ACC: Jim Noel
Boston College Eagles
Coach: Steve Addazio (13-11, first season at BC)
2012 record: 2-10 (1-7 ACC)
Key losses: WR Johnathan Coleman, OT Emmett Cleary, OT John Wetzel, LB Nick Clancy, CB Jim Noel, P Gerald Levano
Newcomer to watch: OT Matt Patchan. If there's a perfect example of the hope Addazio has brought with him to Boston College, it's Patchan. The talented left tackle transferred in from Florida -- Addazio's old stomping grounds as an assistant coach -- and immediately plugs into one of the Eagles' biggest areas of need. BC's line was awful last season, and attrition threatened to make the situation even worse. Enter Patchan, a former high school All-American and sixth-year senior who missed 2012 with a torn pec. He is fully healthy now and should contribute immediately.
Biggest games in 2013: Sept. 14 at USC; Sept. 28 vs. Florida State; Oct. 12 at Clemson; Nov. 2 vs. Virginia Tech
Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The offensive line was dismal for Boston College last season, and the only good news heading into 2013 is that it would be tough for things to get much worse. The Eagles ranked 106th nationally in sacks allowed per game last season, and they're losing both starting tackles for this year. Worse yet, BC was among the worst rushing teams in the country, ranking 119th out of 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in rushing yards per game. Only four teams in the nation managed fewer rushing touchdowns than BC's seven.
Forecast: Addazio is a high-energy coach with an SEC pedigree, and his arrival at Boston College has at the very least injected some much-needed optimism for a program that not only missed out on the postseason for a second straight season in 2012, but did so in dismal fashion, winning just one game against an FBS foe.
But as bad as the numbers look from last year, Addazio hasn't inherited a program with a talent vacuum. Rettig established himself as a serviceable quarterback with some upside. His top target is Amidon, who is already an All-ACC performer. Add in some established talent on defense, including Pierre-Louis, Divitto and Nate Freese. BC returns eight of its top nine tacklers overall.
Still, all of Addazio's energy and all of the talent at the top of the depth chart can't mask some serious concerns at the line of scrimmage and on the bench. Boston College should be markedly more competitive than during the past two lost seasons under former coach Frank Spaziani, but the lack of depth in key areas will make it awfully tough for the Eagles to hold up over the course of a difficult schedule.
The bar isn't set high for Addazio, and it would be surprising if Boston College doesn't show signs of improvement. But the rebuilding project isn't likely to be a quick fix, and 2013 could be another long season in Chestnut Hill.
2012 conference record: 1-7 (sixth in the Atlantic Division)
Returning starters: Offense: 8; Defense: 8; kicker/punter 1
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
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)
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.
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.
Offensive highlights: Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 6 of 10 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown -- a 15-yard pass to running back Rolandan Finch, who also had eight carries for 37 yards. Freshman Harrison Jackson led the receivers with five receptions for 50 yards.
Defensive highlights: Defensive end Brian Mihalik had two tackles for a loss of 10 yards, including a sack. Senior captain Jim Noel had the lone interception.
Special-teams highlights: Kicker Nate Freese made all three of his field-goal attempts -- 30, 35 and 25 yards.
Quotable: “It was a good start, good first series and then it tailed off,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “We got soft and had some execution issues, but in general the scrimmage gives us a good idea where we’re at right and we’ll look to improve for the next one.”
Offensive highlights: Sophomore receiver Charone Peake caught three passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns -- one a six-yarder from Cole Stoudt, the other 37 yards from Morgan Roberts. (Six quarterbacks got reps.) Jaron Brown caught the other touchdown pass of the scrimmage, a 56-yarder from first-team quarterback Tajh Boyd. Sammy Watkins had two receptions for 35 yards, the first two completions on the first drive of the scrimmage from Boyd. Boyd finished 5-for-10 for 105 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He also had a 32-yard rushing touchdown. Rod McDowell was the top rusher with nine attempts for 46 yards. Clemson’s running backs tallied 109 yards on 22 carries on the day, nearly a 5.0 average per carry. Andre Ellington played sparingly to give the other young backs some experience.
Defensive highlights: Xavier Brewer had seven tackles, a sack and a pass breakup. Kellen Jones, a transfer from Oklahoma who is not eligible this season, added six tackles, including two for loss, while Jonathan Meeks had five tackles. Tig Willard had three tackles and one of his two pass deflections led to an interception.
Special-teams highlights: Spencer Benton made a 55-yard field goal. Chandler Catanzaro made three of his four attempts, from 36, 39 and 41 yards.
Quotable: “It was a good first scrimmage,” said coach Dabo Swinney. “We made some mistakes, but they are correctable. I thought the defense played well. We saw a lot of activity around the ball. Xavier Brewer had a good scrimmage, as did Lateek Townsend. He was involved in three sacks and that was big.
“We have made good progress this first week. There is still much to do, but I like the attitude of this team. They come to work. They go about their business.”
Offensive highlights: Mike James rushed for a team-high 137 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns, including a 51-yard burst down the sideline. Duke Johnson had 49 yards on nine carries and four touchdowns -- three rushing and one receiving. He took a screen pass from Stephen Morris 37 yards for a score.
Morris and Ryan Williams showed good footwork to elude pressure in the pocket and scramble for yards when needed. Morris completed 24 of 36 passes for 193 yards with four touchdowns, with one interception. Williams threw for 121 yards and three scores on 12-of-17 passing.
Johnson led all receivers with 44 yards. Malcolm Lewis caught three passes for 42 yards, while Kendal Thompkins hauled in a team-best five catches for 22 yards.
Defensive highlights: A.J. Highsmith had a team-high nine tackles, while Tyrone Cornileus, Tracy Howard and Ramon Buchanan all recorded seven tackles apiece. Anthony Chickillo, JaWand Blue and Cornileus each recorded a sack.
Quotable: “We’ve been saying it all camp: Mike [James] looks quicker,” coach Al Golden said. “He has always been strong but now he looks healthy.
“[Duke Johnson] found [the end zone] a couple of times today. He has a low center of gravity and a knack for diving and finding the end zone.”
NCAA leaders in pass interceptions
2011: David Amerson, NC State (13, 1.00/gm)
2010: Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (9, 0.69/gm)
2008: Trimane Goddard, UNC (7, 0.54); Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (7, 0.54); Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (7, 0.54) (tied in total interceptions with 4 others)
2007: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (8, 0.62) (tied with Cincinnati's DeAngelo Smith and Troy's Elbert Mack in total interceptions)
Can the ACC keep it up? Here's a look at the returning leaders who had at least four interceptions last year:
Don't forget about Merrill Noel at Wake Forest, who led the league with 21 passes defended. Here's a look at the ACC's spring all-star checklist for 2012 defensive backs:
- Lee Butler, Duke, Sr.
- Ross Cockrell, Duke, Jr.
- Greg Reid, Florida State, Sr.
- Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, Jr.
- Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech, Sr.
- Louis Young, Georgia Tech, Jr.
- David Amerson, NC State, Jr.
- Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech, Jr.
- Merrill Noel, Wake Forest, So.
- Antone Exum, Virginia Tech, Jr.
2011 conference record: 3-5 (5th, Atlantic)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1
LT John Wetzel, RT Emmett Cleary, LG Bobby Vardaro, RG Ian White, TE Chris Pantale, QB Chase Rettig, RB Rolandan Finch, RB Tahj Kimble, RB Andre Williams, WR Coin Larmond, WR Bobby Swigert, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, DT Dominic Appiah, DT Dillon Quinn, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, LB Sean Duggan, CB Jim Noel, SS Spenser Rositano
C Mark Spinney, TE Lars Anderson, DE Max Holloway, LB Luke Kuechly, CB Donnie Fletcher, FS Hampton Hughes, P Ryan Quigley
2011 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Rolandan Finch* (705 yards)
Passing: Chase Rettig* (1,960 yards)
Receiving: Colin Larmond* (528 yards)
Tackles: Luke Kuechly (191)
Sacks: Max Holloway (2.5)
Interceptions: Luke Kuechly (3)
1. Chase Rettig makes strides: Rettig was thrown into the fire early, and he has endured plenty since, with injuries, new schemes and last year's 4-8 campaign. Now a junior, and playing for another new offensive coordinator, Rettig has the command of the offense and should benefit from playing behind an experienced offensive line.
2. More running back depth than BC probably hoped for: Montel Harris and Andre Williams couldn't go in the spring game. Then Tahj Kimble injured himself early in the contest. Finch, who played a lot last season with Harris sidelined, ended up shouldering the load, and it will take a group effort this season with Harris out of the picture. Injuries and a dismissal gave BC a better look at its backfield talent than it had probably hoped for, but the group effort this spring should benefit the Eagles come fall.
3. Defense looking to build off 2011 finish: Coach Frank Spaziani said the worst thing about last season was that it ended. BC is hungry to build off its 4-8 campaign, as the team hopes to carry the momentum from winning two of its final three games. A long offseason gave the defense time to think about that finish, which was keyed by a unit that held each of the final three opponents to fewer than 20 points.
1. Who will replace Luke Kuechly? The short answer is no one. Kuechly's legend will only continue to grow with each passing day. But the Eagles do return plenty of talented linebackers, led by Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis. It will take a collective effort and then some for the linebackers to make up for the loss of Kuechly, but their attitude in trying can certainly rub off on the rest of the defense.
2. What happened with Harris? The school's all-time leading rusher was dismissed from the team after the spring for a repeated violation of team rules. The backfield is used to playing without him after his injury-plagued 2011 campaign, but the suddenness of Harris' departure -- which Spaziani will not get into -- has to have some effect on his former teammates, especially with Harris having been primed to chase the ACC's career rushing record this season.
3. How will the offense transition under Doug Martin? Spaziani said he was impressed with the unit coming out of the spring, but a fifth offensive coordinator in five years has to be challenging for the players. Martin has said he is looking to increase the pace, and he'll have nine starters back to work with come preseason camp.
ACC: With Virginia Tech RB David Wilson, North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard, and Miami RB Lamar Miller leading the way, the ACC could set a league record for the most 100-yard rushing games in a single season in its history. Heading into Saturday, ACC runners have reached or surpassed the 100-yard mark in rushing on 47 occasions led by Wilson (9), Bernard (6) and Miller (6). The league mark of 55 100-yard rushing games was set last year. What makes this year’s total even more impressive is the fact that Boston College’s Montel Harris, who personally has 22 career 100-yard games, has contributed just one to the total this season due to an injury which has forced him to miss almost the entire 2011 season.
BOSTON COLLEGE: In BC’s 38-7 home loss to Florida State, a season-high 10 players were sidelined with injuries. In addition to the five players who have suffered season-ending injuries – WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee), DB C.J. Jones (knee), DL Connor Wujciak (shoulder), RB Montel Harris (knee) and DL Kaleb Ramsey (foot) – five veterans have suffered various recent injuries. They include senior OL Nate Richman, redshirt freshman RB Tahj Kimble, sophomore LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, junior DB Jim Noel and sophomore RB Andre Williams.
CLEMSON: The Tigers have defeated Wake Forest 23 of the past 25 meetings in Death Valley and have not lost to Wake Forest at home since 1998. Clemson has a 6-0 record at home this year and an average victory of 41-25. A win Saturday would also give Clemson a 7-0 record at home this year, the program’s first perfect home season since 1990 when Clemson was 6-0 in Death Valley.
DUKE: Duke has played five one-possession games (decided by eight points or less) this season with an average margin of difference of 2.40 points. The five games are tied for the third most in the nation. Duke’s 2.40 average is the sixth lowest nationally among schools that have played at least three one-possession games, with Buffalo ranking first at 1.67 average points in three games.
FLORIDA STATE: In 2011, 15 true freshmen have played, tied for the seventh-most among all FBS teams. The ‘Noles have played 11 redshirt freshmen for a total of 26 freshmen played. That number is tied for third among FBS schools, trailing only Clemson and Indiana, with 29 each. Five FSU true freshmen–-C Austin Barron, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Rashad Greene, OT Bobby Hart, and TE Nick O’Leary – have made starts, along with redshirt freshman QB Clint Trickett. FSU played 12 true freshmen in 2010 and 12 redshirt freshmen for a whopping 40 freshmen who have played to this point over the past two seasons.
GEORGIA TECH: The Jackets have allowed a 100-yard rusher in a game five times this season (all five have been ACC opponents). David Wilson’s rushing total (175 yards) was the most by a Tech opponent since 2009.
MARYLAND: WR Quintin McCree had his second career 100-yard receiving game with 117 yards against Virginia. It was also McCree’s second 100-yard effort in his last three games. WR Kerry Boykins also had the first of his career with 101 yards in Saturday’s Virginia game. McCree and Boykins are just the second Maryland duo in the past 16 years to post 100 receiving yards in the same game. Danny Oquendo (111) and Torrey Smith (115) both went over 100 receiving yards against Boston College on Nov. 29, 2008. Prior to that, the feat hadn’t occurred since 1995.
MIAMI: With his 202-yard performance against Duke on Nov. 5, Jacory Harris remains in second place in Miami’s records book with 8,097 career passing yards, surpassing Gino Torretta and trailing only Ken Dorsey (9,565).
NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina has never had a 1,000-yard runner and 1,000-yard receiver in the same season. Last week at NC State, Bernard became the 15th player in UNC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the first since Jonathan Linton in 1997. Heading into the Virginia Tech game, senior wide receiver Dwight Jones, who has 913 receiving yards, needs 87 yards to become just the second player in UNC history with 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
NC STATE: Tom O’Brien has won 42 games in BC’s Alumni Stadium, but is looking for his first win there as a visitor.
VIRGINIA: The Cavaliers enter Saturday’s game at Duke tied for third in the ACC in total offense at 427.7 yards per game. UVa is tied for 13th nationally with just eight sacks allowed this season (312 pass attempts). OG Austin Pasztor along with OT Oday Aboushi, OG Luke Bowanko, C Anthony Mihota and OT Morgan Moses have started all nine games this season. The only other ACC teams to start the same offensive line this year are NC State and Virginia Tech. The last time the same five players started an entire season on the offensive line at UVa was 2004. Coincidentally, that was the last time UVa averaged more rushing yards (242.8) per game than this year (190.1).
VIRGINIA TECH: The two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Logan Thomas against Georgia Tech gave him eight for the season, tying the single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a Tech quarterback. In 1999, Michael Vick rushed for eight touchdowns (he had another in the Sugar Bowl, but the NCAA didn’t count bowl statistics then). Thomas finished with 70 yards rushing,
WAKE FOREST: Wake Forest had come away with points on 11 straight trips to the red zone over four games heading into the Notre Dame game. Wake scored touchdowns on each of its first two trips to the red zone against Notre Dame and held a 17-10 halftime lead. But Wake’s string of 13 consecutive scoring trips came to a close when the Deacons failed on both red zone visits in the second half. The drives ended with a Brandon Pendergrass fumble at the Notre Dame nine-yard line and a missed field goal by PK Jimmy Newman.
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DT Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
RB Montel Harris (knee)
DT Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (leg)
DB Jim Noel (ankle)
LN Nick Clancy (knee)
DE Dan Williams (shoulder)
DB Spenser Rositano (leg)
RB Andre Williams (abdomen)
RB Tahj Kimble (head)
Joe Gore, DE, Knee
Tony Steward, LB, Knee
Spencer Benton, PK, shoulder
Andre Ellington, RB, ankle
DE Justin Foxx (leg)
CB Zach Greene (leg)
CB Johnny Williams (leg)
LB Kelby Brown (leg)
WR Jamison Crowder (leg)
S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)
C Brian Moore (upper body)
Out for season
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
DE Kenny Anunike (leg)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)
Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Out for season
Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)
Chris Thompson (back)
David Spurlock (knee)
Rashad Greene (ankle)
Bryan Stork (head)
Luther Robinson-Lower Extremity
Curtis Porter-Upper Extremity
Rashawn Scott-Upper Extremity
Jordan Futch-Upper Extremity
Surgery/Out for season
Marcus Forston-Lower Extremity
Ramon Buchanan-Lower Extremity
Corey White-Lower Extremity
Erik Lichter-Upper Extremity
Blake Ayles-Upper Extremity
Out for season
Jarvis Byrd, CB - Knee
D.J. Green, LB- Foot
Mustafa Greene, HB - Foot
Sterling Lucas, LB - Knee
Jeff Rieskamp, DE- Shoulder
Out for game
Taylor Gentry, FB - Foot
Jake Kahut, DE - Knee
Brandon Pittman, LB- Hamstring
R.J. Mattes, OT - Ankle
Pablo Alvarez, (upper extremity)
Charlie Richards, (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott, (medical)
Bobby Smith, (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith, (lower extremity)
Matt Snyder, (lower extremity)
Michael Terrell, (lower extremity)
W.J. Williams, (lower extremity)
Luke Bowanko (upper extremity)
Thompson Brown (medical)
Cam Johnson (lower extremity)
Rodney McLeod (lower extremity)
Colter Phillips (lower extremity)
Draquan Romero (lower extremity)
WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)
DB CJ Jones (knee)
DT Connor Wujciak (shoulder)
RB Montel Harris (knee)
DT Kaleb Ramsey (foot)
OG Nate Richman (head)
RB Tahj Kimble (head)
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (leg)
CB Jim Noel (ankle)
RB Andre Williams (abdomen)
- Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 20-of-28 attempts for 176 yards, but threw four picks.
- Receiver Colin Larmond, Jr. led the team with 10 receptions for 89 yards.
- Sophomore Alex Amidon caught three passes for 29 yards.
- Junior running back Mike Javorski had 10 carries for 32 yards. Sophomore Rolandan Finch carried the ball seven times for 26 yards while Kimble registered four attempts for 22 yards.
- Junior Hampton Hughes, who switched from wide receiver to defensive back just five days prior to the scrimmage, had two pass breakups and one interception.
- Freshman DB Manny Asprilla led all defensive players with five tackles and one pass breakup -- a long pass attempt that Asprilla deflected into redshirt freshman Sean Sylvia’s hands for an interception. Redshirt freshman Dominique Williams and sophomore Jim Noel also recorded interceptions.
- LBs Kevin Pierre-Louis and Steele Devitto each registered one sack.
- Sophomore PK Nate Freese hit a 41-yard field goal attempt to end the scrimmage.
- Senior Ryan Quigley punted four times, averaging 40 yards per punt, while his lone field-goal attempt -- of 42 yards -- missed.
1. Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami: He was a second-team all-conference selection last year, despite starting only four games. He was third on the team with 79 tackles, including 4.5 for loss, and had three interceptions, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
2. Eddie Whitely, Virginia Tech: He had 80 tackles and two interceptions last year at free safety. He also broke up six passes and forced two fumbles. He’s a smart player who can line up anywhere in the secondary.
3. Earl Wolff, NC State: He led the team in tackles last year with 95, including 4.5 TFLs and two sacks. He had one interception, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
4. Nick Moody, Florida State: In his first year starting at free safety, Moody ranked third on the team with 79 tackles, including four tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. He finished the season with one interception, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
5. Vaughn Telemaque, Miami: He was one of seven Canes to start all 13 games last year and finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with three.
6. Matt Daniels, Duke: He is Duke’s leading returning tackler with 93 hits. He ranked sixth in the ACC in tackles last year and fourth in career tackles in the ACC among returnees with 198. He forced a team-high three fumbles last year and has six over the past two seasons. He had seven pass breakups last year.
7. Rodney McLeod, Virginia: He has been a two-year starter at strong safety and enters his final season with 133 career tackles. Last year he had 54 tackles and two interceptions.
8. Rashard Hall, Clemson: In two years he has had eight interceptions and five bass breakups in 27 games. He has nine career takeaways. He had 62 tackles and two interceptions last year.
9. Jim Noel, Boston College: He was second on the team with four interceptions and had 36 tackles (27 solo). He earned his first start at Florida State and made a career-high 10 tackles with a pass breakup and two interceptions, one of which he returned 43 yards for a touchdown.
10. Cyhl Quarles, Wake Forest: He finished second on the team with 71 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and he also had one interception and one fumble recovery.
2. Florida State: The Seminoles return both starters in Nick Moody and Terrance Parks. Moody had 79 tackles last season and Parks had 44 and six deflections. The group was strengthened with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who moved from cornerback and proved this spring he’s capable of being a safety.
3. NC State: The Wolfpack has two of the best in Earl Wolff, the team’s leading tackler last season with 95, and Brandan Bishop, who had 56 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Dontae Johnson (22 tackles), also returns.
4. Virginia Tech: Eddie Whitley is the lone returning starter, but he should be one of the best in the ACC. Antone Exum, who was the No. 2 free safety last season, moved to rover this spring. He played in every game last season and had five starts when Tech went to its nickel defense.
5. Virginia: The Cavaliers return veteran starters in Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley, who have combined for 41 career starts. Mosley had 52 tackles and two interceptions last season, and McLeod had 54 tackles and four pass breakups. Safety Dom Joseph (34 tackles) also returns.
6. Duke: The Blue Devils return both starters in Matt Daniels and Lee Butler. Daniels, a senior, has started 25 career games and is one of the top returning tacklers in the ACC. Butler had 58 tackles and nine passes defended last season.
7. Boston College: The Eagles return juniors Jim Noel, who had four interceptions in eight starts, and Okechukwu Okoroha, who started the final six games last fall. Noel, Okoroha, and Dominick LeGrande combined for 90 tackles last season.
8. Wake Forest: Both starters return in Daniel Mack and Cyhl Quarles. Mack had 45 tackles and two interceptions last season. Duran Lowe (30 tackles) could unseat Quarles, who is Wake’s leading returning tackler with 71 hits. Redshirt freshman Desmond Cooper is also competing for playing time.
9. Clemson: Rashard Hall has 19 career starts and made 62 tackles and two interceptions last season. Safety Jonathan Meeks (28 tackles, one start) also returns, along with Carlton Lewis.
10. Maryland: Just as Kenny Tate’s move to linebacker bumped the Terps up in the ranking in that category, his departure from safety drops them a few notches as they now don’t have any returning starters there. They do, however, have experience. Eric Franklin played in 11 games, with 23 tackles and three interceptions (tied for second on the team). Matt Robinson played in all 13 games and posted 29 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles. The Terps have plenty of depth with Austin Walker, Titus Till, Anthony Green and Desmond Haynes.
11. North Carolina: Matt Merletti had five starts and Jonathan Smith, who lettered in 2008 and 2009 but missed all of last season, are the projected starters. They will be pushed by junior Gene Robinson (four starts, 30 tackles, one interception) for playing time.
12. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace both of their safeties in Mario Edwards and Jerrard Tarrant. Safety Fred Holton (11 tackles) and Isaiah Johnson (46 tackles, one interception) are the two most likely front-runners to start this fall.
- How the offense looks under first-year coordinator Kevin Rogers. Rogers has a reputation for developing quarterbacks, and Chase Rettig should be better in his second season as a full-time starter -- if he and his teammates grasp the new playbook quickly. Rettig threw for 1,238 yards, six touchdowns and nine interceptions as a true freshman last season.
- The secondary. The Eagles suffered key losses with the graduation of DeLeon Gause and Wes Davis, but true freshman (spring enrollee) Al Louis-Jean has turned heads in spring drills. Senior corner Donnie Fletcher will compete for All-ACC first-team honors this season, and Jim Noel cemented his position with an outstanding sophomore season. Sophomore C.J. Jones is expected to compete for a starting role as well.
- Eagles in the trenches. For the first time in years, the Eagles will have a different look on the offensive line, as only two starters returned from last year's team. Defensively, only one starter returned in Kaleb Ramsey, who started nine games last year at defensive tackle. The good news is that BC has plenty of defensive linemen who have had significant playing time.
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Virginia: He went from eight receptions in 2009 to 51 in 2010. Inman ranked No. 6 in the ACC in yards per game (67.9) and No. 10 in receptions per game (4.2). He led the team with 815 receiving yards and had the 13th-best receiving output in ACC history with 239 receiving yards at Duke.
Antwine Perez, S, Maryland: The career backup and former USC transfer finally had the breakout season many had been waiting for. He had a team-high 11 passes defended (three interceptions/eight pass breakups). He was fifth on the team with 74 tackles, including seven TFLs, and he had three fumble recoveries.
Julian Burnett, LB, GT: He began the season on the bench, undersized for a typical 3-4 defense, but ended up leading Tech in tackles (89). He had 42 solo tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Quinton Coples, DE, UNC: He went from backup defensive end to first-team All-ACC defensive tackle. He had 15.5 TFLs, 10 sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and was fourth on the team in tackles with 59.
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: He wasn’t even an honorable mention all-conference selection a year ago, let alone on anyone’s NFL draft board. After a breakout season in 2010, he was a first-team unanimous All-American, the Bronko Nagurski Award winner and the No. 1 projected NFL draft pick by several experts. He improved from three sacks to 15.5 and 11 TFLs to 26.
Earl Wolff, S, NC State: After starting just four games in 2009 as a redshirt freshman, Wolff was one of the team’s top defenders, leading the Pack in tackles with 95, including two sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also had one interception, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Brandon Jenkins, DE, FSU: Following a 2009 season in which he played as a true freshman, Jenkins was named the team’s most-improved defensive lineman following spring drills last year and he continued it into the fall. He had 21.5 TFLs, 13.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. He also had two pass breakups and four quarterback hurries.
Jim Noel, S, Boston College: The true sophomore earned his first start against Florida State and finished with four interceptions and one pass breakup. He had 10 tackles in his starting debut against the Noles and had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Virginia Tech kicker Chris Hazley: He joined the program as a walk-on in 2007 and his patience and practice finally paid off. He earned a scholarship this past preseason and all-conference honors this postseason. He set a school record for consecutive field goals made in a season with 21. He made 21 of 22 field goals.
Cooper Helfet, TE, Duke: The junior college transfer enrolled at Duke last January and was a backup on the depth chart entering the fall. He caught 34 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns. He started for the first time against Georgia Tech and had six receptions for 92 yards. He also caught seven passes for 122 yards against Virginia.
- If Duke is going to have any chance at stopping Virginia Tech's potent offense, the Blue Devils will need to have their defense as close to full strength as possible.
- Georgia Tech kicker Scott Blair waos 6-for-6 on field goals against Clemson in two games last year. He's ready for another close one.
- Overall, Clemson has been average this year. You can't spell Clemson without a C, right?
- Maryland's starting right tackle was in a scooter accident.
- Virginia running back Keith Payne will continue to get opportunities as long as he continues to earn them from Mike London.
- Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale's game has fluctuated like the stock market -- and he knows both.
- Yes, Miami coach Randy Shannon is tired of losing to Butch Davis.
- UNC's mess started in a place the former Miami coach used to tell his players to avoid -- Miami Beach.
- Davis at least appears to have the support of his fans.
- UNC tailback Ryan Houston is still waiting to find out if he'll redshirt.
- BC defensive back Jim Noel has earned another start.
- A former FSU player could be caned in Singapore.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The good news for BC? The Eagles open with Northeastern, not Bama.
Boston College released its depth chart on Sunday, and at quarterback, it's listed as either redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle or freshman Mike Marscovetra. Codi Boek is No. 3, and Dave Shinskie is still recovering from a broken rib.
None of them have taken a collegiate snap in a game, but can ease into it against Northeastern, an FCS program in the Colonial Athletic Association that finished 2-10 last year. It should be a fairly sloppy game, as Northeastern also has question marks at quarterback, having lost its top two signal-callers from a year ago and returning none with any experience.
BC has exactly two weeks to find its identity before traveling to Clemson for an Atlantic Division matchup against Clemson. Four true freshmen -- offensive tackle John Wetzel, Marscovetra, linebacker Luke Kuechly and strong safety Jim Noel -- are listed on the two-deep for BC, along with nine redshirt freshmen.
Boston College fans often bemoan the low expectations outsiders set for their program, but one look at the depth chart tells you this is not the same team that played for the ACC title a year ago. Or two years ago. There are new linebackers, new interior defensive linemen, a new coaching staff and a new quarterback. Those are legitimate reasons for doubt, but they're also motivation for the Eagles to prove the naysayers wrong -- again.
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
Final Cincinnati 17 Virginia Tech 33 Final 15 Arizona State 36 Duke 31 Final Miami (FL) 21 South Carolina 24 Final/OT Boston College 30 Penn State 31 Final Nebraska 42 24 USC 45
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State