ACC: Sherman Ragland III

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
10:15
AM ET
Clemson and Georgia Tech have the weekend off. The other 12 ACC teams take the field for Week 11, which includes two nonconference contests, with one serving just slightly bigger than the other.

Here is what to keep an eye on as we enter the home stretch in the ACC:

1. FSU looks to avoid letdown: The Seminoles have a lot to lose the rest of the way, starting Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., where they lost two years ago. It is telling, in a good way, that the word "adversity" has been thrown around so much in regard to Florida State's most recent contest. It was a 41-14 win against a previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Miami team. And its quarterback, despite whatever criticisms were lobbied his way, finished with an adjusted total QBR of 94.6, sixth best in the nation for the week. If this team ever got its act together …

2. Wake adjusts to life without Campanaro: Wake Forest is without all-time leading receiver Michael Campanaro, probably for the season, after the redshirt senior broke his collarbone in a loss at Syracuse. Coach Jim Grobe was honest about how difficult things now are offensively without Campanaro, who, despite missing the first game of the season, had 67 catches -- or 52 more than Jonathan Williams and Sherman Ragland III, the Demon Deacons' next-highest catchers, with 15 apiece.

[+] EnlargeMarquise Williams
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCan Marquise Williams lead North Carolina to a bowl game?
3. Marquise Williams' time at UNC: Bryn Renner's North Carolina career is over because of a detached labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder suffered in a win over NC State. He had split plenty of time lately with Williams, who started the Virginia Tech game, but now it is the redshirt sophomore's chance to carry the Tar Heels to the postseason. They can inch a step closer toward with a win over Virginia that would make them 4-5. Williams has completed better than 60 percent of his passes this season for 537 yards with six touchdowns and three picks, adding 201 yards and a score on the ground.

4. C.J. Brown's return: Maryland is on the brink of its first bowl berth under third-year coach Randy Edsall, and the expected return of its quarterback should provide a big boost against Syracuse. Caleb Rowe has been so-so in Brown's place as starter, going 1-2. Brown's return after a concussion and then a "trunk injury" cannot come at a better time for a Terrapins team that has dropped three of four, though he will have to adjust to a receiving corps that has been decimated by season-ending injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

5. Terps honor former Cuse halfback: Kudos to Maryland, which will pay tribute Saturday to Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who was barred from the Syracuse-Maryland 1937 game because he was black. Orange players will wear No. 19 decals on their helmets in memory of Sidat-Singh, whose family will join both schools' athletic directors and Maryland pioneer Darryl Hill between the first and second quarters for an on-field tribute. Sidat-Singh had joined the Army after Pearl Harbor and was in the first graduating class of the group later known as Tuskegee Airmen. He was killed on a training flight in 1943 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

6. Duke looks to finish strong: Whether it is fair to criticize the Blue Devils' late-season slide last season, the fact remains that they went winless after clinching bowl eligibility in 2012. Things are different this time around, especially with a defense playing night and day from earlier this season and with the Coastal Division potentially up for grabs. Duke will need to keep its foot on the pedal as it comes off a historic win and a bye week to face a desperate NC State team that has dropped four straight and remains winless in ACC play.

7. Logan Thomas looks to rebound: Virginia Tech's redshirt senior quarterback was unusually defiant this week when speaking to reporters in Blacksburg, Va., about criticism that has come his way. Thomas had appeared to turn a corner midseason but his turnovers woes have bubbled to the surface these last two weeks, as he threw four picks in a loss to Duke and threw two more, and lost two fumbles, in a loss at Boston College. Still, a strong performance at a Miami team coming off its first loss of the season could play the Hokies right back into the thick of things in the Coastal Division race.

8. Crawford, Miami look to rebound: It's Dallas Crawford's time to step up, as the Hurricanes will turn to the redshirt sophomore first after losing Duke Johnson for the season. In looking to rebound from its loss No. 1 and maintain control of the Coastal Division, coach Al Golden said all three backs will probably see time in the first quarter Saturday against Virginia Tech. Crawford is expected to get the bulk of the carries after rushing for 294 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season.

9. ND-Pitt theatrics: Will it be like the four-overtime game from 2008? The ugly 15-12 contest from 2011, a game that, fittingly, featured 666 total yards of offense? Or last year's triple-overtime near upset? When the Irish and Panthers take the field, craziness ensues, and who knows what awaits a prime-time audience at Heinz Field in a game featuring two banged-up teams.

10. Pitt's offense looks to get it together: The Panthers defended the option well in recent weeks, holding Navy and Georgia Tech to 24 and 21 points, respectively. But the offense simply has to score points after breaking the 21-point plateau just once in its past five games, against Old Dominion (35). The run game in particular has struggled, tallying minus-5 yards last week against the Yellow Jackets, but the passing game could use some big plays as well.
Wake Forest will be without its best offensive player for at least the next two games, and possibly for the whole month.

So who is coach Jim Grobe looking toward to replace all-everything receiver Michael Campanaro? There are several options as the Deacs prepare for life without him Saturday at Maryland.

Grobe mentioned redshirt freshman Sherman Ragland III, redshirt senior Terence Davis and redshirt sophomore Brandon Terry as key players to step up.

Ragland has struggled with inconsistency this season; Davis has been injured and unable to practice for a full week since August; and Grobe is waiting on Terry to play even better. Those three players have combined for 29 receptions and no touchdowns this season -- while Campanaro has 38 himself, along with three touchdown receptions.

"Sherman Ragland is a kid that has all the ability in the world," Grobe said. "We see him kind of as a Camp guy going forward, so eventually that's the kind of role that we see Sherman Ragland filling in for, but he's got to catch the ball better. And right now he's struggling a little bit with not just running the offense but routes and catching the ball and doing all those. He's got to improve.

"Terence Davis is a real key for us. Terence has been hurt this year. He's had two separated shoulders. He's back in action. The problem he's had is he just hasn't been able to practice much, and I think this week we're going to get a full week of practice out of him for the first time since August, and I think that will be key. It would be nice if Brandon Terry stepped up for us. That's a big kid that can run and catch the football. We may even have to look at a couple freshmen going forward."

The injury bug has been particularly painful for the Deacs this season, as their top three players -- Campanaro, nose guard Nikita Whitlock (ankle) and cornerback Merrill Noel (hamstring) have missed games. Merrill has been able to play through his injury but sat out a game; Whitlock missed two. Now Campanaro will be out for three to four weeks.

When it comes down to it, missing those key players has contributed to the slow start for Wake Forest. Last season, Whitlock had 14 tackles for loss; this year he has zero. Last season, Noel led the nation with 21 pass breakups. This year, he has two. Campanaro was the only reliable threat for the Deacs this season. Davis had a big game without Campanaro last week, with six catches for 100 yards, and will have to keep that pace up.

"Every team has got two or three guys on each side of the ball that are really key, that are the big play guys, and if they're not making big plays, it's hard to estimate how much that hurts your offense or defense," Grobe said.

Defense highlights Wake scrimmage

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
4:30
PM ET
Wake Forest held its second scrimmage of the preseason on Tuesday morning at BB&T Field. Here are the highlights, according to the team's practice report:

Offensive highlights: Sherman Ragland III had three catches for 32 yards and scored both touchdowns. Michael Campanaro caught three passes for 31 yards. For the second straight scrimmage, Tyler Jackson was the leading rusher with 44 yards on nine carries. Orville Reynolds rushed the ball just five times but gained 26 yards, including an 18-yard run.

Jackson carried the ball eight times on an 11-play scoring drive. He had seven carries for 34 yards on the drive and caught a pass from Patrick Thompson for 11 yards. Tanner Price completed 8 of 18 passes for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Defensive highlights: The Deacs held the offense scoreless for the first 13 possessions and finished with nine tackles for loss, including five sacks, and two turnovers. Zach Thompson led with two sacks, while Nikita Whitlock, Kris Redding and Joey Ehrmann each made one sack. Kevin Johnson had an interception, and Chibuikem Okoro recovered a fumble on a botched handoff. Johnson also broke up one pass, as did Ehrmann, Tylor Harris and Hunter Williams. Merrill Noel and Brandon Chubb each had five tackles.

Wake Forest scrimmage report

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
4:15
PM ET
Wake Forest held its first scrimmage of the preseason Thursday at BB&T Field. Here are a few key notes.

Offensive highlights: Sherman Ragland III, trying to win a starting receiver job, caught two passes for a team-high 56 yards and a touchdown for the Deacs. Lovell Jackson, a fifth-year senior trying to make a case for significant playing time this season, caught a team-high four passes for 44 yards. Tanner Price was a very efficient 10-of-13 for 155 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Running back is also an area where the Deacs are looking for a few playmakers to step up. Tyler Jackson led the way with 36 yards on 12 carries, while Orville Reynolds had 11 carries for 16 yards -- including an 8-yard touchdown. Reynolds also caught two passes for 14 yards.

Defensive highlights: The defense really dominated the scrimmage, and that should not come as much of a surprise because this group has more starters returning. Justin Jackson, Bud Noel and Joey Ehrmann led the way with five tackles each. Ehrmann also had a sack and two tackles for loss. Nikita Whitlock forced and recovered a fumble inside the 10-yard line, and Scott Betros had the only interception in the game. Hunter Williams also forced a fumble that Desmond Cooper recovered.

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