The Latest: Swinney undecided on Clemson’s quarterback
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason media days (all times local):
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney hasn’t decided on his quarterback for the Sept. 1 season opener against Furman.
Swinney says Kelly Bryant has earned the right to go into camp as the No. 1 QB, but Trevor Lawrence and Chase Brice are quickly closing the gap and nothing is settled. Lawrence is widely considered the top incoming freshman quarterback in the country.
For now, Swinney says the three quarterbacks will continue to compete, and “if somebody separates themselves, then great.” If not, he says the competition will carry over to the actual games.
Swinney says he has no timeline for naming a starter.
Bryant separated himself from others in camp last year and became what Swinney calls the obvious choice. He started 14 games last season and the Tigers went on to win their third straight ACC title and reach the national semifinals.
Boston College coach Steve Addazio says he’s normally a “mess” emotionally before games — but the 61-year-old says he’s working to change that scenario.
Addazio says he’s learned sometimes there’s nothing he can do to impact the game when he’s not allowed to “take a snap.” BC finished 7-6 last season, including 4-4 in the ACC.
His goal is “taming down” his emotions a little bit this season.
Addazio says he plans to remind himself to take a breath and “everything will be fine.”
Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino is the latest ACC coach to rave about the new “redshirt rule.” It allows schools to redshirted players if they have played four or fewer games in a season.
Petrino says his goal is to find a list of freshmen he thinks can play early and use them in the first four games of the year and evaluate where they’re at after a month. He says if they are improving and feels they can help the team down the stretch, then they’ll use up a year of eligibility. If not, they’ll be redshirted, which allows another year of eligibility.
He says others who aren’t ready to go early in the season will keep practicing with the team to get them ready for the final four games of the season, including a potential bowl. They can contribute and still maintain an extra year of eligibility.
North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley says he passed up a chance to turn professional because he wanted one more season of college football.
Finley calls the college football experience “special” and adds that he “wasn’t ready to let that go.”
The former Boise State transfer says his close relationship with his teammates was a big reason for his return. He says it helps he has “the best trio of wide receivers in the nation” in Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers, and Stephen Louis on his side.
Finley is the most experienced quarterback in the ACC Atlantic Division with 26 career starts.
Now that he’s back, Finley says his goal is to win a conference championship. He believes NC State has a good chance to build on its 52-31 bowl victory over Arizona State.
Syracuse had one of the fastest-paced offenses in the country last season, averaging a play every 21 seconds. Quarterback Eric Dungey says the Orange want to be even faster.
Dungey was speaking at the ACC Kickoff preseason media days. He says coach Dino Babers continues to tell the team “it’s not fast enough; we’re trying to go even faster.”
Now a senior and more comfortable than ever in the offense, Dungey thinks the offense has the potential to improve its pace and production with him under center, saying “everything has slowed down so much for me.”
Syracuse finished 4-8 last season, although it stunned national power Clemson and was competitive in most games.
The Orange returns its most experienced offensive line they’ve had since Babers has been there. But the biggest challenge will be replacing standout wide receiver Steve Ishmael. He was second among FBS wide receivers with 105 receptions and third in yards receiving with 1,347 yards.
League commissioner John Swofford says “we have to respect the science” when it comes to the connection between football and the degenerative brain disease CTE.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Swofford says “football’s not alone” in concerns over concussions in sports. But he says “football by its very nature is going to be looked at first.”
Swofford says it’s important to be willing to consider adjustments to improve player safety, whether it deals with rules, practice or equipment. He says: “If we’re not looking at it that way, I think we’ve got our heads in the sand.”
Swofford was asked about CTE after North Carolina coach Larry Fedora caused a stir Wednesday by saying he doesn’t believe football causes CTE and believes the sport is “under attack.”
Florida State running back Cam Akers is thrilled about playing in new coach Willie Taggart’s up-tempo, no-huddle spread offense this season.
As a freshman last season, Akers averaged 5.3 yards a carry and ran for more than 1,000 yards rushing to go with seven touchdowns. He says the new offense allows him to run in more space with more seams, which should translate into more opportunities to break big plays.
Defensive end Brian Burns describes Akers as a “monster” in the weight room and on the field and expects him to have a huge season.
Florida State announced in December that Taggart, who served as offensive coordinator at Oregon, would replace Jimbo Fisher as coach. Burns says Taggart has brought a “no excuses” attitude to the team and has been holding players accountable for their actions.
The Seminoles were last in the league in offense last season and Taggart is looking forward to “changing that narrative” and winning multiple championships.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson says he hasn’t decided whether sophomore Jamie Newman or true freshman Sam Hartman will start the season at quarterback while redshirt junior Kendall Hinton is serving a three-game suspension for violating team rules.
Newman has attempted four passes in college, while Hartman will be in uniform for the first time.
The Demon Deacons are looking to replace John Wolford, who graduated following a breakout senior season in which he helped Wake Forest win eight games and capture its second straight bowl win in as many years.
Clawson has called Hinton a “very dynamic, elusive athlete” and believes he can help the team once he returns to the field following his suspension.
The Clemson Tigers will take center stage Thursday as the Atlantic Coast Conference turns its attention the Atlantic Division at the preseason media days.
The Tigers are 40-4 over the past three seasons, winning three straight conference titles under coach Dabo Swinney.
The biggest question mark for the Tigers is who’ll handle the quarterback duties this year — incumbent Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence, widely considered the No. 1 overall recruit in 2018.
North Carolina State, which finished 6-2 in the conference last season, is expected to provide the biggest competition for the Tigers.
Wake Forest, Boston College and Louisville all finished 4-4 in conference play last year, while Florida State was 3-5. Syracuse was 2-6, although the Orange did upset Clemson 27-24 at the Carrier Dome.