ACC football coaches, including those from newcomers Pittsburgh and Syracuse, spoke on a teleconference Thursday with updates from their respective spring practices. The following is a compilation of their reports.
Boston College: New Boston College coach Steve Addazio, who replaced the fired Frank Spaziani, finds himself in a familiar bind for many coaches coming to rebuild a losing team. He doesn’t have much depth, but wants to practice the team hard to develop toughness.
“When you do that, you become susceptible to some injuries,” said Addazio, who came to Boston College after two seasons at Temple. Before that, Addazio was offensive coordinator at Florida, where he helped the Gators win two national championships.
Clemson: Clemson will have to replace a huge piece of an offense that ranked No. 9 last season — wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the school’s career leader in receiving yards and touchdowns.
Hopkins’ most likely successors are Martavis Bryant, Adam Humphries and Charone Peake, who caught a combined 76 passes last year. ESPN ranked Peake the No. 2 receiver in the 2011 signing class, ahead of Tigers star wideout Sammy Watkins.
Duke: With the graduation of dropback passer Sean Renfree, Duke coach David Cutcliffe switched to a zone-read offense for new starter Anthony Boone. The scheme is intended to use Boone’s speed.
“He’s a 235-pound guy that’s very quick, “ Cutcliffe said. “I haven’t had a lot of guys that have a cannon as an arm. He’s got that.”
Florida State: Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston appears the likely candidate to replace E.J. Manuel, drafted in the first round by the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. Winston was the star of the spring game, a performance that may have helped lead to quarterback Clint Trickett’s decision to transfer.
Winston, a redshirt freshman, was ranked the No. 1 quarterback in his signing class and has drawn comparisons to FSU great Charlie Ward. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher still is waiting to name him the starter, however.
Georgia Tech: Coach Paul Johnson said that all of the players who missed spring practice because of injuries should be ready for preseason practice, with the exception of center Freddie Burden.
That includes wide receivers Travin Henry and Anthony Autry, who were cleared this past week after knee surgery. Burden himself suffered a knee injury in spring practice and could possibly return later in the season. Safeties Isaiah Johnson and Fred Holton, linebackers Brandon Watts and Jabari Hunt-Days, center Jay Finch and offensive tackle Morgan Bailey, who all missed some or all of the spring with injuries or recovery from surgery, are expected back.
Maryland: After losing four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries last season, Maryland returns to C.J. Brown as its starter. Brown, who tore his ACL last preseason, participated in non-contact drills during spring practice and has since been cleared for contact. He’ll be backed by Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, who also are recovering from ACL tears.
Miami: The Hurricanes have lost three linebackers since the end of the season, Eddie Johnson, Gionni Paul and Gabe Terry, all because of off-field issues. Terry was dismissed after being arrested on a felony marijuana-possession charge earlier this month. In their stead, Alex Figueroa, a freshman who enrolled in January from prep school, turned heads in spring practice. He practiced with the first-string defense throughout spring practice.
“We’ve kind of thrown away the freshman tag because he doesn’t act like it at all,” Miami coach Al Golden said.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels, after being ineligible to play in the postseason last season, can play in a bowl next season, but coach Larry Fedora said that fact has not been brought up.
“Our goals haven’t changed,” he said. “When you say you want to win the state, you want to win the division, I mean, that puts you in a position to reach all your goals right there.”
After his hire in December 2011, Fedora spoke openly about his desire to end N.C. State’s five-game winning streak over the Tar Heels, which he did in October.
N.C. State: Quarterback Pete Thomas, who transferred to N.C. State from Colorado State and sat out last season, is the leading candidate to replace Mike Glennon. Thomas joined the Wolfpack before coach Tom O’Brien was fired at the end of the regular season. Under new coach Dave Doeren, the team will use the pistol formation and play at an up-tempo pace.
“There are a lot of similar passing concepts and a lot of similar formations,” said Doeren, hired from Northern Illinois. “But just how we get into them and the tempo we run them at is a lot different.”
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst completed his second spring practice with the Panthers, providing the team with needed stability. Since the firing of Dave Wannstedt at the end of the 2010 regular season, Pitt has had five different head coaches (including two interims).
“I think we’re working better as a team,” Chryst said. “I think that alone, leading into a period of time where you have a lot of opportunity and you need to take advantage of that opportunity to work, I think guys have a better — I don’t know if the word is ‘mindset’ — but they’re better prepared to approach this summer.”
Syracuse: Plenty is new at Syracuse. Coach Doug Marrone was hired by the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback Ryan Nassib and wide receiver Alec Lemon, who broke school passing and receiving records, respectively, are out of eligibility. Two top offensive linemen and the leading tackler also are gone. And Syracuse is moving into the ACC.
New coach Scott Shafer, previously Marrone’s defensive coordinator, said the jump into the ACC will be “a challenge for us, a challenge we can’t wait for, though.”
Virginia: The Cavaliers went through spring practice with four new coaches, including former N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien (associate head coach for offense) and former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta (associate head coach for defense and defensive coordinator). Coach Mike London devoted practice time to specifically preparing for three opponents on the 2013 schedule — BYU, Oregon and Tech.
Virginia Tech: Hokies coach Frank Beamer offered tacit support of running back Michael Holmes, who was suspended from the team after a felony malicious wounding charge this past week. Holmes’ attorney told the Washington Post that Holmes, who ran for 309 yards last season, was acting first in defense of his girlfriend when she was attacked by a former girlfriend and then in self-defense when he was hit by another person in the altercation.
“I think we need to let it play out,” Beamer said. “I think there’s definitely two sides to the story on this one.”
Wake Forest: A player to watch coming out of spring is wide receiver Orville Reynolds, who moved from running back near the end of last season. Coach Jim Grobe said that players voted Reynolds for having had the best spring on the Demon Deacons offense.
“Just a completely different kid from what we’ve had the past couple of years,” Grobe said.