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April 12, 2013
By Steve Phillips, ACC Staff Member and theACC.com Contibuting Writer
As spring nears full bloom on campuses throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference, it might be easy to forget that the 2013 college football season isn’t really that far away.
It might be easy – until this weekend.
The ACC will have an expanded look this fall, but fans won’t have to wait that long for a sneak preview of the league’s 14 football teams. Seven spring games are scheduled today and Saturday, six of which will be carried live by ESPN3. The action begins on tonight at Pitt and Maryland, both of which have spring games slated for 7 p.m. ESPN3 will be on hand to provide many ACC followers with their first in-depth look at Pitt, which joins the conference as a full-fledge member July 1 and will compete in the Coastal Division.
ESPN3 viewers will also have access to Saturday’s full five-game schedule of ACC spring games – defending conference champion Florida State at 2 p.m., North Carolina and Miami at 3 p.m., and Clemson and Duke at 4 p.m.
Add last Saturday’s game at Virginia and the April 20 games at NC State and Virginia Tech, and a total of nine ACC spring football contests will be carried on ESPN3 platforms to lead all conferences nationally. In addition, the ACC Digital Network will carry the April 20 spring games at Boston College and Wake Forest.
Those watching will get a taste of both the new and the familiar.
In addition to the arrivals of Pitt and Syracuse, three ACC teams will feature new head coaches. Dave Doeren, who led Northern Illinois to a 12-1 record and a berth in the Orange Bowl last season, takes over at NC State. Steve Addazio has made the move from Temple to Boston College. And at Syracuse, former defensive coordinator Scott Shafer moved up to the lead role after Doug Marrone left the Orange to become the head coach of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
Observers of this year’s ACC spring games might also notice that an eighth official has been added to the working crews. This is part of a national experiment authorized by the NCAA to determine the feasibility and benefit of greater officiating coverage due to the increased speed of the game and the popularity of no-huddle/ hurry-up offenses, as well as an emphasis on player safety, timing and substitutions.
As was the case at Virginia’s spring game last weekend, officiating crews at North Carolina and NC State plan to experiment with a wireless communications system that provides all of it members the ability to speak to each other during the game. The NCAA has approved the experimentation of these devices, and they are being evaluated for various benefits, such as speeding up the relaying of foul information and more effective communication of various administrative officiating data (clock status, substitutions, ball location and formations).
Familiar faces abound under center as the games get under way. For the first time in its 61-year history, the ACC will welcome five returning starting quarterbacks that have thrown for at least 6,000 yards in their career.
The parade of strong-armed talent begins with Clemson rising senior Tajh Boyd, who will enter the 2013 season ranked second nationally among returning quarterbacks in career touchdown passes (73) and touchdown responsibility (89). Other members of the 6,000-yard club include Wake Forest’s Tanner Price, North Carolina’s Bryn Renner, Boston College’s Chase Rettig and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas.
For ACC teams, the spring games will be the first step of a long journey that will see conference members combine to play 11 games against nonconference opponents that finished the 2012 season ranked in the nation’s Top 25. Nine of those games will be against nonconference teams that ranked in the final AP top 10, including contests against each of the top four teams in the USA Today’s final poll. Nine games are against teams projected by ESPN in its Early Top 10 for the 2013 season.
All told, ACC teams will play 56 games against 48 nonconference opponents which had a combined winning percentage of .558 in 2012. That is by far the highest of any of the BCS conferences. The composite slate also includes 43 games against FBS opponents who won 56.6 percent of their games last season, also the highest among major conferences.
Despite that potential gauntlet, the ACC looks to build on a trend of postseason success. The ACC boasts three of the five teams with the longest current consecutive bowl streaks in the nation. Florida State, with 31 consecutive bowl games, leads all schools. Virginia Tech, which has earned 20 straight bowl trips, stands third. Georgia Tech is tied with Georgia for fourth place with 16 straight bowl berths.
Come next fall, the ACC will have seven teams ranked among the Top 20 winningest bowl teams from schools that have participated in at least 15 bowl games. Florida State is ranked fifth nationally among all schools, having posted a 26-14-2 record and a .643 winning percentage. Syracuse ranks seventh with a .604 winning percentage, while Boston College holds 11th place (13-9, .591), followed by Georgia Tech in 14th place (.561). NC State is 17th (14-12-1, .537) and Miami in 20th (19-17). Maryland is currently tied for 24th.
ACC 2013 Spring Football Game Schedule
Saturday, Apr. 6—Virginia, 1 p.m., ESPN3
Friday, Apr. 12—Maryland, 7 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 12—Pitt, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 13—Florida State, 2 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 13—Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 13—North Carolina, 3 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 13—Clemson, 4 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 13—Duke, 4 p.m., ESPN3
Friday, April 19—Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 20—Syracuse, Noon
Saturday, Apr. 20—Boston College, 1 p.m., ACC Digital Network
Saturday, Apr. 20—Wake Forest, 1 p.m., ACC Digital Network
Saturday, Apr. 20—NC State (Kay Yow Spring Football Game), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
Saturday, Apr. 20—Virginia Tech, 3 p.m., ESPN3