ACC: opening camp 2012

Opening camp: Florida State

August, 6, 2012
8/06/12
3:30
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Heather and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp ...

School: Florida State.

Start date: Today.

Predicted finish at media days: First, Atlantic Division.

Biggest storyline: Can the Seminoles match increased expectations this year? It seems like we have been waiting on Florida State to return to its rightful place among the elite for ages now. Many thought last year was going to be the year, as the Seminoles were picked to win the Atlantic and started the season ranked No. 5 in the coaches' poll and No. 6 in the AP poll. But Florida State faltered to an 8-4 record in the regular season and went 5-3 in conference, tied with Wake Forest for second in the Atlantic. Not exactly the return everybody imagined. Headed into this year, expectations are high once again not only in the ACC but nationally as well. Florida State starts the season ranked No. 7 in the coaches' poll, so there clearly is confidence that THIS will now be the year of the Seminole. Florida State has 17 starters returning, including quarterback EJ Manuel and one of the most talented defensive fronts in the nation. The time is now for this team.

Biggest position battle: Cornerback. With the dismissal of three-year starter Greg Reid, that position is now up for grabs headed into fall camp. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, this position went from one of strength to one of major question marks. None of the potential replacements has much in the way of game experience. Among the options: sophomores Tyler Hunter and Nick Waisome, who were expected to compete for the top nickelback job. There also is freshman Ronald Darby, who ran track in high school. As for returner, where Reid excelled, potential options include Darby, freshman Marvin Bracy, sophomore Karlos Williams and safety Lamarcus Joyner.

Who needs to step up: The receivers. Coach Jimbo Fisher said during ACC media days that while he loves all the depth he has at receiver and tight end, what he really wants to do is identify the playmakers he can count on the most for this season. Who will make the big plays and big catches on a consistent basis in the group? Rashad Greene? Rodney Smith? Christian Green? Willie Haulstead? And where does Bracy fit in? It will be interesting to see whether the Seminoles need a few receivers to emerge as the go-to targets or whether they will continue to throw to a wide variety of players.

Opening camp: Duke

August, 6, 2012
8/06/12
2:00
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Heather and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp ...

School: Duke.

Start date: Today.

Predicted finish at media days: Last in the Coastal Division.

Biggest storyline: Does Duke have what it takes to make it back to a bowl game? During ACC media days, defensive end Kenny Anunike and receiver Conner Vernon talked with confidence about their team's expectations to make it back into the postseason. I don't need to remind you that Duke has a 17-year bowl-less streak, dating back to 1994. But there are reasons for raised hopes. For one, Duke was close in nearly every game last season, losing five by a touchdown or less. Finishing games has been a huge point of emphasis for the Blue Devils this offseason. For another, they have 17 starters returning, including four players who should form a pretty good offensive line. Then there are quarterbacks Sean Renfree and Vernon, an All-ACC preseason selection. Coach David Cutcliffe has repeatedly said Renfree has pro potential. Now he just has to let the game come to him and cut down on the mistakes. There is talent here, but is there enough to get to six wins?

Biggest position battle: Duke has been hit particularly hard by injuries over the last few years, especially on defense. So the recent news that projected starting nose guard Jamal Bruce is out indefinitely following foot surgery means the Blue Devils are going to need to find another inside presence. Steven Ingram was listed as Bruce's backup, but the Blue Devils are particularly thin inside, with only five healthy nose guards or tackles on scholarship headed into camp. There has been no timetable for Bruce's return. The play along the defensive line is critical this season, because the Blue Devils have to get better pass rushing. After Anunike got hurt last year, that pass rush was nearly nonexistent. As for other injuries, linebacker Kelby Brown (torn ACL), tight end Braxton Deaver (knee) and receiver Blair Holliday (head injuries from jet-ski accident) also are sidelined.

Who needs to step up: Renfree. Cutcliffe has some pretty high expectations for Renfree, who has been a good quarterback already for the Blue Devils. But Renfree also had 11 interceptions last season, a number Cutcliffe knows can be cut down. In fact, Cutcliffe points to the touchdown-to-interception ratio as one that has kept Renfree from getting more headlines. If Renfree makes better decisions and cuts down on the mistakes, he has a chance to place himself into the discussion as one of the top quarterbacks in a league brimming with outstanding signal callers.

Opening camp: North Carolina

August, 4, 2012
8/04/12
1:00
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …

School: North Carolina

Start date: Friday

Projected finish at ACC media days: Third in the Coastal Division

Biggest storyline: The Larry Fedora era begins. There has been a much-needed fresh start in Chapel Hill, and it all starts with the energetic new head coach whose offense is as up-tempo as his personality. Fedora has said repeatedly that the bowl ban and NCAA sanctions won’t deter his players from giving their all this fall, and the fact that they know what the sanctions are and can put the past behind them is a victory in itself. Fedora is right; those within the program and around it are tired of hearing that four-letter word (NCAA). It’s time to play football and see just how good this team can be after a complete overhaul of both the staff and philosophies.

Biggest position battle: Nose tackle. Sophomores Shawn Underwood and Devonte Brown are competing for the starting job, but neither has much experience. Underwood was listed as a co-starter at defensive tackle, and was one of 10 true freshmen to play last year. He had shoulder surgery immediately after spring practice. Brown also played as a true freshman last year, but his time was limited to the season opener against James Madison.

Who needs to step up: Wide receivers. This group has to increase its production in order to compensate for the loss of Dwight Jones, who accounted for nearly a third of Carolina’s receiving yardage last year and scored nearly half of the team’s receiving touchdowns. Erik Highsmith, Jheranie Boyd and Todd Harrelson will get the spotlight, but ideally, Fedora would like to have at least three receivers on the field the majority of the time, and eventually four or five at times. The group isn’t quite ready for the latter yet, but if Fedora’s offense is going to work, the receivers need to be ready for the “Fed spread.”

Opening camp

Opening camp: Boston College

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
4:30
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …

School: Boston College

Start date: Monday

Projected finish at ACC media days: Fifth in the Atlantic Division

Biggest storyline: New faces. Boston College will look a lot different when it opens the season against Miami: No Luke Kuechly. No Montel Harris. And a complete overhaul of the offensive staff. Former BC assistants Kevin Rogers and Ryan Day are now coaching at Temple, where Harris transferred after he was dismissed from the team in May for a repeated violation of team rules. The Eagles are now under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator Doug Martin. When compared to last season’s coaching staff, four of the five offensive assistants have changed. BC had one of the worst offenses in the country last season, ranking 112th in scoring offense. This overhaul will either be exactly what the Eagles need, or it will be yet another bumpy transition year.

Biggest position battle: Running back. This group is still crowded, even without Harris on the roster. Rolandan Finch, Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble will be competing for carries. Finch led the team in rushing attempts (157) and yards (705) as a sophomore. Williams is a 6-foot, 220-pound power runner who has 219 career attempts for 978 yards and six touchdowns. Kimble had eight receptions out of the backfield last season and 43 carries.

Who needs to step up: The linebackers. Kuechly accounted for 535 tackles in three seasons. The Eagles won’t replace Kuechly with one person, but senior Nick Clancy and juniors Steele Divitto, Andre Lawrence, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Sean Duggan and Nick Lifka are talented players eager to emerge from Kuechly’s shadow.

Opening camp:

Opening camp: Miami

August, 2, 2012
8/02/12
4:00
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …

School: Miami

Start date: Friday

Projected finish at ACC media days: Fifth in the Coastal Division

Biggest storyline: More questions than answers. For the second consecutive year, Miami coach Al Golden is preparing for the season opener with an NCAA investigation looming over the program. The difference this year is that his name has now been attached. A Yahoo! Sports story questioned whether Golden had knowledge of recruiting violations within his program. Golden has stood behind his record of compliance, but said he has no idea when the program might get some closure on the issue. As if the NCAA investigation weren’t enough, Miami has plenty of questions on the field to answer, too. The Canes need to replace their leading rusher from a year ago, starting quarterback, two leading receivers and three starters on the offensive line.

Biggest position battle: Quarterback. With 12 starters gone from 2011, there will be competitions all over the field this month for the Canes, but none will garner more attention than at quarterback. Stephen Morris, who missed spring drills with a back injury, will try to hold off former Memphis transfer and good friend Ryan Williams. Morris has the edge in experience in offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s system, as he started four games as a freshman in 2010 and one last year, the season opener against Maryland. Williams, who sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules, had a good spring. As a true freshman in 2010, he started 10 games at Memphis and earned the starting job over former Miami quarterback Cannon Smith.

Who needs to step up: Safety A.J. Highsmith. With the dismissal of Ray-Ray Armstrong from the team, Highsmith is likely the next man up. The redshirt junior moved to safety last year after spending his first two seasons as a backup quarterback. Highsmith, the son of former Cane Alonzo Highsmith, finished 2011 with 12 tackles in 11 games.

Opening camp

Opening camp: Georgia Tech

August, 1, 2012
8/01/12
5:00
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …

School: Georgia Tech

Start date: Friday

Predicted finish at media days: Second in the Coastal Division

Biggest storyline: Year 3 under Al Groh. Could this finally be the year the defense gets off the field? Georgia Tech was No. 83 in the country last year in third-down defense and No. 60 in scoring defense. The Jackets should see some significant progress, considering it is the third year in Groh’s 3-4 scheme and the players are familiar with the playbook and what Groh expects of them. Georgia Tech will be missing its leading tackler in Julian Burnett, but Jeremiah Attaochu is one of the better linebackers in the ACC. The secondary is also an experienced group, but Georgia Tech has to replace two of three starters up front. The defense has some questions on its depth chart, but expectations are still higher for Groh’s group.

Biggest position battle: Defensive end. Izaan Cross is a three-year starter, but that’s about all that is certain right now. Emmanuel Dieke and Euclid Cummings were both dead-even on the depth chart following spring practices. Cummings had a good spring, and Dieke is a good pass-rusher at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds. Both will likely end up playing a lot. A fourth player, Chris Crenshaw, will also be pushing for playing time.

Who needs to step up: The receivers. None of them have ever caught a pass in a game, and Georgia Tech needs to improve its passing efficiency this fall. Jeff Greene and Darren Waller are two sophomores who played sparingly last year and should have increased roles. Chris Jackson, a former transfer from Alabama, will also see his first playing time. Jeremy Moore, who has battled injuries throughout his career, should also get more meaningful snaps this year.

Opening camp

Opening camp: Clemson

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
5:00
PM ET
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. Next up to open camp …

School: Clemson

Start date: Friday

Projected finish at media days: Second in the Atlantic Division

Biggest storyline: Wanted: linemen. There is no shortage of talent on this roster, particularly at the skill positions, but when it comes to offensive and defensive linemen, that’s where Clemson’s entire story will unfold this fall. The Tigers have to replace three starters on both lines, including both offensive tackles, and the team’s leading pass rusher from 2011, Andre Branch.

Biggest position battle: Guards and tackles. The Tigers have an answer at center in veteran Dalton Freeman, and Brandon Thomas is another returning starter who can play guard or tackle, but beyond that, positions are up for grabs this camp. Tyler Shatley made the most of his move from defensive tackle to offensive guard this past spring and ran with the first team. Kalon Davis only played 49 snaps last year but could also earn a starting job. Gifford Timothy is a sophomore who could also see significant playing time as a tackle.

Who needs to step up:Malliciah Goodman, defensive end. Goodman has yet to reach his potential, and the Tigers’ defensive line could use him now more than ever. Clemson lost its top three sack producers from a year ago, including 10.5 from Branch. Goodman has five sacks in three years, and only 12 tackles for loss during that span. With only three returning defensive ends on the roster, it’s a thin position in desperate need of a playmaker. If Goodman can match his physical gifts with his play on the field, he could be one of the best ends in the ACC.

Opening camp: NC State

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
10:30
AM ET
As ACC teams start practicing again, Andrea Adelson and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. NC State is the first school in the ACC to hit the field again. Here’s a quick look at the Wolfpack:

School: NC State

Start date: Today

Projected finish at media days: Third in the Atlantic Division

Biggest storyline: Chasing Florida State and Clemson. The Wolfpack have beaten Florida State. They have beaten Clemson. They just haven’t been able to do it in the same season under coach Tom O’Brien. Could this year be different? Those in Raleigh are confident this could be a special season. O’Brien has said that this is the deepest, most experienced team he has had since he was hired in Raleigh. He has a veteran starting quarterback in Mike Glennon, four starters returning on the offensive line, an experienced group of running backs, and what should be one of the best secondaries in the country.

Biggest position battle: The wide receivers. O’Brien has said this is a position of concern heading into fall camp. The Pack must replace T.J. Graham (46 catches) and Jay Smith (40 catches), not to mention tight end George Bryan (33 catches). Tobais Palmer (37 catches) returns, along with Quinton Payton, Bryan Underwood and Rashard Smith. O’Brien said he is looking for more consistency from Palmer and Underwood, and Smith moved from cornerback. Two redshirt freshmen, Maurice Morgan and Hakeem Flowers, will also compete for playing time.

Who needs to step up: Linebackers. NC State must replace all three starters, including Terrell Manning, who led the ACC with 14.5 tackles for loss, and team-leading tackler Audie Cole. Senior middle linebacker Sterling Lucas is the lone veteran at the position, but he missed all of 2011 with an injury. Strongside linebacker Rodman Noel earned a starting job this spring with Ricky Dowdy at weakside linebacker. Brandon Pittman, Michael Peek and Ryan Cheek could also see playing time.

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