NC STATE FOOTBALL
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
N.C. State DT Kâ€™Hadree Hooker transferring to ECU
Defensive tackle Kâ€™Hadree Hooker has traded in his N.C. State red for East Carolina purple.
The 6-foot-0, 307-pound redshirt freshman, who released from his scholarship at State earlier in the day, announced Thursday evening on Twitter that he will continue his college football career with the rival Pirates. Hooker later confirmed his decision in a text.
â€œHeaded back to the east where I will finish my collegiate career,â€ the Kinston native Tweeted. â€œ#piratenation Iâ€™m excited to join the family.â€
Amanda Lamb (WRALSportsfan.com)
NC State RB Thornton receives deferred prosecution in assault case
North Carolina State running back Shadrach Thornton was given a deferred prosecution ruling Thursday at his court appearance for a charge of assault on a female.
Thornton will undergo monitored counseling and could have the charges dropped upon completion. The court will check in on his counceling status every three months beginning Oct. 2.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Wolfpack blockers catching up to speed
Veteran tackle Rob Crisp and junior college transfer Quinton Schooley will probably join those three in the starting lineup, although competition for the jobs â€“ and at which positions â€“ has been one of the main questions of training camp for new coach Dave Doeren and his staff.
The addition of Schooley, a center from Butler Community College in Kansas, allows Thuney to slide over to right guard. Crisp and Chandler will likely be the tackles with Christophe at left guard.
Crisp, a senior, is the only linemen of that group who started last seasonâ€™s opener but then he missed five games with a back injury. Injuries up front were a common theme during former coach Tom Oâ€™Brienâ€™s tenure.
Two key statistics, yards per rush and sacks allowed, show the effect of all the injuries and shuffling of roles. N.C. State averaged 3.07 yards per carry, which ranked 114th in the country, according to cfbstats.com. The line also gave up 39 sacks, which ranked 115th in the country.
â€œWe had so many injuries and guys moved around so much, it threw off our chemistry,â€ Crisp said.
The biggest help for the line might just be a new approach on offense. Doeren and offensive coordinator Matt Canada will play up-tempo and use more elements of the spread.
â€œWeâ€™re going to run more and throw the ball quicker, both of those things will help,â€ Crisp said.
The biggest adjustment for the line has been keeping up with the pace of the offense. At its fastest, the offense aims to get off a snap about every 15 seconds. Coming from the huddle-up, pro set philosophy of the former staff, the tempo was a big adjustment for the offensive line in the spring.
All of the running for 300-plus pounders was a shock to the system, Christophe said.
â€œBut you get better and better at it,â€ Christophe said. â€œItâ€™s a lot easier than it was in the spring.â€
New line coach Mike Uremovich has been pleased with the progress the group has made since the spring. The addition of Schooley and junior college lineman Ali Kassem will also help with depth concerns.
Luke DeCock (N&O)
N.C. State coach Doerenâ€™s public persona is all business
Dave Doerenâ€™s introduction to N.C. State fans continued Wednesday in front of about 300 members of the Raleigh Sports Club. He has cut an interesting figure so far, businesslike and honest, but appearing almost uncomfortable at times with the political aspects of the job.
Less than two weeks away from the first-year Wolfpack football coachâ€™s debut, and a more clear picture of his public persona is emerging: Straightforward. Determined. Passionate about what he does, if not necessarily talking about it.
â€œWe donâ€™t talk about winning championships,â€ Doeren said. â€œWe talk about winning the day.â€
Nothing wrong with that. Itâ€™s noble and commendable. But it isnâ€™t necessarily what fans want to hear, particularly N.C. State fans raised on the sound-bite virtuosity of Jim Valvano. They traditionally have gravitated toward the sound and fury of Chuck Amato and Mark Gottfried, not the bland professionalism of, say, Herb Sendek.
Sound and fury isnâ€™t who Doeren is. He doesnâ€™t mess around. He told one opening joke Wednesday, asked for some leniency toward his quarterbacks and walked through the depth chart, position by position. Asked about scheduling some big nonconference games, he said he believed in playing one marquee game, to placate the fans, and only one. His recruiting pitch is about sacrifice and hard work, not ACC rings or the NFL draft.
Doeren is exactly what N.C. State needs right now, a passionate young coach who can relate, recruit and retool the program for the future. By all accounts, Doeren has built significant personal relationships with players on the team. Thatâ€™s his arena, not public speaking. He isnâ€™t is a glad-hander, a jokester. Heâ€™s earnest, intense, all business.
â€œJust so you know, thatâ€™s what you have here,â€ Doeren said. â€œA guy thatâ€™s going to work hard, that loves to fish, loves his family, loves to grind.â€
Jared Fialko (WRALSportsfan.com)
Doeren: QB decision coming on game day
There is still one position that is privileged information.
“I will tell you this, I’m not going to tell you who our quarterback is,” Doeren said to laughs. “Don’t even waste your time on that one.”
Doeren, though, did not get out without divulging some game day information.
“Both will play, how much and who’s up first, I’m going to leave that until game day,” Doeren said, referring to the battle between quarterbacks Pete Thomas and Brandon Mitchell.
“I don’t see why we’d want anyone to know who we’re playing until we have to. All I ask is this, be meaner to their quarterback than ours eight times, alright?”
Caulton Tudor (WRALSportsfan.com)
Pack ground game needs a fast fix under Doeren
Trend dates back to Sheridanâ€™s retirement
After going 40-36 overall but only 22-26 in league games, Oâ€™Brien was fired when his 2012 team completed a 7-5 (4-4 ACC) regular season with a 27-10 win over Boston College in Raleigh.
Thanks primarily to then-freshman running back Shadrach Thornton, the Pack was able to rush for 131 yards that afternoon against the Eagles. Although a reasonably modest total, those 131 yards amounted to the third highest total of the season in Stateâ€™s ACC games.
In a pair of pivotal back-to-back midseason losses to North Carolina and Virginia, Oâ€™Brienâ€™s team combined for just 86 yards rushing â€“ 67 against the Tar Heels and 19 against UVa.
The running attack, under Oâ€™Brien, became a secondary offensive consideration, just as it was much of the time the previous seven seasons under Chuck Amato, who was fired after going 49-37 overall but 25-31 in the ACC.
Passing obviously has become the dominant area of offensive emphasis throughout most of football, and the Wolfpack has been blessed with four exceptional quarterbacks â€“ Jamie Barnette, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon â€“ dating back the end of the Dick Sheridan coaching era in 1992.
But for a program that once produced two of the ACCâ€™s most prolific runners â€“ Ted Brown and Joe McIntosh â€“ the Packâ€™s 73-87 collective ACC record since Sheridan largely has coincided with a struggling ground game.
Over the past 30 years, State has had only three first-team all-ACC running backs â€“ T.A. McLendon (2002), Tremayne Stephens (1997) and Anthony Barbour (1992). In fact, Duke has matched State’s pace during the same period â€“ Chris Douglas (2003), Robert Baldwin (’94) and Randy Cuthbert (’89).
Richard Cirminiello (CollegeFootballNews.com)
Posted May 19, 2013
CFN Preview 2013 – NC State Wolfpack
Tom Oâ€™Brien cultivated mediocrity at NC State. So did Chuck Amato and Mike Oâ€™Cain before him. Dave Doeren has been brought aboard to change the culture and bring championships to the Pack.
In Doeren, the Wolfpack nabbed one of the rising young stars of the coaching ranks. Heâ€™s been a success everywhere heâ€™s worked, from a young coordinator at Kansas and Wisconsin to the head coach at Northern Illinois. In two years with the Huskies, he went 23-4, guiding the team to the 2013 Orange Bowl. Doeren maximized the potential in DeKalb. He was hired to do the very same thing in Raleigh.
NC State last won an ACC championship in 1979. Itâ€™s won 10 games in a season just once in school history. It has never played in one of college footballâ€™s marquee bowl games. And yet, the Wolfpack has terrific facilities, a supportive fan base and a recruiting territory that consistently produces NFL talent. So, itâ€™s no wonder that AD Debbie Yow is thinking big going forward.
The Packâ€™s final year under the watchful eye of Oâ€™Brien was predictably run-of-the-mill. Seven wins. Six losses. Yeah, there was the shocking upset of Florida State on Oct. 6, but a 38-24 Music City Bowl loss to Vanderbilt was a classic reminder of just how far this program is from its goals.
Doeren inherits an average roster of talent by ACC standards. QB Mike Glennon must be replaced, as will three starting offensive linemen and last seasonâ€™s top four tacklers on defense. That coveted championship run is not likely to occur in 2013.
Instead, the new staff will spend much of the year installing new systems on both sides of the ball, and gradually attempting to improve the culture inside the locker room. The one storyline thatâ€™ll make the most headlines centers on Glennonâ€™s successor, a tight battle that has Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas holding a slight lead on 2012 backup Manny Stocker.
After well over 1,000 games of football, NC State is fittingly just a couple of games above .500. Champs Sports Bowls and third-place finishes in the Atlantic Division were never acceptable in Raleigh. However, now the Pack has gotten serious about its restlessness, hiring a coach it feels can finally get this program closer to the Clemsons and the Florida States of the ACC.
This team will be much better ifâ€¦ the secondary vexes experts for a second straight year. In 2012, the loaded NC State defensive backfield surprised for all of the wrong reasons, failing to live up to expectations. Now that three starters are attempting to make NFL rosters, the Pack is determined to flip the script once again. The coaching staff is counting on its two best cornerbacks, senior Dontae Johnson and sophomore Juston Burris, to shorten the field by keeping receivers from getting behind them.
The season will be a success if … the Pack wins at least seven games, possibly eight. Aggressive considering the modest talent and need for a new quarterback? Not when the schedule is closely reviewed. NC State will play just two teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, Clemson and Florida State. The balance of the slate includes winnable games versus the likes of Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Michigan and East Carolina … all at Carter-Finley Stadium. This is the kind of team that might not be as formidable as its final record indicates.
Key game: Oct. 5 at Wake Forest. This is a rivalry game, a swing game and the Pack’s first road game of the year … all rolled into one. The schedule consists of eight home games, most of which will not be out of reach. Every road trip that State can put in the win column puts this team a giant step closer to exceeding expectations in 2013. If this team even splits its four games outside of Raleigh, there’s a very good chance that it’ll go down as a table-setting first year for head coach Dave Doeren.
Wolfpack still need a starting QB
With camp wrapping up, is Dave Doeren any closer to choosing a quarterback? The NC State head coach talks with Joe Ovies about the QB battle.
Position Preview: Quarterbacks
Throughout preseason camp, GoPack.com will feature each of the Pack’s position groups with a behind-the-scenes look from practice. In this episode, we look at the quarterbacks during the Pack’s final two-a-day, and hear from Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas.
Fialko: Doeren speaks to Wolfpack fans at Raleigh Sports Club
NC State head football coach Dave Doeren visited fans at Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday. WRAL’s Jared Fialko breaks down what the coach said.
USA Today Sports
ACC preview: Is Clemson the team to beat?
â€¢ The ACC has a number of teams ready to make a splash on the national scene and a number of opportunities to increase its stature in non-conference games. Clemson faces Georgia and South Carolina; Florida State plays its annual game with Florida; Virginia Tech meets Alabama, and Virginia plays Oregon, among others.
â€¢ Pittsburgh and Syracuse join from the Big East, with Pitt playing in the Coastal Division and Syracuse in the Atlantic. There had been speculation the additions would allow for a division alignment shake-up, but each division took one newcomer instead.
â€¢ Clemson and Florida State have distanced themselves as the two premier powers in the Atlantic Division. Clemson will be the prohibitive favorite, as the Tigers return a number of scoring options on offense and a more experienced unit on defense.
â€¢ Miami has the most returning talent in the Coastal Division, but multiple teams could bring home the division title. North Carolina, Miami and Georgia Tech each finished with identical records in conference play last season, and Virginia Tech is always a contender in the Coastal.
â€¢ 2012: 2-10 (1-7 ACC)
â€¢ Worth watching: Senior QB Chase Rettig and veteran WR Alex Amidon will be leaned upon for leadership on offense, as the pair are two of the most proven players on the roster. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis was fourth on the team in tackles despite playing in only nine games. Steele Divitto is an established player at linebacker.
â€¢ Bottom line: Boston College returns a handful of key veterans, but the Eagles simply don’t have the athletes to be competitive in the Atlantic Division. Though the Eagles will be more competitive under new coach Steve Addazio, don’t expect to see significant improvement in the win column.
â€¢ 2012: 11-2 (7-1)
â€¢ Worth watching: QB Tajh Boyd threw for 36 touchdowns and nearly 3,900 yards. WR Sammy Watkins is one of the most dynamic players in all of college football. RB Roderick McDowell could be in for a big season now that he has replaced Andre Ellington in the backfield. On defense, DE Vic Beasley is a sack machine with an explosive burst. The Tigers will be looking for an immediate impact from CB Mackensie Alexander.
â€¢ Bottom line: Clemson is one of the early favorites to bring home the crystal ball at the end of the 2013 season and has by far the best collection of returning talent in the conference. Although the schedule will present difficult challenges, including the opener against Georgia, the Tigers are better equipped to handle a daunting campaign. Until we’re given reason to think otherwise, the Tigers are the team to beat.
â€¢ 2012: 12-2 (7-1)
â€¢ Worth watching: All eyes will be on freshman QB Jameis Winston as he steps in to fill the void left by EJ Manuel. Defensively, the Seminoles have two linemen ready to make a huge splash in the ACC in DE Mario Edwards and DT Timmy Jernigan. SLaMarcus Joyner has started every game since he arrived and could see time at corner.
â€¢ Bottom line: The Seminoles return the fewest starters of any ACC team, but that shouldn’t present a major problem given Florida State’s recent run of success on the recruiting trail. If the Seminoles get solid production out of their new starting quarterback, Florida State will present a serious challenge to Clemson in the Atlantic Division.
â€¢ 2012: 4-8 (2-6)
â€¢ Worth watching: WR Stefon Diggs had 54 receptions for 848 yards as a freshman, and QB C.J. Brown will return after missing last season because of a torn ACL. Sophomore RBs Albert Reid and Brandon Ross should see their numbers skyrocket now that they will run behind a more experienced offensive front. The Terrapins averaged less than 3 yards a carry last fall.
â€¢ Bottom line: The offense can only get better with a more stabilized situation under center. The defense, however, will have to find a way to replace stars Joe Vellano, Kenny Tate and Demetrius Hartsfield. The Terrapins should finish in the bottom half of their division in their final ACC season before departing for the Big Ten.
North Carolina State
â€¢ 2012: 7-6 (4-4)
â€¢ Worth watching: Linemen Darryl Cato-Bishop, T.Y. McGill and Art Norman each registered at least five sacks in 2012. RB Shadrach Thornton emerged as a legitimate threat out of the backfield late last season, although the offensive line needs to replace three starters. Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker will compete for the starting quarterback job to replace Mike Glennon.
â€¢ Bottom line: Tom O’Brien left the cupboards relatively bare in Raleigh. Former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren’s new scheme will be refreshing, but the Wolfpack simply don’t have the talent to be serious contenders this fall, and the talent they do have is not exactly a perfect fit for Doeren’s style. N.C. State should be able to stay close in most games, but the Wolfpack could be in for a rough season.
â€¢ 2012: 8-5 (5-2 Big East)
â€¢ Worth watching: LB Dyshawn Davis is the top returning player on defense. RB Jerome Smith ran for 1,171 yards. WR Jarrod West will need to have a big season after the losses of Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. All eyes will be on QB Terrel Hunt, as he has the unenviable task of trying to replace Ryan Nassib.
â€¢ Bottom line: Syracuse enters its new conference with an above-average defense, a handful of questions on offense and a new coach in former defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, who replaces Doug Marrone. The departures of Nassib and Lemon will be tough to overcome, but the Orange are capable of competing for third in the Atlantic Division.
â€¢ 2012: 5-7 (3-5)
â€¢ Worth watching: Senior QB Tanner Price is looking to bounce back from a slightly disappointing 2012. RB Josh Harris and WR Michael Campanaro are two of the most underrated skill-position players in the conference. DT Nikita Whitlock has 241/2 career tackles for loss, second among active ACC players. Wake Forest doesn’t like to play many true freshmen, but LB Wendell Dunn might be too talented to keep on the sideline.
â€¢ Bottom line: Wake Forest has built a successful program by implementing a system that calls for an overload of upperclassmen. With a dearth of veteran leadership last season, the Demon Deacons struggled. Welcoming back a healthy number of starters for this season, however, Wake Forest could be a sleeper in the Atlantic Division.
Rich Cirminiello (CollegeFootballNews.com)
2013 CFN ACC Preview
The ACC will feature a robust 14 schools this fall, with Louisville swapping places with Big Ten-bound Maryland in 2014. The Terrapins struck their deal before the grant of rights agreement. The conference has also added a footprint in Western Pennsylvania and the Northeast with the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, respectively. The Big East imports will make ACC hoops stronger than ever, while goosing the bottom line by broadening the conferenceâ€™s overall television reach into new markets.
Go ahead and exhale, ACC. Youâ€™ve earned it with your off-field machinations. On grass, though, you still have a reputation in need of a little sprucing up. The conference is just 3-14 all-time in BCS bowl games, and has not produced a national champion since the end of the last century. While itâ€™s a steady pipeline to the NFL, the league also lacks the heft of an SEC or the tradition of a Big Ten or a Pac-12. Clemson and Florida State are now in charge of carrying the ACC banner to a wider audience.
The Tigers and the Seminoles are the leagueâ€™s leading men, for 2013 and beyond. Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher, respectively, have done outstanding jobs of signing elite recruits, coaching those kids up and creating winning atmospheres. Clemson, led by QB Tajh Boyd and the high-powered offense, is coming off just its fourth 11-win season in school history. Florida State, fueled by the conferenceâ€™s nastiest D, won the ACC last year for the first time since 2005. The schools meet in Death Valley on Oct. 19 in the ACC game of the year.
Clemson and Florida State have built a blockade around the Atlantic Division. Everyone else is fighting for third place and bowl positioning. Wake Forest returns a slew of starters to a veteran team determined to return to the postseason. In a season rife with change at Syracuse, new head coach Scott Shafer is hoping Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen can succeed Ryan Nassib at quarterback. After being snake-bitten by injuries in 2012, Maryland and beleaguered head coach Randy Edsall need something to cheer about in the worst way. NC State and Boston College begin new eras with Dave Doeren and Steve Addazio, respectively, on the sidelines.
The Coastal Division is deep and more tightly packed than the Miami O-line in a Smart car. Little, if any, separates the Canes, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, each of whom wants a crack at either Clemson or Florida State on Dec. 7 in Charlotte. Having been dogged by the NCAA in recent years, both Miami and Carolina are hoping to play beyond the regular season in 2013. The Yellow Jackets have sleeper potential, but only if new coordinator Ted Roof can transform the D. The Hokies are in search of a rebound following last yearâ€™s worst season in two decades. Pitt, Virginia and Duke will scrap to avoid the division cellar, while bucking for the necessary wins to become bowl-eligible.
The ACC is one of the cool kids of the FBS, and one of the five power conferences as it pertains to access into the sportâ€™s marquee postseason events. Sure, it still has a lot to prove on Saturdays. But the league has come a very long way over the past 12 months, taking the necessary administrative measures thatâ€™ll benefit each of its 14 member schools long after the 2013 season.
Team That’ll Disappoint
Clemson â€“ Itâ€™s all relative. Sure, the Tigers just might be the class of the ACC in 2013, but those folks banking on a top 10 finish and national championship contention could be a little bummed by early December. Clemson is facing a tough schedule that starts with Georgia, ends with South Carolina and has Florida State lurking in the middle. Now, a team can travel far with Tajh Boyd under center and Sammy Watkins running patterns. But the Tigers are not without their worries on both sides of the ball. The offense must replace leading rusher Andre Ellington, top receiver DeAndre Hopkins and all-league C Dalton Freeman. The D is breaking in three new starters in the secondary, and might still get exposed by physical ground games. Clemson is a very good football team, and itâ€™ll probably win the ACC title with the Seminoles coming to Death Valley, but the bar is set in a whole different galaxy than in recent years.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Randy Edsall, Maryland â€“ Edsall has had two seasons to put his stamp on the Terrapins program. Itâ€™s time for some dividends to start being doled out. Itâ€™s been a rocky couple of years for the former hot-shot Connecticut head coach, whoâ€™s gone 6-18 in College Park. Yeah, progress is being made, especially in the area of recruiting. And few coaches would have done much better than last yearâ€™s four wins after three Maryland quarterbacks suffered season-ending knee injuries. But a third consecutive losing season will leave Edsall short on both viable excuses and delivered promises. It cannot be helping Edsall that the Terps went 9-4 the year before he arrived. Or that James Franklin, the coach-in-waiting on that 2010 team, has become a star at Vanderbilt.
- At some point, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas will be benched in favor of steady-handed backup Mark Leal. The feast-or-famine Thomas could eventually drive the staff to do the unimaginable, sitting a player once believed to be a possible first-round NFL Draft pick.
- By the end of the year, whispers will begin to surface that Virginia Techâ€™s Frank Beamer has lost his touch, a la Mack Brown in Austin. It wonâ€™t be true, but that wonâ€™t stop observers from zinging Beamer following a second so-so campaign in a row.
- Itâ€™ll become apparent that Larry Fedora is the best thing to happen to Carolina since Mack Brown left Tulane for Chapel Hill in 1988. The Heels will surprise out of the Coastal if the D starts pulling a little more weight.
2013 ACC Preview – Unit Rankings
Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish
1 Florida State
2 Virginia Tech
4 North Carolina
6 Georgia Tech
7 NC State
10 Wake Forest
14 Boston College
1 Florida State
7 NC State
2 North Carolina
7 NC State
2 Florida State
3 Georgia Tech
9 NC State
1 Florida State
3 North Carolina
4 NC State
1 Florida State
3 North Carolina
10 NC State
1 Florida State
2 Virginia Tech
9 NC State
1 Virginia Tech
2 Florida State
4 NC State
1 Boston College
2 Georgia Tech
3 Florida State
7 NC State
1 Florida State
2 Virginia Tech
3 North Carolina
12 NC State
1 Virginia Tech
2 Florida State
10 NC State
ACC: Expert Predictions
CBSSports.com’s panel of experts break down what to expect in the ACC during the 2013 season:
Top Newcomer: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. Winston took time off from his baseball commitment to light things up at the spring game. He has to grow up in time to play at Clemson on Oct. 19.
Coach of the Year: Al Golden, Miami. Golden could have left town when the NCAA investigation came down. But he stuck it out and this year will be rewarded with an ACC Coastal title.
Next coordinator to become a head coach: No brainer. Clemson OC Chad Morris is the highest paid assistant in college football at $1.3 million. Next year he’ll be running his own shop.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Mike London of Virginia was the ACC Coach of the Year in 2011. After going 4-8 last season he brought in three former head coaches to get the program out of the ditch.
Bold conference prediction: For the first time in a long time, the ACC finally has a strong group of QBs led by Boyd, Stephen Morris and Bryn Renner (Plus keep an eye on Winston at FSU). Don’t be surprised if the ACC knocks off some power teams from the SEC this year.
Offensive Player of the Year: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami. If this is the year of the Hurricane return, Morris will be the catalyst. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd will put up big numbers, but if Morris makes the NFL-pedigree jump many think he will, he’ll win the popular vote.
Top Newcomer: Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina. Major sleeper here, but Tar Heels coaches are high on this three-star slot receiver. Should make an impact early as polished quarterback Bryn Renner spreads the ball.
Coach of the Year: Larry Fedora, North Carolina. The Tar Heels quietly won eight games last year, and though I picked Miami to win the Coastal division, UNC will be in the thick of the race. Maryland’s Randy Edsall will be a close second in COY voting after rebounding from 4-8.
Next head coach to become a coordinator: Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe. Grobe is a well-respected coach, but with a 73-74 in 12 seasons in a power conference, something has to give, right? Duplicating last year’s 5-7 campaign might spell the end.
Chip Patterson (CBSSports.com)
ACC: Team-by-team preview
Capsule looks at each ACC team, in predicted order of finish:
3. North Carolina State: Dave Doeren, coming off back-to-back MAC championships at Northern Illinois, walks into an ideal situation for year one in Raleigh. The Wolfpack have eight home games on the 2013 schedule, draw Duke as their rotating crossover opponent and leave the state of North Carolina just twice — traveling to face Boston College and Florida State. Doeren’s work on the recruiting trail points to an upward trajectory for the program, but even the coach says NC State is two classes away from a comfortable depth. There will be some frustrations in the transition, but the schedule and a solid defense — led by linebacker DJ Green and Thomas Teal, among others — will be the reasons NC State is bowling again.
1. Miami: Al Golden has battled a storm — no pun intended — for nearly his entire Miami career as a result of an NCAA investigation. But even with off-field issues looming, the program has excelled on the recruiting trail and the Hurricanes finished in a tie for first place in the Coastal Division in 2012. After two seasons of self-imposed postseason bans, the 2013 Miami team, with an ACC-leading 19 returning starters, has their eyes set on Charlotte in December. The Hurricanes have 97 total career starts on a physically imposing offensive line that will protect quarterback Stephen Morris and ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson. The biggest challenge will be improvement on the defensive side of the ball, where a previously inexperienced group had a year to develop. Miami hosts Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, but road trips to Florida State, North Carolina on a Thursday night and an unseasonably cold — at least by south Florida standards — season finale at Pittsburgh could be potential stumbling blocks on the way to their ultimate goal.
2. Georgia Tech: On paper, it is easy to see the likelihood of improvement for Georgia Tech from 2012 to 2013. The Yellow Jackets return five experienced offensive lineman, which is always a plus in Paul Johnson’s flexbone option attack, and new defensive coordinator Ted Roof will move the team to a 4-3 with All-ACC linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu moving to a potentially dominant pass-rush threat at defensive end. Sophomore quarterback Vad Lee has the tools to add a more dangerous passing attack to the offense, but the Yellow Jackets are still looking for a go-to receiver. Whether Georgia Tech can return to the ACC Championship Game for the third time in six years under Johnson could be decided by mid-October, after facing North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami in consecutive weeks.
3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels’ offense broke out in year one under Larry Fedora, averaging 6.49 yards per play and over 40 points per game. Quarterback Bryn Renner added his name to the group of talented group of ACC quarterbacks, and his performance at offseason camps is drawing attention from NFL scouts. But with two big reasons for 2012′s success already in the NFL — offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and running back Gio Bernard — the Tar Heels will look to All-ACC tackle James Hurst and a running back combination of A.J. Blue and Romar Morris to help Renner keep the offense rolling. In order to capture the Coastal Division and earn a bid to the conference title game, North Carolina will need more consistent play on defense. The Tar Heels gave up at least 33 points in six games last season, including 68 in a loss to division rival Georgia Tech.
5. Pittsburgh: After three head coaches in three years, it is understandable that it took the Pittsburgh players a while to get comfortable with Paul Chryst’s staff. But offseason bonding stories are no longer pertinent when the Panthers hit the field, and in 2013 that will come against Florida State in a nationally televised game from Heinz Field. Pitt’s meet-and-greet with the ACC will also reveal a lot to their own fans, as the Panthers take field without quarterback Tino Sunseri and running back Ray Graham for the first time since 2008. The staff is excited about the defense under the leadership of new defensive coordinator Matt House and longtime defensive coach John Palermo, and Aaron Donald will quickly become a name on the tongue of every offensive line coach in the league.
6. Virginia: An overhauled staff and the departure of two quarterbacks give the 2013 Cavaliers a clean slate after the disappointment of a 4-8 showing a year ago. Mike London tapped Steve Fairchild and former NC State coach Tom O’Brien to lead the offense, which returns nine starters from a year ago. Whoever wins the quarterback battle — likely sophomore David Watford or redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert — will have plenty of talent around to help. It does not help that Virginia draws Clemson from the other division, and faces both North Carolina and Miami on the road late in the season.
7. Duke: Duke will have the opportunity to return to the postseason in 2012, but the key will be avoiding the late-season slide that turned a memorable 6-2 start into another losing season. David Cutcliffe has stressed the importance of depth this offseason, but the good news is that the Blue Devils’ late season schedule is much more manageable this season. November matchups with all three in-state ACC rivals — vs. NC State, at Wake Forest, at North Carolina — will determine whether Duke is bowling again.
Michael Silver (NFL.com)
Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks will win Super Bowl XLVIII
He set his feet, steeled his gaze and uncorked a heavenly heave, a 60-yard Hail Mary headed toward a pair of Seattle Seahawks receivers on the right side of the Georgia Dome’s south end zone. And, quite naturally, Russell Wilson convinced himself that another miracle was imminent.
As the football left the young quarterback’s hand and floated through the temperature-controlled Atlanta air last January, the fate of two playoff teams hanging in the balance, Wilson envisioned a last-gasp touchdown that would surpass even the lunacy of the replacement-ref-fueled Monday night madness of late September.
Then, suddenly, the dream was over: Julio Jones, the talented Atlanta Falcons receiver moonlighting as a prevent-defense safety, went up and snatched the ball — and choked out the Seahawks’ stirring season, snuffing the visitors’ dramatic comeback and securing a 30-28 divisional-round playoff victory. As more than 70,000 fans filled the dome with the deafening din of jubilation, the Seahawks trudged solemnly into the end-zone tunnel and filed toward their locker room. Though many faces revealed anger and frustration, no one dared disturb the sound of silence.
For a few seconds, Wilson, the undersized third-round draft pick turned rookie revelation, was as devastated as the rest of his teammates. Abruptly — and loudly — the quarterback’s demeanor shifted.
“Hey, don’t even worry about it, cause we’re gonna be so (damn) good next year, it’s ridiculous,” Wilson intoned, his voice rising. “Remember how this feels. Remember this when we’re working all offseason. Because we’re going to be right back in this situation again and again, and next time, we’re gonna finish it.”
In the moment, Wilson’s defiant optimism failed to resonate with some of his teammates. “He was real excited and upbeat … talkin’ that (smack),” Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl running back, recalled at training camp earlier this month. “I was like, Damn, dude. Let me be mad for a minute.”
Seven months later, the memory of that trip through the Georgia Dome tunnel makes Lynch — and virtually everyone in the locker room — smile and nod knowingly.
After all, in their minds, Wilson wasn’t lying: The Seahawks will, in fact, be loaded in 2013, especially after an offseason that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll attacked with the subtlety of Pearl Jam playing a RKCNDY set in the early ’90s.
Even without the services of newly acquired wideout Percy Harvin, who’ll miss most (or all) of the season while recovering from hip surgery, Seattle is ready to rock. Carroll will field a deep and driven team led by an indefatigable franchise quarterback who’s convinced that last year’s playoff performance (which included a road victory over Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins) was merely an opening act.
“What’s really sunk in is just thinking about all the things that we can do better,” Wilson says. “That’s what’s really amazing. I think that we have so much more room to grow as an offense. There are so many more touchdowns out there. That’s the exciting part.”
From the time Wilson arrived shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft, the kid didn’t carry himself like a humble rookie or as the team’s quarterback of the future. No — he acted like the team’s quarterback of the present.
“I was gonna approach it like I was gonna be the starter,” Wilson recalls. “I had the same mentality then as I do now.”
Suffice it to say that when Wilson, be it in a minicamp huddle or meeting room, projected that take-charge confidence, he received his share of double-takes and eye rolls from some of the veterans in his vicinity.
“I was one of those guys, yeah,” wideout Golden Tate admits. “I said, ‘Man, come on.’ But that’s just him. He’s really everything you want in a quarterback.”
Wilson — along with Griffin, the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Niners’ Colin Kaepernick — is part of a new wave of young, athletic passers who seem innately to grasp what being a franchise quarterback means, on and off the field. When you’ve got a guy like that leading your team, it’s a scintillating sensation, and that’s why Carroll didn’t shy away from addressing the Seahawks’ enormous upside when we spoke earlier this month.
“Yeah, I think I can tell what this team is,” Carroll said. “We’ve been building this thing for some time now. You’ve still got to go out and prove it every week. You can’t say, ‘Oh, they’re like this forever.’ Stuff can change. But we know what our potential is. I think we know ourselves really well. And that’s really important. We’re gonna try to go out there and recreate our best side every time we go. And we have a chance to be a really nice team.”
Ian Rapoport (NFL.com)
Russell Wilson Effect evident at Seattle Seahawks training camp
1) The decision to start Russell Wilson has left its mark: The Seahawks’ 2012 campaign began with a stunning move, as Carroll announced that Wilson — and not free-agent signee Matt Flynn — would be his starting quarterback. For most of us who hadn’t watched the competition day in and day out, it was beyond explanation. “The fact that you guys didn’t see it (made it a surprise),” Carroll told me. “The conventional wisdom was you’d never do that. But he’s that good. And we could tell. He still has to go out and do it and prove it.” Yes, he is that good. Wilson clearly established himself as one of the pillars of the franchise’s future last season, guiding the Seahawks to an 11-5 mark and falling just short of the NFC Championship Game. Looking back on the move, Carroll said, “The bad thing would’ve been to not name Russell, because he was the guy. He won the job.” Who cares that he was an unproven rookie? He earned it. A year later, this mentality is not lost on players. They know this: Everyone’s job is simultaneously in jeopardy and attainable. One secure veteran recently went to his position coach and innocently asked if he’s on the roster bubble. Meanwhile, 25-year-old corner Walter Thurmond knows he has a chance at the nickel job, despite the Seahawks signing 14-year veteran Antoine Winfield in free agency. The message is loud and clear: The depth chart is completely fluid. This is the way Carroll has always done it, but the Wilson decision really hammered home his unwavering devotion to open competition. “There comes a time when you have opportunities to really demonstrate that,” Carroll said. “That was one of the best ones.” The result is a stronger team with players who know they have to perform on a daily basis.
2) OK, so what’s next for the Seahawks’ sophomore signal-caller? One common misconception is that the Seahawks’ offense is read-option based. Not true. Yes, they run some read option, but it’s not the majority of their playbook. In fact, Wilson considers himself a quarterback who happens to run, not a running quarterback. This came up during my talk with creative offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. I openly wondered about what kind of adjustments Wilson will need to make, as teams gear up to stop him by diagnosing 2012 game film. Bevell seemed to move past last year to … whatever this year’s version is. “We’re always looking for the next thing, the thing that can help us get better,” Bevell told me. “(Read-option plays) were a small part of what we did. It wasn’t a huge part of the offense. We have so many other things that we can do, that we feel like are strengths for us. It’s not something that we hang our hat on. We hang our hat on running the ball, and we still have the ability to do that.” Not what you’re looking to hear as an opposing defensive coordinator.
NC STATE BASKETBALL
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Relax, Wolfpack fans â€¦ Cat Barberâ€™s foot injury is a minor one
You can now relax, Wolfpack Nation. And coach Mark Gottfried, too.
X-rays taken after Barber hurt the foot in a pickup game at Stateâ€™s practice facility were negative. The boot is only a precaution.
In its third season under head coach Mark Gottfried, the North Carolina State men’s basketball program has assembled a challenging schedule that features 18 games against teams that made a postseason tournament in 2013.
“I always want a difficult schedule,” Gottfried said. “I want to be aggressive even in a year when we are so young and inexperienced.”
In addition to an enhanced 18-game ACC slate, the Wolfpack will play 10 games against teams that played in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
“This schedule is going to force this young group to grow up quickly and it will help us improve as the year progresses,” Gottfried said.
The regular season opens Friday, Nov. 8 at PNC Arena when the Wolfpack, which is coming off consecutive 24-win seasons, hosts Appalachian State. Four days later, NC State will play at Cincinnati in ESPN’s 24-hour college hoops marathon. The next seven games after the Cincinnati trip will all be at home. The Wolfpack will welcome 2012 NCAA tourney team Detroit to historic Reynolds Coliseum Saturday, Dec. 14.
NCSU, which earned a Sweet 16 berth in 2012, will take on three major-conference opponents in the month of December. NC State hosts Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and welcomes Missouri to PNC Arena Saturday, Dec. 28. The third such contest is a trip to Tennessee on Dec. 18 that will be televised on ESPNU.
NORTH CAROLINA TWICE IN FEBRUARY
The Wolfpack will have a home-and-away set against North Carolina in February. NC State will play in Chapel Hill on Feb. 1 before the Tar Heels return to PNC Arena 25 days later. The two schools split a pair of meetings last season, with NC State defeating UNC 91-83 in Raleigh on ESPN College Gameday.
ON THE TUBE
Every North Carolina State ACC contest is to be carried live on television. The Pack is slated to have 22 games broadcast on ESPN’s family of networks, including seven contests on ESPNU. All conference games carried on an ESPN network will also be available on WatchESPN. Eight of NC State’s ACC games will be carried on the ACC Network. All conference games carried on the ACC Network or a regional sports network will also be available on ESPN3.
NC State will spend much of February on the road, playing five league contests away from PNC Arena. The Wolfpack has a six-game stretch over 21 days that includes five road games. It’s the first time NCSU is on the road for five out of six conference games since 1991.
#BackPack: Men’s Basketball
Watch as freshmen Beejay Anya and Lennard Freeman move into College Inn