ACC: Jeff Smith
Boston College running back Montel Harris is a walking advertisement for BC football. He was recruited by Ball State and Duke until BC swept in a week before signing day and lured him away from his commitment to the Blue Devils. Now, Harris is the No. 2 leading rusher in the ACC with 99.2 yards per game, he had a record-setting day against NC State, and his role has just become even more important now that backup Josh Haden has decided to transfer. Haden, though, was also one of Harris’ best friends and roommates, along with backup quarterback Justin Tuggle, who also decided to transfer, so the decision hit him hard while it also left the Eagles thin at running back.
|Montel Harris is the No. 2 leading rusher in the ACC with 99.2 yards per game.|
In light of the recent news this week in Chestnut Hill, here’s a bonus edition Q&A for you, with the regular one coming tomorrow.
What do you think needs to happen in order for you to become more consistent?
Montel Harris: For us to execute as an offense. If all of us do our jobs one-on-one, we should be able to be successful in the pass and run game.
Where do you think you’ve made the most progress this year?
MH: I would say just being more comfortable than last year. If you’ve been there one time, you look at smaller things and smaller details. I think that’s helped me.
Do you feel more pressure now because there’s nobody behind you with much experience?
MH: A little bit. Every time you go out there, you don’t want to think about getting hurt, but now if you get hurt, who’s going to fill your shoes? You have to be more cognizant. I feel like it’s going to make me work harder since I’m the only running back that really has any experience.
Is it difficult to not play scared, though?
MH: Not for me. The more you think about something, the more it might happen. I’m just going to play like I always play on Saturdays, and if I get hurt, then I guess it was meant to happen. I’m really not worried about it.
How tough was it for you to hear the news, and how soon did you find out about it?
MH: It was real tough, even when Josh used to mention it sometimes. I used to always try and talk him out of it and tell him to think about it. When I found out it was official, it was pretty bad. I really didn’t know it was going to be official until my uncle saw it on ESPN. I was pretty down that whole day, even at practice. I can only be happy for Josh and Tuggs and wish them the best wherever they go.
Did they give you any indication as to why? I’m assuming with Josh it was playing time, but you’d think it has to be more than that.
MH: Actually it was more off the field things that were going on with Josh. He made the best decision for himself.
Second part coming up shortly ...
The Connecticut program was stunned and saddened recently by the tragic death of cornerback Jasper Howard, who was stabbed near the campus student union, but the effects of this tragedy have rippled throughout college football, including the ACC.
Clemson starting cornerback Chris Chancellor will wear No. 6 during Saturday’s game at Miami in honor of Howard. Chancellor and Howard were teammates at Miami Edison Senior High School in Miami.
Boston College junior cornerback DeLeon Gause will also wear Howard’s No. 6 when the Eagles face Notre Dame in South Bend this Saturday.
Gause, a Miami native, played against Howard in high school and later became friends with him.
“We played against each other in high school and at the Kickoff Classic,” Gause said. “All I remember is that he was talking about me before the game. He kept saying, ‘tell (Gause) that it’s going to be a big game.’ And he came out there to play. We kept going back and forth.”
Believing that he needed to show his support for Howard, Gause searched for some way to keep his spirit close by when the Eagles play on Saturday.
“I talked with another guy who played with (Jasper), a cornerback at Clemson, Chris Chancellor. It was on his heart to (wear Jasper’s No. 6) and I thought of anything that I could do. I felt like I had to do something.”
Gause asked for and received permission to wear No. 6 from the BC coaching staff. Running back Jeff Smith will continue to wear No. 6 as well in Saturday’s game (the two play on opposite sides of the ball).
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There was plenty of football going on this Saturday, but only one spring game -- Florida State -- so we'll take care of the Noles in a separate post. Here's a quick recap of the other scrimmages, according to information provided by each school's respective sports information director.
In the Eagles' first spring scrimmage, redshirt sophomore quarterback Dominique Davis started and completed 9 of 22 passes for 64 yards with three interceptions. Redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Tuggle completed 9 of 11 passes for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Sophomore quarterback Codi Boek also played several series, completing 7 of 14 passes for 61 yards. Redshirt freshman Alexander Atiyeh completed a pass for 26 yards and a touchdown.
Redshirt freshman Clyde Lee led all receivers with four catches for 59 yards. Junior Ryan Lindsey had three catches for 52 yards, along with a 26-yard touchdown. Junior tight end Jordon McMichael caught Tuggle's 5-yard touchdown, which ended the scrimmage.
Senior running back Jeff Smith led all Eagles in rushing, carrying the ball 13 times for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Montel Harris had 12 carries for 33 yards, while sophomore Josh Haden had 12 carries for 32 yards.
"I saw some good things," coach Frank Spaziani said. "The offense is getting better, learning some things and executing. We're making progress, but it's still very early."
The defense looked strong early, as senior Mark Herzlich intercepted Davis and returned the ball 43 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Will Thompson made six tackles. Redshirt freshman Nick Clancy was in the right place at the right time totaling four tackles and two interceptions. Junior cornerback DeLeon Gause returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown, while also intercepting a pass. Sophomore defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey recorded two sacks on the day.
The defense had 13 sacks -- three of which came from defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who also had four tackles -- but don't get too impressed by that stat. It's the one-hand touch rule on quarterbacks, so many of them wouldn't have counted.
"I thought it was a great scrimmage," said coach Dabo Swinney. "I saw great competition and solid performances on both sides of the ball. The wide receivers had their best day of the spring. Brandon Ford had two touchdowns [including goal-line drill] and has really made progress this week. The quarterbacks did well. People better not count out Michael Wade, he had an outstanding day.
"On defense I thought Da'Quan Bowers was outstanding. The defense had a very good day in general.
"We did have some mistakes that were critical, a fumble on the goal line, an offside penalty by the defense that negated a big play that allowed a first down. But, overall I was pleased.
"The kickers also did very well today. Spencer Benton was 7-for-7 on field goals, including a 50-yarder and Richard Jackson had an outstanding day as well."
Jackson made two field goals from 49 yards during the scrimmage.
Wade had the best stats of the quarterbacks as he completed 9-of-12 for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Willy Korn was 8-16 for 96 yards and added a 3-yard scoring pass to Ford in the goal-line drill portion of the scrimmage. Kyle Parker completed 7-of-14 for 87 yards and a touchdown on a 10-yard pass to Terrence Ashe, who made a nice catch in the back of the end zone.
Parker hit a home run for the Clemson baseball team against Duke on Friday night, then was back in Death Valley Saturday morning. He will be back in the starting lineup against Duke on Saturday night.
"We came out today to work on our passing game," said Swinney. "We have had some tough weather this spring so today was the best day we have had to work on pitching and catching. I was pleased with what I saw."
Ford had three catches for 97 yards, including a 60-yard score from Wade, in the regular scrimmage, then added a touchdown catch from Korn in the goal-line portion. Jaron Brown had three catches for 68 yards, including a 26-yard reception from Wade. Ashe had three catches for 20 yards, including the 10-yard score from Parker. Xavier Dye added two catches for 40 yards receiving, and Brandon Clear had a 30-yard catch as well.
Rendrick Taylor was the top rusher with eight carries for 31 yards, while Andre Ellington had eight for 27. There were no rushing touchdowns in the scrimmage until the goal-line drill. Ellington and Jamie Harper both had two touchdowns in the goal-line drill.
Bowers, who was Clemson's top player in the Gator Bowl against Nebraska, had three sacks, a caused fumble, four total tackles for loss and six overall tackles. Brandon Clear had two sacks.
Kavell Conner, Clemson's top tackler last year, had six tackles, as did Jeremy Campbell and Bowers, to lead the defense. Sophomore Coty Sensabaugh had a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Safety Sadat Chambers had the only interception of the scrimmage.
Maryland won't hold its first scrimmage until next week, but the Terps geared up for that by spending about an hour of Saturday's workout in a scrimmage-type setting.
After spending roughly an hour on individual and team work, the first and second team offenses and defenses faced off for a mock scrimmage of eight possessions with each beginning at the 35-yard line.
The offense had scoring opportunities on two of its first five possessions, but the defense ended one drive with an interception and forced two three-and-outs.
Da'Rel Scott keyed the lone touchdown drive in his limited time. With the No. 1 offense and defense squaring off on the second drive, the junior carried four times for 56 yards to move the ball into the red zone.
The offense moved the ball on the ensuing possession, but Jamari McCollough thwarted the scoring chance, picking off Jamarr Robinson's pass at the 4 and returning it 50 yards.
Two possessions later, the offense had a field goal attempt set up by a 26-yard completion from Anthony Green to Matt Furstenburg.
Aided by a stiff wind, Mike Barbour's 50-yard kick had plenty of distance, but sailed just wide right.
Safeties Terrell Skinnner and Antwine Perez were the leading tacklers, posting four stops apiece. Skinner and Perez were also in the backfield quite a bit, combining for 2.5 tackles for loss. Skinner also had a forced fumble.
McCollough also had three solo stops in addition to his interception. The defense had four sacks, including two on the final possession.
"Defensively, we got better as the scrimmage went on," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We got better at tackling, better pursuit to the ball and we [forced] some turnovers, which is good to see from a defensive standpoint but not from an offensive standpoint."
Turner completed six of his seven passes, but managed only 12 yards. Robinson went 3-for-5 for 37 yards and Green, a defensive back serving as the No. 3 signal-caller this spring, hit all three of his attempts for 33 yards.
Scott, who played on just one possession, was the leading ground gainer with 56 yards on four carries. No receiver had more than two catches, with Furstenburg leading the way, hauling in a pair for 41 yards.
"There were a lot of positives," Friedgen said of Saturday's practice. "We just need to keep on working at trying to get better. I think our attitude is very good, I think they're enjoying themselves and I think they're working hard. As long as we have that and we keep trying to get better every day, one day we're going to be a good football team."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Miami fans might not believe this, but somebody is actually questioning how Randy Shannon handled this whole thing. The amazing thing in all of this is how quarterback Robert Marve has handled it -- with class. He's got every right to question this decision, but Marve instead has been the model teammate.
Despite all of the drama in Coral Gables, I'll be in Hotlanta this week to see what Barry Switzer called "the greatest rushing offense in college football." Super. Let's see if the Yellow Jackets can execute it. Heck, there's even new lingo to learn before we start yapping about this offense.
There are also plenty of questions about the young Boston College offense, but Jeff Smith is ready to help out any way he can. When the Eagles face Kent State in the season opener, Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski won't exactly be taken by surprise.
NC State elminated one major question last week when Tom O'Brien named Russell Wilson his starting quarterback. Now the focus is up front, where the Wolfpack has some major room for improvement.
Maryland got an instant upgrade when it picked this guy to run the offense. (Too bad they didn't pick the QB in the picture). Of course, it's not like the Terps couldn't use a few tweaks on defense, too.
Everywhere Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper goes, he is reminded of the expectations his team is facing this season. There's only one way to fix that -- win.
At Wake Forest, senior safety Chip Vaughn had to take a hit before his dad taught him how how to give them.
Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has been dishing out hits to his players for 25 years. And it's worked.
And finally, it's not easy to find a transition into this last story, but ...
Who needs tonsils to play football? Not Virginia linebacker Aaron Clark. He's better off without 'em.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
When Boston College was recruiting Josh Haden out of Friendly High School in Maryland, the coaches told him he'd have "a chance to start."
This past spring, he didn't really have much choice. There weren't any other running backs to choose from.
When it comes to depth at the running back position, Haden, a true freshman, is pretty much it. He's the answer to replacing Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth, who alternated starting roles the past four seasons.
One of the best decisions Haden said he has made was enrolling early.
"It's been going real good," said Haden, who ran for 1,350 yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior year. "Coming in early helped me out a lot. I had time to adjust to school work as well as football. It really gave me time to adjust to the game speed. I've been working most on pass protection. In high school, pass protection really didn't matter as much as it did now, and picking up blocks."
Haden said junior Jeff Smith -- who has seen most of his playing time on special teams -- is now behind him on the depth chart and Razzie Smith has been moved from cornerback to running back. All three of them have been taking a similar amount of reps, but Haden's time this spring puts him at the top. He's even listed as one of the "veterans" in the media guide instead of with the newcomers.
"They're not putting a lot of pressure on me, they're just telling me to go out and have fun," Haden said. "During practice they really take me slow through it all, but now that I've been here so long it's picking up. I'm getting a lot more comfortable with it."