- Jimbo Fisher seemed to undercut the impact of his former defensive coordinator, writes the Orlando Sentinel.
- Al Golden says Ryan Williams’ injury doesn’t mean the Miami QB battle is over, writes the Miami Herald.
- Plenty of QB questions remain in the Triangle for Duke, State and UNC, writes the Rocky Mount Telegram.
- Syracuse’s kicker has been suspended for the second time in five months, writes The Post-Standard.
- Mike London is meeting with each of his quarterbacks before officially revising Virginia’s depth chart, writes The Daily Progress.
- Another case of live practices hurting QBs: Frank Beamer says both Brenden Motley and Mark Leal were “nicked up” this week, writes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Dave Doeren is hoping high school QB Pharoah McKever can have a big impact on NC State’s defense, writes the Wilmington (NC) Star-News.
- Bobby Petrino says the situation at Louisville is a familiar one, writes the Courier-Journal.
- Tom Savage’s rise up draft boards comes as no surprise to Paul Chryst, writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Former Boston College tight end CJ Parsons was charged with beating a homeless man, writes Boston.com.
- Despite sparse attendance, Georgia Tech plans to keep playing its spring games on Friday nights, writes the AJC.
- Dabo Swinney says he has no plans to change procedures after a group accused him of imposing his religious beliefs on his team, writes The State.
- ACC coaches are closely watching players’ bids to unionize, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- One of the best stories on Clemson’s roster is looking to offer more inspiration on the field this year, writes Tiger Net.
- There’s barely enough depth to fill out two rosters at Wake Forest, but Dave Clawson says the spring game will proceed as usual, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.
- Reports suggest Boston College could get a boost via transfer from a familiar face, writes BC Interruption.
- An early financial loss on the BCS title game will result in many longterm gains for Florida State, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
- Strong blocking from the wide receivers will be crucial to Syracuse’s offense, writes The Post-Standard.
- Athlon digs in to what might be the most intriguing rivalry in the ACC Coastal this year: Duke vs. North Carolina.
- Virginia Tech’s offensive line is getting bigger -- and hopefully better -- writes The Roanoke Times.
- From the Rumble Seat takes a deeper look at Georgia Tech’s defensive effort in the spring game.
- Former Pitt player Jovani Chappel was sentenced to up to two years for bank robbery, writes the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The whistle-blower who exposed academic fraud at North Carolina will resign at the end of the semester, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- For better or worse, the triple-option remains at Georgia Tech, and this will be a telling season, writes Sports on Earth.
- Bo Jackson says Jameis Winston should follow his heart when it comes to being a two-sport athlete, writes Yahoo!. Worth noting: Bo used to watch Winston play in grade school. They’re both from the Bessemer, Ala. area.
- Recruiting season is heating up at FSU, as the coaching staff hits the road, writes Tomahawk Nation.
- Virginia Tech defensive tackle Luther Maddy says the Hokies’ D is destined for another great season, writes The Roanoke Times.
- The new coaching staff at Louisville will see an overall bump in salary, writes The Courier-Journal.
- Mike London’s family has special ties to Virginia’s bone marrow drive, writes the Daily Progress.
- Here’s a closer look at former BC tailback Andre Williams’ draft stock, courtesy of Scout.
- Syracuse QB A.J. Long made a solid enough impression on his coaches during spring practice, writes The Post-Standard.
- Chick-fil-A is putting the “peach” back in the Peach Bowl, writes the AJC.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State had the luxury a season ago of playing not only with future NFL draft picks all over its defense, but with senior leaders at each level.
Plenty of talent remains as the Seminoles look ahead to defending their national championship. But there is a major void in senior leadership. While the offense is full of seniors, the defense is not. There are no seniors projected to start on defense in 2014. Only two are projected for the two-deep. So who will step up to fill the hole usually filled by the most veteran players on the team?
Though senior leadership is lost from the defense, experience remains. Seven starters return, including five juniors who started in the BCS national title game against Auburn. Starting linebacker Terrance Smith is a fourth-year junior. So is safety Tyler Hunter, who is expected to return after missing most of last season with a neck injury.
But perhaps the biggest leadership shoes to fill belong to departed safety Lamarcus Joyner, the heart and soul of the defense and one of the most vocal leaders on the team. Jalen Ramsey, who will play the same position Joyner did last season, seems uniquely qualified to step right in.
Not only does he return after playing in all 14 games last year as a freshman, he has the same characteristics that made Joyner stand out as a vocal leader. Ramsey is confident in his abilities, but not arrogant. He is not shy about being honest. Like Joyner -- who started leading the Seminoles well before he started his senior season -- Ramsey is not afraid of the added responsibility. His candor has already won his teammates over. Fisher says Ramsey has been "off the chain" with his leadership during the spring.
"I think I should hold myself to step up in that area. I feel I can push other people," Ramsey said.
So does cornerback P.J. Williams, another player who has stepped up in the leadership department. Being named Defensive MVP of the national championship game has not only boosted his own confidence, but given him more authority to speak up, especially with Joyner gone.
"It’s a big role to try and step up and do because Lamarcus was a great player," Williams said. "He led by example to everybody and everybody looked up to him. Now, I'm just trying to compete at a high level, talk to my players and make sure we’re on the right page. We want to win another national championship so we know we have to work hard."
Florida State hopes a lack of senior leadership on defense turns out to be no problem. It's like Fisher tells his team all the time:
"Is there an age limit on leadership?" Fisher said. "Is there an age limit on good players? How old do you have to be to be a good player? Why can’t you be a good player now? That’s what we’re finding out."
Florida State won its third national championship in Pasadena, Calif., in January, but the appearance in the final BCS title game also cost the university nearly a half-million dollars.
Florida State reported expenses of $2,820,613 -- nearly half of which came from transportation costs -- which exceeded the revenue generated from its BCS appearance by a total of $481,213.
The loss does not come as a surprise for FSU. Athletics director Stan Wilcox said in February that playing on the West coast increased travel expenses and hindered ticket sales, making it nearly impossible to turn a profit on the endeavor. Wilcox said that the losses were more than covered by the share of BCS revenue paid out by the conference along with projected increased future revenue that comes from winning a national title.
"We're not losing money in the long run, because as a conference, we're making a lot more money and those dollars are filtered down to the institutions," Wilcox said. "The issue has to do with the amount of expense allotted to go participate and what your expenses end up being."
According to Florida State's balance sheet, the athletics department spent $1,372,805 to transport 699 people to Pasadena for the game, including 237 members of the team and staff and 416 band members.
Spring game attendance.
Louisville drew 27,500 fans to its spring game (on a Friday night) two weeks ago, one year after drawing 33,000 fans. For those keeping track at home, only 17 schools that reported spring game attendance to date even reached 20,000 spectators. Based on attendance figures that have been reported, Louisville ranks in the top 15 in the country and third in the ACC behind established powers Florida State and Clemson.
They are the only three ACC schools that had more than 20,000 fans at their spring games so far, tied for second with the Big Ten. The SEC leads the way with eight to date.
While we are not putting a large amount of stock in attendance numbers associated with fairly meaningless scrimmages, the support is tangible proof that interest in the program goes beyond basketball. Louisville has made a huge effort to boost its football product, and rising spring game figures show there is excitement in not only what already has been accomplished but what also lies ahead. Charlie Strong helped rebuild the brand, and now Bobby Petrino takes over for his second stint with high expectations surrounding the program.
It cannot be understated just how much the ACC needs Louisville to generate football interest. Football essentially pushed Louisville ahead of UConn in the race to join the league two years ago. The ACC would have been just as good a basketball conference with either Louisville or UConn, the last two men's basketball champions. But it is not even close with football (it should be noted UConn's spring football attendance was 6,500).
Wake Forest and Virginia Tech close out ACC spring practices this weekend with their spring games. The Hokies usually rank No. 3 in the ACC in attendance during the season and should draw a solid crowd this weekend. Among the other ACC schools that reported attendance numbers, Miami was the only one to draw more than 10,000 to its spring game (announced crowd of 12,160).
Boston College, NC State, North Carolina and Virginia did not announce spring game attendance numbers. Pitt did not hold a spring game.
- Duke’s football team is hitting the track this offseason with an eye toward playing faster in 2014, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- Virginia Tech’s weekend scrimmage was far from encouraging for the offense, writes The Roanoke Times.
- Miami picked up a commitment from one of the area’s top athletes, writes the Sun-Sentinel.
- Syracuse coach Scott Shafer’s first year on the job was a happy one according to his wife, writes the Post-Standard.
- Former Pitt stars Tom Savage and Aaron Donald have both turned down invites to attend the NFL draft in New York.
- Quarterback Tim Byerly was one of the standouts this spring for Georgia Tech, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Jimbo Fisher is seeing plenty of enthusiasm but isn’t changing his approach on his first booster club tour since winning a national championship, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
JD in State College, Pa., writes: Where do you think Pitt sophomores James Conner and Tyler Boyd rank among ACC running back/wide receiver combos?
HD: I'm looking at every team in the league and it's tough to find one that compares. Some of them have half the equation, such as Jamison Crowder at Duke. But when you consider that Clemson has to replace its leading rusher and top two receivers from a year ago, FSU lost Kelvin Benjamin, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman ... Pitt has to be near the top -- if not No. 1 -- and last season was only the beginning for them. Based on potential, though, they could be surpassed by Miami's combo of Duke Johnson and Stacy Coley, especially with Johnson healthy again. And don't forget that FSU reloads. Karlos Williams and Rashad Greene could state their case. Here's a sleeper for you: UNC's T.J. Logan and Quinshad Davis. Logan drew rave reviews from the coaching staff this spring.
HD: No hope? I'd never say no hope. Hapless maybe, but not hopeless. Here's the scoop on VT's offense this spring: The Hokies are better everywhere on offense this spring. Every position is deeper and better. Except quarterback. It's still a huge question, and one that won't be answered until this summer when the entire roster is practicing. There's plenty of talent on that roster, but until they find an answer at quarterback, I'm not picking them to win the Coastal Division.
HD: Yep, I'm pretty sure I said that one, though technically I think I said it could be the best D in the ACC, even better than Florida State's. Look, I know everyone is not used to Clemson's defense being a strength, just like you're not used to Duke being a contender in the Coastal Division race, but stay with me here. FSU's defensive line has been depleted in the past two years by the NFL draft, whereas Clemson's defensive line finally has a veteran look. I'm not going to make too much out of the turnover at the coordinator position because there's still continuity there for the Seminoles, but Clemson enters this fall with fewer questions on defense.
HD: I don't think the overall expectations should be lower -- but maybe the expectations about routinely bringing in an elite quarterback should be. Granted, much of Virginia's woes can be traced to inconsistency, indecisiveness and underwhelming performances from that position. But look across the ACC, not to mention college football, and how often does a Matt Ryan come along? Philip Rivers? There are more of the likes of Logan Thomas, Chase Rettig and Tanner Price. You're right that UVa football is capable of more than what we've seen, especially with the increased commitment to facilities, recruiting and staff salaries. It should be a regular bowl-bound team, and every now and then make some noise in the Coastal Division race, but is it going to be the next Clemson? Probably not.
- This news is just peachy.
- Clemson has gone local for its latest commitments.
- The Tiger paw strikes again.
- Florida State is still basking in the glow of its championship.
- A big crowd of recruits is expected for the Georgia Tech spring game.
- Is Louisville still an undervalued collegiate athletics property?
- North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham stung some members of the athletic department with recent comments to Forbes Magazine.
- NC State defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen chats about the Wolfpack's progress during spring.
- Pitt is pulling its weight for a new strength coach.
- Setting the stage for the Syracuse spring game.
- Inexperience could be a factor on the UVa offensive line.
- A smaller defense is no big deal to Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster.
- Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson wants to see improvements in the pass game during the team's scrimmage tonight.
"We're the national champions and we should remember that, but also that last year was last year," Fisher said in March, previewing comments he would make to Ivan Maisel prior to last week's Garnet and Gold Game. "It's a line you have to walk, but hey, I'd rather be walking it than not!"
The Seminoles aren't the only program who spent spring and will go on spending summer and fall trying to find that balance between seizing the momentum of 2013 success while also instilling a sense of, "but don't get too comfortable, boys, we still have work to do."
So, how does a coach achieve that balance?
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So when his quarterbacks started begging him to go live this spring, his first reaction was, ‘No way!’ He was in protection mode, the way he was as a Steelers assistant. But veterans Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette persisted, and he slowly relented -- only a few times, and with clear instructions to the defense.
His is a dilemma that many coaches across the league have faced this spring. Do you allow your quarterbacks to get hit in practice to help simulate game situations and foster competition, knowing you have increased their injury risk? Or do you never even broach the subject because the priority should always be to protect the quarterback?
Four ACC teams allowed their quarterbacks to go live at some point during spring practice, more than any other power-five league. Clemson did it for the first time under offensive coordinator Chad Morris, believing he would see more out of the three quarterbacks vying for the starting job. Early enrollee freshman Deshaun Watson ended up getting hurt and missing the spring game.
Florida State allowed its younger quarterbacks to go live this spring. Coach Jimbo Fisher said he did the same last year, when Jameis Winston was a redshirt freshman competing to win the starting job.
“They’ve got to be able to feel things around them and react,” Fisher said. “They get in a false security blanket sometimes.”
Does that cause him extra worry?
“It’s no different than when we run the running backs, and I get nervous in the scrimmages when the backs are running and get tackled,” Fisher said. “Our guys know if they’ve got a kill shot, not to. There’s a certain limit of how we practice with each other. You know those shots that everyone wants to have? We won’t take those on each other even if we’re in a live scrimmage because it’s not productive to the organization. Tough to me is when you’re eyeball to eyeball, not when a guy’s exposed and you can do that.”
The coaches are not the only ones who wrestle with the idea. NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett was not live this spring. But when he was competing for the starting job at Florida with Jeff Driskel back in 2012, both were allowed to go live early on in fall practice. The first day they were allowed to take hits, Driskel hurt his shoulder.
For a running quarterback such as Brissett, that helps. Same for the Duke quarterbacks. Georgia Tech has its quarterbacks live during practice for that reason.
Some coaches believe going live helps separate the competition. But Clemson was the only school with an open quarterback competition to allow its quarterbacks to go live during scrimmage situations. North Carolina, for example, has Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky battling to win the starting job, but offensive coordinator Seth Littrell does not believe it is necessary to allow quarterbacks to get hit. “I’ve never done it,” he said.
Virginia Tech also is in the middle of an intense competition, but quarterbacks have been off limits so far this spring. Veteran Mark Leal would have no problem if the coaches changed their minds.
“Honestly, I'd like to be live,” he said. “I think the rest of the quarterbacks would, too, because it gives more of a game feel. If you're not live, sometimes the whistle gets blown early when you don't think you should have been sacked or the play gets messed up because when there's a rush around you, the first thing the coaches want to do is blow the whistle, rather than you continue to play or go through your reads and progressions and finish the play.”
Depth concerns often dictate what coaches do. Pitt only had two scholarship quarterbacks this spring, so there was no way they were going live. Virginia Tech only has three quarterbacks on the roster this spring.
Still, all the protections most coaches take are not enough to keep their quarterbacks injury-free. Miami quarterbacks were off limits this spring, but Ryan Williams tore his ACL during a scrimmage.
It was a noncontact injury.
- Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett is confident in quarterback Cole Stoudt. So is Tajh Boyd.
- Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden kicks off his booster tour today.
- Georgia Tech back Broderick Snoddy will be racking up the frequent flyer miles with track and football this week.
- Former Louisville defensive tackle Roy Philon is hoping for an NFL shot. Louisville has reportedly signed a $40 million shoe and apparel deal to stay with adidas.
- Two Miami basketball players have turned to football.
- Russell Wilson spoke to NC State football players when he was in town for the spring game.
- Pitt begins the transition to the next phase in the offseason.
- Thumbs up or thumbs down on the new Syracuse uniforms? One fashion expert weighs in.
- Could Greyson Lambert be Virginia football's Joe Harris?
- Former Virginia Tech player Eddie Royal shares what 4/16/07 means to him.
- Freshman Hokies running back Marshawn Williams can pound the rock.
- The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a complaint to Clemson over the way Dabo Swinney has incorporated religion into the program.
- Former Duke quarterback Brandon Connette is visiting Fresno State.
- The New York Times examines the Tallahassee police department's investigation into sexual assault allegations against Jameis Winston.
- Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu has been busy meeting and greeting NFL coaches and team executives.
- What did we learn from the North Carolina and NC State spring games?
- Pitt cornerback Jahmahl Pardner has decided to leave the team.
- Syracuse coach Scott Shafer revealed the spring game format.
- Virginia Tech quarterback Brenden Motley has earned the opportunity to play with the first team, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler says.
- Athlon Sports ranks the ACC's quarterbacks headed into 2014.
Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
TBD Wofford Georgia Tech TBD Clemson Georgia TBD Boston College Massachusetts TBD James Madison Maryland TBD Elon Duke TBD Georgia Southern North Carolina State TBD Liberty North Carolina TBD Delaware Pittsburgh TBD UCLA Virginia TBD William & Mary Virginia Tech 8:00 PM ET Florida State Oklahoma State