ACC Spring Analysis & Thoughts
NC State QB Mike Glennon
NC State QB Mike Glennon
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 15, 2012


As spring ball kicks in, what's happening for each ACC team?

2012 Spring Preview   

ACC Atlantic


Atlantic Boston Coll | Clemson | Florida St | Maryland | NC St | Wake Forest
Coastal Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami | North Carolina | Virginia | Virginia Tech

2012 ACC Pre-Spring Preview
- ACC Atlantic Pre-Spring Rankings
- ACC Coastal Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On
2012 Recruiting Rankings ACC Atlantic | ACC Coastal

- ACC Coastal Spring Preview & Thoughts

By Richard Cirminiello 
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Boston College

Make-or-break. Do-or-die. Now-or-never. All of the trite phrases assigned to struggling head coaches apply to Frank Spaziani, who is just a game above .500 in three seasons on the Heights. Even worse, last year’s squad went 4-8 to become the first one since 1998 to miss out on a bowl game. Yup, this is going to be a huge offseason for the Eagles. At the very top of the to-do list during the spring will be to get the new offensive assistants, four of them, in synch with the personnel on hand. If Boston College is going to distance itself from the memory of last season, it’ll have to start with a moribund attack that ranked in the ACC basement in total offense and scoring offense. In fact, the only man on campus who’ll be under more scrutiny than Spaziani is new offensive coordinator Doug Martin.

- The clock is ticking for junior QB Chase Rettig. If the light doesn’t go on soon, he’s liable to get passed on the depth chart by athletic sophomore Josh Bordner.

- As a precaution, all-time leading rusher Montel Harris will sit out this spring to rest a surgically-repaired left knee. No worries. The Eagles are already pretty loaded with Tahj Kimble, Andre Williams and Rolandan Finch back in the fold.

- TE Chris Pantale is poised for the kind of breakout year that’s going to attract a lot of attention from NFL scouts across the country.

- No, you don’t get better on defense by losing a player the caliber of LB Luke Kuechly, but BC isn’t exactly destitute at linebacker heading into 2012. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Sean Duggan and Steele Divitto are gifted defenders just itching to step out of No. 40’s shadow.

- Is there a viable pass rusher on campus? The Eagles were 114th nationally in sacks a year ago, and top edge guy Max Holloway surprisingly left school early.

Clemson

70-33. The score resonates in the minds of the Tigers players like a relentless, two-month nightmare. For all of the good that took place at Clemson last fall, the lasting memory was the program’s epic, record-breaking versus West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. It’ll spend the next few months attempting to recapture the swagger that led to 10 regular season wins and the 2011 ACC championship. Naturally, a big chunk of the offseason will be spent trying to correct an ailing defense that’s now under the guidance of former Oklahoma coordinator Brent Venables. The play of the lines—on both sides of the ball—will go a long way toward determining whether or not Clemson can repeat as the conference champ. As far as the skill positions go, few programs are going to be more stacked in 2012 than the Tigers.

- The Tigers welcome back a 1,000-yard passer (Tajh Boyd), 1,000-yard rusher (Andre Ellington) and 1,000-yard receiver (Sammy Watkins). This offense will be unstoppable in the fall unless …

- … the O-line fails to regroup on the fly. The entire plan on offense is capable of getting blown up if Clemson is unable to adequately replace three starters, including both of last season’s starting tackles.

- Clemson’s next big thing along the defensive line is 6-5, 280-pound DE Corey Crawford, a Da’Quan Bowers-like clone who put down the ground floor of a promising career in 2012. He and senior Malliciah Goodman will form a troublesome bookend this fall.

- If Venables is a success in his Death Valley debut, he’ll be a head coach by this time next year. The exposure at Clemson could actually trump whatever he received while in Norman.

- Start using the name Stephone Anthony now before the sophomore linebacker sheds his anonymity. The former five-star recruit has an immense amount of talent that’s really begun to reach the surface this spring.

Florida State

Are we there yet? The Seminoles will essentially be looking for a do-over in their return to glory, which took a sudden detour a year ago. Pegged as the program’s long-awaited breakthrough following a decade of mediocrity, Florida State went a disappointing 9-4, failing to even capture the ACC Atlantic. With as many as 18 starters back from last year’s team, the ‘Noles are determined to put it all together, and possibly vie for national championship contention. It all begins in the spring for Jimbo Fisher’s squad. No unit will get more attention than an offensive line that struggled mightily with injuries and ineffectiveness throughout the 2011 campaign. If this eclectic group can come together by mid-September, Florida State has the surrounding talent to carry the conference banner this year.

- There might not be a more influential player in America in 2012 than senior QB EJ Manuel. If he can finally fulfill his five-star potential, the ‘Noles will rock accordingly. If not, the offense is going to be flat.

- It’s high time that Manuel gets more help from his supporting cast. Florida State is loaded with former blue-chip recruits, but it’s been a while since the backs and receivers struck fear into the hearts of opposing defenses.

- Second-year WR Rashad Greene and rookie RB Mario Pender might be just what the lumbering attack needs this fall. Greene was schooling defensive backfields before being derailed by an injury. Pender, the nation’s sixth-rated back, is already on campus.

- Will JUCO transfer Daniel Glauser be a Swiss miss or the answer Florida State is looking for at left tackle? The first native of Switzerland to ever get a scholarship at this level is being counted to be the protector of Manuel’s blindside this fall.

- Don’t underestimate the loss of Shawn Powell, one of the nation’s premier punters in 2011, and an asset to the defense. His successor might be Carson Beatty, arguably the most talented high school punter of the most recent recruiting class.

Maryland

The storm has passed. The ship is still afloat after taking in a rush of water. Maryland and first-year head coach Randy Edsall lived to tell about last season’s 2-10 disaster, but barely. Not only did the Terps suffer through one of their worst seasons in school history on the field, but there were numerous player defections away from it. Edsall and his staff, which includes new coordinators Mike Locksley and Brian Stewart, are spending this offseason trying to change the culture in College Park, while filling the roster with their type of players. Encouraging news came from a recruiting class in February that exceeded most expectations. It may only be Year 2 for the new regime, but it is a crucial one if it has any hopes of remaining viable beyond 2012.

- C.J. Brown will be the only scholarship quarterback on the roster until the summer. So much for heated competition bringing out the best in players during the offseason.

- The transfers of starting tackles R.J. Dill and Max Garcia are going to leave Brown vulnerable in the pocket this fall. Redshirt freshman Ryan Doyle plans to take advantage of the defections by winning a job on the right side.

- To be competitive in the ACC, the Terps need a few more players like all-star DT Joe Vellano. Heck, they need more like a dozen Vellanos in order to do an about-face in 2012.

- The Maryland D actually has a chance to be respectable for Stewart this fall. Not only is Vellano the kind of player a unit can be built around, but next-level LB Kenny Tate and hard-hitting S Matt Robinson are both expected to return from injury.

- In Locksley’s offense, the tight end should become a little more of a focal point in the passing game. That’s great news for senior Matt Furstenburg who has the experience and hands to get a ton of looks from Brown.

NC State

The Wolfpack will begin the upcoming season with concerns, but also a healthy amount of optimism in head coach Tom O’Brien’s sixth season with the program. NC State has won 17 games over the last two seasons, including a pair of bowl games, and returns Mike Glennon, a bona fide threat to be a high NFL Draft pick in 2013. If the Pack is going to elevate a little higher, and even contend in the Atlantic Division, it’ll need to do a much better job along the offensive line. Last season’s unit, which returns all but one starter, had issues opening holes for the running backs, and ranked 98th nationally in sacks allowed. With Glennon being the obvious face of this team, it’ll be incumbent upon the blockers to do a much better job of supporting him this fall.

- With or without the help of the O-line, State has to get more out of the running game in 2012. New backs coach Des Kitchings inherits talent, like top rusher James Washington, second-leading back Tony Creecy and Mustafa Greene, who missed 2011 with a foot injury.

- Glennon will need to develop a rhythm with a new set of receivers between now and September. Three of last year’s top four pass-catchers are gone, leaving Tobais Palmer as the new leader of the crew.

- No coach, besides O’Brien, will be busier this spring than linebackers coach Jon Tenuta. The Pack has been gutted by graduations, early departures and an untimely suspension. All eyes will be on senior Sterling Lucas, who’s working his way back from a season-ending knee injury.

- Opposing quarterbacks will want to take extra precautions when throwing on the Wolfpack this year. Led by CB David Amerson, the team had 27 picks in 2011, and every member of the two-deep returns in the secondary.

- Get to know the name Art Norman. The end in a linebacker’s body was a revelation coming off the edge in his first year, making 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He’ll be even better following an offseason of conditioning.

Wake Forest

Now that the Demon Deacons have found their footing—sort of—they’re hoping to maintain and build upon it. The program snapped its two-year bowl drought, meeting Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl, but still wound up a game below the .500 mark. Wake got out of the chute quickly with a 5-2 start, including wins over NC State, Boston College and Florida State, but won just two of its final eight games. If the school is going to participate in the postseason once again this December, it’ll need improved play from both lines. On offense, just one starter, Garrick Williams, remained in Winston-Salem. Defensively, the Deacons are coming off a feeble, 11-sack season, and must do a better job of generating pressure from someone other than disruptive NG Nikita Whitlock.

- Tanner Price is the prototype at quarterback for the Deacons. While not physically overwhelming, he’s smart and will distribute the ball without making too many mistakes.

- The biggest beneficiary from the graduation of Chris Givens, easily the team’s best receiver, could be Sherman Ragland. The fleet-footed redshirt freshman was a bouquet magnet on last year’s practice squad.

- RB Josh Harris’ hamstring will be the most scrutinized body part on the team this offseason. He’s the kid who rushed for 241 yards against Virginia Tech in 2010 and 136 yards versus Florida State last October, but was only able to carry the ball 10 times over the final eight games.

- The secondary glass is either half-empty or half-filled, depending on who you ask. The corners, particularly Merrill Noel, have high ceilings, but two terrific safeties, Josh Bush and Cyhl Quarles, have used up their eligibility.

- The defense is hoping that LB Justin Jackson can pick up where he left off at the end of last season. He impressed at the end of his sophomore year, and will be a major factor on the inside this fall.

- ACC Coastal Spring Preview & Thoughts