ACC: Matt Connors

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson released his post-spring offensive depth chart Wednesday, without many surprises. Stay tuned for the release of the defensive chart, set for next week.

For now, here are a few notes on the offense:
  • One of the biggest holes to fill is at A-back, where the highly productive Robert Godhigh is gone. Seniors Tony Zenon and Synjyn Days are listed as starters but there is plenty of talent and depth at the position. B.J. Bostic, Deon Hill and converted B-back Broderick Snoddy are all in the mix for playing time, along with a few others. Days (6-foot-2, 232 pounds) and Zenon (5-8, 174 pounds) are different backs so they will give the Jackets some versatility in how they can be used.
  • At B-back, there are no questions about Zach Laskey replacing David Sims in the starting lineup. But behind Laskey, there are some depth concerns after Travis Custis decided to leave the program and enroll at a junior college for academic reasons. Senior Matt Connors is currently listed as the backup there.
  • The offensive line remains a work in progress. Aside from veteran Shaq Mason, a near lock to be a preseason all-conference selection, everybody else is penciled in to their starting roles right now. Keep an eye on left tackle Chris Griffin -- the only redshirt freshman listed as an offensive or defensive starter. Center Freddie Burden, who has fought through injuries, also has never taken a collegiate snap.
  • No surprise to see Justin Thomas listed ahead of Tim Byerly at quarterback, but there are ways the Jackets could use both effectively this season.
  • At receiver, DeAndre Smelter impressed this spring, after giving up baseball to focus solely on football. Micheal Summers is listed as the other starter. Remember, Darren Waller and Anthony Autry are suspended for the first two games of the season for team rules violations.

ACC spring game recaps

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
10:30
AM ET
Spring practice is officially over across the ACC. Here is a look at the five spring games held this past weekend. Boston College cancelled its game following the tragic attacks at the marathon.

GEORGIA TECH

B-back Matt Connors capped a good spring with a team-high 84 yards on 12 carries to lead the Gold team to a 22-10 win over the White on Friday night.

After the game, coach Paul Johnson said Connors, "plays hard. Matt has a good attitude and I think he'll help us. We had a productive spring. There are always things you'd like to do better. I think we got a good start for fall.

As for the quarterbacks, Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly each scored a rushing touchdown for the Gold team. Thomas went 3-of-7 for 38 yards. Vad Lee led the White team with 62 yards rushing on nine carries and went 4-of-13 for 34 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Quayshawn Nealy returned a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown for the Gold team.

NC STATE

Fans got to see the new no-huddle spread offense coach Dave Doeren has installed, though there were plenty of bumps in the road during the annual spring game Saturday.

Quarterback Pete Thomas took reps with the first-team and went 15-of-26 for 168 yards without a touchdown pass as the Red beat the White 20-10. Tony Creecy led the way for the Red team with 75 yards on 20 carries, while Rashard Smith had eight catches for 84 yards.

Manny Stocker, working with the second-team, went 11-of-20 for 96 yards with an interception in the end zone. The teams combined for five fumbles in the game, and had 10 total punts in the first half.

Doeren said afterward, "We are ahead defensively and that’s not a bad thing," Doeren said. "I would rather be ahead on the defensive side than the offense. I think we’ll catch up."

The spring game raised more than $20,000 for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

SYRACUSE

Terrel Hunt emerged from the spring game as the Orange's top quarterback following an outstanding performance, going 19-of-29 for 209 yards a two touchdown passes to lead the Orange to a 27-10 win over the Blue on Saturday.

Hunt took all the snaps for the Orange team, and coach Scott Shafer said afterward that the junior now has a small lead over Charley Loeb and John Kinder. How that all plays out when Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen arrives remains to be seen, but there is no question Hunt has made the most of his opportunity this spring.

"Just a little bit (of a gap) though," Shafer said afteward. "We have all summer to figure this thing out and see all the new faces that are coming in to wear the blue and orange. I look forward to the competition continuing forward."

Kinder and Loeb combined to go 11-of-20 for 55 yards but they played against the first-team defense and under big-time pressure.

VIRGINIA TECH

There were not many bright spots for the new Hokies' offense, as quarterback Logan Thomas and the running backs struggled Saturday in the spring game.

Thomas threw three interceptions -- two that were returned for touchdowns -- as his Orange team lost to the White 27-9. In all, Thomas went 16-of-29 for 214 yards as the group worked under new coordinator Scot Loeffler. For the game, the running backs tallied 23 total yards on 41 carries. Those are probably not the results fans wanted to see.

“I think even good golfers have bad shots sometimes, but it’s how you react to those shots, what you do after those shots,” coach Frank Beamer said afterward. “In my opinion, Logan will always be right back every play.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that the defense was the story of the scrimmage as that group returns just about every one of its starters and should be one of the best groups in the league.

WAKE FOREST

The Deacs held a 70-minute scrimmage rather than a game Saturday, and the defense dominated as Chad Hedlund scored the only points on a 39-yard field goal.

Hunter Williams, Ryan Janvion, Merrill Noel and A.J. Marshall each intercepted a pass. Wake Forest's 32 rushing plays netted minus-5 total yards.

"The defense was awesome today," coach Jim Grobe said. "I thought they played great. We really dumbed the defense down, we didn't blitz and we didn't play a lot of different coverages. It's amazing how good they played when they know what to do and didn't have a lot of thinking going on. That ought to be a lesson for our coaches."

Though the offense struggled, the coaches did not have that group do too much. As Nikita Whitlock said afterward, "They didn’t show anything. This was the easiest practice we had all spring. I think they only ran like five plays. Honestly, it was power here, throw here, screen here. They were really vanilla, which was good. We’ll pull it out this season to win some games."
The rest of the ACC wraps up practice this weekend. Here is a look at what to watch at each spring game.

BOSTON COLLEGE

When: Cancelled.

UPDATE: Boston College decided to cancel its spring game, set for Saturday, because of the tragic events that unfolded in the area this week. Though there is no game, these are still three keys for the Eagles as they move into the offseason.
  • Chase Rettig. Rettig has been through one coordinator too many during his career with the Eagles, and now he has to learn a new system that is not exactly the pro-style brand more suited to him. Coach Steve Addazio has said he will not force Rettig out of his comfort zone this year, but how Rettig handles yet another change is definitely something to watch.
  • The run game. Addazio has placed a heavy emphasis on the run game this spring. Does he have the talent and depth to improve the dreadful numbers from a year ago? With Rolandan Finch gone, senior Andre Williams has been the guy left to shoulder the load this spring. He says, "Bring it on."
  • More aggressive D? This will be a good chance to see how Don Brown has gone about revamping the defense. We have all heard how he wants to be more aggressive this year. Let's see it.
GEORGIA TECH

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. (Note: There is a threat of rain so a decision on whether the game will be played as scheduled will be made later today. As of this morning, the game is still on.) NC STATE

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • The quarterbacks. Starting to sound like a theme, right? Coach Dave Doeren has said he will not name a starter after spring practice. Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker are still learning the new system, and Doeren says, "They're getting better. I told somebody the other day: I just don't think it's fair to make a decision on a guy that doesn't know your offense yet. I think we've got to give those kids a chance to play football without thinking. We're not there yet."
  • The secondary. This group will have three new starters when fall rolls around, and much less game experience. Juston Burris is listed as the starter at the cornerback spot David Amerson leaves behind, while Hakim Jones and Jarvis Byrd are set to take the open safety spots.
  • The defensive ends. There is still open competition at both defensive end spots, according to the depth chart the team released ahead of the spring game. Art Norman and Forrest West are battling for one spot, while Mike Rose and Darryl Cato-Bishop are competing for the other.
SYRACUSE

When: Saturday, noon.
  • Terrel Hunt vs. Charley Loeb. Hunt has reportedly gotten more of the first-team reps as the spring has gone on, but this is a good chance for both quarterbacks to make an impression on their coaches -- especially with Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen headed to Syracuse in the summer.
  • Defensive line. There is no question Syracuse has to work on building depth here because of several losses the group has taken. One player to watch is Iowa transfer John Raymon, who has worked at both tackle and end this spring.
  • Quinta Funderburk. Funderburk sat out last season after transferring in from Arkansas. He has made a few highlight catches during the spring scrimmages to catch some attention, and with Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales gone, Funderburk has an opportunity to become a go-to receiver on this team.
VIRGINIA TECH

When: Saturday, 3 p.m., ESPN3
  • Logan Thomas and the offense. So, how does Thomas look under new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler? His rebound from a mediocre 2013 is going to be huge for the Hokies this season.
  • The running backs. Nobody has really stepped up to take the starting job, although Trey Edmunds has had a good spring, including 86 yards and two touchdowns in the last scrimmage. JC Coleman, also vying for the job, is not expected to play because of a leg injury.
  • Brandon Facyson. It's no secret the Hokies need some help in the secondary, and every single report out of Blacksburg points to the freshman cornerback as being the next star on defense.
WAKE FOREST

When: Saturday, 1 p.m., ACC Digital Network
  • The receivers. One of the big goals this spring has been to find another receiver to complement Michael Campanaro. Orville Reynolds, who moved from running back, has so far turned some heads with his performance, so keep an eye on him.
  • New faces. Two players who have drawn raves on defense this spring are defensive linemen Desmond Floyd and Johnny Garcia. In fact, coach Jim Grobe believes his defensive line has been a bright spot this spring because the group has been able to develop some depth.
  • Competition. This will actually be a scrimmage, not a game, because the Deacs simply do not have enough offensive linemen to split the team in two. At last check, Wake had seven healthy offensive linemen after Cody Preble injured his ankle in the last scrimmage.
There was plenty of football this past weekend in the ACC. Here's a quick recap of everything that happened, according to each school's website or report that was emailed to the media:

VIRGINIA

The following information is according to Jeff White's report:
  • The Orange roster included the first-team defense, the Blue roster the first-team offense. Each quarterback saw time on both sides during the scrimmage, which the Orange won 18-15.
  • Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Watford entered the spring game atop the depth chart, followed by redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert and then redshirt junior Phillip Sims. Watford finished 5-for-10 for 55 yards. Lambert completed 21 of 36 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, and Sims was 8-for-18 for 89 yards.
  • Junior running back Clifton Richardson finished with 41 yards (on 11 carries), junior Kevin Parks with 20 yards (on 11 carries), junior Khalek Shepherd with 20 yards (on six carries) and redshirt freshman Kye Morgan with 18 yards (on 11 carries).
  • Led by Brent Urban (3.5), sophomore end Trent Corney (two) and redshirt freshman linebacker Mark Hall (two), the defenses were credited with 14 "sacks" Saturday.
MARYLAND
  • The Terps held a scrimmage at Middletown High School in Middletown, Md., Saturday.
  • Taking handoffs from quarterback Dustin Dailey, running back Joe Riddle rushed for more than 100 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run.
MIAMI
  • The Hurricanes held a 90-minute scrimmage on Friday night that included goal-line and red zone scenarios, and two-minute drills, in front of 3,000 fans at Naples High School. The first-team offense went 60 plays and the second team had 55 plays.
  • Quarterbacks Stephen Morris, Ryan Williams and Gray Crow combined to throw five touchdown passes to three different receivers. The Canes were without receiver Phillip Dorsett, who was in Gainesville with the track team at the Florida Relays.
  • Dallas Crawford had two receiving touchdowns, while Rashawn Scott and Allen Hurns combined for three scores.
  • Anthony Chickillo, Tyriq McCord and Kelvin Cain led the defense with a sack each.
BOSTON COLLEGE
  • BC held its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday in Alumni Stadium. The team practiced for the first half hour and then ran through a number of series with rotating quarterbacks. All four quarterbacks -- Chase Rettig, Josh Bordner, Mike Marscovetra and Christian Suntrup -- saw time.
  • Rettig started and led the team to the only touchdown on a 5-yard pass to C.J. Parsons. Bordner played in five series and rushed for 33 yards.
  • Defensively, junior Sean Sylvia returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.
  • Running back Rolandan Finch has left the team for personal reasons.
GEORGIA TECH
  • Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee ran for a pair of touchdowns, including one 60-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Justin Thomas rushed for a touchdown, set up by his own electrifying 40-yard run.
  • Redshirt freshman Beau Hankins had an interception on a pass thrown by Thomas.
  • Senior Jeremiah Attaochu had a tackle for loss and Coray Carlson had a fumble recovery.
  • The catch of the day actually belonged to walk-on Marty Alcala, who had an acrobatic reception on a 30-yard pass from Thomas.
  • Matt Connors rushed for a 12-yard touchdown.
  • Junior wide receiver Darren Waller, who was injured, was cleared to play.
WAKE FOREST
  • The Deacs continued to emphasize takeaways at their scrimmage on Saturday.
  • According to the Winston-Salem Journal, linebacker Mike Olson was sidelined while recovering from shoulder surgery. Nose tackle Nikita Whitlock missed the scrimmage because he was back home in Wylie, Texas, attending the funeral of a member of his family. Cornerback Merrill Noel was in uniform, but did not play because of a sore shoulder.

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