ACC: Bobby Swigert

Just a few weeks remain before fall camp opens around the ACC, and there are plenty of big questions still left to be answered. With that in mind, we’re looking at some of the conference’s biggest wild cards -- veterans without a distinguished track record who could make all the difference for their respective teams this season. One caveat: With so much of the conference breaking in a new QB, we ignored that key position for now. We’re also not including any true freshmen, since they all come with their share of intrigue. Instead, these are the Atlantic Division’s biggest wild cards as we get set for 2014.

Boston College: WR Josh Bordner

Steve Addazio is at least trying to be optimistic about Bordner’s future at receiver. The 6-foot-4 senior has some physical tools to create mismatches at the position, but after transitioning from QB this spring, he doesn’t have much in the way of experience. Of course, no one else on BC’s depth chart at receiver does either. Bobby Swigert projects as the top target, but he missed all of last season with an injury, and Harrison Jackson is now out for 2014 after tearing his ACL. At the very least, that makes Bordner intriguing as BC looks for someone to fill the void left by Alex Amidon, who had 155 catches the last two seasons.

Clemson: WR Charone Peake

When they both arrived on campus in 2011, Peake and Sammy Watkins were both considered elite recruits. Three years later, Watkins was the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, while Peake has 37 career catches in three seasons thanks to injuries and inconsistency. However, if he can return from a torn ACL to help fill the void left by Watkins and Martavis Bryant it would be a huge boon to the Tigers’ passing game.

Florida State: WR Jarred Haggins

In the first three games of 2011, Haggins had 11 receptions. In the nearly three seasons since, he’s managed just eight more. But as FSU’s receiving corps has been diminished by early departures (Kelvin Benjamin) and off-field issues (Greg Dent, Jesus Wilson), Haggins provides a rare bit of experience to go with Rashad Greene and Christian Green in 2014.

Louisville: DT DeAngelo Brown

Louisville has some potentially exceptional pass rushers, but in order for them to succeed in new coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme, the D-line needs to be able to take on blocks and clog up the lanes, and that’s a huge question right now. Louisville has just two projected D-linemen who played in 2013, but Brown, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, could be a savior. He’s a behemoth at 320 pounds, and if he can command double teams playing the zero- or one-technique at nose guard, Grantham’s new-look D could make some noise in its first season in the ACC.

NC State: OT Rob Crisp

A back injury limited Crisp in 2012, and a concussion ended his 2013 season early, but an NCAA waiver allowed him to return to NC State for 2014. If Crisp can stay healthy this season he could be an immense help for a Wolfpack offensive line that allowed the fourth-most tackles for a loss of any Power 5 conference team last season.

Syracuse: DE Ron Thompson

The Orange know they can’t replace the production of departed DT Jay Bromley, so they’re hoping to find a combination of players who can help fill the void. That’s meant plenty of mixing and matching on the D-line, but it’s also opened up some more playing time for Thompson as a rush end. He’s a former four-star recruit at tight end, but his athleticism and quickness -- not to mention a year of experience at his new position under his belt -- have Syracuse’s coaches extremely excited about what Thompson might contribute this season.

Wake Forest: RB Orville Reynolds

Someone has to make some plays on offense for Wake Forest, right? There’s virtually no experience at any of the skill positions, and Reynolds’ move from receiver to tailback was made more out of desperation than anything else. But first-year coach Dave Clawson found success moving a receiver (Travis Greene) to running back last year at Bowling Green. Reynolds likely won’t match Greene’s 1,594 yards, but if he can even approach half that total, it would be the most by a Wake tailback since 2011.
Boston College rode Andre Williams all the way to a 2,000-yard campaign and postseason berth in 2013, successfully going back to its roots as a smash-mouth, physically tough football team.

But the Eagles will most certainly have a different identity when the 2014 season rolls around. The power run game will still be there, but many more spread principles will be featured on offense because the Eagles will likely have a dual-threat quarterback under center.

[+] EnlargeTyler Murphy
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertFormer Florida QB Tyler Murphy will be in the mix for BC's starting job this fall.
Chase Rettig did an admirable job as the quarterback this past season despite being a less-than-ideal fit for what coach Steve Addazio likes to run. Rettig emerged as a leader, and the ability to run play-action helped keep opposing teams off balance. The spread, however, was almost completely ignored because Williams and the run game gave the Eagles the best chance to win every week.

Williams and Rettig are both gone now, opening up other possibilities for the offense. Addazio has always preferred a dual-threat quarterback to run his system, and now he has several on the roster: Florida transfer Tyler Murphy and early enrollee Darius Wade headline the group and will compete for the starting job, along with Josh Bordner and James Walsh.

“The ability to keep our power run offense but to be able to diversify a little bit and spread it out a little bit will be great for us,” Addazio said in a recent phone interview. “We’ll be a little different. It’s early right now, but there will be more diversity in terms of quarterback runs and tailback runs. We won’t have one guy getting 42 reps.

“While there will be some elements that will look similar, we might be more in the shotgun, we might be camouflaging and diversifying with the power run game with the option, there could be a tempo component. We’ll be gravitating a little more toward where I’d like to get to.”

Murphy is the only quarterback on the roster with extended game experience and was recruited to Florida by Addazio. He is familiar with the type of offense the Eagles want to try and run. But Wade, a three-star prospect out of Delaware, also provides tantalizing possibilities. Addazio described him as a “dynamic athlete,” a player with a strong arm who can also run and extend plays. The hope is for Wade to be able to contribute as a true freshman this fall.

Without Williams, Boston College will split the rushing load more evenly. Tahj Kimble is expected back after rehabbing a torn ACL, while Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse look to build off freshman seasons in which they spelled Williams.

Addazio also expects the offensive line to be as strong as it was this past season. The Eagles do have to replace both starting tackles, but getting Florida transfer Ian Silberman into the program will help.

The biggest concern moving forward is developing playmakers on the outside. Addazio hopes Bobby Swigert can fill the role Alex Amidon had in the offense, but Swigert is returning from a knee injury so his status remains up in the air.

“We’ve got to get better out on the edge in terms of blocking the perimeter, catching the ball, winning one-on-one matchups,” Addazio said. “That’s not a quick-fix area. We’ve got to recruit and build.”

Addazio already showed what he has the potential to build after an impressive first season. The Eagles might look a little different on offense next season, but that is a good thing. What you see in 2014 will be closer to the vision Addazio has for this group in the years to come.
By all accounts, Boston College has very little in the way of depth at running back and receiver -- two major areas of concern for the Eagles as fall practice nears.

Coach Steve Addazio, in fact, called the depth at running back "alarming" because there is essentially nobody proven behind Andre Williams. Rolandan Finch is gone; Tahj Kimble is coming off ACL surgery and his status for practice remains up in the air. That essentially leaves David Dudeck as the backup going into August, and the Eagles hoping one of the two running backs they signed in February can come in and play immediately.

While the Eagles were happy with the way Williams stepped up this spring, depth is absolutely necessary at the position -- especially when you consider the way this team plans on running the ball.

"Depth is obviously a major concern," offensive coordinator Ryan Day said in a recent phone interview. "It’s something we’re trying to address, but at the same time we can’t draft anybody so we’re going to have to manage the best we can. Dudeck did a good job this spring. He hasn’t played much running back. He got throwing into the fire last year, but he’s getting better. He’s going to have to provide some depth."

The Eagles don't have anybody proven at receiver beyond Alex Amidon, either. Addazio said it appears as if Bobby Swigert will miss this season and take a medical redshirt because of setbacks to his injured knee. Spiffy Evans will be relied upon to take on a much bigger role this season, and Day mentioned Dan Crimmins as a player who needs to step up as well.

"We need that group right there to come along faster than they did this spring," Day said. "They’ve been challenged by the head coach himself, by myself by their position coach. Alex has played a lot of football here, but overall, that’s a pretty young group. Alex has to help those guys come along and show them how it is to be a Division I college receiver, and the work it takes. The challenge has been set forth with those guys."

2012 top Atlantic Division assistants

December, 17, 2012
The head coaches get all the money and all the ink. Not today. Today Andrea Adelson and I are recognizing one assistant coach from each staff in the ACC for a job well done this year. The Atlantic Division is up first:

BOSTON COLLEGE – Wide receivers coach Aaron Smith. In his first season with the program, Smith helped junior Alex Amidon develop into one of the ACC’s best. Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving at the end of the regular season ranked second in the ACC, just four yards behind DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. The entire group, including Johnathan Coleman, Bobby Swigert and Spiffy Evans, had one of its more productive seasons.

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris. There’s a reason he was on the short list for many head coaching jobs this offseason. Clemson enters the Chick-fil-A Bowl ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (42.33), ninth in total offense (518.3) and 13th in passing (319.6) -- all record numbers for the program. Clemson has scored at least 37 points in 10 of the 12 games this year, and quarterback Tajh Boyd showed measurable improvement and mobility in his second season as a starter.

FLORIDA STATE – Defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot. There’s no question he will be missed on FSU’s staff, as Eliot was hired as Mark Stoops’ defensive coordinator at Kentucky. FSU’s defensive line didn’t miss a beat despite season-ending injuries to two of the group’s top players, Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine. Bjoern Werner has 13 sacks this season, leading the ACC and ranking second nationally in total sacks. Carradine went from backup to first-team All-ACC. He has 11 sacks this season, second in the ACC and 14th nationally.

MARYLAND – Mike Locksley, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: No quarterbacks coach in the country had to deal with what Locksley did this year, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback -- a freshman linebacker in Shawn Petty. After injuries to every scholarship quarterback on the roster, Maryland still never quit and somehow managed to score 38 points on the road against North Carolina. Many wrote off Maryland before the season even began, when C.J. Brown tore his ACL. But the Terps hung in until the very end thanks to great coaching by Locksley.

NC STATE – Offensive coordinator Dana Bible. He was named interim coach for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and has been a rock on the sideline for the often inconsistent Pack. He has been integral in the development of quarterback Mike Glennon, who finished first in the ACC in passing yards per game (304) and second in total offense (292 yards per game). Despite numerous injuries and shuffling on the offensive line, NC State’s passing game was always a threat.

WAKE FOREST – OLB coach Derrick Jackson. Not only was he instrumental in the development of the linebackers, he was also a key recruiter for the Deacs this year. Linebacker Justin Jackson, who led the team with 80 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and four sacks, also had two pass breakups, one blocked kick and a forced fumble, and was the star of the group. Zachary Allen, Kevis Jones and Steve Donatell also showed significant progress this year under Jackson.

ACC power rankings: Week 12

November, 12, 2012

The Coastal Division race is as clear as mud, with Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all still capable of winning the division title. Go ahead, rank those four teams on your own. See what you come up with. Good luck. Meanwhile, Florida State is in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division. Here’s one version of the ACC power rankings for this week:

1. Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Seminoles came through in the clutch in a 28-22 win at Virginia Tech. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel orchestrated a last-minute scoring drive and the defense came up with a key interception on Logan Thomas’ final attempt at a comeback. All FSU needs to do is win at Maryland to clinch the Atlantic Division next week.

2. Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – There wasn’t much to be learned from Clemson’s 45-10 win over an injury-laden Maryland team. This game went as expected, with Maryland showing toughness, but not having nearly enough to hang with or stop Clemson’s talented offensive playmakers. The Tigers set a school record with their 12th straight home win.

3. Duke (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 5) – The Blue Devils had this past Saturday off to prepare for their next opponent, Georgia Tech, but as North Carolina learned, it doesn’t always help. Duke’s defense has allowed at least 48 points in each of its past two losses to the ACC’s top two teams, FSU and Clemson. This will be Duke’s biggest game since 1994, as the program can win the Coastal Division with wins at Georgia Tech and against Miami.

4. Miami (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 3) – The Hurricanes almost won on the road without three of their defensive starters, but they couldn’t stop UVa quarterback Michael Rocco on the final drive. Miami has one ACC game remaining -- at Duke -- but the Hurricanes could find themselves in a three-way Coastal tie with Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

5. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 9) – The Jackets kept their Coastal Division hopes alive with a 68-50 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was the most points ever scored in an ACC game, and it was an impressive performance by Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee. The defense will have to play better, though, this weekend against Duke.

6. North Carolina (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – You’d never know the Tar Heels had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech. The defense allowed 588 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and 28 first downs in the loss. Once again, UNC won’t be able to get past the eight-win mark, and even that’s not a guarantee with a Thursday night road trip to UVa looming.

7. Virginia (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 11) – The Hoos are one of the hottest teams in the ACC right now, with back-to-back wins. Two more and they finish at .500 and become bowl-eligible despite a dismal start to the season. Quarterback Michael Rocco threw for four touchdowns and no picks in the win over Miami.

8. NC State (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – The Wolfpack bounced back from the loss to Virginia with a convincing 37-6 win over Wake Forest to become bowl-eligible. NC State should now have some confidence heading into Saturday’s game versus Clemson at Death Valley. It was a much more complete effort in all three phases of the game and one the team can be proud of.

9. Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 8) – It wasn’t for lack of effort. In fact, Virginia Tech’s defense played its best game of the season against Florida State, but the Hokies came up empty on two turnovers and weren’t able to capitalize on the Noles’ mistakes. Virginia Tech now has to win its final two games just to become bowl eligible, and that won’t be easy against a UVa rival trying to do the same.

10. Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5; LW: No. 6) – The Deacs were beaten soundly by NC State, particularly up front, where the Wolfpack’s defensive line got to quarterback Tanner Price repeatedly. Wake Forest is now in a tough spot with undefeated Notre Dame coming up, and Vanderbilt to end the season. The Deacs need to find one more win to go bowling.

11. Boston College (2-8, 1-5; LW: No. 12) – It was a respectable performance against Notre Dame, a typical, blue-collar, BC effort, but it simply wasn’t enough against a better team. BC’s running game was again stifled, and receiver Bobby Swigert was knocked out of the game with an injury. BC gets to stay home again for Virginia Tech before ending the season at NC State.

12. Maryland (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 10) – The Terps are hurting, both literally and figuratively. They played hard against Clemson but had only 180 total yards. That number could decrease even more this weekend when Florida State comes to town if the Terps don’t get Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown back on the field.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 8, 2012
Here are the top storylines to watch in the ACC headed into Week 11.

1. Can Florida State play well on the road? There is a huge game in Blacksburg Thursday night, even though the Hokies have fallen off the map this season. For one, nobody on the current Florida State roster has ever played at Lane Stadium, where the Hokies have won seven straight -- including a perfect 4-0 mark this season. For another, Florida State has not exactly torn up their opponents while on the road. Consider, FSU has beaten its FBS opposition by an average score of 50-13 in Tallahassee. On the road? That average score moves down to 26-18.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's EJ Manuel
AP Photo/Gerry Broome)EJ Manuel and FSU face a tough road test against Virginia Tech.
2. On the flip side, can Virginia Tech rise up to the challenge? The Hokies have played pretty well on Thursday nights historically speaking, but looked totally out of sorts last week in a loss to Miami. Turnovers came back to haunt them, along with mistakes on special teams and defense. Now, they are playing a much better -- and higher ranked team. Can Logan Thomas outplay his counterpart from the state of Virginia, EJ Manuel?

3. Focus, Miami. The Hurricanes have a great chance to make it to their first ACC title game, but first they have to get past a Virginia team that looked vastly different from the group we had seen the majority of the season. Virginia has won four of the past six meetings between the schools and found its running game last week against NC State. If the Hoos can continue to run well against one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation while taking care of the football, they've got a chance. And that would be "so ACC," throwing the Coastal Division into disarray once again.

4. Paging NC State. Will the Wolfpack show up to play Wake Forest on Saturday? For the second straight week, NC State has bowl eligibility on the line against an opponent it is favored to beat. Things did not go as expected last week in a disappointing 33-6 loss to Virginia, a team that entered the contest on a six-game losing streak. NC State simply cannot go through the motions against a scrappy Wake Forest team with bowl eligibility on the line in this game as well.

5. Home cookin.' We mentioned Virginia Tech's home winning streak earlier. North Carolina and Clemson have played very well at home, too. The Tar Heels come off their bye and host Georgia Tech with a shot to finish the season unbeaten at home. North Carolina has gone undefeated and untied at home just seven times since 1927. Only once in school history -- 1980 -- have the Tar Heels gone 7-0 at home. The last time Carolina was undefeated at home was 1996 (5-0). Clemson, meanwhile, has a chance to set a school record with its 12th straight home win if it beats Maryland.

6. Diggs vs. Watkins. The matchup between Clemson and Maryland features last year's rookie of the year -- Sammy Watkins -- against the potential rookie of the year this year -- Stefon Diggs. Diggs is currently averaging 174.9 all-purpose yards per game to rank second in the ACC and seventh nationally. If it stands until the end of the year, it would be the best ever by an ACC freshman -- just ahead of Watkins’ 171.4 a year ago. Diggs was in a walking boot this week, and we will know more about his status later today.

7. Can BC keep it close? The Eagles are a heavy underdog against No. 4 Notre Dame, but they nearly pulled the upset on the Irish last season, losing 16-14. Chase Rettig threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Swigert with 1:57 remaining, but Notre Dame recovered the onside kick and held on for the win. Coach Frank Spaziani said staying close last year has no bearing on the matchup this year. The Eagles have no running game to speak of, so they are going to have to take their chances through the air.

8. Slowing down Giovani. Georgia Tech is the next team that gets to figure out how to slow Giovani Bernard, who had 304 all-purpose yards the last time out against NC State. Bernard had a terrific game against the Jackets last season, with 202 all-purpose yards (155 yards rushing, 47 yards receiving) but that was before he added returns to his resume. Georgia Tech has won three straight in the series.

9. Can Clemson keep rolling? The Tigers face the No. 11 total defense in the nation this week in Maryland, so will that slow their roll? Clemson ranks No. 9 in the nation in total offense, and has racked up 1,252 yards and 98 points in their past two wins. The Terps will be without one of their best defensive players in linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, so his absence could impact how much Maryland can slow down Tajh Boyd and company.

10. Camp vs. NC State secondary. The big matchup to watch between Wake Forest and NC State will be Michael Campanaro against an secondary that ranks No. 106 in the nation in pass defense. Nobody expected to see that large number next to NC State when the season began. Campanaro leads the ACC in receptions per game (8.6) and tied an ACC single-game record with 16 catches last week against Boston College.

Wake Forest downs Boston College

November, 3, 2012
It was the Michael Campanaro show early, and the defense show late.

Campanaro caught three first-half touchdown passes, and the Wake Forest defense came up with huge stops down the stretch to help the Deacs to a 28-14 win over Boston College on Saturday.

Campanaro ended with 123 yards, and tied an ACC single-game record with 16 receptions -- showing once again how much he was missed while he sat out with a hand injury. He was largely ineffective in his return last week against Clemson, but that was not the case against an Eagles defense that has struggled all season.

The Eagles (2-7, 1-5) had their share of chances to win. A bit of trickeration closed the deficit to 21-14 early in the third quarter, when a double pass had receiver Bobby Swigert throwing the touchdown to tight end Chris Pantale.

On the following Wake Forest possession, Spenser Rositano intercepted a pass from Tanner Price deep into Wake territory. But a flag pushed Boston College back further. Still, the Eagles appeared to be in good shape. But the always reliable Nate Freese missed a 43-yard field goal -- his first miss under 50 yards this season.

Wake Forest (5-4, 3-4) then went up two touchdowns when Josh Harris ran for a 23-yard score.

After that came the big Wake stops -- or the missed BC opportunities, depending on your perspective. The Eagles were stopped on fourth-and-short near the goal line to kill one drive. Interestingly enough, they called for two straight running plays -- even though they could not run a lick on Saturday.

On the following BC possession, Chase Rettig threw his third interception of the day. The Eagles ended up with four turnovers and squandered any momentum they may have had after beating Maryland a week ago, and were officially eliminated from bowl contention.

Wake Forest is now one win away from bowl eligibility.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 27, 2012
Here we go ...
Boston College receiver Bobby Swigert will miss the season opener next week against Miami with a left knee injury, coach Frank Spaziani announced Friday.

Swigert was hurt during the team scrimmage Wednesday after making his only catch. In the announcement, Spaziani said Swigert will be out for several weeks. Expected to start this season, Swigert appeared in all 12 games last season and led the Eagles with 44 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns.

Injuries are really mounting for the Eagles, who will be without at least three starters against Miami. Tight end Chris Pantale (foot) and cornerback Al Louis-Jean (foot) also are out for the Miami game. Running backs Rolandan Finch, Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble also have been banged up during preseason camp.
Boston College held its final scrimmage of preseason training camp on Wednesday at Alumni Stadium. Here are the highlights, according to the team's practice report:

Offensive highlights: Junior quarterback Chase Rettig completed 7-of-13 pass attempts for 130 yards and one touchdown -- a 50-yard pass to Bobby Swigert on the opening series of the scrimmage. Backup quarterback Josh Bordner threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Coleman in an overtime situation. Bordner finished 4-for-10 for 36 yards with the touchdown. Tailback Tahj Kimble had seven carries for 26 yards, and Colin Larmond Jr. led the receivers with three receptions for 61 yards.

Defensive highlights: Senior linebacker Nick Clancy led all defensive players with six tackles, and junior linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis recorded four tackles and one pass break-up. Six-foot-7, 250-pound freshman defensive end Malachi Moore knocked down a Rettig pass at the line of scrimmage, and senior defensive tackle Bryan Murray also registered a pass break-up. Kasim Edebali recorded a sack during situational play.

Special teams highlights: Placekicker Nate Freese made field goals from 37 and 34 yards and finished 2-for-3 in field goal attempts. He combined to make 8-of-9 field goal attempts in the Eagles' four scrimmages. Gerald Levano punted three times, including a 33-yard punt on the 13 yard line and a 53-yard punt.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 23, 2012
Ran five miles this morning. Almost back down to playing weight. Bring on the season ...

ND's 2012 opponents, Week 10: BC

July, 27, 2012
Week 10: Nov. 10 at Boston College (at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.)

Time/TV: TBA

Series: Notre Dame leads all-time, 12-9

2011 record: 4-8 (3-5 ACC; fifth place, Atlantic Division)

Head coach: Frank Spaziani (20-19, three years)

Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Colin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, TE Chris Pantale, LT John Wetzel, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, RT Emmett Cleary, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano

Key losses

RB Montel Harris, TE Lars Anderson, C Mark Spinney, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)

Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)

Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)

Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)

Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)

Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)

Three questions for ... ACC blogger Heather Dinich:

Coach Frank Spaziani and players talked a lot this spring about how the worst thing to happen in the 2011 season was the campaign ending, as BC made strides late. Is it possible to build off that momentum in 2012?

Heather Dinich: BC doesn’t have much choice but to answer that with an emphatic ‘yes’ because the Eagles open the season against Miami. That game will set the tone for both programs, and we’ll learn a lot about both of them in Week 1. Voting members of the media picked BC to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division this fall, ahead of only Maryland. The key to whether or not they surpass that is how quickly the offense executes the playbook of yet another offensive coordinator. Offensive lineman Emmett Cleary told me at media days that too much has been made of the turnover at the coordinator position -- that it’s just football and they can learn it. That’s coming from a BC offensive lineman, though -- they’re smart guys. The lack of continuity there will be a factor for some players.

All-everything players Montel Harris and Luke Kuechly are gone, but there is plenty of depth both in the backfield and at linebacker. Can those units maintain production this season?

HD: There’s talent and depth at both positions. Of course, BC would like to have the ACC’s record-setting running back on its roster, but the Eagles will survive without him, especially since the offensive line should be one of the more improved units on the roster. Rolandan Finch and Andre Williams combined to rush for 1,222 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Tahj Kimble had 43 carries and eight catches. At linebacker, nobody can replace Kuechly, but Steele Divitto is sure gonna try. Kevin Pierre-Louis could also be one of the more talented linebackers in the ACC.

Given recent seasons, staff turnover and the mysterious dismissing of Harris, it would appear -- at least on the surface -- to be a do or die year for Spaziani. How does BC respond this year?

HD: Yes, I think his job is on the line. The Eagles, at the very least, must go bowling for Spaz to keep his seat cool. At least that’s my guess. I have little doubt that BC responds like it always does -- with a chip on its shoulder. Spaziani told me at ACC media days that he has a chip on HIS shoulder, and those are the types of players BC recruits, too -- solid, hard-working, blue-collar guys who simply love the game. They’ll play for anybody. BC might not be the best team in the ACC, but you can always expect the Eagles’ best effort.

Boston College spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
2011 overall record: 4-8
2011 conference record: 3-5 (5th, Atlantic)

Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
LT John Wetzel, RT Emmett Cleary, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, TE Chris Pantale, QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Coin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano

Key losses
C Mark Spinney, TE Lars Anderson, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)
Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)
Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)
Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)
Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)
Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)

Spring answers

1. Chase Rettig makes strides: Rettig was thrown into the fire early, and he has endured plenty since, with injuries, new schemes and last year's 4-8 campaign. Now a junior, and playing for another new offensive coordinator, Rettig has the command of the offense and should benefit from playing behind an experienced offensive line.

2. More running back depth than BC probably hoped for: Montel Harris and Andre Williams couldn't go in the spring game. Then Tahj Kimble injured himself early in the contest. Finch, who played a lot last season with Harris sidelined, ended up shouldering the load, and it will take a group effort this season with Harris out of the picture. Injuries and a dismissal gave BC a better look at its backfield talent than it had probably hoped for, but the group effort this spring should benefit the Eagles come fall.

3. Defense looking to build off 2011 finish: Coach Frank Spaziani said the worst thing about last season was that it ended. BC is hungry to build off its 4-8 campaign, as the team hopes to carry the momentum from winning two of its final three games. A long offseason gave the defense time to think about that finish, which was keyed by a unit that held each of the final three opponents to fewer than 20 points.

Fall questions

1. Who will replace Luke Kuechly? The short answer is no one. Kuechly's legend will only continue to grow with each passing day. But the Eagles do return plenty of talented linebackers, led by Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis. It will take a collective effort and then some for the linebackers to make up for the loss of Kuechly, but their attitude in trying can certainly rub off on the rest of the defense.

2. What happened with Harris? The school's all-time leading rusher was dismissed from the team after the spring for a repeated violation of team rules. The backfield is used to playing without him after his injury-plagued 2011 campaign, but the suddenness of Harris' departure -- which Spaziani will not get into -- has to have some effect on his former teammates, especially with Harris having been primed to chase the ACC's career rushing record this season.

3. How will the offense transition under Doug Martin? Spaziani said he was impressed with the unit coming out of the spring, but a fifth offensive coordinator in five years has to be challenging for the players. Martin has said he is looking to increase the pace, and he'll have nine starters back to work with come preseason camp.
With national signing day quickly approaching, we’re going to take a look at the recruiting needs of each school in the ACC, starting with the Atlantic Division. These needs are based on current rosters and anticipated departures in the near future. Here’s a look at who has what holes to fill in the 2012 class:


Linemen: The depth here continues to be a priority on both sides. The decision of defensive end Max Holloway to declare early for the NFL draft was an unexpected loss, and tackle Dillon Quinn will be a senior. Offensively, the Eagles will have to replace two veterans and leaders in center Mark Spinney and guard Nate Richman.

Linebackers: All-American Luke Kuechly’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft was expected, but the staff is looking for about two or three more linebackers in this class.

Receivers: This was a young group to begin with, as Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert were both true sophomores, but the staff could use one or two more in this class.


Linemen: The Tigers will lose three starters on the defensive line and three more on the offensive line from the 2011 ACC championship team. Center Dalton Freeman is a returning starter, but he will be a senior. Six players on the final two-deep depth chart on the offensive line were either seniors or graduate students in 2011, and four on the defensive line two-deep must be replaced.

Running back: Andre Ellington is entering his senior year, and while Mike Bellamy is back in school and in the good graces of coach Dabo Swinney, the future of the position is uncertain. Rod McDowell played well in the bowl game, and D.J. Howard has been a backup.

Defensive backs: The Tigers could start three seniors in the secondary in 2012: Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.

Kickers: The Tigers will lose punter Dawson Zimmerman, opening up an opportunity for a true freshman to play immediately.


Pick and choose: The Noles have built up enough depth that they can now be selective. Instead of building a class heavy on offensive linemen, Florida State can now pick and choose the best at each position. The Noles need at least one running back, one or two quarterbacks, a few offensive tackles, a linebacker to help replace Nigel Bradham and a safety or two.

Kickers: The Noles have big shoes to fill with the graduation of punter Shawn Powell, and kicker Dustin Hopkins is entering his final season.


Running back: This is a position where a true freshman could see some playing time this year. Justus Pickett returns, along with Brandon Ross, who redshirted last year.

Quarterback: The Terps ended the 2011 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Both will be juniors and nobody is behind them.

Cornerback. Maryland has to replace Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism at cornerback, leaving Dexter McDougle the only one with any significant playing time.


Defensive line: The staff already has about six linemen committed and ends were a particular focus. Half of the linemen in the two-deep depth chart for the Belk Bowl were either juniors or seniors.

Secondary: This should be a strength for NC State in 2012, but the staff needs to prepare for the future here. Cornerback C.J. Wilson will be a senior, along with safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop.

Quarterback: Mike Glennon is already listed as a graduate student, and his backup, Tyler Brosius, redshirted this past season. The position is thin and the future uncertain behind Glennon.


Offensive line: The Deacs will lose four starters up front, but coach Jim Grobe has only played one true freshman there in 11 years. He has several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who are expected to fill in, but the staff wants to continue to build the depth at the position.

Tight end: Wake Forest will graduate its top two tight ends and will turn to two redshirt sophomores in Neil Basford and Johnny Garcia who have yet to catch a pass. It’s possible this could be a spot where an exceptional freshman could see playing time.

Defensive backs: The Deacs have to replace starting free safety Josh Bush and starting strong safety Cyhl Quarles. Cornerback Kenny Okoro will be a redshirt senior.

Week 9: Did you know?

October, 28, 2011
Thanks as always to the sports information directors throughout the league for this week’s notes:

ACC: ACC players accounted for one-third of the total number of players chosen to be semifinalists for the prestigious Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Boston College’s Luke Kuechly, Miami’s Sean Spence, North Carolina’s Zach Brown and NC State’s Audie Cole all made the cut, the most of any league.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Linebacker Luke Kuechly extended his streak of games with 10 or more tackles to 29 in Saturday’s loss at Virginia Tech. Kuechly had 19 stops against the Hokies. He’s not the only Eagle on a streak, as receiver Bobby Swigert has caught at least one pass in 19 straight games.

CLEMSON: Defensive end Kourtnei Brown became only the third player since the NCAA began keeping records on defensive touchdown returns in 2000 to return a fumble and an interception for scores in the same game. Brown returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of Clemson’s 59-38 win over North Carolina and added a 26-yard fumble return for a score in the third quarter. He was named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week.

DUKE: Receivers Donovan Varner and Conner Vernon are both chasing the school’s all-time receptions leader, Clarkston Hines, who set the school record with a then ACC-record 189 catches from 1986-89. Varner is right behind Hines with 180 grabs while Vernon is in third place with 175 receptions.

FLORIDA STATE: Freshman tailback Devonta Freeman has had consecutive 100-yard rushing performances in back-to-back wins by the Seminoles. Freeman, who ran for 109 yards at Duke and 100 on 11 carries against Maryland, is the first FSU true freshman to reach 100 yards in consecutive games since Chris Parker did it in 1988. The Seminoles host NC State on Saturday, where Freeman will try and match Greg Allen, who in 1981 was the last FSU true freshman to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark in three consecutive games. Allen did it with 202 at LSU, 322 against West Carolina and 109 against Miami.

GEORGIA TECH: With their next ACC win, the Jackets will secure their 17th straight season at .500 or better in the league. That’s a conference record.

MARYLAND: Receiver Quintin McCree established career highs in catches with nine and yardage with 177 against Florida State last weekend. He entered the game with 269 career receiving yards. His total against FSU was the second-highest by a Terrapin in any game in the past decade. Torrey Smith had 224 against NC State last season.

MIAMI: Entering Thursday night’s game against Virginia, receiver Tommy Streeter ranked fifth nationally with 20.4 yards per reception. Of Streeter’s 28 receptions on the season, 12 have gone for 25-yards or more, including catches of 57, 51 and 26 yards against Virginia. The 6-foot-5 speedster also has seven touchdowns receptions on the season, leading the team.

NORTH CAROLINA: Freshman T.J. Thorpe leads the ACC and is 15th in the nation with a 29.3 kickoff return average. He returned a third-quarter kickoff against Clemson 100 yards for a touchdown. It is just the second 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in school history. The other was Tyrell Godwin at Stanford in 1998. It is just the 14th time in ACC history that a player has returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The last player to do so was Maryland's Josh Wilson against Georgia Tech in 2006.

NC STATE: The last six times that the Pack has played FSU when they were ranked, NC State has pulled off four victories. Florida State was not ranked in 2007, '08 or '09 and State dropped all three of those contests. The series is tied 5-5 in the past 10 matchups, and in nine of those games, the score was decided by 10 points or less. The average margin in those 10 games has been just 7.1 points.

VIRGINIA: Virginia held Miami scoreless in the first quarter. UVa has now held seven of eight opponents in 2011 scoreless in the first quarter. Only Southern Miss managed one touchdown, serving the only points yielded against UVa in the first quarter.

VIRGINIA TECH: Running back David Wilson has five straight 100-yard rushing games; he is the second Hokie (Ryan Williams, 2009) to do so. Wilson has totalled between 123 and 136 yards in all five games. He has seven 100-yard performances on the year. The ACC record is 10, held by Williams in 2009 and North Carolina’s Don McCauley in 1970.

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe earned the 100th win of his career last weekend with a 24-23 win over Duke. Grobe posted a 33-33-1 record in six seasons at Ohio University from 1995-2000. He has gone 67-62 in 11 seasons at Wake Forest. Grobe has a record of 36-49 in ACC games during his tenure, a winning percentage of .424. Prior to Grobe’s arrival, Wake Forest had managed just a .282 winning percentage in ACC games. Overall, Grobe’s winning percentage at Wake Forest stands at .519 while his predecessors had managed just a .398 winning percentage.



Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12