Tag:Chip Patterson
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 12:29 pm

Davis: Randy Shannon will get back into coaching

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Butch Davis resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, the former Miami head man decided he would take some time away from coaching. At the ACC Football Kickoff on Monday, Davis told stories of how NFL coaches such as Dick Vermeil, Herm Edwards. and many others invited him to come sit in on team activities. The process of watching how "another coach skins the cat" (as he so eloquently put it), allows for a head coach to learn a little more about his own process and tactics.

That was the reason, Davis explained, he offered the same opportunity to recently removed Miami head coach Randy Shannon. The two have been friends for some time, and Davis said that Shannon visited with the team for a few days in the spring to sit-in on practice and other activities. As for Shannon's return to the sideline?

"[Shannon] will get back into coaching," Davis remarked. "He won't be out long."
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:54 pm

Clemson getting used to pace of new offense

Posted by Chip Patterson

When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney brought in Chad Morris to be the program's new offensive coordinator, everyone suspected the change would result in a new fast-paced offense for the Tigers. The high-octane attack that Morris used at Tulsa in 2010 produced 1,006 plays across the season. That total not only would not only put them near the top of the ACC, but was also significantly higher than Clemson's 865 play count.

But that kind of attack requires top-notch conditioning by everyone on offense, particularly the offensive line. Clemson center Dalton Freeman is the new ring leader of an offensive line that will be expected to hustle down the field after every play, living little-to-no time between whistle and snap. Freeman explained that getting used to Morris' new system has not been easy.

"We've always been a no-huddle team, but it was a little bit sluggish, Freeman explained. "I'll say we were a little bit faster than a team that huddled up, but we were never real up-tempo real upbeat. Now as soon as the whistle blows the play dead, I'm running up to the ball getting down, and we're moving. Conditioning-wise we've had to be in a lot better shape. Going into camp we're gonna try to really stretch ourselves so that the game feels like slow motion."

Morris was hired shortly after the season ended in a disappointing bowl loss to South Florida. The transition from the old system to the high-stress work ethic they are planning for camp began when the team reported to spring practice.

"We started out in the spring pretty slow compared to where we got to at the end," Freeman recalled. When we started out, [Morris] said 'this is half speed' and I was like 'you gotta be kidding me, this is full speed.' So for us to be able to get to where we want to be we have to be in great shape. That's coming together."

Of course another big part of that offense's production will be reliant on the quarterback play. Sophomore Tajh Boyd emerged from spring practice as the starting quarterback, but his inconsistencies from 2010 have Tiger fans also keeping an eye on touted freshman Cole Stoudt. There will be pressure on Boyd to put up big numbers in the system early, which is unfortunate considering the Tigers' schedule. Clemson faces Auburn, Florida State, and faces Virginia Tech in Blacksburg all in the first month of the season. Those are three tough defenses to face, even if they weren't breaking in a new offense.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:52 pm

Duke avoiding big game hype in 2011

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since head coach David Cutcliffe's arrival in Durham, Duke has made a habit of trying to schedule some big-time non-conference opponents. Playing a top-notch opponent presents the Blue Devils a great chance to test themselves, and possibly pull off an upset that could boost the program's status (even if temporarily) on a national scale.

But last season, the Blue Devils seemed to take a step back after defending champion Alabama put a 62-13 hurting on them on their home turf.

"Physically, we probably got beat up a little bit," Duke quarterback Sean Renfree explained. "They are more physically dominating than any team we saw. To get beat like that, it's tough to come back from. It took us a while to get our confidence back."

The Blue Devils will take on a similar challenge this fall, hosting Stanford on the second weekend of the season. The Cardinal, led by returning quarterback Andrew Luck, will likely be ranked in the top five heading into the season. However, Renfree predicts that the team will have a better reaction to the high-caliber opponent.

"I think we're going to be more prepared," Renfree said. "I think everyone on the team including myself got a little caught up in the hype. At the end of the day we have to remember we are just playing another team. I'm not taking anything away from Stanford at all, they are a very good team, but you can't get caught up in the hype."

Renfree, a junior, took a while to get comfortable in the starting quarterback role but seemed to hit a stride by the end of the season. A pro-style passer with a big arm, also said that he thought Andrew Luck's return was "good for the game of college football."

RELATED: At the same table, Duke safety Matt Daniel caught my ear referencing himself in third person. What really caught my ear? "Matt Daniels loves the rain," the senior safety told a group of reporters. I was intrigued, and made a note. Thankfully Jim Young of the ACC Sports Journal caught the entire explanation. Why does he love the rain? "Because it soothes me."

Of course it does.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 8:51 pm

BC's Montel Harris still holds grudge against FSU

Posted by Chip Patterson

When it came time for the media to select the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, there was overwhelming support forBoston College running back Montel Harris. It didn't come as a huge surprise, the senior is 1,003 yards away from becoming the conference's all-time leading rusher. Harris recorded 1,242 yards in 2010, and 1,457 the season before that - so it's not unreasonable to think that he'll chase the record if he can stay healthy. But even with the record in his sights, Harris says that the backfield should be much more diverse in 2011.

"I'm not expecting 30 carries a game, we've got too many good running backs with myself, Harris told media on Sunday. "We should be splitting carries and also spreading the ball around a lot. You should see a lot of new faces in the end zone this year."

But one game where Harris might not mind seeing 30 carries will be against Florida State. Harris has played exceptionally well against the Seminoles across his career, and on Sunday he revealed one of the inspirations for his extra effort.

"That's my dad's favorite team," Harris said about Florida State. "I always wanted to put put the best numbers I can against them to make him proud. Even though I didn't get to go to his favorite team.

"I would think of it as a chip on my shoulder, they didn't even give me a look so I wanted to show them what they were missing every time we played them."

He'll get his chance to shine against the Seminoles on national television this season. Florida State travels to Chestnut Hill to play the Eagles in primetime on Thursday night in early November. Hindsight is 20-20, and I guarantee that more that just Florida State wishes they would have offered a scholarship to the Jacksonville, FL native. Nationally, Harris' 3,600 career rushing yards leads all returning players heading into the 2011 season.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 11:47 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 11:15 am

E.J. Manuel understands talk of expectations

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Florida State

The buzz about Florida State is unmistakable down at the ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst. All through Tallahassee this offseason we've heard that "Florida State is back." One thing that is most certainly "back" for Florida State is ACC title expectations. Claiming that the Seminoles are "back" is something that quarterback E.J. Manuel is not comfortable saying, but he seems to understand why people have been talking.

"Me personally I have no control over that. People are going to say what they want and have their own opinions. But I think that's going to be settled when we actually go out there and play," Manuel said. "I'm not going to say "we're back" or anything like that because that would be taking respect away from those teams that were what Florida State is now. That's what we're working towards, and hopefully we do get to that point.

"I don't mind it, I can't control it. If that's what people want to say we appreciate it, but you also have to go out there and do it."

Manuel, a junior, has as much pressure as anyone else on the roster, being one of the few new starters on the depth chart. But the quarterbacking duties are not unfamiliar to Manuel, who saw several games of action while backing up former Seminole Christian Ponder. Manuel was asked Sunday how he thought he compared to Ponder, now a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings.

"I think we are more similar than different," Manuel said. "A lot of people want to say I'm more of a runner, he's more of a thrower. But I think Christian can run the ball and throw the ball, and I can do the same. But personality-wise, everybody's different. I wouldn't say I'm just like Ponder or anything like that but I think we are both intelligent young men and want to win."

Manuel exhibits a confidence that makes you want to believe he is destined to be the next great quarterback from the Virginia Beach area. While his appearances in Ponder's stead were sporadic and inconsistent across his career, the back-to-back performances against Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and leading the game-winning drive against South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl have changed the public's expectations from Manuel.

As he said himself, now they just need to "go out there and play."
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:31 am

Roddy Jones likes O-line development, RB depth

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is ready to get football started. After a dismal 6-7 season that ended with a 14-7 loss to Air Force in the Independence Bowl and the new NCAA sanctions that vacated their 2009 ACC Championship, the Yellow Jackets are ready to write some new history on the field. Fifth-year senior Roddy Jones was the elder representative for the team in Pinehurst on Sunday, and he was excited to talk about the upcoming season. Georgia Tech's spring practices received mixed reviews, but one thing that was obvious in the Yellow Jacket's "T-Day" spring game was an improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Jones elaborated on what has made the unit better on Sunday.

"I see a lot of athleticism on [the defensive] side of the ball," Jones explained. "They're starting to understand more, and they are going to fly around this year. One thing you will definitely see is guys running to the football, like I said a lot of athleticism. They are going to be very talented and very fast, and hopefully hungry."

Of course, some have argued that the strong showing by the defense in intrasquad scrimmages has been due to a significantly weaker offensive line. Head coach Paul Johnson said after the spring game that the quarterbacks were "running for their lives." According to Jones, the line has been a spot where the players have focused on improvement over the summer - all under the leadership of All-ACC offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi.

"I've seen a whole lot of work put in by the offensive line. Uzzi has done a great job of organizing them and having them talk through things," Jones said. "He's kind of the elder statesman on the offensive line, between him and Phil Smith. He's done a great job of making sure everyone gets on the same page, because it all starts with them. We can't do anything without [the offensive line], and they understand that. Omoregie knows what it's like to be a part of a really good offensive line, one that won us an ACC Championship. So he's been really driving that home for the young guys."

As far as the guys behind that line? It's a crowded group of players all looking for their touches, thankfully Paul Johnson's option offense allows for plenty of rushers to find time on the field.

"There's a lot of depth in the backfield," Jones elaborated. "We've got probably 4 or 5 guys at A-back who have a lot of playing time and a lot of experience. We've got 4 guys at B-back who can all play. They might not have the experience that we have at A-back, but they are all very talented, ready, and hungry to show what they can do. I think everyone does a great job of being ready when their time comes and that's what it's about."
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:32 am

Sylvester Williams making an impression at UNC

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from North Carolina

Questions regarding the ongoing NCAA case were impossible to avoid at the ACC Football Kickoff for North Carolina, but since we're here to talk about the 2011 season it was nice to get some actual football talk from Butch Davis' two representatives here at Pinehurst. Jonathan Cooper has been a pivotal part of the offensive line since he arrived at Chapel Hill, and with more health and experience than ever he thinks this could be their best unit yet. One of the first tasks for the group is opening holes for running back Ryan Houston. Houston redshirted last season after initially sitting out because of the NCAA investigation. The return of the big back has Cooper and his teammates excited for the rushing attack in 2011.

"It's very, very exciting, Cooper explained. "I definitely look forward to running the ball on 3rd and 2. I don't want to run play-action and I don't want to drop back and pass. I want to pound the ball, I think that's the sign of a good offensive line: when you can impose your will. With a good, big back, it'll help a lot to do that."

Earlier this week, Butch Davis identified the offensive and defensive line as the team's strengths heading into camp. One fresh face to the defensive line is transfer defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. Williams is rooming with defensive tackle Tydreke Powell in Chapel Hill. Powell opened up and shared an interesting story about his new roommate and teammate.

"[Williams] is going to be one of the top D-tackles in the country," Powell boasted about his roomy. "When he first got here, we weren't rooming together. I was staying at my fiance then. He called me on Saturday at 8 o'clock [in the morning] and I asked him 'What's up' - I thought something was wrong. He was like 'Come on man, let's go work. We can't get better and we can't be the best d-tackles in the country if we're not working on Saturdays cause everybody else is resting.'

"I knew right then when he called and told me that I knew he was going to be a big force for us. That work ethic is something serious."

Williams and Powell will anchor the middle of North Carolina's defensive line along with Jordan Nix. Powell also shared that the greatest inspiration for him on the field has not been any of the top ranked NFL talent that has come before him, but his two children.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 11:32 am

Danny O'Brien looking for the next Torrey Smith

Posted by Chip Patterson

Sunday was dedicated to the players at the ACC Football Kickoff. Two representatives from each of the 12 schools made their rounds with the media. This was my takeaway from Maryland

A season ago, Maryland fans found an early Christmas gift with the emergence of quarterback Danny O'Brien. The true freshman took the conference by storm, racking up 22 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions on his way to being named ACC Rookie of the Year. After coming within a game of the ACC Atlantic Division crown, the Terps have had to undergo an offseason of change in the leadership positions. Out with Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator James Franklin (now the head coach at Vanderbilt) and in with Randy Edsall and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton. But the sophomore believes that the coaching change will not alter the expectations in College Park.

"[Coach Edsall's] goal coming in, he said he's here to win championships," O'Brien told reporters. "If we have a really tight-nit team it's ACC title or bust."

Part of putting together that tight-nit team will include finding a replacement for All-ACC wide receiver Torrey Smith, who was O'Brien's favorite target in 2010. Smith pulled in 67 catches for 1055 yards and 12 touchdowns, numbers that dwarf the rest of the receivers from last year's campaign. When asked who will step up in Smith's absence, O'Brien admitted that was still unanswered.

"That remains to be seen," O'Brien responded. "We've got a lot of guys who don't necessarily have the same stat line Torrey did last year, but made big plays in big games. We have four or five guys that have stepped up in big games, between Kerry Boykins, Kevin Dorsey, Ronnie Tyler, Quintin Mcree, I think one of those guys will step up."
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