ACC: ACC spring team wraps 2011

Boston College spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
11:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

LB Luke Kuechly, P Ryan Quigley, CB Donnie Fletcher, QB Chase Rettig, TB Montel Harris, WR Bobby Swigert, WR Ifeanyi Momah, TE Chris Pantale, DE Max Holloway, DT Kaleb Ramsey

Key losses

LT Anthony Castonzo, LB Mark Herzlich, DT Damik Scafe, RG Thomas Claiborne, RT Rich Lapham, CB DeLeon Gause

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Harris* (1,243 yards)

Passing: Rettig* (1,238 yds)

Receiving: Swigert* (504 yds)

Tackles: Kuechly* (183)

Sacks: Holloway* (4)

Interceptions: Fletcher* (5)

Spring answers

1. Starting offensive line has been rebuilt. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel. It’s a veteran group of starters, which is important considering the losses of three starters, including Castonzo, who had a league-high 54 starts and is a likely first-round draft pick.

2. The offensive depth and experience has improved. The Eagles return their leading rusher, passer and receiver from a year ago. They enter the fall set at every starting position on offense, and 10 of the 13 receivers who caught a pass last year return. Coach Frank Spaziani said everyone got better this spring, including Rettig, who was forced to play as a true freshman last year.

3. Two spring enrollees could contribute immediately. Four-star cornerback Al Louis-Jean really turned some heads this spring as a backup to Fletcher, and was ranked the No. 9 cornerback in the nation in his recruiting class by ESPN Recruiting. True freshman Mehdi Abdesmad also had a good spring and could see playing time at defensive end behind Holloway.

Fall questions

1. How much better is Rettig in the new system? There’s no doubt that Rettig will be better in his second season as a starter, but how will the sophomore adjust to the new scheme under first-year coordinator Kevin Rogers? Spaziani has said that the offense won’t look dramatically different, but there is new terminology involved and there will be some wrinkles.

2. Will the Eagles develop depth up front? The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen: i.e. no experience. The defensive line will be young, and so will its backups. This summer will be critical for getting the linemen more reps and finding rotations the staff is comfortable with.

3. What is this team’s offensive identity? This spring wasn’t a good indicator of what BC’s offense will look like, as star tailback Montel Harris was held out of the scrimmages for precautionary reasons, and his backup, Andre Williams, was nursing a shoulder injury. The Eagles also hope to get receiver Colin Larmond Jr. back this summer from a knee injury he sustained before last season, and BC will be under the direction of a new offensive coordinator.

Clemson spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
11:00
AM ET
2010 overall record: 6-7

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR DeAndre Hopkins, RT Landon Walker, DE Andre Branch, DT Brandon Thompson, P Dawson Zimmerman, RB Andre Ellington, WR Jaron Brown, C Dalton Freeman, OG Antoine McClain, TE Dwayne Allen, MLB Corico Hawkins, S Rashard Hall

Key losses

DE Da’Quan Bowers, DT Jarvis Jenkins, FS DeAndre McDaniel, CB Marcus Gilchrist, RB Jamie Harper, QB Kyle Parker, LT Chris Hairston

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Harper (760 yards)

Passing: Kyle Parker (2,213 yds)

Receiving: Hopkins* (637 yds)

Tackles: McDaniel (84)

Sacks: Bowers (15.5)

Interceptions: McDaniel (4)

Spring answers

1. Cole Stoudt is the backup quarterback. Until true freshmen Stoudt and Tony McNeal enrolled in January and arrived on campus, Tajh Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. With Boyd the undisputed starter, the main competition was for his backup. Stoudt won the job over McNeal, who also played well and is a good runner, but Stoudt had the stronger arm.

2. Phillip Price will replace Chris Hairston at left tackle. The Tigers have four starters returning on the offensive line but big shoes to fill at left tackle, where Hairston was a three-year starter. Price, who joined the team as a walk-on tight end and moved to offensive line last year, beat Brandon Thomas for the job.

3. Players bought into the system. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brought an up-tempo offense from Tulsa that is similar to what Auburn runs, and the players not only embraced it, they had fun with it this spring. Whether or not they can execute it on Saturdays? See below …

Fall questions

1. Execution of the offense. With a brand new scheme, a first-year starting quarterback and new offensive coordinator, the entire offense is a question mark heading into the fall. The Tigers also lost their leading rusher in Jamie Harper, who decided to leave early for a shot at the NFL. Can the Tigers get it together quickly enough to be a contender in the Atlantic Division again?

2. Will there be enough pressure on quarterbacks? With the departure of Bowers and his 15.5 sacks -- not to mention and 21 quarterback pressures -- the Tigers will have a lot of ground to make up. Bowers was a big reason Clemson was in top 20 in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense last year. With him gone, who’s going to step up and get after the quarterbacks? Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch are expected to.

3. Will the Tigers find consistency in the kicking game? Clemson lost five games by a touchdown or less last year, including the overtime loss to Auburn, which slipped away with a missed field goal in overtime. Will Chandler Catanzaro pick up where he left off at the end of last season and show some consistency? He made six of his final seven field goals last year, but he also started slow this spring before finishing strong.

Duke spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
10:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 3-9

2010 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Conner Vernon, WR Donovan Varner, QB Sean Renfree, TE Cooper Helfet, PK Will Snyderwine, S Matt Daniels, NG Charlie Hatcher, LT Kyle Hill, C Brian Moore.

Key losses

LB Abraham Kromah, DE Patrick Egboh, WR Austin Kelly, C Bryan Morgan

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Desmond Scott* (530 yards)

Passing: Renfree* (3,131 yds)

Receiving: Vernon* (973 yds)

Tackles: Kromah (129)

Sacks: Egboh (4.5)

Interceptions: Ross Cockrell* (3)

Spring answers

1. Sean Renfree has a chance to be a special quarterback. Coach David Cutcliffe said repeatedly this spring that his quarterback had a great spring, not a good one. Renfree has a chance to flourish in his second season as a full-time starter, especially in a division filled with rookies at the position and one of the top receiving corps in the ACC.

2 New talent emerging. Brandon Braxton showed this spring that he has the potential to be an excellent fit with Varner and Vernon as Blue Devils’ top three wideouts. Duke will also have a new face at center, where Moore takes over for graduated three-year starter Morgan. His move from guard paid off this spring.

3. Duke will be more athletic on defense. It remains to be seen if the Blue Devils will stop anyone this fall, but they’ll at least look better trying to. Duke was more athletic and faster this spring, and part of that has to do with the commitment to a 4-2-5 defensive scheme to get a third safety on the field. Duke dabbled in it a bit last season but will use it exclusively this year under first-year coordinator Jim Knowles.

Fall questions

1. How much better will the defensive line be? Hatcher is the only member of the entire line entering his final season of eligibility. He’ll have to carry the load from a playmaking and leadership standpoint. Redshirt freshman Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo has good speed off the edge, but the entire group will need to take another step forward in the first season under assistant Rick Petri.

2. Will the running game finally be a factor? Duke made strides on the ground last season, but still ranked 104th in the country in rushing offense. All of the running backs return, and offensive line coach Matt Luke has his group looking like an ACC offensive line, but he only has one starter in his final season of eligibility in Hill at left tackle. It’s still a young group, but they’ve got more size and athleticism than in the past. Josh Snead is the fastest of the backs, Scott is the most well-rounded, and Juwan Thompson has the most upside.

3. Can Duke get to the quarterback? Duke ranked 113th in the country and last in the league in sacks last season with one per game. Knowles likes to blitz, but his players have to have confidence to make it work.

Florida State spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
10:00
AM ET
FLORIDA STATE

2010 overall record: 10-4

2010 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

QB EJ Manuel, WR Bert Reed, WR Taiwan Easterling, LT Andrew Datko, RG David Spurlock, RT Zebrie Sanders, RB Chris Thompson, RB Jermaine Thomas, DE Brandon Jenkins, DT Jacobi McDaniel, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Greg Reid, CB Xavier Rhodes, PK Dustin Hopkins, P Shawn Powell

Key losses

LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, QB Christian Ponder, DE Markus White, LB Kendall Smith, LB Mister Alexander

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Thompson* (845 yards)

Passing: Ponder (2,044 yds)

Receiving: Reed* (614 yds)

Tackles: Bradham* (98)

Sacks: Jenkins* (13.5)

Interceptions: Rhodes* and Mike Harris* (4)

Spring answers

1. Depth on both sides. Florida State returns all three leading rushers from last year, each of whom had at least 400 rushing yards in 2010. All of the Noles’ top receivers are back, but coach Jimbo Fisher was also pleased with young receivers like Jared Haggins and Greg Dent. The defensive line is deep, and the staff learned that Lamarcus Joyner can play safety at the collegiate level. The kicking game will be a strength, as FSU might have the best punter/kicker combo in the country. Dustin Hopkins booted a 60-yard field goal in the spring game.

2. Defensive improvement: The defense really made some strides in terms of knowing what it has to do, and has become more comfortable in the second season under coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles found more depth on defense, as playmakers emerged even with players sidelined with injuries. The young linebackers were a particularly promising group.

3. It’s EJ’s offense now. In what was the first spring session he was healthy enough to participate in, quarterback EJ Manuel emerged as a leader heading into his first season as a full-time starter. He showed he can take command of the offense and goes into summer camp with nobody looking over his shoulder. He’s 4-2 as a starter and was able to take another step forward this spring.

Fall questions

1. Backup quarterbacks: Clint Trickett and Will Secord will take their competition into the summer, but Trickett got more opportunities in the spring game and made the most of them. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 137 yards. Secord completed 3 of 9 passes for 25 yards, but a clear No. 2 has yet to be named.

2. What will the offensive line really look like? It was a patchwork group this spring, as left tackle Andrew Datko was out with a shoulder injury, right tackle Zebrie Sanders was out after abdominal surgery, and left guard David Spurlock, who started the first seven games of 2010 before suffering a concussion, was only about 50 percent because of a hand/wrist injury. Key reserves like Rhonne Sanderson (foot injury) and Blake Snider (ankle injury) were missing. Jacob Fahrenkrug was supposed to take over at left guard, but finished the spring starting at center. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of LT Datko, LG Bryan Stork or Spurlock, C Fahrenkrug, RG Spurlock or Stork, RT Sanders. Despite the losses of Hudson and McMahon, there is experience up front, but building depth remains an issue.

3. How good is the defensive line? There’s no doubting Florida State’s defensive line will be good, but with the offensive line riddled with injuries, it was impossible to tell how good it can be. Newcomer Tank Carradine didn’t get a chance to go against Sanders or Datko, leaving for an unfair assessment.

Georgia Tech spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
9:30
AM ET
GEORGIA TECH

2010 overall record: 6-7

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense 5

Top returners

WR Stephen Hill, AB Roddy Jones, AB Orwin Smith, G Omoregie Uzzi, DE Jason Peters, DT Logan Walls, OLB Steven Sylvester, ILB Julian Burnett, OG Will Jackson, DE Izaan Cross

Key losses

QB Joshua Nesbitt, RB Anthony Allen, C Sean Bedford, CB Dominique Reese, CB Mario Butler, ILB Brad Jefferson, S Jerrard Tarrant, PK Scott Blair

2011 Schedule

Sept. 1 Western Carolina

Sept. 10 at Middle Tennessee

Sept. 17 Kansas

Sept. 24 North Carolina

Oct. 1 at NC State

Oct. 8 Maryland

Oct. 15 at Virginia

Oct. 22 at Miami

Oct. 29 Clemson

Nov. 5 Open

Nov. 10 Virginia Tech

Nov. 19 at Duke

Nov. 26 Georgia

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Allen (1,316 yards)

Passing:Nesbitt (674 yds)

Receiving: Hill* (291 yds)

Tackles: Burnett (89)

Sacks: Jefferson (4)

Interceptions:Tarrant (3)

Spring answers

1. A new attitude. There were some disgruntled players on the roster last year, but that disenchantment has been replaced by charismatic leaders like Jason Peters and Roddy Jones. The sense of complacency has been replaced by a stronger work ethic, as the players now realize that ACC championships don’t come without offseason dedication.

2. An improved defense. The Jackets aren’t exactly going to pitch shutouts, but despite losing six starters, the defense had a good spring. The entire front seven had the advantage for most of the spring, all three starters return on the defensive line, and the linebackers showed progress. It was obvious the players are more comfortable in the second season of Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme.

3. A-back is a strength.Georgia Tech has at least six players who can play the position, including Jones, a senior leader, Orwin Smith, a big-play candidate, and Embry Peeples, who may be one of the best receivers on the team. The Jackets are also confident in B.J. Bostic, who impressed Johnson as a true freshman. Those four players combined to run for 1,283 yards last year, and Georgia Tech could get additional yardage from redshirt freshman Tony Zenon, who also had a good spring.

Fall questions

1. Will Tevin Washington keep his job?Washington still has the edge and is the starter heading into summer camp, but there are some lingering questions after his performance in the spring game. He threw three interceptions, lost two fumbles, was sacked three times and completed 10 of 26 passes. Backup Synjyn Days ran for 112 yards and led his team to a 21-7 win. Add to the mix a pair of true freshmen, including highly-touted Vad Lee, and it could make for an interesting August.

2. Will the offensive line be better?It’s not for a lack of experience -- Omoregie Uzzi was a second-team all-conference lineman last year, Phil Smith is a returning starting tackle and sophomore guard Will Jackson has nine career starts. It’s simply that the group didn’t play very well this spring and depth is a question. Jay Finch is expected to take over for Bedford at center, but Uzzi will be the leader of the line.

3. Special teams concerns. It was an area of emphasis for coach Paul Johnson this spring, as it should have been. The Jackets need to solidify their starting kicker and punter, and all three field goal attempts were missed in the spring game, though two were distances of 47 and 49 yards. Kicker Justin Moore, the lone scholarship kicker competing this spring, hasn’t distanced himself from the four walk-ons who played in the spring game. Punter isn’t as much of a concern, where Sean Poole had nine starts last year, but the return games also need improvement.

Maryland spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
9:00
AM ET
2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 7, punter/kicker 0

Top returners

QB Danny O’Brien, RB Davin Meggett, WR Kerry Boykins, WR Kevin Dorsey, DT Joe Vellano, LB Kenny Tate, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, DT A.J. Francis, CB Cameron Chism

Key losses

WR Torrey Smith, WR Adrian Cannon, RB Da’Rel Scott, LB Alex Wujciak, LB Adrian Moten, SS Antwine Perez, P/PK Travis Baltz

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Meggett* (720 yards)

Passing: O’Brien* (2,438 yds)

Receiving: Smith (1,055 yds)

Tackles: Wujciak (117)

Sacks: Tate* (3.5)

Interceptions: Moten (4)

Spring answers

1. Receivers answering the call. Maryland lost its top two receivers from 2010, but three emerged as potential go-to players this spring. Ronnie Tyler, Kerry Boykins and Kevin Dorsey were the lead candidates to become O’Brien’s favorite target this fall, and Quintin McCree, who has missed the Tuesday and Thursday practices for study hall, is the leading returner with 16 catches. None of them have been in a starting role before, but all of them proved to be capable hands this spring.

2. A 'general' consensus. Some players within the program have nicknamed first-year coach Randy Edsall "the general" for his strict rules and high expectations, but they seem to have bought in. Overall, the team has adjusted well to the staff changes and embraced the new regime, its style, schemes and philosophies. Edsall has banned hats, earrings and do-rags in the football building, and facial hair must be neatly trimmed.

3. Kenny Tate’s move a good one. The biggest position change of the spring was Tate from safety to linebacker, and Tate showed this spring it was a good move -- especially following the departures of veterans Adrian Moten and Alex Wujciak. Tate adjusted well to the “star” position, a cross between strong safety and outside linebacker. The move also indicated the staff is confident in Eric Franklin and Matt Robinson as the starting safeties.

Fall questions

1. What will this team’s identity be? The players spent this spring learning new schemes and terminology, much of which has been kept under wraps by Edsall. O’Brien has said the offense will be more up-tempo, and has made every effort to study and learn the system this spring, but executing it in games remains a question. The defense also made a transition under first-year coordinator Todd Bradford.

2. Can the offensive line stay healthy? It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and this spring wasn’t much different. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.

3. Who will be the starting fullback? Taylor Watson decided this spring to graduate and leave the team, leaving Rahsaan Moore and Haroon Brown as the lead candidates. True freshman Tyler Cierski, rated the No. 2 fullback in his class by ESPN Recruiting, should add to the competition this summer.

Miami spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
8:30
AM ET
MIAMI

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Travis Benjamin, RG Brandon Washington, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, QB Stephen Morris, DE Olivier Vernon, DT Micanor Regis, DT Marcus Forston, LB Sean Spence, S Vaughn Telemaque, S JoJo Nicolas, RB Lamar Miller, RB Mike James

Key losses

WR Leonard Hankerson, LT Orlando Franklin, RB Damien Berry, P/PK Matt Bosher, DT Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy, CB Brandon Harris

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Berry (899 yards)

Passing: Harris* (1,793 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson (1,156 yds)

Tackles: McCarthy (119)

Sacks: Bailey (7)

Interceptions: Ryan Hill, Vaughn Telemaque* and Ray-Ray Armstrong* (3)

Spring answers

1. Stacked at running back. Lamar Miller finished the spring atop a depth chart deep with talent at running back, including Mike James and Storm Johnson. All three have different styles, as James is the power/slasher, Johnson gets the tough yards and is elusive in the open field, and Miller is the fastest and the home run threat.

2. The Golden era has been embraced. First-year coach Al Golden made his debut this spring with a new staff and new schemes, and all of the players have bought in. The Canes now eat breakfast together every day, and the seniors were the first to latch on to Golden, as they know time is running out to win. They seem willing to follow whoever wants to lead, and the players also started to take ownership this spring.

3. Jordan Futch has helped the linebacker depth. He was a role player for most of his career and was going to move to tight end, but, as it turns out, he can play inside or outside linebacker, and he played well enough this spring to convince Golden he deserves a spot somewhere on the field. Colin McCarthy was the only starter who had to be replaced, and there was some shuffling of positions, but Futch or Gaines emerged as the leaders to take over that spot.

Fall questions

1. And the quarterback is? Golden said the quarterback competition will likely go into mid-August, as neither Jacory Harris nor Stephen Morris separated himself. It’s one of the main storylines in the ACC, and could be the difference in Miami’s season. Both struggled in the spring game, as they threw two interceptions each, but first-year offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is evaluating them on more than just picks.

2. Who will take over the secondary? It’s so wide open that true freshman Thomas Finnie enrolled early and worked his way onto the two deep. It’s a young, inexperienced group with big shoes to fill after the departures of Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Lee Chambers, Nicolas, Telemaque and Armstrong will have to rise to the occasion or leave it to the rookies like Finnie. This spring, Golden said Nicolas and Armstrong were the leaders of the secondary.

3. Baffled without Bosher. Matt Bosher, an all-conference kicker and punter during his career, did it all, and the kicking game is a major question without him. Jake Wieclaw is next in line, but he only played against Florida A&M and has yet to attempt a collegiate kick. Incoming freshmen kickers Matt Loudis and Dalton Botts will challenge Wieclaw for the starting job.

North Carolina spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
8:00
AM ET
2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Dwight Jones, WR Erik Highsmith, OT James Hurst, OG Jonathan Cooper, C Cam Holland, DE Quinton Coples, DT Jared McAdoo, DE Donte Paige-Moss, DT Tydreke Powell, LB Kevin Reddick, CB Charles Brown

Key losses

QB T.J. Yates, TE Zack Pianalto, TB Johnny White, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Kendric Burney, S Deunta Williams, S Da’Norris Searcy

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)

Passing: T.J. Yates (3,418 yds)

Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)

Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)

Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)

Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)

Spring answers

1. The offensive line should be the best since Butch Davis arrived in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels had to replace two starters in OT Mike Ingersoll and OG Alan Pelc, but Travis Bond has earned the starting job at right guard and Brennan Williams at right tackle. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and OT James Hurst. This is also a large group, averaging 319 pounds.

2. There’s depth on the defensive line. There was enough depth this spring to move Coples from tackle back to end, his natural position. The Tar Heels have Paige-Moss at right end, Jordan Nix and Powell at tackle, and junior college transfer Sylvester Williams was pushing Nix for the starting job. Jared McAdoo has played both positions, and the staff has four tackles it feels good about.

3. Bryn Renner has taken over. Heading into the spring, Davis wouldn’t anoint Renner his 2011 starter just yet. Now, there’s no question it’s Renner’s job, as none of the other candidates came close to him this spring. True freshman Marquise Williams went through a major learning curve, and A.J. Blue and Braden Hanson didn’t close the gap.

Fall questions

1. Looking for a linebacker. Outside linebacker Zach Brown and middle linebacker Kevin Reddick have starting jobs locked up, but Herman Davidson and Darius Lipford will take their competition into summer camp.

2. Helping hands at tight end. Last year, 79 of the receptions were to tight ends, and Ryan Taylor and Zack Pianalto were two of the top three receivers on the team (combined for 66 catches last year). The staff recruited well at the position, but those players didn’t enroll early. Nelson Hurst, Christian Wilson and Sean Fitzpatrick were the lead candidates this spring.

3. Revamped secondary. All four starters must be replaced, but Jabari Price started the final four games at corner last season. There are six candidates for the safety positions, but Brown, Jonathan Smith and Brian Gupton all missed last season because of the NCAA investigation. Senior Matt Merletti emerged as a leader last year, safety Gene Robinson is in the mix, and safety Josh Hunter had a good spring game with six tackles and an interception. Tre Boston moved from corner to safety.

NC State spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
7:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

OT R.J. Mattes, TE George Bryan, LB Audie Cole, S Brandan Bishop, S Earl Wolff, LB Terrell Manning, RB Mustafa Greene, C Camden Wentz, DT J.R. Sweezy

Key losses

QB Russell Wilson, OT Jake Vermiglio, WR Jarvis Williams, WR Owen Spencer, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Greene* (597 yards)

Passing: Wilson (3,563 yds)

Receiving: Spencer (912 yds)

Tackles: Irving, Cole* (97)

Sacks: Irving (6.5)

Interceptions: Bishop (4)

Spring answers

1. Life goes on without Nate Irving. The Pack graduated its top playmaker on defense, but Cole adjusted well this spring to his new role in the middle and Terrell Manning shouldn’t be forgotten after his 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season.

2. The situation at running back has improved. At this time a year ago, NC State didn’t have one running back on the roster with starting experience and had to move Dean Haynes over from defense. Now, Greene is the returning leading rusher and a promising young talent when he’s healthy. The staff is also confident in Anthony Creecy, James Washington and Brandon Barnes, who missed all of 2010 with an injury.

3. The secondary is older and wiser. NC State returns all four starters, and four other defensive backs who got significant experience last season will help the depth. So will the return of Jarvis Byrd, who tore his ACL last season, and Rashard Smith, who also redshirted last season after a knee injury.

Fall questions

1. Is Mike Glennon as good as advertised? O’Brien has heaped praise on his new starter this offseason, comparing him to former Boston College standout Matt Ryan. Glennon has a similar build and throwing motion, and is comparable with intangibles such as his attention to detail, his work ethic and leadership, but is he really as good as Ryan? And, more importantly, can he stay healthy long enough to prove it?

2. Will special teams survive its makeover? The new punter, placekicker and snappers are all in the incoming class. It’s an underrated concern for the Wolfpack, which graduated 38 career starts with placekicker Josh Czajkowski.

3. Will the senior wide receivers rise to the occasion? With a first-year starting quarterback, receivers Jay Smith (10 catches), Steven Howard (12 catches) and T.J. Graham (25 catches) will have to step up to the level of their departed teammates (Spencer, Williams, and Darrell Davis). Aside from special teams, it was the one position group O’Brien said wouldn’t be settled until at least summer camp.

Virginia spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
7:00
AM ET
2010 overall record: 4-8

2010 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 9, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Kris Burd, OT Morgan Moses, G Austin Pasztor, TB Perry Jones, DT Matt Conrath, DT Nick Jenkins, DE Cam Johnson, CB Chase Minnifield, SS Rodney McLeod, LB Steve Greer

Key losses

WR Dontrelle Inman, QB Marc Verica, DE Zane Parr, RB Keith Payne, LB Darnell Carter

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Payne (749 yards)

Passing: Verica (2,799 yds)

Receiving: Burd* (799 yds)

Tackles: LaRoy Reynolds* (66)

Sacks: Cam Johnson* (6.5)

Interceptions: Minnifield* (6)

Spring answers

1. Good move for Gooch. Miles Gooch made the move from quarterback to receiver this spring, and because of the numerous injuries to the wideouts, he got significant reps. Whether that translates into game snaps remains to be seen, but with a crowded competition at quarterback, his odds are better at receiver.

2. No move for Mathis. Jeremiah Mathis moved from defensive end to tight end last year, and he stayed there this spring. Coach Mike London has said Mathis has a huge upside on the offensive side of the ball. Mathis caught three passes in 10 games last year, but that number could increase this fall with the departure of Joe Torchia.

3. Another step forward on defense. With nine starters returning in the second season in the 4-3 scheme, the Cavaliers showed improvement this spring. London said the defense is well ahead of where it was this time a year ago because of the transition and coaching change.

Fall questions

1. Who’s the quarterback? Michael Rocco, Ross Metheny, Michael Strauss and true freshman David Watford will continue their competition in summer camp, as none of them separated themselves this spring. While it’s limited, Metheny and Rocco have the most experience, but that hasn’t guaranteed them anything, according to London.

2. Who will compensate for the loss of production with the departure of Keith Payne? Perry Jones, Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd will likely share the carries, but the latter two are redshirt freshmen with no game experience. Jones ran for 646 yards last year.

3. Roster cuts. London needs to trim the roster to meet the NCAA’s 85-scholarship limit, and he has not determined how he plans to do that yet. If Devin Wallace does not return from his suspension, that will make one less -- and one less starter on defense. London has not yet released a number on how many fifth-year seniors will be invited back. Different scenarios could transpire in the next few months to get this question answered, as some players might not qualify and will have to attend prep school.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
6:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 11-3

2010 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

SE Danny Coale, FL Jarrett Boykin, RT Blake DeChristopher, DT Antoine Hopkins, LB Bruce Taylor, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Eddie Whitley

Key losses

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, RB Ryan Williams, C Beau Warren, TE Andre Smith, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, PK Chris Hazley

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Evans (854 yards)

Passing: Tyrod Taylor (2,743 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (847 yds)

Tackles: Bruce Taylor (91)

Sacks: Steven Friday (8.5)

Interceptions: Hosley* (9)

Spring answers

1. A new Fab Four: Virginia Tech’s defensive line is oozing with talent and potential -- the kind that can resurrect the Hokies’ defense to the standard Bud Foster and fans are used to. All four projected starters are underclassmen, and redshirt sophomores J.R. Collins and James Gayle had a phenomenal spring. Derrick Hopkins couldn’t be blocked, and he, Collins and Gayle took their games to another level this spring.

2. Logan Thomas is ready. The first-year starting quarterback erased any lingering doubts about his ability to take over the offense and replace the winningest quarterback in school history. He’ll have some growing pains, but he’s got veteran receivers, four senior offensive linemen in front of him and an exceptional running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield in David Wilson.

3. Linebacker Tariq Edwards has replaced Lyndell Gibson. Edwards could have a breakout season, thanks in part to Gibson’s decision to transfer prior to spring practices. Foster has compared Edwards to Xavier Adibi as far as his size and speed. The redshirt sophomore is about 6-foot-2, runs well and is athletic.

Fall questions

1. Who’s the No. 2 QB? It’s still unsettled, as coach Frank Beamer praised redshirt freshman Mark Leal this spring, and Ricardo Young will increase the competition this summer when he returns from a foot injury he suffered during one of the scrimmages that caused him to miss the rest of the spring. Ju-Ju Clayton was the front-runner for the job entering the spring, but it could turn into a three-player battle this summer.

2. Defensive depth. The staff is excited about its starting lineup, but the lack of experience behind it remains a concern, particularly at linebacker where injuries depleted the group, and in the secondary, where Detrick Bonner and Theron Norman haven’t played a collegiate snap yet.

3. Kicking game. Will Danny Coale really be the Hokies’ starting receiver AND punter? He will if none of the other candidates beat him out for the job this summer. If Coale wins the job -- and it’s a very real possibility -- the logistics also remain a question. Will he warm up with the punters or run routes as a receiver? Will he run routes in his punting shoe? Beamer would prefer if Scott Demler and Ethan Keyserling win the job so it’s not an issue, but Beamer will go with the senior who has game experience if he’s the best choice. Cody Journell enters the summer as the No. 1 place-kicker, but it’s not a lock.

Wake Forest spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
6:00
AM ET
WAKE FOREST

2010 overall record: 3-9

2010 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 9, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

WR Chris Givens, G Joe Looney, DE Tristan Dorty, DE Kyle Wilber, SS Cyhl Quarles, PK Jimmy Newman, QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris, NG Nikita Whitlock

Key losses

C Russell Nenon, RB Josh Adams, WR Marshall Williams, WR Devon Brown, LB Hunter Haynes, LB Matt Woodlief, P Shane Popham

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Harris* (720 yards)

Passing: Price* (1,349 yds)

Receiving: Brown (302 yds)

Tackles: Hunter Haynes (77)

Sacks: Wilber* (6)

Interceptions: Alex Frye (3)

Spring answers

1. Solidified secondary. All four starters return in CB Josh Bush, SS Cyhl Quarles, FS Daniel Mack and CB Kevin Johnson, and the Deacs are two-deep at every position. It’s a much better scenario than it was a year ago, when Wake had to start two true freshmen corners. The Deacs will also have Dominique Tate, who missed all of last year for academic reasons, and two players who redshirted last year in Desmond Cooper and Merrill Noel. The Deacs ranked 11th in the ACC in pass defense last year, but saw signs this spring of that improving.

2. Sold on the 3-4 defense. The staff is confident in the defensive tackles and committed to the scheme, which it began using last year. Nose guard Ramon Booi, the backup to Nikita Whitlock, might have been the most improved player on the roster this spring, and is a good contrast to Whitlock, who is 5-foot-10 and more of a speed guy. Booi is a 6-foot-6, 300-pound man-wall. At tackle, Grobe singled out defensive end Zach Thompson as a possible all-ACC candidate, and Tristan Dorty moved from linebacker to defensive end.

3. Staff changes were a positive. Without disrespecting former defensive coordinator Brad Lambert, who left to become head coach of the fledgling Charlotte program, Grobe said he was pleased with the promotions of Tim Billings and Brian Knorr to co-defensive coordinators, and Lonnie Galloway, who was hired to coach the wide receivers. Knorr’s knowledge of the 3-4 scheme has been an added bonus.

Fall questions

1. Which running back will take over? Josh Harris is the most talented back on the roster, but he missed several spring practices with a hamstring injury he suffered while competing in the 100-yard dash with the track team. He’ll have to get healthy and earn the starting job this summer despite competition from senior Brandon Pendergrass. Harris, though, scored the only touchdown of the spring game.

2. Will dependable receivers emerge? The Deacs didn’t chart every one, but there were about eight or 10 dropped passes by wide receivers in the spring game. Wake Forest is looking for a playmaker to emerge like Kenny Moore did in ’07 and D.J. Boldin in ’08. Chris Givens, Michael Campanaro, Danny Dembry and Terence Davis are lead candidates, but redshirt freshmen Matt James (6-foot-6) and Brandon Terry (6-5), could both work their way into the rotation.

3. Will the offensive line improve? Four starters are back, so it looks better on paper, but the Deacs will sorely miss the experience and leadership of former center Russell Nenon. Garrick Williams started the final three games of 2010 -- two at guard and one at center, but he struggled with the snaps towards the end of spring and isn’t where the staff needs him to be yet.

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