ACC: Xavier Brewer

Clemson Tigers spring wrap

May, 7, 2013
5/07/13
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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
3/13/13
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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:

CLEMSON
MIAMI
  • 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.
PITT
  • 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.
SYRACUSE
  • 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:

TODAY
  • Maryland
THURSDAY
  • 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
1/10/13
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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:

EAST
WEST

ACC announces players of the week

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
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Here are the ACC players of the week, as announced by the league office.

OFFENSIVE BACK: Sean Renfree, QB, Duke. Renfree completed 36-of-59 passes for 432 yards and four touchdowns in Duke’s 52-45 loss to Miami. The senior quarterback directed the Duke offense that ran 94 plays, posted 30 first downs, totaled 583 yards of total offense, and did not commit a turnover. The 432 yards passing and 428 yards of total offense both marked the eighth-highest single-game total in program history. Renfree matched the Duke record for touchdown passes in a half with four in the second half and set the program single-game mark for pass attempts without an interception. He completed a 99-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder en route to setting single-game career highs for pass attempts and passing yards.

RECEIVER: Jamison Crowder, Duke. Crowder caught eight passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns in Duke’s 52-45 loss to Miami, including a 99-yard score, the longest pass play in the 60-year history of ACC football.. The 203 yards rank as the seventh-highest single-game total in Duke history as the sophomore averaged 25.4 yards per catch. Crowder totaled 272 all-purpose yards in the game and now holds the Duke single-season record for most touchdown receptions of over 50 yards with five this year.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State. Werner matched his career high with 3.5 sacks and recovered a fumble in Florida State’s 37-26 loss to No. 6 Florida. He finished the game with six tackles, including four solo stops, while sacking Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel twice in the first and 1.5 more times in the second half. His recovery of a Driskel fumble and 9-yard return set up Florida State’s go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter as the Seminoles rallied from a 13-3 deficit with 17 unanswered points. His play earned him National Defensive Lineman Performer of the Week honors from the College Football Performance Awards.

LINEBACKER: Steve Greer, Virginia. Greer played the best game of his career in his final college contest. Greer led the Cavalier defense with 19 tackles in a 17-14 loss at Virginia Tech. Greer led both teams in the defensive-oriented game with a career-high 19 tackles, along with nine solo stops. Greer finished the season with 122 total tackles. Virginia held the Hokies to 303 yards of total offense, almost 100 yards below their season average (399.9).

DEFENSIVE BACK: Xavier Brewer, Clemson. Brewer had the best game of his career on Senior Day against South Carolina with a career-high 12 tackles, including nine individual tackles. He was the leading tackler in the game for either team, three more than any teammate. He also had two tackles for loss, including a sack, an interception and three total passes defended. Brewer became the first Clemson player to record a sack and an interception in the same game since Rashard Hall did it against Boston College in 2009.

CO-SPECIALIST: Stefon Diggs, Maryland. Diggs, who ranks sixth nationally with 172.3 all-purpose yards per game, turned in his most productive all-around performance of the season in Maryland’s 45-38 loss to North Carolina. The freshman totaled 248 all-purpose yards and made plays in a variety of ways. With 0:21 left in the second quarter, Diggs took a pitch from quarterback Shawn Petty and threw across the field to Matt Furstenburg for an 8-yard touchdown. It was Maryland’s first touchdown pass by a non-quarterback in over two years. Then, to open the third quarter, Diggs took a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown that gave the Terrapins a 35-21 lead. Diggs had eight receptions for 82 yards and 20 rushing yards on three attempts. He ranks ninth on Maryland’s single-season receiving yards list with 848 and second on Maryland’s single-season all-purpose yards list with 1,896, trailing only Torrey Smith (2,192 in 2009).

CO-SPECIALIST: Dustin Hopkins, PK, Florida State. Hopkins continued his memorable senior season with another career first against Florida -- connecting on two field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same game. He closed out the first half with a 50-yard field goal on the final play to get the Seminoles on the scoreboard after falling behind 13-0. He then added 53-yard field goal to Florida State’s run of 17 unanswered points in the third quarter as the Seminoles built a 20-13 lead. Hopkins was named National Placekicker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards. He is the first FSU player to kick two field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same game since Derek Schmidt in 1985. Hopkins is now 9-of-14 all-time from 50 yards or longer with his total field goals from that range ranking second among active kickers. With 87 career field goals, Hopkins now shares the NCAA FBS all-time lead with Georgia’s Billy Bennett. Already the all-time NCAA FBS leader in kick scoring, he pushed his all-time point total to 456 points. He currently ranks third all-time in FBS All-Player Scoring, trailing only Montee Ball (476 points) and Travis Prentice (468).

ROOKIE: Duke Johnson, RB, Miami, Freshman. Johnson rushed for a career-high 176 yards and a career-best three touchdowns in Miami’s 52-45 win at Duke in the season finale. Included in his three rushing touchdowns was a 65-yard score, his 11th play of over 50 yards in 2012. He finished with 277 all-purpose yards, his sixth game with 200-plus all-purpose yards this season. In the process, Johnson broke Miami’s single-season rushing record held by Clinton Portis (838 in 1999). His 2,070 all-purpose yards are the most by a Miami freshman and second-most in program history (2,108 by Willis McGahee in 2002). Johnson had four 100-yard rushing games this season, and finished his rookie campaign with 957 rushing yards and 10 scores on 139 carries. He also finished 2012 with a single-season school-record 892 kick return yards and two touchdowns. Johnson’s 13 touchdowns on the season are tied for the fifth-most in program history.
Injuries are starting to pile up in the Clemson secondary, becoming a major cause for concern.

Coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday on the ACC coaches call that starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland is out for Thursday night's game against Wake Forest with an abdominal strain. The news follows the loss of two defensive backs for the season: starter Darius Robinson (broken ankle) and reserve Jerrodd Williams (broken leg). Robinson was hurt against Virginia Tech; Williams was hurt in practice Tuesday.

With Breeland out, Clemson will have three scholarship cornerbacks to play against the Deacs: Xavier Brewer, Garry Peters and freshman Cortez Davis. Swinney said Brewer and Peters will start, and he expects Davis to play extensively.

"We’re very thin, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s an opportunity for a couple of those young guys to get their first significant chance,” Swinney said. “A guy like Cortez Davis, whose been getting better but hasn’t gotten a lot of reps. But now that we’re very thin, he’s getting a lot of practice time, and that’s what he needs to improve. You could see a guy like him get an opportunity pretty soon."

Swinney said the Tigers have been working wide receiver Adam Humphries at defensive back as "an emergency situation."

"We have to keep it simple in what we ask him to do," Swinney said. "There’s no doubt athletically he can get the job done. Hopefully, we’ll get Breeland back pretty soon."

Breeland is one of seven defensive players with over 300 snaps, so losing him in this game will no doubt hurt. But the good news is that he is not out for the season, and the Tigers will count on having him back.

But if anybody else gets hurt ...

"We’re in dire straits right now as far as if we were to get somebody else injured," Swinney said. "If everybody stays healthy, the guys we’ve got are OK.”

Final: Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 17

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
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CLEMSON, S.C. -- Virginia Tech fans want to blame the officials. They want to blame two bad calls -- a sack on quarterback Logan Thomas that was nowhere near a sack on third down, and a fumble by Sammy Watkins that was ruled a completion. They want to blame anyone they can for the Hokies' third straight loss to Clemson in a little over a year. Truth is, though, those two calls didn't lose the game for the Hokies. Clemson was the better team, and Virginia Tech's offense stalled once again. Here's a quick look back at today's game in Death Valley:

It was over when: Clemson safety Xavier Brewer intercepted Marcus Davis with 6:55 left in the fourth quarter and returned it 12-yards to the Hokies' 41-yard line. The turnover resulted (eventually, after a lot of effort at the goal line on fourth-and-goal) in the 38-17 lead and the final punch in the gut.

Gameball goes to: Clemson's defense. This much-maligned group came through when it needed to against the Hokies. Three takeaways in the first half were a major difference, and the three interceptions were the most in one game since last season's game against North Carolina.

Stat of the game: Virginia Tech had 60 yards of total offense in the third quarter. The Hokies punted four times, had a turnover on downs, and had two drives amount to negative yardage.
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."

Weekend rewind: Scrimmage reports

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
10:00
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Not every school in the ACC gives scrimmage reports, but for those that do, we will gladly post the highlights. Here's a look back at what happened in the ACC this weekend, according to each school's report:

Boston College

Offensive highlights: Junior receiver Alex Amidon had seven catches for 84 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown reception, in the situational scrimmage Sunday. The scrimmage featured six end-of-half/fourth-quarter situations with limited time on the clock and a limited number of timeouts. Chase Rettig went 18-of-32 for 168 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Defensive highlights: Justin Simmons had two interceptions off second-team quarterback Josh Bordner. Manuel Asprilla intercepted Rettig at the goal line, and linebacker Nick Clancy intercepted a Rettig pass that was deflected by Mehdi Abdesmad a few plays later.

Special teams: Gerald Levano punted four times and averaged nearly 48 yards per punt. His first punt landed at the 2-yard line, while his second attempt went 60 yards. Kicker Nate Freese made his only field goal attempt, from 40 yards, and is now 6-for-6 on field goal attempts in the preseason.

Quotable: “We got a lot of nice young guys on this football team, and if they come through and play well, good things can happen, and Justin [Simmons] is one of them,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “He’s as advertised. We did our homework and everything that you do on kids. He’s a good prospect.”

Clemson

Offensive highlights: Tajh Boyd threw for 218 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, while Martavis Bryant had four catches for 97 yards and had two touchdowns. Boyd was 13-of-22 for 218 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Backup Cole Stoudt went 4-of-9 for 61 yards and led a touchdown drive on his first possession. Andre Ellington had an 8-yard touchdown run, while Roderick McDowell led all running backs for a second straight scrimmage with 65 yards on four carries.

Defensive highlights: Coach Dabo Swinney praised the defensive line, where Josh Watson, Grady Jarrett and DeShawn Williams made plays. Xavier Brewer made a brilliant breakup of a long pass and added five tackles. Jonathan Meeks added an interception. Tony Steward made a big play with a 25-yard interception return.

Special teams: Williams had a blocked a field goal. Backup kicker Spence Benton made a 53-yard kick that could have been good from 63 yards.

Quotable: “We have two weeks to get dialed in,” Swinney said. “We are going to turn the page on Monday after our last two-a-day (practices) and start getting ready for Auburn. We will have our guys penciled in on where they need to be.”

Duke

Offensive highlights: Quarterback Brandon Connette caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sean Renfree and ran for another in a 95-snap, controlled scrimmage Friday night at Wallace Wade Stadium. Renfree went 14-of-21 for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Freshman Shaquille Powell had eight carries for 30 yards, while Jela Duncan had 28 yards on nine attempts. Garrett Patterson, who moved from defensive back to receiver this week during practice, had five receptions for 80 yards.

Defensive highlights: Cornerbacks Lee Butler and Tony Foster each had interceptions while linebacker Deion Williams recovered one fumble. Freshman defensive end Michael Mann had one sack and one forced fumble.

Special teams highlights: Freshman kicker Ross Martin made field goals of 43 and 48 yards and converted his only extra-point attempt.

Georgia Tech

Offensive highlights: Broderick Snoddy had a 70-yard touchdown run on the second series, while quarterback Vad Lee threw two touchdowns to A-back B.J. Bostic. Lee later added a touchdown run as he continues to work at quarterback and A-back. Synjyn Days and freshman Justin Thomas also took snaps at quarterback, and each led scoring drives.

Defensive highlights: Nick Menocal had an interception he nearly returned for a touchdown. Jimmie Kitchen recovered a fumble, while defensive lineman Anthony Williams had two sacks.

Special teams highlights: Justin Moore had a 29-yard field goal, while David Scully made a 31-yard field goal and all five of his extra-point attempts. There was no punting on Saturday.

Quotable: “The guys are ready to play someone else,” quarterback Tevin Washington said. “We’ve been hitting each other for two weeks and all summer doing drills against each other. Guys are just ready to go and get some new faces in front of us.”

Maryland

Freshman Stefon Diggs continued to impress, as he had three first-half touchdowns -- a 68-yard punt return, a 98-yard kickoff return and an 11-yard reception. Quarterback Perry Hills ran the first-team offense and led Maryland to scores on three of his five drives.

On the opening drive, Hills took the Terps on an 18-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, He went 5-of-6 for 27 yards on the drive and also rushed for 36 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run.

"I thought Perry [Hills] had a good day," coach Randy Edsall said. "I thought he did some good things. Of course there's going to be plenty of things that he could learn from, and get better, but I think that we didn't have any issues with delay of game, really didn't have any false starts. When you talk about the mechanics and the operation of the offense I thought he handled it really well."

Miami

The Hurricanes' scrimmage Saturday was cut short in the middle of the second quarter because of lightning in the area. Among the highlights in the abbreviated scrimmage: Mike James and Duke Johnson each had touchdown runs, and Kelvin Cain recorded a sack in the end zone for a safety.

Virginia Tech

Offensive highlights: Logan Thomas went 8-of-15 for 112 yards and a score, while backup Mark Leal went 6-of-16 for 111 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Kevin Asante led all receivers with four catches for 79 yards, while Corey Fuller caught three passes for 68 yards. The Hokies also rushed for 174 yards. J.C. Coleman played with a broken hand and had 54 yards -- 52 coming on one run -- and Trey Edmunds added 45. Tony Gregory rushed for 36 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run. Projected starter Michael Holmes had three carries for 21 yards.

Defensive highlights: The projected first-team defense allowed a little more than 120 yards in four series (24 plays) and gave up just two field goals. Walk-on Zach Snell had six tackles, while Ronny Vandyke had five. Desmond Frye and Antone Exum each recorded four. The defense had five total sacks and Bruce Taylor had an interception.

Special teams highlights: Cody Journell made two field goals and missed one, while Brooks Abbott made one and had a 37-yarder blocked by Kyle Fuller.

Quotable: “I thought it was one of the more productive offensive first scrimmages we’ve had around here,” coach Frank Beamer said. “I think we did some good things, and I think we’ll see some things we can improve. Overall, I think the effort was good. I always say this, but it’s hard to come out pleased because if the offense makes plays, you’re worried about your defense. If the defense makes plays, you’re worried about your offense. Overall, I thought it was a good first scrimmage.”

Weekend rewind: Scrimmage reports

August, 13, 2012
8/13/12
10:00
AM ET
Not every school in the ACC gives scrimmage reports, but for those that do, I'll gladly post the highlights. Here's a look back at what happened in the ACC this weekend, according to each school's report:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Offensive highlights: Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 6 of 10 passes for 51 yards and a touchdown -- a 15-yard pass to running back Rolandan Finch, who also had eight carries for 37 yards. Freshman Harrison Jackson led the receivers with five receptions for 50 yards.

Defensive highlights: Defensive end Brian Mihalik had two tackles for a loss of 10 yards, including a sack. Senior captain Jim Noel had the lone interception.

Special-teams highlights: Kicker Nate Freese made all three of his field-goal attempts -- 30, 35 and 25 yards.

Quotable: “It was a good start, good first series and then it tailed off,” coach Frank Spaziani said. “We got soft and had some execution issues, but in general the scrimmage gives us a good idea where we’re at right and we’ll look to improve for the next one.”

CLEMSON

Offensive highlights: Sophomore receiver Charone Peake caught three passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns -- one a six-yarder from Cole Stoudt, the other 37 yards from Morgan Roberts. (Six quarterbacks got reps.) Jaron Brown caught the other touchdown pass of the scrimmage, a 56-yarder from first-team quarterback Tajh Boyd. Sammy Watkins had two receptions for 35 yards, the first two completions on the first drive of the scrimmage from Boyd. Boyd finished 5-for-10 for 105 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He also had a 32-yard rushing touchdown. Rod McDowell was the top rusher with nine attempts for 46 yards. Clemson’s running backs tallied 109 yards on 22 carries on the day, nearly a 5.0 average per carry. Andre Ellington played sparingly to give the other young backs some experience.

Defensive highlights: Xavier Brewer had seven tackles, a sack and a pass breakup. Kellen Jones, a transfer from Oklahoma who is not eligible this season, added six tackles, including two for loss, while Jonathan Meeks had five tackles. Tig Willard had three tackles and one of his two pass deflections led to an interception.

Special-teams highlights: Spencer Benton made a 55-yard field goal. Chandler Catanzaro made three of his four attempts, from 36, 39 and 41 yards.

Quotable: “It was a good first scrimmage,” said coach Dabo Swinney. “We made some mistakes, but they are correctable. I thought the defense played well. We saw a lot of activity around the ball. Xavier Brewer had a good scrimmage, as did Lateek Townsend. He was involved in three sacks and that was big.

“We have made good progress this first week. There is still much to do, but I like the attitude of this team. They come to work. They go about their business.”

MIAMI

Offensive highlights: Mike James rushed for a team-high 137 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns, including a 51-yard burst down the sideline. Duke Johnson had 49 yards on nine carries and four touchdowns -- three rushing and one receiving. He took a screen pass from Stephen Morris 37 yards for a score.

Morris and Ryan Williams showed good footwork to elude pressure in the pocket and scramble for yards when needed. Morris completed 24 of 36 passes for 193 yards with four touchdowns, with one interception. Williams threw for 121 yards and three scores on 12-of-17 passing.

Johnson led all receivers with 44 yards. Malcolm Lewis caught three passes for 42 yards, while Kendal Thompkins hauled in a team-best five catches for 22 yards.

Defensive highlights: A.J. Highsmith had a team-high nine tackles, while Tyrone Cornileus, Tracy Howard and Ramon Buchanan all recorded seven tackles apiece. Anthony Chickillo, JaWand Blue and Cornileus each recorded a sack.

Quotable: “We’ve been saying it all camp: Mike [James] looks quicker,” coach Al Golden said. “He has always been strong but now he looks healthy.

“[Duke Johnson] found [the end zone] a couple of times today. He has a low center of gravity and a knack for diving and finding the end zone.”

Joyner: Clemson built for future

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
10:30
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Can Clemson ensure that 2011 wasn't a one-year wonder? NFL Insider K.C. Joyner sure seems to think so Insider .

Citing Clemson's route-depth metrics, among several other reasons, "The Football Scientist" suggests the Tigers are not far away from being a much improved defensive team.
The yards per attempt (YPA) totals on short, medium and deep passes are all very solid. The problem is that the 19.5 YPA on bomb routes throws the entire pass defense equation out of whack.

To put it another way, Clemson's YPA totals would have been good across the board were it not for nine completed bomb passes. Since six of those completions were via post routes or post route variants, solving this problem could be as simple as getting the safeties to adhere to the old rule of staying as deep as the deepest receiver.

Good tacking could also solve a lot of issues. Five of the 12 short-pass touchdowns allowed in these games went for gains of 22 or more yards. Clemson could also benefit from better cornerback play, especially in place of starting cornerback Xavier Brewer and his 10.3 YPA mark.

Then, of course, there's the fact the offense returns a trio of All-ACC skill players in quarterback Tajh Boyd (first team), receiver Sammy Watkins (first) and running back Andre Ellington (second).

Throw in the Tigers' recruiting efforts -- Clemson ranked No. 10 in ESPNU's 2012 class rankings this year and has had seven top 25 classes since 2006, tied with Florida State for most in the ACC -- and the fact that Brent Venables has arrived to shore up the loose ends on defense, and Joyner sees Clemson in position to build off last year's ACC title and embark on one of the best stretches in program history.
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:

BOSTON COLLEGE

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.

CLEMSON

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.

FLORIDA STATE

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.

MARYLAND

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.

NC STATE

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.

WAKE FOREST

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 Xavier Brewer

January, 3, 2012
1/03/12
3:00
PM ET


Andrea Adelson talks to Clemson defensive back Xavier Brewer before his Tigers' play West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl.
It was a busy weekend in the ACC. Here's a look back at the highlights from the scrimmages, according to the sports information departments of the teams that provided reports:

BOSTON COLLEGE

Coach Frank Spaziani told reporters after the 70-minute scrimmage that there were some good things, but "it's like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in the box; they're not connected yet."

Offensive highlights:
  • Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 12 of 19 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. “I think Chase showed the progress he's been making,” Spaziani said. “The obvious things were fine; there were some subtle things he needs to work on.”
  • Rettig connected on passes of 10 yards six times, including a 30-yard pass to Colin Larmond, Jr., a 24-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to receiver Bobby Swigert and a 3-yard touchdown pass to senior captain Ifeanyi Momah.
  • Larmond (3 receptions for 53 yards), Swigert (3-for-33), junior receiver Donte Elliott (3-for-37) and redshirt freshman tight end Jarrett Darmstatter (3-for-16) led a total of 12 receivers that registered at least one reception each.
  • Rettig and fellow quarterbacks Mike Marscovetra and Dave Shinskie combined for four touchdowns as Marscovetra went 6-for-9 for 30 yards and a touchdown pass of five yards to junior receiver Hampton Hughes and Shinskie connected on 4-of-5 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown to sophomore tight end Mike Naples.
  • Tailback Rolandan Finch carried the ball 10 times for a total of 30 yards to lead all running backs while sophomore Andre Williams broke free for a 20-yard touchdown run during red zone drills. Williams finished with five attempts for 21 yards and redshirt freshman Tahj Kimble accounted for 20 yards on five carries.
Defensive highlights:
  • Linebacker Nick Clancy and defensive back Sean Sylvia led the team with four tackles each.
  • Sophomore linebacker Jake Sinkovec had one interception and one fumble recovery.
CLEMSON

Quarterback Tajh Boyd had an impressive performance, as he completed 10 of 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown to highlight the new offense in Clemson’s 75-play scrimmage in Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning.

Offensive highlights:
  • Boyd completed each of his final eight passes to six different receivers. He threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to receiver DeAndre Hopkins, then connected on a 3-yard score to Dwayne Allen in a goal-line situation.
  • Allen had three receptions for 66 yards, including a diving catch over the middle for 14 yards and a first down. Brandon Ford had three receptions for 37 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cole Stoudt.
  • Stoudt was 4-of-14 passing, but threw for 71 yards and two touchdowns, one to Ford and one to Bryce McNeal (23 yards).
  • Rod McDowell was the leading rusher with four carries for 68 yards, including a 39-yarder on his first carry of the day. Andre Ellington had five rushes for 41 yards and added two receptions, while freshman Mike Bellamy had five carries for 40 yards.
Defensive highlights:
  • The first-team defense did not allow a scoring drive.
  • Martin Jenkins led the team with seven tackles, including a tackle for loss.
  • Corico Hawkins had five tackles and a fumble recovery, while freshman defensive end Corey Crawford had five stops, including a sack.
Special teams highlights:
  • Clemson’s three kickers, Chandler Catanzaro, Ammon Lakip and Brian Symmes were a combined 16-of-16 on the day in field goal attempts and extra points against a live rush.
Notable:
  • Three Tigers missed the scrimmage because they were going through graduation exercises across the street from Memorial Stadium in Littlejohn Coliseum. Starting offensive tackle Landon Walker, starting safety Rashard Hall and reserve defensive end Kourtnei Brown all graduated from Clemson on Saturday. It was especially noteworthy for Hall, who has been at Clemson just three years. He joins Nick Eason (now in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals) as the only scholarship football players to graduate with two years of athletic eligibility remaining.
  • Four players missed the scrimmage due to injury. Those players were defensive back Xavier Brewer (sprained foot), defensive back Garry Peters (bruised calf), Andre Branch (head injury), DeShawn Williams (sprained ankle).
GEORGIA TECH

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson had mixed reviews after the Yellow Jackets' first scrimmage, which ran 90 minutes inside Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday morning.

"It was like a lot of first scrimmages, there were way too many balls on the ground and way too many penalties," Johnson said. "But we hit some big plays. When you play against each other there's positives and negatives on both sides. It's a starting place and we'll look at it and try to make some improvements."

Offensive highlights:
  • While no official statistics were kept, quarterback Tevin Washington passed for well over 100 yards, including a 63-yarder to senior A-back Roddy Jones. Redshirt freshman quarterback Synjyn Days threw the only touchdown of the day, to true freshman Jeff Greene.
  • Greene ran with the first unit Saturday as most of the veterans -- junior Stephen Hill, senior Tyler Melton, sophomore Jeremy Moore and junior Daniel McKayhan -- all sat out with injuries.
  • Washington scored the only other touchdown Saturday on a 1-yard QB keeper.
Defensive highlights:
  • Defensive end Emmanuel Dieke had a sack, true freshman Jamal Golden intercepted a Vad Lee pass, and Steven Sylvester and Isaiah Johnson both recovered fumbles.
Special teams highlights:
  • Sophomore Justin Moore booted a 45-yard field goal on his only attempt.
  • David Scully's 52-yard attempt was long enough, but just wide left.
MIAMI

The most important news out of Miami's first scrimmage was that quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris combined for five touchdown passes and only one interception. That sounds like improvement. Miami's quarterbacks combined for 407 passing yards on 38-of-52 passing for six touchdowns and only one interception.

Offensive highlights:
  • Receiver Tommy Streeter had the best offensive day for the Canes, catching five passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came from Harris.
  • Lamar Miller had runs of 16 and 31 yards on the opening drive.
Defensive highlights:
  • Senior defensive back JoJo Nicolas led all defenders with eight tackles (six solo), with two tackles for loss.
  • Ramon Buchanan and freshman Gionni Paul and each had six total tackles, with Paul also recording a tackle for loss.
  • The defense totaled eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 29 yards
VIRGINIA TECH

The Hokies' offense was the highlight, but what does that mean for the defense? Coach Frank Beamer pointed out that there were some long plays allowed, as the offense racked up 398 yards of total offense in the 78-play scrimmage at Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The touchdowns came against Tech's second- or third-team defense, though, so the jury is still out.

"I thought it was a good first scrimmage -- better than most," Beamer said, according to the team's scrimmage report. "You take into consideration that you're trying to get everyone some work, people who don't know quite what they're doing, and that makes things a little ragged. I thought overall, though, it was a sharp scrimmage. The quarterbacks made some nice plays and Wilson got a couple of long plays against the defense, and we need to see what's going on there. Overall, the effort was good and the play was good."

Offensive highlights:
  • Backup quarterback Mark Leal led the quarterbacks with 116 yards passing, completing 6 of 13. He also threw an interception. Beamer said Leal is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Logan Thomas. Ju-Ju Clayton, who has dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart, completed 6 of 10 for 51 yards, while starter Thomas completed 4 of 8 for 79 yards, with an interception, in limited action.
  • Tailback David Wilson scored against the Hokies' second-team defense on a 22-yard run. Wilson led all rushers with 57 yards on five carries. Freshman Michael Holmes added 54 yards rushing on a game-high 11 carries.
Defensive highlights:
  • Freshman tackle Luther Maddy led the team with eight tackles, including two for a loss, and a sack. Freshman Michael Cole added six tackles, while Telvion Clark and Jack Tyler each finished with four.
  • Barquell Rivers had three tackles and an interception.
  • Jayron Hosley and freshman Ronny Vandyke also had interceptions. Hosley intercepted a Logan Thomas pass, while Vandyke intercepted a Trey Gresh attempt.
Special teams highlights:
  • The kickers connected on 5-of-6 attempts. Cody Journell hit from 35, 22 and 35 yards, while Justin Myer drilled a 52-yarder and a 28-yarder. "Cody's kicking extremely well," Beamer said. "Myer has a load of potential, and he needs to win some of the kicking contests during the week. That shows consistency, and that's where he is right now. Cody is usually winning it or right in the running at the end."
As advertised ...

1. Florida State: The Noles have one of the best cornerback duos in the country in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. They combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Mike Harris had 41 tackles and four picks as a reserve.

[+] EnlargeGreg Reid
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireFlorida State cornerback Greg Reid is also one of the ACC's top return men.
2. Virginia Tech: Jayron Hosley is one of the top boundary corners in the country, and the Hokies also have Kyle Fuller, who had six deflections last season, and Cris Hill (two deflections) at field corner.

3. Maryland: The Terps return both starters in Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, who combined for 36 career starts. Chism is a strong cover corner who had 70 tackles and eight deflections last season. Hughes had nine pass deflections.

4. NC State: Both starters return in C.J. Wilson and David Amerson. Wilson had 46 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups, and Amerson had 57 tackles. Justin Byers and Gary Grant also have experience.

5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost some remarkable talent in their secondary, including cornerback Kendric Burney, but there is a lot of depth at the position. Jabari Price started four games last season, Charles Brown has 22 career starts but sat out last season, and Mywan Jackson and Tre Boston both have at least four starts each.

6. Boston College: The Eagles will miss DeLeon Gause, but Donnie Fletcher has 17 career starts, 56 tackles last season, and led the team with five picks. C.J. Jones played in 12 games as a backup last season with 16 tackles. Dominique Williams also saw some time and had four tackles, and true freshman Al Louis-Jean, who was the No. 9 cornerback in the nation as ranked by ESPN Recruiting, enrolled early.

7. Clemson: It’s a young group, as the Tigers had to replace Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Xavier Brewer had 10 starts with 50 tackles and two interceptions last season, Coty Sensabaugh had 31 tackles in three starts, and senior Mansa Joseph will also be competing for playing time with sophomore Martin Jenkins.

8. Virginia: The Cavaliers return both starters in Chase Minnifield and Devin Wallace, but Wallace was suspended and missed spring ball and is still suspended. Wallace had 38 tackles and six breakups last season. Chris Broadnax, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey and Pablo Alvarez will all compete for playing time.

9. Miami: The Hurricanes have to replace both starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Jo-Jo Nicholas moved to corner and Brandon McGee, who was the nickel back last season, will compete along with Lee Chambers, Keion Payne, Nathan Gholston and true freshman Thomas Finnie, who had a great spring.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace their entire secondary, including cornerbacks Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. They’ve still got several cornerbacks with experience in Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009, Rod Sweeting (38 tackles, seven pass breakups, one interception), Louis Young (10 tackles), and Michael Peterson (six tackles, one pass breakup).

11. Wake Forest: The Deacs have a deep enough secondary that they can live without the experience of cornerback Kevin Johnson, who started five games last season but will sit out this season while academically ineligible. Josh Bush had 33 tackles and four pass breakups last season, Kenny Okoro is a rising star, A.J. Marshall has three starts and Dominique Tate returns after missing last season while on academic suspension.

12. Duke: Ross Cockrell is a returning starter and finished last season with 60 tackles and 10 passes defended. He was only a freshman but he tied for eighth in the ACC with passes defended with 10 in 12 games. Johnny Williams had four pass breakups last season.
A few items of interest from Monday's practice report:
  • The deadline for quarterback Kyle Parker to sign a contract with the Colorado Rockies is midnight tonight. Parker was a first-round selection of the Rockies in June. The deadline for all college players to sign with a Major League team is Monday night. Parker completed the morning practice, then left to be with his family in Augusta, Ga., to work out the contract with the Rockies. Parker will miss Monday night’s practice and Tuesday morning’s scrimmage.

“This is a very important decision for Kyle and he has a lot of things to work out, so he has the rest of today and Tuesday off,” coach Dabo Swinney said, according to the team's practice report. “I told him he could take all of Monday off, but he wanted to be here for this morning practice.

“He has done a great job focusing on football since he came back to school. He had a great scrimmage on Saturday. I know he is looking forward to getting this contract settled. We won’t have practice Wednesday, because it is the first day of school, so we will see him Thursday.”
  • Swinney said his kicking situation is "cloudy at the moment."

"If we played today, the kicker would be Chandler Cantanzaro, a red-shirt freshman from Greenville, S.C. He has made 94 percent of his field goal attempts inside the 40 so far in the preseason, the best of our three kickers.”
  • Starting defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was not at Monday morning’s practice, but is scheduled to return to practice for the Monday evening practice. Bowers has missed the past week following the sudden death of his father, Dennis Bowers, a week ago Sunday.
  • Five players were in yellow jerseys on Monday because of injury. Those players were DeAndre Hopkins (shoulder), Rennie Moore (thigh), D.J. Howard (ankle), Ben Ramsey (ankle) and Xavier Brewer (hamstring). Freshman linebacker Justin Parker missed will miss both practices on Monday as he returned home to be with his mother, who is ill.

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