ACC: Bruce Carter

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 12, 2011

North Carolina spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

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

Top returners

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

Key losses

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

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Johnny White (720 yards)

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

Receiving: Dwight Jones* (946 yds)

Tackles: Kevin Reddick* (74)

Sacks: Quinton Coples* (10)

Interceptions: Da'Norris Searcy (4)

Spring answers

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

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

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

Fall questions

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

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

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

NFL draft rewind: ACC basics

May, 2, 2011
ACC Players Taken in the NFL Draft

1 12 Christian Ponder, Florida State, QB Vikings
1 14 Robert Quinn, North Carolina, DE Rams
1 22 Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, T Colts
2 33 Ras-I Dowling, Virginia, CB Patriots
2 38 Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, RB Cardinals
2 40 Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB Cowboys
2 41 Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson, DT Redskins
2 46 Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL Broncos
2 50 Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, CB Chargers
2 51 Da’ Quan Bowers, Clemson, DE Buccaneers
2 52 Marvin Austin, North Carolina, DT Giants
2 55 Rodney Hudson, Florida State, C-G Chiefs
2 58 Torrey Smith, Maryland, WR Ravens
2 59 Greg Little, North Carolina, WR Browns
2 60 Brandon Harris, Miami, CB Texans
3 67 Nate Irving, NC State, LB Broncos
3 79 Leonard Hankerson, Miami, WR Redskins
3 81 DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, CB Raiders
3 86 Allen Bailey, Miami, DE Chiefs
4 100 Da’Norris Searcy, North Carolina, S Bills
4 109 Colin McCarthy, Miami, ILB Titans
4 122 Chris Hairston, Clemson, T Bills
4 127 Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, CB Texans
4 130 Jamie Harper, Clemson, RB Titans
5 133 Johnny White, North Carolina, RB Bills
5 152 T.J. Yates, North Carolina, QB Texans
6 171 Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina, LB Cardinals
6 173 Byron Maxwell, Clemson, DB Seahawks
6 180 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech, QB Ravens
6 181 Richard Gordon, Miami, TE Raiders
6 192 Matt Bosher, Miami, P-PK Falcons
7 218 Ryan Taylor, North Carolina, TE Cowboys
7 221 Da’Rel Scott, Maryland, RB Giants
7 224 Markus White, Florida State, DE Redskins
7 225 Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech, RB Ravens

ACC Selections by Rounds

First 3
Second 12
Third 4
Fourth 5
Fifth 2
Sixth 5
Seventh 4

ACC Selections by Teams

North Carolina 9
Miami 8
Clemson 6
Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 3
Maryland 2
Boston College 1
Georgia Tech 1
NC State 1
Virginia 1

Ponder ACC's highest draft pick in '11

April, 29, 2011
It what might have been the biggest surprise of the entire first round of Thursday night's NFL draft, former Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder was the first player drafted from the ACC when he was chosen 12th by the Minnesota Vikings.

Ponder, whose durability has been a question but his talent hasn't, was picked ahead of former ACC defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn, and Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo -- all of whom were projected by many to be the ACC's top draft picks this year. Instead, the ACC's string of five straight seasons with a top-10 pick was broken, and a quarterback who wasn't even a second-team all-conference selection was the first of three ACC players chosen in the first round.

That's not a knock on Ponder -- when healthy, he is undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, if not the best. He was my 2009 first-team all-conference quarterback. It's puzzling why Bowers' previous injury is more of a concern. In spite of it, he was still one of the best players in the country last year. Ponder would have been had he stayed healthy.

Ponder became the highest quarterback in FSU history taken in the NFL draft as well as the first FSU player taken in the first 12 picks since linebacker Ernie Sims in 2006 by the Detroit Lions. Ponder also became the highest offensive Florida State player drafted since offensive lineman Alex Barron in 2005. Before Ponder, Gary Huff was the highest drafted FSU quarterback as the 33rd overall pick in the second round of the 1973 draft.

Mel Kiper's take on this surprise pick:
First of all, this is no shot at Ponder, who some personnel folks believe might be the most ready-to-play quarterback in this draft. But the Vikings looked like a team that panicked with this pick, given the context. They had no shot to trade down? Andy Dalton is still available going into the second day, and in taking Ponder, you also passed on Fairley and Quinn, a couple of guys who can help this team. Again, it's not called "Pick your favorite player." It's a draft. Order and the value of each pick are components that factor in. Should note: This doesn't mean the Vikings are done looking for solutions at quarterback. They could target one in a trade or via free agency.

Much of the pre-draft attention went to Bowers and Quinn. Bowers, whose previous knee injury has obviously scared away some teams, is still available.

Quinn was selected with the No. 14 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. Quinn becomes Carolina's 19th overall first-round selection and the highest pick since defensive tackle Ryan Sims (No. 6) in 2002. He became the first UNC defensive end taken in the first round since Julius Peppers was chosen No. 2 by the Carolina Panthers in 2002.

Castonzo was the No. 22 pick, taken by the Colts.

Round 2 could be a big day for the ACC. Along with Bowers, former players in the latest mock draft include:

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
The official list for the NFL combine has been released. A total of 48 players from the ACC have been invited to audition for the NFL from February 23 – March 1. When categorized by school, it's somewhat of a reality check to see how many of the best players in the conference are moving on, and which programs will take the biggest hit. It's impossible not to wonder how good North Carolina could have been had all of the following players remained eligible. The Tar Heels will send the most players to the combine with 11.

Here are the players who will represent the ACC:

  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Rich Lapham
  • Mark Herzlich
  • Da'Quan Bowers
  • Marcus Gilchrist
  • Chris Hairston
  • Jamie Harper
  • Jarvis Jenkins
  • Byron Maxwell
  • DeAndre McDaniel
  • Danny Aiken
  • Ras-I Dowling
North Carolina enters the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl undermanned once again, but the Tar Heels are determined to win with what they have. With the game in Nashville, UNC will also have to overcome what should amount to a home-field advantage for Tennessee. Here’s a closer look at the Music City Bowl:

WHO TO WATCH: The backups. With North Carolina starting tailback Anthony Elzy suspended, Shaun Draughn is the only proven runner remaining on the roster. His backup will be Hunter Furr, whose career-high is 27 yards. Elzy will not compete because he failed to meet his obligations as a student-athlete at UNC. The Tar Heels will also be without starting offensive guard Alan Pelc and starting linebacker Bruce Carter, both of whom are injured. Travis Bond, a sophomore, is Pelc's backup at right guard, but the problem extends to center, where Pelc was the backup to Cam Holland. At linebacker, Herman Davidson, a career reserve, is No. 2 behind Carter. There could be some shuffling at linebacker and offensive line as a result, and the Heels can’t afford to have Draughn get hurt again.

WHAT TO WATCH: Turnovers. These teams are so evenly matched on paper that one slip-up could be the difference. The Tar Heels have committed 15 turnovers in five losses this year and turned the ball over just six times in their seven wins (three of those six were in the victory at Rutgers).

WHY TO WATCH: To see if North Carolina can squeeze one more win out of a roster that hasn’t been at full strength all year. This team has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions, yet somehow still found a way to win seven games.

PREDICTION: UNC 21, Tennessee 17. The experience of UNC quarterback T.J. Yates will be enough to overcome the Vols’ home-field atmosphere, and North Carolina’s defense -- even without Carter -- will be good enough to force true freshman quarterback Tyler Bray into some mistakes.

Stepping up in the bowls: UNC

December, 23, 2010
A total of 35 scholarship players have missed at least one game for North Carolina this year because of injuries and/or the NCAA investigation. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl against Tennessee will continue that trend.

Who needs to step up?

The backups. This should be old hat for the Tar Heels, who have had to rely on backups and walk-ons all season as a result of the NCAA investigation, and the losses of starting guard Alan Pelc and linebacker Bruce Carter to injuries will force them to do it once again. It won't hurt as much at linebacker, where it's possible the staff could move Zach Brown from Will to Sam, but the loss of Pelc is significant. Travis Bond, a sophomore, is Pelc's backup at right guard, but the problem extends to center, where Pelc was the backup to Cam Holland. If anything happens to Holland -- which has happened before -- Pelc has been the one to move over. Bond will have to rise to the occasion. At linebacker, Herman Davidson, a career reserve, is No. 2 behind Carter. If Brown moves over, it will allow Davidson to continue that role.

2 injured UNC starters to miss bowl

December, 14, 2010
UNC senior linebacker Bruce Carter and senior guard Alan Pelc both had surgery and will not play in the Tar Heels' bowl game against Tennessee on Dec. 30, the school announced on Tuesday.

Carter had ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning and is expected to return to full participation in the fall of 2011. Carter originally injured his knee against NC State on Nov. 20, 2010.

Pelc had surgery Monday afternoon (Dec. 13) to repair his left shoulder. He will begin rehabilitation immediately.

“Bruce and Alan have meant so much to this program,” coach Butch Davis said in a prepared statement. “They have been great kids, great leaders and, most importantly, they will graduate Sunday with a degree from the University of North Carolina. Obviously, we are disappointed for them that they will not be able to play in the bowl game. However, our main concern is their health and preparing for the future.”

Carter started 43 games, including 10 this season. He was a 2010 finalist for the Butkus Award, which is presented to the nation’s top linebacker. Carter blocked seven kicks in his career and scored twice on interception returns.

Pelc started 34 games in his career, including 11 this season. He graded out over 75 percent in 2010 while playing guard and center.

Herman Davidson is Carter's backup on the depth chart for the bowl game, and Travis Bond is listed at right guard.

ACSMA All-conference team announced

November, 29, 2010
The 2010 All-Atlantic Coast Conference football team as voted on by 61 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association was announced today. A first-team vote was worth two points and second team vote one.



QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (77)
RB Montel Harris, Boston College (122)
RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech (108)
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (118)
WR Torrey Smith, Maryland (96)
TE George Bryan, NC State (92)
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (79)
OT Chris Hairston, Clemson (69)
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State (116)
OG Brandon Washington, Miami (50)
C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (91)
K Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech (100)
Spc. Tony Logan, Maryland (69)

DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson (120)
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (101)
DT Quinton Coples, North Carolina (101)
DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (63)
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (112)
LB Nate Irving, N.C. State (105)
LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland (78)
CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (112)
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (57)
S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (99)
S Kenny Tate, Maryland (78)
P Matt Bosher, Miami


QB Russell Wilson, NC State (75)
RB Damien Berry, Miami (37)
RB Keith Payne, Virginia (30)
WR Conner Vernon, Duke (70)
WR Owen Spencer, NC State (41)
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson (31)
OT Orlando Franklin, Miami (65)
OT Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (39)
OG Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech (41)
OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (35)
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (35)
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (47)
K Will Snyderwine, Duke (38)
Spc. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (61)

DE Allen Bailey, Miami (51)
DE Steven Friday, Virginia Tech (42)
DT John Graves, Virginia Tech (46)
DT Joe Vellano, Maryland (33)
LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina (43)
LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (41)
LB Sean Spence, Miami (37)
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (49)
CB Brandon Harris, Miami (45)
S Davon Morgan, Virginia Tech (48)
S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami (25)
P Brian Saunders, Virginia Tech (48)

Halftime: UNC 13, NC State 10

November, 20, 2010
In the 100th meeting between NC State and North Carolina, this one has lived up to the billing. Both quarterbacks T.J. Yates and Russell Wilson have had their share of highlight-worthy moments, UNC linebacker Bruce Carter and NC State linebacker Nate Irving have been living up to their reputations as two of the best at their positions, and kickers Josh Czajkowski and Casey Barth have both made field goals longer than 40 yards.

Game-changing plays have been made in all three phases of the game by both teams. Da'Norris Searcy had his fourth interception of the season, and UNC lost a fumble. Both quarterbacks have been pressured, and have been forced into mistakes. So far, UNC has made fewer mistakes, as NC State has had some costly missed tackles and missed blocks. The Tar Heels have been able to control the clock, but have hurt themselves with penalties. Quarterbacks and turnovers will likely decide the outcome.

ACC's Butkus Award semifinalists

October, 22, 2010
Four ACC linebackers are among the 15 semifinalists announced this week for the Butkus Award. The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry was the last ACC player to win the Butkus Award, being named after the 2008 season.

North Carolina OLB Bruce Carter, NC State ILB Nate Irving, Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly and Miami OLB Sean Spence were all named Butkus semifinalists. The ACC was the only conference with four honorees named. The Pac-10 and Big 12 had three apiece, followed by the SEC with 2.

ACC superlatives watch: Week 7

October, 13, 2010
Through the second half of the season, I’ll be monitoring the candidates for three postseason awards: offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year and coach of the year. It’s still too early to get a good read on the race, and candidates can be added or subtracted in the following weeks, based on their performance and the team results. So consider this a starting point and a very fluid list.

For now, here are three front-runners in each category:

Offensive POY

NC State quarterback Russell Wilson -- He completed 38 of 51 pass attempts for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Boston College. Wilson also carried the ball 14 times for 45 yards. Wilson has now passed for 300 or more yards five times in six games this season.

Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor -- With the 45-21 win over Central Michigan, Taylor won his 27th game as a starter, surpassing Bryan Randall’s previous high of 26 victories. He accounted for 288 of the Hokies’ 394 yards of total offense in that game. He leads the ACC in pass efficiency (156), has completed 61.6 percent of his passes and is fourth in the ACC in total offense with 238.2 yards per game.

FSU guard Rodney Hudson -- FSU piled up 471 total yards in the 45-17 victory over 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).

On the bubble: Clemson RB Andre Ellington, Duke WR Conner Vernon, FSU QB Christian Ponder, Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, Maryland receiver Torrey Smith, Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson, UNC running back Johnny White,

Defensive POY

NC State linebacker Nate Irving -- He had six tackles, one pass breakup a quarterback hurry and half a sack in the win over BC. He leads his team with 45 tackles. He has four quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers -- He had two sacks for 16 yards in the loss to North Carolina. He now has six sacks in just five games and 11.5 tackles for loss. In five games he has already exceeded his 2009 season totals in terms of sacks and tackles for loss. Bowers ranks third in the nation for tackles for loss and is tied for fourth in sacks.

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly -- It’s hard to imagine making 20 tackles and not getting the W. That’s what happened to Kuechly against NC State. He leads the nation in tackles with 14.2 per game. He reached 200 career tackles faster than any other player in school history. He owns the nation’s longest streak of games with double digit tackles at 14. He leads the team with 71 total tackles and has recovered two fumbles.

On the bubble: FSU defensive end Brandon Jenkins, Miami defensive end Allen Bailey, Wake Forest defensive end Kyle Wilber, Virginia Tech defensive back Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor, Virginia defensive back Chase Minnifield, UNC linebacker Bruce Carter, Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak,

Coach of the Year

NC State coach Tom O’Brien -- He finally defeated his former program, Boston College, and has the Pack off to their best start since 2002.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher -- He celebrated his 45th birthday with a 45-17 win over rival Miami and has the Seminoles leading the Atlantic Division in his first season as a head coach.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen -- After a 2-10 finish in 2009, the Terps are now 4-1 overall with their lone loss coming on the road to a ranked West Virginia team.

Midseason report: North Carolina

October, 12, 2010
North Carolina Tar Heels

Record: 3-2 (1-1 ACC)

Surprisingly, the only things that have gone right for the Tar Heels this year have gone right on the field. The highly-publicized NCAA investigations sidelined seven defensive starters for the season opener against LSU, and 15 players were missing for injuries or suspensions on Saturday against Clemson.

Now, the college careers of Greg Little, Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn are over. No matter. The players have refused to let the negative headlines become a distraction and have won three straight games after starting the season 0-2. A 17-13 win at Rutgers was the turning point, as UNC had to climb out of a 10-0 hole with a dozen players suspended.

UNC’s backups have proven to be even more effective than some teams' starters, and quarterback T.J. Yates, who has only thrown one interception this season, has been one of the most improved players in the country. This team is not producing any eye-popping statistics, but it is finding a way to win together. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been had Carolina’s roster remained intact.

Offensive MVP, RB Johnny White: He entered the season with just one rushing touchdown. Against Clemson last weekend, he rushed for more yards (89) and gained more receiving yards (90) than any player on either team. He gained 179 of Carolina’s 255 yards from scrimmage. He has now scored four rushing touchdowns, and the Tar Heels wouldn’t have beaten Clemson without two of them.

Defensive MVP, LB Bruce Carter: He’s a proven game-changer, and with so many starters missing on defense, that ability has been invaluable. At Rutgers, Carter blocked a fourth-quarter punt and the Tar Heels took over at the Rutgers 35. Carolina kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive. He also has one interception for 55 yards. He’s fourth on the team with 14 tackles, including one for a loss.

ACC's Players of the Week

September, 27, 2010
Here are the ACC's Players of the Week, as announced by the league offices in Greensboro, N.C.:

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

Wilson had a record-setting day in the Wolfpack’s victory over the Yellow Jackets. Wilson completed 28 of 41 passes for a career-high 368 yards and three touchdowns. His 28 completions went to 10 different receivers. Wilson also ran the ball nine times for 16 yards and a 6-yard touchdown. Wilson’s 368-yard passing game ranks 18th in school history. His previous career high for passing yards was 349 versus Florida State a year ago. The Georgia Tech game marks the seventh time in his career that he has passed for 300 yards or more and the 10th time he has thrown at least three touchdown passes in a game. Each of Wilson’s touchdown passes came at the end of long nine-play drives that immediately followed touchdowns by the Yellow Jackets. Those three drives went for 69, 78 and 74 yards, and culminated with touchdown passes of 21 yards to Steven Howard, 5 yards to Jarvis Williams and 23 yards to T.J. Graham. Wilson did throw an interception in the game, snapping a streak of 168 pass attempts without an interception. He holds the NCAA record of 379 consecutive throws without being picked off.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN -- Orlando Franklin, Miami, OL, Sr., 6-7, 312, Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic)

Franklin graded out at 96 percent in helping Miami win at Pittsburgh by a 31-3 score Thursday night. He finished the game with eight pancake blocks and two lumberjacks in helping Miami’s offense rack up 348 yards (248 passing, 100 rushing) yards of total offense. On the season, Franklin has also graded out at 95 percent against FAMU and 96 percent against Ohio State. He has a total of 12 pancake blocks in three games.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN -- Nate Irving, NC State, MLB, r-Sr., 6-1, 231, Wallace, N.C. (Wallace-Rose Hill)

Irving had a career-high 16 tackles vs. the Yellow Jackets. He had nine solo hits, two sacks for 11 yards in losses, and 4.5 tackles for losses totaling 15 yards. On Sunday, the Walter Camp Foundation named Irving its National Defensive Player of the Week. He led a defense which limited Georgia Tech, previously the nation’s third-best rushing offense, to 96 yards below its previous average.

DEFENSIVE BACK -- Bruce Carter, North Carolina, LB, Sr., 6-3, 235, Havelock, N.C. (Havelock)

Carter blocked a punt, returned an interception 55 yards and had seven tackles in Carolina’s 17-13 win at Rutgers. With Rutgers driving in Carolina territory, Carter made a leaping grab of Tom Savage’s second-quarter pass and returned it to the Rutgers 28-yard line. Carolina went on to score a touchdown and cut the lead to 10-7. In the fourth quarter, with Carolina holding a 14-13 lead, Carter blocked a punt, his sixth career blocked kick, and the Tar Heels took over at the Rutgers 35. Carolina kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive. Carter also added a 4-yard tackle for loss.

SPECIALIST -- Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech, PK, r-Sr., 6-1, 196, West Chester, Pa. (Henderson)

Hazley was a big factor in Tech's 19-0 win at Boston College as the senior hit a career-high four field goals. He had a career-best long of 45 yards and also made two kicks of 29 and 32 yards.

ROOKIE -- Danny O’Brien, Maryland, QB, Fr., 6-3, 215, Kernersville, N.C. (East Forsyth)

Starting the first game of his collegiate career, O’Brien completed 18 of 27 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. O’Brien, who was the first freshman quarterback to start for Maryland since Latrez Harrison (11/20/99), and just the fifth in school history, threw touchdown passes of 9 and 68 yards. O’Brien led the Terps on five scoring drives and had an efficiency rating of 168.89, seventh-highest mark by a freshman in the FBS this season.

ACC: What we learned in Week 4

September, 26, 2010
Not a bad week in the ACC, not at all. Here’s a look at what we learned in Week 4:

The ACC is better than the Big East. If there was any doubt after the league’s 1-1 start with a win over Cincinnati and loss to West Virginia, the ACC erased it this week with wins at Pitt and at Rutgers. Both North Carolina and Miami made enough mistakes that could have cost them the game, but Rutgers and Pitt weren’t able to do anything about it.

[+] EnlargeIrving
Brian Utesch/US PresswireNC State is 13-5 when linebacker Nate Irving is in the starting lineup.
NC State is one of the best teams in the ACC. The Wolfpack proved it by knocking off defending ACC champ Georgia Tech on its home field. NC State is the only undefeated team remaining in the ACC and should be ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. There are only two other teams pushing the Pack for the top spot in the conference, and that’s Miami and Clemson. Florida State has also turned the corner since its loss at Oklahoma, but the other teams have played better on the road against better competition.

North Carolina’s not done yet. A loss at Rutgers would have put a serious dent in the Tar Heels’ bowl hopes, and could have snowballed into a disastrous season, but this team has never quit. Instead, it has been on the verge of breaking through in losses to LSU and Georgia Tech. This time, the team overcame injuries to Johnny White and linebacker Quan Sturdivant. There might be a lack of playmakers on defense, but there’s no shortage of leadership, and quarterback T.J. Yates and linebacker Bruce Carter made sure losing wasn’t an option this past weekend.

BC’s offense is still in need of a quarterback. In two games against Virginia Tech, Dave Shinskie has completed 12 of 37 passes for 134 yards, no touchdowns, four INTs, and one lost fumble. He was benched on Saturday in favor of Mike Marscovetra. The Eagles had three turnovers and were held to just 39 yards of total offense in the second half and couldn’t cross midfield. Yes, a lot of credit goes to Virginia Tech’s defense, but the Eagles won’t be a contender in the Atlantic Division unless there’s improvement at quarterback.

Georgia Tech doesn’t look like defending ACC champs. Not with that defense. It’s not Al Groh’s fault. It doesn’t matter if the Jackets are running a 3-4, a 4-3 or how you line up in your backyard. Georgia Tech is missing Derrick Morgan and is need of a big-time playmaker. The Jackets got beat one-on-one and allowed 45 points and 527 yards. It’s the first time since 2007 that Georgia Tech has lost two September games. Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt is one of the most talented players in the ACC, but he can’t do it by himself.