ACC: Jay Smith

Forgive NC State receiver Tobais Palmer if he has heard this story line before.

The receivers for the Wolfpack -- a question mark, right?

"From last year to this year, it's always been a question about the receivers, how are we going to react?" Palmer said in a recent phone interview. "We're always going to be under the gun. But last year, we came out and made plays. It’s motivation from last year to do the same thing this year. I feel as though we're going to be fine. We're going to grow from Tennessee onto the very last game, and be a heck of a group to stop."

[+] EnlargeTobias Palmer
Dannie Walls/Icon SMIConverted running back Tobias Palmer will lead a group of young Wolfpack receivers.
Going into last season, the Wolfpack had to replace leading receivers Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, along with Darrell Davis. They did it with outstanding return man T.J. Graham, who led the team with 757 yards and seven touchdowns. They did it with Jay Smith, who had 40 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. They did it with Palmer, who was second on the team with 496 yards receiving.

But now Graham and Smith are gone, along with Steven Howard. Palmer, headed into his senior season, is now the leader of the receiving group. Much more will be expected of him, Quintin Payton and converted cornerback Rashard Smith, especially with Bryan Underwood sidelined because of an injury.

What should help this group is having a veteran quarterback in Mike Glennon returning. The receivers spent extra time working with Glennon during the summer in order to build a good chemistry.

"Mike is a good quarterback, everybody knows it," Smith said. "So we went out and worked on our timing, making sure we understand when should we look for the ball, little small things like that to help us. Plus, with a veteran quarterback who knows the whole playbook, if we don’t know what to do, we can turn to Mike and he can help us. He’s our key leader. He motivates everybody, and makes everybody stay on top of each other."

Though Smith played a little bit of receiver last season, he officially made the full-time transition during the spring. He had never played the position before, but he has taken his knowledge of playing defensive back and quarterback in high school to playing receiver. He hopes that helps make up for his lack of game experience. Smith has one career catch.

"Just being able to make plays and catch the ball, the coaches feel I may be one of the best athletes on the team and they feel I can make explosive plays," Smith said. "I am not the biggest receiver in the country, but we have great coaches who help us."

Palmer also had to change positions when he arrived at NC State from junior college a few years ago, moving from running back to receiver -- a position he had never previously played. He was not thrilled with the news, but worked as hard as he could to get better. To that end, he put in endless hours this summer to improve his route running and endurance.

Now, after being relatively new to the position, he is being looked to lead this group into the season.

“People haven't seen the best things come out of me yet,” Palmer said. “Last year, I didn't get off to a good start because I was still trying to get a grasp of the offense. This year, I have a lot of fire built up inside of me. Now that I have my opportunity, I'm going to run with it.”

Only three players have gained more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season at NC State. Jerricho Cotchery was the last to get there in 2003. But Palmer has high hopes for himself, and the Wolfpack this season.

"I want to double my stats from last year," Palmer said."This year, I owe to myself, my teammates to everybody at this university, the fans, the people who have been behind us, that didn't think we could amount to anything, I feel like I want to double all my stats and go all out. I'll be hard on myself, which makes me work harder at what I want to do."
2011 overall record: 8-5

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

Returning starters

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

Top returners

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

Key losses

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

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

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

Spring answers

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

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

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

Fall questions

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

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

3. Can Mustafa Greene emerge? Legal problems and injuries have hurt the running back, who would be returning to play behind an experienced offensive line if he can work his way back into playing time. Greene totaled 869 yards and six touchdowns during his true freshman campaign of 2010.
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.

Hope and concern: NC State

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
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The hope and concern series continues today with NC State:

Biggest reason for hope: Momentum

NC State turned the corner last year under coach Tom O’Brien, as the 9-win season tied for the school’s second-highest total for wins and was the most wins the program had seen since 2002. Those within the program are still riding the momentum from that success and some have said they feel an obligation to not only carry it on but improve upon it. Now, NC State is arguably the healthiest and deepest it has been since O’Brien was hired. Players are in positions they belong in -- not spots they’re needed in because of numbers. NC State finished 2010 with a bowl win over a ranked team and as a top 25 team. It’s a good springboard into 2011 – even without Russell Wilson.

Biggest reason for concern: Uncertainty at receiver

Aside from the kicking game, Brien said this spring that the receivers were the one position group that would be settled until fall camp, at the earliest. With a first-year starting quarterback in Mike Glennon, it will be of the utmost importance for the Wolfpack to find some dependable receivers to help Glennon out. NC State has to replace graduated starters Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, who combined for 112 receptions, 1,625 yards and nine touchdowns last year. T.J. Graham is the leading returner with 25 catches, but Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton also have experience.

More in this series:

NC State spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
7:30
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2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

OT R.J. Mattes, TE George Bryan, LB Audie Cole, S Brandan Bishop, S Earl Wolff, LB Terrell Manning, RB Mustafa Greene, C Camden Wentz, DT J.R. Sweezy

Key losses

QB Russell Wilson, OT Jake Vermiglio, WR Jarvis Williams, WR Owen Spencer, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Greene* (597 yards)

Passing: Wilson (3,563 yds)

Receiving: Spencer (912 yds)

Tackles: Irving, Cole* (97)

Sacks: Irving (6.5)

Interceptions: Bishop (4)

Spring answers

1. Life goes on without Nate Irving. The Pack graduated its top playmaker on defense, but Cole adjusted well this spring to his new role in the middle and Terrell Manning shouldn’t be forgotten after his 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season.

2. The situation at running back has improved. At this time a year ago, NC State didn’t have one running back on the roster with starting experience and had to move Dean Haynes over from defense. Now, Greene is the returning leading rusher and a promising young talent when he’s healthy. The staff is also confident in Anthony Creecy, James Washington and Brandon Barnes, who missed all of 2010 with an injury.

3. The secondary is older and wiser. NC State returns all four starters, and four other defensive backs who got significant experience last season will help the depth. So will the return of Jarvis Byrd, who tore his ACL last season, and Rashard Smith, who also redshirted last season after a knee injury.

Fall questions

1. Is Mike Glennon as good as advertised? O’Brien has heaped praise on his new starter this offseason, comparing him to former Boston College standout Matt Ryan. Glennon has a similar build and throwing motion, and is comparable with intangibles such as his attention to detail, his work ethic and leadership, but is he really as good as Ryan? And, more importantly, can he stay healthy long enough to prove it?

2. Will special teams survive its makeover? The new punter, placekicker and snappers are all in the incoming class. It’s an underrated concern for the Wolfpack, which graduated 38 career starts with placekicker Josh Czajkowski.

3. Will the senior wide receivers rise to the occasion? With a first-year starting quarterback, receivers Jay Smith (10 catches), Steven Howard (12 catches) and T.J. Graham (25 catches) will have to step up to the level of their departed teammates (Spencer, Williams, and Darrell Davis). Aside from special teams, it was the one position group O’Brien said wouldn’t be settled until at least summer camp.

Catching up with Tom O'Brien

April, 13, 2011
4/13/11
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This spring is the first time coach Tom O'Brien's NC State team has had all its scholarship players to work with in the two-deep depth chart. That alone has made it a more enjoyable spring. The biggest question facing NC State heading into the fall will be the wide receivers, but O'Brien can deal with that. "In the past we've had two or three question mark positions," he said. "Now we're down to one."

I caught up with O'Brien on Friday to see how the Pack was doing this spring. Here are some highlights:

[+] EnlargeO'Brien
Brian Utesch/US PresswireNC State coach Tom O'Brien has confidence in quarterback Mike Glennon.
First, the bad news: NC State running back and 2010 leading rusher Mustafa Greene will have foot surgery and miss the rest of the spring, according to The Raleigh News & Observer. Greene had really made strides with his pass protection since last year and O'Brien told me on Friday Greene had "grown up a lot."

The good news: Greene is expected to be back by the fall, and the Wolfpack is in a much better situation than it was this time a year ago, when it didn't have any running backs on the roster with starting experience. Brandon Barnes and James Washington give the position depth.

The move to the middle: Audie Cole's move to middle linebacker has been a successful one this spring. He has taken over the spot vacated by Nate Irving, and O'Brien has been pleased. "I think it’s showing that the move was a good one for us," O'Brien said. "Audie Cole is really a good linebacker, he’s a smart kid. Jon (Tenuta) likes to put his best player at linebacker. Audie has taken the challenge, he’s getting everybody lined up, he understands everything about the defense."

The Mike Glennon era begins: O'Brien has no lack of confidence in Glennon, who has plenty of spring experience running with the first team. "He's much more comfortable doing things. He has the ability to make any throw that has to be made on the football field. It's just a question of getting in and doing it in game experience and gaining the confidence to do it under pressure time in and time out."

The Russell Wilson era ends:What if he comes back? "It really doesn't matter if he does or not," O'Brien said. "We're committed to Michael Glennon, and we're going forward from there. What we've discussed with Russell and Michael, understand where we are and what we have to do. We're all about team building. It's all about continuity. Nobody can say Russell is coming back. You can't count on it."

Improved o-line: This is the first time O'Brien has five players to work with who have game experience. It's been a much better starting point for the Pack this spring.

The lingering question: NC State graduated its top receivers and needs some playmakers to emerge. O'Brien said he's not going to know how many of the young players will fare until they're in a game situation. "I don’t think it’s an area we’re comfortable with yet," O'Brien said. "It’s an area that’s certainly a work in progress and you can certainly tell that T.J. Graham and Jay Smith are ahead of the rest of the pack because they have the most experience. Steve Howard and Quintin Payton had played a little bit last year. They have showed progress. The kids that are intriguing to us right now are Tobais Palmer and Bryan Underwood. They are the guys we redshirted a year ago. They’re doing a little more thinking right now than they are playing. That’s all part of figuring everything out right now. They certainly are talented young guys. Once they get it figured out they’ll be much more in tune with what we have to do to play much faster."

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
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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.

Wolfpack receivers dropping the ball

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
5:49
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- NC State's receivers have been dropping the ball in this game. Literally. Owen Spencer and Jay Smith have both dropped passes, and the first-half interception that led to the game-tying touchdown bounced off the hands of an NC State receiver. Russell Wilson is making the throws, but he needs some help on the other end in this half.

Injury reports: Week 1

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
3:30
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Here are the injury reports from the schools that emailed them this week:

DUKE

TE Cooper Helfet (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

S Quan Stevenson (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON

NORTH CAROLINA

Out

Giovani Bernard – RB, knee

Brendon Felder – WR, knee

Tommy Heffernan – LB, shoulder

Doubtful

T.J. Leifheit – OL, ankle

Questionable

A.J. Blue – QB, knee

NC STATE

OUT

Brandon Barnes, RB - ankle
Jarvis Byrd, CB - knee
Sylvester Crawford, DE - hip
R.J. Mattes, OG - knee
Quinton Payton, WR - finger
Jay Smith, WR - groin
James Washington, HB - hamstring
*Jesse Riley, DB - knee
*Rashard Smith, DB - knee
* - out for the season

ACC injury reports

September, 18, 2009
9/18/09
8:41
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


The weekly injury reports have all come in (some come in much later than others, which is why I wait until Friday mornings to do this). If you don't see 'em, they weren't sent. Maryland will miss Bruce Campbell again, Duke has a handful of key players who could miss the game at Kansas, including Vince Oghobaasse, Virginia is likely to be without Vic Hall, and Boston College will be without defensive tackle Damik Scafe. Not good news for any of those teams. It looks like UNC might -- might -- get Jonathan Cooper back on the offensive line. That would be a huge help.

Here are the full reports:

BOSTON COLLEGE

FB James McCluskey (Achilles) – OUT

LB Will Thompson (shoulder) – DOUBTFUL

WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) – DOUBTFUL

LB Mike McLaughlin (Achilles) – DOUBTFUL

DT Damik Scafe (Neck/Shoulder) – DOUBTFUL

CLEMSON

Out for the Season

J.K. Jay, OT, back

Probable

Michael Palmer, TE, hip

DUKE

RB Re'quan Boyette (ankle) -- Probable

TE Danny Parker (ankle) -- Probable

RB Jay Hollingsworth (ankle) -- Questionable

DT Vince Oghobaase (leg) -- Questionable

WR Conner Vernon (ankle) -- Doubtful

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT

CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

FLORIDA STATE

OUT

OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

DT Demonte McAllister (knee)

DT Justin Mincey (knee)

OT John Prior (knee)

LB Vince Williams (back)

QUESTIONABLE

RV Korey Mangum (shoulder)

MARYLAND

Out for season:

Nolan Carroll (leg)

Out:

Louis Berman (leg)

Bruce Campbell (foot)

Jamari McCollough (foot)

Caleb Porzel (leg)

Joe Vellano (foot)

Probable:

Tony Logan (shoulder)

NORTH CAROLINA

Out (Season)

Carl Gaskins OL Knee

Matt Merletti S Knee

Out (Game)

Lowell Dyer C Shoulder

Dwight Jones WR Knee

Zack Pianalto TE Foot

Ryan Taylor TE Knee

Doubtful

Linwan Euwell LB Ankle

LeCount Fantroy CB Thigh

Questionable

Jonathan Cooper OG Ankle

Devon Ramsay RB Thigh

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB - knee

Everett Proctor, QB - shoulder

OUT

Jamelle Eugene, HB - knee

Clem Johnson, S - thigh

Jeff Rieskamp, DE - hip

Jay Smith, WR - flu

Jake Vermiglio, OT - lower leg

Javon Walker, DB - knee

Julian Williams, OG/OT - flu

Johnson will be replaced by either Brandan Bishop or Justin Byers; Williams will be replaced by Andrew Wallace.

VIRGINIA

Out

Bobby Smith (knee)

Doubtful

Vic Hall (hip)

Questionable

Mikell Simpson (leg)

Probable

Denzel Burrell (hip)

BJ Cabbell (ankle)

Nate Collins (knee)

Matt Conrath (spine)

Chris Cook (hip)

John-Kevin Dolce (foot)

Ausar Walcott (knee)

VIRGINIA TECH

Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) - probable

Stephan Virgil (knee) - questionable

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 11, 2009
9/11/09
1:01
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The ACC put another thriller on display Thursday night in Georgia Tech's 30-27 win over Clemson. Here's a look at what else is on tap in the conference this weekend:
  • Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown took full responsibility for the Terps' implosion on defense last weekend against Cal. Brown told The Washington Post, "I am completely responsible for it. I am accountable for it."
  • Virginia Tech's defense wasn't entirely flawless, either, though it was hardly the debacle Maryland had. Sometimes, though, it only takes five plays to turn a game.
  • Maryland's Brown wasn't the only coordinator in the ACC to come up short in his debut. Things didn't turn out as expected for Virginia offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, either.
  • Despite the loss to Baylor, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe still sees reasons for optimism - and no reason to shake up his lineup.
  • NC State wide receiver Jay Smith knows he dropped a big pass in the end zone against South Carolina, and he's working hard to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  • Does Boston College have a new star in the making at linebacker? It will if 18-year-old Luke Kuechly continues to soak up information from Mark Herzlich and Mike McLaughlin and play like he did last weekend.
  • Miami receiver Travis Benjamin doesn't hold a grudge against Florida State for not recruiting him. He just wants to beat the Noles. And this year, he helped do that.
  • Will the Canes have better luck against Georgia Tech this year than in 2008? Miami coach Randy Shannon doesn't even want to think about last year.
  • The public arguments between FSU president T.K. Wetherell and the NCAA are getting a little bit embarrassing.
  • Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden is in his third season as the Hokies' top punter, and he's aiming to make it his best.

Opportunity dropped

September, 3, 2009
9/03/09
10:02
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State tailback Toney Baker and receiver Jay Smith are going to want to bury this game film in a time capsule that doesn't open for a long, long time.

Obviously there was more to this game than two plays -- it's hardly as if South Carolina put forth a flawless performance -- but the plays that will be tough for fans in Raleigh to forget will be Baker's fumble, and Smith's dropped pass in the end zone that hit him square in the numbers. It's those kinds of mistakes that make it tough to remember Rashard Smith's electric 31-yard return that gave the Pack great field position for a comeback.

Instead, NC State lost 7-3 to South Carolina, dropping its third straight season opener under coach Tom O'Brien. In turn, the ACC got off to an ugly, nationally televised 0-1 start in its nonconference play.

Fortunately for the conference, it's only Thursday.

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