ACC: Brandan Bishop

NC State season preview

August, 13, 2013
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Today, we're looking at NC State, which changed coaches in spite of a third straight bowl appearance last year and is now entering a season of transition.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Coach: Dave Doeren (first year at NC State, 23-4 overall)

2012 record: 7-6 (4-4 ACC)

Key losses: QB Mike Glennon, LG R.J. Mattes, WR Tobais Palmer, LB Rickey Dowdy, S Earl Wolff, CB David Amerson

Key returnees: WR Bryan Underwood, WR Quintin Payton, RB Tony Creecy, DT T.Y. McGill, DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, CB Dontae Johnson

Newcomer to watch: QB Pete Thomas. The redshirt junior sat out all of last season after transferring from Colorado State, but he may be the answer to NC State's gaping need at quarterback this year. A two-year starter before transferring, he threw for 18 touchdowns and completed better than 63 percent of his passes to establish his credentials, then outplayed Manny Stocker this spring to gain an edge on the starting job with the Wolfpack.

Biggest games in 2013: vs. Clemson, Sept. 19; at Florida State, Oct. 26; vs. North Carolina, Nov. 2

[+] EnlargeDave Doeren
Andrew Weber/USA Today SportsCan Dave Doeren lead NC State to a fourth straight bowl game despite losing numerous key members from the 2012 squad?
Biggest question mark heading into 2013: It would be easy enough to look at Miami's dismantling of NC State's secondary to the tune of an ACC record 566 passing yards and assume there was nowhere to go but up. But the truth is, in spite of its notable missteps last season, there was a ton of talent in the defensive backfield, and much of it has moved on for 2013. Gone are longtime stalwarts Amerson, Wolff and Brandan Bishop, meaning a massive overhaul is in store. Johnson is the lone returning regular from last season, and Hakim Jones and Jarvis Byrd will need to step up into bigger roles.

Forecast: The Wolfpack won 24 games in the past three seasons, but it wasn't enough to save Tom O'Brien's job. He was fired before a bowl loss to Vanderbilt, and Doeren, the former Northern Illinois coach, was brought in to right the ship. It's a tall order for the new coach.

It's a year of transition across the board for NC State. Not only has Doeren revamped the coaching staff, but the Wolfpack will be looking for a new starting quarterback after sending Glennon to the NFL. They also must replace four offensive linemen and overhaul a significant portion of the defense. That's a lot of transition, but there is room for optimism.

NC State returns ample talent at the skill positions on offense, including its two top rushers from last season in Creecy and Shadrach Thornton, who combined for nearly 1,200 yards rushing in 2012. Doeren has a strong track record of running the football with success, and after finishing 111th nationally in that department last season, there's plenty of room for improvement.

The secondary is a concern defensively, but NC State does return some serious talent on the line of scrimmage -- including all four starters from a year ago. McGill is a rising star, and Cato-Bishop and Art Norman should disrupt plenty of opposing quarterbacks. Whether it's enough to overcome the questionable defensive backfield, however, remains to be seen.

Of course, the swing vote on the season is likely to be Thomas. NC State's schedule is manageable and there are plenty of weapons on offense if Doeren can find a quarterback capable of exploiting them. It's a new era at NC State, but a fourth straight bowl game isn't out of the question.

Weak and strong: NC State

June, 24, 2013
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We move on in our series looking at the weakest and strongest positions on each team in the ACC with NC State.

Strongest position: Defensive line

Considering the returning starters here, this position is the Wolfpack's most experienced headed into the season. And when you have a veteran line with the ability to get into the opponent's backfield, you can make up for weaknesses on other parts of the defense (we'll get there in a minute). The Wolfpack return T.Y. McGill and Thomas Teal in the middle of the line, along with Darryl Cato-Bishop and Art Norman at defensive end. Cato-Bishop (6.5), Norman (5.5) and McGill (5) accounted for 17 of the team's 33 sacks a year ago. But Cato-Bishop and Norman are not quite locks to start opening day. Cato-Bishop was challenged this spring by rising talent Mike Rose, and that position remains open for competition headed into the fall. Forrest West is pushing Norman as well. Defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable does have some concerns over depth at end, but there is a veteran group returning that has proven it can hold its own up front.

Weakest position: Defensive back

There are a number of spots we could have chosen here, as the Wolfpack have major concerns at quarterback, receiver and the offensive line as well. But defensive back has the most questions of all because only one starter returns, and there are some depth concerns here as well. NC State has to replace starting cornerback David Amerson and starting safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop -- both Amerson and Wolff were selected in the NFL draft this past April. Though Amerson did not have the year everybody expected in 2012, he did start 35 games in his Wolfpack career. Juston Burris, slated to replace him, had a great spring but only has five career starts, all at nickel back. Dontae Johnson, the lone returning starter from a year ago, will be expected to provide leadership for the entire secondary. As for safety, Huxtable also has depth concerns here though coach Dave Doeren was encouraged by the way Jarvis Byrd performed this spring after knee injuries have had a major impact on his career. Sophomore Hakim Jones is ahead of Tim Buckley at the other safety spot. Both are sophomores. Of the eight players listed on the post-spring depth chart, Byrd and Johnson were the only seniors. The other six? Freshmen or sophomores.

More in this series here.
2012 record: 7-6
2012 conference record: 4-4 ACC (third in Atlantic Division)
Returning starters: offense: 5; defense: 5; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners:

WR Quintin Payton, OT Rob Crisp, OT Tyson Chandler, DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, CB Dontae Johnson PK Niklas Sade, P Wil Baumann

Key losses:

QB Mike Glennon, WR Tobais Palmer, OG R.J. Mattes, C Camden Wentz, CB David Amerson, S Earl Wolff, S Brandan Bishop

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Shadrach Thornton* (694 yards)
Passing: Glennon (4,031 yards)
Receiving: Palmer (781 yards)
Tackles: Wolff (119)
Sacks: Cato-Bishop* (6.5)
Interceptions: Amerson (5)

Spring answers

1. QB Pete Thomas is next in line. Thomas edged out Manny Stocker for the majority of first-team reps this spring, and while the staff isn’t ready to name Thomas the starter, it became clear he is the front-runner to take over for Mike Glennon.

2. Picking up the pace: First-year coach Dave Doeren and his staff didn’t install the entire offense, but the Wolfpack did begin to make the switch to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense this spring. Doeren wants to snap it every 15 seconds, and the players began to adjust to a different pace of play.

3. Solid specialists: If there is one area the Pack shouldn’t be concerned about this fall, it’s the kicking game. The holder, punter and place-kicker are all true juniors who have been playing since they were true freshmen. Doeren said all of them had a great spring.

Fall questions

1. Unproven quarterbacks: While Thomas took the majority of reps, Doeren has stressed this remains an open competition into summer, and none of them have yet to compose a résumé comparable to Glennon’s.

2. Shuffling on the offensive line: NC State has to replace three starters up front, and the new staff spent this spring experimenting with different combinations to try and find the best fits. The linemen have also had to adjust to different blocking schemes in the faster-paced offense.

3. New faces at safety. It’s been almost three and a half years since anyone besides Wolff and Bishop had to play safety at NC State. Replacing that experience will be difficult. Hakim Jones was a backup last year who has been penciled in as a starter, and Jarvis Byrd, a fifth-year redshirt senior who has been injured for most of the past two seasons and was a former cornerback, is another top option. Finding a rotation at safety will be a priority this summer.

ACC's spring position battles

February, 21, 2013
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There are going to be position battles this spring at every school in the ACC, but some will be in the spotlight more than others. If you’re just tuning in to ACC football, here are some of the biggest competitions in the conference this spring:

OFFENSE

1. Florida State quarterback: This is arguably the most intriguing competition in the entire conference, as the Seminoles have to replace veteran EJ Manuel. Clint Trickett enters the spring at the top of the depth chart, but consider this job open. Sophomore Jacob Coker is the total package, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and could be the answer, too.

2. North Carolina running back: The Tar Heels have to find a way to replace leading rusher Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL draft. Not only will his loss be felt in the running game, but probably even moreso in the return game, as Bernard was one of the nation’s top punt returners. UNC returns A.J. Blue and Romar Morris, who combined for 819 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

3. Syracuse quarterback: The Orange enter the ACC with a new coach and in need of a new quarterback. Record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib is gone, leaving behind a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.

DEFENSE

1. Florida State defensive ends: The cream of the crop is gone, as Tank Carradine, Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins all have to be replaced. Enter Mario Edwards Jr., who has a leg-up on the competition because he played in 11 games as a true freshman, and started the final two games of the year in place of the injured Carradine. Don’t forget about Giorgio Newberry, though, and Chris Casher, who is now healthy after a knee injury. Casher will start spring ball on the two-deep depth chart. Dan Hicks, who was Jenkins’ backup two years ago, had a knee injury and missed all of last season. He had moved to tight end, but was in the rotation at defensive end earlier in his career and could come back.

2. NC State secondary: This group will have an entirely new look this spring, as three starters have to be replaced, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.

3. Virginia Tech cornerback: Virginia Tech’s defensive backfield lost its star last month when cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game. Several young players will compete for his reps this spring, including Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes. Highly touted cornerback Kendall Fuller will join the team in the summer.
BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The transition: Introductions will be necessary as first-year coach Steve Addazio takes over. The good news is that offensive coordinator Ryan Day is a familiar face as he was the receivers coach under Frank Spaziani. He should work well with quarterback Chase Rettig.
  2. The front seven. There used to be a time when BC’s defense was one of the best in the country. It wasn’t last year. The Eagles were No. 111 in the country in rushing defense and No. 120 in sacks and tackles for loss. First-year coordinator Don Brown has some work to do.
  3. The running backs. They were an inconsistent group last year as BC ranked No. 115 in the country in rushing offense at 90.92 yards per game. All of the key contributors return, including leading rusher Andre Williams, but the group has to do a better job of taking pressure off of Rettig.
CLEMSON

Spring start: March 6

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Defensive progress: This is the second spring under coordinator Brent Venables, and the defense is the missing piece to the program becoming a contender on the national level. The defensive backs will have the most to prove as three starters have to be replaced.
  2. The new playmakers: Clemson lost two big names on offense in receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who left early for the NFL, and running back Andre Ellington. There is plenty of talent remaining in the wings, but it has to step out of the shadows this spring.
  3. Front and center: The Tigers return four starters to the offensive line, but have to replace their anchor in veteran center Dalton Freeman. While quarterback Tajh Boyd returns, the communication with the new center will be critical for calls and snaps.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring start: Mar. 20

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The QB battle: It's a three-way race to replace EJ Manuel, and while Clint Trickett will enter spring practice as the nominal No. 1, there's no clear favorite to win the job. Sophomore Jacob Coker has perhaps the best mix of arm strength, athleticism and experience, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the country's top QB recruit two years ago and could blossom into a superstar.
  2. The new coaches. There will be a much different feel on the practice fields at FSU this spring with six new assistant coaches running the show. Four of the assistants have previous coordinator experience, making it a veteran group, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt brings an Alabama pedigree to a unit that was already among the best in the nation.
  3. The new faces. A year ago, there weren't a ton of jobs open in the spring thanks to a hefty dose of veterans. Things are different this time around, meaning youngsters like WR Kelvin Benjamin, DE Mario Edwards Jr. and CB Ronald Darby will get their opportunities to solidify key roles on this year's team.
MARYLAND

Spring start: March 2

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  1. Quarterbacks. The Terps’ unprecedented run of injuries at the position was one of the ACC’s biggest storylines last year. C.J. Brown, the projected starter, will be limited and won’t play in the spring game, but he can throw and participate in some drills. Ricardo Young, who sat out all year after transferring, will be the top healthy quarterback on the roster this spring and take the majority of the snaps. He played for offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at New Mexico and is familiar with the system. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe aren’t nearly as ready or healthy as Brown is. Dustin Dailey, who also sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, is healthy and available.
  2. Early enrollees: Three recruits enrolled early, including two junior college transfers who can help immediately. Maryland fans should be eager to see how junior college transfer Deon Long, a receiver, adds to the offense. Silvano Altamirano, another junior college transfer, will compete immediately for playing time at offensive guard.
  3. Defensive competition: Maryland has some big names to replace in defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and middle linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, all of whom were mainstays on the defense. Cole Farrand will be the veteran linebacker now, and Darius Kilgo is the only returning starter on the defensive line.
NC STATE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The quarterback competition. The Mike Glennon era is over, and Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the top options to replace him. Thomas, a former transfer from Colorado State, was a two-year starter there and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns. Stocker, a sophomore, has yet to take a collegiate snap.
  2. The staff transition. First-year coach Dave Doeren is taking over and he has hired an almost entirely new staff. How the players adjust to the change in terminology, schemes and personalities will be critical to the transition.
  3. A revamped secondary: NC State will have to replace three starters, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.
SYRACUSE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Staff changes: First-year coach Scott Shafer, who replaced Doug Marrone, has been with the program for four years, so it’s not a drastic change for the players, but it is Shafer’s first as a head coach. He has a chance to put his stamp on the program as it enters the first season in the ACC.
  2. Quarterback competition: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, and it’s a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates, but Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
  3. Replacing SS Shamarko Thomas: The Orange have to replace their leading tackler and top defender, as Thomas had 84 tackles last year. He was a game-changer who also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was a first-team All-Big East selection.
WAKE FOREST

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The health of the O-line: Wake was hit hard by injuries last year, and keeping this group healthy this offseason will be critical. The Deacs only lost one senior -- center Garrick Williams, but last year injuries forced the staff to play a significant number of redshirt freshmen, which it doesn’t like to do. Whit Barnes, for example, started 11 games at left guard. He was supposed to be a backup center.
  2. Camp’s complement: The Deacs have to find a complement to star receiver Michael Campanaro. He’s the go-to guy, but quarterback Tanner Price needs a few more reliable targets to emerge this spring. Sherman Ragland, Matt James, Brandon Terry and Airyn Willis are all options.
  3. Improving inside: The Deacs’ inside linebackers need a boost after losing Riley Haynes and Scott Betros. Redshirt junior Mike Olson will be a starter, but Wake needs to find another starter there and develop some dependable backups.

ACC reps in East-West Shrine Game

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
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The 88th East-West Shrine Game will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The East roster is loaded with ACC players from a wide range of schools. Wake Forest was the only school not represented:

EAST
WEST

Midseason Report: NC State

October, 16, 2012
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NC STATE

Record: 4-2, 1-1

The Wolfpack got their signature win in the first half of the season, erasing a 16-0 halftime deficit to stun No. 3 Florida State 17-16 a few weeks ago. Just when you thought NC State was going to end up being a big disappointment, the Wolfpack go and do the unexpected. That has been the M.O. of this team in recent years, and coach Tom O'Brien deserves a large amount of credit for getting his players ready to play. Now if they can win out, they play in the ACC championship game. But there are still questions this team must answer.

First, can their offensive line continue to make strides the way we saw against the Seminoles? Despite missing three starters, NC State gave up just one sack against Florida State, a team with the two leading sack-masters in the ACC. Quarterback Mike Glennon had time to throw, and that helped facilitate the comeback.

Second, has the secondary found its stride? All-American David Amerson has had a rough start to the season, in losses to Miami and Tennessee in particular. But he rebounded nicely against the Seminoles. NC State needs him to be the shutdown cornerback he was a year ago. Case in point -- the Wolfpack rank last in the ACC in pass defense.

Third, can the offense find consistency? That has been particularly elusive this year, given some of the injuries along the line and in the backfield and at receiver. NC State is in the bottom half of the league in total offense and scoring offense and has gone over 30 points just twice against FBS competition.

Offensive MVP: Glennon. He started off the season shaky with four interceptions against Tennessee, but since then has played decently, throwing for 1,681 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. His performance against FSU alone gets him the MVP, after converting three fourth downs on the game-winning drive and throwing for 259 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Defensive MVP: Brandan Bishop. Bishop leads the team with 47 tackles and also has a team-leading two forced fumbles. Bishop has been one of the most consistent players on a defense that has had its share of ups and downs. But in the biggest win of the year, Bishop had a team-high 11 tackles and two pass breakups against the Seminoles.

Q&A with NCSU S Earl Wolff

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
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NC State’s secondary entered this season as a veteran group. It’s still a veteran group, but it hasn’t performed up to its potential yet this season. That will have to change on Saturday if the Wolfpack is going to have a chance to upset No. 3-ranked Florida State. I spoke with senior safety Earl Wolff earlier this week to get his take on the season so far. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

What’s happened to you guys? What’s going on?

Earl Wolff: We had a lot of breakdowns in our pass coverage that usually doesn’t happen. Things like that went wrong our freshmen year. We didn’t expect it to happen against Miami and it did. We watched film and we handled everything we needed to handle. We made adjustments and I feel like we’re ready to go this Saturday.

[+] EnlargeEarl Wolff
J Pat Carter/AP PhotoNC State's Earl Wolff tracks down Miami quarterback Stephen Morris in the two teams' Week 5 game.
Do you feel like you guys have fallen below your own expectations, considering what a veteran group the secondary is?

EW: Absolutely. 565 yards, that really hurt. Deep balls over our heads, things that don’t usually happen. We feel like we can be the best secondary in the nation, athletically and mentally. When it comes to experience, we’re one of the more experienced groups in the ACC, also. That 565 yards, it hurt us. I don’t want to say we needed it, but we’ll build off of that and try to be better this week. As a matter of fact I can promise you that won’t happen again.

I read you called a team meeting. How important was it for you guys to do that?

EW: Honestly it was very important. I feel like we should’ve done that last week, before the Miami game. Everybody’s heads weren’t where they needed to be. People had different things on their minds. I don’t know the exact number of penalties, but especially with coach O’Brien, we’re not used to that many penalties in a game. I just feel like guys, I don’t know if the heat was getting to them, I don’t know exactly what it was, but that team meeting we had, we didn’t name any individuals, we just talked about what we need to work on as a team. We talked about what we need to do to get better at our weaknesses. Mostly everything that happened was mentally. The staff was in there for part of the meeting and then they left. We just went in there and a couple of guys stood up and said what they had to say. I feel like it was a much-needed meeting and we’ll build off of that and get ready for this great game Saturday.

The No. 3 team in the country is coming to your house. How do you get better quickly enough to be ready for this game?

EW: Just preparation. I feel like a lot of people didn’t prepare the way they should have last week. As a matter of fact, we usually call meetings individually on Thursday, we call it ourselves, the players, and honestly, a lot of guys didn’t show up. I felt like in the game it showed. When we talked to everybody we said if you’re not all in then you can leave right now. A lot of guys have buckled down and they’re going to be all in. That’s exactly what we need this week. We’re going to play one of the best teams in the nation. Luckily we get to play them at home in front of our crowd. We’re going to get all this energy from our crowd. We’re going to need all the energy we have. We have to go all out to beat Florida State.

What do you feel like the attitude is right now? Do you feel like you guys can truly beat them?

EW: Honestly we do. A lot of people outside of here even some fans probably think we can’t. But I feel like as long as the coaches believe in us and we believe in ourselves, that’s really all that matters. For example, last year we played Clemson. A lot of people thought we were going to lose. They were ranked. We came in, we beat them, and it was our crowd. Our crowd gives us energy that we need. Luckily we played them at home. We get to feed off our crowd. We’re going to put up a fight for all four quarters.

Have you had to console David Amerson at all?

EW: Honestly, I did that during the game. Dave doesn’t talk a whole lot. He’s never been one who does a whole lot of talking. But sometimes you can just look at him and see there’s something wrong. At the game I could tell, I don’t know what’s going on, but this is not like him. I said something to him during the game and then basically afterwards, I was like, ‘Man, Dave, it’s not just you, brother, we all played bad. We can’t point the finger at you. If our pass coverage skills are on point, they don’t throw the ball like that. It’s not just you. Just stay up.' Dave said thank you. He’s a competitor. He’ll continue to compete, regardless of what happens. It won’t happen again.

It sounds like that meeting helped. Maybe it will be a turning point for you guys.

EW: Oh yeah, I feel like that meeting really was what we needed. We’ll probably call another one before the game on Saturday, just to make sure. We’ll probably call one Thursday, honestly. Make sure everybody gets their rest and just prepares right.

Where is the leadership coming from this year besides yourself?

EW: I don’t really do a whole lot of talking, but I feel like a lot of people aren’t talking. So, sometimes I have to speak up and say what I’ve got to say. In the secondary, it’s me, Brandan Bishop, C.J. Wilson throws his input in sometimes. He doesn’t say too much, either. Linebackers it’s really just Sterling [Lucas]. On the d-line, Darryl Cato-Bishop. He holds everyone on that d-line accountable. I really like that guy. Just leading. Offensively I would say it’s Mike Glennon. Mario Carter sometimes. But I feel like we still have to do a better job when it comes to that. Everybody’s still just not on board yet. We have a lot of young guys, and I feel like sometimes they’re in the mindset of, ‘Shoot, I have two more years, three more years, so if we don’t do it this year, than maybe next year.’ We’re trying to instill in their minds that it has to happen now. We need it now. Imagine if it was your senior year, how would you feel about it? That’s how I felt when I was playing. At first I was like, I have this year, and this year. Even though I always gave it my all. I remember Nate [Irving], Audie [Cole], all them boys, saying, it’s our senior year. We want to win this. We want you to help us win this. I’m just trying to instill that in their minds and help everybody buy in.”

ACC's most experienced starters

June, 25, 2012
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Had former Boston College running back Montel Harris not been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, the Eagles would have had the two most experienced returning starters in the ACC. Even without Harris, though, BC still has the league's leading veteran in tight end Chris Pantale, who has the most career starts of any ACC returnee this fall at any positions. Pantale enters 2012 with 38 career starts. NC State and North Carolina also have some experience returning.

Here's a look at the ACC's leading returning veterans, according to the ACC:

1. Chris Pantale, Boston College, Sr., TE: 38 starts

2. Dalton Freeman, Clemson, Sr., C: 36

2. Vaughn Telemaque, Miami, Sr., SS: 36

4. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, Sr., G: 35

5. Brandan Bishop, NC State, Sr., SS: 33

6. Conner Vernon, Duke, Sr., WR: 32

7. Rashard Hall, Clemson, Sr., FS: 31

7. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, Sr., LB: 31

9. Erik Highsmith, North Carolina, Sr., WR: 30

9. R.J. Mattes, NC State, Sr., T: 30

9. Earl Wolff, NC State, Sr. SS: 30
2011 overall record: 8-5

2011 conference record: 4-4 (4th, Atlantic)

Returning starters

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

Top returners

LT R.J. Mattes, LG Duran Christophe, RG Zach Allen, C Camden Wentz, QB Mike Glennon, RB James Washington, WR Tobais Palmer, DE Brian Slay, DE Art Norman, DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, CB C.J. Wilson, CB David Amerson, S Brandan Bishop, S Earl Wolff

Key losses

WR T.J. Graham, WR Jay Smith, TE George Bryan, RT Mikel Overgaard, DT Markus Kuhn, LB Terrell Manning, LB Audie Cole, LB D.J. Green

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: James Washington* (897 yards)
Passing: Mike Glennon* (3,054 yards)
Receiving: T.J. Graham (757 yards)
Tackles: Audie Cole (108)
Sacks: Audie Cole/Terrell Manning/Art Norman*/Darryl Cato-Bishop* (5.5)
Interceptions: David Amerson* (13)

Spring answers

1. Good luck passing against these DBs. All four starters are back, headed by the record-setting David Amerson, whose 13 picks last season were the most in ACC history. Amerson added another in the spring game. Playing keep-away won't be so easy for opposing quarterbacks, who also have to worry about corner C.J. Wilson, who has returned all three of his career picks for scores.

2. Mike Glennon ready to improve. It wasn't always easy playing in the shadow of Russell Wilson, but Glennon had a strong finish to the 2011 season and had the benefit (or is it horror?) of facing his own secondary this spring. Look for him to build off his 3,000-yard debut season.

3. Glennon's targets should be fine. Despite the loss of T.J. Graham, the Wolfpack figure to be OK at wide receiver. Tobais Palmer had five touchdowns last season and should lead a group that, like Glennon, had its work cut out for it this spring going up against a talented secondary.

Fall questions

1. How will the LBs fare? Graduations, early draft departures and suspensions have hurt the unit. Dontae Johnson is the only returner with extensive playing time, but that came at free safety, a position he left behind this spring. Fifth-year senior Sterling Lucas figures to enter camp as the starter in the middle.

2. How will Rodman Noel transition? The athletic Noel has moved from safety to outside linebacker, and a strong jump from him could provide a big boost to the young unit. Look for him to be used all over the field in a hybrid-like role for the Wolfpack.

3. Can Mustafa Greene emerge? Legal problems and injuries have hurt the running back, who would be returning to play behind an experienced offensive line if he can work his way back into playing time. Greene totaled 869 yards and six touchdowns during his true freshman campaign of 2010.
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:

BOSTON COLLEGE

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.

CLEMSON

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.

FLORIDA STATE

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.

MARYLAND

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.

NC STATE

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.

WAKE FOREST

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.

ACC's players of the week

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
12:43
PM ET
Here are the ACC's players of the week, as announced and written by the league offices in Greensboro, N.C.

OFFENSIVE BACK – Mike Glennon, NC State, Sr., QB, 6-6, 232, Centreville, Va.

Glennon completed 19 of 29 pass attempts for 253 yards and three touchdowns and did not throw an interception. Glennon got more and more prolific as the game went along, completing 8 of 10 pass attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter as the Wolfpack scored 27 points in the period, then completing 6 of 9 attempts for 138 yards in the third quarter, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Tobias Palmer and three other passes of 19 yards or longer.

RECEIVER – Chris Givens, Wake Forest, Jr., WR, 6-0, 195, Wylie, Tex.

Givens tied his career-high with eight receptions and set a career-high with 191 receiving yards in Wake Forest’s 31-10 win over Maryland. Givens added a 35-yard touchdown catch from QB Tanner Price. In the process, Givens set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,207. That also ranks as the sixth-best season receiving total in ACC history.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech, Sr., OT, 6-5, 311, Midlothian, Va.

Playing in his last game at Lane Stadium, DeChristopher played all 74 offensive snaps, grading out at 86 percent with a team-high seven knockdown blocks. He had a key push on Logan Thomas on a 4th-and-1 sneak for a first down and sprung David Wilson for several big runs. He has graded out at 91 percent for the season with a team-high 100 knockdown blocks.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, Jr., DE, 6-3, 265, Tallahassee, Fla.

Jenkins matched his season-high with six tackles including 2.5 sacks of Virginia QB Michael Rocco. The 2.5 sacks matched a career high for the junior and pushed his season total to a team-leading seven. The preseason All-American and All-ACC candidate now has 10 tackles for loss on the season. In addition to applying pressure on the quarterback, Jenkins was instrumental in the Seminoles’ limiting the Cavaliers to a season-low 78 rushing yards – more than 100 under their per-game average – and 316 total yards. FSU’s rushing defense now ranks third nationally and the Seminoles are sixth nationally in sacks per game. Jenkins now ranks seventh in FSU history with 34.5 career tackles for loss and with 20.5 career sacks. He is 10th all-time for the Seminoles.

LINEBACKER – Steve Greer, Virginia, Jr., ILB, 6-2, 225, Solon, Ohio

Greer led the Virginia defense with eight tackles and recorded two sacks and another QB hurry in UVa's 14-13 upset win at Florida State. Greer came up with a key sack in the fourth quarter. With FSU leading 13-7 and at the Cavaliers' 30-yard line, Greer sacked FSU quarterback EJ Manuel for a 14-yard loss, forcing the Seminoles to punt. UVa scored the winning touchdown on its next drive. The Cavalier defense held FSU to just three points in the second half. Florida State entered the game averaging 34.6 points per game. Only Oklahoma (also with 13 points) has held FSU to less than 14 points this year.

DEFENSIVE BACK – Brandan Bishop, NC State, Jr., S, 6-2, 210, Boca Raton, Fla.

Bishop led the Wolfpack with 10 total tackles, including nine first hits, one tackle for a two-yard loss, and his fifth interception of the season.

SPECIALIST – Ryan Quigley, Boston College, Sr., P, 6-3, 188, Little River, S.C.

Downed six (of nine punts in total) inside Notre Dame’s 12-yard line, including five punts inside the 9. Of his six punts inside the 12, three were downed (at the 5, 3 and 12-yard lines) and three were fair caught (at the 6, 8 and 9-yard lines). Quigley finished the game with a season-high nine punts for 369 yards, an average of 41.0 yards per punt, and matched a season-long with a 52-yard punt in the first quarter.

ROOKIE – Art Norman, NC State, Fr., DE, 6-1, 242, Stone Mountain, Ga.

A redshirt freshman defensive end from Stone Mountain, Ga., Norman had four total tackles, including three sacks for 16 yards. He also caused a fumble.
Moving on to the safeties …

[+] EnlargeRay-Ray Armstrong
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireRay-Ray Armstrong is among the leaders of a strong Miami secondary.
1. Miami: Vaughn Telemaque and Ray-Ray Armstrong return, but JoJo Nicolas moved to corner. Even though Armstrong wasn’t a starter last year, he still ranked third on the team with 79 tackles and tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

2. Florida State: The Seminoles return both starters in Nick Moody and Terrance Parks. Moody had 79 tackles last season and Parks had 44 and six deflections. The group was strengthened with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who moved from cornerback and proved this spring he’s capable of being a safety.

3. NC State: The Wolfpack has two of the best in Earl Wolff, the team’s leading tackler last season with 95, and Brandan Bishop, who had 56 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Dontae Johnson (22 tackles), also returns.

4. Virginia Tech: Eddie Whitley is the lone returning starter, but he should be one of the best in the ACC. Antone Exum, who was the No. 2 free safety last season, moved to rover this spring. He played in every game last season and had five starts when Tech went to its nickel defense.

5. Virginia: The Cavaliers return veteran starters in Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley, who have combined for 41 career starts. Mosley had 52 tackles and two interceptions last season, and McLeod had 54 tackles and four pass breakups. Safety Dom Joseph (34 tackles) also returns.

6. Duke: The Blue Devils return both starters in Matt Daniels and Lee Butler. Daniels, a senior, has started 25 career games and is one of the top returning tacklers in the ACC. Butler had 58 tackles and nine passes defended last season.

7. Boston College: The Eagles return juniors Jim Noel, who had four interceptions in eight starts, and Okechukwu Okoroha, who started the final six games last fall. Noel, Okoroha, and Dominick LeGrande combined for 90 tackles last season.

8. Wake Forest: Both starters return in Daniel Mack and Cyhl Quarles. Mack had 45 tackles and two interceptions last season. Duran Lowe (30 tackles) could unseat Quarles, who is Wake’s leading returning tackler with 71 hits. Redshirt freshman Desmond Cooper is also competing for playing time.

9. Clemson: Rashard Hall has 19 career starts and made 62 tackles and two interceptions last season. Safety Jonathan Meeks (28 tackles, one start) also returns, along with Carlton Lewis.

10. Maryland: Just as Kenny Tate’s move to linebacker bumped the Terps up in the ranking in that category, his departure from safety drops them a few notches as they now don’t have any returning starters there. They do, however, have experience. Eric Franklin played in 11 games, with 23 tackles and three interceptions (tied for second on the team). Matt Robinson played in all 13 games and posted 29 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles. The Terps have plenty of depth with Austin Walker, Titus Till, Anthony Green and Desmond Haynes.

11. North Carolina: Matt Merletti had five starts and Jonathan Smith, who lettered in 2008 and 2009 but missed all of last season, are the projected starters. They will be pushed by junior Gene Robinson (four starts, 30 tackles, one interception) for playing time.

12. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace both of their safeties in Mario Edwards and Jerrard Tarrant. Safety Fred Holton (11 tackles) and Isaiah Johnson (46 tackles, one interception) are the two most likely front-runners to start this fall.

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.

ACC's Players of the Week announced

October, 11, 2010
10/11/10
12:48
PM ET
Here they are, just as released by the ACC offices in Greensboro, N.C.

CO-OFFENSIVE BACK – Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB, r-Sr., 6-0, 229, Tampa, Fla. (Louisville/Jesuit)

Allen rushed for a Georgia Tech career-high 195 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries Saturday in the Yellow Jackets’ 33-21 win against Virginia. Allen, who eclipsed 1,000 yards for his two-year Tech career, had the second-most rushing yards in the Paul Johnson era. He helped the Yellow Jackets pile up 477 yards on the ground, which is the sixth-highest mark in conference history, and the most since 1981. Allen has five career touchdowns in two games against the Cavaliers.

CO-OFFENSIVE BACK – Russell Wilson, NC State, QB, r-Jr., 5-11, 201, Richmond, Va. (Collegiate)

Wilson completed 38 of 51 pass attempts for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson also carried the ball 14 times for 45 yards. Wilson set the tone early against the Eagles, completing his first four pass attempts and seven of his first eight. For the game, Wilson completed passes to 10 different receivers, the fourth time in six games this season that he has reached double figures in receivers. Wilson has now passed for 300 or more yards in a game five times in six games this season, and has done so nine times in his career. Among NC State quarterbacks, only Philip Rivers had more 300-yard passing games (19). Wilson threw at least three touchdown passes in a game for the fifth time in 2010, the 11th time in his past 17 games, and the 12th time in his career. Wilson also tied Rivers’ NC State single-game record with his 38 completions.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Rodney Hudson, Florida State, LG, Sr., 6-2, 282, Mobile, Ala. (B.C. Rain)

The Seminoles’ offensive lineman paved the way for another big performance by the FSU offense, which piled up 471 total yards in the 45-17 victory against Miami. Hudson matched his season high by earning a grade of 94 percent (92 run/96 pass), which included two knockdown blocks. He did not register a missed assignment or draw a penalty in 62 snaps while leading a running attack that piled up 298 yards on just 40 carries (7.4 ypc). It was the fourth consecutive time that the Seminoles racked up 200+ rushing yards. FSU last matched that feat in 1995. In addition to paving the way for the ground attack, Hudson played a significant role in holding Miami’s pass rush in check. Miami came into the game second in the nation in sacks and was held in check for the first time this season.

CO-DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, LB, So., 6-3, 230, New Bern, N.C. (New Bern/Hargrave)

Sophomore middle linebacker Kevin Reddick posted 10 tackles, assisted on a tackle for loss and had two pass breakups in a 21-16 win against Clemson. Reddick was part of a UNC defense that held Clemson to its lowest point total of the season and held the Tigers to 305 total yards of offense.

CO-DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech, ILB, r-So., 6-2, 246, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach)

Taylor had a game-high 13 tackles, including two for loss and a pass breakup as the Hokies downed Central Michigan 45-21. He leads the team in both tackles and tackles for loss. His 1.92 TFL per game ranks ninth nationally and third in the league. He is sixth in the conference in tackles with 49.

DEFENSIVE BACK – Brandan Bishop, NC State, S, So., 6-2, 210, Boca Raton, Fla. (Boca Raton)

Bishop came off the bench against Boston College and had three tackles and two interceptions in 48 plays. His two interceptions – one midway through the second quarter and one late in the fourth – yielded 15 yards in returns. Bishop’s first interception, which came in the second quarter, gave NC State the football in Boston College territory, setting up the team’s third touchdown and a commanding 24-3 lead.

SPECIALIST – Greg Reid, Florida State, CB, So., 5-8, 174, Valdosta, Ga. (Lowndes County)

Reid was a central figure in Florida State’s ability to win the field-position battle throughout the night in a 45-17 win against Miami. He registered a career-high 145 kickoff return yards on four attempts (36.25 avg.), including a season-high 55 yarder, in response to Miami’s first touchdown of the game. That 55-yarder led to a Dustin Hopkins field goal and a 24-7 halftime lead by the Seminoles. Reid returned the opening kickoff of the second half 22 yards to the FSU 31 to set up a 69-yard touchdown drive and added a 50-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter after the ‘Canes had scored 10 unanswered points. The elusive sophomore also added two punt returns for 16 yards (with a long of 17) and added six solo tackles, including a tackle for loss, and two pass breakups from his cornerback position.

ROOKIE – DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, WR, Fr., 6-1, 195, Central, S.C. (D.W. Daniel)

Hopkins had seven receptions for 46 yards against North Carolina, the most receptions by a Clemson freshman in a single game in five years. Aaron Kelly had seven receptions against Temple in 2005, and that was the last time a Tigers rookie had that many catches in a game. Four of the receptions went for first downs, including three that were third-down catches that gave the Tigers a first down. He also had a 31-yard punt return that set up a Clemson touchdown in the second half.

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