Orangeyes Daily Articles for Wednesday for Football


Co 2020-21 Iggy Award Winner MPG (special again)
Staff member
Aug 15, 2011

Welcome to Chicken Boy's Day!

Chicken Boy's Day marks the ceremonial birthday of Chicken Boy, a 22 foot tall fiberglass statue of a boy with a chicken head that holds a bucket of chicken. Chicken Boy first stood atop a fried chicken restaurant of the same name near Los Angeles' Grand Central Market in the 1960's. That's where it resided until 1984, when the restaurant owner died and it came under the possession of an art director, Amy Inouye, who hoped to preserve it. After many years of trying to find it a suitable home, Inouye's Future Studio moved to a location that could support Chicken Boy. It was installed on top of their building in the fall of 2007. Chicken Boy is one of many "Muffler Men" that began towering over America's roadways in the 1960's. Many of these gigantic men held mufflers, giving them their name, but many were also dressed as cowboys, or were made into Paul Bunyans. Both Chicken Boy's old and current locations are on Route 66, as are the locations of a handful of other Muffler Men, including the Gemini Giant. International Fiberglass of Venice, California, made Chicken Boy and the other Muffler Men, but Chicken Boy was customized afterwards to have a chicken head and arms that could hold a bucket. Chicken Boy is known as "The Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles", and his preservers were given the Governor's Preservation Award in 2010, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SU News


Three-star offensive lineman Chad Schuster is the 12th member of Syracuse football's 2022 recruiting class. (Courtesy of Franklin offensive line coach Mike Beck)

Quiet and mild-mannered Syracuse commit Chad Schuster is ‘turning into a nasty O-lineman’ (PS; $; Curtis)

Leadership comes in many forms.

For Chad Schuster, his leadership style has gradually developed over the past three years at Franklin High School, a school in Wisconsin known for producing Division I offensive linemen.

Schuster’s coaches say he’s naturally mild-mannered and reserved, but football has allowed him to tap into a confidence that was birthed by thriving on the field. He’s used to leading by example by protecting his quarterback and pushing opposing defenses out of the way.

Now he’s using his voice to elevate and inspire his teammates.

Last Wednesday, Schuster shared a life-changing announcement with his teammates at the conclusion of practice.

“I committed to Syracuse today,” said the Wisconsin native, becoming the 12th player to pledge a verbal commitment to the Orange’s 2022 recruiting class.

It was a decision he knew he’d make — dating back to his official visit to SU in June — but as a senior and the team’s captain, he wanted his teammates to be a part of the process before it became public knowledge.

Small gestures such as those that encourage camaraderie, or when one of the younger guys on the team commits a penalty and Schuster tells him it’s OK and to focus on the next play, are examples of the vocal leader he’s slowly transformed into.

“I’m starting to embrace being a leader,” said Schuster, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound lineman. “I don’t know when it started, but I just started feeling more comfortable.”

Axe: SU football’s 2021 opener at Ohio has that must-win feeling (PS; $; Axe)

Dave Ryan didn’t beat around the bush when discussing the importance of Syracuse football’s 2021 season opener at Ohio on Saturday night.

Ryan, the Syracuse University alum and former WSTM-3 sports director who will call Saturday’s game for CBS Sports Network, thinks it’s critical for SU to start 1-0.

“Let me tell you something,” Ryan said on ESPN Syracuse. “This game is huge. As Coach Mac (former Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson) used to say, you can’t start off stubbing your toe. You can’t lose this game. You cannot go out and lose in the opener at Ohio if you want to have that great season.”

"You can't lose this game..."

CBS Sports play-by-play announcer @DaveRyno12 tells @SteveInfantiNC9 & @pauliescibilia that a loss to Ohio could torpedo any chance at a great season.

‎ESPN Syracuse: 30 Minutes In Orange Nation 8-31 on Apple Podcasts
— ESPN Radio Syracuse (@ESPNSyracuse) August 31, 2021

Ryan is right.

Dare we break out the “must win” label for the Orange on Saturday in Athens, Ohio against a team many consider a favorite to win the Mid-American Conference.

Sure. Why not?

With Syracuse coming off a 1-10 season and having lost 15 of its last 18 games overall, the value of a win tends to be appreciated more. Kind of like finding an unexpected $20 bill in your jeans on laundry day.

Where Syracuse football's position battles stand heading into Week 1: What we know, what we think (; $; Bailey)

Syracuse football's sixth preseason camp under head coach Dino Babers is over. The Week 1 depth chart has been released. The countdown to 7 p.m. on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio is on.

But even as Babers and the Orange gear up for a matchup against an experienced Ohio program, competition continues within position groups. Let's break down where things stand and, in turn, contextualize the two-deep listing that the program released on Monday morning.


What we know: Babers has said that both Tommy DeVito and Garrett Shrader will play this season, though any element of surprise as to who will start against the Bobcats was squashed when DeVito was listed on the No. 1 line. Of course, that doesn't come as any surprise. DeVito is the leader here, as Babers has stated, but Shrader’s dual-threat skill set cannot be fully evaluated without a live setting. He’ll get a chance to show the coaching staff what he can do at some point this year. The question is when.

What we think: DeVito will start at Ohio as a key cog in the team’s versatile offense. After two years spent scrambling for his life, DeVito could have a credible run game to provide him with some balance and the threat of play-action passing. That appears to be Plan A under offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, and it will likely be given an extended chance to succeed on Saturday. If that approach becomes untenable – a possibility given SU’s o-line play the last two years – that’s when Shrader will get his opportunity. In the meantime, it’s possible the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Mississippi State transfer gets a change-up drive or red zone opportunities.

Offense — 2021 Syracuse Football preview - The Juice Online (the juice; Stechschulte)


After starting each of the last two seasons, Tommy DeVito returns with a nose ahead of transfer Garrett Shrader for the starting job while head coach Dino Babers expects both players to take snaps this season. DeVito had a solid sophomore season, but had his junior year cut short by injury, playing in just the first four games. A rebound in quality to more in line with his sophomore year level of production (63% completion percentage, 2,360 yards, 19 touchdowns, five interceptions) would be a big plus for the Orange.

Shrader comes to Syracuse after two seasons at Mississippi State and offers a greater threat with his legs than DeVito, who fits the role of a more traditional pocket passer. As a freshman with the Bulldogs, Shrader played in ten games, including making four starts, completing 57.5% of his passes for 1,170 yards with an 8-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and added 587 yards and six scores in the run game.

Jacobian Morgan saw a modest amount of play as a freshman last season, throwing 49 passes in three games, including starting against Boston College. Dillon Markiewicz got a few snaps as a freshman and incoming freshman Justin Lamson joins the reserves.

No matter who is taking the snaps for SU, the passing game must be more productive. Orange quarterbacks completed a cumulative 51.5 percent of their passes and averaged 5.67 yards per attempt last season. Of 128 teams in the FBS, SU was 121st in completion percentage and 115th in yards per attempts.


With both Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard opting out prior to last season and Jawhar Jordan getting injured early in the campaign, the bulk of the ground game fell onto the shoulders of Sean Tucker and the true freshman responded. Given double-digit carries in eight games, Tucker ran up 626 yards and four scores, including 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns to key the victory over Georgia Tech.

Cooper Lutz converted from wide receiver to the backfield and stepped into the backup role. Lutz was fairly successful in limited play, picking up 81 yards against Wake Forest when Tucker was injured, then adding 114 against Notre Dame in the season finale, including an 80-yard touchdown burst.

Big Takeaways from SU’s Week One Depth Chart – Orange Fizz – Daily Syracuse Recruiting News & Team Coverage (; Eads)

Syracuse released its depth chart ahead of the opener against Ohio yesterday and there are some interesting names atop the two deep. Let’s dissect the penciled in starters and attempt to translate what the decisions might mean.

Interesting to see Taj Harris moved to the slot and Sharod Johnson taking his place outside. However that could be the perfect spot for Harris.
— Orange Fizz (@OrangeFizz) August 30, 2021

Quarterback – Tommy DeVito

So the incumbent signal caller gets the nod as starter for the game in Athens, Ohio. This doesn’t mean that Garrett Shrader won’t play against the Bobcats. Dino Babers has said previously that both quarterbacks will play. Historically, two qb systems haven’t been very successful but the thought here is probably to see which of the two performs the best in the series’ allotted and go from there. This is eerily similar to how things played out virtually.

Running Back – Cooper Lutz and Where’s Abdul Adams?

30 Minutes In Orange Nation 8-31 (ESPN; radio; Steve & Paulie)

Steve and Paulie struggle to pin down a fair set of expectations for Syracuse football in the upcoming season before chatting with SU QB Garrett Shrader about his style of play and his decision to play for the Orange. Then, a caller asks for Dino Babers’ magic

On The Block On Demand 8-31 (ESPN; radio; Axe)

Brent tells you why Syracuse’s opener against Ohio comes down to toughness. Later, hear from Tommy DeVito, Josh Black, Airon Servais and Garrett Williams.

ESPN The Sportszilla Show 8-31-21 (ESPN; radio; Rain and Spencer)

On today’s show with Rain and Spencer Davidson, they talk to Tommy Sladek from CNY Central, Jason Fitz from ESPN and Damon Amendolara from Orange Fizz, plus more!

Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse visits Ohio - National Football Post (

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Kent State, Ball State Selected in Football Head Coaches Preseason Poll (

Kent State and Ball State have been selected to win their respective divisions in the 2021 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Football Head Coaches Preseason Poll. The Cardinals also received four votes to win the Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game title, while the Golden Flashes received two votes when it came to selecting who will take home the MAC crown.

The Golden Flashes will bring back nine starters on both sides of the ball in 2021. Headlining those returners is quarterback Dustin Crum who was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List for the second-straight season. The graduate student was first-team All-Conference last season after averaging 295 yards through the air and completing 73 percent of his passes. Kent State will bring back its top four rushers, both passers and only losing Isaiah McKoy from a talented group of receivers.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kent State returns its top four tacklers and pass rushers from 2020. Leading that charge is junior safety Dean Clark. Clark led the team with 28 tackles including 19 solo and stuffed the stat sheet with two pass break ups, a forced fumble, interception and blocked punt. Linebackers Brandon Coleman and Kesean Gamble are back after leading the Kent State pass rush with three sacks each.

Ball State is coming off one of the most memorable seasons in program history, finishing 2020 with a 7-1 (5-1 MAC) record. The defending MAC Champs won their last seven games to claim the MAC West Division title, a MAC Championship Game victory, and a win over No. 19 San Jose State in the Arizona Bowl.

Led by sixth-year head coach Mike Neu, the Cardinals return 20 starters (10 offensive, 10 defensive) and three key specialists from the team which finished the year ranked at No. 23 in both the AP Top 25 and the Amway Coaches Poll. Among Ball State’s returning players are 16 “super seniors” who will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to student-athletes by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, BSU welcomes back 10 of 12 All-MAC honorees from a year ago, highlighted by First-Team All-MAC selection and Co-Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Martin (ILB). Also looking to help Ball Sate run it back are first team members Justin Hall (WR), Anthony Ekpe (OLB), and Bryce Cosby (S), second team selections Drew Plitt (QB), Curtis Blackwell (OL), Christian Albright (OLB), and Nathan Snyder (P), and third team honorees Yo’Heinz Tyler (WR), Jaylin Thomas (ILB).

The 75th anniversary season of MAC football kicks off on Thursday, September 2nd and concludes with the 2021 Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game at Ford Field on Saturday, December 4 at Noon ET (ESPN).

MAC Football Head Coaches East Division Predictions
(first place votes)

1. Kent State (6) – 63 Points
2. Miami (2) -- 55 Points
3. Ohio (2) – 51 Points
4. Buffalo (2) – 46 Points
5. Akron – 19 Points
6. Bowling Green – 18 Points

MAC Football Head Coaches West Division Predictions
1. Ball State (9) – 65 Points
2. Western Michigan (1) – 53 Points
3. Toledo (2) – 51 Points
4. Central Michigan – 39 Points
5. Eastern Michigan – 26 Points
6. Northern Illinois – 18 Points

Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Champion Predictions:
Ball State (4), Buffalo (2), Kent State (2), Miami (1), Ohio (1), Toledo (1), Western Michigan (1)

PAW PRINTS: The Week Ahead in Ohio Athletics - Ohio University (

The football team kicks off its 2021 season at Peden Stadium this Saturday, cross country begins their season in Dayton, Ohio, while volleyball and men's golf also go on the road for tournament play. See what else is happening for Ohio Athletics this week in this edition of Paw Prints.

September 4 / vs. Syracuse / Athens, Ohio / Peden Stadium / 7 p.m. / Live Stats / Watch Live

Tim Albin will make his head coaching debut on Saturday night, as the Bobcats football team takes on the Syracuse Orange to kick off the 2021 season. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1921. The game has been announced as a Bobcat Blackout

5 Easy & Cool College Football Destinations for Albany Sports Fans (; Voelker)

Sometimes you don't have to be in the "state of the art" football stadium to get a feel for the tradition of a football program. Let's take a look at 5 easy trips from the Capital Region in New York, for people who love college football! You won't just enjoy the ride, you'll love these trips from the pre-game tailgate parties to the post game celebrations!

#5 Union / RPI (in a non-Covid year) - Union played its first football game November 11, 1886 and RPI played their first game the same year. These are two storied colleges with a long history of supporting the true tradition of college football. NFL placekicker Andrew Franks played at RPI, as did former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia. Union plays on Frank Bailey Field at Bertagna-Class of 1985 Stadium, which holds about 1600 fans and RPI plays in ECAV Stadium but no fans if you don't live or work on campus at RPI home games this year. Both of these historic programs are worth the price of admission and a check on your Easy & Cool College Football Destinations bucket list.

#4 Yale - The Bulldogs started playing football November 16, 1872. They beat Columbia 3-0 and so it began. Long before the Alabamas and the Clemsons ruled the gridiron of college football, the Yales, the Princetons and the Harvards dominated the pigskin headlines. The football is probably better than it's ever been and the Yale Bowl was built in 1914. It is an incredibly fun way to spend your Saturday afternoon and it's about 2 hours each way from Albany, well worth the trip! Go to for tickets.

#3 UAlbany - The Great Danes started playing football in 1970 as a club team. Head coach Bob Ford coached 44 seasons and took the team from club to Division I FCS. Head Coach Greg Gattuso is in his 8th season now and has that program rolling in a championship direction in the toughest FCS conference in the country, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Prior to the pandemic, Gattuso led his team to an NCAA playoff victory and the second round of the FCS NCAA championship. Tom & Mary Casey is beautiful and an easy trip down Western or Washington Ave in Albany. Definitely worth multiple trips to cheer on the Great Danes. Go to for tickets.

#2 Syracuse - The Orange had quite a run as a storied football program for many years. NFL legends Jim Brown, John Mackey, Art Monk, Donovan McNabb and Larry Czonka all played at Syracuse. Yes, its been a few years since players like that have lit it up at the Carrior Dome but ACC football is really good and Syracuse has some cool home games, including UAlbany. The Carrior Dome is about 2 hours and twenty minutes from Albany each way. The tickets are cheap. They serve beer at the games and it never rains! Definitely worth the trip.


#1 Army West Point - If you are a traditionalist and you are of driving age, you have already made this trip. If you have not, don't wait any longer. Yes, a football game is mixed in but from the moment you pull in it is worth the price of admission. The views of the lower Hudson Valley from the West Point campus are nothing short of spectacular. Go to for all of the ticket, parking and game day information that you will need. This to me is second to none of the Easy & Cool College Football Destinations that are easy to get to from Albany. This trip is just over 2 hours each way.

Read More: 5 Easy & Cool College Football Destinations for Albany Sports Fan | 5 Easy & Cool College Football Destinations for Albany Sports Fans

ORANGE GAME WEEK: Syracuse opens 2021 season at Ohio on Saturday (preview, media & info) - (; Evans)

A new season is officially upon us Saturday, when Syracuse opens the 2021 campaign with a road contest at Ohio on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. The contest from Peden Stadium will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

“It’s a brand new slate,” said head coach Dino Babers. “You get to start painting the portrait, so to speak, on how it’s going to look when it’s all said and done. [It’s a] difficult opponent – more difficult than you would mostly likely want. But we’re going to go down there and give it our best and see how we do.”

It’s a different feel for Syracuse heading into this year’s season opener as it returns 10 starters on both sides of the ball from the 2020 squad that was one of the youngest in all of the FBS. More than 71 percent of the Orange’s 2020 active roster was comprised of players in their first two years of eligibility, a mark that ranked fourth in the FBS. That experience should help combat any first-game nerves.

“I think the young guys are going to be nervous, guys who haven’t played, they are going to be nervous,” Babers said. “You can’t get around it. But then there are guys who have played a lot of football and, talking to both coordinators, you really want to start the game with guys that have played. You don’t want to hand the ball to somebody who hasn’t had a handoff before. But if you start with the guys that have been around, I think that normally gives you a starting point that you want. Everybody has to take their first hit. Everybody has to have their first ball thrown at them. That’s just football. I don’t think we have as many guys as we had last year in that situation, but we have some guys.”

Syracuse vs Ohio Prediction, Game Preview (CFN; Fiutak)

Syracuse vs Ohio Broadcast

Date: Saturday, September 4
Game Time: 7:00 ET
Venue: Peden Stadium, Athens, OH
Network: CBS Sports Network

Syracuse (0-0) vs Ohio (0-0) Game Preview

Why Syracuse Will Win

For all of the issues Syracuse has had running the ball and generating any semblance of a consistent offense, that should all start to flip this year.

The O line hasn’t blocked anyone in years, but the 2021 version is very big, very experienced, and it should be better for a strong group of running backs to take the heat off the Orange quarterbacks.

In the two-quarterback system of Tommy DeVito and Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader, the passing game should be dangerous with a terrific group of receivers coming back.

Why Ohio Will Win

The veterans are there for new head coach Tim Albin to keep all the production going.

The receiving corps has a slew of deep threats that should hit the Orange secondary hard. The quarterback combination of Kurtis Rourke and Armani Rogers can move, and the 1-2 rushing punch of De’Montre Tuggle and O’Shaan Allison can steady the attack.

The Syracuse defense has experience, but it has to prove it can stop someone. The offense was bad last year, but the defense had even more problems in the 1-10 campaign. Ohio should be much, much steadier on both sides of the ball.

What’s Going To Happen

So was Ohio great-looking in its three-game run last year because two of the games were against miserable Akron and Bowling Green teams, or is it because it was that good? It was a little bit of both.

Syracuse is still ragged, and it still has to prove it can do something positive on the lines, but it’ll hang around the game with a few key takeaways just when it seems like Ohio is about to pull away.

The Orange will get the key defensive stop it’s been missing for the last few years in a must-win game for the Dino Babers era.

Syracuse vs Ohio Prediction, Line

Syracuse 30, Ohio 27
PICK, o/u: 56.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2

Must See Rating: 3

Syracuse Football: My Ohio University Bobcats pep talk (itlh; Fiello)

The following is what I might say if I were Head Coach Dino Babers addressing the Syracuse football team before the 2021 season opener at Ohio this coming Saturday. This is not me saying “Coach should say this and we would definitely win” or me trying to be Coach…this is just me “Orange Chuck” saying how I look at it and the message I’d want to send going into the game.

“Men, today we are faced with a challenge! A challenge that in my heart I think we are ready to conquer as a player, as a team and as a family.

There are people outside this room who think you should be judged based on past struggles. There are people outside this program who think that while Ohio is a program we need to respect, that they’re going to beat us.

There are people, even some fans, who think this staff needs to be replaced, that many of you are not that talented and we are doomed to failure. There are people who think Syracuse football is mediocre at best and they’ve projected us to only win maybe 3 games this season, including odds-setters in Vegas and so-called college football experts.
... (; DeCock)

A Thursday night game always throws off the normal college football routine, even to start the season, no small adjustment in a sport that worships at the altar of routine. For N.C. State, it’s a disruption hardly worth noting considering the trouble the Wolfpack had getting the season started a year ago.

For various COVID reasons, N.C. State went from preparing to open against Louisville to Virginia Tech to Wake Forest, all in the space of a month and change. Meanwhile, a COVID outbreak on campus and within the program disrupted preseason practices to the point where starting quarterback Devin Leary started the eventual delayed opener on the bench because he hadn’t been able to practice enough.

“We had three different teams we were going to play a month before the season,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said this week. “It was crazy.”

There were ACC football teams that underwent more COVID craziness during the season, but none dealt with more at the start than N.C. State -- the beginning of what Doeren called “the most difficult season of my life as a player or a coach” -- only to rebound and gather momentum on its way to an 8-3 finish, albeit without having to run the usual Atlantic Division gauntlet.

The virus is still around, but thanks to vaccines and our collective adjustments to life during a pandemic, N.C. State is actually starting this season from where it expected to start the season, against who it expected to start the season, with fans in the stands.

“It was great to have a normal fall camp and actually coach football in the preseason,” Doeren said, an unexceptional statement to make in, say, 2019, but one made with a sense of triumph and relief unique to the COVID era in 2021.

Still, last August’s lessons weren’t lost on the Wolfpack. The hardship of preparing a team for a season without actually practicing as a team forced N.C. State to adapt and learn on the fly, and some of what became necessary under extreme conditions became tools the Wolfpack could use on a regular basis, whether that meant meeting and teaching virtually or working more closely with individual groups and players outside of a team setting.

“Last year obviously we had to go through different protocols and different things with COVID that kind of affected our overall learning,” Leary said. “We had to do a lot of things virtual. I think now this year being able to see everyone in person, being able to pick everyone’s brain, be able to communicate better with our offensive system is going to help us out so much more.”
... (; Murschel)

A team-by-team preview of the Atlantic Coast Conference:

Last year’s record:
6-5, 5-5 ACC
Coach: Jeff Hafley, 2nd season, 6-5
QB: Phil Jurkovec, junior, 205-336 for 2,558 yards and 17 TDs in 2020
The buzz: It was a remarkable start for Hafley in his first season at Boston College. The Eagles were one of the more competitive teams in the league, giving powers like North Carolina, Clemson and Notre Dame all they could handle. There’s plenty of potential for a big year with a winnable schedule if the team can survive a tough stretch of Missouri (Sept. 25), Clemson (Oct. 2) and NC State (Oct. 16).

Last year’s record:
10-2, 9-1 ACC
Coach: Dabo Swinney, 14th season, 140-33
QB: D.J. Uiagalelei, sophomore, 78-117 for 914 yards and 5 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Only Alabama has won more games than Clemson over the past five seasons, with the Tigers securing six straight ACC titles and two national championships. The blueprint for success is there and don’t expect Swinney to change much, even with Uiagalelei stepping in for a departed Trevor Lawrence. The defense, which was a top–20 unit in 2020, could be even better.

Clemson sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei leads the Tigers offense in 2021, replacing Trevor Lawrence, who led the program to three straight appearances in the College Football Playoff.

Clemson sophomore quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei leads the Tigers offense in 2021, replacing Trevor Lawrence, who led the program to three straight appearances in the College Football Playoff.

Last year’s record:
2-9, 1-9 ACC
Coach: David Cutcliffe, 14th season, 74-88
QB: Gunnar Homberg, junior, 18-25 for 161 yards in 2020
The buzz: It’s hard to argue that last season wasn’t a disaster for Duke. The Blue Devils finished near the bottom of the ACC in most offensive and defensive categories while finishing with the program’s worst season since 2007. Mistakes plagued the team after giving up 39 turnovers in 2020.

Last year’s record:
3-6, 2-6 ACC
Coach: Mike Norvell, 2nd season, 3-6
QB: Jordan Travis, a redshirt sophomore, 72-131 for 1,056 yards and 6 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Florida State was one of the youngest teams in college football last season and it became transparent from the get-go that the lack of depth and experience hurt the Seminoles. Norvell spent the offseason feverishly transforming the roster, adding versatility and experience through the transfer portal in the shape of 13 newcomers.

Last year’s record:
3-7, 3-6 ACC
Coach: Geoff Collins, 3rd season, 6-16
QB: Jeff Sims, sophomore, 141-257 for 1,881 yards and 13 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Georgia Tech has greatly benefited from Collins’ unsinkable enthusiasm as he works to reshape the Yellow Jackets into a winning program. There have, of course, been growing pains through the first two seasons, but with a roster that features plenty of talent and athleticism, expectations are for noticeable growth in Year 3.

Last year’s record:
4-7, 3-7 ACC
Coach: Scott Satterfield, 3rd season, 12-12
QB: Malik Cunningham, junior, 195-304 for 2,617 yards and 20 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Satterfield spent the offseason trying to win back supporters after briefly flirting with the South Carolina job. To add to the mounting pressure, Satterfield took over play-calling duties on offense after the departure of Dwane Ledford. Cunningham may be a versatile option at quarterback, but he must limit turnovers if the Cardinals expect to have a bounce-back year.

Last year’s record:
8-3, 7-2 ACC
Coach: Manny Diaz, 3rd season, 14-10
QB: D’Eriq King, redshirt senior, 211-329 for 2,686 yards and 23 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Much of Miami’s success hinges on the health of the fleet-footed King, who suffered a torn ACL during the team’s bowl appearance. Diaz retooled the defense in the offseason, assuming play-calling duties, and with the addition of transfers DE Deandre Johnson and DB Tyrique Stevenson, the Hurricanes hope to show marked improvement in 2021.

Last year’s record:
8-4, 7-3 ACC
Coach: Dave Doeren, 9th season, 55-46
QB: Devin Leary, sophomore, 66-110 for 890 yards and 8 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Expectations are high for NC State, which found itself tabbed to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Clemson. The Wolfpack return a lot of experience and talent on the offensive side of things, including Leary, who shined early last year before suffering a season-ending injury.

Last year’s record:
8-4, 7-3 ACC
Coach: Mack Brown, 13th season, 84-56-1
QB: Sam Howell, junior, 237-348 for 3,586 yards and 30 TDs in 2020
The buzz: North Carolina could represent the biggest challenge to Clemson in the ACC this season. Howell is a legitimate first-round selection for the NFL Draft, but he’ll need to coax more out of his young playmakers. The Tar Heels face a manageable schedule but have tough tasks against Miami and Notre Dame in back-to-back games.

Last year’s record:
6-5, 5-5 ACC
Coach: Pat Narduzzi, 7th season, 42-34
QB: Kenny Pickett, senior, 203-332 for 2,408 yards and 13 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Pitt needs to overcome inconsistencies in its offense that have hampered their teams over the years. Pickett is an experienced leader who gives the Panthers’ offense a huge lift with his arm, but the team needs more out of its ground game. Defense is Narduzzi’s forte and the team didn’t disappoint last season by finishing second in the league in total defense.

Last year’s record:
1-10, 1-9 ACC
Coach: Dino Babers, 6th season, 24-36
QB: Tommy DeVito, junior, 48-96 for 593 yards and 4 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Syracuse finished dead-last in the ACC in every major offensive category in part because of its offensive line. The Orange have allowed a league-worst 125 sacks during the past three seasons, making the quarterback position a difficult one to manage. Any improvement on offense would be a huge help for a defense that seemed overwhelmed last season.

Last year’s record:
5-5, 4-5 ACC
Coach: Bronco Mendenhall, 6th season, 30-32
QB: Brennan Armstrong, junior, 157-268 for 2,117 yards and 18 TDs in 2020
The buzz: Virginia overcame a rough 1-4 start to finish 5-5, a major slip from an Orange Bowl appearance the previous season. The Cavaliers need to see growth out of Armstrong, who took over as starting quarterback last season. Mississippi State transfer QB Keytaon Thompson has the skill set to be a dangerous option for Mendenhall.

Last year’s record:
5-6, 5-5 ACC
Coach: Justin Fuente, 6th season, 38-26
QB: Braxton Burmeister, junior, 48-84 for 687 yards and 2 TDs in 2020
The buzz: The pressure is on Fuente and the Hokies, who seem to have underwhelmed the fan base the past three seasons. Quarterback play was subpar last season, leaving Braxton Burmeister to step up in 2021. The defense suffered a letdown, finishing near the bottom of the league in scoring and total defense.

Last year’s record:
4-5, 3-4 ACC
Coach: Dave Clawson, 8th season, 40-45
QB: Sam Hartman, sophomore, 159-273 for 2,224 yards and 13 TDs in 2020
The buzz: It’s unprecedented times for Wake Forest, which is riding a streak of five straight bowl appearances. The offense could be among the best in the league with 11 starters back from last season, including a talented quarterback in Hartman, but the defense needs marked improvement to make waves in the Atlantic Division. (; Beard)

David Cutcliffe never managed to keep Duke's season from spinning into turnover-filled disarray. He's not shrugging it off as one bad run, either.

The 14th-year coach is coming off his worst season in Durham. That led him to shuffle coaching responsibilities - including taking play-calling duties off his plate - as part of an offseason overhaul that will include a new starting quarterback.

''I wished I would have put them in a better position to be successful,'' Cutcliffe said. ''but I think that all that we went through will be a part of who we are the rest of our lives. So I'm not going to blow that season off as a loss. I think we learned a great deal.''

The Blue Devils (2-9, 1-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) had gone to six bowls in seven seasons from 2012-18 before finishing 5-7 in 2019. Last year's stumble was a big one, with the Blue Devils finishing with a national-worst 39 turnovers - at least 14 more than any other team in the Bowl Subdivision ranks.

Clemson graduate transfer Chase Brice accounted for a national-high 15 interceptions and multiple fumbles. He has transferred to Appalachian State, opening the door for fourth-year graduate Gunnar Holmberg to start.

That's part of significant turnover throughout the lineup, with Duke returning five starters on both offense and defense.

''We know we can do it, the thing is we've just got to finish,'' linebacker Shaka Heyward said, adding: ''When adversity comes, we've just got to be better.''

Some other things to know about the Blue Devils for the 2021 season:


Cutcliffe said that adding play-calling duties made his job tougher in terms of managing the entire team.

That led to a shuffle of coaching duties, which includes Jeff Faris moving from coaching tight ends to quarterbacks while taking over as the primary in-game play-caller from the coaches box.

''We're going to be aggressive,'' Faris said. ''The nice thing about it, we're going to put those guys in positions to make plays. And at the quarterback position, we have to know when to take the appropriate shots and when to take care of the football.''


The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Holmberg has had limited college work, leaving Duke as the only ACC school without a returning quarterback with starting experience.
... (theacc; AP)

Louisville must bounce back from a losing finish for the second time in three seasons.

Scott Satterfield seeks a repeat of the 2019 resolve that turned the program around and perhaps take the team a step further. With seven starters back on each side of the ball, the third-year Cardinals coach believes they can climb back to respectability.

''A lot of positives going into this year,'' Satterfield said at last month's Atlantic Coast Conference media session. ''Defense is continuing to get better. Offensively, guys have a great grasp of what we're doing on. We have a lot of talented players that are going to be able to play.

''I'm excited about what we're able to accomplish this year and what we'll be able to play in this league.''

Louisville surprisingly took a step back record-wise last fall, finishing 4-7 in a 10-game ACC docket following an eight-win turnaround season and bowl victory in 2019. The Cardinals' high-powered offense provided a bright spot as it continued to thrive behind a nucleus featuring mobile quarterback Malik Cunningham, running back Javian Hawkins and receivers Tutu Atwell and Dez Fitzpatrick - who combined for 2,280 yards and 17 touchdowns. Atwell and Fitzpatrick were second- and fourth-round NFL draft selections respectively while Hawkins signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons.

But for all of those yards and points, Louisville did itself in at times by allowing sacks and coughing up the ball, the latter of which left them ranked 119th nationally in turnover margin at minus-12. A midseason COVID-19 outbreak that depleted the defense only deepened the Cardinals' struggles.

Satterfield will take over the play calling with Cunningham running the offense, with both hoping to reduce or erase the turnovers that cost the Cardinals several close games last season. A Louisville defense that continued to make strides under Bryan Brown aims to become stingier and opportunistic.

More than anything, the Cardinals appear determined to put 2020 behind them and resemble the squad that surprised the league not long ago.

''We knew who was coming back and we knew what we wanted to do when we came back,'' senior linebacker C.J. Avery said last week. ''We're on a mission to prove ourselves right.''

Some other things to watch as Louisville tries to rebound from a losing season:


Satterfield encountered controversy last fall for talking with South Carolina about the then-vacant head coach opening.. Satterfield eventually apologized to the fan base in an open letter and reiterated his commitment to the program that players took to heart.

''We know where he stands,'' offensive lineman Renato Brown said. ''We'd been told since the first day he got here that he wants to be a Cardinal, and we believe and trust him.''


Cunningham is back after passing for 2,615 of his 3,224 offensive yards and 20 of his 27 touchdowns last season. The junior has some potential new targets in tight end Marshon Ford and receiver Braden Smith, sophomores who each had at least 300 yards receiving in 2020. But Cunningham's focus is ball protection after he threw 12 interceptions and fumbled several times.


Louisville's 3-4 defensive scheme ranked 39th nationally at 369.1 yards allowed per game, but the Cardinals mustered just 22 sacks and 12 turnovers. Coaches are stressing improvement in the latter after defenders dropped at least a half dozen potential interceptions.

''That is really key, that we get more turnovers,'' Brown said. ''Our motto is we got to be plus-one.''


Fifth-year senior Cole Bentley is one of four returning starters on an offensive line that gives Louisville one of its most seasoned units. They've been key to the Cardinals' success, but their goal this season is improved pass protection after yielding 29 sacks last fall.
... (; Flannery)

Curious to see how the experts expect ACC Football to stack up this year? We’ve created this helpful collection of a few different ranking systems so you know who are the conference’s top dogs heading into the season, including this writer’s very own rankings.

BC Interruption’s Rankings:

  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Miami Hurricanes
  3. North Carolina Tar Heels
  4. NC State Wolfpack
  5. Boston College Eagles
  6. Virginia Tech Hokies
  7. Pittsburgh Panthers
  8. Florida State Seminoles
  9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  10. Virginia Cavaliers
  11. Louisville Cardinals
  12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  13. Duke Blue Devils
  14. Syracuse Orange
ESPN’s FPI Rankings:
  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Miami Hurricanes
  3. North Carolina Tar Heels
  4. Virginia Tech Hokies
  5. Pittsburgh Panthers
  6. NC State Wolfpack
  7. Florida State Seminoles
  8. Virginia Cavaliers
  9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  10. Boston College Eagles
  11. Louisville Cardinals
  12. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  13. Duke Blue Devils
  14. Syracuse Orange
SP+ Rankings:
  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Miami Hurricanes
  3. North Carolina Tar Heels
  4. Virginia Tech Hokies
  5. Pittsburgh Panthers
  6. NC State Wolfpack
  7. Louisville Cardinals
  8. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  9. Virginia Cavaliers
  10. Florida State Seminoles
  11. Boston College Eagles
  12. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  13. Syracuse Orange
  14. Duke Blue Devils
... (RX; HM)

Can Miami Beat Alabama Saturday?

The Tide are prohibitive favorites Saturday in Atlanta, but big underdogs have won before. What about the Canes - do they have a realistic chance to shock the College Football World? Here's what some are writing...

From CBS Sports: Miami's D'Eriq King has the edge over Alabama's Bryce Young

Heading into Saturday's opener against No. 1 Alabama, there's not much doubt that No. 14 Miami's D'Eriq King has a leg up on Bryce Young... Young has never started a game... he wasn't officially named the Crimson Tide's starter until Monday.

King has accomplished more. Much more. Heading into his sixth season and 32nd career start, he has 9,600 total yards. Young might have more upside, but King is a proven commodity. The man has accounted for 110 career touchdowns overall.
Talent vs. experience? Not that King isn't talented, but his teammates may not be able to match Young's man for man.
... (RX; HM)

Around the ACC - 9/1/2021

AROUND THE ACC - Week 1, 2021
Boston College: QB Phil Jurkovec has been named to both the Davey O'Brien (top QB) and Maxwell Award (top player) watch list. Jurkovec's 2,558 passing yards over his first 10 starts a year ago were the most by any BC quarterback in school history.
Clemson: QB D.J. Uiagalelei enters the season with the nation's longest active streak of pass attemps (117) without an interception. Former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller will be honored for his College Football Hall of Fame selection in an in-stadium presentation at halftime of Clemson’s home opener against South Carolina State on Sept. 11.
Duke: The Blue Devils are the only ACC team that does not return a quarterback with any starting experience. Graduate student Gunnar Holmberg is the most experienced QB on the roster, completing 18 of 25 attempts for 161 yards in seven career games.
... (;' Kay)

Big 12 football is at a crossroads right now and technically it’s OK until 2025 when Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC but that can change and it more than likely needs to expand for long-term stability.

There is a long history of NCAA conference expansion and the Big 12 needs to anticipate the possibility of members from its conference potentially joining another conference before 2025. It also has to worry about no longer being a Power Five conference if the Alliance actually works with the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 and the SEC expands further creating a super conference with 18 or 20 teams.

Another potential issue for the Big 12 would be if the Big Ten decides the alliance between them, the ACC, and the Pac-12 is not in their best long term interests and the three conferences expand to compete with the SEC as the top league in all of college football.

However, there are viable options for the Big 12 for long term stability.

The Big 12 needs to avoid the same mistakes that the Big East made when Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech left for the ACC as 2004 was considered the first major shift that a power conference made in recent college football expansion.

Other; $; Miller)

The 13 full cups of beer sitting at an empty table caught Grayson Hedrick’s attention the other day as he strolled down Broadway at the New York State Fair. The cups surrounded a sign that said the table at The Shamrock beer stand was reserved “for our fallen troops.”

Hedrick, who’s here from Missouri visiting family, returned to the fairgrounds on Tuesday. This time, he was wearing a kilt, and he was lugging around his bagpipes. His 11-week-old well-trained cockatiel named Pikachu kept him company, sitting atop his tweed hat.

The two grabbed a seat at the bar, and he ordered a Genesee Cream Ale and watched as a guitarist sang Zac Brown’s “Chicken Fried.”

When the music ended at 4:12 p.m., Hedrick set his beer aside, grabbed his pipes and quietly walked to the table. Without any introduction, he put his lips on the blowpipe and played “Amazing Grace” while looking at the “Reserved” sign. The 36 patrons at the Shamrock fell silent and stood. Some placed their right hand on their chest.

“I wanted them to stop and think about the people who aren’t here,” Hedrick said after playing the final note in honor of the 13 soldiers killed in a terrorist attack last week outside Afghanistan’s airport. “They can’t be here and have a beer with us., and that hurts.”

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