ACC: Owen Spencer

Hope and concern: NC State

June, 7, 2011
6/07/11
3:30
PM ET
The hope and concern series continues today with NC State:

Biggest reason for hope: Momentum

NC State turned the corner last year under coach Tom O’Brien, as the 9-win season tied for the school’s second-highest total for wins and was the most wins the program had seen since 2002. Those within the program are still riding the momentum from that success and some have said they feel an obligation to not only carry it on but improve upon it. Now, NC State is arguably the healthiest and deepest it has been since O’Brien was hired. Players are in positions they belong in -- not spots they’re needed in because of numbers. NC State finished 2010 with a bowl win over a ranked team and as a top 25 team. It’s a good springboard into 2011 – even without Russell Wilson.

Biggest reason for concern: Uncertainty at receiver

Aside from the kicking game, Brien said this spring that the receivers were the one position group that would be settled until fall camp, at the earliest. With a first-year starting quarterback in Mike Glennon, it will be of the utmost importance for the Wolfpack to find some dependable receivers to help Glennon out. NC State has to replace graduated starters Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams, who combined for 112 receptions, 1,625 yards and nine touchdowns last year. T.J. Graham is the leading returner with 25 catches, but Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton also have experience.

More in this series:

NC State spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
7:30
AM ET
2010 overall record: 9-4

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

OT R.J. Mattes, TE George Bryan, LB Audie Cole, S Brandan Bishop, S Earl Wolff, LB Terrell Manning, RB Mustafa Greene, C Camden Wentz, DT J.R. Sweezy

Key losses

QB Russell Wilson, OT Jake Vermiglio, WR Jarvis Williams, WR Owen Spencer, LB Nate Irving, PK Josh Czajkowski

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Greene* (597 yards)

Passing: Wilson (3,563 yds)

Receiving: Spencer (912 yds)

Tackles: Irving, Cole* (97)

Sacks: Irving (6.5)

Interceptions: Bishop (4)

Spring answers

1. Life goes on without Nate Irving. The Pack graduated its top playmaker on defense, but Cole adjusted well this spring to his new role in the middle and Terrell Manning shouldn’t be forgotten after his 75 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season.

2. The situation at running back has improved. At this time a year ago, NC State didn’t have one running back on the roster with starting experience and had to move Dean Haynes over from defense. Now, Greene is the returning leading rusher and a promising young talent when he’s healthy. The staff is also confident in Anthony Creecy, James Washington and Brandon Barnes, who missed all of 2010 with an injury.

3. The secondary is older and wiser. NC State returns all four starters, and four other defensive backs who got significant experience last season will help the depth. So will the return of Jarvis Byrd, who tore his ACL last season, and Rashard Smith, who also redshirted last season after a knee injury.

Fall questions

1. Is Mike Glennon as good as advertised? O’Brien has heaped praise on his new starter this offseason, comparing him to former Boston College standout Matt Ryan. Glennon has a similar build and throwing motion, and is comparable with intangibles such as his attention to detail, his work ethic and leadership, but is he really as good as Ryan? And, more importantly, can he stay healthy long enough to prove it?

2. Will special teams survive its makeover? The new punter, placekicker and snappers are all in the incoming class. It’s an underrated concern for the Wolfpack, which graduated 38 career starts with placekicker Josh Czajkowski.

3. Will the senior wide receivers rise to the occasion? With a first-year starting quarterback, receivers Jay Smith (10 catches), Steven Howard (12 catches) and T.J. Graham (25 catches) will have to step up to the level of their departed teammates (Spencer, Williams, and Darrell Davis). Aside from special teams, it was the one position group O’Brien said wouldn’t be settled until at least summer camp.

ACC NFL prospects still in limbo

May, 4, 2011
5/04/11
5:00
PM ET
As the NFL lockout still continues, the professional careers of several former ACC players remain in limbo. Any players hoping to extend their playing days as undrafted free agents must wait until the NFL's labor issues are resolved. There is significant, proven talent on this list -- names I've typed countless times for their accomplishments in the ACC -- but don't forget that the NFL is based more on potential than it is on past production. I searched all of these players' names in ESPN.com's NFL player database, and North Carolina's Kendric Burney and Clemson's DeAndre McDaniel received the highest grades (over 60, which is considered fourth-round equivalent). Most of them were graded in the 30s, which means they are considered a borderline draft prospect. Regardless of where they wind up in the future, their contributions in the past certainly won't be forgotten.

These are the players who were invited to the combine but not drafted, according to the NFL's draft tracker:

NC State hands out team awards

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
4:00
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NC State held its annual awards dinner on Tuesday evening since most of last year’s seniors were in town for Wednesday's pro day workouts.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was named the recipient of the 2010 football squad’s Governor’s Award, given to the member of the Wolfpack football team who is the most valuable player based on ability, contribution, leadership and intangibles. Wilson, who was also named the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Back and earned a Captain’s Award, did not attend the event, as he is in spring training in Arizona.

The Governor’s Award is the only honor that is voted on by the entire team. The other awards are decided by the coaching staff.

Here were some of the other awards that were presented at the dinner, according to a press release:

CAREY BREWBAKER AWARD -- Most Valuable Defensive Lineman

Natanu Mageo -- Force from his defensive tackle spot who was called a "blue-collar" player by the coaching staff.

MOST VALUABLE DEFENSIVE BACK

Earl Wolff -- Third-leading tackler on the team.

MOST VALUABLE LINEBACKER

Nate Irving -- Tied as leading tackler on team, led Pack with 20.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks

JIM RITCHER AWARD -- Most Valuable Offensive Lineman (includes tight end)

Jake Vermiglio -- Honorable mention All-ACC performer who didn’t allow a sack until the last game of the season.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Taylor Gentry -- Won the award for the second time; he led the team in special-teams tackles (28), knockdowns (17) and snaps (271).

MOST VALUABLE OFFENSIVE BACK

Russell Wilson -- Led the ACC in passing yards per game and total offense per game and tied for seventh nationally in points responsible for.

MIKE HARDY AWARD -- Player who demonstrates a winning attitude and plays above his capabilities.

Jarvis Williams -- Finished his career ranked fifth in school history in career receptions.

BO REIN AWARD -- Player who makes a vital contribution in an unsung role

George Bryan (TE) -- Earned first-team All-ACC honors for the second straight season.

BOB WARREN AWARD -- Integrity and Sportsmanship

David Akinniyi (DT) -- Quiet player who led by example and earned a starting role in his one season with the Pack

AL MICHAELS AWARD -- Player who puts team before self

Audie Cole (LB) -- Tied for the team lead in tackles with 97.

KEN McNEILL IRON WOLF AWARD – Greatest comeback from injury

Nate Irving (LB) -- Missed the 2009 season after suffering multiple injuries in a horrific car crash and went on to earn All-ACC honors.

EARLE EDWARDS AWARD -- Letterman with highest GPA

David Akinniyi (DE) -- Posted a 3.816 GPA as a business major.

GARY ROWE AWARD -- Most season receptions

Owen Spencer -- Pulled down 60 catches in 2010 to lead the team, he was a second-team All-ACC performer

CAPTAINS AWARDS

Russell Wilson, Jarvis Williams, Nate Irving -- Voted on by their teammates prior to the season.

OFFENSIVE SCOUT TEAM PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- Daniel Imhoff (QB)

DEFENSIVE SCOUT TEAM PLAYER -- Zach Powell (DB)

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
9:00
AM ET
It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
  • The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
  • The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.
CLEMSON

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
  • The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
  • Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
  • Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
  • Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.
MARYLAND

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
  • Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
  • Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.
NC STATE

Spring practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
  • A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
  • Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.
WAKE FOREST

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
  • A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
  • Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
2/04/11
9:00
AM ET
The official list for the NFL combine has been released. A total of 48 players from the ACC have been invited to audition for the NFL from February 23 – March 1. When categorized by school, it's somewhat of a reality check to see how many of the best players in the conference are moving on, and which programs will take the biggest hit. It's impossible not to wonder how good North Carolina could have been had all of the following players remained eligible. The Tar Heels will send the most players to the combine with 11.

Here are the players who will represent the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE (3)
  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Rich Lapham
  • Mark Herzlich
CLEMSON (7)
  • Da'Quan Bowers
  • Marcus Gilchrist
  • Chris Hairston
  • Jamie Harper
  • Jarvis Jenkins
  • Byron Maxwell
  • DeAndre McDaniel
FLORIDA STATE (3)
GEORGIA TECH (3)
MARYLAND (3)
MIAMI (9)
NORTH CAROLINA (11)
NC STATE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
  • Danny Aiken
  • Ras-I Dowling
VIRGINIA TECH (5)

ACSMA All-conference team announced

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
4:32
PM ET
The 2010 All-Atlantic Coast Conference football team as voted on by 61 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association was announced today. A first-team vote was worth two points and second team vote one.

FIRST TEAM

Offense

QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (77)
RB Montel Harris, Boston College (122)
RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech (108)
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (118)
WR Torrey Smith, Maryland (96)
TE George Bryan, NC State (92)
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (79)
OT Chris Hairston, Clemson (69)
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State (116)
OG Brandon Washington, Miami (50)
C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (91)
K Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech (100)
Spc. Tony Logan, Maryland (69)

Defense
DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson (120)
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (101)
DT Quinton Coples, North Carolina (101)
DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (63)
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (112)
LB Nate Irving, N.C. State (105)
LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland (78)
CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (112)
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (57)
S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (99)
S Kenny Tate, Maryland (78)
P Matt Bosher, Miami

SECOND TEAM

Offense
QB Russell Wilson, NC State (75)
RB Damien Berry, Miami (37)
RB Keith Payne, Virginia (30)
WR Conner Vernon, Duke (70)
WR Owen Spencer, NC State (41)
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson (31)
OT Orlando Franklin, Miami (65)
OT Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (39)
OG Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech (41)
OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (35)
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (35)
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (47)
K Will Snyderwine, Duke (38)
Spc. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (61)

Defense
DE Allen Bailey, Miami (51)
DE Steven Friday, Virginia Tech (42)
DT John Graves, Virginia Tech (46)
DT Joe Vellano, Maryland (33)
LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina (43)
LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (41)
LB Sean Spence, Miami (37)
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (49)
CB Brandon Harris, Miami (45)
S Davon Morgan, Virginia Tech (48)
S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami (25)
P Brian Saunders, Virginia Tech (48)

Wolfpack receivers dropping the ball

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
5:49
PM ET
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- NC State's receivers have been dropping the ball in this game. Literally. Owen Spencer and Jay Smith have both dropped passes, and the first-half interception that led to the game-tying touchdown bounced off the hands of an NC State receiver. Russell Wilson is making the throws, but he needs some help on the other end in this half.

More big plays for Pack

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
4:13
PM ET
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's only the first quarter, and big plays for the Pack have already become a trend. It appeared Maryland caught a break when a complete pass was overruled and NC State was backed up to third-and-13.

Didn't matter.

Quarterback Russell Wilson connected with Owen Spencer for an 18-yard gain and kept the scoring drive alive, giving NC State a 14-0 lead. On that drive, NC State had gains of 18, 21, 12 and 15 yards. Maryland's defense has had no answer for Wilson in this game, and hasn't gotten enough pressure on him. He's been sacked once, but has had time to make his throws. The one thing Maryland can't afford to do is give Wilson time to work. More big plays will follow.

NC State's many options

October, 13, 2010
10/13/10
3:30
PM ET
Entering this season, there was a lot of attention given to what NC State coach Tom O’Brien didn’t have -- all four starters from the 2009 defensive line or any running backs with starting experience.

But O’Brien knew what he did have – a group of talented receivers deep enough to field their own entire offensive unit. With three --seniors, three juniors and one redshirt freshman, NC State’s receiving corps has proved to be one of the deepest and most productive groups in the ACC this year.

Sixteen different players have caught passes this season and six have double-digit reception totals. In four of the six games, passes have been caught by 10 or more different players, and 10 different players have at least one touchdown catch this season. Jarvis Williams leads the way with three.

“When the defense says who do we have to stop? They say the quarterback, No. 1, and No. 2, who’s he throwing it to? Well, when he’s throwing to 10 or 11 different guys, it’s kind of tough to single out one guy, here, there, or anywhere else,” said O’Brien.

Owen Spencer leads the team with 28 receptions, followed by Williams with 22 and tight end George Bryan with 17. They’re a big reason why NC State is currently leading the ACC with 37.5 points per game. The Wolfpack will face another high-flying offense on Saturday when it travels to East Carolina, which ranks second in Conference USA with 37.6 points per game. Both are among the top 15 scoring offenses in the country.

What has been most impressive about NC State’s receivers is the frequency with which they score. Williams has scored every 5.7 times he catches the ball -- the best in school history. Spencer is scoring every 7.8 times he catches the ball and is second on the team with eight plays over 20 yards.

It’s not just receivers, though, who are helping out quarterback Russell Wilson. Freshman running back Mustafa Greene has 17 catches for 161 yards.

“It’s an advantage for us because all of our players know they better be running the routes where they’re supposed to be, and be there when they’re supposed to be there, because they’re liable to get to the ball because he’s going to throw it to them," O'Brien said. "And it makes better for practice for us because everybody is engaged and knows that if they practice they get their opportunity to get on the field, somebody is going to throw them the football and they’re going to have a chance to make a play.”

Week 6: Did you know?

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
9:00
AM ET
Thanks as always to the sports information directors throughout the league for making us (a little) smarter this week. Did you know ...
  • ACC kickers combined to make 16 of 17 field goal attempts on Saturday, a sizzling .940 percentage. To date, ACC kickers have made 62 of 76 field goal attempts (.816) that have come from 49 yards in and are 18 of 24 in field goals in the 40-49 yard range (.750). Duke’s Will Snyderwine leads all ACC kickers with 9 of 10 field goals, while Georgia Tech’s Scott Blair (7-7) is one of seven placekickers in the country who has been perfect this year with a minimum of seven attempts.
  • Boston College true freshman receiver Bobby Swigert caught seven passes for 137 yards and a touchdown last week against Notre Dame. His score was the longest offensive scoring play of the season for the Eagles, a 58-yard reception that came near the end of the first quarter. The pass was thrown by another true freshman, quarterback Chase Rettig. The play is believed to be the only one in the nation where a pair of true freshmen have combined on a scoring pass play this year.
  • Clemson has played four games so far this year and the average length of the contests has been 3:32. That ranks tied for fifth in the nation as far as the longest average length of games. The Tigers had an overtime game at Auburn that took 3:52 to play. Last week’s game against Miami had many replay reviews and the game took 3:54 to play, the longest Clemson non-overtime game on record. By comparison, Clemson’s 14 games last year took an average of 3:16 and the 2008 games took 3:15 on average.
  • Duke redshirt sophomore Sean Renfree has become the first quarterback in Duke history to throw at least one touchdown pass in each of his first five starts.
  • Florida State has not trailed (or been tied) at any point during its current three-game winning streak. The Seminoles scored on a field goal in the first quarter and never trailed against BYU, earned a shutout against Wake Forest, and scored the first touchdown of the game against Virginia
  • Georgia Tech senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt has a chance to become just the eighth player in NCAA history to rush for 3,000 career yards and pass for 3,000 career yards. To reach 3,000 rushing yards this regular season, Nesbitt will need to average 71 yards per game.
  • The Terps lead the ACC and are tied for fourth nationally by allowing opponents to score just 61 percent of the time when they get inside the 20. Out of 23 trips to the red zone, Maryland has stopped the opponent 10 times, including three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and three on downs. Maryland did its best work against Navy (9/6), stopping the Midshipmen on five of its seven trips to the red zone. The Terps’ 10 stops inside the 20-yard line are tied for first nationally.
  • With the exception of Miami’s 49-27 win in 2001, every game in the series with Florida State has been decided by eight points or less in the past decade. Miami leads the series 7-3 during that stretch. Since the 2002 season, an average of 4.1 points was the difference, with Miami’s 38-34 win last year in Tallahassee being the latest in a series full of dramatic endings. In the all-time series between the two programs, Miami owns a 20-9 edge in games decided by 10 points or less and a 12-6 advantage in games decided by five points or less.
  • Fifteen different players have caught passes this season for NC State and five have double-digit reception totals. In three of the five games, passes have been caught by 10 or more different players. Of the top five pass catchers this season, three are wide receivers, one is a halfback and one is a tight end. Nine different players have at least one touchdown catch this season. Surprisingly, the Wolfpack’s most highly-touted wideouts, Jarvis Williams and Owen Spencer, have just two touchdowns between them.
  • Virginia has passed for nine touchdowns this year, surpassing the 2009 total of eight. The Cavaliers have thrown for 1,093 yards through the first four games - the Cavaliers only threw for 717 yards through four games in 2009. A big reason behind the improvement in the passing game is the duo of Kris Byrd and senior Dontrelle Inman. The two have combined for the second-most receiving yards among any ACC receiving duo this year (158.0 yards per game).
  • Though the schools are over 600 miles apart, the two starting centers in Saturday’s Virginia Tech-Central Michigan game know each other quite well. Tech’s Beau Warren and CMU’s Colin Miller both went to Centreville (Va.) High School and played on the same offensive line for several years. They both graduated in 2006 and earned all-state honors as seniors: Miller as the left guard, while Warren earned his honors as the right tackle. Miller’s father, Mike, wrestled at Virginia Tech.
  • Against Georgia Tech, redshirt senior running back Josh Adams became the first Demon Deacon to rush for over 100 yards in game in nearly two years. Adams carried 20 times for 101 yards and one touchdown. It was the first 100-yard effort by a Deac since Kevin Harris rushed for 136 yards against Navy in the EagleBank Bowl in 2008.

Week 5: Did you know?

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
9:00
AM ET
Here’s your weekly dose of ACC fun facts, thanks to sports information directors in the league:
  • NC State wideout Jarvis Williams has averaged a touchdown every 5.9 catches for his career, the best mark in school history. Tight end George Bryan’s mark of 6.3 ranks third. In fifth place is Owen Spencer, who has scored every 7.3 times he makes a grab.
  • Georgia Tech has not lost back-to-back games in three seasons under coach Paul Johnson.
  • Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have identical turnover margins -- zero. The Jackets have gained six and lost six, while the Deacs have gained seven and lost seven.
  • Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Virginia coach Mike London have the same birthday, Oct. 9. Fisher’s FSU team will face rival Miami that day, while the Cavaliers will play at Georgia Tech. Dabo Swinney’s Clemson squad will play at Wake Forest on his 41st birthday.
  • Wake Forest has three sets of brothers on the team this year: senior linebacker Hunter Haynes and sophomore linebacker Riley Haynes from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; sophomore wide receiver Chris Givens and freshman running back Nick Knott from Wylie, Texas; and redshirt freshman defensive end Zach Thompson and true freshman quarterback Patrick Thompson from Ashburn, Va. The Thompson brothers are twins who joined the Demon Deacons a year apart.
  • Boston College saw its consecutive game scoring streak stopped at 148 games last week in a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech. BC had gone 12 years without failing to score; the last time the Eagles were shutout was on October 8, 1998 by Virginia Tech.
  • Since 2005 when the ACC began competing in divisions, Virginia Tech has been the most successful team in interdivisional play. The Hokies are 14-5 against the Atlantic Division during that time, a .737 winning percentage.
  • Clemson and Miami have played to overtime each of the past three meetings, just the second FBS series that has occurred in. The only other series that took place was the Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan series. Those two schools played overtime games every year between 2004-06. What is even more strange about the Clemson vs. Miami series is that the visiting team has won all three overtime games. That includes last year when Clemson won 40-37 in overtime in “walk-off” fashion on a Kyle Parker to Jacoby Ford 26-yard touchdown pass.
  • Maryland has been one of the top scoring teams in the league (34.5 ppg) despite posting 319.0 yards per game in total offense thanks to the big play. The Terps already have 27 plays of 20 yards or longer this year, which has resulted in 10 touchdowns. In 2009, Maryland had just 13 touchdowns off explosive plays. The Terps had four scoring plays over 50 yards against FIU last week. The Terps have 10 plays of 50 yards or longer this year (three on punt returns, three on passes, three on rushes and one on an interception return) after only eight last season.
  • This is only the second time since 1994 that an unranked Virginia Tech team will play a true road game at a ranked opponent’s stadium (using the AP poll). The only other time came in 2008 when Tech lost at No. 24 Florida State. Under head coach Frank Beamer, this has happened only 13 times and the Hokies’ only win in this scenario came in 1989 when the Hokies went to Morgantown and beat No. 9 West Virginia, 12-10.
  • Virginia’s 1995 33-28 win against then-No. 2 Florida State featured a total of 62 players (32 FSU, 30 UVA) who went on to the NFL. Of the 62 players, 45 combined actually played in the game. Surprisingly, 24 were Virginia players and 21 were from FSU. Paul London, Mike London's brother, started as a cornerback and made four tackles in that game - two assisted and two unassisted.
  • This is the latest start to the ACC schedule for Clemson since 1982 when the Tigers had their first league game on Oct. 9 at Virginia. The Miami game will be the first of eight straight ACC games on eight straight Saturdays. It is the first time since 2003 that Clemson has played eight straight ACC games, and the first time in history Clemson will play eight straight league opponents in eight consecutive weeks.
  • In the first two games of the season, three different Tar Heels played center, including sophomore Jonathan Cooper, junior Cam Holland and senior Alan Pelc. The Tar Heels have played at least eight linemen in each of the first three games. Against LSU, 10 different linemen played at least one offensive series.
  • Duke coach David Cutcliffe has an overall head coaching record of 21-9 (.700) in the month of October. Cutcliffe led Ole Miss to a 17-6 record in October and is 4-3 in the month at Duke.
  • Over the past two seasons, the Blue Devils are 3-1 in road games played in October with wins against Vanderbilt (2008), NC State (2009) and Virginia (2009). The lone loss was a 27-0 defeat at Georgia Tech in 2008.

Russell Wilson rolling against Western Carolina

September, 4, 2010
9/04/10
7:40
PM ET
Yes, it's Western Carolina, but NC State quarterback Russell Wilson is playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the country right now as NC State is off to a 31-7 lead.

Wilson has already thrown for 237 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Surprise starting running backs Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene are holding their own and the Pack's offense is cruising. T.J. Graham and Owen Spencer have already been two of the ACC's more impressive receivers today. Granted, Western Carolina is a team NC State should beat, but this is the kind of performance on both offense and defense that the program has been desperately missing.

Wilson hasn't changed. NC State can win big with him as its quarterback. It's the rest of the pieces that have been missing, and so far, they're in place.

ACC on watch lists: updated

August, 26, 2010
8/26/10
5:00
PM ET
Earlier this month I compiled a list of all of the ACC candidates who have been nominated for college football's major awards. A few more have since been released, so I figured it was time for an updated version. This one includes the Lou Groza Award, the Butkus Award, the John Mackey Award, and Doak Walker Award.

Here is the updated list:

BEDNARIK AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Allen Bailey, Miami
  • Kendric Burney, North Carolina
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • Mark Herzlich, Boston College
  • Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • Colin McCarthy, Miami
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Robert Quinn, North Carolina
  • Alex Wujciak, Maryland
BILETNIKOFF AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding wide receiver by the Tallahassee QB Club Foundation. BUTKUS AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding linebacker by the Butkus Foundation
  • Bruce Carter, North Carolina
  • Mark Herzlich, Boston College
  • Nate Irving, NC State
  • Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • Colin McCarthy, Miami
  • Adrian Moten, Maryland
  • Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
  • Sean Spence, Miami
  • Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
  • Alex Wujciak, Maryland
DOAK WALKER AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding running back by the SMU Athletic Forum
  • Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech
  • Darren Evans, Virginia Tech
  • Montel Harris, Boston College
  • Da'Rel Scott, Maryland
  • Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
LOU GROZA AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding kicker by the Palm Beach Sports Commission
  • Casey Barth, North Carolina
  • Matt Bosher, Miami
  • Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
  • Robert Randolph, Virginia
  • Will Snyderwine, Duke
JOHN MACKEY AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding tight end by the Nassau County Sports Commission
  • Dwayne Allen, Clemson
  • George Bryan, NC State
  • Brett Huffman, Duke
  • Zack Pianalto, North Carolina
MAXWELL AWARD: The Maxwell Award has been presented to the outstanding collegiate football player in America since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell. WALTER CAMP AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding player by the Walter Camp Foundation.
  • Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
  • Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Charlotte TD Club.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Allen Bailey, Miami
  • Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
  • Bruce Carter, North Carolina
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • Mark Herzlich, Boston College
  • Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
  • Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Robert Quinn, North Carolina
  • Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
  • Alex Wujciak, Maryland
DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD: Presented to the nation's best quarterback by the Davey O'Brien Foundation.
  • Jacory Harris, Miami
  • Joshua Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
  • Christian Ponder, Florida State
  • Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
  • Russell Wilson, NC State
OUTLAND TROPHY: Presented to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman by the FWAA.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech
  • Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
  • Thomas Claiborne, Boston College
  • Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech
  • Marcus Forston, Miami
  • Orlando Franklin, Miami
  • Rodney Hudson, Florida State
  • Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
  • Ryan McMahon, Florida State
  • Alan Pelc, North Carolina
JIM THORPE AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association.
  • Kendrick Burney, North Carolina
  • Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Deunta Williams, North Carolina

ACC on watch lists

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
2:00
PM ET
It's not easy keeping track of everyone who's been named to preseason watch lists, so I took some time today to make a one-stop shopping post for you on everyone in the ACC who's been recognized so far. I'll update it again, as there are more watch lists coming out this month.

Here's who is representing the ACC so far in college football's major awards watch lists (every ACC school has at least one player here):

BEDNARIK AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Allen Bailey, Miami
  • Kendric Burney, North Carolina
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • Mark Herzlich, Boston College
  • Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • Colin McCarthy, Miami
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Robert Quinn, North Carolina
  • Alex Wujciak, Maryland
BILETNIKOFF AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding wide receiver by the Tallahassee QB Club Foundation. MAXWELL AWARD: The Maxwell Award has been presented to the outstanding collegiate football player in America since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell. WALTER CAMP AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding player by the Walter Camp Foundation.
  • Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
  • Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech
BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive player by the Charlotte TD Club.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Allen Bailey, Miami
  • Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson
  • Bruce Carter, North Carolina
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • Mark Herzlich, Boston College
  • Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
  • Luke Kuechly, Boston College
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Robert Quinn, North Carolina
  • Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
  • Alex Wujciak, Maryland
DAVEY O'BRIEN AWARD: Presented to the nation's best quarterback by the Davey O'Brien Foundation.
  • Jacory Harris, Miami
  • Joshua Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
  • Christian Ponder, Florida State
  • Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
  • Russell Wilson, NC State
OUTLAND TROPHY: Presented to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman by the FWAA.
  • Marvin Austin, North Carolina
  • Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech
  • Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
  • Thomas Claiborne, Boston College
  • Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech
  • Marcus Forston, Miami
  • Orlando Franklin, Miami
  • Rodney Hudson, Florida State
  • Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
  • Ryan McMahon, Florida State
  • Alan Pelc, North Carolina
JIM THORPE AWARD: Presented to the nation's most outstanding defensive back by the Jim Thorpe Association.
  • Kendrick Burney, North Carolina
  • Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech
  • Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
  • Brandon Harris, Miami
  • DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson
  • Deunta Williams, North Carolina

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