ACC: Ryan Day

ACC morning links

February, 16, 2015
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A pair of ACC staffs underwent a reshuffling this weekend, as Boston College and Virginia divvied up duties with spring practices approaching.

BC promoted Todd Fitch to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and hired Brian White to replace Fitch as its receivers coach. White spent the last six years at Florida, most recently coaching running backs.

UVa, meanwhile, announced that associate head coach for defense/defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will coach safeties, while Mike Archer will move from safeties to linebackers and be promoted to associate head coach. Volunteer assistant Brian Wetzel was named a graduate assistant as well.

“In making my evaluations of the program since the end of last season and discussing this with the coaching staff, we all felt these moves would benefit our defense, particularly with the makeup of the returning players,” Cavaliers coach Mike London said in a release. “It also benefits our program by placing Jon and Mike with position groups they have spent the majority of their careers coaching.”

The Hoos had previously hired Chris Beatty (running backs) and Dave Borbely (offensive line). Larry Lewis moved from running backs to tight ends and will continue coordinating special teams.

At BC, Fitch succeeds Ryan Day, who left for the Philadelphia Eagles. White, a Massachusetts native, had coached with Steve Addazio and Justin Frye for two years with the Gators.

"I am very excited to promote Todd as our quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator," Addazio said in a release. "Trust and continuity are two very important factors that went into my decision. It is my belief that our program needs to continue to grow and develop within the same system, continue to improve the areas of strength and to attack the areas that need improvement. I have always had great involvement in the offense and will continue to do so. Therefore, it is extremely important for me to be on the same page as the rest of the offensive coaches. With Todd's leadership and tremendous experience as an offensive coordinator in three different coaching stops, I am confident that he will help us continue to develop and bring us to new heights."

Here are the rest of your Monday links:
The talent across the ACC was plainly evident this past season, so it comes as no surprise that multiple players have made a major impression this week during Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama.

Among those drawing the most praise: Duke teammates Jamison Crowder and Laken Tomlinson, Pitt offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings, Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony and all four Miami players represented: tight end Clive Walford, receiver Phillip Dorsett, linebacker Denzel Perryman and cornerback Ladarius Gunter. Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted out practice award winners for the week Friday morning. Tomlinson, Anthony and Dorsett were honored.

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay wrote this week that Dorsett's stock is on the rise, and he helped himself more than any other prospect during the week. His track speed has wowed scouts across the board. As McShay writes:
What stands out with Dorsett is that he has under-control speed. Some guys are burners in a straight line but can't gear down or get in and out of breaks under control enough to catch the ball. That isn't the case with Dorsett, who possesses every quality you want in a deep speed threat.

During the East-West Shrine game last week, former Miami defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo also turned heads. In all, five Miami players have made headlines in the last week for their play, leaving many once again to wonder how the Canes went 6-7 with so much talent. Add in running back Duke Johnson and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers, and the potential exists for at least seven players off this team to get drafted.

Dorsett told ESPN.com Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker, “A lot of things didn’t go our way last year. I can say that,” Dorsett said. “A lot of things went the wrong way. We just got to get guys to really buy in. It’s not on the coaches, it’s on the players. Coaches coach and players got to go out there and play. That’s all I can really say about it.”

Earlier in the week, NFL Network expert Mike Mayock said Tomlinson and Crowder were the players of the day. The Chicago Sun-Times had a good profile detailing the friendship between Tomlinson and high school teammate Louis Trinca-Pasat, both at the Senior Bowl.

Two more who also have had a good week: Al.com notes Lorenzo Mauldin of Louisville made an impression, and Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has made some plays despite his size being scrutinized.

Charles Davis of NFL Network said of Stephone Anthony, "He's a big-time player. Not many people around the country know enough about him."

Elsewhere around the ACC:
  • Boston College offensive coordinator Ryan Day has been hired as the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterbacks coach.
  • Florida State has reportedly hired former Florida assistant Brad Lawing to replace departed defensive line coach Sal Sunseri, who is off to the Raiders.
  • Louisville will host six players on official visits this weekend.
  • Two former North Carolina student-athletes, including football player Devon Ramsey, have sued the university and NCAA over the long-running academic fraud scandal that involved the athletic department.
  • NC State coach Dave Doeren discusses the progress his program has made since he arrived.
  • Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi picked up his third commitment in two days.
  • Virginia Tech unveiled its plans to cover cost of attendance with the Pylons of Promise.

Tyler Murphy maximizes BC opportunity

November, 11, 2014
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Tyler Murphy is seeking a master's degree in administrative studies at Boston College. He wants to be a coach or an athletic director one day. The quarterback's role this past year with the Eagles has been, in some ways, on-the-job training.

Since enrolling in classes at BC this past January, Murphy has proven to be a quick study, as adept at winning over a group as he is at running past defenders. The Florida transfer has the upstart Eagles bowl-bound for a second straight season under coach Steve Addazio.

[+] EnlargeTyler Murphy
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesTyler Murphy has made the most of his opportunity as the Eagles' QB, including rushing and throwing for more than 1,000 yards each in just 10 games.
Two weeks ago, Murphy broke Doug Flutie's program record for career rushing yards by a quarterback (939), needing all of nine games. Against Louisville on Saturday, he became the ACC's first 1,000-yard rusher at quarterback in five years, since Georgia Tech's Josh Nesbitt rushed for 1,037 yards for the 2009 league champs. A career-worst four-pick night in the loss took some of the luster off the milestone, but as BC enters its final bye week with two regular-season games remaining, it has become increasingly clear that no program landed a bigger coup on the transfer wire this offseason.

"It's been everything I expected and more," Murphy said of BC. "It's a decision I'm very happy with. I'm having a blast, and it's just fun to just go out with these guys that just care, that really just want to not let the team down.

"It's fun, but it also stinks because it goes so fast."

Murphy has always thought of himself as a people's person. He has little desire to sit behind a desk for a living. Recruited to Florida by Addazio, then the Gators' offensive coordinator, Murphy found he had an affinity for the coaching profession during his four years in Gainesville. He loved football, he loved breaking down schemes with others and he loved to game plan.

His short time in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, has stoked that passion even further, and he regularly chats about the nuances of the job with Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day, who have told him they will write him recommendations whenever he starts job hunting.

"Certainly if he wants to become a coach, he would have a great opportunity with us because I just like people that have that kind of mindset, that kind of attitude, love of the game," Addazio said, later adding, "Probably having been around so many coordinators, in a different kind of a way, has probably helped him how to learn offenses and adjust. Might not be easy to play in that situation, but certainly can help you in terms of your exposure. I think his age, his maturity, his intelligence really helps him in his preparation."

Murphy has played his part in commanding a locker room, looking and acting nothing like the one-year rental so many graduate transfers often are.

Upon his arrival 11 months ago, the redshirt senior baked cookies for his offensive linemen. He helped organize throwing sessions with receivers. He opened up more than he ever had, studied film more than he ever had, all in the hope of gaining the trust of a group he would have to lead, one that had already spent years together without him.

"As soon as he came here, he hit the ground running," center and captain Andy Gallik said.

"He really did it pretty quickly," athletic director Brad Bates said. "It's really symbolic of the depth of his character, to be able to come in here and be able to do that, (at) the key position on the offense, doing it in a very quick period of time. I think it's also a testament to his respect of Steve Addazio."

Bates was floored by Murphy's attitude toward the opportunity, saying that most players in his situation do the bare minimum academically as they ready for one last playing shot at the college level. Murphy, who earned a telecommunications degree from Florida, said he is currently taking three classes and will complete his degree requirements by year's end, before coming back for commencement in May. (BC has only one graduation ceremony each year.)

In the meantime, Murphy is hoping to make the most of his limited time left at BC. A date at defending national champion Florida State awaits next week, followed by senior day against rival Syracuse, before the Eagles' bowl. He has tallied four 100-yard rushing games so far, which are four more than any BC signal-caller before him. His 1,006 rushing yards are far and away the most nationally by a quarterback so far this season, and he is 56 yards away from breaking the ACC record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, set by Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler in 2001.

It has all flown by so quickly, yes, but Murphy has made a habit of doing more with less, and he is not planning on slowing down just yet.

"I want to be around football, but just being at BC has really allowed me to understand what it's like to build a good community and just how to build a culture as a program and do things the right way," Murphy said. "That's something I'm really observing and just learning from Coach Addazio and Brad Bates. They're both outstanding people. They've done a great job with the athletic programs here. Hopefully I can be in their shoes one day and be able to help a program move forward like they are."
Virginia Tech quarterback Mark Leal looked around his position meeting room this winter and realized just how empty it was. True freshman Andrew Ford, who enrolled early, and redshirt freshman Brenden Motley were his only company.

None of them has ever started a game.

“This is probably the most slim it’s been since I’ve been here,” said Leal, a fifth-year senior. “We’ve always had at least five or six guys, but right now it’s only three.”

[+] EnlargeJacoby Brissett, Garrett Leatham
Lance King/Getty ImagesJacoby Brissett (12) is one of several transfers who could move into starting roles in the ACC in 2014.
Sounds like the entire ACC, where six schools have absolutely zero quarterbacks returning with any starting experience, and four schools brought in transfers to help.

As spring practices begin throughout the conference, the ACC kicks off its 2014 season with a complete overhaul at the quarterback position. It was only a year ago that Florida State’s Jameis Winston was an unproven rookie who had yet to start a game. Now, the 20-year-old reigning Heisman Trophy winner is the veteran of the league, as nine of the 14 schools will have a first-year starting quarterback, and the competition is open at 11 programs. Florida State, Duke and NC State are the only programs that have definitively named starters, and even NC State doesn’t know what to expect out of first-year starter and Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett, though, knows what’s expected.

“Go make sure it was earned,” he said, “not given.”

Count on that to be a trend in the conference this spring.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are all starting from scratch, without any starting experience at the quarterback position. Some of the league’s most recognizable names have to be replaced, including Tajh Boyd, Logan Thomas and Teddy Bridgewater. Coaches at North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia have deemed their competitions open, in spite of experienced starters returning.

“I looked at that and was kind of surprised,” said Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, the frontrunner to take over the job after Vad Lee’s decision to transfer. “It should even the playing field out a little bit, but at the same time, we all have to go through our parts.”

Not to mention spring and summer auditions.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said it’s likely the competition between Chad Kelly, Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson will extend beyond this spring -- and possibly into the season.

“Going in, Cole starts out as No. 1 simply because of where we finished the season -- basically by default, if you will,” Swinney said. “He’s the senior. It’s basically his to lose going in, but it’s incredibly close. You’re talking about -- in my opinion -- three guys who are going to play in the NFL. I believe with all my heart that Cole Stoudt is going to play in the NFL. And the same thing with Chad Kelly, and the same thing with Deshaun Watson, if they stay healthy. So you’ve got three NFL players competing to be the guy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people say, well, if you don’t have one quarterback then you have none. But that’s not the case here.”

It could be the case elsewhere, though.

Virginia Tech (Michael Brewer), Boston College (Tyler Murphy), Miami (Ryan Williams) and NC State (Brissett) are all hoping that transfers can give the position an immediate boost, but former Texas Tech quarterback Brewer won’t join the Hokies until this summer. While none of them has started a game at their current schools, all but Brewer have started at least three games at their previous programs.

Williams started 10 games while he was at Memphis, and he’s the leading candidate to replace Stephen Morris, but “it is wide open,” according to offensive coordinator James Coley. And Williams knows it.

"You have to earn it, you have to earn everything,” Williams told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don't want anything given to me. If it's given to me, I didn't work hard enough.”

Brissett started three games at Florida, and Murphy started six games for the Gators after starter Jeff Driskel was lost for the season. Murphy went 2-4 with 1,216 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions before missing the final three games of the season with a shoulder injury.

Nothing is guaranteed in Chestnut Hill this spring, either, as the Eagles also have Darius Wade, a true freshman who enrolled early, and James Walsh, who will be a redshirt freshman.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
David Manning/USA TODAY SportsThe Cardinals are about to embark on life without Teddy Bridgewater.
“They’re all real green,” offensive coordinator Ryan Day said of the Eagles’ quarterbacks. “It’s obviously an open competition. I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing them throw and run the offense. We’ll see. All three of these guys are mobile, they can run. They’re dual threats. We’re going to use that as a weapon for us. We’re not going to totally change what we do, but we’ll add that component to it.”

All eyes will be on Louisville’s quarterback competition, as the Cardinals enter their first season in the ACC without Bridgewater, who left early to enter the NFL draft. Will Gardner and Kyle Bolin will be the top two candidates this spring, and they’ll be joined by incoming freshman Reggie Bonnafon this summer.

“It’s wide open,” first-year coach Bobby Petrino said. “We’ll go through spring and see who comes out 1-2-3 and then obviously we’ll give Reggie an opportunity in the fall to compete with those guys.”

With the addition of Louisville, the ACC enters this season perceived by many to be the strongest it has ever been.

Now it just needs to find a few quarterbacks to help prove it.
Despite having to replace record-setting running back Andre Williams, the 2013 Doak Walker Award winner, Boston College offensive coordinator Ryan Day said he is encouraged by the group of running backs he will have on the roster this summer.

With six talented players to choose from, the staff used its past two recruiting classes to help bolster the depth and skill at the position.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Hilliman
Jared Shanker/ESPNESPN 300 tailback Jonathan Hilliman could see immediate playing time in 2014.
“Those six guys we feel good about,” Day said. “We feel like we upgraded our skill level. You can’t replace Andre, but we’re doing the best we can.”

There’s only one problem: none of them have started a college game, and four of them just signed their letters of intent earlier this month.

Tyler Rouse and Myles Willis received some valuable reps last season as backups to the nation’s top running back, and they’ll be joined by four players in the 2014 recruiting class who could also give the Eagles a boost. Jonathan Hilliman, an ESPN 300 player and the No. 25 player at his position, was the top recruit in the class. Day said Hilliman is physically comparable to Williams, and that fellow incoming freshman Marcus Outlow is “versatile, big and strong.” Day called Richard Wilson “a good, all-around back,” and said Sherman Alston is a hybrid receiver/running back who will add speed to the group.

None of them, however, enrolled early, so Rouse and Willis will get the bulk of the work this spring. Willis played in 11 games last season and was second on the team in rushing with 346 yards and two touchdowns. Rouse was right behind him, having played in nine games. He totaled 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back is one of several position groups in which BC fans will see some new, young faces this fall, along with wide receiver.

“There’s no question,” Day said. “They’ll have a lot of opportunities. We have about 30 kids coming in, new in the program, which is about 30 percent of your roster, so 30 percent of our team is going to be first-year kids. We’re going to be really young.”

Still, the staff is confident it can build off of last season's success. Under first-year coach Steve Addazio, Boston College made one of the biggest turnarounds in the country, going from 2-10 to 7-5, including a 4-4 record in ACC play. The Eagles advanced to the AdvoCare V100 Bowl -- their first bowl appearance in the last three seasons.

“Every team is different,” Day said. “We’ve just got to find a way to put the right pieces together, just like we did last year. Find the leaders. We lost some good leaders. Once we can find the leadership, it’s our job as coaches to find the right scheme to put it all together and get them to play hard.”
By all accounts, Boston College has very little in the way of depth at running back and receiver -- two major areas of concern for the Eagles as fall practice nears.

Coach Steve Addazio, in fact, called the depth at running back "alarming" because there is essentially nobody proven behind Andre Williams. Rolandan Finch is gone; Tahj Kimble is coming off ACL surgery and his status for practice remains up in the air. That essentially leaves David Dudeck as the backup going into August, and the Eagles hoping one of the two running backs they signed in February can come in and play immediately.

While the Eagles were happy with the way Williams stepped up this spring, depth is absolutely necessary at the position -- especially when you consider the way this team plans on running the ball.

"Depth is obviously a major concern," offensive coordinator Ryan Day said in a recent phone interview. "It’s something we’re trying to address, but at the same time we can’t draft anybody so we’re going to have to manage the best we can. Dudeck did a good job this spring. He hasn’t played much running back. He got throwing into the fire last year, but he’s getting better. He’s going to have to provide some depth."

The Eagles don't have anybody proven at receiver beyond Alex Amidon, either. Addazio said it appears as if Bobby Swigert will miss this season and take a medical redshirt because of setbacks to his injured knee. Spiffy Evans will be relied upon to take on a much bigger role this season, and Day mentioned Dan Crimmins as a player who needs to step up as well.

"We need that group right there to come along faster than they did this spring," Day said. "They’ve been challenged by the head coach himself, by myself by their position coach. Alex has played a lot of football here, but overall, that’s a pretty young group. Alex has to help those guys come along and show them how it is to be a Division I college receiver, and the work it takes. The challenge has been set forth with those guys."
Offensive coordinator Ryan Day has spent more time at Boston College than any other program, so it is easy to see why he settled in so easily when he made his return in January.

Day spent five seasons at BC as an offensive assistant between 2007-11. His only year away in the last seven was his first job as an offensive coordinator, under Steve Addazio at Temple. When Addazio took the BC job, he brought Day along with him. And with Day came some familiarity with the upperclassmen already on the roster.

He already knew quarterback Chase Rettig. And he worked closely with receivers Alex Amidon and Spiffy Evans in his previous role as receivers coach. A few other juniors and seniors remain, though the roster is filled with younger guys Day had to get to a know in a hurry. But already having a relationship with Rettig and Amidon was huge for Day, especially since they are the top two offensive players returning.

"You would have to ask them, but I do think there was a certain amount of trust there as opposed to having to earn trust, which I think helped the process," Day said.

Day is implementing a different offensive scheme than the Eagles ran last season, so that trust has been huge. Players have to believe he is going to do right by them. That is especially true in Rettig's case, since he is not the mobile quarterback that coach Steve Addazio has had running the offense at previous stops. So that means trying to tailor the offense to what Rettig can do, and having a coach who already knows a player is huge in that respect.

It also has helped that Day spent so many years at Boston College previously. This is actually his third stint, having served as an offensive grad assistant from 2003-04.

"During my time at BC I worked under Dana Bible, Gary Tranquill, Kevin Rogers, Dave Brock and Steve Logan, five different coordinators, so I was able to take a look and say here are some things I like that they did, some things at BC we can do, and here are some things we don’t do so well here based on the personnel we have, and I had that experience to draw upon," Day said.

All those experiences will certainly help as the Eagles embark on this rebuilding project.

Boston College spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
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2012 record: 2-10

2012 conference record: 1-7 (sixth in the Atlantic Division)

Returning starters: Offense: 8; Defense: 8; kicker/punter 1

Top returners:

QB Chase Rettig, TB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon, DE Kasim Edebali, DT Kaleb Ramsey, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, PK Nate Freese

Key losses:

LT Emmett Cleary, RT John Wetzel, TE Chris Pantale, LB Nick Clancy, SS Jim Noel

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Williams* (599 yards)

Passing: Rettig* (3,065)

Receiving: Amidon* (1,210)

Tackles: Clancy (145)

Sacks: Pierre-Louis* (2)

Interceptions: Spenser Rositano* (3)

Spring answers:

1. The players are buying in. First-year coach Steve Addazio said the one thing he felt great about this spring was the team’s willingness to adjust to the staff and its changes. “This is a group of guys that really took well to tough coaching, to accountability, to the concept that we need to be a real team and we need to be accountable to each other, and build some physical and mental toughness.”

2. Running back Andre Williams can be a star. Addazio has made the running game a priority, and Williams is going to have to carry the load, especially after the departure of Rolandan Finch. “I thought Andre had one of the best springs of anybody,” Addazio said. “… I just really am impressed by him.”

3. Ryan Day helped ease the transition on offense. The Eagles’ first-year offensive coordinator was previously on staff as the receivers’ coach, so the players had an easier time adapting to yet another change in coordinator. For Rettig, Day is his fourth coordinator, but no introductions were necessary.

Fall questions:

1. Depth across the board. Addazio said “depth is a problem right now” and it put the staff in a predicament this spring because they wanted to promote toughness, but also keep guys healthy. While he did say the staff “developed the lineup up front,” the team can’t afford injuries to key players.

2. Can the defense get back to its traditionally stingy self? BC returns eight of its top nine tacklers from last season, but the defense has been learning a new attacking scheme under first-year coordinator Don Brown. Things can only get better, as BC ranked No. 111 in rushing defense last season, and No. 100 in total defense. How quickly the Eagles improve, though, depends upon the learning curve this summer.

3. The running game. It was nonexistent last season. While BC’s top running back proved to be dependable this spring, there are still plenty of questions behind him, and this goes back to the issue of depth in No. 1. The Eagles still have Tahj Kimble and David Dudek, but the two combined for 58 carries last season, when BC’s rushing offense was No. 115 in the country.
On Tuesday we checked in with BC receiver Alex Amidon to get his take on how the Eagles have been progressing this spring under first-year coach Steve Addazio and coordinator Ryan Day. Here is the second part of our conversation:

Are you guys having more fun this year?

[+] EnlargeAlex Amidon
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsBoston College wide receiver Alex Amidon says the team has adjusted well to a new head coach and new offensive coordinator.
Alex Amidon: Definitely. It’s a mix between that and everyone is trying to adapt to the new culture. Practices have been a lot tougher, but they’re also a lot more rewarding and a lot more fun. It’s only going to get better, the more you get used to it and the more people buy in, but it’s definitely already noticeable.

What’s the biggest change Addazio has made?

AA: I’d say the competitive spirit on the team is amped up a lot. It’s just in practices and stuff, that’s noticeable. Everyone is accountable individually for how they compete during practice. That’s something that’s new. He’s changed a lot of things, but I think that’s one thing that’s pretty important.

You had a terrific season last year, obviously, what are you looking to do specifically to get better and what are your individual goals for this season?

AA: Honestly I’m just trying to learn this offense as quickly as I can. I guess the one thing I can work on specifically is running with the ball after the catch. I wasn’t really that great at it last year, and that’s something that can help in this offense, a little more screen game and stuff like that. And then how I fit into the offense, I don’t really care, I just want to be on the field. If Andre is running 30 times a game, I’m going to try to help him get the extra yard and block a safety or something. Whatever the team needs, that’s what I’m trying to do for the season, get us some wins. At this point, I just want to win games.

Just how different is the playbook and how difficult has it been to learn this spring?

AA: For me there’s a couple of things I’ve never done before, but coach Day, the offensive coordinator, he was my receivers coach the first two years I was here.

Right, that’s why I thought it might be a little easier.

AA: It’s not that tough for me right now because all of the terminology is the same, and all of the concepts he’s talking about are the same. I’m just trying to make sure I know everything without having to think about it so I can play faster.

What did you think when you heard that Ryan Day was the guy who was hired as the OC?

AA: I was excited because the stuff he’s interested in in offense is what I’d like to be in, high-tempo. He comes from UNH and Chip Kelly, those are his background, so he has great offensive ideas. I was excited.

How do you feel like you guys are progressing, as far as learning the offense?

AA: It’s going day by day. He’s slowly infusing stuff into the offense. We’re installing stuff a little at a time. I guess after the first week people started getting it. The past two weeks it’s been good. Everyone knows what they’re doing.
Boston College receiver Alex Amidon was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Eagles last year. This fall, he is hoping to be part of a turnaround under first-year coach Steve Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day. Last year, Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving ranked second in the ACC, behind Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins. Amidon and Hopkins led all ACC receivers in 2012 with six 100-yard reception games each. I caught up with Amidon recently to get his take on the new offense and staff changes. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Tell me how the new offense changes your role.

[+] EnlargeAmidon
Anthony Nesmith/Cal Sport Media Boston College receiver Alex Amidon says he welcomes an emphasis on the running game.
Alex Amidon: Well, I wouldn’t say it changes my role that much. The one thing I noticed about the offense is we’re really focusing on establishing the run game before the pass game, which is going to help the offense out a lot. Last year we couldn’t really run the ball that well, and that closed the play-action game, but I’d say I’m just out there trying to help move the chains on third downs. I think that would be my most significant role right now.

Does that concern you at all, that it’s going to be more geared towards the run game?

AA: No, not at all. It’s not like we’re not going to pass, it’s just, I would say if anything, us having the run game is going to help the pass game. I would definitely love to run the ball more than 20 times. Last year we were averaging around 20 carries a game, and if we could get to like 30 or something, that would help the pass game out a lot, in my opinion.

What do you think needs to improve offensively? We talked about the run game, but what have been some of the other priorities for you this spring?

AA: There were a lot of young guys coming out, and they’ve all been focusing on improving every day, getting down the completely new offense, trying to learn that. One thing around the whole team is mental and physical toughness. That’s something, along with tempo, but we’re not really working on that right now. Mental and physical toughness is something you don’t really need talent for -- I’m not saying we don’t have talent -- but anyone can have them, and if you have those two things, you can outmatch a team. Those two things have really been a focus for us.

How would you say the culture has changed under the new coaching staff?

AA: It is a lot different. There’s a new amount of energy in the program. That’s the one noticeable thing, a huge energy. Practices are high-energy practices, lots of competition, lots of competitive drills. The energy and competition are the two most noticeable differences.

How tough have the past two seasons been?

AA: They’ve been real bad. They’ve been tough. It’s just tough because we’re working year-round to win games, and when you don’t, it’s so disillusioning, all of the work you put in. It was tough last season, for sure.

Do you feel like things are going in the right direction now?

AA: I do. You can tell. The optimism people have, the energy we have. Coach Addazio is clearly addressing some of the problems we had in the past years, which has mainly been a lack of leadership, from the older class, which is now my class. That’s something you will see different, is people being held more accountable for what is going on.

What are some of the things you guys have done as some of the older players to try and establish that sense of leadership?

AA: Whether it comes from a quarterback calling out a receiver for dropping a ball in practice, or somebody missing their assignment, just a lot more accountability in that. And also off the field, we’ve been trying to establish more of a community-sense, which is something we haven’t really had in the past here. Both of those things, together, those are a great base for what we’re trying to accomplish.

How are you trying to do that off the field?

AA: Just sitting down with the receiver group, we’ll go out to dinner, Applebee’s, we’ll go there, or eat on campus together, or the offense will gather as a group. Just do something off the field that just gets us together in kind of a fun setting, a family-type setting.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of this conversation.

Friday mailblog

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
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Here we go ...

John in Greenville, N.C., writes: Thanks for a great blog! Read it everyday and love the info you provide. What do you think UNC's chances are of winning the coastal?

HD: As good as Virginia Tech's. As good as Georgia Tech's. As good as Miami's. You get the idea. Look, I picked the Canes to win the division, but anyone who follows this league knows it's wiiiide open. Nobody has truly separated themselves like in the Atlantic Division with Clemson and FSU. There are a lot of good teams, no great ones yet, but if Larry Fedora can motivate his team to win eight games KNOWING there is no bowl game in sight, I have no doubt he'll have them a contender this year, even with some heavy losses.


Wes Parcell in Radford, Va., writes: Do you think that UVA has a chance to make a run in the ACC Coastal this year?

HD: Notice the Hoos weren't mentioned in the above answer. It's not because they don't have the pieces in place -- I think Mike London put together one of the best staffs in the country this offseason. It's because I think it's going to take this year to get it all together. With two new coordinators, some questions at quarterback, and a few other positions that simply need to play better, I think they're still a step behind -- and they've also got one of the most brutal schedules in the country. BYU, Oregon, Clemson, at Miami ... good luck.


Steve in Arlington, Va., writes: Heather, is it a lock that Louisville replaces Maryland in the Atlantic Division, or could a bit of creative realignment be in store? It seems like the ACC is setting up to remove all the drama from the championship game if FSU, Clemson, and Louisville are basically playing for the league title within the Atlantic Division for the foreseeable future...

HD: It's a lock, and no, it's not going to remove the drama from the ACC championship game. You can still have Florida State-Miami in the title game. You can have Clemson-Virginia Tech. I say bring it. It's going to make the ACC's Atlantic Division one big, bad division.


Mike in Miami, Fla., writes: Rank your ACC heisman candidates. Boyd, Watkins, Morris, Duke Johnson and Stefon Diggs are clearly the top 5.. Tough to rank em. Morris easily can have a fantastic sleeper heisman season with all the weapons and outstanding offensive line.

HD: Mike, I think you got it ... 1. Tajh Boyd, 2. Sammy Watkins, 3. Duke Johnson, 4. Stephen Morris, 5. Stefon Diggs. I think you HAVE to start with Boyd and Watkins simply because they are on the ACC's best team and will be in the national spotlight. Then I turn to Miami because a) I think they will win the Coastal and b) the offensive line returns every starter. The only reason I rank Duke ahead of Morris is because of what he can do in the return game, but I reserve the right to swap them every week during the season. You are smart to include Diggs. He is an outstanding athlete, but he's playing for the Terps in a tough division. Not sure he'll get the credit he deserves.


Sean in Boston writes: HD, other than not having to suffer through Spazball anymore what should BC fans look forward to? Is a bowl possible this year?

HD: Hate to bust your bubble, Sean, but I'd be really surprised if the Eagles went to a bowl. If I had to do a bowl projection right now, they wouldn't make the cut. It's too early to judge Steve Addazio, but it's not too early to judge recent recruiting classes at BC. As for something to look forward to? How about quarterback Chase Rettig? It should be a smooth transition for him with Ryan Day back on the sideline. It's Rettig's fourth OC in as many seasons, but hey, at least this time it was a familiar face.
When Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig takes the field to open spring practice today, he will be learning from his fourth offensive coordinator in as many seasons.

At least there will be some familiarity with Ryan Day, who was Boston College receivers coach from 2007-11, before leaving to join Steve Addazio at Temple in 2012. Day returned to BC when Addazio was hired, and both are now charged with trying to jump start the offense while easing their players into a new system.

Again.

[+] EnlargeChase Rettig
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonBoston College QB Chase Rettig has proven that he can put up big numbers. Now he must show that he can be a leader.
Addazio said the staff plans on keeping as many alike principles and alike terms as they can. But even still, Rettig and his teammates have to learn an offense that will be different from the pro-style set the Eagles ran last season.

"The fact of the matter is I’ve talked to Chase and other guys about it, all these guys have ambitions to play at the next level, and that’s part of that, too. There’s a lot of turnover, there’s a lot of change," Addazio said in a recent phone interview. "A zone play is a zone play, and a quick game is pretty universal, protections are universal, six-man, five-man, seven-man protections are pretty universal.

"So it’s not too crazy. Sometimes it’s more formation, calls, that’s what it is more than anything else. How you’re reading coverages and progressions in the throw game. One thing here is our guys are very bright guys. And I think one thing we do very well here is pick things up pretty quickly."

Though Addazio has a history of running a spread-type offense, he insists he will not try to fit a round peg in a square hole -- and he wants to be able to establish the run first and foremost.

Whether the Eagles have the personnel to get that done right away remains to be seen, as they were not very good in that department last year. But they do have the luxury of returning an experienced quarterback who threw for over 3,000 yards last season with 17 touchdown passes.

So what does Addazio want to see out of Rettig this spring? Rather than discussing Xs and Os improvement, Addazio wants to see Rettig work on his leadership.

"Chase is a guy who throws the ball well, and that’s a positive," Addazio said. "That’s a piece, but the biggest piece is winning. At quarterback -- whether he’s a thrower, whether he’s a runner -- it’s kind of irrelevant. What’s relevant is he’s got it, and he’s got the ability to lead and find a way to win. What we’re working on right now is getting our seniors and getting our players at a position like quarterback, like Chase, to understand how important his leadership, his demeanor, his ability to drive a football team, how important that is.

"To me, the quarterback on offense, that’s huge. The linebacker on defense, those are the apexes of your team on both sides of the ball and those guys have got to have 'it.' Sometimes today, everybody gets tied into talking about this guy runs really well or this guy spins it really well. All those things are important but what’s really important is the ability to lead, the ability to win. Buying into that mindset is really critically important because we’re coming off two years that aren’t representative of what Boston College has been. We’ve got to make sure that we develop that kind of leadership."
BOSTON COLLEGE

Spring start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The transition: Introductions will be necessary as first-year coach Steve Addazio takes over. The good news is that offensive coordinator Ryan Day is a familiar face as he was the receivers coach under Frank Spaziani. He should work well with quarterback Chase Rettig.
  2. The front seven. There used to be a time when BC’s defense was one of the best in the country. It wasn’t last year. The Eagles were No. 111 in the country in rushing defense and No. 120 in sacks and tackles for loss. First-year coordinator Don Brown has some work to do.
  3. The running backs. They were an inconsistent group last year as BC ranked No. 115 in the country in rushing offense at 90.92 yards per game. All of the key contributors return, including leading rusher Andre Williams, but the group has to do a better job of taking pressure off of Rettig.
CLEMSON

Spring start: March 6

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Defensive progress: This is the second spring under coordinator Brent Venables, and the defense is the missing piece to the program becoming a contender on the national level. The defensive backs will have the most to prove as three starters have to be replaced.
  2. The new playmakers: Clemson lost two big names on offense in receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who left early for the NFL, and running back Andre Ellington. There is plenty of talent remaining in the wings, but it has to step out of the shadows this spring.
  3. Front and center: The Tigers return four starters to the offensive line, but have to replace their anchor in veteran center Dalton Freeman. While quarterback Tajh Boyd returns, the communication with the new center will be critical for calls and snaps.
FLORIDA STATE

Spring start: Mar. 20

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. The QB battle: It's a three-way race to replace EJ Manuel, and while Clint Trickett will enter spring practice as the nominal No. 1, there's no clear favorite to win the job. Sophomore Jacob Coker has perhaps the best mix of arm strength, athleticism and experience, but redshirt freshman Jameis Winston was the country's top QB recruit two years ago and could blossom into a superstar.
  2. The new coaches. There will be a much different feel on the practice fields at FSU this spring with six new assistant coaches running the show. Four of the assistants have previous coordinator experience, making it a veteran group, and new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt brings an Alabama pedigree to a unit that was already among the best in the nation.
  3. The new faces. A year ago, there weren't a ton of jobs open in the spring thanks to a hefty dose of veterans. Things are different this time around, meaning youngsters like WR Kelvin Benjamin, DE Mario Edwards Jr. and CB Ronald Darby will get their opportunities to solidify key roles on this year's team.
MARYLAND

Spring start: March 2

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:
  1. Quarterbacks. The Terps’ unprecedented run of injuries at the position was one of the ACC’s biggest storylines last year. C.J. Brown, the projected starter, will be limited and won’t play in the spring game, but he can throw and participate in some drills. Ricardo Young, who sat out all year after transferring, will be the top healthy quarterback on the roster this spring and take the majority of the snaps. He played for offensive coordinator Mike Locksley at New Mexico and is familiar with the system. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe aren’t nearly as ready or healthy as Brown is. Dustin Dailey, who also sat out last year because of NCAA transfer rules, is healthy and available.
  2. Early enrollees: Three recruits enrolled early, including two junior college transfers who can help immediately. Maryland fans should be eager to see how junior college transfer Deon Long, a receiver, adds to the offense. Silvano Altamirano, another junior college transfer, will compete immediately for playing time at offensive guard.
  3. Defensive competition: Maryland has some big names to replace in defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and middle linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, all of whom were mainstays on the defense. Cole Farrand will be the veteran linebacker now, and Darius Kilgo is the only returning starter on the defensive line.
NC STATE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The quarterback competition. The Mike Glennon era is over, and Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the top options to replace him. Thomas, a former transfer from Colorado State, was a two-year starter there and threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns. Stocker, a sophomore, has yet to take a collegiate snap.
  2. The staff transition. First-year coach Dave Doeren is taking over and he has hired an almost entirely new staff. How the players adjust to the change in terminology, schemes and personalities will be critical to the transition.
  3. A revamped secondary: NC State will have to replace three starters, including Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and David Amerson, the school’s career interception leader. Cornerback Dontae Johnson returns, along with Juston Burris, who played in the nickel package. There are also several redshirts and younger players who will compete.
SYRACUSE

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Staff changes: First-year coach Scott Shafer, who replaced Doug Marrone, has been with the program for four years, so it’s not a drastic change for the players, but it is Shafer’s first as a head coach. He has a chance to put his stamp on the program as it enters the first season in the ACC.
  2. Quarterback competition: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, and it’s a wide-open competition. Backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt are the top candidates, but Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
  3. Replacing SS Shamarko Thomas: The Orange have to replace their leading tackler and top defender, as Thomas had 84 tackles last year. He was a game-changer who also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was a first-team All-Big East selection.
WAKE FOREST

Spring start: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. The health of the O-line: Wake was hit hard by injuries last year, and keeping this group healthy this offseason will be critical. The Deacs only lost one senior -- center Garrick Williams, but last year injuries forced the staff to play a significant number of redshirt freshmen, which it doesn’t like to do. Whit Barnes, for example, started 11 games at left guard. He was supposed to be a backup center.
  2. Camp’s complement: The Deacs have to find a complement to star receiver Michael Campanaro. He’s the go-to guy, but quarterback Tanner Price needs a few more reliable targets to emerge this spring. Sherman Ragland, Matt James, Brandon Terry and Airyn Willis are all options.
  3. Improving inside: The Deacs’ inside linebackers need a boost after losing Riley Haynes and Scott Betros. Redshirt junior Mike Olson will be a starter, but Wake needs to find another starter there and develop some dependable backups.
The ACC’s crop of 2013 quarterbacks will be an interesting blend of old and new. Veterans Logan Thomas and Tajh Boyd both decided to return for their senior seasons instead of leaving early for the NFL draft, but several big names -- like EJ Manuel and Mike Glennon -- will be missing. Here’s a quick rundown of the position heading into the 2013 season:

IN GREAT SHAPE

CLEMSON: Boyd returns. The record-setter should be a Heisman candidate, considering he led the ACC in passing efficiency, was second in passing average/game, and threw for 36 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions.

MIAMI: Stephen Morris returns. Morris should be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, and he might have the best offensive line in the conference to work with. Last season, Morris started all 12 games and threw for a career-best 3,345 yards and 21 touchdowns, completing 58.2 percent of passes. He set the school single-season total offense record with 3,415 yards.

NORTH CAROLINA: Bryn Renner returns. He was No. 3 in the ACC last season in passing average per game (279.7), and he was No. 3 in passing efficiency. He finished with 3,356 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

VIRGINIA TECH: Thomas returns. This was a huge boost to the Hokies’ offense. Thomas has started the past 27 games for the Hokies, passing for 6,096 yards and 37 touchdowns, and running for 1,015 yards and 20 scores.

WAKE FOREST: Tanner Price returns. He threw for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, and he’ll be helped by the fact that standout receiver Michael Campanaro returns. Price completed 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards.

IN GOOD SHAPE

VIRGINIA: Phillip Sims returns, but Michael Rocco transferred. Sims is the most likely starter, but how much playing time will David Watford see? While sharing time with Rocco last season, Sims finished with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 56.2 percent of his passes for 1,263 yards.

MARYLAND: C.J. Brown, who tore his ACL before the start of the 2012 season, is the most likely starter. This position can only get better for Maryland in 2013, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback last season. He started five games in 2011, but this would be his first full season as starter.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Senior Chase Rettig returns. He started all 12 games last season, completed 54.2 percent of his passes, threw for 3,065 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The reason BC isn’t in the “great shape” category is because Rettig will have his 103rd offensive coordinator. The good news is that Ryan Day is a former BC offensive assistant, so it’s not like they just met.

DUKE: Veteran Sean Renfree has to be replaced. Anthony Boone isn't a rookie, but this will be his first season as a full-time starter. Boone has had the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks on the roster, including Renfree. Boone played in 11 games in 2012, completed 51.6 percent of his passes (49 of 95) for 531 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

COMPETITION IS ON

FLORIDA STATE: Manuel must be replaced. Clint Trickett is the leading candidate heading into the spring, and he has the edge in experience, but he will compete with Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. Trickett started two games in 2011, filling in for the injured Manuel, but this past season he only threw the ball 34 times. Coker played in four games and threw it five times.

GEORGIA TECH: Tevin Washington must be replaced. Vad Lee is the front-runner heading into the spring, but Justin Thomas will give him plenty of competition. Lee didn’t start any games in 2012, but he got plenty of meaningful snaps and ran for 544 yards and nine touchdowns, and threw for 596 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.

NC STATE: Glennon must be replaced. This position is a huge question mark for the Pack, especially considering the program has gone through a staff change, with Dave Doeren taking over. Manny Stocker and Pete Thomas are the front-runners heading into spring ball. Stocker threw the ball just twice in 2012 as a true freshman, and Thomas has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2012 season per NCAA rules because he transferred from Colorado State.

PITT: Panthers fans rejoined when the final seconds ticked off the clock in the BBVA Compass Bowl because they won't have to watch Tino Sunseri play another down. Sunseri did start for three seasons, but this program is looking for a major upgrade at the position. Competition in the spring should focus on transfer Tom Savage, a former Freshman All-American, and redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, a four-star recruit from the class of 2012.

SYRACUSE: The Orange have to replace record-setting quarterback Ryan Nassib, who just had the best single-season passing year in school history. They thought they had an incoming stud in Zach Allen, but the Texas recruit de-committed after coach Doug Marrone left for Buffalo, and Allen pledged to TCU. That leaves the job wide open in the spring between backup Charley Loeb, junior John Kinder, and dual-threat Terrel Hunt. Ashton Broyld, who moved to running back in 2012, could be in the mix as well.
The entire 2012 season is officially in the books, and there was some movement in the final ACC power rankings for ESPN.com based on the bowl performances. Before we turn the page and look ahead to how the ACC will stack up in 2013, take one look back on the 2012 pecking order:

FINAL

1. Florida State (12-2, 7-1 ACC; Previous ranking: No. 1) -- Clemson has the more impressive bowl win, but there’s no denying Florida State’s accomplishments this season. The Noles won the program’s first BCS bowl since 2000, defeating Northern Illinois 31-10 in the Discover Orange Bowl. An ACC title and Orange Bowl win make FSU the ACC’s undisputed No. 1 in 2012.

2. Clemson (11-2, 7-1; PR: No. 2) -- The Tigers hung on to beat No. 8 LSU 25-24 thanks to a 37-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro as time expired in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has yet to announce if he will return for his senior season. Regardless, it was a monumental win for the program and the ACC.

3. Georgia Tech (7-7, 5-3; PR: No. 4) -- The Jackets’ 21-7 win over USC was a huge boost for their program, and it also was significant for the ACC. Georgia Tech’s defense was the highlight against the Trojans. It also was Paul Johnson’s first bowl win as coach at Georgia Tech.

4. North Carolina (8-4, 5-3; PR: No. 5) -- There’s no question the Tar Heels were one of the best teams in the Coastal Division in Larry Fedora’s first season, but they were ineligible for a bowl because of NCAA sanctions. Fedora will be challenged to replace standout running back Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL draft, and his lead blocker, Jonathan Cooper.

5. Miami (7-5, 5-3; PR: No. 3) -- The Canes weren’t a great team in 2012, but they overachieved enough to earn respect and could have played for the ACC title had they not self-imposed a bowl ban. The program is still waiting for closure from the NCAA.

6. Virginia Tech (7-6, 4-4; PR: No. 8) -- In what was one of the most painful-to-watch bowl games of the season, the Hokies beat Rutgers 13-10 in overtime of the Russell Athletic Bowl. The program avoided its first losing season since 1992, but didn’t earn any style points in the process. Many questions still face Frank Beamer.

7. NC State (7-6, 4-4; PR: No. 7) -- Under the direction of interim coach Dana Bible, the Pack ended the season the same way it began 2012 -- with an embarrassing performance in a loss to an SEC team. NC State turned it over five times in a 38-24 loss to Vanderbilt in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

8. Duke (6-7, 3-5; PR: No. 6) -- This season will always be remembered as the year Duke got back to a bowl game for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils, however, lost a 48-34 heartbreaker to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. With the score tied at 34 and Duke driving to score the game winner, Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincy 5-yard line with 1:20 left.

9. Wake Forest (5-7, 3-5; PR: No. 9) -- The Deacs ended their season losing three straight and four of their last five to miss bowl eligibility. Recruiting has been the biggest priority for the Deacs since their season ended with a home loss to Vanderbilt.

10. Virginia (4-8, 2-6; PR: No. 10) -- The Hoos had to win their last two games to become bowl eligible and couldn’t do it, but Mike London wasted no time in making offseason changes. He fired defensive coordinator Jim Reid and has since hired former NC State coach Tom O’Brien and former NC State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta.

11. Maryland (4-8, 2-6; PR: No. 11) -- The Terps put on a respectable performance this past season despite the unbelievable amount of injuries to starting quarterbacks. The biggest news, of course, was that Maryland will play one more season in the ACC before joining the Big Ten.

12. Boston College (2-10, 1-7; PR: No. 12) -- The Eagles hired Steve Addazio to turn things around, and he has hired several of his former assistants from Temple, including former BC assistant Ryan Day as offensive coordinator.

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