Off-the-record quotes from ACC coaches about their rivals.
Each year we ask college football coaches to tell us what they really think about the other teams in their conference. But we don't want the cliche'd press conference platitudes, so we ask them to give us their quotes off-the-record and anonymously. Here are this year's quotes in alphabetical order for each team in the ACC.
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Boston College
"Everybody says they overachieve, but they are good. They might not be flashy, but they are good at what they do. They are fundamentally sound. They have a scheme defensively, and they run it. Everyone knows what they are doing, and they run it very well. They make a lot of things look the same. Their pre-snap looks are the same, but when the ball is snapped they will do something different."
"They had the best linebacker in the league (Luke Kuechly), and they had two other very good linebackers. They didn’t have a Da’Quan Bowers on the edge, but they had some guys on the inside who were tough to handle. They’ve never had the killer speed-rush guy."
"Kuechly was great. He’s going to get bigger. He can really run. He was a little thin in high school."
"They don’t play a lot of man. They let everything stay in front of them, and they make you make plays consistently down the field to keep drives alive. They don’t let you make big plays. If you can consistently move the ball down the field, you will be fine. But that is hard to do."
"Quarterback Chase Rettig will be pretty good and running back Montel Harris is very good. There seem to be a lot of people high on new offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Clemson
"They are inconsistent. They don’t always play the way they are capable of playing, for whatever reason. It can be lack of focus. They aren’t as consistent on offense as they are on defense. Sometimes it’s bad plays, bonehead plays. That is the stuff that hurts them. If they did their jobs and didn’t make major mistakes, they would be a lot better. They just aren’t consistent."
"Their talent is right up with anybody in the league, especially on defense. Up front, they are as good as anyone. If you have guys up front that can play, it makes your job so much easier on defense. You don’t have to blitz as much. And that is something they can do. They create pressure with their front four. Most of the teams in the conference can’t do that. Florida State can. Miami can. Virginia Tech can. And Clemson can."
"(Defensive end) Da’Quan Bowers will be missed. He was very good. If you had to throw, and he knew you were going to throw, he was gonna get to the quarterback."
"Very tough place to play. You want to play there early in the day. Not at night.”
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Duke
"They are definitely getting better. Very well coached. They are good on offense. They play hard and they are fundamentally sound."
Their defense has struggled because of personnel. It’s more that than scheme. If they upgrade there, they’ve got a chance to win some more games for sure."
"It can be tough to play there. It is different. Most places you go, it might not be too loud, but there are people in the stands and there is some energy. When you go (to Duke) and there is no one there, it can at times make you come out flat."
"(Quarterback) Sean Renfree is pretty good. He goes to the right spot and has good poise in the pocket. Very good pocket presence. Doesn’t get rattled. He’s hard to bring down even with guys hanging on him."
"It’s the toughest job in the ACC."
"David Cutcliffe has won 12 games in three years, so he’s well aware this is no easy task, but I think the Blue Devils are slowly getting a little bit better. Unfortunately it’s just they have so far to go."
"They’ve got one of the top kickers in the country in Will Snyderwine."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Florida State
"At least on paper, the Seminoles are the class of the league. That was a huge bowl win last year against South Carolina and getting back to the ACC Championship Game is certainly another step in the right direction."
"They are getting better. But they are not what they were when they were dominant. No way. They are bringing guys in; the last two recruiting classes have been very good, so you might start to see it."
"I thought (Christian) Ponder was very good at quarterback. I thought he was a little underrated. I think E.J. Manuel is good, too. He’s a big kid who can run, and he’s got some experience. They will be good at that position."
"They have some skill guys on the edge on offense."
They might be better this year on defense. Two years ago, they were terrible. Last year, they were better."
It’s a great job. Might be the best job in the league."
"(Defensive coordinator) Mark Stoops did a good job. They didn’t play well in Mickey Andrews’ last year. Mickey did a hell of a job. They just weren’t good his last year.”
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Georgia Tech
"Offensively, they have to replace workhorse Anthony Allen and quarterback Josh Nesbitt. They led the nation in rushing last season and don’t be surprised if they do it again this year."
"(Quarterback) Tevin Washington gained some valuable experience at the end of last season, but obviously must make some big strides. Freshman Synjyn Days is considered a better runner and could challenge Washington for the starting spot."
"I think a lot of people were surprised safety Jerrard Tarrant left early for the draft."
"This will be their second year defensively under Al Groh, so I would expect some improvement there."
"It’s hard to tell what to expect because they have so much new personnel, but the system that Paul Johnson runs will always keep them competitive."
"This will be an interesting year for this team. They have taken a couple of steps back and people will always question whether (the option) will work in a power conference."
"Can the offense keep humming without Nesbitt running the show? He was great."
"They have lost some really good running backs in the past few seasons."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Maryland
"The main story for the Terps is the new staff with Randy Edsall. It will be interesting to see how the season unfolds for Edsall because usually you replace someone that didn’t live up to the expectations. But they were 9–4 under (Ralph) Friedgen and have some key guys coming back."
"Edsall is a good solid hire. He’s not rebuilding a cupboard that was bare, but how can he make it better?"
"Quarterback Danny O’Brien is a pretty special player. He was the ACC’s Rookie of the Year last season. The previous staff did a nice job with him. They definitely have something to build around, but I think they’ll be hard-pressed to get to 9–4 again."
"Their special teams should be solid. Tony Logan is a dangerous punt returner and had two returns for TDs last season. Kenny Tate will be the leader on defense."
"Ralph did a good job there. It’s not the easiest place to win. He will be missed."
"Edsall did a nice job at UConn. I guess he felt the time was right to move on. It’s hard to stay in one place too long."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Miami
"I think it is still a great job. You have a great recruiting base. Great history. Kids still want to play there. They don’t have the facilities and the crowd, but they still have the reputation nationally and the aura about them."
"They were very good on defense. Their front was good, and they had a couple of good corners and one great linebacker. (Sean) Spence was very good."
"(Quarterback) Jacory Harris is still raw. I don’t see it. He can make throws and he can run, but there were other guys in the league who were better."
"After Clemson and Florida State, I think Miami has the most talent in the league. They are super talented at running back with Lamar Miller, Mike James and Storm Johnson, but they have to put that to better use than last year. Last season they had so many great running backs, and they couldn’t wait to throw another pick."
"They have a tough opener at Maryland and then get Ohio State without the suspended players, Kansas State and Bethune-Cookman. They could be 4–0 heading into Virginia Tech — then watch out."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: NC State
"They were really good on defense last year. Much better than the year before. It is tough to run on them."
"They have a good back (Mustafa Greene). He’s not a burner, but he ran hard and he broke tackles. He just plays hard. He won’t wow you at a combine. Good, tough football player."
"Their secondary was not very good last year. That hurt them."
"Russell Wilson just made plays. They are going to miss him. We used to count how many seconds a play goes on and he’s back there for like 12 seconds. He runs around and buys time. Great player."
"(Mike) Glennon, I remember him in high school. Good player, but he hasn’t played. They believe he is going to be very good, but you just never know."
"Their personnel is a notch below the elite teams in the league. They’ve had good players, but overall, they aren’t there."
"I have no idea why they’re playing two I-AA’s in Liberty and South Alabama. I doubt the fans are too thrilled about having a pair of I-AA’s on the home schedule."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: North Carolina
"Considering all the turmoil last summer, last season ended up a pretty solid year. Just think if they didn’t have all those issues, they may have been a national title contender. Even without all those suspended players, they had LSU beat in the opener."
"They’ll be breaking in a new quarterback since four-year starter T.J. Yates is finally gone. Sophomore Bryn Renner is slated to take Yates’ place. I like him. He’s a really athletic kid and has a lot of moxie to him. I think he’ll be pretty good."
"They must replace their top three rushers, but Ryan Houston, their top running back from two years ago, is back. So are starting wide receivers Erik Highsmith and Dwight Jones."
"Defensively, they’ll be strong up front. They have four linemen back (ends Quinton Coples and Donte Paige-Moss and tackles Tydreke Powell and Jared McAdoo)."
"I thought Butch Davis did a masterful job holding that team together last season. This year, I think they’ll even be better. They’ve had their stuff off the field, but on the field, Butch and his staff do a really good job."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Virginia
"They took a lot more chances under Mike London. Whether it was philosophy or whatever, they just seemed to do more stuff. There were fake punts, fake field goals — or at least it seemed like. That is the one thing that stood out with the new staff."
"The talent dropped off from two years ago. The year before they were OK. Last year, they weren’t very good."
"Supposedly Mike is a good guy and a good recruiter. That’s the book on him. He got some good kids in this last class."
"It is going to be tough for them to beat out Virginia Tech as the top program in the state. Virginia Tech has it going. But he will make them better. He will recruit better players."
"They did some things on defense, but there wasn’t much you were overly concerned about, which was a surprise with (defensive coordinator) Jim Reid coming from the NFL. There was nothing too crazy."
"Their offense last year wasn’t a problem; they actually did a nice job moving the ball behind quarterback Mark Verica. With Verica graduated, this year they have to break in a new quarterback."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Virginia Tech
"The Hokies seem to be a team in transition. They lost a lot from last year’s ACC championship team, and Frank Beamer made some coaching changes. He’s got quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain calling the plays and he hired his son (Shane) as running backs coach. Those guys will be challenged immediately since the Hokies must replace quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running backs Darren Evans and Ryan Williams."
"David Wilson should be the feature back. He’s a little bit smaller, but he’s really fast. The key is that he’ll have to stay healthy."
"Logan Thomas has great size, and he seems to be the frontrunner to replace Taylor. He’s only had something like 45 career snaps, so it’s going to take some time to get him ready. Having said that, the schedule still sets up for a 4–0 start. They can gain some valuable experience to make another run at a conference title."
"I’d probably still consider them a slight favorite over North Carolina in the Coastal. They still have a lot of talent, and they know how to win. They play with a swagger that other teams in the league don’t have."
What ACC Coaches Are Saying About: Wake Forest
"They didn’t look very good on defense. They didn’t have the personnel. They lost a lot of guys. They were always OK on defense, but they really struggled last year."
"They were really, really young last year, starting only four seniors. They had a tough year. They couldn’t really stop anybody defensively. The good news is all those youngsters are back."
"Even though they have most everyone back, they still may be a year away from being competitive."
"During their run of success they had some very good players and had guys who played hard and played with a chip on their shoulder. They had a very good kicker. They were solid across the board and had guys who could make plays for them. They weren’t overly talented."
"Everybody likes Jim Grobe and respects what he’s done, especially there. He is a great guy and a great guy to work for. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him."
"They have a really tough home schedule. If they play well at home and can pull off an upset or two, a bowl game might not be out of the question."
Other Candid Coaches' Quotes: