What you need to know ...
There are a whole bunch of big, screaming, ifs for an
offense that only averaged 316 yards and 18 pounds per game. The
big question is at quarterback where Nebraska transfer Joe
Dailey and redshirt freshman Cam Sexton will bring more mobility
to the position than last year's starter, Matt Baker. The ground
game should be a strength of Ronnie McGill and Barrington
Edwards can combine to play a full season. Jesse Holley returns
after leading the team in receiving, but there's absolutely no
experience from any other receiver to count on right away. Depth
is a huge issue on the line that'll rely on three starters and
two newcomers to the right side. Expect more rushing production
early on until all the kinks in the passing game get worked out
in new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti's offense.
Passing: Joey Bozich
3-9, 12 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ronnie McGill
130 carries, 530 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Jesse Holley
47 catches, 670 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Ronnie McGill
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB
Joe Dailey and/or redshirt freshman QB Cam Sexton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Brooks Foster
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Jon Hamlett
Top three all-star candidates: 1) McGill, 2) WR Jesse
Holley, 3) Hamlett
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
Depth everywhere, proven number two receiver
Matt Baker had a strange and inconsistent season, but he
was occasionally able to throw for a ton of yards.
Unfortunately, the coaching staff failed to do much of anything
when it came to developing anyone else and now are starting from
ground zero. Former Nebraska starter Joe Dailey and redshirt
freshman Cam Sexton are good, mobile options with the potential
to come up with some big games, but the offense will have to be
ready to live through a ton of mistakes.
The key to the unit: Keep things moving on third
downs and keep the mistakes to a minimum. None of the
quarterback options are going to throw for 3,000 yards, but
2,000 yards, positive rushing yards, and fewer than ten
interceptions would get the job done.
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Joe Dailey, Jr.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker starter struggled mightily in the
first year under head coach Bill Callahan throwing 19
interceptions while completing fewer than half of his passes.
Even so, he's the odds on favorite to win the starting job
because of his overall experience and his combination of
throwing and running abilities. He might not be the most natural
passer, but he's great on the move.
- Cam Sexton, RFr.
A broken ankle set Sexton back last year, but now he's
neck-and-neck with Joe Dailey for the starting job. He isn't all
that big at 6-1 and 185 pounds, but he's mobile and is a good
mechanical passer. Even though he doesn't have a huge arm, he's
- Joey Bozich, Soph. - 3-9, 33%, 12 yds, 1 INT, 1 carry, 2 yards
Bozich spent last year as the main backup behind Matt Baker
getting a few plays in against Louisville and Miami. He's a big,
228-pound passer with a good arm, but he's the number three man
in the mix and was moved over to fullback this spring.
The ground game was one of the least
productive in college football mainly because there was no
consistency. Barrington Edwards has the talent to be a star, but
can he be a 100-yard back game-in-and-game-out? He doesn't have
to be this year with Ronnie McGill back ready to finally try to
put together a full season. The ground game will be the focal
point of the offense until the quarterbacks and the passing game
The key to the unit: Ronnie McGill and Barrington
Edwards have to be on the field for every game. This could
potentially be the ACC's best rushing tandem if they can stay
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Ronnie McGill, Sr. - 130 carries, 530 yds, 4.1 ypc, 5
TD, 15 catches, 99 yds, 6.6 ypc
McGill missed the first half of last season recovering from a
torn pectoral muscle suffered when lifting weights, but he still
became the team's leading rusher, and it wasn't even close. He
ripped off 118 yards in the win over Virginia and 146 yards in
the win over Duke while scoring five times in the final seven
games. He's the team's best back and a serious threat for
1,200 yards if he can stay healthy. He'll be the workhorse of
the offense early on.
- Fullback Nick Starcevic, Soph. - 1 carry, 1 yard, 1
touchdown, 1 catch, 7 yds
The 235-pound power runner saw a little bit of time as a true
freshman playing on special teams and scoring a touchdown
against Louisville on his only carry of the season. He's a good
runner with decent enough hands to be used as a receiver, but
his development was hindered this spring after an appendectomy
kept him out of spring ball.
- Barrington Edwards, Jr. - 114 carries, 397 yds, 3.5 ypc, 2 TD,
10 catches, 99 yds
Edwards is an experience 230-pound back with power and excellent
moves. He started the first five games before getting knocked
out of the starting spot by Ronnie McGill and missing the final
two games. The former LSU transfer runs with a purpose and
surprising quickness. He's good enough to carry the offense if
- Justin Warren, Jr. - 17 carries, 86 yds, 5.1 ypc
The former walk-on will play a key role as both a backup runner
and on special teams. He's a slender 6-1 and 192 pounds with
decent quickness and a little bit of pop shown by a 31-yard run
against Duke. He's not a workhorse and isn't likely to get more
than 20 carries in a game unless something major happens.
This is a better corps than it'll get credit
for early on. Jesse Holley has next level potential if he can
prove to add more big plays to his résumé, while tight end Jon
Hamlett is a rock-solid safety valve. Brooks Foster is an
emerging playmaker on the inside, while Dirk Engram, Brandon Tata and Kenton
Thornton have promise with speed and good skills. Yes, there's
little to no experience outside of Holley.
The key to the unit: All the tall athletes have to be
big producers right away, everyone has to start hanging on to
the ball, and Jesse Holley has to do even more as
the number one target.
Receiver Rating: 6.5
- Jesse Holley, Sr. - 47 catches, 670 yds, 14.3 ypc, 1 TD
The team's leading receiver has 89 career catches for 1,294
yards, but only five touchdowns with only one scoring grab last
season. He still earned honorable mention All-ACC honors and
should be in the mix for more this season if the quarterbacks
are steady enough to get him the ball on a consistent basis.
He's athletic enough to have been a part of the national title
basketball team, and is a physical blocker at 6-3 and 208
- Brooks Foster, Soph.
A walk-on on the national title basketball team, athleticism
isn't a problem for the 6-3, 200-pound sophomore. He saw a
little time last season as a special teamer and didn't catch a
pass on offense. That'll change this season getting the first
look at the number two job on the other side of Jesse Holley.
- Tight end Jon Hamlett, Sr. - 21 catches, 212 yds, 10.1
ypc, 1 TD
While not an all-star type of tight end, the 260-pound senior
does a little of everything well. He was always a decent
blocker, and last year he became a more dangerous receiver with
a career-high 21 catches for 212 yards and a touchdowns. While
not an explosive receiver, he's reliable.
- Brandon Tate, Soph.
The team's top return man should make some noise as a receiver
this year behind Jesse Holley on the outside. He has the deep
speed to go along with decent size at 6-1 and 193 pounds to
become a dangerous field-stretcher. He averaged 9.2 yards per
punt return and 25.8 yards per kickoff returner as a true
- Kenton Thornton, RFr.
One of the team's most exciting prospects, he's 6-5 and 225
pounds with good deep speed. He plays faster than his size might
indicate with a good, kick returner-like cutting ability. He'll
start out behind Brooks Foster and will quickly find his way
into the rotation.
- Hakeem Nicks,
A big, ultra-productive high school player with 20 touchdown
grabs his senior season. the 210 pounder is expected to make a
big impact from the moment he sets foot on campus. He was one of
the team's top recruits.
- Tight end Rock Wells, Jr.
The former walk-on is an athletic backup with a little bit of
experience. He's 250 pounds and purely a blocker combining with
Richard Quinn for the number two job behind John Hamlett.
It won't be a liability be any means and should look better
in pass protection with far more mobile quarterbacks to block for than
Matt Baker. Getting more of a push in the ground game won't be a problem
if the backfield situation is settled with Ronnie McGill and Barrington
Edwards able to play a full season. There's little to no developed depth
at any spot and there will be plenty of finger crossing that redshirt
freshman guard Kyle Jolly and sophomore Garrett Reynolds can
handle themselves on the right side. Tackle Brian Chacos, guard
Charlston Gray and center Ben Lemming are veterans who'll have to play
The key to the unit: Desperately hope several young
players can come through while getting All-ACC caliber production out of
at least two spots.
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Brian Chacos, Sr.
Expected to be one of the rocks on the line after getting a sixth year
of eligibility, the 301-pound senior with 23 career starts will try to
get over off-season shoulder surgery. He's a former tight end who is
versatile enough to play either tackle position and be the team's top
- OG Charlston Gray, Jr.
While he didn't exactly build on his all-star freshman season, the
301-pound junior had a good second season. He's experienced with 18
career starter and durable turning into one of the team's best run
blockers from the word go, and now he has to grow into the type of
dominant anchor the team can always work behind.
- C Ben Lemming, Soph.
One of the most versatile players on the line, the 301-pound sophomore
can play either center or tackle. He was an emerging star up front last
season before having problems with a shoulder injury suffered right off
the bat. The center job is his where he's expected to grow into an
- OG Kyle Jolly, RFr.
The star recruit of last season is expected to be a key blocker right
off the bat at right guard. He's 6-6 and 302 pounds with tackle
quickness and great strength. He could move outside if needed.
- OT Garrett Reynolds, Soph.
A top recruit a few years ago, the 6-7, 300-pound sophomore has seen a
little bit of playing time in a reserve role. It's time to live up to
the prep hype at right tackle where he has the size and the long arms to
become a good pass blocker.
- T Andre Barbour, RFr.
Very raw but very promising, the 6-6, 290-pound athlete will get a year
of grooming time at right tackle battling with Garrett Barbour for the
job. He's coming off a big spring where he turned into one of the top
players on the line.
- G Brian Bishop, Soph.
The 330-pound sophomore is the biggest player on the line and should
eventually be one of the most physical. He missed last year with a back
problem returning this season at left guard.