarterback Bryn Renner. He has been consistently good this summer, but the question remains how he’ll fare in game situations. He’s a high-energy player who might have to curb his enthusiasm a bit to keep the offense under control. Renner needs to stay healthy and play well, because there’s not a lot of answers behind him.
  • The running back situation remains a question, as starter Ryan Houston wore a noncontact jersey all summer because of a fractured scapula he suffered in the spring game, and Giovani Bernard was noncontact about half the time because of a fractured bone in his hand. There is some excitement surrounding Bernard because he has a different style than Houston, but he hasn’t played yet.
  • UNC found it has some good, young tight ends in Eric Albright and Jack Tabb , but there are also veterans like Nelson Hurst and Christian Wilson. UNC likes to feature the tight end in its offense, so the player who emerges from that group will be a factor.
  • Linebackers Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick have already developed a reputation as strong players, but the staff is still trying to figure out who the third linebacker is. Ebele Okakpu has been in the program for four years, but has the light switch finally come on?
  • The biggest questions remain in the secondary, where the one true weakness remains. Charles Brown will miss the season opener because of NCAA issues, and Jabari Price, the other expected starter at cornerback, is out with an injury. Tre Boston moved from safety to cornerback, and the other cornerback is a true freshman, Tim Scott. UNC moved receiver Todd Harrelson to corner and he will help out with the second team, but he hasn’t played the position since high school.
  • The return game and special teams struggled last season, with the exception of kicker Casey Barth, and they remain questions because they can’t be practiced live. Game time will determine how much the Tar Heels have improved in these areas.

The return game and special teams struggled last season, with the exception of kicker Casey Barth, and they remain questions because they can’t be practiced live. Game time will determine how much the Tar Heels have improved in these areas.

Summer summary: Miami

August, 25, 2011
Our summer series continues today taking a look back at the highlights from summer camp for each team in the ACC. Miami is up next, and while the NCAA investigation has no doubt been one of the biggest stories in all of college football, let’s go ahead and focus on what Miami has accomplished on the field this month:

  • The quarterback competition has been a dead heat. In the most recent scrimmage, seven yards separated Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. Both of them have performed similarly with completions, attempts, touchdowns, interceptions, and other relevant statistics kept by the coaching staff.
  • Freshmen, redshirt freshmen and transfer players have performed well enough in summer camp to earn significant playing time. Mike Williams, who transferred from Wake Forest, could earn a starting job in the secondary. Receiver Phillip Dorsett has been very poised and could also be a starter. Tommy Streeter is more confident now, and those within the program sense his summer success will translate into games. Anthony Chickillo has also likely earned himself some meaningful snaps on the defensive line.
  • The offensive line has been a highlight, as the players have been moving well and working well together. Tyler Horn has taken on a leadership role, not only for the line, but the offense and entire team as well. Seantrel Henderson’s back injury was the most notable injury of the summer, and there’s still no timetable for when he’ll return.
  • Safety Vaughn Telemaque has had a particularly impressive summer, and overall, the entire team has been closer than usual, and hung out together more off the field.

Summer summary: Maryland

August, 24, 2011
This series is like a CliffsNotes version of what went on at summer camp, a few quick hits to catch you up on the main developments at each ACC school this month as we gear up for game week next week. Next up is Maryland:

  • The coaching staff liked what it saw from the running backs, and Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams are still the top two on the depth chart, but the Terps are still looking for a third who can play. Jeremiah Wilson, a redshirt freshman who moved to running back from defensive back in the spring, is an option, but true freshmen Justus Pickett and Brandon Ross have been particularly impressive and could see some snaps.
  • Maryland has plenty of options at receiver, but Kerry Boykins, Kevin Dorsey, Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree got the majority of meaningful snaps this month.
  • Keith Bowers is a true freshman from Florida who could figure into the rotation on the defensive line, but that rotation remains a question. There are several backup positions on defense that are up for grabs, including safety and linebacker.
  • The staff has settled in on its starting five on the offensive line (Max Garcia, Andrew Gonnella, Bennett Fulper, Josh Carey and R.J. Dill), but the No. 2 positions still remain a question.
  • A competition still remains at punter with Michael Tart and Nate Renfro, a true freshman who joined the team this month.
Most notable injury: Defensive tackle Justin Anderson had foot surgery and should be out most of September, likely the first three games.

Summer summary: Georgia Tech

August, 24, 2011
Consider this series your “while-you-were-out” catch-up on the highlights of summer camp for each school in the ACC. Next up, Georgia Tech:

  • Coach Paul Johnson has squashed any notion of a quarterback competition, as Tevin Washington has earned the right to start. But … Synjyn Days and Vad Lee have been right behind him all month and all three could play. It will be interesting to see how Johnson handles their snaps during the season.
  • The B-Back position -- which produced 1,300-yard rushers in 2008, 2009 and 2010 -- remains up for grabs. It looked like senior Preston Lyons could be the starter, but former quarterback David Sims has also made a case, and most within the program think redshirt freshman Charles Perkins is the most talented. It’s another good position battle that should continue to play out into the season.
  • While senior Tyler Melton and junior Daniel McKayhan have been out with nagging injuries, true freshman Jeff Greene looks like he may actually get the starting nod at wide receiver.
  • Defensively, the jury is still out. The offense had its way with the defense in practice the past week. Julian Burnett, Jeremiah Attaoachu, Louis Young and Izaan Cross are all young, very talented players, but whether Georgia Tech gets a pass rush this year remains to be seen.
Most notable injuries: Safety Fred Holton's torn Achilles will likely sideline him for the year. He was competing for a starting job, but more likely the first DB off the bench. Backup guard J.C. Lanier has a stress fracture and is out four to five more weeks. A-back B.J. Bostic has an undisclosed arm injury that will keep him out four weeks.

Summer summary: Duke

August, 23, 2011
The series looking back at the highlights of summer camp for each team as we gear up for game week continues today with Duke:
  • Duke's main story of summer camp was the injury to veteran offensive lineman Brian Moore, who has been sidelined indefinitely with a fractured right arm. Moore started the past two seasons at right guard before making a successful transition to center this past spring. The injury resulted in the move of redshirt freshman Dave Harding from guard to center. Offensive line coach Matt Luke has been trying to figure out who the best five linemen are who can be ready for the season opener, and today's scrimmage could help answer that question.
  • The return of linebacker Kelby Brown has been critical for Duke's defense. Brown missed spring practices while recovering from knee surgery, and nobody within the program knew what to expect upon his return from a torn MCL and ACL, but Brown has looked ready to start and be a major contributor again.
  • Rick Petri’s work with the defensive line has been noticed. There’s a reason he’s had so much success everywhere he's been -- he's that good, and he's making the most of what he has to work with at Duke. This summer showed signs that Duke can put together a respectable performance up front.
Most notable injury: Aside from Moore, defensive end Kenny Anunike has missed a significant amount of camp with an ankle injury. His status is in question for the opener against Richmond.

Summer summary: Clemson

August, 22, 2011
As we head into game week next week, here's a look back at the main storylines and highlights of Clemson's summer camp:
  • All eyes were on quarterback Tajh Boyd, and he made measurable progress. He was 8 for 24 in the spring game, but in all three of the scrimmages this month he has completed over 50 percent of his passes (a total of 28-of-41 for 68 percent). His accuracy has improved significantly and the receivers have done a good job helping him out.
  • Sammy Watkins is a freshman who’s going to be an impact player. He was in the starting lineup by the fourth practice, and has shown he can also run the ball and help the Tigers out in the return game. Martavis Bryant, Charone Peake, and Adam Humphries are all true freshmen receivers who impressed the staff and could be added to the mix this fall.
  • Defensively, the play of defensive end Andre Branch stood out. He got a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks this month. He started alongside Da'Quan Bowers last year, but will pick up on a lot of those sacks this fall. He and Malliciah Goodman will generate good pressure and combined for three sacks in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Most noteable injury: Running back Mike Bellamy missed a week with a shoulder injury but comes back today. He was injured last Monday.

Summer summary: Boston College

August, 22, 2011
The summer is almost over. Next week is game week, when the teams will shift their focus to their Week 1 opponents, if they haven't already. The goal of this series is to quickly catch you up on what has happened at each ACC school during summer camp, a quick-hit recap of the main storylines and most notable injuries. We'll go in alphabetical order, starting with Boston College:
  • There has been significant change on offense. There is an excitement around first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers, and for the first time in three years, the Eagles know who their starting quarterback will be for the season opener -- Chase Rettig. In the first two scrimmages, the offense dominated the defense, and that doesn't happen at BC. In the two years prior to this year, BC's offense had never scored a touchdown in a scrimmage. Linebacker Luke Kuechly made it a point heading into the third scrimmage to make sure his teammates knew that scrimmage would be about the D, but the main storyline out of Chestnut Hill this month has been the offense.
  • Running back Montel Harris underwent another arthroscopic knee surgery last week, and will miss three to four weeks, and then his backup, Andre Williams, sprained his ankle in Sunday's scrimmage. Still, the staff is confident in the depth and talent at the position, and Williams was walking around today and looked fine, according to a school spokesman, who added that Williams said it wasn't too swollen.
  • The depth on the offensive line remains a question. There have been a few nagging injuries, but John Wetzel has taken over for Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, and the staff has been pleased with his progress. Mark Spinney has been working with the first team at left guard, and redshirt freshman Andy Gallik has been taking most of the first-team reps at center.
  • Defensively, the Eagles are still looking for who will emerge as their starter at strongside linebacker, and Steele Divitto appears to be the frontrunner, but Nick Clancy had a good scrimmage.
  • True freshman defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad has played well enough that he likely will see some meaningful snaps this fall.
  • One lingering concern is the No. 2 quarterback position. If Rettig is injured, Josh Bordner is the likely backup, but he has been slowed by some back problems.