ACC: Alston Smith

ACC notebook: Edsall returns to UConn

September, 11, 2013
Here are a few quick notes off the ACC coaches call on Wednesday:

Maryland coach Randy Edsall makes his return to Connecticut on Saturday when the Terps visit his former team. Last season, Edsall had to answer questions about playing his old team when UConn traveled to College Park. The story lines continues this week because he will be returning to a place he called home for 12 years.

"I’ve got fond memories of Connecticut, fond memories of Rentschler Field and hopefully we come away with a victory," Edsall said. "Connecticut was very good to me and my family. Had a great experience there. What you’ve got to do is take everything and put it to the side and focus and concentrate on getting our team prepared. I know they’re going to be fired up, I know it’s a tough place to play having coached in that stadium so it’s got to be something we have to be ready for."

UConn beat Maryland in 2012, but the Huskies come into this season's game off a loss to FCS Towson. Maryland, meanwhile, is off to a 2-0 start and appears to be in much better shape than UConn. The Huskies have not made a bowl game since Edsall took them to the Fiesta Bowl in the 2010 season. Wonder whether the homestanding fans will cheer or boo Edsall in his return.
  • Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer had high praise for Alston Smith, who was moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard earlier this week. Smith, the son of Bruce Smith, was "exceptional" in his first day of practice with the offensive line. "He’s athletic, he’s got good feet, he’s a natural guy in there and so I was really encouraged by watching that." Beamer also added that defensive tackle Corey Marshall had a great day of practice Tuesday, his first since returning to the team to deal with personal matters. "He helped our offense get better by being very aggressive as a defensive scout team member," Beamer said.
  • There is no question Boston College coach Steve Addazio is thrilled with the progress he is seen out of his team, off to a 2-0 start with a big game at USC looming on Saturday. But he also wants to keep the quick start in perspective. "I just think we’re scrapping, we’re playing physical, we’re trying to be true to the core values we want within our program," Addazio said. "It’s nice to get that start, but understand we’re a work in progress."
  • Duke coach David Cutcliffe reiterated that he would like to get freshman quarterback Parker Boehme some playing time with starter Anthony Boone out indefinitely because of a broken collarbone. The initial plan going into the season was to try and redshirt Boehme but the injury has changed everything. Boehme will serve as the backup to Brandon Connette until Boone returns. "If something were to happen and Brandon’s out for a few plays, I wouldn’t be afraid to play Parker," Cutcliffe said. "I think he’s played well."
  • Miami beat Florida thanks to a solid defensive performance, especially from a much more physical defensive front. Coach Al Golden said a big reason his team was so effective along the line was because of its rotation. Defensive end Anthony Chickillo played 71 snaps, but everybody else stayed in the 40s. "We refused to get worn down and we rotated," Golden said. "Hopefully that rotation will get stronger." Golden says the plan during the bye is to get more inexperienced players like Ufomba Kamalu and Jelani Hamilton ready for more playing time.
  • Speaking of Miami and Florida, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher caught the end of the game last weekend after his team finished practiced. Asked for his impressions, Fisher said, "Heck of a football game, very competitive, a lot of great players on both sides. Two very good football teams," he said. "We’ll have to get a lot better before we play them." The Noles play both teams in November.
  • Despite its struggles running the option in a loss to Boston College last week, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe says he has no plans to scrap it from the offensive game plan. "Nobody played real well," Grobe said. "We didn’t block well, didn’t run well. It was not anything to do with the run game. The offense, in general, just did not play very well."
Virginia Tech Hokies

2012 record: 7-6

2012 conference record: 4-4, Coastal

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Logan Thomas, CB Kyle Fuller, DE James Gayle, LB Jack Tyler

Key losses

WR Marcus Davis, OT Vinston Painter, LB Bruce Taylor, LB Alonzo Tweedy

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Thomas* (524 yards, 9 TDs)

Passing: Thomas* (220-of-429 for 2,976 yards, 18 TDs, 16 INTs)

Receiving: Davis (953 yards, 5 TDs)

Tackles: Tyler* (119)

Sacks: Taylor (5.5)

Interceptions: Exum* (five)

Spring answers

1. Secondary. Depth in the secondary was already thin, and the group got much thinner when starting cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL during a pickup basketball game. But this spring revealed a rising star in true freshman Brandon Facyson, who enrolled in January. He, Donovan Riley and Donaldven Manning all played well this spring, easing some concerns.

2. Depth up front. The other area defensive coordinator Bud Foster wanted to work on was building depth on his defensive line. He believes he started to accomplish that this spring with younger players like Kris Harley, Nigel Williams, Alston Smith, and Woody Baron coming along.

3. Offense has a ways to go. That might not be the answer fans want to hear, but there is no doubt this group still has gains to make between now and the season opener against Alabama. Anybody who watched what happened in the spring game knows that. More on that down below.

Fall questions

1. Logan Thomas' growth. Just about everybody associated with Virginia Tech says Thomas made some significant strides this spring while working under new coordinator Scot Loeffler. But everybody wants to talk about what happened in the spring game, when he threw three interceptions, including two returned for scores. Thomas made way too many mistakes last season. No matter what other improvements he might have made this spring, he has got to learn to take care of the football.

2. Running back. The Hokies had nobody to shoulder the load last season, and after the spring, they still have nobody to shoulder the load. The ground game didn’t show much in the spring game. J.C. Coleman and Trey Edmunds appear to be the top two guys, pending what happens with Michael Holmes, suspended after he was arrested last month.

3. Offensive line. This group is not a finished product by any stretch, as players were shuffled in and out of the lineup this spring to try and find the right group. Or at least a group that can perform better than a season ago. One player to note is true freshman Jonathan McLaughlin, who ended the spring as the starting left tackle.