ACC: Rashard Hall

Clemson Tigers spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
2012 record: 11-2
2012 conference record: 7-1 (Atlantic Division co-champs)
Returning starters: offense: 6; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners:

QB Tajh Boyd, WR Sammy Watkins, T Brandon Thomas, WR Charone Peake, WR Martavis Bryant, DE Vic Beasley, DE Corey Crawford, LB Stephone Anthony, S Travis Blanks, LB Spencer Shuey; K Chandler Catanzaro

Key losses:

WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Andre Ellington, TE Brandon Ford, C Dalton Freeman, WR Jaron Brown, DE Malliciah Goodman, CB Xavier Brewer, CB Rashard Hall, SS Jonathan Meeks, LB Tig Willard, P Spencer Benton

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Ellington (1,081 yards)
Passing: Boyd* (3,896 yards)
Receiving: Hopkins (1,405 yards)
Tackles: Willard (95)
Sacks: Beasley* (8)
Interceptions: Hall (4)

Spring answers

1. Freshman phenom at tight end: Jordan Leggett enrolled in January, and not a moment too soon. Sam Cooper tore his ACL, an injury that opened the door for Leggett, who had a fantastic spring. He had seven catches for 97 yards and a touchdown in the spring game, and he was impressive in the last two scrimmages. He’s not listed as the starter yet, but he is good enough to get there by the opener against Georgia.

2. Beasley’s a beast. He led the team with eight sacks last year, but really showed consistency in the spring. Twice had interceptions of Boyd where he made athletic plays, and he had 10 sacks in the three scrimmages. Clemson is in need of a big-play guy on defense, and Beasley could be it.

3. Solid behind Boyd. Clemson has found a No. 2 quarterback in Cole Stoudt, who threw for 304 yards in the first half of the Tigers’ spring game. He hardly played in the second half. The depth of the position took a hit when Chad Kelly was injured, but now the backup quarterback question has an answer.

Fall questions

1. Unsettled secondary. The cornerback position is a particular area of concern, but with eight true freshmen joining the team this August, the entire group could look different this summer. It wouldn’t be surprising to see at least four of those rookies earn playing time this fall, especially prized recruit Mackensie Alexander, who was the program’s highest-rated signee since former defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.

2. Center of attention: The Tigers will miss Dalton Freeman, who started 49 straight games at center. Ryan Norton is the new starter, but there’s no replacing the experience Freeman had with making all of the blocking calls and the chemistry he developed with Boyd.

3. Spotlight on Sammy: Watkins is moving to Hopkins’ old position, and all eyes will be watching to see if he looks like the same player who caught the nation’s attention as a true freshman in 2011. So far, so good. Watkins had 156 receiving yards in the spring game and looked like old Sammy.

ACC pro days watch

March, 13, 2013
This month is filled with pro days across the ACC, and we're here to keep you updated with how the auditions have been going for those schools that provide releases. So far, Pittsburgh, Miami, Clemson and Syracuse have all held their pro days. Here's a look at some of their highlights:

  • Twelve Miami seniors auditioned for 30 NFL scouts.
  • S Vaughn Telemaque recorded the highest vertical jump at 36 inches.
  • DL Darius Smith was the lone participant to break the 30-rep plateau, recording 33 reps of 225 pounds.
  • Both RB Mike James and DB Brandon McGee took their official NFL combine 40 times. WR Kendal Thompkins had the best 40 time at pro day with 4.37.
  • LB Ramon Buchanan had the best broad jump at 10 feet, 8 inches.
  • Twelve seniors worked out in front of scouts from 17 NFL teams, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • The highlight, according to the paper, was Ray Graham's improvement in the 40. Graham ran a disappointing time of 4.8 seconds at the NFL combine, but improved to a range of 4.58 to 4.62.
  • Fifteen former players participated in pro day in front of 29 NFL scouts.
  • "Deon Goggins today really lit it up," said SU assistant athletics director for athletic performance Will Hicks in the release. "I mean, he verticaled 37.5 [inches]. He ran in the high 4.7s, so he put himself on the map today. But he also did that in the all-star game [2013 NFLPA Collegiate Game], he played in. He had a caused fumble, a sack, a tackle for loss, but what he did today was show his speed."

Here is the remaining pro day schedule for the rest of the ACC:

  • Maryland
  • Georgia Tech
March 18
  • Wake Forest
March 19
  • Florida State
  • Virginia
March 20
  • NC State
  • Virginia Tech
  • Boston College
March 25
  • Duke
March 26
  • North Carolina

ACC reps in East-West Shrine Game

January, 10, 2013
The 88th East-West Shrine Game will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The East roster is loaded with ACC players from a wide range of schools. Wake Forest was the only school not represented:


ACC's 2012 All-Bowl team

January, 10, 2013
The ACC went 4-2 this bowl season, its first winning record since 2005. There were plenty of top performers to highlight, but these are the players who were most deserving of the ACC’s 2012 All-Bowl team:

Offense first team

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Tajh Boyd had a record-setting game in Clemson's victory against LSU.
QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson: He had 368 yards of total offense against LSU on 79 total offensive plays. He set a Clemson record for plays in a game by a quarterback.

RB -- Lonnie Pryor, Florida State: He had a career-long 60 yard touchdown in the first half of the Orange Bowl, which was the second-longest touchdown run in FSU bowl history. In his final game as a Seminole, he also had a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown in the game.

RB -- David Sims, Georgia Tech: He rushed for a game-high and career-best 99 yards on 17 carries, and caught a touchdown pass in the 21-7 win against USC.

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: He finished the game with 13 receptions for 191 yards and finished the season with 82 receptions for 1405 yards. Hopkins tied his own Clemson record for receptions in a game with 13. He also had 13 in the opener against Auburn.

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke: He caught 10 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. He helped Duke to 34 points against a Bearcats defense that entered the game ranked 12th nationally, allowing just 17.2 points per game.

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson: His nine receptions against LSU tied the overall Clemson single-game record for receptions by a tight end. He finished with 69 receiving yards, including one reception for 20 yards.

T -- Cameron Erving, Florida State: It was the sixth game this season with over 500 yards of total offense for the Seminoles. All three touchdown runs came between center and left tackle, and quarterback EJ Manuel had all day to throw.

T -- Perry Simmons, Duke: He led an offensive line performance that yielded zero sacks and allowed quarterback Sean Renfree to establish Belk Bowl records for pass completions (37), pass attempts (49) and passing yardage (358). Simmons also aided a running game that gained 200 net yards on 39 attempts as running back Josh Snead picked up a career-high 107 yards on just 17 attempts.

G -- Josue Matias, Florida State: The Noles racked up 243 rushing yards, 23 first downs and 534 yards of total offense. He was part of an offensive line that didn’t allow Manuel to be sacked once by Northern Illinois. Two of Pryor’s runs came between Erving and Matias.

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech: He helped pave the way for 294 rushing yards in the win against USC, and 369 total yards. He made his 39th career start, the second-most on the team.

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson: The Tigers had 100 plays and 32 first downs, and his blocking was a major factor.

Defense first team

DE -- Malliciah Goodman, Clemson: He set a bowl record with three sacks as Clemson held LSU to 219 yards of total offense.

DE -- Bjoern Werner, Florida State: In his last game with the Noles, the dominating end knocked down his eighth pass of the season, which is the second-most in the FBS by a defensive lineman. He finished with two tackles.

DT -- Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech: He had four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack. The sack was on Rutgers' first play of overtime, forcing them into long yardage which led to a long (and missed) field goal.

DT -- Grady Jarrett, Clemson: He had four tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one was a sack. He was a big reason Clemson held LSU to just 99 yards rushing.

LB -- Christian Jones, Florida State: Jones tied for the team lead with 10 tackles in the 31-10 Discover Orange Bowl win against Northern Illinois.

LB -- Vince Williams, Florida State: He tied Jones for the team lead with 10 tackles, and finished with one tackle for loss and a sack.

LB -- Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech: He led the Hokies with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and had a pass breakup. Virginia Tech’s defense held Rutgers to 196 yards and three offensive points, none in the last three quarters.

CB -- Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech: Even though his statistics were modest -- three tackles, two pass breakups and an interception returned for 21 yards -- Sweeting was voted the game’s MVP. He fared well in a tough assignment, matching up with Biletnikoff Trophy winner Marqise Lee.

CB -- Antone Exum, Virginia Tech: The Russell Athletic Bowl’s MVP led a stifling pass defense that allowed just 129 yards. He made the play of the game with an interception of Gary Nova to set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech’s defense allowed just 196 yards total, and just 17 completions from Nova on 40 attempts.

S -- Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: He finished third on the team with six tackles, including one tackle for loss. The Northern Illinois receivers were no match for the FSU secondary and were rendered ineffective.

S -- Rashard Hall, Clemson: He led the team with nine tackles, including eight solo, in the win against LSU.


PK -- Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson: He kicked the 37-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give Clemson and the ACC a monumental 25-24 win against LSU. It was the fourth walk-off field goal in Clemson history, and Catanzaro has two of the four.

P -- A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech: He tied the record under coach Frank Beamer for punts in a game with 11. He finished with an average of 42.2 with four punts inside the 20-yard line, and a long of 57.

SP -- Tobais Palmer, NC State: He returned a second-quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Vandy, and became the first Pack player since Greg Golden in 2001 to return a kickoff for a score in a bowl game. He finished with 173 kickoff return yards, setting a new NC State season record with 1,130 KOR yards. Palmer and T.J. Graham (1,028 in 2008) are the only two Wolfpack players to go over 1,000 yards in kickoff returns in a single season. Palmer also went over 100 yards receiving for the third time in 2012, as he finished with eight catches for 111 yards.
The jokes about the Clemson defense began during the Orange Bowl and have kept on rolling.

The most stale line by far: "Wait. I think West Virginia just scored again."

The Tigers have heard them all after a 70-33 loss to the Mountaineers on the biggest stage of the season. But there is nobody laughing in Clemson.

With a new defensive coordinator in Brent Venables and a new season ahead, there would be no better way to make the jokes stop than with an impressive performance against Auburn in the opener Saturday. This group simply cannot afford anything less.

[+] EnlargeRashard Hall
Douglas Jones/US PresswireRashard Hall (31) and the Clemson defense are looking to move on from the Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia.
"I'm ready for a new beginning," safety Rashard Hall said.

He is not the only one. Questions about this defense have trailed Clemson since the final seconds ticked away in Miami, becoming a dominant storyline going into this season. Coach Dabo Swinney promptly fired Kevin Steele after the loss and brought in Venables, whose impeccable credentials at Oklahoma alone give the Tigers an upgrade.

The reviews so far have been extremely flattering.

"He brings a lot of excitement, a lot of energy. ... Brent Venables is one of the best coaches I've ever had," Hall said. "Just the way he leads, his enthusiasm. He is real purposeful and a get-after-it kind of guy. We have all really responded to that."

Linebacker Corico Wright told local reporters: "We love what Coach Venables has brought to the table for us, what he's asked us to do. He has a lot of energy. He's a teacher, he makes sure we know what we're doing. From a defense standpoint, you see guys attacking the football whether it's in the air or on the ground, that's going to be the biggest difference for us this year."

The first order of business for Venables is rebuilding up front. With Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson gone, Malliciah Goodman is the lone returning starter on the defensive line and must take the next step in his development to carry this team. He is just about the only certainty along the line.

Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Corey Crawford are all sophomores and expected to start, with Josh Watson and Vic Beasley also expected to be big contributors. There are going to be changes at linebacker, as well, with the emergence of Quandon Christian and true freshman Travis Blanks. Wright is playing outside behind Tig Willard, after Stephone Anthony emerged in the middle last year.

Then, in the secondary, Hall, Xavier Brewer and Jonathan Meeks will all play at safety, and Darius Robinson takes over for Coty Sensabaugh at cornerback. Swinney was asked this week for his thoughts on who would emerge as a defensive playmaker this year, and he essentially said that was a large unknown.

The answers will start to come Saturday.

"There’ll be some good, there’ll be some bad," Venables told reporters in Clemson. "That’s what this season is about. The best teams I’ve had have gotten better over the course of the year. You find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Game day is part of that process. Putting guys in the right spots, hopefully we’ve been able to identify that but maybe after the first game it isn’t what you thought it was. Hopefully at the end of the day there’ll be more passing grades than not. That means you played well. You want to see your guys play with great discipline, toughness and effort. You have that, you have a strong foundation."

ACC's most experienced starters

June, 25, 2012
Had former Boston College running back Montel Harris not been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, the Eagles would have had the two most experienced returning starters in the ACC. Even without Harris, though, BC still has the league's leading veteran in tight end Chris Pantale, who has the most career starts of any ACC returnee this fall at any positions. Pantale enters 2012 with 38 career starts. NC State and North Carolina also have some experience returning.

Here's a look at the ACC's leading returning veterans, according to the ACC:

1. Chris Pantale, Boston College, Sr., TE: 38 starts

2. Dalton Freeman, Clemson, Sr., C: 36

2. Vaughn Telemaque, Miami, Sr., SS: 36

4. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina, Sr., G: 35

5. Brandan Bishop, NC State, Sr., SS: 33

6. Conner Vernon, Duke, Sr., WR: 32

7. Rashard Hall, Clemson, Sr., FS: 31

7. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina, Sr., LB: 31

9. Erik Highsmith, North Carolina, Sr., WR: 30

9. R.J. Mattes, NC State, Sr., T: 30

9. Earl Wolff, NC State, Sr. SS: 30

ACC's INT artists

June, 20, 2012
The ACC has an impressive, under-the-radar streak going on that could be difficult to continue this fall. Last year, NC State cornerback David Amerson led the nation with 13 interceptions, the highest total for an FBS player since 1968. Thanks to Amerson, an ACC player has now won or shared the national lead in total pass interceptions in four of the last five seasons:

NCAA leaders in pass interceptions

2011: David Amerson, NC State (13, 1.00/gm)

2010: Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (9, 0.69/gm)

2008: Trimane Goddard, UNC (7, 0.54); Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (7, 0.54); Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (7, 0.54) (tied in total interceptions with 4 others)

2007: Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest (8, 0.62) (tied with Cincinnati's DeAngelo Smith and Troy's Elbert Mack in total interceptions)

Can the ACC keep it up? Here's a look at the returning leaders who had at least four interceptions last year:
Don't forget about Merrill Noel at Wake Forest, who led the league with 21 passes defended. Here's a look at the ACC's spring all-star checklist for 2012 defensive backs:


Clemson spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
2011 overall record: 10-4
2011 conference record: 6-2 (1st)
Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Tajh Boyd, WR Sammy Watkins, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Andre Ellington, C Dalton Freeman, DE Malliciah Goodman, LB Corico Hawkins, LB Jonathan Willard, FS Rashard Hall

Key losses

T Phillip Price, G Antoine McClain, T Landon Walker, NG Brandon Thompson, DT Rennie Moore, DE Andre Branch, TE Dwayne Allen

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Andre Ellington* (1,178 yards)
Passing: Tajh Boyd* (3,828 yards)
Receiving: Sammy Watkins* (1,219 yards)
Tackles: Rashard Hall* (89)
Sacks: Andre Branch (10.5)
Interceptions: Jonathan Meeks* (3)

Spring answers

1. Boyd more consistent: Quarterback Tajh Boyd looked more comfortable and had a better handle of offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ wide-open spread offense in his second season in the system. The Tigers were red-hot out of the gates in 2011 but struggled with consistency and turnovers in the second half of the season. Clemson had only eight turnovers while starting the season with an 8-0 record, but had 16 in its 2-4 finish.

2. Venables takes over defense: New defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who was hired from Oklahoma to replace fired defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, installed a 4-3 defense with simpler terminology. The Clemson defense was shredded in a 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. Venables opened up every starting job on defense this spring.

3. Two is better than one: Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins was the country’s top freshman last season, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards with 12 touchdowns. But junior DeAndre Hopkins showed this spring he might be just as good. Hopkins caught 72 passes for 978 yards with five touchdowns in 2011. With tight end Dwayne Allen moving on to the NFL, the Tigers need another big-play weapon.

Fall questions

1. Sammy Watkins: Watkins, an All-American receiver during his freshman season in 2011, was arrested last week on misdemeanor drug charges. Coach Dabo Swinney hasn’t yet announced what punishment, if any, Watkins will face. If Watkins misses any game action, his absence might really hurt the Tigers in their season opener against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

2. Offensive line overhaul: After losing three starting offensive linemen and five seniors who played in the line rotation in 2011, the Tigers had to rebuild the unit this spring. Morris feels good about his starting five after moving nose tackle Tyler Shatley to right guard. Morris said Shatley brings some toughness to the offensive line. The rest of the line looks like this going into preseason camp: left tackle Brandon Thomas, left guard Kalon Davis, center Dalton Freeman and right tackle Gifford Timothy. It has to hold up for the offense to be effective.

3. Defensive line: The Tigers lost a trio of standout defensive linemen in tackles Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore and end Andre Branch. Clemson brings back all of its starting linebackers and most of its secondary, but Venables will have to rebuild his defensive front with young players.
I know, I know, Clemson overload today, but coach Dabo Swinney had a teleconference this morning to preview spring practices, which begin on Wednesday in Death Valley. Here are a few quick highlights from the call:

  • Swinney said the main point of emphasis this spring will be the offensive and defensive lines, where the Tigers have to replace a total of six starters. The goal is to find a two-deep up front. He said offensive lineman Brandon Thomas has been like an MVP this offseason and has embraced a leadership role. “He has been great this offseason,” Swinney said. “He has really stepped up in a role he wasn’t necessarily in last year, and we need that.” Thomas can play tackle or guard effectively, and gives the Tigers some options up front. Swinney said Tyler Shatley, a former defensive tackle, looks “totally different” on the offensive side of the ball. “He goes from being an OK athlete to a really, really good athlete.” Shatley will start off at right guard.
  • The only two injured players out this spring are linebacker Tony Steward and safety Rashard Hall. Steward, who tore his ACL in October, was denied a medical redshirt, Swinney said. “That’s the rule and that’s the way it is,” Swinney said. Steward will be a true sophomore.
  • The punter situation is a question going into spring. Spencer Benton will go in as the starter. Swinney said the staff will experiment with a few things on special teams this spring.
  • Clemson’s staff took a trip to Nevada this offseason to study the pistol offense, but Swinney said the Tigers were in the pistol some last spring and fall. The staff just wanted to learn a little more about it. As for how much of it will be incorporated this year, Swinney said he’s not going to give out a blueprint. “We’re going to do what we did last year, hopefully a little bit better.”
  • Swinney said running back Mike Bellamy is “hanging in there” and will practice with the team while trying to improve himself on and off the field. Swinney said Bellamy has gained some weight and gotten stronger. The goal for this summer is about 180 pounds, well over the 160 he came in at.

Clemson's Hall to miss spring practices

January, 27, 2012
Clemson safety Rashard Hall, the Tigers' leading tackler, had knee surgery earlier this week and will not participate in spring practice, according to an announcement from the school.

Hall injured his knee in the 2011 season opener against Troy. He only missed the Wofford game, the second game of the year, and played knowing he would have to have surgery after the season.

Last year, Hall had 89 total tackles to lead the Clemson team in that category, four more than defensive end Andre Branch. Hall had three tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions. He had 58 first hits, third on the team in that category.

Hall played 799 plays on defense last year and is a veteran of 40 games in the previous three years, 31 as a starter. He had a season-high 10 tackles against Wake Forest and South Carolina last year. He had at least eight tackles in each of the last five games in 2011.

Hall, who will be a senior next year in terms of eligibility, already has his undergraduate degree and will play in 2012 as a graduate student. He enters his final year with 217 career tackles and 10 interceptions. He has more interceptions and has forced more turnovers (13) than any active player on the 2012 team.
With national signing day quickly approaching, we’re going to take a look at the recruiting needs of each school in the ACC, starting with the Atlantic Division. These needs are based on current rosters and anticipated departures in the near future. Here’s a look at who has what holes to fill in the 2012 class:


Linemen: The depth here continues to be a priority on both sides. The decision of defensive end Max Holloway to declare early for the NFL draft was an unexpected loss, and tackle Dillon Quinn will be a senior. Offensively, the Eagles will have to replace two veterans and leaders in center Mark Spinney and guard Nate Richman.

Linebackers: All-American Luke Kuechly’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft was expected, but the staff is looking for about two or three more linebackers in this class.

Receivers: This was a young group to begin with, as Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert were both true sophomores, but the staff could use one or two more in this class.


Linemen: The Tigers will lose three starters on the defensive line and three more on the offensive line from the 2011 ACC championship team. Center Dalton Freeman is a returning starter, but he will be a senior. Six players on the final two-deep depth chart on the offensive line were either seniors or graduate students in 2011, and four on the defensive line two-deep must be replaced.

Running back: Andre Ellington is entering his senior year, and while Mike Bellamy is back in school and in the good graces of coach Dabo Swinney, the future of the position is uncertain. Rod McDowell played well in the bowl game, and D.J. Howard has been a backup.

Defensive backs: The Tigers could start three seniors in the secondary in 2012: Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks.

Kickers: The Tigers will lose punter Dawson Zimmerman, opening up an opportunity for a true freshman to play immediately.


Pick and choose: The Noles have built up enough depth that they can now be selective. Instead of building a class heavy on offensive linemen, Florida State can now pick and choose the best at each position. The Noles need at least one running back, one or two quarterbacks, a few offensive tackles, a linebacker to help replace Nigel Bradham and a safety or two.

Kickers: The Noles have big shoes to fill with the graduation of punter Shawn Powell, and kicker Dustin Hopkins is entering his final season.


Running back: This is a position where a true freshman could see some playing time this year. Justus Pickett returns, along with Brandon Ross, who redshirted last year.

Quarterback: The Terps ended the 2011 season with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown. Both will be juniors and nobody is behind them.

Cornerback. Maryland has to replace Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism at cornerback, leaving Dexter McDougle the only one with any significant playing time.


Defensive line: The staff already has about six linemen committed and ends were a particular focus. Half of the linemen in the two-deep depth chart for the Belk Bowl were either juniors or seniors.

Secondary: This should be a strength for NC State in 2012, but the staff needs to prepare for the future here. Cornerback C.J. Wilson will be a senior, along with safeties Earl Wolff and Brandan Bishop.

Quarterback: Mike Glennon is already listed as a graduate student, and his backup, Tyler Brosius, redshirted this past season. The position is thin and the future uncertain behind Glennon.


Offensive line: The Deacs will lose four starters up front, but coach Jim Grobe has only played one true freshman there in 11 years. He has several redshirt freshmen and sophomores who are expected to fill in, but the staff wants to continue to build the depth at the position.

Tight end: Wake Forest will graduate its top two tight ends and will turn to two redshirt sophomores in Neil Basford and Johnny Garcia who have yet to catch a pass. It’s possible this could be a spot where an exceptional freshman could see playing time.

Defensive backs: The Deacs have to replace starting free safety Josh Bush and starting strong safety Cyhl Quarles. Cornerback Kenny Okoro will be a redshirt senior.

Video: Clemson's Rashard Hall

January, 5, 2012

Heather Dinich talks with Clemson safety Rashard Hall following the Tigers' 70-33 loss to Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 20, 2011
"Well, I'm gonna park the cars and get check the luggage, and well, I'll be outside for the season." -- CWG
There is one key statistic that helps explain Virginia Tech’s recent surge:

Since Virginia Tech lost to Clemson 23-3 on Oct. 1, quarterback Logan Thomas has accounted for 23 touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions.

It’s no coincidence that the Hokies haven’t lost in that stretch.

Logan Thomas
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)Since the ugly October loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has thrown just two interceptions while racking up 23 touchdowns.
While the entire team has improved since that game, Virginia Tech’s ascension to No. 5 in the latest BCS standings has mirrored the maturation of Thomas. It’s not that Thomas was bad – the Hokies have only lost one game all season – but he made the mistakes early expected of a first-year starter, and he has grown into one of the best quarterbacks in the conference heading into Saturday’s Dr Pepper ACC championship game against Clemson. The Hokies have been a different and better team since the last time they faced Clemson, and it all starts with Thomas.

“I've seen a lot of progress,” Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale said. “You have a guy who has all the tools in the world and all the athletic ability along with the right mental approach to the game. So as you would expect, he has a little bit more comfort. He gains a little bit more experience each and every time, and you see him become more comfortable as the games go on. And I think he's just matured quickly into a very good quarterback.”

There was plenty of blame to go around in Virginia Tech’s home loss to Clemson, but Thomas took the brunt of the criticism from many outside the program. He completed 15 of 27 passes that day for 125 yards and was sacked four times. He also threw an interception and the Hokies were held without a touchdown in Lane Stadium for the first time since 1995. It was the second-fewest points in a home game since Frank Beamer took over the program in 1987.

Following that loss, Thomas had a little heart-to-heart with quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain.

“Coach O'Cain just called me into his office afterwards or on Monday after the game was just like, ‘Hey, keep your head up. You're still our quarterback. We have no doubts in you. You're going to be a great one.’

“And it was definitely good to hear that from my coach. But I think it was better that all the guys on the team had my back as well. And nobody was down on me. Everybody was picking me up, saying: Hey, we got it. We just gotta take it one game at a time. And the next week I came out and probably had one of the best games I've had or will have. So I think it was just a confidence boost just knowing that everybody had my back.”

The following week, Thomas had a jaw-dropping performance in a thrilling 38-35 victory over Miami. He ran 19 yards for the game-winning touchdown on fourth-and-1 with 56 seconds to play, and completed 23 of 25 passes for 310 yards, three touchdown passes and two rushing — more touchdowns than he had incompletions. His only two blemishes were a short pass that David Wilson dropped, and a ball that he threw away after picking up a botched snap.

Clemson is wary of Thomas’ improvement.

“He was a young player coming to our first game,” said Clemson safety Rashard Hall. “Looks like he's just been improving over games as you would expect players to do, especially at the quarterback position. He played a good game against us and watching him throughout the season and on film last night, he seems to be doing a great job as their quarterback.”

Beamer has no doubts.

“He's a guy that's very smart,” Beamer said. “He's always in control on the football field, and I think as he's gained experience, he knows where he wants to go with the ball. He's more accurate … and it all just comes with experience.”

The biggest experience of his rookie season, though, has yet to come.

ACC injury reports

September, 16, 2011
Here are your weekly injury reports for the schools that have released them:



Joe Gore, DE, Knee
David Smith, OG, shoulder

Will Play

Rashard Hall, FS, knee

S Jordon Byas (foot) – Probable
K Will Snyderwine (foot) – Questionable
QB Brandon Connette (upper body) – OUT
C Brian Moore (arm) – OUT
RB Desmond Scott (leg) – OUT
RB Josh Snead (foot) – OUT

  • Senior wide receiver Bert Reed practiced with the team Thursday for the first time since suffering an ankle sprain against Charleston Southern. Coach Jimbo Fisher said he expects the Seminoles' most experienced wideout to be ready for Saturday with two more days of rest.
  • Junior wide receiver Willie Haulstead will not play. Haulstead, who suffered a concussion in FSU’s final preseason scrimmage, has not practiced all week, nor played in either of the first two games.
  • The only other player out for Saturday’s contest is offensive guard Henry Orelus (concussion). Safety Nick Moody (quad contusion) and Reed are listed as questionable on the report filed with the ACC.

Jabari Price, DB Finger
Devon Ramsay, RB Knee

Joshua Adams, WR Illness

TJ Leifheit, OT Ankle
Terry Shankle, CB Knee

PJ Clyburn, LB Foot
Norkeithus Otis, LB Concussion


Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
Henry Coley (lower extremity)
Tim Cwalina (lower extremity)
Stephen Lawe (lower extremity)
Darius Lee (upper extremity)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)

Colter Phillips (lower extremity)

Aaron Taliaferro (upper extremity)

Corey Mosley (lower extremity)
Kevin Parks (lower extremity)
LaRoy Reynolds (lower extremity)


Out for Season
Kwamaine Battle (ACL)

David Wang (foot)

Eric Martin (shoulder)