ACC: Danny O'Brien

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 22, 2013
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Lunchtime links

June, 11, 2013
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Happy Halloween in the ACC

October, 31, 2012
Happy Halloween, ACC fans! Andrea and I decided to have a little fun today with some spooky stuff in the ACC. We see you guys out there dressed up as officials …

Cursed: Maryland’s quarterbacks. It’s the only way to explain it. Some sort of hex. Following the transfer of Danny O’Brien to Wisconsin, starter C.J. Brown tore his ACL. His backup, Perry Hills, then tore his ACL. Backup Devin Burns also suffered a season-ending injury, and then -- as if all of that weren’t enough of a spell -- true freshman Caleb Rowe also suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Coach Randy Edsall called it unlucky. Spooky if you ask me.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cutcliffe
Peter Casey/US PresswireThis season, coach David Cutcliffe and Duke have been scaring opponents for a change.
Back from the dead: Duke. The Devils have done it. For the first time since 1994, Duke is bowl eligible. Not only have the Blue Devils reached the six-win mark, they also have a chance to win the Coastal Division. With a 6-3 record (.667) Duke is off to its best start in five seasons under head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils have compiled a 5-0 record at Wallace Wade Stadium this season, matching the school record for home victories in a season. They’re alive.

Graveyard: Virginia. Bury ‘em. The Cavaliers have officially replaced Boston College at the bottom of the ACC power rankings, and have lost six straight heading into Saturday’s road trip to NC State. They have yet to win an ACC game, and haven’t won since Sept. 8. Nobody in the country ranks worse than Virginia in turnover margin. It’s been a hard fall after last season’s success. Odds are the Hoos don’t get back up again this season.

Scary movie: Pitt 35, Virginia Tech 17: Nobody but Pitt wants to watch this horror flick again. The Hokies had four turnovers. Logan Thomas had one touchdown and three interceptions against a defense that managed just one sack and no turnovers through the season's first two weeks. Virginia Tech had just 59 rushing yards. Pitt jumped out to a 21-0 lead. The Hokies were manhandled up front on both sides and allowed the Panthers 537 total yards.

Nightmare in Carter-Finley Stadium: NC State 17, FSU 16. That was not a bad dream, Seminoles fans, that was a national championship dream dying in Raleigh. Nobody expected that to happen, not after FSU jumped to No. 3 in the rankings after its win against Clemson. Not after NC State struggled so badly in losses to Tennessee and Miami. But Tom O'Brien knows how to cast a spell at least once a season. Double Double, toil and trouble ... bring me FSU on the double! His players responded, rallying from a 16-0 halftime deficit to score the game-winning touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds remaining. Poof!

Thriller: Speaking of the Wolfpack, NC State has probably been involved in more thrillers than any team in the country. The Wolfpack have gone down to the wire in four straight games. The thrills began at Miami on Sept. 29, when NC State overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game with 1:58 to go, only to lose when Miami scored a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining. The following week came the biggest thriller of all, the upset of FSU. Then, they beat Maryland when Terps kicker Brad Craddock missed a 33-yard field goal with 2 seconds left. Last week, they lost to North Carolina when Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown with 13 seconds left.

Trick or treat (high stakes game): NC State at Clemson, Nov. 17. For the Tigers to keep their Atlantic Division hopes alive, they must win this game. NC State already took Florida State down this year, but the Wolfpack have had a much harder time beating both teams in the same season. NC State won this matchup last year in decisive fashion, 37-17 so you know Clemson will be looking for revenge.

Jack-o-Lantern: Georgia Tech. Will the light come on for this team in time to make a bowl game? The Jackets have to win three of their final four to keep one of the longest bowl streaks in the nation alive. Georgia Tech has gone bowling 15 straight years, but faces an uphill climb with this remaining schedule: at Maryland, at North Carolina, Duke and at Georgia.

Season ends for fourth Maryland QB

October, 28, 2012
You can't make this stuff up.

Maryland has lost its fourth starting quarterback to a season-ending injury, as true freshman starter Caleb Rowe tore his ACL in the loss at Boston College on Saturday and is done for the year, the school announced on Sunday.

Just when you thought Maryland's quarterback situation couldn't possibly get any worse ...
  • It started this past summer, when Danny O'Brien decided to transfer to Wisconsin.
  • Quarterback C.J. Brown tore his ACL in August.
  • Brown was replaced by true freshman Perry Hills, who tore an ACL against NC State on Oct. 20.
  • Devin Burns, a converted wide receiver, broke his foot in that game and is also out for the year.
  • Rowe was the team's last eligible scholarship quarterback.

Next up: Either converted linebacker Shawn Petty or converted tight end Brian McMahon will start at quarterback this Saturday against Georgia Tech.

“I feel awful for Caleb," coach Randy Edsall said in a prepared statement. "I know how excited he was to get his opportunity to be the quarterback of this team. Caleb has a bright future ahead of him and we will do everything we can to support him through the rehab process.”

At least he'll be in good company.

Rowe was just the fourth true freshman quarterback -- and second during the 2012 season, along with Hills -- to start for Maryland in school history.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 8

October, 22, 2012
Here’s a look back at Week 8 in the ACC ...

[+] EnlargeClemson defense and Virginia Tech
Joshua S. Kelly/US PresswireClemson's defense held Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech to just 17 points.
The good: Clemson's defense. This highly criticized group played arguably its best game of the season, forcing Virginia Tech into four turnovers, including one interception safety Jonathan Meeks ran back 74 yards for a touchdown. The Hokies’ 17 points were a season low by an FBS team against Clemson this year.

The bad: Maryland’s quarterback situation. It started when Danny O’Brien transferred, and the hits just keep on coming for the Terps’ quarterbacks. As if it weren’t bad enough to lose starter C.J. Brown to a season-ending knee injury this summer, his backup, Perry Hills, was injured and taken out of Saturday’s game against NC State. And then there were two -- Caleb Rowe and Devin Burns, a former receiver who switched positions this summer just to help out.

The ugly: BC and Virginia are a combined 0-8 in ACC play.

The ugly II: Two calls in the Clemson-Virginia Tech game. The first was a sack that was called on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. It appeared the official blew the whistle too quickly, and it didn’t look anything like a sack. Maybe it was intended to prevent an injury? It nullified what would have been a momentum-changing first down. The other was a questionable call on what looked like a fumble by Sammy Watkins in the third quarter.

The historic: Duke’s sixth win. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 and they are leading the Coastal Division standings after a 33-30 win over rival North Carolina.

The improved: Georgia Tech’s defense. After a tumultuous bye week in which defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired and assistant Charles Kelly was named the interim, the Jackets regrouped and showed progress in a win over BC. Georgia Tech shut down Boston College in a 37-17 win, holding the Eagles to 296 total yards and 32 on the ground.

The stat: The Hokies have four losses before the end of October for the first time since 1992.

The stat II: Duke had 234 yards rushing -- the most ever on the ground by a David Cutcliffe-coached Duke team.

The quote: "I'm still pretty darn young, and I've got a long time to go," he said, "but I want to leave this place much better than when we walked into it. That's when you know you've done something right." – Duke coach David Cutcliffe, according to USA Today.

The play: Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down with 13 seconds left to beat North Carolina 33-30.

The play II: With two seconds remaining against NC State, Maryland kicker Brad Craddock’s 33-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright to seal NC State’s 20-18 win.

The painful: Both Florida State and Miami lost their leading rushers to injuries on Saturday. FSU running back Chris Thompson suffered a knee injury and Miami’s Duke Johnson left the game in the second half with a foot injury and didn't return. Coach Al Golden said Johnson would have X-rays after the game, but had no update on the situation during his weekly Sunday afternoon teleconference, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 27, 2012
It's gaaaaaaaame week!

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 22, 2012
Can't wait to get to a game ...
This has to be a punch in the gut to Maryland fans.

Former quarterback Danny O'Brien, who was benched by Randy Edsall last year in the Georgia Tech game, has been named Wisconsin's starting quarterback.

Meanwhile, in College Park ...

The season-ending injury to quarterback C.J. Brown was not Randy Edsall's fault. O'Brien's transfer? That's a different story. And so for the second straight season, ACC fans will have to watch another one of the top quarterbacks in the league play for Badgers coach Bret Bielema.
The quarterback position should be a strength throughout the ACC this year, moreso than any other season in recent memory. That is, of course, assuming the starters all stay healthy and on the field. If not, some teams could be in serious trouble. Here’s a look at the backup quarterback situation at each school.


School: Florida State

Starter: EJ Manuel

Top backup: Clint Trickett

The skinny: Trickett came out of the spring and entered summer camp with a firm hold on the backup spot. Redshirt freshman Jacob Coker is pushing Trickett, but is No. 3 right now in front of two true freshmen, Jameis Winston and Sean Maguire. The Noles are in great shape with Trickett because he started two games when Manuel was hurt last year, and he played in nine games.


School: Boston College

Starter: Chase Rettig

Top backup: Josh Bordner

The skinny: Bordner was listed second along with Dave Shinskie on the depth chart behind Rettig for each of BC’s last three games of the 2011 season -- NC State, Notre Dame and Miami. Bordner earned the No. 2 spot on the pre-spring game depth chart and post-spring game depth chart. He worked out with the second-team offense in the first scrimmage of preseason camp, completing 9-of-18 passes for 71 yards. Bordner played in five games last year.

School: Clemson

Starter: Tajh Boyd

Top backup: Cole Stoudt

The skinny: There is plenty of depth and talent behind Boyd, but not a lot of experience. Stoudt was the backup to Boyd a year ago, too, but he is being pushed at practices by highly touted recruit Chad Kelly, the nephew of Jim Kelly, a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Kelly was rated the No. 4 quarterback in his class by Stoudt was 12-21 passing for 115 yards in 71 snaps over six games last year. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes. Tony McNeal suffered a torn ACL on the final offensive play of Clemson’s spring game, and will miss the season. The Tigers also have Morgan Roberts, a redshirt freshman.


School: Wake Forest

Starter: Tanner Price

Top backup: Brendan Cross

The skinny: Patrick Thompson has been taking reps at No. 2 since Cross has missed a few days with a virus. Neither of them, though, have done much with the limited playing time they’ve had. Cross’ only appearance of 2011 was against Gardner-Webb. He played in 2010 as a redshirt freshman, but he has only thrown eight career pass attempts. Thompson, a redshirt freshman last year, has only one pass attempt in one game.

School: Maryland

Starter: Perry Hills

Top backup: Caleb Rowe

The skinny: Maryland got devastating news on Wednesday when it learned starter C.J. Brown would miss the entire season with a torn right ACL. Perry Hills, a true freshman, got an immediate promotion, while Rowe moved up to the No. 2 spot and Devin Burns, a receiver who was competing for the No. 2 spot there, volunteered to become the No. 3 quarterback. It was a punch in the gut to an offense trying to recover from a 2-10 season and move on without former starter Danny O'Brien, who transferred to Wisconsin.

School: NC State

Starter: Mike Glennon

Top backup: Manny Stocker

The skinny: If Glennon gets hurt, NC State is in trouble. That’s not a knock on Stocker, who has impressed coach Tom O’Brien with his maturity, he’s just not ready to be the Wolfpack’s starter. Stocker is a true freshman who received an unexpected promotion after Tyler Brosius left school to play junior college baseball. Walk-on Garrett Leatham is the Pack’s only other available quarterback. Pete Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State, has to sit out the season under NCAA rules.
Maryland starting quarterback C.J. Brown has suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season, the school announced Wednesday. Brown, a junior who started five games last season, suffered the injury Tuesday night in a non-contact drill.

“I feel terrible for C.J.,” coach Randy Edsall said in a prepared statement. “He’s worked incredibly hard to be the starting quarterback of this team. He’s stepped up and been a tremendous leader. We’ll do everything we can to make sure he gets the best treatment to help in his recovery.

“Although C.J. won’t be out on the field, he’ll continue to be an important part of this program. As a captain and team leader, he’ll do everything he can to help mentor the other quarterbacks on our team.”

This is obviously devastating news to a team that's trying to rebound from a 2-10 season and lost another starting quarterback, Danny O'Brien, who decided to transfer to Wisconsin. Edsall said Tuesday that Perry Hills has gained an early edge over fellow true freshman Caleb Rowe as the No. 2 quarterback behind Brown.

Hills just got another promotion.

Edsall will address this in more detail this afternoon. I'll have more for you then.
The ACC has been on both the winning and losing end of transfers this offseason, and it has affected the quarterback position in particular. At Maryland, the Terps’ depth at the position took a significant hit when Danny O’Brien decided to transfer to Wisconsin. At Virginia, the Hoos will benefit from the transfer of former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims.

What O’Brien did -- he graduated in three years -- means he can play for Wisconsin immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining. It’s a similar path taken by former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson, who used his final year of eligibility with the Badgers as a graduate student. O’Brien’s departure, though, leaves the Terps with only one quarterback with any game experience in C.J. Brown.

At Virginia, Sims was recently granted a waiver by the NCAA so he could play immediately. Whether he actually wins the starting job is a story line that could play out into the season. The Hoos finally found a dependable starter last year in Michael Rocco. It’s his job to lose, but Sims will be given the opportunity to push him for it at fall camp.

How both Sims and O’Brien fare at their new schools will be worth watching this fall.

There should be an introductory class offered to every football and basketball player at every university, called NCAA 101. It should be three credits and also fulfill a foreign language requirement. The first semester alone could be dedicated to the NCAA’s transfer rules.

I would gladly teach it to you -- if I understood it.

Instead, I am sitting here staring at Bylaw and can’t seem to get past the 3.1.1. It is dull, mind-numbing, boring text. Let me simplify it for you, NCAA:

Rule No. 1: If you don’t like the school you’re at, leave. (Feel free to follow your coach when he does it.)

[+] EnlargeDanny O'Brien & Randy Edsall
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyWhen Maryland's Danny O'Brien, left, decided to transfer, coach Randy Edsall made it difficult. O'Brien has since enrolled at Wisconsin.
Rule No. 2: Should you decide to leave and play somewhere else, you must sit out one year.

Rule No. 3: If you have graduated with a year of eligibility remaining, throw yourself a party. Then, feel free to transfer to another school, play immediately and start working on another degree.

We’re talking about transfers here, not first-time home buying. Yet the paperwork is equally as baffling for many of the athletes trying to make a move. It’s impossible to figure out why some athletes are granted waivers and some are not. Why some are blocked by their coaches from going to certain schools and others are not. Why conference rules differ from NCAA rules. It’s sort of like … oh, I don’t know … the NCAA’s arbitrary way of handing out sanctions?

Of course there should be exceptions if a player wants to transfer to be closer to home because of a family emergency or illness. The NCAA got that right. And it makes sense to require athletes to sit out a year to prevent college athletes from becoming free agents. But the current system is flawed.

Just ask Todd O’Brien.

The 7-foot center graduated from Saint Joseph’s and wanted to play for UAB, but his attempt was blocked by coach Phil Martelli, and the NCAA denied his appeal multiple times.

“I hope they fix some of the transfer rules,” O’Brien said, “and prevent any student from being held hostage like I was.”

Not everyone has been held captive.

If former Alabama quarterback Phillip Sims wants to be closer to his home in Virginia, the NCAA shouldn’t stop him (it didn’t). If former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson wants to pursue another degree and play at Wisconsin, where he has the chance to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl, by all means go for it (he did). And if former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien wants to copy that idea, let him (roger that).

Maryland coach Randy Edsall, though, initially tried to limit O’Brien’s options. Sure, Edsall said, you can be released from your scholarship after our 2-10 season. But not to any other ACC schools. Not to any of Maryland’s future nonconference opponents. And not to Vanderbilt, where former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is now head coach. Maryland alleged there had been improper contact between Franklin and O’Brien before O’Brien had been officially released from his scholarship.

It’s a moot point now, as Edsall was lambasted by the media for his handling of the situation and eventually released O’Brien without any restrictions -- what he should have done in the first place.

(Rule No. 4: No coach who has ever left one program for another can prevent an athlete from doing the same thing. See: Edsall, Randy; Graham, Todd.)

Speaking of the Big East, that imploding conference doesn’t even allow its players to transfer from one school in the conference to another. Quarterback Tom Savage, who transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt, is an interesting case. He has to sit out all of 2012 at Pitt per NCAA transfer rules. If Pitt is somehow stuck in the Big East for 2013 instead of joining the ACC, he wouldn’t be eligible to play again because of the league’s intraconference transfer rule.

Huh?! Exactly.

The Big Ten recently wised up and is now cutting its intraconference transfers a break: They can now get financial aid! The SEC follows suit with the NCAA, forcing transfers within the league to sit a year. Football and basketball players in the ACC and Big 12 also lose a year of eligibility when they transfer within the league. The Pac-12 is harsh: It penalizes transfers within the conference a year of eligibility and denies them financial aid for one season.

The rules need to be simplified. The graduate transfer rule should be celebrated. The coaches need to lighten up on their restrictions. At the bare minimum, the one thing lacking here is consistency -- in the way the NCAA hands out waivers, and in the way the individual conferences handle transfers.

Call it Consistency 101 -- a little something the NCAA could use a lesson in.

One good reason: Maryland

July, 9, 2012

Welcome back. Last week we began a series taking a look at one good reason each school in the ACC will win this year, and, just to make sure we cover both sides of the story, one good reason why it won’t. For most schools, the focus is on winning the ACC title. For the programs like Maryland that missed out on the postseason entirely last year, the focus is on getting back to a bowl game (at least it is here in the blogosphere). We’re going in alphabetical order.

The series continues today with one good reason why …

Maryland will go bowling: The defense is legit. It starts with first-team all-conference lineman Joe Vellano, who could play both noseguard and end in first-year coordinator Brian Stewart’s new 3-4 scheme. Nine starters return on defense, and the Terps rotated enough players up front last year that there will be plenty of experience returning. Senior Demetrius Hartsfield, who ranked second in the ACC and fifth nationally in tackles with 108, leads a talented group of linebackers. The secondary will lean on junior cornerback Dexter McDougle, who had 44 tackles, three interceptions and six pass breakups before suffering a season-ending injury last year. Senior safety Eric Franklin made 106 tackles last fall. The secondary has to replace two starters, and the Terps need to build depth at every position, but overall, the defense should be a strength at Maryland this year.

Why it won’t: Too much turnover. A total of 25 players have left the program since Randy Edsall was hired. Not only has the sheer volume of departures hurt the depth, it’s also hurt the starting lineup. Maryland has to replace three starters on the offensive line, including both tackles. Max Garcia started 12 games at left tackle last year, and quarterback Danny O’Brien transferred to Wisconsin. The Terps still have C.J. Brown, who started five games last year, but there is no experience behind him. Maryland also hired two new coordinators and is switching to a 3-4 scheme on defense. Coordinator Mike Locksley will run a pro-style offense with spread principles. For the second time in two seasons, Maryland will have to adjust to new coordinators, schemes and terminology. The Terps also need to find a new leading rusher. Starting fresh isn’t a bad idea after a 2-10 finish, but instead of building something in College Park, it seems like Edsall is still picking up the pieces this year.

More in this series

Ranking the ACC's quarterbacks

June, 18, 2012
Disclaimer: This is an impossible task. The ACC has five, 3,000-yard passers returning -- the most in league history. The quarterback position will finally be a strength of the conference. The players are experienced, they have matured, and they are legitimately good. This season will reveal which one is the best, but here’s a preseason ranking of the group:

1. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: At 6-foot-6, 254 pounds, Thomas has drawn comparisons to Cam Newton. Physically, his coaches have agreed, and several ACC defenders could attest to how tough Thomas is to bring down. Now that he has had a full season of starting experience, Thomas’ knowledge of the game will only make him more difficult to defend.

2. Mike Glennon, NC State: He’ll have four returning starters on the offensive line, and his height (6-foot-6) and his accuracy make him one of the top returning players at his position.

3. Tajh Boyd, Clemson: Boyd worked his way into the Heisman conversation after last season’s 8-0 start, and he could do it again.

4. Sean Renfree, Duke: Coach David Cutcliffe is convinced Renfree has pro potential, but said his quarterback has to stop thinking so much and use what comes to him naturally.

5. Bryn Renner, North Carolina: He should be even more effective now that he’s not playing with a bone spur in his foot, and he should have one of the ACC’s best offensive lines to work behind.

6. EJ Manuel, Florida State: We haven’t seen Manuel reach his peak yet, because he was injured for part of last season, but he’s one of the most efficient passers in the country.

7. Tanner Price, Wake Forest: He enters 2012 having thrown 173 passes without an interception. He is invaluable to his team, as evidenced by the Deacs’ collapse last season against Syracuse after Price was injured.

8. Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech: He led the nation’s No. 2 rushing offense last season, and accounted for 986 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.

9. Michael Rocco, Virginia: He led the Cavaliers to an 8-5 record and a bowl game last season, his first as a starter.

10. Stephen Morris, Miami: We’re still not even sure if Morris will win the starting job, as he will compete with transfer Ryan Williams this summer, but Morris’ game experience in Jedd Fisch’s system will be tough to beat.

11. Chase Rettig, Boston College: His development might have been slowed by the turnover at the offensive coordinator position, but first-year coordinator Doug Martin said he and Rettig had a good spring together.

12. C.J. Brown, Maryland: He replaced Danny O’Brien as starter, and ran for more than 100 yards three times last season.

Quickest turnaround in 2012?

June, 13, 2012
There were four ACC teams that finished with losing records in 2011: Wake Forest (6-7), Boston College (4-8), Maryland (2-10), and Duke (3-9).

Of those four teams, which one will make the quickest turnaround? Here's my prediction:


Which of these ACC teams will make the quickest turnaround in 2012?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,317)

1. Wake Forest: For starters, the Deacs don't have as far to climb as the others. Wake Forest looked ahead of schedule last year and was a surprise contender to win the Atlantic Division. The biggest concern for Wake Forest is up front, where it will lose four starters on the offensive line. They also have to replace running back Brandon Pendergrass.

2. Boston College: The Eagles could be one of the surprise teams in the ACC in 2012. Last year's roster was filled with underclassmen, including quarterback Chase Rettig. The running back position has enough depth even without Montel Harris, and first-year coordinator Doug Martin said the offensive line should be one of the team's most improved groups. The receivers remain a question. The defense -- and entire team -- will miss linebacker Luke Kuechly, but with 16 starters back, including seven on defense, the Eagles should be able to still show improvement.

3. Duke: The nonconference schedule is conducive to a 3-1 start, and a little confidence could go a long way in Durham. With 17 starters returning, including quarterback Sean Renfree, a bowl appearance isn't farfetched. Coach David Cutcliffe is convinced the program is still headed in the right direction, but until the Blue Devils start to back it up with more Ws, expectations will remain low.

4. Maryland: The Terps have the biggest leap to make after a 2-10 season, but they also have to adjust to two new coordinators. The biggest reason Maryland comes up last here is because of the turnover they've had on the roster, most notably at the quarterback position. After the transfer of former starter Danny O'Brien, C.J. Brown is now the lone option. Is he the answer, though?

Which team do you think will make the quickest turnaround in 2012 and finish with a winning record? Cast your votes now.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
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