ACC: Kevin Parks

Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman: Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)

Dec. 27, 1 p.m. ET, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md. (ESPN)

Key matchup: Cincinnati run game vs. Virginia Tech defensive line

Why it matters: The most intriguing matchup in this game is certainly the Bearcats’ star QB Gunner Kiel going against a Virginia Tech secondary that has at times been exceptional and at times been vulnerable to the big play. But while that matchup certainly matters, it may not be the one that decides the game. Just look at Cincinnati’s season: During a woeful 2-3 start to the year, Kiel topped 300 yards passing three times and tossed 18 touchdowns, but the ground game was awful, mustering a mere 3.6 yards per carry and just three scores. What turned Cincy’s season around during a seven-game winning streak was balance. From Oct. 18 on, the Bearcats averaged 201 rush yards per game, 4.9 yards per carry and scored 15 rushing touchdowns. Finding that same success against Virginia Tech, however, won’t be easy.

Who wins: Not counting sacks, Virginia Tech surrendered 173 yards per game on the ground this year, good for 54th nationally. More concerning for the Hokies, seven different players ran for 100 yards or more against them this season. But here’s the nuance to those stats: Aside from Miami’s Duke Johnson and Gus Edwards in what was undeniably Virginia Tech’s worst defensive performance of the year, the other five 100-yard rushers were all quarterbacks. While Kiel has some mobility, the bulk of Cincinnati’s ground game revolves around Mike Boone and Rod Moore, and Virginia Tech has done a nice job of shutting down opposing tailbacks. James Conner, Zach Laskey, Kevin Parks and Ezekiel Elliott all failed to move the ball consistently against the Hokies, which should bode well for this matchup, too. Kiel figures to convert a few big plays down the field as Virginia Tech plays a hefty share of zero coverage schemes, but with Dadi Nicolas, Chase Williams, Ken Ekanem & Co. up front, the Hokies are in good shape to slow down Cincy’s ground game and come away with a win. Our prediction: Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 17.

Planning for success: Virginia

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
Virginia's schedule was never going to give the Hoos any breaks this season, but it is safe to say this final four-game stretch is their most critical of the year.

Because their bowl hopes hinge on finding at least two wins against Georgia Tech (6-2), No. 2 Florida State (7-0), Miami (5-3) and Virginia Tech (4-4). Getting to six is not much of a certainty, anymore. Virginia has started to slide backward after jumping out to a 4-2 start, so the Hoos cannot afford to give away any more games the way they did against North Carolina last weekend.

[+] EnlargeVirginia's Mike London
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike London said there is still time for Virginia to win out and achieve some team goals despite a 4-4 record heading into Week 10.
"Obviously, it doesn't look that well on paper but if we go out there and continue to win the rest of our games, we can finish up with a good record, so that's what we're looking forward to, adding more wins to the win column and trying to move forward," Virginia safety Anthony Harris said.

Aside from the coaching mishaps on the two most critical plays at the end of the North Carolina game, three other troubling issues should be addressed. In consecutive losses, Virginia has forced just one turnover; scored just six total points in the second half; and missed crucial scoring opportunities inside the 35-yard line.

Virginia got off to such a good start this season because its defense not only forced turnovers, the Hoos ended up getting points off them. In its first six games, Virginia gained 19 turnovers and scored 72 points.

That is a huge assist for an offense still struggling to find its way. Some of that can be attributed to Greyson Lambert's ankle injury, which forced him to miss three games. But whether Lambert or Matt Johns has played this season, Virginia has been unable to play consistently or avoid making mistakes.

In a 20-13 loss to Duke two weeks ago, Virginia had the ball with 7:23 remaining and a chance to tie the game. The Hoos made it down to the Duke 35 before turning it over on downs.

Then last week against North Carolina, Lambert threw two second-half interceptions inside Tar Heels' territory. The last one, on a screen pass attempt to Kevin Parks, led to the game-winning touchdown. The production inside North Carolina territory in the second half was disappointing to say the least. On three drives that made it there, Virginia ended up with one field goal. Against the worst defense in the ACC.

"We've got to execute," Lambert said. "The coaches are putting us in the right positions. We've got to execute, get the ball in the end zone. We've got to make tackles, and just play football. A lot of the time we're able to do that. Sometimes here and there it hurts us sometimes."

For those optimists out there, Virginia has been in nearly every game this season until the fourth quarter. Its two ACC losses have been by a combined eight points, which might make them a little tougher to take, considering there were opportunities to win both.

"We just want to be close, be in it, and have an opportunity to be competitive in the end," coach Mike London told local reporters Monday. "That's the main focus right now for us, is despite the two losses, there is still an opportunity to achieve some goals these guys have set for themselves."

In the cluttered, unpredictable Coastal, Duke stands alone atop the standings at 2-1. Five teams, including Virginia, have two ACC losses. So all hope is not lost just yet.

"If you keep sobbing on losses, you can't put your best foot forward going into your next game," Harris said. "With the Coastal being open, we're just going to focus on winning as many games as we can and seeing where we are at the end."

ACC helmet stickers: Week 6

October, 5, 2014
Oct 5
How about a few helmet stickers for a job well done?

Louisville RB Brandon Radcliff: With starting QB Will Gardner out the past two games, the Louisville passing attack has struggled, but Radcliff has more than made up the difference. After rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns a week ago against Wake Forest, Radcliff followed with 24 carries for 110 yards and two more rushing scores to topple Syracuse, 28-6. In a crowded Cardinals backfield, Radcliff appears to be separating from the pack.

Virginia Tech DE Ken Ekanem: No Luther Maddy? No problem for Virginia Tech’s defensive line. Ekanem sacked Marquise Williams and forced a fumble on North Carolina’s first offensive play, and that was just the start. The sophomore finished with six tackles, including four for a loss, a QB hurry and three of the Hokies’ five sacks in a 34-17 win.

Clemson DE Vic Beasley: OK, credit to QB Deshaun Watson, too. He was stellar yet again, and his numbers through five games look a whole lot like Jameis Winston’s from a year ago. But while Watson had another huge game Saturday, it’s hard to overlook Beasley and the Clemson pass rush. Beasley tied the Clemson record for career sacks, while stripping the football from Jacoby Brissett and rumbling into the end zone for a score. The Beasley-led D held NC State to just 156 yards while notching Clemson’s first shutout in ACC play since 1998.

Florida State defensive linemen Mario Edwards Jr. and Lorenzo Featherston: A week ago, Featherston stepped in to help fill the void while Edwards sat out with concussion symptoms. In a 43-3 win over Wake Forest on Saturday, the two teamed up for 12 tackles — including 5.5 for a loss — a sack and a fumble recovery, while holding the Demon Deacons to 40 yards on the ground.

Virginia RB Kevin Parks: The leading returning rusher in the ACC had yet to notch a 100-yard game in 2014. Until Saturday. Parks set career highs for carries (29) and yards rushing (169) while also scoring a touchdown in a 24-19 win over Pitt, as the Hoos rushed for 225 total yards. Parks is first Virginia player to run for more than 150 yards in a game since Cedric Peerman (173 vs. East Carolina in 2008). Parks averaged 5.8 yards per carry, over 2 yards better than he had been averaging going into the Pitt game.

What we learned in the ACC: Week 6

October, 5, 2014
Oct 5
Here's what we learned in the ACC in Week 6:

1. FSU should be the unquestioned No. 1. Florida State did what it was supposed to do and beat Wake Forest 43-3 on Saturday. The Seminoles are now 5-0, and there should be no doubt they are No. 1 after No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma lost. Yet there are those who might not see the Seminoles as No. 1, not after Auburn, Mississippi State and Ole Miss turned in wins over ranked SEC opponents. The voters should be reminded Florida State has won 21 games in a row. It beat an improving Oklahoma State team, ranked No. 21 and rising, to open the season; it beat Clemson with a backup quarterback; and it outscored NC State 49-17 after a disastrous first quarter this past week. Not every win has been impressive, but Florida State has found ways to beat one ranked team, beat another with a backup and overcome a 24-7 deficit. Clemson, by the way, will be ranked before too long, so that win will only look better and better. The Tigers are a far different team with Deshaun Watson under center. Of course, the rankings don't really matter right now. If Florida State beats Syracuse and Notre Dame, it will be very happy with where it stands when the first College Football Playoff committee rankings are released Oct. 28.

[+] EnlargeGeorgia Tech Zach Laskey
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesZach Laskey accounted for 133 of Georgia Tech's 318 rushing yards against Miami.
2. Virginia and Georgia Tech are the Coastal front-runners. Believe it! The two teams in the Coastal with the most questions headed into the season have gotten off to 2-0 starts in league play and sit atop the division. For now. While there always is a caveat in the Coastal, both teams deserve to be there. Georgia Tech ended long losing streaks to both Virginia Tech and Miami. Its 28-17 win over the Canes on Saturday night was as thorough an offensive domination as you can get. The Jackets rolled up 311 yards rushing and 21 first downs, converted 9-of-14 third-down attempts and held the ball for 40 minutes. They also came up with two turnovers to kill Miami drives. The Canes' defense reverted to form and looked lost for most of the night against a team that has the most predictable offense in the ACC. Virginia, meanwhile, held on to beat Pitt 24-19 behind a career game from Kevin Parks, who had 169 yards and a touchdown. Considering how the Panthers outplayed the Hoos in the second half, this is a big win for Virginia. Maybe a season ago, the result would've been different. No, the officiating was not very good in the game, but Virginia found a way to win. The Nov. 1 matchup between Georgia Tech and Virginia in Atlanta is looking pretty big right about now.

3. The two-QB system isn’t working for UNC. Mitch Trubisky was 1-of-4 for 11 yards and threw a disastrous pick-six during his limited time on the field in a 34-17 loss to Virginia Tech, and once again Tar Heels fans are wondering why Larry Fedora insists on the merry-go-round at QB. Marquise Williams has said the right things, but the off-and-on approach is clearly affecting him, while Trubisky isn’t getting nearly enough reps to make real progress. With UNC’s Coastal hopes on life support, it’s time for Fedora to pick his QB -- either to try to win now or to prep for the future. It is not as if the schedule gives them any breaks, either. North Carolina is at Notre Dame next weekend, with games against Georgia Tech, at Virginia and at Miami to follow.

4. NC State isn’t ready to contend: Clemson could do what Florida State couldn’t: get consistent pressure off the edge on NC State in a 41-0 blowout. The Tigers’ pass rush utterly smothered Jacoby Brissett, whose problems with fumbles under pressure continue to cost the Wolfpack. Meanwhile, NC State’s porous defense looked bad again, and while it’s clear Dave Doeren’s crew is better than it was a year ago, the ACC losing streak is now at 10 games, and there’s no debate who is the second best team in the Atlantic Division. Watson finished with 329 all-purpose yards in another solid performance, which left many to wonder what would have happened had he been the starter when the season began.

5. Louisville can win with defense: The Cardinals haven’t allowed more than 300 yards in a game yet this season and notched another outstanding effort in a 28-6 win over Syracuse on Friday night. Its 12 interceptions through six games were more than six ACC teams had all of the past season. Gerod Holliman has seven picks in six games -- something no one had done since FAU’s Tavious Polo in 2007. The defensive front has racked up 21 sacks already, and no opponent has averaged even 3 yards per rush. Yes, Louisville is having some offensive struggles in the early going, but it might not matter if Todd Grantham’s unit keeps playing this well.
Florida State and Virginia broke long droughts between 1,000-yard rushers a season ago, but so far this season both schools have struggled to run the ball consistently.

So has Clemson, in danger of failing to produce a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in four seasons.

So has Miami even, a program that returned the best back in the ACC in Duke Johnson.

The four schools rank in the bottom half in the nation in rushing, which is somewhat surprising considering the talent they have in the backfield. In the 18 combined games the four starting running backs in the group have played this season, only two resulted in 100-yard performances. Johnson is the only one on pace for a 1,000-yard regular season.

[+] EnlargeDuke Johnson
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesDuke Johnson didn't get his first 100-yard rushing game of this season until last week.
Kevin Parks, the only returning 1,000-yard rusher from a season ago, has 258 total yards this season, and his yards-per-carry average is down from 4.5 to 3.4.

One common theme ties them all together – each program has dealt with inconsistency along its offensive line. Florida State has had a tough time replacing starting center Bryan Stork; the entire right side of the Miami offensive line is new; Virginia has been a revolving door up front; and Clemson has gotten little or no push from its linemen.

In fact, no offensive line is doing less for its team than Clemson, which is averaging just 1.04 yards before contact per rush. Florida State is second in the ACC in highest rate of runs resulting in zero yards or loss, at 24.3 percent; Miami is fourth (20.9 percent).

FSU also has been the worst team in the ACC in rushing between the tackles on non-quarterback runs (3.06 yards per carry). Miami, Clemson and Virginia rank 9-10-11, respectively.

The Canes had their best rushing day of the season last week against Duke, when Johnson had his first 100-yard game and the team had over 200 yards rushing. Johnson said in a phone interview one of the biggest reasons was because Miami changed up some of its blocking schemes and honed in on little details that the veterans on the offensive line a season ago intuitively knew.

“Changes on the offensive line, it kind of hurt just because last year we had two seniors on the right side of the line, so that kind of helped out in case the communication got lost, you had two older guys on the right side who understand everything that’s going on and they’re able to make the check and help out,” Johnson said.

What also hurt Miami was seeing a stacked box early in the season, with true freshman Brad Kaaya starting at quarterback. Virginia also has seen the same, with unproven quarterbacks Greyson Lambert and Matt Johns.

But Virginia also is going with a running back by committee approach, similar to Clemson. Producing a 1,000-yard rusher when going that route becomes more difficult. Still, neither team is getting much production out of any of its backs.

Virginia ranks 11th in the ACC in yards per rush (3.81), while Clemson is 13th (3.53). The Hoos have just 15 runs of 10 or more yards, while Clemson has 11.

“As a running back, you always want to have those home runs, and when you don’t get them, you think back and wonder what’s going on?” said Clemson back C.J. Davidson, who leads the team with 133 yards rushing. “But just by watching film, I know we’re a few steps or a few plays away from having those plays.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says he would love one of his backs to step up and emerge “but we’re not quite there yet after four games.”

Virginia has relied on Parks, Taquan Mizzell and Khalek Shepherd -- all three have 35-plus carries. But Parks started off slowly against FBS competition last year, too, before hitting his stride. He reeled off three straight 100-yard games to close the season.

The better news now is that Virginia already has more wins than all of 2013, a trade-off Parks gladly will make.

“We’re winning. Yards will come,” Parks said. “For me, I just try to let the game come to me and see what I get.”

By the numbers: Week 4 recap

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
Plenty of coaches around the ACC are sifting through some ugly numbers this week, but we’ll start with one of the best performances of the weekend.

* Florida State’s Rashad Greene was a hero yet again Saturday night. His 74-yard touchdown grab with 6:04 to play tied the game at 17 and gave the Seminoles a chance to win in overtime.

The big catches are nothing new for Greene. In fact, you could argue that he’s been on the receiving end of the most significant throws in the college career of four different quarterbacks:

2014: Sean Maguire, 74-yard touchdown to tie game versus Clemson

2013: Jameis Winston, 49-yard completion with less than a minute to play to set up a game-winning touchdown in the BCS national championship

2012: EJ Manuel, 39-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left to beat Virginia Tech, keeping FSU’s hopes alive for Jimbo Fisher’s first ACC championship

2011: Clint Trickett, 56-yard touchdown with 9:32 left to tie Oklahoma

The last one occurred in a game FSU eventually lost, but it’s a play many Noles fans recall as the loudest Doak Campbell Stadium has ever been.

Beyond Greene’s contributions historically though, he’s on an immensely hot streak right now. In his last three games against Power 5 teams, he has 29 catches for 485 yards and two touchdowns. Nineteen of those 29 receptions have gone for first downs.

Currently Alabama’s Amari Cooper is the only receiver in the nation with a longer active streak of 100-yard games against Power 5 teams.

* Georgia Tech is 4-0, and a big reason for that success thus far has been quarterback Justin Thomas, who ranks 10th in ESPN’s Total QBR so far this season. The presumption is the Yellow Jackets are finally embracing the passing game, and therefore the offense is more dynamic.

But that’s not entirely true. Georgia Tech has had the QB drop back to pass on 27 percent of its plays this year, which is just a mild uptick from 2013, when the QB dropped back on 26 percent of its plays.

What’s different is the success Thomas has enjoyed on those dropbacks. Tech is averaging more yards per dropback, been sacked less often and those plays are accounting for a greater percentage of its total offense than it did a year ago with Vad Lee at quarterback.

* While Thomas has been sharp as a passer, DeAndre Smelter is blossoming into a star as a receiver. The former baseball player has three 100-yard games already this season (only Cooper and West Virginia’s Kevin White have more) and only Cooper, Pitt’s Tyler Boyd and Air Force’s Jalen Robinette have been responsible for a higher percentage of their team’s targets than Smelter (40.3 percent).

* Yes, Boston College’s game Saturday was only against Maine, but here’s a ridiculous stat for you: The Eagles rushed for 413 yards, while only allowing 16 yards on the ground.

More ridiculous: A week earlier, against USC, Boston College ran for 452 yards and allowed just 20.

In the past 10 seasons, there were just eight other examples of a team rushing for more than 400 while allowing 20 or fewer yards on the ground in a game, and BC managed to do it in back-to-back weeks.

* Panic time for some other ground games around the ACC?

Virginia Tech’s rushing game was bad last year and is again in 2014. Overall, the Hokies rank 10th in the ACC in yards-per-carry on non-QB rushes (4.29) and their running backs are averaging just 3.2 yards-per-carry against FBS teams.

North Carolina and Virginia (with 1,000-yard rusher Kevin Parks) are 12th and 13th, respectively, in non-QB yards-per-rush.

Clemson is 11th (4.02), and even with FSU’s best defensive lineman, Mario Edwards Jr., out for much of the game Saturday, the Tigers mustered just 3.2 yards-per-carry. Take away the Clemson QBs, and the ground game had just 47 yards.

Then there’s Louisville. Two weeks ago at Virginia, the Cards’ ground game averaged fewer than 4 yards per rush, and on Saturday against FIU, things were even worse. Set aside Dominique Brown’s 18-yard scamper on the first play of the game, and Louisville had just 34 yards on its final 30 attempts.

* Virginia Tech’s once-stifling defense has really struggled so far this year. Part of it is the game plan Bud Foster has implemented, but the big plays have killed the Hokies. In four games, Tech has coughed up 32 plays of 19 yards or more (once every eight plays). Last year, it allowed just 53 all season.

* Plenty of credit for Georgia Tech’s win should go to Ted Roof’s defense, which rattled Michael Brewer into three turnovers that translated to 17 points. So far this season, the Yellow Jackets have racked up 45 points following turnovers, tops in the ACC.

* And finally, here’s a number that pretty much sums up Clemson’s season so far: In two games against FBS teams, Clemson is averaging 2.37 yards-per-play in the fourth quarter and overtime (fourth-worst nationally) and has picked up just three first downs (worst in the nation).
Virginia Tech’s tight ends have made a big difference for the Hokies’ offense so far this season, writes The Roanoke Times.

Bucky Hodges and Ryan Malleck have been excellent, and even without Kalvin Cline, the only tight end to catch a pass for the Hokies last season, the position has been a big plus through two games.

I noted the significant uptick in tight end targets earlier this week, too, in our stats column, but here are a few more tidbits worth passing along:
  • Virginia Tech’s tight ends have combined for 163 receiving yards so far this season -- the fifth-most by any team in the country.
  • The 23 targets for the Hokies’ tight ends ranks third nationally, trailing only Oregon State and Penn State. The Hokies have only targeted their wide receivers 27 times so far this year.
  • Among teams targeting tight ends at least 15 times so far this season, only Purdue and UAB’s position groups have caught a higher percentage of passes thrown their way.
  • Among ACC teams, only Louisville comes close to the Hokies in terms of targeting its tight ends. The Cardinals have thrown to tight ends 21 times. That makes sense since Louisville has a star tight end in Gerald Christian and is playing without its top receiver in Devante Parker.
  • Syracuse should have its tight end, Josh Parris, back in time for the Maryland game next week, writes The Post-Standard. That’s good news for the Orange, who targeted a tight end just twice in their opener.

Other tight end production around the ACC through two weeks:

Wake Forest -- 14 targets
Florida State -- 12
Miami -- 10
UNC -- 8
NC State -- 8
Duke -- 8
Clemson -- 8
Pitt -- 5
Virginia -- 4
Boston College -- 0
Georgia Tech -- 0

A few more links:
Two things were made clear in Virginia's 28-20 loss to UCLA on Saturday.

The first is that sophomore Matt Johns looked light years ahead of starter Greyson Lambert at quarterback for the Cavaliers.

The second is that Virginia, already riding a tightrope toward bowl eligibility with one of the toughest schedules in the country, let a perfect opportunity to steal an upset win slip away.

Beyond that, at least from an offensive perspective, a lot of questions remain for the Hoos.

After the game ended, Mike London declined to name a starting quarterback for this week's matchup against Richmond. It is fitting, perhaps, that the QB London benched two years ago, Michael Rocco, and another UVA transfer, Michael Strauss, will lead the Spiders offense into Charlottesville, while London weighs his options between Lambert and Johns (with the man who started all 12 games last year, David Watford, now a clear No. 3 on the depth chart).

Regardless of London's choice Saturday, he's positioned for more criticism.

What did he see from Lambert throughout spring and fall camp that led to such certainty about the quarterback to begin with? Johns said he and Watford split about 10 percent of the first-team reps during the last month, while Lambert took the other 90 percent.

[+] EnlargeMatt Johns
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsMatt Johns was the more impressive of Virginia's quarterbacks against UCLA, passing for 154 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
And if London was so certain of Lambert's long-term success, why pull him after less than a half of football against UCLA? Shouldn't the anointed starter have been given a chance to right the ship?

“Like any other position, you have to perform,” London said after the game. “We'll continue to evaluate players and look at the tape, and the players that can help us will play. Greyson is a young man who understands that as the game is going, there are decisions made that are in the best interest of the team."

If the decision is purely about performance, there was little question who should be the starter against Richmond.

After Lambert struggled early, tossing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, Johns entered in the second quarter and immediately injected some life into the stagnant offense. For the game, he completed 13 of 22 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and, most importantly, didn't turn the ball over.

“I was put in the game and said, ‘Guys, we're going to score and we're going to win,'” Johns said. “I felt like I gave us an opportunity, but it wasn't enough.”

Johns may have inspired the team, but not the play-calling.

Virginia was a huge underdog, and its chance to upend a top-10 team -- particularly as the UCLA offense found its footing in the second half -- seemed to hinge on taking a few risks. That never happened.

Of Virginia's 29 first-down plays, 22 were runs. Of the 45 passes attempted by either QB, 32 were throws of 5 yards or less. Both of Lambert's picks came on short screen passes, and those short passes accounted for a lowly 3.8 yards per attempt. The running game wasn't much better. After Kevin Parks' first carry of the game -- for 17 yards -- UVA's tailbacks averaged just 2.6 yards per carry the rest of the way.

Johns, meanwhile, looked sharp on deeper throws, completing 6-of-9 for 132 yards and two scores.

"We wanted to run the ball and control the tempo a bit,” London said after the game. “One of the things you can do is keep the clock running with some short passes. The game plan was put in place to keep us in the game. We felt pretty good about where we were at the end of the game.”

Still, as Virginia drove deep into UCLA territory with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, it was still the ground game that took precedent. The Cavaliers ran on two first-down plays. Ran again on second-and-9 from the Bruins' 18. Ran again on third-and-10 a play later. By then, the boos from the crowd had enveloped Scott Stadium, and Johns' doomed-to-fail fourth-down toss was an afterthought.

Of course, after the game Johns took full blame for the failed drive and for the third-down play call. He'd read the wrong line on his wristband, he said. When asked what the play was supposed to be, he offered a limited but logical response.

“A pass play,” he said.

Whether it was the young QB falling on his sword to protect coaches or an honest miscommunication isn't really the point. The table had already been set by questionable decisions dating back to the spring.

It's no secret that London's job is in jeopardy at Virginia, and Saturday's game was either a reminder of just how close the Cavaliers are to being relevant again or just what's holding them back. It's a matter of perspective, and what happens over the next 11 contests -- starting with which QB starts Saturday -- will ultimately decide London's future.

“I think it was a great testimony to show we could play with anyone,” Johns said. “I think we're going to build off that the rest of the season.”
The opening week of the season always presents its share of problems, but there’s one area across the board that is in major need of work.

The offensive line.

Only a handful of teams escaped Week 1 without questions at the position. Wake Forest was abysmal. Miami was not much better. Syracuse and Virginia Tech had breakdowns in goal-line situations. Louisville struggled in pass protection. Clemson had zero yards rushing in the second half.

Not even Florida State was immune. The Seminoles returned four starters and were touted as the best offensive line in the country going into the season, but they sure did not look it last week.

[+] EnlargeGeorgia's Amarlo Herrera
AP Photo/David GoldmanThe Georgia defense had five sacks against Clemson, four in the second half.
So what gives? A combination of youth on the offensive line (Wake), injuries forcing new faces into the lineup (Virginia, Syracuse), suspension and graduated talent (Clemson), and a lack of physicality (Miami, Florida State) all contributed.

“On run blocking, I don’t think we were as physical as we needed to be, which was very rare,” coach Jimbo Fisher admitted during his press conference this week. Fisher singled out just one offensive lineman -- guard Tre' Jackson -- for his performance. The others? “We didn’t play up to our potential.”

Just how ugly did it get at times up front in a tight 37-31 win over Oklahoma State? According to ESPN Stats & Information, Florida State running back Karlos Williams was contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage on 52 percent of his rushes. Last season, he was hit at or behind the line on just 24 percent of his rushes.

Virginia’s running backs also failed to find much traction against UCLA last week. Kevin Parks and Taquan Mizzell combined to carry the ball 27 times. Thirteen of those carries went for 2 yards or less. Take away the longest run of the day, Parks’ 17-yarder to open the game, and the two averaged a combined 2.7 yards per carry.

The numbers weren’t any better for Clemson, which had just 88 yards rushing in a 45-21 loss to Georgia. In the second half, the Tigers racked up a measly 15 total yards of offense, but lost all their rushing yards thanks to four sacks (Clemson gave up five in all). The Tigers are thin at tackle but do get help back this week with the return of left guard David Beasley, who was suspended for the opener.

There weren’t any bright spots in run blocking or pass blocking at Wake Forest and Miami, either. The Deacs were completely overwhelmed in a loss to ULM, allowing six sacks and finishing with minus-3 yards rushing. Even if you take away the yards lost to the sacks, Orville Reynolds had 37 yards rushing.

Miami did not anticipate the total breakdown it saw on its offensive line against Louisville on Monday night. But there the Canes were, getting manhandled up front the way they did in the bowl game last year to the Cards.

Not only were there few running lanes for Duke Johnson, freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya was under constant pressure all night and four penalties were called on the line -- including a costly ineligible player downfield that negated a long pass down to the Louisville 3.

“We didn't play with great pad level ... sometimes we were looking around instead of attacking and executing,” Al Golden said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “There was a period in the third quarter we stared coming off the ball better, but we started to let negative plays wipe them out.”

Syracuse and Virginia Tech had problems ramming the ball in from the goal line. After recovering a fumble at the 2, it took the Hokies seven tries to score a touchdown. After the game, coach Frank Beamer joked, “Did that look as bad up there as it did from the sideline?”

The Orange were no better on the goal line in a double-overtime win over Villanova. They had five chances to score from the 1 in extra time and were denied all five times. It was easy to see how much the ejection of quarterback Terrel Hunt impacted the ground game. Take away Prince-Tyson Gulley’s 65 yard run and Syracuse averaged 2.2 yards per carry.

What we saw in Week 1 may end up being a minor blip. But it is pretty easy to see what many teams will be working on during practice over the next few days. Shoring up the offensive line should be a priority just about everywhere.

ACC fearless predictions

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
The college football season is finally ready to kick off. No doubt all the time we’ve spent studying depth charts and devouring news will be rendered meaningless by September’s end, but that won’t stop us from making a few bold predictions about what’s to come in 2014. If we get half of them right, we’ll call it a success.

1. Jameis Winston will post better numbers -- but won’t win the Heisman.

Much has been made of the depletion of Winston’s receiving corps, but losing Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw won’t spell doom for the Florida State QB. In fact, Winston struggled at times last year when getting too greedy down the field, and a renewed emphasis on a shorter passing game could up his numbers. When throwing to RBs or TEs last year, Winston completed 79 percent of his throws and averaged 11.6 yards per attempt, with 11 of his 86 passes going for touchdowns. Add the likelihood he’ll play more fourth quarters this season, and his numbers could well go up in 2014 -- but, of course, winning back-to-back Heisman Trophies is no easy task, and neither Winston nor coach Jimbo Fisher has ever shown much interest in chasing individual awards.

[+] EnlargeWill Gardner
AP Photo/Garry JonesUnder coach Bobby Petrino, Will Gardner has a chance to flourish as Louisville's starting QB.
2. Louisville’s Will Gardner will be the ACC’s second-best quarterback.

It’s telling that what could’ve been one of the most discussed QB vacancies in the conference was actually among the least interesting this offseason. Coach Bobby Petrino waited until Sunday to make it official, but Gardner was the obvious choice since the spring. Then there’s this: In nine years as a head coach, Petrino’s starting QBs have averaged 63 percent completions, 8.8 yards per attempt, 21 TDs and 8 interceptions -- stats that would’ve rivaled any QB in the league last year, save Winston and Tajh Boyd.

3. Virginia Tech wins 10 again.

The Hokies won at least 10 games in each of their first eight seasons in the ACC, but that streak ended in 2012 and the team is just 10-10 against Power Five conference foes in the past two years. But coach Frank Beamer is giving his young talent a chance to shine, the Week 2 date with Ohio State suddenly looks a lot more winnable and the rest of the schedule shapes up nicely for the Hokies. The offense needs to get a lot better to be a legit College Football Playoff contender, but Virginia Tech will at least be in the conversation.

4. Virginia goes bowling.

The schedule makes this a tough sell. Ten of Virginia’s 12 opponents played in a bowl game last year, and there may not be a single easy win on the slate. But there’s talent in Charlottesville, including 19 four- or five-star recruits inked in the past four years. That’s more than Louisville (16) and just one fewer than Virginia Tech (20). That talent has to translate to wins eventually, right? It’ll take some upsets, but the Hoos will get to six wins.

5. Clemson is a running team.

With Boyd and Sammy Watkins stealing the bulk of the headlines the past three years, Clemson’s passing game got a lot of credit for the team’s success. But the Tigers actually ranked in the top three in the ACC in rushing attempts in each of those three seasons. Now with a new QB and significant turnover at receiver, the passing game is a question, but Dabo Swinney loves his tailbacks. Don’t be surprised if freshman Wayne Gallman tops 1,000 yards -- something a Clemson tailback has done each of the past three seasons.

6. Young runners make a big impact.

Gallman won’t be the only rookie runner to make noise in 2014. The ACC has some impressive veterans in Duke Johnson, Karlos Williams, Kevin Parks and Dominique Brown, but there are plenty of fresh faces eager to make an impact, too. Virginia Tech’s Marshawn Williams, North Carolina’s Elijah Hood and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook could join Gallman as freshman sensations, while sophomores like T.J. Logan, James Conner, Myles Willis, Matt Dayes and Taquan Mizzell could all have big seasons, too.

7. Stacy Coley catches a TD from three different QBs.

If there was a more settled QB situation at Miami, Coley might be a niche pick for Heisman honors as one of the game’s most explosive players. Unfortunately, it could be a revolving door at QB for the Canes. Freshman Brad Kaaya gets first crack, and the hope is that Ryan Williams will return from an ACL injury sooner than later. Don’t be surprised if Jake Heaps or Kevin Olsen gets a shot to start at some point, too. Coley will make them all look better, but he’d benefit from some stability at QB.

8. Jamison Crowder sets the standard.

Crowder had 30 more targets last season than any other ACC receiver, and now Duke is without its second-best pass-catcher in Braxton Deaver. That makes Crowder an even more integral part of the Blue Devils’ passing game, and it means he should cruise past former teammate Conner Vernon’s ACC record for receiving yards. Crowder is just 1,152 yards short entering the season.

9. Tyler Murphy and Jacoby Brissett look good.

Boston College and NC State will both be starting QBs who transferred from Florida, and both have a chance to put up solid numbers. In fact, we're predicting both Murphy and Brissett post better stats this season than Jeff Driskel, the man who kept them both on the bench in Gainesville.

10. The Coastal champ will be ...

Is there really any answer here that would feel remotely safe? Heck, Georgia Tech could win the division or miss out on a bowl game. Anything seems possible. But since it’s prediction time, we’ll ante up, just so you can remind us how wrong we were in December. So, let’s say ... Virginia Tech.

Preseason All-ACC team

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
Presenting the 2014 preseason All-ACC team:


WR: Jamison Crowder, Duke. One of the most dynamic receivers in the ACC, Crowder has had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and gets the nod over Louisville receiver DeVante Parker in a close call. Given Crowder's past production in the offense, he should be in line to break school receiving records this season.

WR: Rashad Greene, Florida State. Perhaps one of the most underrated receivers in the country, Greene is a virtual lock to catch every pass that comes his way. He is the picture of consistency, and as the top returning target for Jameis Winston, should reach 1,000 yards again.

TE: Nick O'Leary, Florida State. One of the best tight ends in the country, O'Leary had 33 receptions for 557 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He should improve on all those numbers this season.

T: Cameron Erving, Florida State. Erving thought about leaving school early last season for the NFL draft but decided to return, and he now anchors the best offensive line in the country.

T: Sean Hickey, Syracuse. Hickey is going into his third season as a starter and has developed into one of the best tackles in the league. He also may be the strongest player in the ACC, too.

C: Andy Gallik, Boston College. Gallik helped spearhead a Boston College run game last season that averaged 212.5 yards on the ground. As a three-year starter, Gallik has grown into the best center in the league.

G: Tre' Jackson, Florida State. One of the best guards in the country, Jackson also opted to return to school for his senior year. He and Erving are the best players on that line.

G: Laken Tomlinson, Duke. A first-team All-ACC player a year ago, Tomlinson will be relied upon even more to lead an offensive line that has to replace two of its best players. If he has another stellar season, Tomlinson could be one of the first guards taken in next year's draft.

QB: Jameis Winston, Florida State. The returning Heisman Trophy winner had a rough season off-the-field but there is no questioning his credentials on the field. After throwing for more than 4,000 yards a year ago, the expectation is he will be even better this year.

RB: Duke Johnson, Miami. Johnson is one of the best backs in the country, averaging 6.6 yards every time he touches the ball. If he can stay healthy for the entire season, he's a virtual lock to gain 1,000 yards.

RB: Kevin Parks, Virginia. Parks is the only returning 1,000-yard back in the ACC and is hoping for more in 2014. Tough call here between Parks and Karlos Williams, the next two best backs in the league behind Johnson.


DE: Vic Beasley, Clemson. Beasley finished last season with 13 sacks (tops in ACC) and 23 TFL (4th in nation). He’s a preseason All-American and the biggest star on one of the country's top defensive fronts.

DE: Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State. The No. 1 overall recruit in the nation three years ago, Edwards is poised to come into his own in 2014. He was a critical piece of Florida State’s run-stuffing defense a year ago, finishing with 9.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks.

DT: Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech. No returning interior lineman in the ACC had more TFL last year than Maddy’s 13.5, and he was a key for the Hokies' dominant defense. This season, he'll be the centerpiece of a new-look D line.

DT: Grady Jarrett, Clemson. Dabo Swinney calls Jarrett one of the best defenders in the nation, even if he hasn’t gotten much national acclaim. He finished last season with 59 tackles, including 10.5 for a loss, and should be the foundation for a dominant defensive line at Clemson this season.

LB: Denzel Perryman, Miami. Perryman is Miami’s most productive defender, finishing with 108 tackles last season (fifth in the ACC). He’s the lone ACC defender returning for 2014 to have recorded at least 60 tackles in each of the previous three seasons.

LB: Stephone Anthony, Clemson. His 15 TFL last season ranked eighth in the ACC, and no returning linebacker in the conference had more. He added 86 tackles and 4.5 sacks to boot.

CB: Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech. One of the top freshman defenders in the nation last season, Fuller picked off six passes as part of Virginia Tech's exceptional secondary. His 17 passes defended tied for eighth nationally.

CB: P.J. Williams, Florida State. Williams racked up three interceptions and was dominant in coverage for Florida State, which finished with the best pass defense in the nation. He also won defensive MVP honors in the BCS national championship.

S: Anthony Harris, Virginia. Led the nation with eight interceptions last season for Virginia, including picking off at least one pass in five straight games in conference play in October and November.

S: Jalen Ramsey, Florida State. The first true freshman to start at cornerback for Florida State since Deion Sanders, Ramsey made the transition to safety midseason and didn’t miss a beat, finishing with 49 tackles and an INT.

S: Jeremy Cash, Duke. Cash finished last season second in the ACC in tackles (121), fifth in interceptions (4) and recorded 9.5 TFL, tops in the conference among defensive backs.


K: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State. The Lou Groza Award winner in 2013, Aguayo broke the national record for points by a kicker in a season with 157 points. He is virtually automatic every time he steps onto the field, missing just one field goal attempt and zero extra points last season.

P: A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech. A second-team All-ACC selection a year ago, Hughes averaged 44.1 yards per punt. He placed 24 inside the 20, and had 22 punts of 50 yards or longer.

KR: Kermit Whitfield, Florida State. Whitfield led the nation last year in kickoffs, with an average of 36.4 yards per return. His speed makes him extremely difficult to stop, let alone slow down.

PR: Ryan Switzer, North Carolina. Teams have probably learned to kick away from Switzer at all times. Last season, he had five returns for touchdowns, tying an NCAA record.

Virginia Cavaliers season preview

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
» More team previews: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Previewing the 2014 season for the Virginia Cavaliers:

Key returners: RB Kevin Parks, RB Taquan Mizzell, S Anthony Harris, DE Eli Harold, LB Henry Coley

Key losses: TE Jake McGee, OT Morgan Moses, DE Jake Snyder, DT Brent Urban

Most important 2014 games: UCLA, Aug. 30; Miami, Nov. 22; at Virginia Tech, Nov. 28

Projected win percentage: 37 percent

Over/under Vegas odds: 3

[+] EnlargeKevin Parks
AP Photo/Andrew ShurtleffRunning back Kevin Parks is among the few proven performers Virginia returns on offense.
Instant impact newcomers: Defensive tackle Andrew Brown and safety Quin Blanding. There is little doubt that the two highest-rated players in the 2014 signing class will play for the Cavs this season. Brown has had a little setback in dealing with a turf toe injury that has bothered him since the spring. But when he is healthy, he will be a contributor on a defensive line that needs depth at tackle. Blanding has been working with the first-team defense since spring practice opened. By all accounts, he is as good as advertised.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Greyson Lambert brings consistency to the quarterback position, allowing the offense to flourish. The defense improves on the gains it made from a season ago, and the Hoos cut down on penalties and turnovers. Parks turns in another 1,000-yard season, and playmaker receivers emerge to help Virginia pull several upsets, end a long losing streak to rival Virginia Tech, make a bowl and become the surprise team in the ACC.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: Quarterback remains an issue behind Lambert, and the offensive line fails to gain any cohesion. Without any stability up front or behind Lambert, Virginia continues to struggle to move the ball and score points. Defensively, Virginia continues to give up too many big plays. One of the toughest schedules in the ACC does the Cavaliers no favors, and they sink to their third straight losing season.

They said it: "The identity is one of unity. You can talk about, well, how does that happen? Last year, we had four seniors. This year, we have 22. There's a maturation process that takes place when you have teams that are looking for leaders, that are looking for an identity. … The expectations of performing are paramount for us." -- coach Mike London.

Biggest question mark: How much time do we have? Outside of Parks, the entire offense remains a question mark. The offensive line has not been solidified yet; Lambert remains a wild card; and there is no go-to player among the receivers with McGee gone. Virginia is in desperate need of a big-play threat in the receiver group and a quarterback who can limit the mistakes. We still don’t know whether both will come to fruition for this team in 2014.

Group efforts in ACC backfields

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
There's a certain order to the chaos at the line of scrimmage, and after a few hits, tailbacks begin to make some sense of it, Virginia's Kevin Parks said. It's usually a game of trial and error. A few hits, a few near-misses, and then it becomes clear.

In other words, ask most running backs what they need to break a big run, and the answer is simple: Just a few more touches.

"Once you get out there and the ball in your hands, it's natural," said Parks, who racked up 1,031 yards on 227 carries last year, both tops among returning ACC tailbacks. "You're getting in the flow of the game. You're taking your hits and get stronger as the game goes on. Some guys are like that."


Which team has the best RB tandem in the ACC?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,765)

Of course, some guys aren't. In fact, finding a true every-down back is a rarity these days, even at the NFL level. The position has become more specialized, and as that's happened, the need for a deep and diverse stable of backs has grown.

Even Parks, one of the league's true bell cows at tailback, doesn't figure to be the only show in town for Virginia. Sophomore Taquan Mizzell, one of the Cavaliers top recruits under coach Mike London, is right behind him on the depth chart, providing a dynamic change of pace for the offense.

The same is true at Louisville and UNC and Syracuse and Pitt (which has a pair 0f 700-yard backs returning) and nearly every other program in the conference. At Florida State, where Jimbo Fisher has given a tailback 25 carries in a game just four times during his tenure, Karlos Williams is the epitome of an every-down back, but even he's being challenged by freshman Dalvin Cook and sophomore Mario Pender -- neither of whom have taken a snap at the college level.

It's really a game of probabilities, Fisher said. Depth provides alternatives, and at a position where physical punishment comes with the territory, it's best for teams to be prepared with a contingency plan.

"A running back only has so many hits in him," Fisher said. "The durability, the freshness in the fourth quarter, developing depth on your team and if guys have certain skill sets you have to put them in position to have success like that. I think it helps your team grow."

Fisher certainly has the evidence to back up his theory. During the past two seasons, only Oregon and Ohio State have averaged more yards-per-carry (excepting sacks) than Florida State's 6.40 mark. Last season, the Seminoles averaged 6.33 yards-per-carry in the second halves of games, too — the fourth-best mark in the country and an improvement of more than 1.5 yards per touch from its first-half average.

Specialization and distribution have become paramount, even for programs that have traditionally relied on a lead ball carrier.

Rod McDowell racked up 189 carries for Clemson last year, but Dabo Swinney said that was more a factor of necessity than desire. With four running backs vying for carries on this year's depth chart and coordinator Chad Morris aiming to run at least 85 plays a game, the rushing attempts figure to be portioned out in smaller doses in 2014.

"It's really become a specialized position," said Swinney, who plans to have a backfield-by-committee approach this season. "You need different flavors. You don't want all vanilla ice cream. You need some strawberry, chocolate, blueberry."

Nationally, just 15 running backs averaged 20 carries per game last season, half the number to reach that average in 2007. But including QBs, there were 36 runners who averaged 6.5 yards-per-rush or better last season, nearly double the total from 2007.

There are still a few every-down ball-carriers, but they're the exception. Andre Williams accounted for 68 percent of Boston College's rushing attempts last season and ended the year as a Heisman finalist, but Parks was the only other ACC runner to carve out more than a 40 percent share in his backfield.

Duke Johnson certainly would've eclipsed that total at Miami, but he went down with an ankle injury in Miami's eighth game and was lost for the season. Johnson figures to return to a prominent role in 2014 -- perhaps the closest thing the ACC will have to a true bell cow -- but last year's injury showcased just how crucial it is to have depth. With a healthy Johnson, Miami averaged 5.4 yards per carry and 200 yards per game on the ground. Without him, the Hurricanes mustered just 3.6 yards per carry and less than 100 yards per game rushing.

Spreading the wealth even when there's a clear No. 1 on the depth chart helps build depth that might not have been there before, NC State coach Dave Doeren said. The Wolfpack figure to give at least three — and maybe four — tailbacks a share of the pie this year, and while Doeren said he'll play the hot hand on a series-by-series basis, the knowledge that each player will get his shot while not being guaranteed anything more has had a positive effect on practice.

"When you have two or three backs, they've got to maximize their carries and put themselves in a position to get more," he said.

The game of mix-and-match tailbacks doesn't always sit well with players who, like Parks, would love a chance to get into a rhythm and take a few hits, but it's a fact of life most have gotten used to.

"It's a hard thing when you get your mojo running and you get pulled," Parks said, "but at the end of the day, you've got to be a team player. If the coaches feel you're hitting on all cylinders, they'll keep you in."

And there's an advantage for them, too. All those hits may help a tailback get a feel for the game, but they're also a lot of wear and tear on players who are hoping to still have plenty of spring in their steps when it's time to play at the NFL level.

"It means they have more tread on the tires when they get to the NFL and can truly make money," Fisher said. "But you're still getting the most out of them while you're here."

Top ACC players: Nos. 20-16

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
As we get set to open fall camps around the ACC, we're counting down the conference's top players -- five per day all this week.

20. Kelby Brown, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Linebacker
Year: Redshirt senior

Brown has been an integral piece to Duke's turnaround, bouncing back from a knee injury to record 114 tackles last season. He is one of three returning 100-tackle players on the Blue Devils' defense in 2014, and he will start for a fourth time in five years. Brown should also provide a boost to the pass rush, having made 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2013.

19. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State Seminoles

Position: Defensive back
Year: Sophomore

Ramsey has already made his mark on what should be another outstanding secondary, as the former five-star recruit earned freshman All-America honors last season as a 14-game starter. He is the first FSU corner to start as a true freshman since Deion Sanders did in 1985. Ramsey thrived again this spring, as he was one of three players to earn the Seminoles' Hinesman Award (spring standout). Ramsey now steps into the role formerly held by Lamarcus Joyner, the anchor of last season's secondary, which led the nation in pass defense.

18. Nick O'Leary, Florida State

Position: Tight end
Year: Senior

O'Leary returns for his senior season as one of Jameis Winston's top targets, as FSU searches for answers at receiver behind Rashad Greene. O'Leary enters 2014 as arguably the nation's top tight end, this after a 2013 campaign that saw him haul in 33 receptions for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. He is back to 100 percent after missing the end of the spring following a motorcycle accident. And, in case you haven't heard, he comes from good lineage: His grandfather is golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

17. Karlos Williams, Florida State

Position: Running back
Year: Senior

Williams entered FSU as a five-star prospect at safety. He moved to running back last year and did not disappoint, finishing second on the team in rushing, with 730 yards. He scored 11 touchdowns and averaged 8.0 yards per carry. He helped turned the momentum of the BCS title game by converting a fake punt in the second quarter. Now Williams is the top man in the backfield for the Seminoles, and the possibilities seem endless for an athlete who finally has a full year of playing the position under his belt.

16. Kevin Parks, Virginia Cavaliers

Position: Running back
Year: Redshirt senior

Parks was one of the more overlooked players in the ACC last season, a byproduct of Virginia's winless conference campaign. Still, the Salisbury, North Carolina, native became the first Cavalier to rush for 1,000 yards since Alvin Pearman in 2004, tallying 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns. Listed at a generous 5-foot-8, Parks did plenty of speed training this offseason in hopes of making more explosive plays. He will be the leader of a crowded backfield that should help take pressure off new quarterback Greyson Lambert.

Player list for ACC media days

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
The 2014 college football season is inching ever so closer, with ACC media days set to take place in less than two weeks.

The league released its list of players who will be attending the July 20-21 event at The Grandover Resort in Greensboro, North Carolina. Here they are:

C Andy Gallik, R-Sr.
DB Dominique Williams, R-Sr.

QB Cole Stoudt, Sr.
DE Vic Beasley, R-Sr.

OG Laken Tomlinson, R-Sr.
LB Kelby Brown, R-Sr.

QB Jameis Winston, R-So.
CB P.J. Williams, Jr.

OG Shaquille Mason, Sr.
LB Quayshawn Nealy, R-Sr.

WR DeVante Parker, Sr.
DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr.

RB Duke Johnson, Jr.
LB Denzel Perryman, Sr.

QB Marquise Williams, Jr.
LB Norkeithus Otis, Sr.

RB Tony Creecy, R-Sr.
DE Art Norman, R-Sr.

WR Tyler Boyd, So.
DB Ray Vinopal, R-Sr.

OT Sean Hickey, Sr.
LB Cameron Lynch, Sr.

RB Kevin Parks, Sr.
SS Anthony Harris, Sr.

WR Willie Byrn, R-Sr.
DT Luther Maddy, DT

FB Jordan Garside, R-Sr.
CB Kevin Johnson, R-Sr.



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