NCF Nation: Conner Vernon

DUKE

Spring start: March 4

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:

1. Boone is up. Duke loses three-year starter Sean Renfree, who threw for 3,113 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Anthony Boone is the next man up, and has plenty of game experience. But coming in for spot duty is vastly different from taking over the starting quarterback job. He has to get a jump on becoming the leader of this offense in the spring.

2. Receiver spots open. The Blue Devils lose the most prolific receiver in ACC history in Conner Vernon, plus the versatile and athletic Desmond Scott. Jamison Crowder is back, but Duke is going to need to find two more starters and several more to step up and help with depth.

3. Handling success. This is the first time since 1994 that Duke goes into a spring with 15 bowl practices already under its belt and a taste of success. That should presumably give the Blue Devils an advantage. But it is much harder maintaining, as many coach will tell you. How does this new success impact the mind-set in spring practice?

GEORGIA TECH

Spring start: March 25

Spring game: April 19

What to watch:

1. Ted Roof takes over. What is the Georgia Tech defense going to look like with Ted Roof in charge? He has not really given out specifics about the type of scheme he wants to use as his base, so it will be interesting to see how he fits his personnel to what he likes to do best. The Jackets do return eight starters to a unit that improved in the second half of the season.

2. Vad Lee time. We saw glimpse of what Lee could do as he began to share quarterback duties with Tevin Washington last season. Now, the show is all his, so we get to see how he develops as a full-time starter.

3. So long, Orwin. The Jackets lose one of their most dynamic playmakers in Orwin Smith, who finished his career ranked among Georgia Tech’s all-time leaders in kickoff returns (76), kickoff return yards (1,624) and career all-purpose yards (4,278). Georgia Tech has to find somebody to replace that productivity.

MIAMI

Spring start: March 2

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:

1. D in Defense? The No. 1 spring priority has got to be improving a defense that was one of the worst in the nation in every NCAA statistical category (No. 112 rushing defense, No. 102 passing defense, No. 116 total defense, No. 82 scoring defense). If Miami is going to be a favorite to win the Coastal, it needs better play out of this group.

2. New OC. James Coley takes over as offensive coordinator, replacing Jedd Fisch. Coley served as offensive coordinator at Florida State before arriving at Miami, but did not call the plays. So he has much more responsibility here, and is charged with taking Stephen Morris from great to next-level great.

3. D-Line improvement. If Miami is going to be better on defense, it has to start up front, where the Hurricanes were extremely young and mostly ineffective for 2012. The Hurricanes had to deal with their share of injuries, but they also were not great at stopping the run or putting pressure on the passer -- with only 13 sacks all year. That is the lowest total since at least 2005, the first year NCAA stats began listing team sack totals.

NORTH CAROLINA

Spring start: March 6

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:

1. Bye bye, Gio. Life begins without All-ACC running back Giovani Bernard, who left school early for the NFL draft. The cupboard is not completely bare, though, as A.J. Blue and Romar Morris both return. Blue and Morris combined for 819 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season.

2. Replacing Williams, Reddick. North Carolina returns nine starters on defense. That is the good news. The bad news is the Tar Heels lose their two best players in linebacker Kevin Reddick and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, two first-team All-ACC selections. We'll see if Ethan Farmer at tackle and P.J. Clyburn at linebacker emerge to win the starting jobs.

3. Replacing Coop. The Tar Heels have a major hole to fill on their offensive line as they say goodbye to unanimous All-America guard Jonathan Cooper, a stalwart who made 47 career starts. Cooper was the unheralded leader of the offense, so filling his spot is a major priority this spring.

PITTSBURGH

Spring start: March 5

Spring game: April 12

What to watch:

1. QB situation. Tino Sunseri is gone, leaving Arizona transfer Tom Savage, redshirt freshman Chad Voytik and junior Trey Anderson to compete for the starting job. Inconsistent quarterback play has been a major issue for the Panthers, so upgrading this position is an absolute must.

2. Adjusting to DC. Pitt is going into the season with its fourth new coordinator in as many years, as Dave Huxtable left for NC State after only one year on the job. Secondary coach Matt House was promoted to coordinator, so at least there will be some familiarity. But he has to get to work on improving this unit's consistency.

3. Offensive line improvements. Is this the year we finally see a vastly improved Pitt offensive line? The Panthers have to replace center Ryan Turnley and guard Chris Jacobson, two key positions to watch during spring practice.

VIRGINIA

Spring start: March 18

Spring game: April 6

What to watch:

1. New coaches. How will the three most high-profile hires Mike London made mesh with the staff and returning players? How will the offense deal with a new scheme under Steve Fairchild? How will the defense deal with a new scheme under Jon Tenuta? How big will Tom O'Brien's role be with the offense? Inquiring minds want to know.

2. QB competition. Fairchild has already said he will open up the quarterback job to a "very spirited competition" this spring. The two front-runners figure to be Phillip Sims and David Watford, who both have game experience. But there will be no shortage of quarterbacks in Charlottesville this year, so there are no guarantees that either of them will win the job.

3. Replacing Greer. The Hoos have some big shoes to fill in the middle of their defense with the departure of linebacker Steve Greer, who ended his career with 376 tackles -- ranking No. 6 in school history. Kwontie Moore, one of nine true freshmen to play in 2012, backed up Greer last season. Will he win the starting job?

VIRGINIA TECH

Spring start: March 27

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:

1. Logan Thomas. All eyes will be on Thomas as he heads into his senior season, especially with new offensive coordinator in Scot Loeffler in charge. How will the two work together, and what will Loeffler do to get Thomas to cut down on his mistakes and capitalize on the immense potential he has?

2. Rushing attack. Item No. 2 on the agenda for Loeffler is to figure out a way to jump start the Virginia Tech rushing game, which struggled in 2012. The offensive line was inconsistent, and so were the running backs. The Hokies could never really settle on a starter or a clear rotation in the backfield, either. Somebody has to emerge as THE guy.

3. Filling in for Exum. Virginia Tech took a serious hit to its defensive backfield last month when emerging cornerback Antone Exum tore his ACL in a pickup basketball game. The Hokies will look to several young players to try and fill his void, including Donovan Riley, Donaldven Manning and Davion Tookes. Fans will have to wait on highly touted cornerback Kendall Fuller, who joins in the summer.

Moving Day: Pittsburgh

February, 13, 2013
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Syracuse has officially made the move into the ACC football blog. Now it's Pitt's turn. The Panthers will become full members of the ACC on July 1, joining the Coastal Division with former Big East partners Miami and Virginia Tech. As far as we're concerned, here in the blogosphere, the move has been made.

Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich are here to welcome Pittsburgh into the ACC blog. C'mon in, there's plenty of room.

Heather Dinich: Andrea, one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season was Pitt's 35-17 win against Virginia Tech on Sept. 15. It wasn't just that Virginia Tech lost, it was how Pitt won -- convincingly, by manhandling the Hokies up front on both sides of the ball. Few, if any, saw that coming, as Virginia Tech was outworked and outmuscled by a team that had lost its first two games of the season, including to Youngstown State. How concerned should the rest of the Coastal Division be about the 2013 Panthers?

[+] EnlargePitt's Paul Chryst
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPittsburgh needs head coach Paul Chryst to stabilize a staff that has endured turnover in recent seasons.
Andrea Adelson: Heather, that was a great shock to us all, because up to that point, Pitt had not proven to be very good up front. In fact, the Panthers struggled for much of the season to gain consistency on their offensive and defensive lines. That win was one of their most complete of the season, topped only by their 27-6 win against No. 18 Rutgers later in the year. I am on the record as saying I believe Pitt will have an opportunity to contend for the Coastal Division. First, quarterback play should be improved dramatically, with either former Freshman All-American Tom Savage or four-star recruit Chad Voytik at the helm. Second, the Panthers have a solid running back in Rushel Shell and an unheralded receiver in Devin Street. And third, the Panthers return nine starters on defense, including All-Big East tackle Aaron Donald. I also think this team will be better in Year 2 under Paul Chryst. It's actually the first time since 2009 and '10 that the Panthers have had the same head coach in back-to-back seasons.

Having said that, there are a few concerns. First and foremost is playing consistently week in and week out. Those who follow me on the Big East blog know I referred to this team as "Good Pitt/Bad Pitt" all season because of the Jekyll and Hyde performances. Pitt followed a lose two, win two pattern all season. Chryst needs to find a way to get his team to play at the same level every single week. Second, the offensive line has to be better, because it has been pretty bad the past several years. Pitt won't be able to play the way Chryst wants to play on offense if the line doesn't improve. And third, Pitt is searching for yet another defensive coordinator since Dave Huxtable has gone to NC State. So that's my take. What will Pitt find in the Coastal this year?

HD: A much-improved Virginia Tech team. A Miami team ready to play for the league title (if it's eligible, of course). An eligible North Carolina team ready to contend for the Coastal Division title in the second season under Larry Fedora. A Georgia Tech team that returns the bulk of its playmakers and should get upgrades at quarterback (Vad Lee) and defensive coordinator (Ted Roof). Duke will have something to prove, as it has had some significant staff changes, including the departure of senior quarterback Sean Renfree and record-setting senior receiver Conner Vernon. Virginia had a staff overhaul, but coach Mike London should be feeling some heat to get back to a bowl.

SportsNation

How do you think Pitt will fare in its first season in the Coastal Division?

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    32%
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Discuss (Total votes: 3,360)

Overall, the Coastal Division should be much, much better than it was last year. Heck, it can't get much worse, as the Hokies had their worst season in 20 years, two teams were ineligible, and Georgia Tech needed a waiver just to play in a bowl game. The Coastal Division is more balanced than the Atlantic Division, and Pitt will fit right in, adding to that parity. I'm looking forward to seeing Pitt-Miami and Pitt-Virginia Tech on a more regular basis. Miami has yet to play for the ACC title since joining the league, while Virginia Tech has owned it. Make no mistake -- last season was an anomaly in Blacksburg. What will it take for Pitt to follow the Hokies' path in the ACC?

AA: Great question, Heather. No. 1 on the list has to be coaching stability. The Pitt program has been set back because of the missteps over the past three years with head coaches. Most everybody believes Chryst is a solid football coach, but he is going to need time to get this program where he wants it. And he has exceptional resources to get the job done, with state-of-the-art facilities and extremely fertile recruiting ground in the Pennsylvania area. Pitt does not have to go far to find some of the most talented players in the nation. They finished just outside the top 40 on signing day last week. They can sell their ties to the Steelers, playing in an NFL stadium, and their incredible history, filled with national championships and Hall of Famers. Now, you could come back and say, "Well, Miami has all that, and more, and the Canes have failed to dominate the ACC as predicted." Very true. But you also make my point for me. Miami's weakness has been at the head-coaching position, as well, with Larry Coker and Randy Shannon unable to continue the success Miami had in the Big East. Al Golden now has the Canes in position to be the favorites in the Coastal.

Virginia Tech? Well, Virginia Tech has had Frank Beamer, the picture of coaching stability. After Wisconsin lost coach Bret Bielema, many wondered whether athletic director Barry Alvarez would approach Chryst, a long-time Wisconsin assistant and Wisconsin graduate. But Chryst let it be known he did not have any intention of leaving Pitt after a year on the job. He is committed to the Panthers. Now the administration has to show its commitment by giving him time to build. If he's as good as many think he can be, Pitt will be fine.

EJ Manuel stars in Senior Bowl

January, 28, 2013
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What a great finish for former Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel's collegiate career.

Less than a month after helping lead his team to a Discover Orange Bowl win against Northern Illinois, Manuel was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Senior Bowl. Manuel passed for a touchdown and rushed for another on the South's first two drives in a 21-16 victory over the North on Saturday. He completed 7-of-10 passes for 76 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had four carries for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Former Miami running back Mike James, a late addition to the roster, also made an impact in the game, scoring a touchdown on a five-yard run with 2:41 left in the game. He also had three catches for 11 yards, and six carries for 10 yards. Former Duke receiver Conner Vernon led the South team with four receptions, and finished with 36 yards.

Defensively, former FSU linebacker Vince Williams had a big day, picking up where he left off in the Senior Bowl practices Insider. Williams was second on the South team with six tackles (four solo). Teammate Everett Dawkins had four tackles and was credited with .5 sack.

A few other stats of note:
  • Former Wake Forest fullback Tommy Bohanon had two catches for six yards.
  • For the North team, former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon completed 8-of-16 passes for 82 yards.
  • Former FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins had his lone field goal, a 52-yard attempt in the second quarter, blocked.
  • Hopkins' four kickoffs averaged 63.2 yards and he had two touchbacks.
  • Former UNC defensive tackle Sylvester Williams had two tackles.
  • Former UNC linebacker Kevin Reddick had two tackles.

Five bold predictions for 2013

January, 15, 2013
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I have all the answers, but you knew that already. It’s why you’re here.

Here they are -- your five bold predictions for 2013.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsTajh Boyd and Clemson ended 2012 with a win over SEC foe LSU. Can the Tigers open 2013 by beating another SEC power?
1. Clemson will win the ACC title; Miami will win the Coastal Division. The Tigers return the ACC’s best quarterback in Tajh Boyd, four starters on the offensive line, and the defense should be much better in the second season under coordinator Brent Venables. Miami might have the best offensive line in the ACC, and it will have one of the best quarterbacks in Stephen Morris. The Canes have to improve dramatically on defense, though, in order for this to come to fruition.

2. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd will be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. While he didn’t make it to New York this past season, he was certainly good enough. Boyd’s performance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win against LSU should make him a legitimate contender heading into 2013. It’s not going to be easy because Clemson opens with Georgia, closes with South Carolina and plays FSU in between. But if the Tigers can go undefeated or finish with only one loss, Boyd should be in New York.

3. Jameis Winston will be Florida State’s new starting quarterback. The competition is on, and Clint Trickett enters the spring as the leading candidate to replace starter EJ Manuel. Trickett will be pushed, though, by Jacob Coker and Winston. Winston, who was regarded by many as the nation’s top quarterback prospect in 2012, also was a standout baseball player. He gets the nod from ESPN.com as the Noles’ starter in 2013.

4. Virginia Tech will have the best defense in the ACC. Move over, Noles, it’s the Hokies’ time to shine again. Virginia Tech returns nine starters to a defense that improved significantly in the second half of the season. While the Noles have to replace three of their top defensive ends in Brandon Jenkins, Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner, Virginia Tech returns James Gayle at end, and standout corner Antone Exum. Bud Foster’s group “is back.”

5. Wake Forest will go bowling, Duke will not. Tanner Price returns, Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon do not. That’s not to say that the Blue Devils don’t have enough pieces in place to continue the momentum from 2012, but they’ve got big shoes to fill. Meanwhile, Wake Forest returns standout receiver Michael Campanaro, who should be one of the best in the ACC if he stays healthy.

ACC's best moments of 2012

January, 14, 2013
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It was a rough year for the ACC, but in retrospect, there were too many highlights to narrow it down to 10. From Blair Holliday’s return, to the ACC’s impressive performances during bowl season, to individual performances and games, the conference had plenty of memorable moments in 2012.

The following is a list of 10 moments and memories that best captured the 2012 ACC season, according to ESPN.com. ACC fans are bound to have more, and we’d love to hear them. What did we miss? Feel free to drop us a note in the mailbag, and we’ll highlight the best nominations in a separate mailblog. Until then, here are your top 10 moments from 2012, starting with the best:

1. Chandler Catanzaro's game-winning field goal versus LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl: It was the ACC’s biggest win of the season, and the highest-ranked team Clemson has beaten in a bowl game since the 2004 (2003 season) Chick-fil-A Bowl, when the Tigers defeated sixth-ranked Tennessee 27-14. Catanzaro’s 37-yard field goal as time expired gave No. 14 Clemson a wild 25-24 win against No. 8 LSU, and it was the highest-ranked SEC team an ACC team has beaten in the past nine years.

2. Duke becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 1994: Sean Renfree's 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down with 13 seconds left lifted Duke past North Carolina 33-30 and made the Blue Devils bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Renfree converted three third-and-longs during the game-winning, 87-yard drive.

[+] EnlargeGiovani Bernard
Bob Donnan/US PresswireGiovani Bernard's 74-yard game-winning punt return to lift UNC past rival NCSU was a play to remember.
3. Giovani Bernard versus NC State: Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left, helping North Carolina stun rival NC State 43-35 to end a five-year losing streak in the series. That day, Bernard also ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and had eight catches for 95 yards.

4. Karlos Williams' tip and interception in the ACC title game: In what turned out to be the final game for FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, FSU's D came up big against Georgia Tech, and no play was bigger than Williams'. The game wasn't decided until Williams intercepted Tevin Washington with less than a minute remaining. It was FSU's first ACC title since 2005.

5. The ACC posting its first winning bowl record since 2005: With marquee wins over LSU and USC and a victory in the Discover Orange Bowl, the ACC finally came out on the right end of bowl season, and will enter 2013 will some much-needed positive momentum. The Noles took another step toward national relevance with a 31-10 win against No. 15 Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl -- their first BCS bowl win since they beat Virginia Tech in 2000.

6. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel’s performance versus Clemson: It was Manuel’s one true Heisman moment of the season, as he completed 27 of 35 passes for a career-high 380 yards while rushing for another 102 to become the first Seminoles quarterback since Charlie Ward in 1992 to pass for more than 300 yards and run for more than 100 in a game.

7. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd accounts for eight touchdowns: The ACC Player of the Year set school and ACC records when he scored five passing and three rushing touchdowns in a 62-48 win over NC State. The Tigers gained 754 yards and ran 102 plays, the most in school history. Boyd was responsible for every Clemson touchdown. Boyd was 30-for-44 for 426 yards and ran for 105 yards -- the combined 531 yards set another school record.

8. Johnson leads Canes to Coastal title: In the regular-season finale against Duke, Miami freshman Duke Johnson rushed for season highs of 176 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 18, 6 and 65 yards. He finished his freshman year with 947 yards rushing, easily surpassing Clinton Portis' 13-year-old school freshman rushing record of 838 yards.

9. NC State’s game-winning TD in its upset of No. 3-ranked FSU. This isn’t a “best moment” for FSU fans, but it was by far one of the most memorable plays in the ACC and a highlight for the Wolfpack. Quarterback Mike Glennon found Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left, helping the Wolfpack beat the Seminoles 17-16 on Oct. 6.

10. Duke receiver Conner Vernon rewrites the record books: In a 42-17 win against Virginia, Vernon surpassed Clemson's Aaron Kelly as the ACC's all-time leader in career receptions when he made a catch for minus-2 yards in the first quarter. In the 42-24 loss to Georgia Tech, Vernon became the ACC's all-time leader in yards receiving, passing former Florida State star Peter Warrick's record of 3,517 yards.

TOP 3 OFF-FIELD MOMENTS

[+] EnlargeBlair Holliday
Courtesy of Duke Sports InformationBlair Holliday (No. 8) walks with his Duke teammates in his return to the field following a terrible jet ski accident that sidelined the wide receiver.
So as not to trivialize these moments by tossing them in with touchdowns, here are three more memories you won't want to forget:

1. Blair Holliday joins his Duke captains for the coin toss against NC Central: It was a miraculous recovery, and the most inspirational story in the conference. Holliday, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a jet ski accident on July 4 that left him in critical condition, led the team on the Devil Walk in what was an emotional comeback for the entire team.

2. Clemson receiver Daniel Rodriguez leads the Tigers on Military Appreciation Day: The Army veteran led the team down the hill carrying the American flag prior to the Virginia Tech game on Military Appreciation Day at Clemson on Oct. 20.

3. The ACC adds Louisville: The ACC's presidents and chancellors voted to add Louisville to replace Maryland, a move that looked better and better as the Cardinals' football season ended with a win against Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. ACC officials conceded the move was an athletics-first, academics-second decision, but it was one the conference should eventually benefit from.

ACC bowl superlatives

January, 10, 2013
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Time to take a look at the best and worst of bowl season in the ACC.

Best game: Chik-fil-A Bowl, Clemson 25, LSU 24. How many bowl games delivered more drama than the Chick-fil-A Bowl? None. Just when LSU fans thought they would see their Tigers cruise to yet another win against the ACC, Tajh Boyd said, "Not so fast my friends!" Entering the fourth quarter down 24-13, Boyd engineered three fourth-quarter scoring drives. The most impressive? Clemson got the ball at its 20 with 1:39 remaining, down two. None of the 10 plays in the drive were more impressive than a fourth-and-16 completion to DeAndre Hopkins that went 26 yards. Chandler Catanzaro kicked the 37-yard, game-winning field goal to give the Tigers the win and 11 wins for just the fourth time in school history.

Best coaching performance: Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech. We could have gone a few different directions with this category. Dabo Swinney deserves major credit for beating LSU, but I am going with Johnson here because he needed a win in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against USC more than Swinney needed a win against LSU. Johnson had the big oh-fer next to his name under the bowl record category. His team was sent to El Paso, again, to take on the former No. 1 team in the nation. Nobody really thought the Jackets would compete. Well, they did more than compete. They blasted USC, holding the Trojans to seven points in their best defensive game of the season. USC was not who we thought they were, but who cares. Johnson deserves credit for beating a team that had a talent advantage at just about every position.

[+] EnlargeDabo Swinney
Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY SportsClemson's Dabo Swinney was all smiles after his team pulled an improbable comeback against LSU.
Best celebration: Speaking of Swinney, I know you all saw him bear hug ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards after the victory. Best. Candid. Celebration. Ever.

Best performance in a loss: Sean Renfree, Duke. The Blue Devils gave it the ol' college try in the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati, jumping out to a quick 16-0 lead before losing it, then taking a 31-27 lead early in the fourth quarter before losing it for good. Renfree did his part to get the Blue Devils their first bowl win since 1960, setting Belk Bowl records for completions (37), attempts (49) and passing yards (358), and adding a 10-yard touchdown pass to Conner Vernon. He did have two interceptions, but Duke would not have been in position to win without the way Renfree played.

Best defensive performance: Florida State. There were four excellent defensive performances during bowl season, but I am giving the nod to Florida State for a variety of reasons. First, the Seminoles were playing a team with a pretty prolific quarterback. Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech most certainly did not. And the story all week leading into the game was how Florida State would stop dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch. Well those questions were answered, as Lynch had his worst game of the season with 176 yards passing, 44 yards rushing and one total touchdown. Northern Illinois managed 83 yards rushing, the first time all season it was held below 100 yards on the ground.

Best quote: “First off, I was just proud to be a part of this organization, honestly. The good and the bad, I understand that. That's what you're going to get as a quarterback, and Coach Fisher and I have had plenty of conversations. It's a part of the job. You're going to take the blame and you're going to get the credit, even though sometimes it's not deserved when you win. Good or bad, I'm just happy for my team. We won a BCS game. It doesn't get any better than that. We won 12 games, we won all my bowl games I've had an opportunity to play in my career. The biggest thing, we wanted to leave a legacy. A lot of the guys that came in the ‘08 and ‘09 class, we wanted to leave a legacy here at Florida State and … change the culture of what we do here. It wasn't an overnight process, but you're reaping the benefits right now, and that's why we're here, and that's why we won this game.” -- FSU quarterback EJ Manuel

Best performance: Clemson's Hopkins: He set a Chick-fil-A Bowl record with 190 receiving yards. The bowl was first played in 1968. Hopkins also caught a touchdown pass in 10 straight games, breaking the ACC record. Virginia’s Herman Moore caught a touchdown pass in nine straight games in 1990. Hopkins had touchdown catches in 12 of Clemson’s 13 games this season. No other ACC player has caught a touchdown pass in more than 10 games in the same season.

Best stat: 4-2, the ACC’s first winning bowl record since 2005.

Worst bowl game: The Russell Athletic Bowl: Zzzz. Even if you love defense like Bud Foster, this game was painful to watch. A Russell Athletic Bowl record for total punts was set with 21. It was the lowest-scoring game in the bowl’s history. The Hokies had 3 yards rushing. And won.

Worst offense: Virginia Tech. Out of 70 bowl teams, the Hokies tied Rutgers for the worst offensive output during bowl season. Each team managed a paltry 196 yards of total offense. No other team finished with under 200.

Worst stat: Five turnovers by NC State in the 38-24 loss to Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl.

Worst stat II: Two turnovers by Duke in the red zone, including a fumble at the Cincy 5 with 1:20 left to play.

ACC's 2012 All-Bowl team

January, 10, 2013
1/10/13
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The ACC went 4-2 this bowl season, its first winning record since 2005. There were plenty of top performers to highlight, but these are the players who were most deserving of the ACC’s 2012 All-Bowl team:

Offense first team

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Tajh Boyd had a record-setting game in Clemson's victory against LSU.
QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson: He had 368 yards of total offense against LSU on 79 total offensive plays. He set a Clemson record for plays in a game by a quarterback.

RB -- Lonnie Pryor, Florida State: He had a career-long 60 yard touchdown in the first half of the Orange Bowl, which was the second-longest touchdown run in FSU bowl history. In his final game as a Seminole, he also had a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown in the game.

RB -- David Sims, Georgia Tech: He rushed for a game-high and career-best 99 yards on 17 carries, and caught a touchdown pass in the 21-7 win against USC.

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson: He finished the game with 13 receptions for 191 yards and finished the season with 82 receptions for 1405 yards. Hopkins tied his own Clemson record for receptions in a game with 13. He also had 13 in the opener against Auburn.

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke: He caught 10 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown against Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. He helped Duke to 34 points against a Bearcats defense that entered the game ranked 12th nationally, allowing just 17.2 points per game.

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson: His nine receptions against LSU tied the overall Clemson single-game record for receptions by a tight end. He finished with 69 receiving yards, including one reception for 20 yards.

T -- Cameron Erving, Florida State: It was the sixth game this season with over 500 yards of total offense for the Seminoles. All three touchdown runs came between center and left tackle, and quarterback EJ Manuel had all day to throw.

T -- Perry Simmons, Duke: He led an offensive line performance that yielded zero sacks and allowed quarterback Sean Renfree to establish Belk Bowl records for pass completions (37), pass attempts (49) and passing yardage (358). Simmons also aided a running game that gained 200 net yards on 39 attempts as running back Josh Snead picked up a career-high 107 yards on just 17 attempts.

G -- Josue Matias, Florida State: The Noles racked up 243 rushing yards, 23 first downs and 534 yards of total offense. He was part of an offensive line that didn’t allow Manuel to be sacked once by Northern Illinois. Two of Pryor’s runs came between Erving and Matias.

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech: He helped pave the way for 294 rushing yards in the win against USC, and 369 total yards. He made his 39th career start, the second-most on the team.

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson: The Tigers had 100 plays and 32 first downs, and his blocking was a major factor.

Defense first team

DE -- Malliciah Goodman, Clemson: He set a bowl record with three sacks as Clemson held LSU to 219 yards of total offense.

DE -- Bjoern Werner, Florida State: In his last game with the Noles, the dominating end knocked down his eighth pass of the season, which is the second-most in the FBS by a defensive lineman. He finished with two tackles.

DT -- Derrick Hopkins, Virginia Tech: He had four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack. The sack was on Rutgers' first play of overtime, forcing them into long yardage which led to a long (and missed) field goal.

DT -- Grady Jarrett, Clemson: He had four tackles, including two tackles for loss, and one was a sack. He was a big reason Clemson held LSU to just 99 yards rushing.

LB -- Christian Jones, Florida State: Jones tied for the team lead with 10 tackles in the 31-10 Discover Orange Bowl win against Northern Illinois.

LB -- Vince Williams, Florida State: He tied Jones for the team lead with 10 tackles, and finished with one tackle for loss and a sack.

LB -- Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech: He led the Hokies with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and had a pass breakup. Virginia Tech’s defense held Rutgers to 196 yards and three offensive points, none in the last three quarters.

CB -- Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech: Even though his statistics were modest -- three tackles, two pass breakups and an interception returned for 21 yards -- Sweeting was voted the game’s MVP. He fared well in a tough assignment, matching up with Biletnikoff Trophy winner Marqise Lee.

CB -- Antone Exum, Virginia Tech: The Russell Athletic Bowl’s MVP led a stifling pass defense that allowed just 129 yards. He made the play of the game with an interception of Gary Nova to set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech’s defense allowed just 196 yards total, and just 17 completions from Nova on 40 attempts.

S -- Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: He finished third on the team with six tackles, including one tackle for loss. The Northern Illinois receivers were no match for the FSU secondary and were rendered ineffective.

S -- Rashard Hall, Clemson: He led the team with nine tackles, including eight solo, in the win against LSU.

Specialists

PK -- Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson: He kicked the 37-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give Clemson and the ACC a monumental 25-24 win against LSU. It was the fourth walk-off field goal in Clemson history, and Catanzaro has two of the four.

P -- A.J. Hughes, Virginia Tech: He tied the record under coach Frank Beamer for punts in a game with 11. He finished with an average of 42.2 with four punts inside the 20-yard line, and a long of 57.

SP -- Tobais Palmer, NC State: He returned a second-quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the loss to Vandy, and became the first Pack player since Greg Golden in 2001 to return a kickoff for a score in a bowl game. He finished with 173 kickoff return yards, setting a new NC State season record with 1,130 KOR yards. Palmer and T.J. Graham (1,028 in 2008) are the only two Wolfpack players to go over 1,000 yards in kickoff returns in a single season. Palmer also went over 100 yards receiving for the third time in 2012, as he finished with eight catches for 111 yards.
Brace yourselves.

This is not the ACC power rankings you are used to. It is bigger. Let’s hope it’s not badder. The first version of the 2013 ACC power rankings reflects the addition of Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orange. There are 14 teams here (and Boston College is still last). Welcome to the league, Pitt and Cuse.

There are still plenty of questions for several teams that have players still undecided about their NFL careers, but this is your first take on a ranking likely to change many times between now and the opening kickoff. Lots can happen (and does) during signing day, spring ball and summer camp, but here is how Andrea Adelson and I think the ACC will shape up this fall based on what we know now:

1. Clemson -- With quarterback Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris working together again, the Tigers would have the best coordinator/quarterback combo returning in the ACC. The defense should take another step forward in the second season under coordinator Brent Venables, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU was a monumental springboard for the program heading into the offseason.

2. Florida State -- The Seminoles will be going through a transition, as coach Jimbo Fisher has to replace at least five assistants on his staff, as well as starting quarterback EJ Manuel. With several players, including defensive end Bjoern Werner, leaving early for the NFL draft, the Noles will have to reload.

3. Miami -- The Hurricanes hoped their self-imposed bowl ban was a preemptive strike against NCAA sanctions. With quarterback Stephen Morris returning, along with ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson and what could be one of the best offensive lines in the ACC, expectations should be much higher for the Canes in Year 3 under Al Golden.

4. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets will have some momentum and confidence to build on after their bowl win over USC, but more importantly, they’ve got an experienced, talented roster to work with. Georgia Tech will have eight starters back on a defense that made measurable progress in the second half of the season.

5. UNC -- Coach Larry Fedora is going to have to work some magic in trying to replace leading rusher/returner Giovani Bernard, who left early for the NFL, and his lead blocker, Jonathan Cooper. Quarterback Bryn Renner will be a senior, though, and the Tar Heels have other talented running backs waiting in the wings.

6. Pitt -- The moment every Pitt fan has been waiting for -- Tino Sunseri will no longer be the starting quarterback in 2013. Does that mean the position gets an automatic upgrade? Promising running back Rushel Shell returns, and Pitt's defense should be much better, but questions remain on the offensive line.

7. Virginia Tech -- The school has yet to announce any staff changes, quarterback Logan Thomas has yet to announce whether or not he is returning for his senior season, and the Hokies open the schedule against national champion Alabama. Doesn’t look good.

8. Syracuse -- Major questions surround the Orange now that coach Doug Marrone has left for the Buffalo Bills. This is a team that already had to replace starting quarterback Ryan Nassib, all-Big East tackle Justin Pugh, record-setting receiver Alec Lemon and leading tackler Shamarko Thomas. But Syracuse does have 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Smith returning, along with linebackers Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis. Many questions must be answered before 2013 begins.

9. Maryland -- It can only get better, right? Maryland was down to its fifth-string quarterback last year, linebacker Shawn Petty. Starter C.J. Brown should be ready to return to the starting lineup this summer and healed from a torn ACL. The defense has some big shoes to fill, but the Terps should have enough experience to be bowl bound in their final season in the ACC.

10. Wake Forest -- The Deacs were thrown off track last season by injuries and suspensions and should be a better team this year. Quarterback Tanner Price returns for his senior season, along with receiver Michael Campanaro, who should be one of the best in the ACC if he can stay healthy.

11. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace quarterback Sean Renfree and his top target, ACC record-setting receiver, Conner Vernon. Duke went to its first bowl game since 1994, but the program still has something to prove after losing its last five games of the season. The Coastal Division should collectively be stronger this year.

12. Virginia -- Phillip Sims will take over at quarterback after the transfer of Michael Rocco, but how much time will David Watford see under center? The hires of Tom O’Brien and Jon Tenuta were smart moves, but the staff will have to find a way to extract more out of many of the same players who struggled last year.

13. NC State -- Quarterback Mike Glennon is out, and first-year coach Dave Doeren is in. The Wolfpack will have an entirely different look this fall, and some bumps in the road should be expected as the program begins a new era under Doeren.

14. Boston College -- The Eagles have lots of work to do under first-year coach Steve Addazio. It all starts with recruiting, but the staff is also going to have to find a way to improve the running game and get the defense back to its stingy ways.

Belk Bowl keys

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
11:30
AM ET
Here are three keys to watch for Duke against Cincinnati in today’s Belk Bowl (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN):

1. Stop the run. It’s the priority, as Duke’s rushing defense is No. 102 in the country, allowing almost 200 rushing yards per game (199.83) -- and Cincinnati is averaging 199.75 on the ground. Bearcats running back George Winn leads the team and the Big East with 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns. In each of Duke’s four losses to end the regular season, the Blue Devils allowed an average of 294.5 rushing yards, and Georgia Tech and Clemson both surpassing 300.

2. Throw the ball downfield. Quarterback Sean Renfree is going to have to stretch the field and utilize his top two targets, Jamison Crowder (70 catches) and Conner Vernon (75 catches). Duke will need to try to exploit some weaknesses in Cincinnati’s secondary. The Bearcats are No. 72 in the country in pass defense, allowing 243.5 yards per game.

3. Don’t get overwhelmed by the spotlight. This is a major milestone for Duke, as the program hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1994, and it hasn’t won a bowl game since 1961. A victory over Cincinnati would not only snap a 51-year drought, it would also be a huge confidence-booster and springboard for the program heading into the offseason. Young specialists must continue to be solid, the passing game must continue to flourish, and Duke can’t get rattled or awestruck by the moment.

Belk Bowl keys: Cincinnati

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
11:30
AM ET
Three keys for Cincinnati in tonight's Belk Bowl matchup against Duke:

1. Establish the run: George Winn led the Big East in rushing yards with 1,204, and he averaged more yards per game this season (100.3) than Isaiah Pead did last season when the latter was named the conference's offensive player of the year. The redshirt senior keyed the Big East's No. 2 rushing attack, and the Bearcats would be smart to ride that in the early going against a Duke defense that has surrendered 269.8 yards per game on the ground over the season's final six games.

2. Limit the big pass: The Blue Devils had three players top the 600-yard receiving mark this season and boast the ACC's career receiving yards leader in Conner Vernon, though Jamison Crowder (70 catches, 1,025 yards, eight touchdowns) is actually the team leader in receiving yards. Cincinnati led the Big East in pass efficiency defense this season, and the Bearcats have held their past four opponents to fewer than 17 points, with three scoring just 10. Their 14 interceptions were good for second in the Big East.

3. Find Travis Kelce. The first-team All-Big East tight end did his best work down the stretch of the season with Brendon Kay under center, catching 17 passes for 285 yards with three touchdowns over his past three games. He also threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Kay in the regular-season finale at Connecticut. For the season, Kelce led all Big East tight ends with 599 receiving yards, a school record for a tight end.

Pregame: Belk Bowl

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
11:00
AM ET
Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East) vs. Duke (6-6, 3-5 ACC)

WHO TO WATCH: Duke receiver Conner Vernon is the ACC's all-time leader in receiving yards following his 75-catch, 955-yard, seven-touchdown season. The Blue Devils have benefited from strong quarterback play from Sean Renfree, who has completed better than 66 percent of his passes for 2,755 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight picks. For Cincinnati, quarterback Brendon Kay's play is worth keeping an eye on, as the fifth-year senior was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA but will be walking into an open race next year under new head coach Tommy Tuberville. Kay replaced Munchie Legaux and started the Bearcats' final four games, finishing the season with 966 passing yards, 230 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns.

WHAT TO WATCH: How does Cincinnati respond after the departure of head coach Butch Jones to Tennessee? Tuberville was hired immediately after from Texas Tech, but assistant Steve Stripling will serve as interim head coach for this game. Stripling was Central Michigan's interim coach for its GMAC Bowl win in 2009 … again replacing Jones as head coach. The Bearcats are going for their fifth 10-win season in the past six years, an unprecedented stretch for this program.

WHY TO WATCH: Duke is playing in its first bowl game since the 1994 season and has not won a bowl game in 52 years, when it beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl after the 1960 season. Since that last win, according to ESPN Stats and Info, the Blue Devils have won 94 games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Duke is also looking to avoid its 18th straight losing season. This is also the first of two ACC/Big East bowl matchups, after the conferences split their eight regular-season meetings.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati 35, Duke 20. Despite the unpredictability factor with the Bearcats, they simply have too many threats that play right into what has doomed the Blue Devils so often during their four-game slide to end the regular season.
There is little doubt that the Duke receivers are one of the biggest keys for the Blue Devils headed into the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati on Thursday.

But what has turned into a position of strength was actually a huge question mark back in July, following the tragic jet ski accident that seriously injured Blair Holliday and also involved Jamison Crowder. All of a sudden, Duke had one proven player at the position in Conner Vernon.

More than that, though, receivers coach Matt Lubick worried about how the accident would impact Crowder, whose jet ski collided with the one Holliday was riding.

"Those two were the best of friends, and Jamison, I can’t say enough about the type of person he is, and the type of family he comes from," Lubick said in a recent phone interview. "I was more worried -- not necessarily about football -- but how he was going to overcome the accident, and just being able to cope and just to get on with his life. We really didn’t know, there were so many uncertainties. The comforting thing that helped the transition because it was a horrific accident, was that he was involved in saving his life. He pulled him out of the water, and making sure that he knew that.

"The biggest thing that helped that process was Blair’s parents being unbelievable and taking Jamison and giving him a big hug and telling him how much that meant to him, and how important it was that he understood that and how they love him. That was huge. You could see him go from a kid who was completely broken to someone who got life put back into him."

[+] EnlargeDesmond Scott
Peter Casey/USA TODAY SportsUnder coach Matt Lubick's guidance, Desmond Scott moved from RB to receiver this season and finished with 61 catches.
The accident served as a great motivation -- to work harder for Holliday, who has since had a near miraculous recovery.

"Jamison worked like a possessed person on a mission and it was easy to point out. It was obvious the way he attacked every single rep. It was something special," Lubick said. "It was an increased intensity, an increased awareness. He was a machine. He was our best effort guy, our most valuable player coming out of camp and I think a lot of what was driving him was his focus on football and competing so hard and being successful helped him block some of the negative aspects of the accident out of his head."

With Holliday recovering, Duke had to find another receiver. The Blue Devils decided to move starting running back Desmond Scott to the position just before camp opened, hoping his athleticism would allow him to make a smooth transition.

Scott took to the position right away, and the result surprised outside observers. To complement Vernon -- a first-team ACC selection with 75 catches for 955 yards and seven touchdowns -- Crowder had a career year with 70 catches for 1,025 yards and eight touchdowns. Scott ended up with 61 catches for 606 yards and two scores.

The result -- these three players form the only trio in the nation with more than 60 catches each. Lubick got some national recognition for his work, as he was named one of three finalists for the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year award.

"He made it that much easier to transition from running back to receiver," Scott said. "He let me be experimental, trying things that work for me. He’s very into football and the people that he coaches. You couldn’t ask for a better coach."

A coach that nearly became a dentist.

Lubick, the son of legendary Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, initially tried to stay away from coaching. His father encouraged him to seek out another profession, given all the volatility associated with this one. Matt Lubick played at Western Montana College, then transferred to Colorado State to take chemistry and physics classes he needed for his degree. He had internships at dentists offices and seemed all set to travel down that career path.

But his last year, he got burned out from school. Coaching lingered in his mind.

"I said I would take a year off and coach, and dental school would always be there," Lubick said. "Now I’m on my 15th year off."

He began working for his dad's coach, Dave Baldwin, at Cal State Northridge. His career eventually landed him on the same staff as his father for four seasons at Colorado State, followed by stops at Ole Miss and Arizona State before landing in Durham. His work this season has been among the finest of his career. Another fine day by his receivers would put an exclamation point on it all.

And you know who will be there watching in Charlotte: Holliday.

Q&A: Duke receiver Desmond Scott

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
2:00
PM ET
Desmond Scott had a banner year for Duke after making the move from running back to receiver, finishing the season with 61 catches for 606 yards and two touchdowns. He also became the third player in ACC history to have over 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and on kickoffs.

I had a chance to catch up with Scott as Duke begins preparations for the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati. Here is a little of what he had to say.

You moved from running back to receiver just before the start of preseason practice. How did you make such a smooth transition?

DS: I felt like I did it before, why can’t I do it again? That’s how I approached the transition and I was ready for all the challenges that faced me, and I took it on.

How would you describe the transition once you were working with the receivers?

[+] EnlargeDesmond Scott
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsDesmond Scott's 606 receiving yards helped Duke return to a bowl game.
DS: It was fine. Jamison [Crowder] and Conner [Vernon] made it fine, telling me keep working, keep working. Catching the ball is the easiest thing to do. I just had to work on route running, reading defenses off coverages and everything else came with the territory. The coaches and Jamison and Conner made it all right, and also Sean [Renfree].

How long did it take for you to feel like you were a receiver?

DS: After the first game. We played Stanford second, and I had I think I had an 11-catch, 83-yard game so that made it pretty comfortable. And the rest of the season came, and I had good games here and there. I just grew into the position.

How does it feel to be only one of a handful of guys to hit the 1,000-yard trifecta?

DS: It’s a blessing, That was a goal I set for myself sophomore year and regarding life, that’s what I believe everyone should do. You should have goals and that was just one of my goals that I put out in front of me, and to accomplish it means the world to me. God has given me the ability to do, and I’m just using football as a platform to do other things such as teaching and reaching other kids. But those goals that you set out and attain mean the world to anybody who has goals.

What made you think as a sophomore you wanted to set that goal?

DS: It’s never been done in Duke history. I didn’t know about ACC history. and to have that accolade under my name means something to me. I wanted to come into this program and help turn it around and grabbing all the accolades I can while in the process of making the program better is any athlete’s dream. Why I set that goal, I don’t know, just to challenge myself, make myself better and making myself better obviously the team gets better as well.

What means more, having your name in the record books or being a part of the team that got Duke back to a bowl game?

DS: Being a part of the team that got Duke back to a bowl game. Don’t get me wrong, having my name in the record books is great, but before I committed to Duke University, that’s what Coach Cut and his staff and the 2009 recruits set out to do to change this program around. Just like (President) Obama can’t change the world in four years, you can’t change a football program in four years. It’s taken awhile. It’s been a work in progress since Coach Cut got here, and this 2009 class is the class that got over that hump.

Now that Duke got over the hump, is this program now going to be in a bowl game every year?

DS: That’s the plan. Like in life, once you get a taste of something and it’s good to you, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to get that taste again. For those young guys, very athletic and talented young guys to get this taste at a young age, hopefully it puts it in their mind that they’re going to work hard and those guys that follow them will have to follow in their footsteps to obtain a bowl game again.

You mentioned teaching, is that something you hope to do?

DS: I actually teach kindergarten and fourth grade now at Global Scholars Academy, a charter school in Durham. The kids go to school until 6. I’m their teacher from 4 to 6 after their regular-day teacher leaves. Education is my minor so I do hope to be a high school teacher one day and hopefully a principal of a school.

Is this an internship or something you wanted to do?

DS: This is something I wanted to do. I started the summer for us, which is still the school year for them, because charter school goes year around.

How do you manage to do that between football and school?

DS: I feel as though life might throw you challenges as a man and if it’s something you really want to do, you have to put your mind to it and do it. That’s one thing Duke has taught me because I’ve had to balance the rigor of the Duke course and D-I athletics. Being able to balance those two has helped me be a better time manager.

What has the experience taught you about yourself?

DS: Definitely working with kindergarten is having patience. It’s not all about getting a lesson across to a kindergartner. It’s a whole lot of "Don't do this, don’t do that, sit down, take your feet off the chair." Working with fourth grade, they need a little bit more from you. Sometimes you have to be that brother role, father figure and teacher. Having to do all that is fun, and it makes the job enjoyable. To see a child grow is one of the most rewarding experiences ever, and to know you’re a part of the reason for the child to know how to divide or know how to multiply, it’s just a wonderful feeling.

2012 ESPN.com ACC all-conference team

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
11:26
AM ET
Despite the abundance of hype surrounding the quarterback position heading into this season, there was one player who quickly distanced himself from the rest. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had a record-setting season and he was surrounded by several all-conference-caliber teammates. With five Tigers on the first-team offense, it’s no wonder Clemson was No. 6 in the country in scoring offense at 42.33 points per game. There was no running back in the ACC more electrifying than UNC’s Giovani Bernard, though, and to leave off his lead blockers in James Hurst and Jonathan Cooper would be unjust. Surprisingly, not one player from Florida State’s two-deep made the cut for first-team offense. There’s no question, though, the ACC champs dominated the defensive lineup with four first-team selections. Imagine a dream team made up of Clemson’s offense and Florida State’s defense.

Actually, the ACC’s dream team would look more like this, your 2012 ESPN.com ACC All-Conference team:

Offense First Team

QB -- Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB -- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB -- Andre Ellington, Clemson

WR -- DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR -- Conner Vernon, Duke

TE -- Brandon Ford, Clemson

T -- James Hurst, North Carolina

T -- Oday Aboushi, Virginia

G -- Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G -- Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C -- Dalton Freeman, Clemson

Defense first team

DE--Cornellius Carradine, Florida State

DE--Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT--Joe Vellano, Maryland

DT--Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

LB--Nick Clancy, Boston College

LB--Steve Greer, Virginia

LB--Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

CB--Ross Cockrell, Duke

CB--Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

S--Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S--Earl Wolff, NC State

Specialists

PK--Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P--Will Monday, Duke

SP--Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
The ACC coaches have unveiled their inaugural All-ACC football team and award winners, and it looks nearly identical to the media winners announced last week.

Both the coaches and media are in agreement on the players of the year: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd as player of the year and offensive player of the year; Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner as defensive player of the year; and Miami running back Duke Johnson as rookie of the year and Offensive Rookie of the Year; Florida State cornerback Ronald Darby as defensive rookie of the year; and Duke coach David Cutcliffe as coach of the year.

Boyd won player of the year and offensive player of the year more comfortably on the coaches' ballots, getting four more votes than North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. In media voting, Boyd beat out Bernard by one point.

Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. First-team selections earned two points; second-team selections got one.

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina each had five players chosen to the first team, though the Tar Heels actually had six first-team picks as Bernard was named to the first-team offense as a running back, while also earning first-team specialist accolades. All of Clemson’s first-team honorees were on offense, while four of FSU’s five were on defense.

The coaches' All-ACC first-team differed from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association team only at three positions: choosing Duke receiver Conner Vernon over Boston College’s Alex Amidon; North Carolina offensive tackle James Hurst over Clemson’s Brandon Thomas; and Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler instead of Virginia’s Steve Greer. Amidon, Thomas and Greer were all second-team picks.

In all, there were four unanimous first-team selections in Boyd, Bernard, Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Florida State defensive end Cornellius Carradine on defense.

Here are the complete teams.

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