ACC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2014

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Coaches dish on all 14 ACC teams.

ACC Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2014

It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak or overused cliches used during the year.

 

In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2014, Athlon asked coaches in the ACC to talk anonymously about their opponents.

Related: Coaches Talk Anonymously on Notre Dame

 

Note: These scouting reports come directly from coaching staffs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.

 

ACC Coaches Anonymously Scout Conference Foes

 

Atlantic Division

 

Boston College

 

“They are replacing skill position kids, which is tough.”…

“Defensively, they’ll get some injured guys back so they should be better there. Malachi Moore is a big defensive end that will help them.”…

“They signed a big class because they had so many seniors at the skill positions a year ago.”…

“The quarterback played a bunch of ball and obviously Andre Williams was such a great player. They have a lot of unknowns at several spots for next year but have recruited well.”…

“Boston College was interesting last year because there were whispers Addazio would go to the spread but they were straight power running game all year, which was a good move by them because they adapted to their personnel.”…

“I think Addazio wants to have a quarterback who can use make plays with his feet, and maybe the Florida transfer, Tyler Murphy, can do that.”…

“They lost two tackles but return all of their inside guys so everything won’t be tough and brand new for them.”…

“It’s uncertain whether they really have the answer at quarterback yet, and replacing Williams with a committee of backs won’t be easy. He was so strong and durable and carried them for stretches a year ago.”…

“They have an M.O. – don’t turn the ball over, play tough and keep the game tight. They were in it with FSU and Clemson a year ago.”…
 

Clemson

 

“Their front seven on defense is really good, and getting Vic Beasley back solidifies it.”…

“Offensively they lost a lot of weapons, which will help the teams that play them.”…

“Replacing skill players like Sammy Watkins and a three-year starter like Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, that’s a lot of speed and talent that caught a lot of teams off guard. That’s really hard to replace.”…

“Their inside guys were very stout and physical. They have a strong side defensive end (Shaq Lawson) that’s a powerful guy, a weapon as a pass rusher. Beasley loves third and long. When he came back, a lot of coaches in the ACC said uh oh. He’s a premier player in pass rush, just good enough in run game, not great. They position him well and have a good scheme.”…

“Brent Venables does a good job with positioning players to make plays.”…

“They can turn the ball over a little bit, and if you can keep them in a long field, that can throw them off what they want to do.”…

“Clemson’s offense is sort of an unknown right now – you know with Chad Morris they’ll be competitive, but Watkins was a heckuva safety valve to have.”…

“I really liked Clemson safety, Robert Smith. Corey Crawford, a defensive end, is solid. Just a solid front they have. You wouldn’t find one goat over where you’d say we’re attacking this guy.”…

“This might be a year where Clemson’s defense is more explosive than its offense.”…

 

Florida State

 

“They’ve got a whole lot coming back.”…

“Tight end Nick O’Leary is back – he’s a really good player.”…

“The defense has lost some players in the secondary, they were by far the best secondary we played without question.”…

“Not sure schematically what they are going to do since they had kind of moved to a 3-4 from a 4-3 played a lot of nickel. With the new defensive coach coming in again and Jeremy Pruitt gone, I’m not sure how that will change.”…

“They are just really fast across the board. They didn’t have a weakness on their team a year ago.”…

“They had depth, good speed, the offensive line was really good, the tight end position, multiple tailbacks you had to worry about.”…

“With three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, I don’t see their talent dropping of a whole lot, even though they are young in a few spots.”…

“With Jameis Winston, you’ve got to get him down, get to him early and you can’t let him make plays, which is really tough. If you don’t get to him enough early and if he has time, the receivers are too good.”…

“They do a nice job running the ball, which helps, them because they can get one-on-one matchups on the outside. The quarterback (Winston) is the best.”…

“Rashad Greene’s really good, quick. What he did after the catch was impressive.”…

“O’Leary is a really good player. Good ball skills, runs really good routes, tries to block, not a great blocker but tries hard, gives good effort.”…

“Auburn had some success against them because when you have that much time to prepare for somebody early on, you can do some things based on tendencies.”…

“You have to tackle well and pressure the quarterback, force him to throw some interceptions, which he doesn’t do a lot.”…

“I wouldn’t think anybody would be a favorite over them in our league.”…

 

Louisville

 

“Louisville will miss Teddy Bridgewater and their success will depend on the play of his replacement, but they are established with high-caliber players at every position and will immediately be thrust into the upper half of the ACC talent wise.”…

“If you had to pick one problematic area for them, elite defensive back coverage was one of the only weaknesses. Pass rush was too good to get exposed except in crucial situations like in the UCF game. They allowed UCF to get back in that game after it didn’t get enough pressure and it didn’t allow Louisville to blow other teams out like they probably should have.”…

“Their running offense was talented but was never as productive and dynamic as it could have been. Maybe they will develop that more now that the quarterback is gone.”…

“You can’t understate the loss of Bridgewater. He was great at the line of scrimmage checking into plays and could make every throw. It’s hard to just roll a new guy in there and expect the same without a few mistakes early, but Bobby Petrino is known for his quarterback track record. His system is quarterback-friendly.”…

“Will Gardner, who’s got the momentum to start, has a strong arm, but I hear he’ll be pushed by Reggie Bonnafon, the incoming freshman.”…

“Overall, they are pretty stout in all areas. They are very deep after a handful of Charlie Strong recruiting classes.”…

“Bobby walks into a nice situation. The guy they’ll really miss is Calvin Pryor, though. Huge hitter and difference-maker.”…

 

NC State

 

“They were pretty weak everywhere, save maybe specialists, because it was such a rebuilding job. A lot of freshmen and sophomores.”…

“The new quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, he’ll help a lot, as far as leadership and talent.”…

“They played a bunch of true freshmen at wide receiver and running back and tight end. They should be better than they were.”…

“Defensively, they’ve got some good young linemen, Kentavius Street being one of them. They’ll have to grow up quickly.”…

“The left tackle who was hurt last year, Rob Crisp, he’ll be back. Safety Jarvis Byrd has missed multiple years due to injury but they get him back – he’s not an all-conference guy – but a tough guy.”…

“Joe Thuney is one of the best guards in the league. He’s a lot better inside but I think they had to move him outside because of injuries.”…

“I know they are high on defensive tackle T.Y. McGill. He’s had a great offseason for them.”…

“For Dave Doeren, you don’t know what you’re getting when you take a job. Once you get into it, you’re kind of figuring out what the issues are, and they had a good bit of them lineup wise with recruiting, transfers or injuries, discipline and academic issues – they were able to fill a lot of needs in this last class.”…

“I think they like where they are character-wise right now. But those young players have to produce. They are short on known commodities. It’s a big year for them.”…

 

Syracuse

 

“They were very physical up front and defensively. By the end of the year they were playing extremely physical.”…

“Middle linebacker Marquis Spruill, who’s gone, was the heart and soul of that defense, you could tell. He was the motor that got the thing going. He’ll be a guy they’ll need to replace.”…

“On the back end they were OK. You could run behind them a couple of times.”…

“Coach Shafer is recruiting to his mentality – he’s a fiery, tough guy. That’s what you’ll get.”…

“The quarterback (Terrel Hunt) was hot and cold throughout the year but he found their niche late in the season. He could take charge at times. He can keep plays alive with his feet, throws the ball and runs the ball well, can keep the ball alive on third down, smart with the ball. He was maybe turning the ball over a little bit too much early on.”…

“The American, when it was the Big East, was a good league, so Syracuse came in and wasn’t fazed by the physicality of the ACC. You didn’t have the big time BCS teams but you had good solid football.”…

“The style of football matched up well. It’s a tough league – Year 1 they are finding that out, because teams mix it up with tempo and traditional sets. Syracuse played physical power football and it’s a good mix.”…

“They had a big back that was a good player, Jerome Smith, a big kid out of Delaware.”…

“The offensive line was decent. Their guards and centers were older guys. At wide receiver, I didn’t remember a game-changer, but they do have size there.”…

 

Wake Forest

 

“Talent wise, they weren’t at the top of the league, or really anything close.”…

“The nose guard they are losing, Nikita Whitlock, was a really active player for them. He’ll be really hard to replace. I’m not too sure what they’ll do schematically with the new coach, but Whitlock was a guy you had to deal with.”…

“Up front, they were serviceable – weren’t great, weren’t terrible.”…

“The linebackers were OK. They weren’t really athletic. They tried to play physical and down and around the box. It’s not the upper-tier talent team that Clemson was.”…

“Dave Clawson is a good coach – he always has had really well-coached teams. They were rough teams – not super talented, but rough kids that liked to hit. Even in the secondary, you could tell that unit was well coached. They’ll bring that attitude.”…

“Offensively, I’m not sure what they’ll do but it should be a good fit overall with the new staff. The problem is they didn’t have much firepower.”…

“Losing wideout Michael Campanaro is tough. He’s was really good player – that’s really all they had. They didn’t have a lot of support around him. I know he was injured throughout the season, which hurt them as well.”…

“Recruiting, not sure what they brought in because of the short time with a new coach.”…

“You have to play really tough football at a place like Wake, because wins won’t come easy.”...
 

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Coastal Division

 

Duke

 

“It’s truly impressive what they’ve been able to do, because they are not all that impressive looking as far as personnel.”…

“The defense doesn’t scare you. Pound for pound, they might have been more talented in 2012. But they are great scheme wise and play well together. That’s a credit to coach Cutcliffe.”…

“They do a great job taking away what you want to do.”…

“They did a nice job mixing the two quarterbacks. They have a good system there.”…

“Talent wise, it’s still tough sledding for them, though I think their depth has improved the last few years.”…

“They aren’t going to win a lot of recruiting battles with the top schools. But they have an identity and players feed off each other, which helps them.”…

“Don’t understate the loss of Kurt Roper to Florida. He’s a bright guy and he was with Cutcliffe back to their Ole Miss days. It’s Cutcliffe’s offense, but Roper had a good feel for the offense. I wonder if that will affect them.”…

“I’m not sure what they’ll have on defense. They had a few good pass rushers and a steady secondary, but they lost some players.”…

“Can they keep the momentum going? Because it’s amazing to watch, seeing them all year and they beat teams more talented than them. It’s impressive, no doubt.”…

 

Georgia Tech

 

“It’s just hard to recruit there because of the option.”…

“They had a fortunate streak of really good wide receivers a few years ago, but if you’re a top receiver, why would you go to Georgia Tech? You’ll run eight routes a game. They don’t really have the Calvin Johnsons or Stephen Hills that they used to.”…

“I think the system catching up to them. It’s not a system that translates to the NFL.”…

“They have some good running backs – they’ll always have that – but overall we felt they had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. There’s just not really an imposing or athletic presence there.”…

“They did have sort of a hybrid tight end/receiver we liked, Darren Waller. He’s about as impressive as you’ll see for that size.”…

“Defensively, they had a good looking team. Ted Roof has done a nice job settling that unit down and simplifying things for them. They could really rush the passer at times last year.”…

“Jeremiah Attaochu and Emmanuel Dieke were really athletic and could get in your backfield, but they have to replace both of those guys.”…

“Linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days is a good player.”…

“I’m not sure what happened with Vad Lee, the transfer. He’s talented but, again, it’s a system thing – he didn’t want to run the option.”…

“The option is always tough to prepare for – Georgia Tech can always get at least a few quality wins out of it – but I’m not sure it’s a sustainable model.”…

 

Miami

 

“Stephen Morris probably hurt them more than he helped them.”…

“They have a good pool of talent, but then I thought offensively they were erratic as Morris was erratic. As long as Duke Johnson was there, it didn’t matter all that much. When you took him out of the equation, they were a little bit like running on one leg.”…

“Defensively, what surprises me is they are not very fast overall as a team. It’s opposite of what you’d expect of a Miami team based on their history.”…

“I just don’t think they are extremely quick or fast on defense, which you’d think wouldn’t be a problem.”…

“Linebacker Denzel Perryman looks the part. Good player.”…

“The offensive line I thought was really, really good - maybe the most talented in the league overall. They have a lot of depth there and should be good again.”…

“They were just kind of surprisingly erratic on defense. The defensive line was just average.”…

“I thought Morris was sometimes a little too emotional as a quarterback. You can’t be up and down. I don’t know how to describe it. He was trying to make plays that aren’t there and wearing his feelings on his sleeve a little bit. I just thought there was some of that going on. He was talented. I don’t know much about his replacement (possibly Ryan Williams), but they need someone who won’t hurt them with bad throws.”…

“Duke Johnson is good enough to erase a lot of problems. He’s special.”…

 

North Carolina

 

“Marquise Williams does give Larry Fedora the ability to run his natural spread offense. But I thought they were better when they had Bryn Renner for the most part. He’s a talented quarterback who utilized their weapons better and allowed them to be a little more consistent because of the way he throws the ball.”…

“The jury is still out on Williams.”…

“I think they have a potential great one in (running back) T.J. Logan. He didn’t get a lot of touches last year, but you can tell the talent’s there.”…

“They had some growing pains on the offensive line that made it a little tough to run the ball last year.”…

“They aren’t great at wide receiver. It’s hard when you don’t have an elite playmaker at receiver, but they ain’t going to miss on a bunch in recruiting. They’ll always have players at UNC. They could use an extra playmaker, though.”…

“Defensively, they are improving. They had some good players in the defensive backfield, especially safety Tre Boston and linebacker Norkeithus Otis – they are both pretty active and can cover a lot of ground. They will help.”…

“I think North Carolina is going to have a good football team. It’s a process with depth for them. Though they inherited a bunch of talented players, it can be hard to rebuild that overnight. The way they responded last year was important because their season was going south early on.”…

 

Pittsburgh

 

“Offensively, it’s all about the receivers. They lose Devin Street, but Tyler Boyd is back – he’s special. He’s just polished, athletic and can run. He’s a big play waiting to happen.”…

“Having Boyd is a big help to whichever quarterback replaces Tom Savage, who was better than you’d think.”…

“On the offensive line, they were decent but not the kind of maulers you’d expect from a Pitt team.”…

“I wasn’t as high on the offensive line as you might think. They are pretty big and physical and run to the ball, but they aren’t really scaring you”….

“Somehow they have to replace Aaron Donald. But you can’t. At times, he was almost unblockable. Couldn’t do anything with him one on one. Nobody else in the league affected games up front like he could.”…

“Defensive end Bryan Murphy, nobody talked about him, probably because Donald was so good, but Murphy could play.”…

“They fit in pretty well in the ACC – they’ve done a good job recruiting and a good job of keeping players at home. Can they hold off teams coming into Pittsburgh? Because there are a lot of them.”…

“A lot will hinge on what their quarterback plans are. I’m not sure what they had behind Savage. Chryst is known to be pretty good with quarterbacks so we’ll see what they can conjure up.”…

 

Virginia

 

“I don’t see them being much better.”…

“It’s the strangest thing – on defense, they can look like the ‘85 Bears some moments and look like they want to avoid contact the next. They just didn’t play real hard all the time. I don’t know if it was because they were losing or what, but the defense is talented enough to be at least decent. They don’t play all the time.”…

“Defensive end Eli Harold was unbelievable when he was playing hard. That wasn’t all the time.”…

“Linebacker Henry Coley – we thought he was the best linebacker in the entire league. Tough, solid, physical player.”…

“They have a corner – Maurice Canady – that we were impressed with.”…

“I think their quarterback situation is kind of a mess. David Watford is not a guy that I think can win consistently for them. Backup Greyson Lambert wasn’t particularly impressive.”…

“For whatever reason, consistency just eludes Mike London. I thought they had their moments when they played extremely well. However, finding a way to win and be consistent seems to be a challenge for them.”…

“They are better than they were at quarterback from the year before, but it’s a lot of coaching changes and assistant coach moving parts and just a lot of change there overall. Programs aren’t built overnight. It takes some consistency.”…

“Their linebacking core is pretty good and they had some good-looking defensive players in certain spots.”…

“I know they have some talented young players coming in. They’ve recruited well enough where they aren’t far off. The climate can always change pretty quickly in this league. But I couldn’t name a lot of guys on offense for them.”…

“The offensive and defensive lines looked the part. They had a few things to work with.”…

 

Virginia Tech

 

“Logan Thomas was erratic.”…

“I don’t know what their identity is offensively, and I don’t know that they do.”…

“I thought they were one of the best defensive teams in the country. Look at what they did against any opponent.”…

“They suffered losses in the defensive front, but the defense is terrific.”…

“They lost Kyle Fuller, who is a great playmaker. He had the ability to stop the option by himself by the way he could cover tight ends and play almost as a linebacker and a corner.”…

“Kyle Fuller’s brother, the corner, Kendall, is a great young player.”…

“I can’t name a lot of guys on offense that really scare you.”…

“I’d say kind of establishing the run game has been more difficult for them than they want to have happen, at least compared to in the past. They used to be so good there.”… 

“Thomas was not consistently performing at a level where he’s dangerous all the time, and that’s what they’ll need from the new guy, whoever it is.”…

“The key to greatness for any quarterback, collegiately and in the NFL, what you are looking for is consistency. The greats aren’t running fast or electric all the time, but they are so consistent. Virginia Tech just hasn’t had that at quarterback, though Logan’s receivers didn’t exactly help him all the time. They had a good bit of drops from what I understand.”…

“Their young defensive end, a South Florida kid (Dadi Nicolas), he’s a playmaker. He’s a handful to handle. He didn’t start but played a lot. Really talented.”…

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