|EJ Manuel and Brandon Jenkins take questions from the media at the 2012 ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C.(US Presswire)|
We're at the 2012 ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C.. Sunday was a day for the players, complete with photo ops, ice cream socials, and - of course - hours of questions from media folk. Below are a collection of notes and quotes from around conference during player availability. MONDAY: The Coaches' Take.
FLORIDA STATE is the popular preseason pick in the ACC. The conference has been criticized for a lack of national title contenders recently, and quarterback EJ Manuel knows it is important for the league to start matching their recruiting success on the field.
"We're getting the same recruits that LSU would get, or Oregon, or USC," Manuel explained. "We're getting the same caliber guys so it's only right that we start going out there and making those things come to life. A lot of people talk about SEC, and rightfully so. Those guys have been in the national championship the last six years - that's crazy. I think an ACC team needs to step up, and we can be the team to do that."
Manuel also had praise for NC STATE quarterback Mike Glennon, who seems poised to take control of the offense - and the team - after leading the Wolfpack to ann 8-win season and Belk Bowl victory in 2011.
"There were times last year I felt like I was hot and cold, but I feel like I've learned a lot from that point," Glennon said. "Just take control of the offense, take control of the team Being a senior with a year under my belt, guys are looking at me in a different way now so I just have to be in control of everything. I feel like I'm ready to do that."
MARYLAND wide receiver Kevin Dorsey says things have changed around College Park. After a tumultuous 2-10 start to the Randy Edsall era, Dorsey says everything is a little more relaxed. A new style he credits Edsall, as well as new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, for creating around the program.
"It's like a cloud has been lifted from the facility," Dorsey explained. "You get there and it is a different vibe. You see guys smiling, they are ready to go work. The offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, the atmosphere they are bringing to the table kind of making it a fun-loving game. The players realize there is a way to be serious and get it done, but at the same time you should have fun doing it."
Despite nagging injuries through the season, CLEMSON running back Andre Ellington recorded 1,178 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. Senior center Dalton Freeman believes that the very-potent Clemson offense is only going to benefit more with Ellington looking ready to go for 2012.
"I'm not sure we have enough balls to throw to all our receivers, and a healthy Andre Ellington is something we've been waiting to see for a long time," Freeman said. "I think he's the healthiest he's ever been, so we are really excited about that.
"I think Andre's had the best offseason he's ever had and I think he's going to have the best season he's ever had."
GEORGIA TECH linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu answered the inevitable questions about playing defense against the triple option in practice, which he described as helping make the Yellow Jackets "more technically sound." Facing it every day forces the defenders to practice agility to dodge the cut blocks, and he also explained how it helps mental toughness. Attaochu also addressed the personal foul/punch on Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas from last season.
"Me and Logan are cool," Attaochu said. "It wasn't anything personal, he and I took a picture together. It was something that happened in the heat of competition, something that's never going to happen again. I wasn't too happy about it personally, it wasn't something I wanted to have in my brand as an individual. A lot of people mischaracterize me because of that, and that's not in my character at all. Me and Logan are good friends."
VIRGINIA TECH quarterback Logan Thomas was asked about the pistol formation, which was used occasionally in the Hokies' spring practice. Thomas explained how the formation can be an advantage with his height advantage over the the Hokies' pair of freshman running backs - J.C. Coleman (5-7) and Michael Holmes (5-11).
"We only played around with it for a little bit. I think it's good for our running backs because they can hide behind me, and at the same time it gives me a threat to be able to run downhill. I think it's good, I think that we can use it. Hopefully it makes us better."
Speaking of height, WAKE FOREST nose guard Nikita Whitlock had to answer some tough questions form ACCSports.com's Jim Young on his measurements. Whitlock, officially listed at 5-11, gave his honest response.
"I'm 5-9 and 3/4," Whitlock laughed. "You've got to add the three-quarters when you are under six foot."
In addition to estimating that head coach Larry Fedora finishes three large cans of Red Bull per practice, NORTH CAROLINA linebacker Kevin Reddick described how the new 4-2-5 defense will help with pass protection. The Tar Heels were 10th in the ACC last year in pass defense, giving up 241.3 yards per game through the air.
"We got more DB's on the field, and their coached up a little differently," Reddick said. "I've seen progress with those guys when we do 7-on-7."
VIRGINIA running back Perry Jones credits his older brother for having a big impact on his career. In fact, Jones arrived at the ACC Football Kickoff after serving as best man in his wedding. He claimed that he gave "the best toast ever" and even pulled up a portion of it on his phone. His older brother, who as All-MEAC at Virginia State his freshman year before tearing his rotator cuff, stays in contact daily.
"During the season he calls me after the game, the first thing he never tells me is how good I did," Jones said. "He always points out my mistakes, which I appreciate. I appreciate the role he has in my life."
As DUKE wide receiver Blair Holiday continues to recover from the jet ski accident earlier this month, senior Conner Vernon described how the team has pulled together after the incident.
"It's been a tough situation," Vernon said. "I looked out for Blair coming in as a freshman, I took him under my wing a little bit and tried to get him to where he is now. It's an unfortunate accident, but accidents happen. In the long run, it's brought us us - as a wide receiving unit and as a team - together."
BOSTON COLLEGE finished 4-8 in 2011, their first season without a bowl game in 12 years. Senior offensive tackle Emmett Cleary spoke about the negative buzz around the Eagles - and head coach Frank Spaziani's job security - and how they plan to turn it around.
"We hear it, it's not motivation though. As players, we need to have a winning season every year. Way too much goes into a college football season to be thinking about anything other than winning every game. That said, I think if we have a good year a lot of that talk will disappear."
MIAMI running back Mike James seems ready for the starting role, after sharing duties with Lamar Miller. He was confident in his role in the offense, ready to step up as the primary ball carrier this fall.
"My approach to the game is better. Every year I find a way to get faster, get better, get stronger. As far as my football knowledge, it's starting to become impeccable."
Check back here Monday evening for updates from the coaches.
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