NCF Nation: Bobby Swigert

ACC power rankings: Week 12

November, 12, 2012

The Coastal Division race is as clear as mud, with Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all still capable of winning the division title. Go ahead, rank those four teams on your own. See what you come up with. Good luck. Meanwhile, Florida State is in the driver's seat in the Atlantic Division. Here’s one version of the ACC power rankings for this week:

1. Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Seminoles came through in the clutch in a 28-22 win at Virginia Tech. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel orchestrated a last-minute scoring drive and the defense came up with a key interception on Logan Thomas’ final attempt at a comeback. All FSU needs to do is win at Maryland to clinch the Atlantic Division next week.

2. Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – There wasn’t much to be learned from Clemson’s 45-10 win over an injury-laden Maryland team. This game went as expected, with Maryland showing toughness, but not having nearly enough to hang with or stop Clemson’s talented offensive playmakers. The Tigers set a school record with their 12th straight home win.

3. Duke (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 5) – The Blue Devils had this past Saturday off to prepare for their next opponent, Georgia Tech, but as North Carolina learned, it doesn’t always help. Duke’s defense has allowed at least 48 points in each of its past two losses to the ACC’s top two teams, FSU and Clemson. This will be Duke’s biggest game since 1994, as the program can win the Coastal Division with wins at Georgia Tech and against Miami.

4. Miami (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 3) – The Hurricanes almost won on the road without three of their defensive starters, but they couldn’t stop UVa quarterback Michael Rocco on the final drive. Miami has one ACC game remaining -- at Duke -- but the Hurricanes could find themselves in a three-way Coastal tie with Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

5. Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3; LW: No. 9) – The Jackets kept their Coastal Division hopes alive with a 68-50 win over North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was the most points ever scored in an ACC game, and it was an impressive performance by Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee. The defense will have to play better, though, this weekend against Duke.

6. North Carolina (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – You’d never know the Tar Heels had two weeks to prepare for Georgia Tech. The defense allowed 588 yards, seven rushing touchdowns and 28 first downs in the loss. Once again, UNC won’t be able to get past the eight-win mark, and even that’s not a guarantee with a Thursday night road trip to UVa looming.

7. Virginia (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 11) – The Hoos are one of the hottest teams in the ACC right now, with back-to-back wins. Two more and they finish at .500 and become bowl-eligible despite a dismal start to the season. Quarterback Michael Rocco threw for four touchdowns and no picks in the win over Miami.

8. NC State (6-4, 3-3; LW: No. 4) – The Wolfpack bounced back from the loss to Virginia with a convincing 37-6 win over Wake Forest to become bowl-eligible. NC State should now have some confidence heading into Saturday’s game versus Clemson at Death Valley. It was a much more complete effort in all three phases of the game and one the team can be proud of.

9. Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 8) – It wasn’t for lack of effort. In fact, Virginia Tech’s defense played its best game of the season against Florida State, but the Hokies came up empty on two turnovers and weren’t able to capitalize on the Noles’ mistakes. Virginia Tech now has to win its final two games just to become bowl eligible, and that won’t be easy against a UVa rival trying to do the same.

10. Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5; LW: No. 6) – The Deacs were beaten soundly by NC State, particularly up front, where the Wolfpack’s defensive line got to quarterback Tanner Price repeatedly. Wake Forest is now in a tough spot with undefeated Notre Dame coming up, and Vanderbilt to end the season. The Deacs need to find one more win to go bowling.

11. Boston College (2-8, 1-5; LW: No. 12) – It was a respectable performance against Notre Dame, a typical, blue-collar, BC effort, but it simply wasn’t enough against a better team. BC’s running game was again stifled, and receiver Bobby Swigert was knocked out of the game with an injury. BC gets to stay home again for Virginia Tech before ending the season at NC State.

12. Maryland (4-6, 2-4; LW: No. 10) – The Terps are hurting, both literally and figuratively. They played hard against Clemson but had only 180 total yards. That number could decrease even more this weekend when Florida State comes to town if the Terps don’t get Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown back on the field.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 8, 2012
Here are the top storylines to watch in the ACC headed into Week 11.

1. Can Florida State play well on the road? There is a huge game in Blacksburg Thursday night, even though the Hokies have fallen off the map this season. For one, nobody on the current Florida State roster has ever played at Lane Stadium, where the Hokies have won seven straight -- including a perfect 4-0 mark this season. For another, Florida State has not exactly torn up their opponents while on the road. Consider, FSU has beaten its FBS opposition by an average score of 50-13 in Tallahassee. On the road? That average score moves down to 26-18.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's EJ Manuel
AP Photo/Gerry Broome)EJ Manuel and FSU face a tough road test against Virginia Tech.
2. On the flip side, can Virginia Tech rise up to the challenge? The Hokies have played pretty well on Thursday nights historically speaking, but looked totally out of sorts last week in a loss to Miami. Turnovers came back to haunt them, along with mistakes on special teams and defense. Now, they are playing a much better -- and higher ranked team. Can Logan Thomas outplay his counterpart from the state of Virginia, EJ Manuel?

3. Focus, Miami. The Hurricanes have a great chance to make it to their first ACC title game, but first they have to get past a Virginia team that looked vastly different from the group we had seen the majority of the season. Virginia has won four of the past six meetings between the schools and found its running game last week against NC State. If the Hoos can continue to run well against one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation while taking care of the football, they've got a chance. And that would be "so ACC," throwing the Coastal Division into disarray once again.

4. Paging NC State. Will the Wolfpack show up to play Wake Forest on Saturday? For the second straight week, NC State has bowl eligibility on the line against an opponent it is favored to beat. Things did not go as expected last week in a disappointing 33-6 loss to Virginia, a team that entered the contest on a six-game losing streak. NC State simply cannot go through the motions against a scrappy Wake Forest team with bowl eligibility on the line in this game as well.

5. Home cookin.' We mentioned Virginia Tech's home winning streak earlier. North Carolina and Clemson have played very well at home, too. The Tar Heels come off their bye and host Georgia Tech with a shot to finish the season unbeaten at home. North Carolina has gone undefeated and untied at home just seven times since 1927. Only once in school history -- 1980 -- have the Tar Heels gone 7-0 at home. The last time Carolina was undefeated at home was 1996 (5-0). Clemson, meanwhile, has a chance to set a school record with its 12th straight home win if it beats Maryland.

6. Diggs vs. Watkins. The matchup between Clemson and Maryland features last year's rookie of the year -- Sammy Watkins -- against the potential rookie of the year this year -- Stefon Diggs. Diggs is currently averaging 174.9 all-purpose yards per game to rank second in the ACC and seventh nationally. If it stands until the end of the year, it would be the best ever by an ACC freshman -- just ahead of Watkins’ 171.4 a year ago. Diggs was in a walking boot this week, and we will know more about his status later today.

7. Can BC keep it close? The Eagles are a heavy underdog against No. 4 Notre Dame, but they nearly pulled the upset on the Irish last season, losing 16-14. Chase Rettig threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Swigert with 1:57 remaining, but Notre Dame recovered the onside kick and held on for the win. Coach Frank Spaziani said staying close last year has no bearing on the matchup this year. The Eagles have no running game to speak of, so they are going to have to take their chances through the air.

8. Slowing down Giovani. Georgia Tech is the next team that gets to figure out how to slow Giovani Bernard, who had 304 all-purpose yards the last time out against NC State. Bernard had a terrific game against the Jackets last season, with 202 all-purpose yards (155 yards rushing, 47 yards receiving) but that was before he added returns to his resume. Georgia Tech has won three straight in the series.

9. Can Clemson keep rolling? The Tigers face the No. 11 total defense in the nation this week in Maryland, so will that slow their roll? Clemson ranks No. 9 in the nation in total offense, and has racked up 1,252 yards and 98 points in their past two wins. The Terps will be without one of their best defensive players in linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, so his absence could impact how much Maryland can slow down Tajh Boyd and company.

10. Camp vs. NC State secondary. The big matchup to watch between Wake Forest and NC State will be Michael Campanaro against an secondary that ranks No. 106 in the nation in pass defense. Nobody expected to see that large number next to NC State when the season began. Campanaro leads the ACC in receptions per game (8.6) and tied an ACC single-game record with 16 catches last week against Boston College.

Wake Forest downs Boston College

November, 3, 2012
It was the Michael Campanaro show early, and the defense show late.

Campanaro caught three first-half touchdown passes, and the Wake Forest defense came up with huge stops down the stretch to help the Deacs to a 28-14 win over Boston College on Saturday.

Campanaro ended with 123 yards, and tied an ACC single-game record with 16 receptions -- showing once again how much he was missed while he sat out with a hand injury. He was largely ineffective in his return last week against Clemson, but that was not the case against an Eagles defense that has struggled all season.

The Eagles (2-7, 1-5) had their share of chances to win. A bit of trickeration closed the deficit to 21-14 early in the third quarter, when a double pass had receiver Bobby Swigert throwing the touchdown to tight end Chris Pantale.

On the following Wake Forest possession, Spenser Rositano intercepted a pass from Tanner Price deep into Wake territory. But a flag pushed Boston College back further. Still, the Eagles appeared to be in good shape. But the always reliable Nate Freese missed a 43-yard field goal -- his first miss under 50 yards this season.

Wake Forest (5-4, 3-4) then went up two touchdowns when Josh Harris ran for a 23-yard score.

After that came the big Wake stops -- or the missed BC opportunities, depending on your perspective. The Eagles were stopped on fourth-and-short near the goal line to kill one drive. Interestingly enough, they called for two straight running plays -- even though they could not run a lick on Saturday.

On the following BC possession, Chase Rettig threw his third interception of the day. The Eagles ended up with four turnovers and squandered any momentum they may have had after beating Maryland a week ago, and were officially eliminated from bowl contention.

Wake Forest is now one win away from bowl eligibility.
Boston College receiver Bobby Swigert will miss the season opener next week against Miami with a left knee injury, coach Frank Spaziani announced Friday.

Swigert was hurt during the team scrimmage Wednesday after making his only catch. In the announcement, Spaziani said Swigert will be out for several weeks. Expected to start this season, Swigert appeared in all 12 games last season and led the Eagles with 44 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns.

Injuries are really mounting for the Eagles, who will be without at least three starters against Miami. Tight end Chris Pantale (foot) and cornerback Al Louis-Jean (foot) also are out for the Miami game. Running backs Rolandan Finch, Andre Williams and Tahj Kimble also have been banged up during preseason camp.
With national signing day quickly approaching, we’re going to take a look at the recruiting needs of each school in the ACC, starting with the Atlantic Division. These needs are based on current rosters and anticipated departures in the near future. Here’s a look at who has what holes to fill in the 2012 class:


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Final: Irish 16, BC 14

November, 19, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame edged out Boston College in an ugly contest Saturday, escaping with a 16-14 Senior Day victory at Notre Dame Stadium.

David Ruffer's 27-yard field goal with just more than eight minutes left in the contest all but iced the game. Bobby Swigert's seven-yard touchdown catch with 1:57 remaining was too little, too late for the Eagles.

Robby Toma recovered Boston College's ensuing onside kick attempt.

The Irish won their fourth straight game overall and their third over an ACC opponent in as many weeks, matching last season's win total in improving to 8-3.

However, it was not all roses for Notre Dame on its Senior Day, as running back Jonas Gray went down in the third quarter with what looked like a serious knee injury. The blow would be devastating to the Irish backfield and especially to the senior Gray, who had a renaissance campaign and was positioning himself to be drafted this coming spring.

Be sure to keep it here for postgame reaction to the Irish win and for the latest news surrounding Gray's injury.
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:


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.

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.
  • 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 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.

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

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."
You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.
It seems as if Boston College receiver Colin Larmond Jr. has made his collegiate career out of waiting.

For two years, he waited patiently for his chance to become a full-time starter. Before he ever had a chance to experience it last year, Larmond suffered a season-ending torn ACL two weeks before the season began. Now, after a spring in which he has been limited to running, lifting and watching, Larmond is once again waiting to be cleared for full participation with the hopes of playing an integral role in BC’s offense this fall under first-year coordinator Kevin Rogers.

[+] EnlargeColin Larmond Jr.
AP Photo/Rob Carr)Colin Larmond Jr.'s best season came in 2009, when he caught 29 passes for 596 yards and five TDs.
Larmond said he expects to be 100 percent by the end of May or early June, and he’ll have some catching up to do in summer camp. Every player who caught a pass last season returns at BC, including two true freshmen who gained invaluable experience in Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert.

Without Larmond in the lineup, they didn’t have much choice.

Amidon led the team with a 21.1 yards per catch average. He totaled 338 yards on 16 catches and had two touchdowns. Swigert led the team in catches (39), yards (504), touchdowns (4) and average per game (38.8). Ifeanyi Momah is returning for his fifth year and was second among wide receivers with 31 catches, 338 yards and a 26.0 per game average. The Eagles also return Clyde Lee, Johnathan Coleman , and Shakim Phillips.

Larmond said he feels like he has to win his job back.

“Coach always says no one’s jersey is tattooed on them,” Larmond said. “That’s good and it also gives me more motivation. It’s like, ‘OK, well guess what? No one remembers you now because you sat out and these guys came in and stepped up.’ It’s just like the real world. If you can’t get the job done, somebody else will replace you, or if you go down, there’s someone there to fill in. I’m going to have to work even harder than those guys. Even though I’ve been here it doesn’t really matter because when I wasn’t there, those guys stepped up. Their numbers were called and they made plays.”

And unlike Larmond, they’ve had the spring to practice the new offensive scheme. Larmond said he’s been studying it and he feels like he knows it, but …

“Those guys have been doing it day in and day out for the past month,” he said. “I’m in meetings and I understand it, but it’s different when you’re sitting there instead of actually being out there and showing you understand it. There’s a whole bunch of things I feel like I have to prove when I come back, not just for myself but also Coach Rogers and this new offense.”

Last Tuesday, Larmond received a brace for his ACL. He’s been working on getting his knee stronger, but has a separate workout from his teammates to help rebuild the strength in his hamstring and quad. Larmond hasn’t run full speed in about eight months, so he will need the rest of the offseason to get reconditioned, but he also said he needs the time to get mentally stronger as well.

“I know that when that day comes back around in camp again, it’s going to be on my mind -- OK, let’s hope this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “That mental aspect of the game, which was my main concern, making sure I get over that hump, over that hurdle, knowing that I’m going to go out there and run this 110 percent, not being nervous that I might mess my knee up again. The time is going to be very helpful.”

And a healthy Larmond could be even more helpful to BC’s offense in 2011.

Momentum swing for BC

October, 23, 2010
And, suddenly, we have a ball game.

All the Eagles needed was one big play, and receiver Bobby Swigert was in the right place at the right time to give it to them.

Chase Rettig overthrew Ifeanyi Momah, the ball was tipped and Swigert caught it for a 66-yard reception on the Maryland 3-yard line. Montel Harris scored on the following play and cut BC's deficit to 24-21 with about seven minutes remaining. The Eagles have the momentum at home and the defense to keep it, but no longer have any margin for error after three turnovers.
It was a good homecoming for Brian Kelly and a home wrecking for Boston College, as the Eagles fell 31-13 to Notre Dame. It wasn't exactly a surprise, considering how BC has struggled offensively, and it didn't help that true freshman Chase Rettig injured his ankle early in the game. Mike Marscovetra came in and threw two interceptions, but the Irish dominated the second half and BC didn't help itself with 11 penalties for 114 yards.

The Eagles now have back-to-back losses heading into back-to-back road trips against Atlantic Division opponents. NC State and Florida State are two of the top teams in the division. The good news? BC found a receiver in Bobby Swigert, who had seven catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. The bad news? The Eagles had just four rushing yards. BC needs a quick fix on offense if it's going to rebound in the ACC race.

Notre Dame has a 21-10 lead against Boston College and it's not just because the Eagles are depending upon true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig, who made his first start. Instead, BC's defense wasn't able to make the stops on third down. The Irish have converted 5-of-6 third downs and have 11 first downs to BC's three. The Eagles' true freshman combo of Rettig and Bobby Swigert have accounted for the only touchdown and Rettig hasn't turned it over.

BC just hasn't been able to get anything going on offense while Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist has accounted for all three of the Irish touchdowns -- all in the first quarter. BC has also tried Mike Marscovetra at quarterback, but he went three-and-out, too. It looks like it's going to be up to BC's defense to keep the Eagles in this game. Notre Dame already has two turnovers, but at some point, the offense has to do something with them.
Boston College wide receiver Colin Larmond Jr. suffered a season-ending knee injury Saturday that will require surgery, the school announced on Monday.
This is a huge blow to the Eagles' receiving corps and the passing game, as Larmond Jr. was expected to be the team's top receiver this fall. He was the leading returning receiver with 29 receptions for 596 yards and five touchdowns last season. He led the 2009 team in yards per catch (20.6) and finished second in receptions (29), yards (596), touchdowns (five) and average per game (45.8).

It's now crucial that Ifeanyi Momah produces, as he more than likely will start. Momah redshirted last season because of injury, but in 2008 he caught 11 passes for 149 yards and was second on the team with three touchdowns. The staff had planned to use Momah as a defensive end in addition to his receiver duties this fall, but this will likely scratch those plans. The other starter at receiver is Billy Flutie, who caught five passes last season.

Beyond those two, there really isn't much depth or experience to depend upon. Sophomore Clyde Lee caught four passes last season, and senior Ryan Lindsey has one career reception. True freshman Bobby Swigert is likely to end up playing, and he has looked good in the scrimmages. True freshman Shakim Phillips would be right in the mix, but he has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Alex Amidon is another true freshman who might help.

The Eagles are fortunate to have running back Montel Harris. He might have to catch the ball out of the backfield a little more than eight times this fall, though.

Weekend rewind: Scrimmages

August, 23, 2010
Here's a quick look back at the weekend scrimmages, thanks to reports from the schools' sports information offices:


Sophomore quarterback Mike Marscovetra was perfect, going 12-for-12 for 90 yards and a touchdown. Dave Shinskie went 14-for-19 for 116 yards, but threw an interception. True freshman Chase Rettig was 2-for-4 for 13 yards.

Sophomore Clyde Lee and true freshman Bobby Swigert led the receivers with five catches each. Lee had a game-high 43 yards, and Swigert went for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman kicker Nate Freese made a 51-yard attempt that hit the crossbar and went through, and he made another from 39 yards. He missed a 47-yarder that hit high off the left upright.

Sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly led the defense with six tackles, and junior safety Dominick LeGrande recorded five tackles and an interception.


The Seminoles went through what amounted to a full-scale dress rehearsal, as they did their pre-game routine, returned to the locker room, then returned to the field for a three-hour scrimmage. Offensive coordinator James Coley and quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig were in the press box, along with defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot and a graduate assistant. They helped call the plays on headphones, and there weren't any personnel or clock-management issues.

Junior college transfer Mike Harris earned some high praise from coach Jimbo Fisher:

“Mike’s a good player; he’s a real good player,” said Fisher. “He breaks on the ball. He’s almost like a quiet assassin. You never hear him out there, but he’s always in the right place."

Statistics weren't included in the team's scrimmage report, but sophomore Willie Haulstead played well, and Fisher used a tailback-by-committee approach with Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones and Chris Thompson. Defensively, former cornerback Ochuko Jenije started at safety.


First, the injury report: Backup receiver Xavier Boyce sprained his left MCL and will have an MRI, backup linebacker Lorenzo Williams sprained his right foot and will have an MRI, and punter Brian Saunders bruised his right ankle. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, linebacker Barquell Rivers will not play against Boise State, and Bruce Taylor will start in his place. Starting field corner Jayron Hosley is still out with a hamstring injury.

Offensively, Tyrod Taylor completed 7 of 9 passes for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Ryan Williams was the leading rusher with 46 yards on nine carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. David Wilson added 38 yards on six carries and scored on a 12-yard run. Defensively, Eddie Whitley led the way with seven tackles and a pass break-up. Kicker Chris Hazley made field goals of 43 and 47 yards, but missed his first field goal in a preseason scrimmage when he was wide left on a 48-yard attempt. Cris Hill blocked two punts.

You can find more on the Hokies' scrimmage here.

Recruiting rewind: Boston College

February, 4, 2010
Boston College has developed a reputation for producing standout offensive linemen, and recruiting coordinator Mike Siravo said he thinks this year’s class has the potential to continue the trend. While there weren’t any players from the ESPNU 150 in coach Frank Spaziani’s first full recruiting class, there is still plenty of talent that can help the Eagles continue to contend for the Atlantic Division.

“We feel like that’s one of the spots we focused on and we evaluated and brought in some good kids,” Siravo said of the offensive line.

The staff brought in four offensive linemen, including Seth Betancourt, a three-star offensive tackle from Saint Joseph’s Prep in Pennsylvania, but it also filled a need at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Usually there’s a gem hidden amongst the BC recruits -- just look at linebacker Luke Kuechly -- but Siravo wasn’t sure yet who it is in this class.

“We were talking about it today,” Siravo said on Wednesday. “None of us want to say who it is. We’re so excited about [two-star running back] Andre Williams. He’s got a great frame on him. People raved about him in Pennsylvania. ... It could be a guy like him, it could be an offensive lineman. I really have no clue. I try to predict them and I’m always wrong.”

BC continued its philosophy of recruiting unheralded but solid football players who want to be in Chestnut Hill, leaving the staff with little doubt about how signing day would unfold.

“Most of our kids signed in by 9 o’clock [Wednesday] morning,” Siravo said. “I don’t want to say it’s uneventful, but there’s not a lot of drama on signing day for us because of the kind of kids we’re involved with. It’s just a sign of stability. ... They just were solid all the way though. They never wavered, and that’s what we win with.”

Siravo said the positions where a freshman is most likely to contribute immediately include running back and wide receiver. The wideouts you might see early are Shakim Phillips, Bobby Swigert, and Alex Amidon. Quarterback Chase Rettig is “very accurate and very polished” and could challenge Dave Shinskie this spring.