NCF Nation: Devin Burns

Happy Halloween in the ACC

October, 31, 2012
10/31/12
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Happy Halloween, ACC fans! Andrea and I decided to have a little fun today with some spooky stuff in the ACC. We see you guys out there dressed up as officials …

Cursed: Maryland’s quarterbacks. It’s the only way to explain it. Some sort of hex. Following the transfer of Danny O’Brien to Wisconsin, starter C.J. Brown tore his ACL. His backup, Perry Hills, then tore his ACL. Backup Devin Burns also suffered a season-ending injury, and then -- as if all of that weren’t enough of a spell -- true freshman Caleb Rowe also suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Coach Randy Edsall called it unlucky. Spooky if you ask me.

[+] EnlargeDavid Cutcliffe
Peter Casey/US PresswireThis season, coach David Cutcliffe and Duke have been scaring opponents for a change.
Back from the dead: Duke. The Devils have done it. For the first time since 1994, Duke is bowl eligible. Not only have the Blue Devils reached the six-win mark, they also have a chance to win the Coastal Division. With a 6-3 record (.667) Duke is off to its best start in five seasons under head coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils have compiled a 5-0 record at Wallace Wade Stadium this season, matching the school record for home victories in a season. They’re alive.

Graveyard: Virginia. Bury ‘em. The Cavaliers have officially replaced Boston College at the bottom of the ACC power rankings, and have lost six straight heading into Saturday’s road trip to NC State. They have yet to win an ACC game, and haven’t won since Sept. 8. Nobody in the country ranks worse than Virginia in turnover margin. It’s been a hard fall after last season’s success. Odds are the Hoos don’t get back up again this season.

Scary movie: Pitt 35, Virginia Tech 17: Nobody but Pitt wants to watch this horror flick again. The Hokies had four turnovers. Logan Thomas had one touchdown and three interceptions against a defense that managed just one sack and no turnovers through the season's first two weeks. Virginia Tech had just 59 rushing yards. Pitt jumped out to a 21-0 lead. The Hokies were manhandled up front on both sides and allowed the Panthers 537 total yards.

Nightmare in Carter-Finley Stadium: NC State 17, FSU 16. That was not a bad dream, Seminoles fans, that was a national championship dream dying in Raleigh. Nobody expected that to happen, not after FSU jumped to No. 3 in the rankings after its win against Clemson. Not after NC State struggled so badly in losses to Tennessee and Miami. But Tom O'Brien knows how to cast a spell at least once a season. Double Double, toil and trouble ... bring me FSU on the double! His players responded, rallying from a 16-0 halftime deficit to score the game-winning touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds remaining. Poof!

Thriller: Speaking of the Wolfpack, NC State has probably been involved in more thrillers than any team in the country. The Wolfpack have gone down to the wire in four straight games. The thrills began at Miami on Sept. 29, when NC State overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game with 1:58 to go, only to lose when Miami scored a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining. The following week came the biggest thriller of all, the upset of FSU. Then, they beat Maryland when Terps kicker Brad Craddock missed a 33-yard field goal with 2 seconds left. Last week, they lost to North Carolina when Giovani Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown with 13 seconds left.

Trick or treat (high stakes game): NC State at Clemson, Nov. 17. For the Tigers to keep their Atlantic Division hopes alive, they must win this game. NC State already took Florida State down this year, but the Wolfpack have had a much harder time beating both teams in the same season. NC State won this matchup last year in decisive fashion, 37-17 so you know Clemson will be looking for revenge.

Jack-o-Lantern: Georgia Tech. Will the light come on for this team in time to make a bowl game? The Jackets have to win three of their final four to keep one of the longest bowl streaks in the nation alive. Georgia Tech has gone bowling 15 straight years, but faces an uphill climb with this remaining schedule: at Maryland, at North Carolina, Duke and at Georgia.
Maryland's defense has been its strength all season -- especially with back-to-back-to-back season-ending injuries to starting quarterbacks.

In Saturday's 20-17 loss to Boston College, the Terps couldn't make the stops when it mattered most, as Chase Rettig completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Coleman with 52 seconds left to give Boston College its first FBS and ACC win of the season. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Eagles and helped them avoid their worst start since 1989.

It was a valiant effort, though, by Maryland true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe, whose rapid ascension up the depth chart came at the expense of injured teammates C.J. Brown, Perry Hills and Devin Burns. Rowe, once a fourth-string QB who planned to redshirt, completed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs midway through the fourth quarter to give Maryland a 17-13 lead. The Terps couldn't hang onto it, though.

Rowe completed 23 of 42 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three interceptions.

It was a much-needed win for Boston College, whose only win until today was against Maine. If BC wins out, it could still get to a bowl game. Considering No. 5-ranked Notre Dame is still on the schedule -- not to mention road trips to Wake Forest and NC State, plus a home game against Virginia Tech, it seems unlikely. The same can be said for Maryland.

The Terps are in a much better position than BC at 4-4, but two more wins will be hard to come by with Atlantic Division leaders FSU and Clemson still on the schedule. The Terps really needed that win to boost their hopes of reaching bowl eligibility after a 2-10 season. The Eagles, on the other hand, just needed a win.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 9

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
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Here is a look at what to watch in the ACC in Week 9.

1. Can Clemson break its Thursday night jinx? The Tigers travel to play Wake Forest Thursday, and one thing you will continue to hear throughout the day leading up to the game is how bad they have played on Thursday nights. Clemson is 1-9 in its past 10 Thursday night appearances, with its lone win coming at NC State in 2005. One of the more recent losses came to Wake Forest, 12-7 in 2008. That was the last win for Wake Forest in the series. You should also note that Wake Forest is 4-0 in Thursday night games on ESPN.

2. The best in North Carolina? The annual rivalry game between NC State and North Carolina has arrived. NC State, leader in the Atlantic, will try to extend its winning streak over the Tar Heels to six straight. North Carolina enters off a tough loss to Duke and is 0-2 against state teams this year, also losing to Wake Forest earlier in the season. Coach Larry Fedora wanted to get the attention of his players headed into this game so he had the locker room decorated in red. By the way, Duke has early bragging rights, with a 2-0 record against state teams; Wake Forest is 1-1. This is NC State's first game against an ACC team from North Carolina. The Wolfpack and Blue Devils do not play this year.

[+] EnlargeDabo Swinney
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesDabo Swinney will try to get Clemson a rare Thursday night win. The Tigers are 1-9 in their past 10 Thursday night appearances.
3. Can Duke compete with Florida State? Duke leads the Coastal Division while Florida State still has its eyes on winning the Atlantic, but the big question is whether or not the Blue Devils have what it takes to beat the Seminoles. Becoming bowl eligible has its perks, of course, but beating Florida State for the first time while retaining its lead in the Coastal would be huge. Florida State is 17-0 in the series and has won those contests by an average score of 50-16. Florida State's smallest margin of victory is 19 points -- winning 25-6 in 2007.

4. How does Maryland handle a new QB? The Terps have just been snake-bitten at quarterback, testing their depth at the position. Starter Perry Hills is done for the season with a torn ACL, leaving Maryland scrambling with a real shot at bowl eligibility. Coach Randy Edsall hasn't said who will start, but he is expected to play Devin Burns and Caleb Rowe. It's not as if Maryland has a reliable ground game to help out -- though Wes Brown had a great game last week with 121 yards and a touchdown.

5. Does that mean Boston College has a better chance at its first FBS win? The Eagles have had their share of struggles, but they are the favorite over the Terps in Las Vegas. They are at home for the first time since Sept. 29, and they are facing a team with major questions at quarterback. Still, coach Frank Spaziani has had to deal with his own questions about his future. Losing a very winnable game will only make those questions grow louder.

6. Run D vs. Run O in Atlanta. The game between BYU and Georgia Tech presents your classic matchup between one great rushing offense and one great rushing defense. In this case, Georgia Tech ranks No. 3 in the nation in rushing offense, and BYU ranks No. 8 in the nation in rushing defense. The Cougars were a few plays away from upsetting Notre Dame last week, but they have really struggled to find any consistency on offense this year. BYU ranks No. 87 in the nation in scoring offense, and that could play right into the hands of a Georgia Tech defense making strides in its reconfigured scheme.

7. Can Michael Campanaro help Wake Forest? The Deacs have really struggled offensively since Campanaro went down with a broken hand against Duke. Last week, they had 213 total yards of offense in a win over Virginia, their fewest in an ACC win since 1966. In the past two games without him, Wake has scored 30 total points. So coach Jim Grobe is hopeful that a less-than-100 percent Campanaro is better than no Campanaro at all.

8. North Carolina secondary vs. Bryan Underwood and Quintin Payton. The Tar Heels are going to have to keep an eye on Underwood and Payton. Underwood has caught a touchdown pass in a school-record seven straight games. Underwood has 22 catches on the season, but eight of them have gone for scores. Payton, meanwhile, leads the team in receptions and yards and has come up with huge plays for the Wolfpack.

9. Florida State without Chris Thompson. The Seminoles have lost their leading rusher for the season, a big blow when you consider just how well he had been playing in his return from a broken back. But coach Jimbo Fisher is confident in the depth behind Thompson, and will rely on Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Lonnie Pryor to shoulder the load. Florida State did fine with Freeman and Wilder against Miami, but there's no question the Noles were much more effective rushing the ball this year with Thompson in the lineup.

10. Bowl watch. NC State (5-2) becomes bowl eligible with a win over North Carolina; Boston College (1-6) will officially be eliminated from bowl contention with a loss.

ACC predictions: Week 9

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
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I’ve had one wrong pick over the past two weeks, and that was Duke’s 33-30 win over North Carolina last weekend. Congrats to Duke for becoming bowl-eligible and proving me wrong. My overall record stands at 53-12 heading into Week 9 (81.5 percent). Clemson and Wake Forest get things started tonight. Who will win? …

Clemson 35, Wake Forest 24: The Deacs will put forth one of their better efforts of the season, but it won’t be enough to match Clemson’s offensive playmakers. The return of receiver Michael Campanaro will be a huge boost to the Wake Forest offense, but the Deacs’ defense won’t be able to slow down an offense that averages 40.8 points per game.

Maryland 17, Boston College 10: The Eagles are favored in this game, but Maryland has been relentless. No matter what the situation, coach Randy Edsall has found a way to keep his players believing this year. Regardless of who starts at quarterback -- Caleb Rowe or Devin Burns -- the Terps’ defense will make more plays and the offense will get just enough to leave Chestnut Hill with a win.

Florida State 38, Duke 14: This is arguably the most meaningful game Duke has played in over a decade, but the Blue Devils just don’t match up well against the speed and athleticism of the Seminoles. FSU is No. 2 in the country in total defense, and No. 7 in scoring offense. As long as the Noles don’t beat themselves with penalties and turnovers, they should win.

North Carolina 24, NC State 21: The hex is over. NC State’s inability to run the ball consistently will be the difference in the game. In last Saturday’s win over the Tar Heels, Duke’s ability to establish a ground game was the difference. The Pack is too one-dimensional to control the clock and keep Giovani Bernard off the field.

Georgia Tech 28, BYU 24: This one could go either way, but the Jackets got off to a good post-bye week start with the win over BC last weekend and have a little confidence and momentum. They’ve also taken better care of the ball and have a much more productive offense. BYU is No. 100 in the country in turnover margin. The Cougars are one of the better defensive teams in the country, though, so Georgia Tech has to do what it does best and sustain drives.

Terps' QB situation still in flux

October, 23, 2012
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Maryland coach Randy Edsall has a decision to make this week: Devin Burns or Caleb Rowe as the team's next starting quarterback.

Unfortunately for the Terps, those are now the only two eligible scholarship options remaining after the season-ending ACL injuries to C.J. Brown and now Perry Hills. Edsall said on Tuesday he hopes to know by Thursday who his starting quarterback will be for Saturday’s game against Boston College.

Whether he announces it is another question.

“Am I going to say anything at the end of the day Thursday? That’s too far in advance to know that,” Edsall told reporters at his weekly Tuesday news conference. “But we could come out and say something on Thursday or wait until game time.”

Despite the unprecedented run of injuries to Maryland’s starting quarterbacks -- a string of bad luck that extends well beyond this season -- Edsall said those within the program aren’t “down in the dumps.” After a 2-10 finish in 2011, Maryland is now only two wins away from bowl eligibility as they prepare for a road trip to Boston College (1-6), which has the worst record in the ACC and has yet to beat an FBS team. Another win for the Terps isn’t unreasonable, considering BC’s struggles, but Maryland’s quarterback situation has to improve if the Terps are going to become bowl eligible this year.

“You work with what you have to go out and win the game,” Edsall said. “I’m not panicked, upset, or frustrated. You just roll with the punches and go out to get yourself ready for a win.”

Burns is a converted wide receiver, who volunteered to move back to his original position this past summer after Brown was injured. Edsall said that ideally, he would have liked to redshirt Rowe, a true freshman, but Rowe was used in a two-minute situation in Saturday’s 20-18 loss to NC State.

“We had made the decision to go with Devin as No. 2 and Caleb at No. 3,” Edsall said. “I told [Rowe] he had to be ready and be prepared because he hasn’t gotten many reps. In practice he would just do the 2-minute drill and 7-on-7 with the defense. But he has been in the meetings and taking notes. I think it was so impressive that he went in and preformed the way he did with such minimal reps. Ideally, we would have wanted to redshirt him but we weren’t afforded that luxury.”

There are no luxuries for Maryland quarterbacks this year.

ACC Week 9 sneak peek

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
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Let's take a sneak peek at the the ACC schedule for Week 9.

Thursday night

Clemson (6-1, 3-1) at Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3), 7:30 p.m., ESPN. Will this game come down to the wire the way the meeting between the two schools did a season ago? Flash back, to last year, and remember that Clemson rallied from 14 points down to win 31-28. Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division title for the Tigers. Clemson has won three straight in the series. The last Wake Forest win came in 2008 -- also a Thursday night game. Headed into this game, it appears as if the Clemson defense has turned a corner following a good game against Virginia Tech last week. Wake Forest, meanwhile, was stagnant on offense last week in a win over Virginia, managing just one touchdown and 213 yards. In fact, the Deacs have managed less than 300 yards of total offense in back-to-back games.

Saturday

NC State (5-2, 2-1) at North Carolina (5-3, 2-2), 12:30 p.m., ACC Network. The Wolfpack own a five-game winning streak in the series, matching 1988-92 for its longest in the series. In a 13-0 win last year, NC State limited the Tar Heels to 165 total yards. If the Wolfpack do that this year, they deserve a golden medal in addition to the W in the win column. Despite losing to Duke last week, North Carolina had 414 yards of total offense. The Tar Heels have run for more than 150 yards in five straight games. NC State, meanwhile, survived Maryland last week to stay atop the Atlantic Division. This one is yet another important one for bragging rights in the state of North Carolina.

Maryland (4-3, 2-1) at Boston College (1-6, 0-4), 1 p.m., ESPN3. The big question headed into this game is: Who will start at quarterback for the Terps? Perry Hills will undergo an MRI on his left knee, and coach Randy Edsall was not giving out many answers about his quarterback situation after the game. Caleb Rowe and Devin Burns both played in relief of Hills last week against NC State. No doubt this team has been decimated at the position, losing starter C.J. Brown in the preseason. Could all this uncertainty be the opening BC needs to end its five-game losing streak?

BYU (4-4) at Georgia Tech (3-4). The Yellow Jackets take a break from conference play to take on BYU, a team that took Notre Dame down to the wire last week before losing a heartbreaker. These two teams last met in 2002 and 2003, splitting their series. But the Cougars are a vastly different team today than they were back then. In fact, the strength of this team resides on its defense, as the Cougars rank No. 4 in the nation in total defense. Should be a great challenge taking on the run-heavy Georgia Tech offense. Meanwhile, the BYU offense has been inconsistent for the last several years now, and that could play right into the hands of the reconstituted Georgia Tech D, which held Boston College to 296 yards of offense -- its best showing of the season against an FBS opponent.

Duke (6-2, 3-1) at Florida State (7-1, 4-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. Is this an ACC championship game preview? Stop laughing -- Duke is for real this year. The Blue Devils go into the game having clinched bowl eligibility and sit alone in first place in the Coastal Division. Florida State is in the mix in the Atlantic. So how will this one play out? History is not on the Blue Devils' side. Florida State leads the series 17-0. The Noles got pretty banged up in a very physical game against Miami, so we will see how close they are to being 100 percent healthy as the week goes on.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 8

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
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Here’s a look back at Week 8 in the ACC ...

[+] EnlargeClemson defense and Virginia Tech
Joshua S. Kelly/US PresswireClemson's defense held Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech to just 17 points.
The good: Clemson's defense. This highly criticized group played arguably its best game of the season, forcing Virginia Tech into four turnovers, including one interception safety Jonathan Meeks ran back 74 yards for a touchdown. The Hokies’ 17 points were a season low by an FBS team against Clemson this year.

The bad: Maryland’s quarterback situation. It started when Danny O’Brien transferred, and the hits just keep on coming for the Terps’ quarterbacks. As if it weren’t bad enough to lose starter C.J. Brown to a season-ending knee injury this summer, his backup, Perry Hills, was injured and taken out of Saturday’s game against NC State. And then there were two -- Caleb Rowe and Devin Burns, a former receiver who switched positions this summer just to help out.

The ugly: BC and Virginia are a combined 0-8 in ACC play.

The ugly II: Two calls in the Clemson-Virginia Tech game. The first was a sack that was called on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. It appeared the official blew the whistle too quickly, and it didn’t look anything like a sack. Maybe it was intended to prevent an injury? It nullified what would have been a momentum-changing first down. The other was a questionable call on what looked like a fumble by Sammy Watkins in the third quarter.

The historic: Duke’s sixth win. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 and they are leading the Coastal Division standings after a 33-30 win over rival North Carolina.

The improved: Georgia Tech’s defense. After a tumultuous bye week in which defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired and assistant Charles Kelly was named the interim, the Jackets regrouped and showed progress in a win over BC. Georgia Tech shut down Boston College in a 37-17 win, holding the Eagles to 296 total yards and 32 on the ground.

The stat: The Hokies have four losses before the end of October for the first time since 1992.

The stat II: Duke had 234 yards rushing -- the most ever on the ground by a David Cutcliffe-coached Duke team.

The quote: "I'm still pretty darn young, and I've got a long time to go," he said, "but I want to leave this place much better than when we walked into it. That's when you know you've done something right." – Duke coach David Cutcliffe, according to USA Today.

The play: Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder on fourth down with 13 seconds left to beat North Carolina 33-30.

The play II: With two seconds remaining against NC State, Maryland kicker Brad Craddock’s 33-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright to seal NC State’s 20-18 win.

The painful: Both Florida State and Miami lost their leading rushers to injuries on Saturday. FSU running back Chris Thompson suffered a knee injury and Miami’s Duke Johnson left the game in the second half with a foot injury and didn't return. Coach Al Golden said Johnson would have X-rays after the game, but had no update on the situation during his weekly Sunday afternoon teleconference, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Maryland quarterback Perry Hills, a true freshman who has played admirably this season in place of injured starter C.J. Brown, suffered a knee injury late in the second quarter of a 20-18 loss to NC State on Saturday and coach Randy Edsall said "it doesn't look good."

“Perry has a knee injury," Edsall said, according to the team's postgame report. "We will wait to see what the MRI tells about it, but it doesn’t look good. We will take a look at the film and look at how we will move forward. I think we have two guys who will help us move forward and it’s a credit to how they have prepared and to our offensive coaches for having those kids ready.”

Devin Burns helped lead Maryland on three scoring drives and finished with 50 rushing yards, 47 passing yards and a rushing touchdown. Freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe was thrown in the game with about 30 seconds remaining. Rowe completed his first pass attempt, a 17-yarder to Kevin Dorsey, and he had an 11-yard run and another 33-yard completion that set up a 33-yard field goal attempt by Brad Craddock that would have been the game winner.

“I was not surprised, coach always preaches to be prepared for whenever your number is called," Rowe said. "I work hard in practice and today I was ready to play. They were telling me through my headset to get ready to play.”

Edsall said he was pleased with his backup quarterbacks.

"I thought that [quarterback] Devin Burns came in and played well as a backup," Edsall said. "Caleb [Rowe] also came in and executed the two-minute drill with perfection. That is something that we have been working on and planned on bringing in Devin if something happened to Perry [Hills] and use Caleb in the two-minute offense. We got the ball down there, but unfortunately Brad [Craddock] didn’t make it and we came up two points short."

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