ACC: Ethan Keyserling

ACC viewer's guide: Week 14

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
10:00
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It seems like just yesterday we were kicking off the ACC season, but here we are at the finish line. Week 14 may be the end of the regular season, but there’s still plenty of intrigue -- from crucial rivalry showdowns to three teams playing for bowl eligibility. Here’s what to watch for.

Friday, 8 p.m.

Virginia at Virginia Tech, ESPN, #UVAvsVT

Few rivalries in the country have been as lopsided as this one, with the Hokies winning 10 in a row and 14 of the last 15. But this year’s matchup feels entirely different. UVa is coming off an emphatic win over Miami, a win that helped save Mike London's job. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is coming off one of its most embarrassing losses in history, a 6-3 defeat to Wake Forest. Changes on the Hokies’ staff appear all but certain at this point. To add to the intrigue, both teams are playing for bowl eligibility, with the winner getting that crucial sixth win and the loser on to what promises to be a tumultuous offseason.

Saturday, noon

Georgia Tech at Georgia, SEC Network, #GTvsUGA

The Yellow Jackets toppled Georgia in Athens in 2008 in Paul Johnson’s first season as coach, and it appeared that perhaps the power structure in the state was beginning to change, but in the five years since, it’s been all UGA. In last year’s game, Tech led 20-0 in the second quarter only to lose 41-34 in double overtime. This year, the Jackets’ players are hoping to finally get some revenge, and with Tech playing its best football of the year, an upset is certainly possible. Georgia fell to Florida last month when it couldn’t stop the ground game, and Tech figures to employ the same philosophy this weekend.

Kentucky at Louisville, ESPN2, #UKvsLOU

There’s plenty on the line for both sides in the ACC’s newest rivalry game against the SEC. Kentucky has lost five straight, but a win here could get Mark Stoops’ squad bowl eligible. Louisville’s offense is finally clicking, as Reggie Bonnafon looks comfortable in his role as starter. A win for the Cardinals would keep them in the hunt for an Orange Bowl berth. But, of course, state bragging rights may top all of those goals.

South Carolina at Clemson, ESPN, #SCvsCLEM

Like Virginia and Georgia Tech, Clemson has been on the wrong side of a lopsided rivalry in recent years. Dabo Swinney beat South Carolina to secure the head-coaching job at Clemson in 2008, but he hasn’t been able to repeat the feat since. But freshman QB Deshaun Watson could return for this one, and he offers hope. Add to that a South Carolina defense that offers little in the way of a pass rush and has been gouged repeatedly this year, and things certainly look a bit more positive for the Tigers. It will be up to Vic Beasley & Co. to quell the South Carolina ground game, but Clemson fans are clearly hoping this is the year the Gamecocks’ run comes to an end.

12:30 p.m.

Syracuse at Boston College, ESPN3, #CUSEvsBC

Tyler Murphy & Co. nearly upended defending champ Florida State last week in Tallahassee, but fell just short. Whether the emotions of a close loss in a big game carry over may be the biggest factor in this matchup. Syracuse is reeling, with an offense that has mustered just 40 points in its last four games -- all losses. BC’s defense is one of the more underrated units in the country, which won’t make it easy for the Orange to bust out of their offensive slump, and Murphy’s big-play ability could be the spark for BC’s seventh win of the season.

NC State at North Carolina, ESPN3, #NCSTvsUNC

North Carolina had plenty to celebrate last week, knocking off rival Duke for the first time in three years, taking back the Victory Bell and earning bowl eligibility. Can the Tar Heels keep that momentum going against another rival in the regular-season finale? UNC has won four of five and played its best defensive game of the year a week ago, while NC State hasn’t beaten a bowl-eligible team since its opener against Georgia Southern. This could be a nice feather in North Carolina’s cap, but a win for NC State would be a signature victory for Dave Doeren.

3:30 p.m.

Florida at Florida State, ESPN, #UFvsFSU

It’s been exactly two years since Florida State last lost a game, and that one came at home against rival Florida. The two programs have trended in opposite directions since, with Jimbo Fisher poised for a run at a second straight national championship, while Will Muschamp will be coaching his final game for the Gators after resigning two weeks ago. Still, FSU hasn’t shown a propensity for blowing away anyone this season, and Florida has the ground game to frustrate the Seminoles’ D and the secondary to test Jameis Winston. A decade ago, Ron Zook upended FSU after he’d been axed by Florida. Muschamp will try to do the same this time around.

7 p.m.

Wake Forest at Duke, ESPNU, #WAKEvsDUKE

The record certainly won’t wow anyone this season, but Wake Forest has, in some ways, been one of the most impressive teams in the ACC. With huge holes across the offense, points have been at a premium all season, and the Deacons knew going into the year it would be an uphill battle. But they’ve continued to fight all season, which is a tribute to the work being done behind the scenes by head coach Dave Clawson. The work paid off with a 6-3 win over Virginia Tech last week -- Wake’s first conference victory in more than a year -- but the test is much tougher this week. Duke enters this game riding a two-game losing streak, and David Cutcliffe will surely want to send his seniors out with a win in their last home game.

Pittsburgh at Miami, ESPN2, #PITTvsMIA

James Conner's availability looks doubtful, which means it’ll be up to Chad Voytik and Tyler Boyd to spark Pitt’s offense. The bigger question, however, may be whether Miami is motivated to finish up the season. Last week’s game against Virginia was as listless as the Hurricanes have looked all year, and another poor showing in the regular-season finale could ratchet up those hot-seat rumors for Al Golden. There’s no question which side wins this game on paper, but with Pitt playing for a bowl game and Miami simply playing out the string, motivation could be the differentiating factor.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 4

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
11:00
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Here is one last look back at the week that was in the ACC.

The good: Perhaps Clemson teams of the past would have faltered when adversity struck early Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. But the defensive line stood up, and the offense made plays when it needed to, turning a close contest into a more comfortable 26-14 win, allowing the Tigers to remain the ACC's most likely national title contender.

[+] EnlargeTravis Blanks
Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty ImagesThe Clemson defense played well in the win over North Carolina State.
The bad: Pitt's defense avoids this distinction only because Duke's was worse. The Panthers escaped Durham, N.C., with a 58-55 win Saturday for their first ACC victory. The Blue Devils surrendered 598 yards of offense and did not force a single turnover, while committing four themselves. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday that he had never been a part of any game like it before.

The ugly: Virginia Tech beat Marshall 29-21 in three overtimes to get to 3-1. The first two overtimes featured no scores. The game had five total turnovers. Marshall committed 11 penalties. Oh, and both kickers combined to go 0-for-5 on field goal attempts, with the Hokies' Ethan Keyserling going 0-for-3 while replacing Cody Journell, who was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The one bright spot was Derrick Hopkins coming oh-so-close to a walk-off fat guy touchdown after a Rakeem Cato fumble in overtime No. 2.

The wake me when it's over: The fourth quarter of Miami's 77-7 win over Savannah State was shortened to 12 minutes, as mutually agreed upon by both coaches. What more needs to be said about this matchup?

The wake me when it's over, Parts 2 and 3: In case one FCS beatdown wasn't enough for you, Virginia beat VMI 49-0 and Florida State beat Bethune-Cookman 54-6. For those keeping count, that's a combined 180-13 margin for the three ACC squads against FCS foes this past weekend.

The rebound: Wake Forest needed a win in the worst way, and the Demon Deacons came through Saturday at Army. Josh Harris had two second-half touchdowns and Nikita Whitlock notched 14 tackles, giving the Deacs a 25-11 win before they prepare to head to Clemson this week.

The statement: Nice little stories don't force six turnovers and beat West Virginia 37-0. They don't hold the Mountaineers to six first downs and 175 total yards of offense. And they don't start 4-0. It may be time to take Maryland seriously after its rout of WVU, as the Terrapins are two wins shy of their previous two-year total under Randy Edsall, who refused to call the win a signature one but is surely pleased with his team's start this season.

The what-could-have-been: Hindsight is 20/20. We don't know how ready Terrel Hunt would have been to start for Syracuse in the season opener. And Wagner and Tulane are not as good as Penn State and Northwestern. That said, the loss to the Nittany Lions was a winnable game. And Hunt's two starts after the Orange's first two losses with Drew Allen under center have been great, as he completed 16 of 21 passes Saturday against the Green Wave for 181 yards and four touchdowns. He added 39 yards and another score on the ground, and he did not turn the ball over. Hunt, as Anish Shroff pointed out, has the highest Total QBR rating in the country, though he has not played enough yet to qualify for the top spot.

The stand: Georgia Tech improved to 2-0 in the conference with a 28-20 home win over North Carolina, and it did it with its defense. The Yellow Jackets trailed by 13 twice in the first half. But they held the Tar Heels without a point over the game's final 39-plus minutes and held UNC to just 319 total yards of offense.

ACC injury reports: Week 2

September, 7, 2012
9/07/12
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Here are the injury reports from the schools that emailed them (ACC schools don't have to give injury reports for nonconference games, and not all schools release them to the media anyway):

DUKE

PROBABLE
OUT
OUT FOR SEASON
FLORIDA STATE

OUT
OUT FOR THE SEASON
MARYLAND

OUT FOR THE SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE
PROBABLE
MIAMI

OUT
NORTH CAROLINA

OUT
VIRGINIA TECH

OUT FOR SEASON
OUT
QUESTIONABLE
Virginia Tech’s season opener against Georgia Tech is just a week away, and the Hokies are still unsettled at a few positions. Coach Frank Beamer held his first weekly teleconference of the season on Monday, and addressed some of the few position battles still remaining:

RIGHT GUARD: Michael Via, a redshirt senior, has lined up at every position on the offensive line during his career, but he will compete with Brent Benedict, a redshirt sophomore, for the starting job at right guard this week. “He’s the guy we’ve got a lot of confidence in,” Beamer said. “He’s smart, he can play all of them. ... We’ll practice both of them and see who starts and who’s the backup.”

PUNTER: The Hokies are counting on two freshmen walk-ons at punter, and the competition between A.J. Hughes and Hunter Windmuller continues.

“We’ve got their stats over the preseason, and their times are about equal -- their operation time, their hang time, their distance,” Beamer said. “Hughes is listed No. 1, Windmuller No. 2, and that’s how I think of it right now, but I tell you, we’re going to continue this week. Both of them certainly have had their moments. They’re two good punters, I can tell you that.”

KICKOFFS: The Hokies are still trying to replace kickoff man Justin Myer, and Michael Branthover, Cody Journell and Ethan Keyserling continue to push each other, along with freshman Brooks Abbott.

“They’ve all done very well, along with Abbott,” Beamer said, “but we’re going to next couple of days figure out who’s going to be our kickoff guy.”

NOTE: Beamer also said that linebacker Tariq Edwards (knee) will not play in the opener. Bruce Taylor will start in his place.

Hokies' WR eager to help as punter

May, 11, 2011
5/11/11
3:30
PM ET
Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale realizes it’s unusual -- just not to him.

Coale couldn’t tell you the names of any athletes who have doubled as a starting receiver and a starting punter. They’re certainly not easy to find. Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu, who is a starting receiver, Wildcat quarterback and kick returner for the Scarlet Knights, practiced as first-string punter this spring. And Pat McInally was both a starting receiver and punter at Harvard and went on to a long career as a punter with the Cincinnati Bengals.

[+] EnlargeVirginia Tech's Danny Coale
AP Photo/Chuck BurtonVirginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale might be the Hokies best option at punter.
If there are any more, it has to be a short list. And Coale might add his name to it this fall.

For the second straight season, Virginia Tech needs to find a punter. Scott Demler, Ethan Keyserling, Conor Goulding and Grant Bowden are all options. So is Coale, who averaged a team-best 18.8 yards per catch last year and enters his final season already ranked among the top 10 in school history in receptions and receiving yards.

While it might seem a bit surprising to those who only know Coale as a receiver, punting is a passion he’s had since he was in middle school.

“It wasn’t just something I did,” he said. “It was something I took pride in. I tried to make the ball turn over. I tried to get some height on it and things like that in high school. It’s something I’ve always loved doing.”

Coale was a jack-of-all trades at Episcopal High in Alexandria, Va., where he also returned punts and kickoffs in addition to punting and placekicking, and playing receiver and defensive back.

“Whenever I’d go to the park or the field to throw the football with my dad, we’d always punt a few at the end,” he said. “It was something he did and he kind of taught me the basics to it. I told myself when I committed here that if I ever had the opportunity to do something like this, I would try.”

This spring, he got that opportunity.

Coale said he asked defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who recruited Coale out of high school, if he could try to punt for the Hokies. Foster approved, and the next day Coale gave it a shot. He ended spring ball with a legitimate chance at earning the starting job this fall.

“I’m lucky and thankful I did get the opportunity to,” he said. “We do have four or five other punters so to get in the rotation and the mix and actually be able to punt some in the spring game I thought was pretty awesome. I’m really thankful coach (Frank) Beamer did give me the opportunity to do that.”

Rusty?

“Absolutely,” he said.

Coale hasn’t punted behind a live line since high school, and only has done it about a dozen times since he came to campus, and even then it was just fooling around.

“It will take a lot more work to sharpen everything, but I’m willing to do that,” he said.

If he were to win the starting job, Coale said he doesn’t think it would take anything away from the goals he wants to accomplish in his final season as a receiver. Instead, he said, he thinks it can add to the team.

“If I can get everything down, if I can get quickness, get the ball out, and all those things a punter needs to do, I could help the team there,” he said. “Finding that balance is going to be interesting and probably something I won’t really grasp until camp starts in the fall.”

This past spring, Coale would practice punting during the special teams period at the beginning of practice, and then leave to be with the receivers. He would return to punting again during a team period in the middle of practice.

“I’m far from being great at it, or even good at this point,” he said, “but if I can try and get some things done and sharpen it up, hopefully I’ll be able to help us out a bit.”

And there's certainly nothing unusual about Coale lending a hand.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
6:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 11-3

2010 conference record: 8-0

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

SE Danny Coale, FL Jarrett Boykin, RT Blake DeChristopher, DT Antoine Hopkins, LB Bruce Taylor, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Eddie Whitley

Key losses

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Darren Evans, RB Ryan Williams, C Beau Warren, TE Andre Smith, DT John Graves, CB Rashad Carmichael, ROV Davon Morgan, PK Chris Hazley

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Evans (854 yards)

Passing: Tyrod Taylor (2,743 yds)

Receiving: Boykin* (847 yds)

Tackles: Bruce Taylor (91)

Sacks: Steven Friday (8.5)

Interceptions: Hosley* (9)

Spring answers

1. A new Fab Four: Virginia Tech’s defensive line is oozing with talent and potential -- the kind that can resurrect the Hokies’ defense to the standard Bud Foster and fans are used to. All four projected starters are underclassmen, and redshirt sophomores J.R. Collins and James Gayle had a phenomenal spring. Derrick Hopkins couldn’t be blocked, and he, Collins and Gayle took their games to another level this spring.

2. Logan Thomas is ready. The first-year starting quarterback erased any lingering doubts about his ability to take over the offense and replace the winningest quarterback in school history. He’ll have some growing pains, but he’s got veteran receivers, four senior offensive linemen in front of him and an exceptional running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield in David Wilson.

3. Linebacker Tariq Edwards has replaced Lyndell Gibson. Edwards could have a breakout season, thanks in part to Gibson’s decision to transfer prior to spring practices. Foster has compared Edwards to Xavier Adibi as far as his size and speed. The redshirt sophomore is about 6-foot-2, runs well and is athletic.

Fall questions

1. Who’s the No. 2 QB? It’s still unsettled, as coach Frank Beamer praised redshirt freshman Mark Leal this spring, and Ricardo Young will increase the competition this summer when he returns from a foot injury he suffered during one of the scrimmages that caused him to miss the rest of the spring. Ju-Ju Clayton was the front-runner for the job entering the spring, but it could turn into a three-player battle this summer.

2. Defensive depth. The staff is excited about its starting lineup, but the lack of experience behind it remains a concern, particularly at linebacker where injuries depleted the group, and in the secondary, where Detrick Bonner and Theron Norman haven’t played a collegiate snap yet.

3. Kicking game. Will Danny Coale really be the Hokies’ starting receiver AND punter? He will if none of the other candidates beat him out for the job this summer. If Coale wins the job -- and it’s a very real possibility -- the logistics also remain a question. Will he warm up with the punters or run routes as a receiver? Will he run routes in his punting shoe? Beamer would prefer if Scott Demler and Ethan Keyserling win the job so it’s not an issue, but Beamer will go with the senior who has game experience if he’s the best choice. Cody Journell enters the summer as the No. 1 place-kicker, but it’s not a lock.

Virginia Tech spring game storylines

April, 22, 2011
4/22/11
10:30
AM ET
The Hokies will wrap up spring practices at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Lane Stadium. Here are three main storylines to watch:
  • Quarterback Logan Thomas: All eyes will be and should be on the first-year starter as he takes over the offense for the first time with so many fans watching. He's drawn rave reviews so far from the coaching staff and his teammates, but it's the first official introduction to a new era of quarterback in Blacksburg.
  • The defensive line:Virginia Tech had to replace three starters in tackle John Graves and both ends, Steven Friday and Chris Drager, who moved back to tight end (another player worth watching). While coach Charley Wiles has been pleased with the starting four this spring, depth at the position remains a concern. Keep an eye on James Gayle, who really impressed the coaches this offseason.
  • The kicking game:For the fifth straight season, Virginia Tech entered spring practices looking for a new place-kicker, and like last year, the Hokies also need to name a new punter. Receiver Danny Coale has tried out for the position this spring, along with redshirt junior Scott Demler, redshirt freshman Ethan Keyserling, redshirt freshman Conor Goulding, and redshirt sophomore Grant Bowden, who is the brother of former Tech punter Brent Bowden.

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