ACC: Don Brown

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January, 8, 2014
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ACC's lunchtime links

November, 22, 2013
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Enjoy the games!
We wrap up our series looking at the strongest and weakest position for each team in the ACC with Boston College.

Strongest position: Linebacker.

The Eagles return two of their starters from a year ago, and they are going to try to build their defense around them. Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis are going to be relied upon to be the leaders of this group as it takes on a more aggressive scheme under new coordinator Don Brown. Anybody who watched UConn over the last several years saw how their linebackers thrived in the scheme. Divitto and Pierre-Louis were extremely productive a year ago and have the opportunity to be even better now. Divitto finished second on the team with 92 tackles, while Pierre-Louis finished fifth with 85. Leading tackler Nick Clancy is gone, but the Eagles do return six of their top seven players on the depth chart from a year ago.

Weakest position: Running back.

Coach Steve Addazio has said the depth is alarming here, and for good reason. Andre Williams established himself as the No. 1 back with a terrific spring practice, but there really is nobody reliable behind him at this point. Rolandan Finch is gone, while Tahj Kimble is coming off a knee injury and his status for practice remains up in the air. David Dudeck is the backup going into August, so it seems pretty clear the Eagles are going to have to rely on the two running backs they signed in February to play immediately. Addazio has said repeatedly he wants to be a physical team and to establish the run first. But he does not have the types of backs he did at Temple a year ago. Still, Williams did show potential this spring. Just a little more depth would help this group out tremendously.

For more on this series, click here.

Boston College spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
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2012 record: 2-10

2012 conference record: 1-7 (sixth in the Atlantic Division)

Returning starters: Offense: 8; Defense: 8; kicker/punter 1

Top returners:

QB Chase Rettig, TB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, PK Nate Freese

Key losses:

LT Emmett Cleary, RT John Wetzel, TE Chris Pantale, LB Nick Clancy, SS Jim Noel

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Williams* (599 yards)

Passing: Rettig* (3,065)

Receiving: Amidon* (1,210)

Tackles: Clancy (145)

Sacks: Pierre-Louis* (2)

Interceptions: Spenser Rositano* (3)

Spring answers:

1. The players are buying in. First-year coach Steve Addazio said the one thing he felt great about this spring was the team’s willingness to adjust to the staff and its changes. “This is a group of guys that really took well to tough coaching, to accountability, to the concept that we need to be a real team and we need to be accountable to each other, and build some physical and mental toughness.”

2. Running back Andre Williams can be a star. Addazio has made the running game a priority, and Williams is going to have to carry the load, especially after the departure of Rolandan Finch. “I thought Andre had one of the best springs of anybody,” Addazio said. “… I just really am impressed by him.”

3. Ryan Day helped ease the transition on offense. The Eagles’ first-year offensive coordinator was previously on staff as the receivers’ coach, so the players had an easier time adapting to yet another change in coordinator. For Rettig, Day is his fourth coordinator, but no introductions were necessary.

Fall questions:

1. Depth across the board. Addazio said “depth is a problem right now” and it put the staff in a predicament this spring because they wanted to promote toughness, but also keep guys healthy. While he did say the staff “developed the lineup up front,” the team can’t afford injuries to key players.

2. Can the defense get back to its traditionally stingy self? BC returns eight of its top nine tacklers from last season, but the defense has been learning a new attacking scheme under first-year coordinator Don Brown. Things can only get better, as BC ranked No. 111 in rushing defense last season, and No. 100 in total defense. How quickly the Eagles improve, though, depends upon the learning curve this summer.

3. The running game. It was nonexistent last season. While BC’s top running back proved to be dependable this spring, there are still plenty of questions behind him, and this goes back to the issue of depth in No. 1. The Eagles still have Tahj Kimble and David Dudek, but the two combined for 58 carries last season, when BC’s rushing offense was No. 115 in the country.
The rest of the ACC wraps up practice this weekend. Here is a look at what to watch at each spring game.

BOSTON COLLEGE

When: Cancelled.

UPDATE: Boston College decided to cancel its spring game, set for Saturday, because of the tragic events that unfolded in the area this week. Though there is no game, these are still three keys for the Eagles as they move into the offseason.
  • Chase Rettig. Rettig has been through one coordinator too many during his career with the Eagles, and now he has to learn a new system that is not exactly the pro-style brand more suited to him. Coach Steve Addazio has said he will not force Rettig out of his comfort zone this year, but how Rettig handles yet another change is definitely something to watch.
  • The run game. Addazio has placed a heavy emphasis on the run game this spring. Does he have the talent and depth to improve the dreadful numbers from a year ago? With Rolandan Finch gone, senior Andre Williams has been the guy left to shoulder the load this spring. He says, "Bring it on."
  • More aggressive D? This will be a good chance to see how Don Brown has gone about revamping the defense. We have all heard how he wants to be more aggressive this year. Let's see it.
GEORGIA TECH

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. (Note: There is a threat of rain so a decision on whether the game will be played as scheduled will be made later today. As of this morning, the game is still on.) NC STATE

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • The quarterbacks. Starting to sound like a theme, right? Coach Dave Doeren has said he will not name a starter after spring practice. Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker are still learning the new system, and Doeren says, "They're getting better. I told somebody the other day: I just don't think it's fair to make a decision on a guy that doesn't know your offense yet. I think we've got to give those kids a chance to play football without thinking. We're not there yet."
  • The secondary. This group will have three new starters when fall rolls around, and much less game experience. Juston Burris is listed as the starter at the cornerback spot David Amerson leaves behind, while Hakim Jones and Jarvis Byrd are set to take the open safety spots.
  • The defensive ends. There is still open competition at both defensive end spots, according to the depth chart the team released ahead of the spring game. Art Norman and Forrest West are battling for one spot, while Mike Rose and Darryl Cato-Bishop are competing for the other.
SYRACUSE

When: Saturday, noon.
  • Terrel Hunt vs. Charley Loeb. Hunt has reportedly gotten more of the first-team reps as the spring has gone on, but this is a good chance for both quarterbacks to make an impression on their coaches -- especially with Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen headed to Syracuse in the summer.
  • Defensive line. There is no question Syracuse has to work on building depth here because of several losses the group has taken. One player to watch is Iowa transfer John Raymon, who has worked at both tackle and end this spring.
  • Quinta Funderburk. Funderburk sat out last season after transferring in from Arkansas. He has made a few highlight catches during the spring scrimmages to catch some attention, and with Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales gone, Funderburk has an opportunity to become a go-to receiver on this team.
VIRGINIA TECH

When: Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN3
  • Logan Thomas and the offense. So, how does Thomas look under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler? His rebound from a mediocre 2013 is going to be huge for the Hokies this season.
  • The running backs. Nobody has really stepped up to take the starting job, although Trey Edmunds has had a good spring, including 86 yards and two touchdowns in the last scrimmage. JC Coleman, also vying for the job, is not expected to play because of a leg injury.
  • Brandon Facyson. It's no secret the Hokies need some help in the secondary, and every single report out of Blacksburg points to the freshman cornerback as being the next star on defense.
WAKE FOREST

When: Saturday, 1 p.m., ACC Digital Network
  • The receivers. One of the big goals this spring has been to find another receiver to complement Michael Campanaro. Orville Reynolds, who moved from running back, has so far turned some heads with his performance, so keep an eye on him.
  • New faces. Two players who have drawn raves on defense this spring are defensive linemen Desmond Floyd and Johnny Garcia. In fact, coach Jim Grobe believes his defensive line has been a bright spot this spring because the group has been able to develop some depth.
  • Competition. This will actually be a scrimmage, not a game, because the Deacs simply do not have enough offensive linemen to split the team in two. At last check, Wake had seven healthy offensive linemen after Cody Preble injured his ankle in the last scrimmage.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
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Day 2 in Tally. Looking forward to my favorite pie at Food Glorious Food.
Boston College coach Steve Addazio hired defensive coordinator Don Brown for a big reason -- because he wants an aggressive approach to his defense.

That is something that has been lacking from the Eagles over the last few years. The No. 1 stat that bears that out is sack total. Last season, Boston College had six total sacks on the year, worst among every team in college football. It is not as if the numbers were much better in 2011. That season, the Eagles had 11 sacks to rank No. 114 in the nation.

In the four years under coach Frank Spaziani, Boston College ranked No. 90 or worse in sack total. Addazio wants to change that number big time in 2013. Brown is known for his aggressive approach to defense, which he will begin installing now that spring practice is underway. Look at the sack numbers from his most recent stop.

In two seasons at UConn, the Huskies ranked in the top 20 in the nation in sack total. In 2011 they were No. 13 with 34 sacks; in 2012 they were No. 18 with 33 sacks. Both seasons, UConn defensive end Trevardo Williams led the Big East in sacks.

"Don’s here to run Don’s scheme, which is an aggressive get-after it scheme," Addazio said in a recent phone call. "People will say well how much can you play man, how much can you play zone? It’s the same line of questions that would happen on offense. You’ve still got to get to know your team and the percentage of what you play and how you play it can be tweaked based on what you learn about your football team, but we came in here with a mind-set and the mind-set was on offense to be a wide-open offense, an attack-style offense that can spread the field and utilize playmakers, and on defense, to be disruptive, to be multiple, to attack.

"Don’s got a tremendous amount of energy and you can see the way he interacts with the kids. I can tell the defense is going to be flying around, real esprit de corps, a real mind-set that we’re not going to sit back, we’re going to go after people and we’re going to do it with multiplicity as opposed to being locked in one front or one coverage. Will our personnel dictate some of that? Absolutely it will. But we’re not going to become a passive defense. That will never happen with Donny."
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.

Back to bowl: Boston College

December, 24, 2012
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Boston College has a new coach and a new outlook.

Is that enough to get the Eagles back into a bowl game in 2013?

Great question. What we do know is this: Steve Addazio will bring passion, energy and excitement to the sideline. He will bring a much more physical brand of football, both on offense and defense. Those are certainties. The bigger issue is whether he has the talent and personnel to turn a two-win team into a six-win team in his first year.

At this point, I am going to say the chances are remote, but not impossible. There are pieces to work with on both offense and defense. Chase Rettig, record-setting receiver Alex Amidon and special teams standout Spiffy Evans all return. Linebackers Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis are back to anchor the defense. New coordinator Don Brown, who spent the past two seasons at UConn, will no doubt utilize these two players in his aggressive new scheme, which will feature plenty of blitzes. At UConn this season, linebacker Sio Moore finished second in the Big East with eight sacks.

But I have to wonder whether the Eagles will be able to play the physical running style Addazio prefers. The BC running game this year was virtually nonexistent, averaging about 90 yards per game to rank No. 115 in the nation. Is it good news or bad news that the four backs in the regular rotation all return? Andre Williams, Rolandan Finch, Tahj Kimble and David Dudeck are all scheduled to be back. Three starters on the offensive line are scheduled to be back as well.

Working on the run game is the No. 1 priority, especially since Boston College has its top receiver and starting quarterback returning. If the Eagles can establish the run, then they won't have to rely on Rettig throwing the ball 467 times next season. And they will be much more effective with play action, which should help as well. Addazio comes from the spread-option offense philosophy, so the personnel he has does not quite fit what he generally has done with his offenses, but he told me he is going to do what fits his personnel best.

There is no doubt that Boston College will look like a different team. But it probably won't be enough to get the Eagles back to a bowl in 2013.

BC hires Don Brown, Ryan Day

December, 19, 2012
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Boston College has hired Don Brown as defensive coordinator and Ryan Day as offensive coordinator, the school announced Wednesday.

Brown joins Steve Addazio's staff from UConn, where he spent the past two years as defensive coordinator. UConn had the best defense in the Big East in 2012, and Brown will bring an aggressive style that is sure to shake up the Eagles defense. Before coaching at UConn, Brown spent two years as defensive coordinator at Maryland.

"We’re very excited to have Don Brown joining our Boston College family,” Addazio said in a statement. “Don is a New England guy who has tremendous ties and relationships in the Northeast to go along with a great coaching resume. He’s been a head coach at Northeastern. He’s been a head coach at Plymouth State. He’s been a head coach at the University of Massachusetts. He’s had coordinator experience at Maryland in the ACC and comes to us having most recently served as the defensive coordinator at the University of Connecticut. He has tremendous character and is a great family man who is a perfect fit here at Boston College.”

Day spent last season at Temple with Addazio as offensive coordinator. He previously served as BC wide receivers coach for the Eagles between 2007-11 and as an offensive graduate assistant from 2003-04.

Day will also coach the quarterbacks in addition to his coordinator role.

“Ryan is one of the bright, young minds in college football,” Addazio said in a statement. “He’s going to coach the quarterbacks and be the offensive coordinator. He’s so excited to be back and part of the Boston College family. This is home for him. He knows Boston College and he is thrilled to back.”

ACC's best offseason coordinator hire

February, 17, 2011
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Finally. Now that Maryland has hired/promoted a defensive coordinator, all of the major coaching changes in the ACC should be complete.

Aside from the two new head coaches -- Maryland's Randy Edsall and Miami's Al Golden -- the coordinator positions will have the most influence on the conference race. Five programs in the ACC -- Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, Duke and Miami -- will have new coordinators in 2011:

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT: Offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill (retired)
IN: Offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers (spent past five seasons as QB coach of Minnesota Vikings)

CLEMSON

OUT: Offensive coordinator Billy Napier (fired)
IN: Offensive coordinator Chad Morris (hired from Tulsa)

MARYLAND

OUT: Offensive coordinator James Franklin (head coach at Vanderbilt)
IN: Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton (hired from LSU)
OUT: Defensive coordinator Don Brown (took same position at Connecticut)
IN: Todd Bradford (promoted from inside linebackers coach after a month)

DUKE

OUT: Defensive coordinator Marion Hobby (hired as Clemson defensive line coach)
IN: Jim Knowles (promoted from within)

MIAMI

OUT: Mark Whipple (fired)
IN: Jedd Fisch (former QB coach of Seattle Seahawks)
OUT: John Lovett (fired)
IN: Mark D'Onofrio (spent past five seasons with Golden at Temple)

BEST HIRE: Rogers. His experience is unmatched, and it's what separates him from the others. That's not to say there's not experience on this list -- Knowles and Crowton are both former head coaches. That's a huge bonus. But Rogers recently completed his 36th year in the coaching profession, 28 of which have been spent at the collegiate level. Fisch coached one collegiate season, at Minnesota. Morris has one season of collegiate coaching experience. Rogers has worked with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Bryan Randall and most recently Brett Favre. His biggest strength -- developing quarterbacks -- is what BC needs most right now. Rogers knows the ACC -- he coached at Virginia Tech. That's not to say that the others won't make an immediate impact or extract drastic improvements, but Frank Spaziani's hire was worth the wait.
Al Golden and Randy EdsallGetty ImagesAl Golden and Randy Edsall are the latest head coaches to take over ACC programs.
First-year Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch introduced himself to the players the best way he knew how -- he recruited them. He brought them into his office one by one and asked them about their families, their hometowns, and their high school situations.

“I never got to recruit any of these players,” he said in an interview on signing day. “It will be different in the future. I’ll know the players. I’ll know their families and their situations. Here, I really don’t know anything. So I asked our players to really introduce themselves to me, more than me introducing myself to them. It’s been really nice to talk to these guys, find out about their backgrounds, what made them choose the U. I didn’t know any of those answers.”

Nor did he know the personnel.

It wasn’t until after signing day that Miami’s staff finally had a chance to look at 15-20 clips of each player on the roster and evaluate them. The Hurricanes aren’t the only program in transition this spring, as five teams will have either a new head coach, new coordinator, or both. Al Golden replaced Randy Shannon at Miami, Maryland hired Randy Edsall, Clemson and Boston College both hired new offensive coordinators, and Duke will have its third defensive coordinator in as many years. Two hires -- Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown, who was retained by Edsall, and North Carolina defensive line coach Brian Baker -- didn’t even last a month before they left for other jobs.

The biggest changes, though, will be at Maryland and Miami. With the hires of Golden and Edsall, the ACC has now had head-coaching changes at 10 of the 12 schools in the past five years. Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are the exceptions, as Jim Grobe and Frank Beamer, who are entering their 11th and 24th seasons, respectively, are easily the most tenured in the league. Four coaches will either be in their first or second seasons this year.

“You look at Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien, and their tenure is beginning to look long in our league,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “There’s a lot of freshness, a lot of new coaches who are still early in their tenures. Hopefully with longevity and stability, those programs will grow and develop.”

The instability in the coaching ranks hasn’t helped the ACC gain any solid footing in the national college football landscape. Just when it seemed as if former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen had the Terps heading in the right direction -- a nine-win season led by the league’s coach of the year and rookie of the year -- the change was made.

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said the expectations for Friedgen’s successor would be consistent appearances in the Top 25 -- exactly where the Terps left off in the final Associated Press poll of 2010.

“I’ll put more pressure on myself than what anybody can put on me,” Edsall said. “I know Ralph, I’ve worked with Ralph. Those things are unfortunate, but I’m here to do a job and get Maryland to the highest level we can. My whole goal and approach is to win the ACC championship. That’s what I want to do, and that’s what we’ve been striving to do since I got here.”

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/Patrick CollardClemson will likely have growing pains next season with a new offensive coordinator and a first-year QB in Tajh Boyd.
With rapidly-improving Florida State in the same division, it won’t be easy. Clemson will have some catching up to do, too. First-year Clemson coordinator Chad Morris is not only tasked with installing a new offense and terminology, he’s also got to do it with a first-year starting quarterback in Tajh Boyd.

“It’s based on a very fast paced style of play,” Morris said. “It’s based basically on being a run, play-action oriented offense.”

Miami will have a pro-style offense, but the staff has yet to determine whether Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris will execute it. That decision could be made as early as the end of spring practices.

“We’re going to be multiple,” Fisch said. “We’re going to use a lot of personnel groupings and formations to our advantage. We’re going to be balanced in ways of trying to get the ball into all of our playmakers' hands. I’m not worried as much about run-pass ratio as I’m worried about are all of our players getting enough touches. Am I making sure I’m getting the ball in the hands of our guys who are dynamic? Our balance will come from the distribution of the football rather than the play call itself.”

Miami fans are less concerned with how the Canes win as they are how fast they can win. It takes time, though, to get acclimated to new philosophies, personalities and terminology. Both Edsall and Golden are also in new recruiting territories, and had to scramble to put their 2011 classes together. Golden came in at somewhat of an “awkward” time, as the program was still preparing for its bowl game under an interim head coach.

“It’s not like taking over something that was a smooth transition,” Golden said. “It was difficult.”

Apparently, staying in the ACC can be as difficult as joining.

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
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It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
  • The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
  • The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
CLEMSON

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
  • The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
  • Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
  • Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
  • Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
MARYLAND

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
  • Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
  • Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
NC STATE

Spring practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
  • A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
  • Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
WAKE FOREST

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
  • A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
  • Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.

ACC's top heartbreakers for 2011

February, 14, 2011
2/14/11
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Valentine's Day isn't for everyone. Some have been scorned. Hearts have been broken. Facebook status' changed. Here's a look at the top five heartbreakers responsible for a few breakups in the the ACC this year:

1. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He broke the Canes' hearts with a commitment to rival Florida, leaving Al Golden without a quarterback in the 2011 class. The transfer of former Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier helped Miami fans rebound.

2. Don Brown. Maryland’s former defensive coordinator made a lateral move to Randy Edsall’s old school, leaving the Terps' defense in the dark.

3. Ryan Williams. The Virginia Tech running back didn’t even call to say goodbye before he bolted for the NFL. With two years of eligibility remaining, Williams didn't hold a news conference to announce his decision.

4. NC State quarterback Russell Wilson. His love affair with baseball continues this spring, but coach Tom O'Brien is still willing to welcome his No. 1 back with open arms.

5. Four-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt. He flirted with Georgia Tech, only to break up with Paul Johnson and embrace Notre Dame as his home.

Season of change for Maryland

February, 8, 2011
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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson wanted change.

Well, he got it -- and then some.

The moves that have been made at Maryland this offseason have raised some eyebrows, starting at the top with the hire of coach Randy Edsall. Not that Edsall isn't a good coach -- he'll win at Maryland and make the Terps a contender in the Atlantic Division. The hire didn't exactly make the splash Maryland fans were hoping for, though, and Edsall only brought two of the assistants from Connecticut with him who helped him get to a BCS bowl. The latest move -- defensive coordinator Don Brown to Edsall's old stomping grounds, Connecticut -- was a lateral move at best. Brown said it was to be closer to his family, but the timing of it was indeed "peculiar," as one local high school coach called it.

The Terps have hired Clemson's former running backs coach, Andre Powell, to coach the same position, but the defensive coordinator job is still up for grabs. Bruce Feldman wrote that a source told him former Miami coach Randy Shannon will interview for the job this week. Shannon and Powell would both be good additions to the staff, but Brown's departure will take some time to adjust to, as the players will now have to adapt to a new system, philosophy, terminology and coach.

The question is whether all of these moves will actually make Maryland better than its 9-4 season in 2010. That's a tall task in College Park. It has to be significantly better in order to justify firing the ACC's coach of the year, and Maryland doesn't appear ready to take that kind of leap in 2011. With the recent top-10 recruiting classes they just lured in, Florida State and Clemson should be the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division in the near future.

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