Orange Watch: Around the league with the ACC Football coaches – Part One

Item: Last week we detailed Scott Shafer’s first go-round on a national ACC media call, Orange Watch now profiles the other 13 ACC coaches, a diverse lot of veterans including Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer with the most victories (251) and longest tenured (27 years) coach in the FBS, to Shafer’s fellow ACC rookie Dave Doeren of North Carolina State.

In alphabetical order by school, in part one, the first seven ACC head coaches:

clemson

Syracuse will open its ACC schedule against head coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson

Steve Addazio, Boston College’s rookie head coach after two seasons at Temple, on having the opportunity in FBS football to coach his son Louie, a SU transfer coming back from a shoulder injury, once he made the off-season move from North Philadelphia to Newton:

“He’s a guy that loves football. He’s a guy that has a lot of passion for the game. He’s still in the rehab phase of his shoulder injury that he had. But I’ve really enjoyed watching him. He’s a very low-maintenance guy. He’s got thick skin. He can take tough coaching. His position coach Frank Leonard is a very demanding, up-tempo, high-energy guy, and he just loves it.”

» Related: Syracuse coach Scott Shafer says QB battle is ‘controversial’ over who starts

Clemson, and head coach Dabo Swinney provide the opposition for the ‘Cuse ACC inaugural game on Oct. 5 in the Dome. Leading the Tigers is exciting senior QB Tajh Boyd (346 passing yards in a bowl victory over LSU last season) the first name on Swinney’s lips.

“We’ve got Tajh Boyd back, and it’s the first year I’ve ever had a third-year starter back at quarterback, so I’m excited about that. I like the guys we have battling in the trenches on both
sides. Probably the biggest concern coming out of spring is our secondary. But we’ve got eight signees that are on their way in here. So it is really kind of hard to evaluate that group from a totality standpoint until we get all those pieces here this summer.”

Unlike the generation of success its basketball program has exhibited, Duke football isn’t exactly known as a program that makes annual bowl game appearances (one since 1994, last season), or has players drafted in the NFL (last graduate in 2004). The latter changed over the weekend when QB Sean Renfree was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 7th round, the 249th overall pick. His loss is a big one to fill for sixth year head coach David Cutcliffe.

“Sean Renfree, I’ll say it again, I think is the most accurate passer in the draft. I did get a comment over and over that they’ve never had anybody blow them away on the board like he did in Indianapolis. His understanding and knowledge of football, defensive football, coverage. He’s doing well, feels good (coming back from a shoulder injury).”

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone welcomed not Ryan Nassib as his QB of the future, but Florida State’s E. J. Manuel instead to the NFL last week as the team’s top draft pick, Manuel’s replacement will emerge from a three-player battle between Jacob Coker, dual-threat redshirt freshman Jameis Winston and Sean Maguire. Seminoles coach Jumbo Fisher enjoyed watching the spring competition.

“Jameis had an outstanding spring and he’ll be right in that battle. I thought Jacob Coker will still be in that battle, so will Sean. But Jacob and Jameis will be battling hard for that job and we’ll see how Sean is developing, we’re very pleased with him. But we’ll split those reps and keep it because I think we have some outstanding quarterbacks on this team, and we’ll see how the consistency realizes through. But I was very pleased with those guys in spring practice.”

Syracuse faces crossover opponent Georgia Tech in Atlanta this season. The Jackets offensive scheme is unique. Head coach Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack has finished among the top four nationally in rushing yards each of the six seasons he’s been at the Tech helm, and the philosophy dates back to his head coordinator days at Georgia Southern in the mid-80s.

“Well, I think each year it’s changed, probably more to us than the normal eye might see or understand. We try to find things that have given us problems and try to find ways to tweak that and take advantage of doing some things that if we feel like people lined up that gave us some issues in certain areas. But all in all, I have to say really since 1985, the base offense is still very similar to what we ran then. I mean, the core principles of it are pretty much intact. You
have some wrinkles here and there. We’ve added some things. If you watched us play in 1985, it’s probably not a lot different now truthfully.”

One-time Syracuse reserve QB Randy Edsall (1979) has had a rough first two years at Maryland going 6-18 overall and 3-13 in the ACC, and last season saw four quarterbacks go down with injuries, forcing him to plug converted linebacker Shawn Petty into the job in mid-season. This year, Edsall knows his starter is C.J. Brown, who’s coming off a torn ACL last August.

» Related: Breaking down SU in the NFL draft

“He’s doing extremely well. I know this. He’s cleared for everything. So to me that’s where we thought he would be. The biggest thing for me was I could see the confidence grow in him, and he was out there, driving off that leg and doing the things that you need to do as a quarterback. And as he’s doing things to continue to move forward, there is stuff that happens each and every day for him that just leads you — that knows he’s where he needs to be, and he’ll be as close to perfect as he can be come the time that we start practice on August 5th.”

In order to put some spark into the offense of a program’s whose image used to be that of swagger and a “stop us if you can” attitude to opposing defenses, Miami coach Al Golden brought in a new offensive coordinator (James Coley) this spring, who has the luxury of a returning QB, RB, and three top WR’s who contributed to a 440-yard per game average last season, but ended with a very unlike ‘Canes mark of 7-5, 5-3 in the ACC.

“It will certainly have his (James’s) fingerprints on it. There’s going to be a lot of things that we’ll do similar to last year. But I don’t think there’s any question there’s definitely going to be some nuances that James and the things that he likes to operate with.”

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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