ACC: Niklas Sade

You gotta be sound in the kicking game.

The watch lists for the Lou Groza Award (best kicker) and Ray Guy (best punter) were released Wednesday, and these same lists will be pared down during the season, with winners announced in December.

Here are players from the ACC and Notre Dame to receive recognition:

Lou Groza Award:

Roberto Aguayo, Florida State: Only the second freshman to win the award, Aguayo is the odds-on favorite to repeat as a sophomore. He set an FBS single-season kicking record with 157 points last season and was 21 of 22 on field goal attempts. He converted all 94 extra points.

Kyle Brindza, Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish’s kicker has a strong leg having made three field goals from at least 50 yards last season. He played a key role in the Irish’s bowl game, connecting on 5-of-6 field goal attempts.

Niklas Sade, NC State: A semifinalist last season, Sade was consistent for the Wolfpack. Twice last season Sade made four field goals in a single game.

John Wallace, Louisville: He nearly tied the Louisville record of 21 field goals in a single season, coming up short by one. Art Carmody, who won the award in 2006, owns the record.

Ray Guy Award:

Wil Baumann, NC State: He’s started 37 games in his career for the Wolfpack and was seventh in the ACC in punting average in 2013.

Riley Dixon, Syracuse: Dixon was awarded a scholarship in January after averaging more than 42 yards per punt last season.

Tommy Hibbard, North Carolina: Hibbard was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2012 and a honorable mention last season. He averaged 43.0 yards on 65 punts, 22 of which were downed in the red zone.

A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech: Hughes was a second-team All-ACC selection last fall after averaging 44.1 yards and downing 24 punts inside the 20.

Will Monday, Duke: Averaged 42.7 yards on 69 punts last season. Monday had punts of 72 and 66 yards in 2013.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 10, 2013
Welcome to the NFL, Chip.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 2

September, 8, 2013
Week 2 is in the books. Here are the ACC's top performers:

Miami's defense: Linebacker Denzel Perryman recorded 13 tackles and forced a fumble, and Tyriq McCord sacked Jeff Driskel late in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble that proved the difference in the game. In all, Miami forced three fumbles, picked off two passes, sacked Driskel twice and held Florida to 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. Not bad for a group that ranked dead last in the ACC in rushing defense a year ago.

Boston College running back Andre Williams: The senior carried the ball a whopping 35 times en route to 204 yards rushing and a touchdown in a win over Wake Forest. It was Williams' second 100-yard performance of the season. Williams carried the ball eight straight times on BC's final drive, running the last five minutes off the clock and helping the Eagles to match their win total from 2012 after just two games.

Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown: No, Brown didn't quite repeat his impressive Week 1 performance against Florida International, but he came close. The senior threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and ran four times and scored twice more versus Old Dominion. Through two games, Brown has already collected nine touchdowns. A year ago, no Maryland QB accounted for more than 11 touchdowns all season. More good news for Maryland: Brown wasn't the only playmaker. Stefon Diggs racked up a career-best 179 yards receiving, and Brandon Ross ran for 149 yards and a score.

Duke quarterback Brandon Connette: Starter Anthony Boone went down with a broken collarbone in the second quarter, but that didn't doom Duke's chances at its first 2-0 start since 1998. Connette, a junior with just 45 career passing attempts entering the game, came on to rally the Blue Devils' offense. For the game, he completed 14 of 21 passes for 198 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to help Duke to a 28-14 win over Memphis.

NC State's two-minute offense: In what was hardly a vintage performance for the Wolfpack against FCS foe Richmond, the two-minute drill to end the game worked to perfection, capped by kicker Niklas Sade's 48-yard, game-winning field goal with 33 seconds remaining. NC State trailed 21-13 at the half but forced a turnover deep in Richmond territory to set up a third-quarter touchdown, then drove the ball 48 yards on seven plays in the final two minutes of action, setting up Sade's game winner, which cleared the goal post with ease. QB Pete Thomas was 4-of-5 for 31 yards passing on the drive.

NC State wins game, loses QB

August, 31, 2013
It was a busy -- and relatively easy -- early afternoon for three ACC teams jockeying for position in the crowded middle ground of the conference. All three games ended in blowouts, but for NC State and new head coach Dave Doeren, the day wasn't without its setbacks.

NC State 40, Louisiana Tech 14

The good news is, Doeren and the Wolfpack got win No. 1. The bad news is they also lost their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Brandon Mitchell suffered a broken foot that will require surgery early in the game and could miss up to six weeks, according to reports. The Arkansas transfer, who won an offseason QB competition to replace Mike Glennon, was 3-for-3 for 93 yards and ran for another 19, leading NC State to scores on each of his first two drives. But on a failed run on third-and-1 on the Wolfpack's third drive, Mitchell went down with the foot injury and didn't return.

Pete Thomas replaced Mitchell, but didn't look quite as sharp. The junior completed 15 of 27 passes for 212 yards and an interception, but the ground game picked up the slack as Matt Dayes rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns.

NC State's defense forced four Louisiana Tech fumbles, which contributed to the Wolfpack more than doubling Louisiana Tech's time of possession. Kicker Niklas Sade connected on four field goals.

Maryland 43, Florida International 10

It was a long wait for C.J. Brown to finally get on the field again after missing all of 2012 with a knee injury. Against a thoroughly overmatched FIU team, Brown quickly made up for lost time.

The Terps' quarterback scored five times in the first half -- three passing TDs, two rushing -- to lead the charge. It was the most touchdowns by a Terps quarterback in a game since 2003.

Brown didn't stick around long in the second half, and finished the day 20 of 23 passing for 281 yards and three TDs, adding another 11 rushes for 109 yards and two scores. His 66-yard TD throw to Stefon Diggs was the first in what the Terps hope will be a lethal combination in 2013. Diggs finished the game with five catches for 98 yards. Wideout Deon Long added eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Brown's stellar debut couldn't be better news for Maryland, which used five different quarterbacks during a remarkable run of injuries in 2012. Brown's five touchdowns in the first half were just one shy of what linebacker-turned-QB Shawn Petty mustered in Maryland's final four full games of 2012.

Georgia Tech 70, Elon 0

Paul Johnson couldn't have expected his team to have much trouble with Elon, but Georgia Tech nevertheless managed to impress.

Sure, the competition was light, but the Yellow Jackets thoroughly dominated. Tech entered the fourth quarter with a 63-0 lead -- the largest in program history. By tacking on a fourth-quarter touchdown, the Jackets set a new ACC record for largest margin of victory in a game, topping Florida State's 69-0 win over Western Carolina in 2008.

It was a matter of shared wealth in the drubbing, with nine different Yellow Jackets finding the end zone. Still, it was a strong start for first-year starting quarterback Vad Lee, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns and ran six times for an additional 49 yards and a score.

Linebacker Tyler Marcordes' 95-yard interception return for a score was one of two Georgia Tech had in the game.
2012 record: 7-6
2012 conference record: 4-4 ACC (third in Atlantic Division)
Returning starters: offense: 5; defense: 5; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners:

WR Quintin Payton, OT Rob Crisp, OT Tyson Chandler, DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, CB Dontae Johnson PK Niklas Sade, P Wil Baumann

Key losses:

QB Mike Glennon, WR Tobais Palmer, OG R.J. Mattes, C Camden Wentz, CB David Amerson, S Earl Wolff, S Brandan Bishop

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Shadrach Thornton* (694 yards)
Passing: Glennon (4,031 yards)
Receiving: Palmer (781 yards)
Tackles: Wolff (119)
Sacks: Cato-Bishop* (6.5)
Interceptions: Amerson (5)

Spring answers

1. QB Pete Thomas is next in line. Thomas edged out Manny Stocker for the majority of first-team reps this spring, and while the staff isn’t ready to name Thomas the starter, it became clear he is the front-runner to take over for Mike Glennon.

2. Picking up the pace: First-year coach Dave Doeren and his staff didn’t install the entire offense, but the Wolfpack did begin to make the switch to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense this spring. Doeren wants to snap it every 15 seconds, and the players began to adjust to a different pace of play.

3. Solid specialists: If there is one area the Pack shouldn’t be concerned about this fall, it’s the kicking game. The holder, punter and place-kicker are all true juniors who have been playing since they were true freshmen. Doeren said all of them had a great spring.

Fall questions

1. Unproven quarterbacks: While Thomas took the majority of reps, Doeren has stressed this remains an open competition into summer, and none of them have yet to compose a résumé comparable to Glennon’s.

2. Shuffling on the offensive line: NC State has to replace three starters up front, and the new staff spent this spring experimenting with different combinations to try and find the best fits. The linemen have also had to adjust to different blocking schemes in the faster-paced offense.

3. New faces at safety. It’s been almost three and a half years since anyone besides Wolff and Bishop had to play safety at NC State. Replacing that experience will be difficult. Hakim Jones was a backup last year who has been penciled in as a starter, and Jarvis Byrd, a fifth-year redshirt senior who has been injured for most of the past two seasons and was a former cornerback, is another top option. Finding a rotation at safety will be a priority this summer.
NC State announced its leadership council for 2013 on Friday, a group of 20 players voted on by the team that represents each position on the field.

They are:
Since coach Dave Doeren became head coach, he has had meetings every two weeks to discuss the importance of leadership.

“In each meeting, we have discussed the ‘Wolfpack Commandments,’ which are the qualities and characteristics that I want our team to display," Doeren said in a statement. "In spring practice and in our offseason conditioning program, the team was able to identify which players best display these qualities.”

The “Wolfpack Commandments” are: accountability, hard work, family, faith, detail, loyalty, pride, discipline, urgency, focus, perseverance and “the three P’s” -- preparation, practice, playing to win.

One name that stood out to me: Brissett, who transferred in from Florida and must sit out this season because of NCAA rules. Brissett has only been in Raleigh since January, so he clearly has made a mark on his teammates and coaches with all the hard work he has done in a short period of time, all while knowing he cannot play this season.

ACC announces Players of the Week

October, 22, 2012
Here are the ACC's Players of the Week for Week 8 as announced by the league offices in Greensboro, N.C.:

OFFENSIVE BACK – Sean Renfree, Duke, R-Senior, QB, 6-5, 225, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Renfree led Duke to a 33-30 win over North Carolina by completing 23 of 36 (.639) passes for 276 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The senior engineered a game-winning, 14-play, 87-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on 4th-and-2 with 13 seconds left in the game. On the drive, he completed 8-of-11 (.727) passes for 78 yards including the TD and converted three 3rd-down chances through the air as well as the 4th-down conversion for the touchdown. Renfree directed the Duke offense to 510 yards of total offense – the highest total of the David Cutcliffe era versus ACC competition – against a Tar Heel defense that entered the week ranked third in the ACC and 22nd nationally in total defense, allowing just 327.0 yards per game.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Perry Simmons, Duke, R-Junior, OT, 6-5, 300, Raleigh, N.C.

Simmons spearheaded Duke’s 33-30 win over North Carolina by playing all 91 offensive snaps and helping the Blue Devil offense compile 510 yards of total offense against a Tar Heel defense that entered the week ranking third in the ACC. Simmons was a key component of Duke’s offensive front that opened holes for a ground attack that amassed 234 yards – the highest output under David Cutcliffe at Duke. Simmons and the offensive line protected quarterback Sean Renfree, who completed 23 of 36 passes for 276 yards, and only allowed one quarterback sack to a North Carolina squad that entered the game tied for third in the conference in sacks per game (2.43).

RECEIVER – Bryan Underwood, NC State, R-Sophomore, WR, 5-11, 174, University Heights, Ohio

Underwood hauled in six receptions for 134 yards in the Wolfpack's 20-18 victory over Maryland in College Park. He played 57 snaps from scrimmage. The redshirt sophomore scored on a 68-yard strike from quarterback Mike Glennon in the third quarter, and had a 17-yard catch on the Pack's final offensive drive en route to the winning field goal. Underwood has scored a receiving touchdown in seven straight games - a Wolfpack record and just two games shy of the ACC record.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – T.Y. McGill, NC State, Sophomore, DT, 6-1, 298, Jesup, Ga.

McGill anchored the defensive front that tallied six sacks in the 20-18 win at Maryland. While in for just 32 snaps from scrimmage, he made eight total tackles (six solo) and had two sacks for a total of 16 yards.

LINEBACKER – Telvin Smith, Florida State, Junior, LB, 6-3, 215, Valdosta, Ga.

Smith registered a season-high eight tackles, including seven stops, and led Florida State with two tackles for loss in the Seminoles’ 33-20 win at Miami. He also forced a fumble that set up Florida State’s first points on the night after falling behind 10-0, and came up with two pass break-ups. The Seminole defense held Miami to a season-low 258 total yards and only 29 on the ground. Miami had minus-12 yards rushing in the second half against Florida State, whose defense leads the ACC and ranks in the top seven nationally in all five major statistical categories.

DEFENSIVE BACK – Jonathan Meeks, Clemson, Senior, S, 6-1, 210, Rock Hill, S.C.

Meeks had two interceptions, including one he returned 74 yards for a score in Clemson’s 38-17 win over Virginia Tech. He also had four tackles and a pass broken up for three total passes defended. The 74-yard return for a score was the longest interception return for a score by a Clemson player since 2006. Ahead 10-7 in the second period, with the Hokies driving, Meeks intercepted the pass at the Clemson 26 yard line and returned it 74 yards for the score to give Clemson a 17-7 lead. With the interception, Meeks jumped to fifth in Clemson history in total interception return yards with 192.

SPECIALIST – Niklas Sade, NC State, Sophomore, PK, 6-3, 200, Wake Forest, N.C.

Sade kicked the game-winning field goal with 32 seconds left on the clock at Maryland to give the Wolfpack a 20-18 lead. The sophomore also booted a 21-yarder earlier in the contest. Sade started out the season 2 for 5 on field goals and has since gone 5 for 5. He hit both extra points and kicked off five times against the Terrapins, averaging 60.6 yards and had one touchback.

ROOKIE – Jela Duncan, Duke, Freshman, RB, 5-10, 200, Charlotte, N.C.

Duncan helped Duke to a 33-30 win over North Carolina by totaling 118 all-purpose yards and scoring one touchdown. The rookie running back rushed 22 times for 74 yards, caught three passes for 12 yards, and returned two kickoffs for 32 yards. His 2-yard touchdown was his third rushing score in the last four games. On Duke’s game-winning, 14-play, 87-yard drive, Duncan converted a 3rd-and-6 from the North Carolina 19 yard line with a 6-yard reception. Duncan was a key component of Duke’s ground attack that amassed 234 yards against a Tar Heel defense that entered the game ranked third in the ACC and 14th nationally against the run, surrendering just 99.7 yards per contest.
NC State was selected as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week following its stirring 17-16 upset victory over No. 3 Florida State.

The Wolfpack (4-2) made the most of a blocked punt with 2:27 left, which gave them possession at the Florida State 43. Mike Glennon connected on two fourth-down passes on the winning drive. The second went to Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left. Niklas Sade made the extra point to win the game.

Florida State was the highest-ranked opponent NC State has defeated since beating the No. 2 Seminoles 24-7 in 1998.

The Football Writers Association of America has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. This is the eighth season that the award has been sponsored by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

For those interested, the NC State-Florida State game will re-air tonight at 8:30 on ESPNU.

Summer summary: NC State

August, 26, 2011
Our series taking a look back at the highlights of summer camp for each team in the ACC continues today with NC State:
  • The Pack’s biggest storyline of the month was the injury to defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy, who is out for six weeks. He’s a team captain and impact player, so his absence for at least two or three games is a significant blow to the defense. The latest depth chart hasn’t been released yet, but Markus Kuhn and Brian Slay are the obvious options to compensate for the loss of Sweezy. Cornerback Jarvis Byrd was also injured before camp started, and will miss the season with another torn ACL.
  • Quarterback Mike Glennon has officially taken over the team following the transfer of Russell Wilson to Wisconsin. Glennon has looked good at times, but he has also been inconsistent. Some of that might be attributed to legitimate improvement by the defense. The Pack finally has solid experience in the secondary, the starting linebackers are strong, but it’s hard to tell how good the offense is in one-on-one situations.
  • The Wolfpack has had to turn to true freshmen at punter and placekicker, and both Wil Baumann and Niklas Sade have earned the confidence of the coaching staff this summer. It was one of the biggest question marks of the offseason for NC State, and while some of those concerns have been alleviated, the duo is still untested in game situations.
  • Running back/halfback still remains a question with Mustafa Greene out with a foot injury. The Pack is still looking for a player to take the lead there, and James Washington, who was the starter towards the end of the season last year, appears to be the frontrunner. Curtis Underwood also has a good shot to earn a lot of playing time, and Brandon Barnes is also an option. Tony Creecy has missed a few weeks because an undisclosed injury.
  • The biggest question remaining heading into game week is who will step up at wide receiver. The Pack has been playing three wide a lot, so they need more help and consistency than just one go-to player.