Around The ACC: News And Notes From Bowl Preparation

Florida State stands as 8.5 point underdogs to the University of Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the first time they have entered a game as an underdog since 2011. This adds to the freefall of confidence in the Seminoles following several near losses this season. Head coach Jimbo Fisher spent last week on the recruiting trail and gave his players the week off to finish exams and spend time relaxing with family. Since returning to practice the team has focused heavily on dealing defensively with the fast-paced Ducks offense lead by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive back Ronald Darby were held out of practice as an injury precaution, but should be ready for the Rose Bowl. Quarterback Jameis Winston is still waiting for the results of a code of conduct hearing that was completed on December 3rd, and there is no indication when the ruling will come.

When the Seminoles played Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game the Yellow Jackets entered the game as 3.5 point underdogs, but will enter their Orange Bowl contest against Mississippi State as touchdown dogs. Georgia Tech did get some good news this week during practice however, defensive back Lawrence Austin and offensive tackle Bryan Chamberlain will both be ready for the Orange Bowl after leaving with injuries against the Seminoles. Head coach Paul Johnson spoke to the media after a recent practice session on the state of his team before their upcoming bowl game:

Clemson seemed destined for a second consecutive Orange Bowl appearance, but will instead settle for a trip to the Russell Athletic Bowl to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The Tigers will be without quarterback DeShaun Watson and tight end Stanton Seckinger, following knee surgery for both players. Cole Stoudt, who has spent his entire tenure at Clemson as a reserve will take the place of the rehabbing Watson in the bowl game. Dabo Swinney’s side has practiced this week, and will soon head for Orlando where their first practice will be on Christmas Eve.

Louisville will head to their Belk Bowl appearance against the University of Georgia with an undecided quarterback situation. Will Gardner will remain inactive with an injured left knee, leaving a pair of reserves available in Charlotte. Athletic Reggie Bonnafon would be better suited for the Bulldogs defense than Kyle Bolin, but Bonnafon is still rehabbing a knee injury of his own. Bolin took his first meaningful snaps in his time as a Cardinal against Kentucky, and put up 381 yards with three touchdowns. Head coach Bobby Petrino hasn’t ruled out a platoon situation, or a number of set plays designed for Bonnafon’s athleticism.

Quarterback Michael Brewer should be game ready for Virginia Tech when they battle Cincinnati in the Military Bowl. He suffered a shoulder injury in the Hokies’ season finale against rival Virginia. Head coach Frank Beamer will also make a 22nd straight bowl appearance on the Hokies sidelines after having throat surgery in early December. Tech spent much of last week recruiting the heavily targeted Josh Sweat, who instead opted to commit to Florida State. Defensive standout Dadi Nicolas also announced this week that he will seek a draft grade from the NFL advisory board before deciding whether to forego the rest of his time in Blacksburg to enter the NFL draft.

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio spoke to following practice for the Eagles Pinstripe Bowl appearance against Penn State.

“We started out the first, say, five practices pretty generic, pretty fundamental. And then practice six, we introduced a little bit of Penn State. And then practice seven, it was all Penn State,” Addazio said.

Mobile quarterback Tyler Murphy will be a key for a Boston College team hoping to make an impact against a solid Penn State defense. Addazio commented to PennLive about his quarterback, saying “He’s a guy that continues to develop, and his leadership, and who he is. I’m hoping his best game will be his last one here in a BC uniform.”

Miami stood at 6-3 and were beating Florida State 23-7, before eventually falling to the Seminoles, leading to a downward spiral that saw the Hurricanes finish 6-6. They will now take on South Carolina in the Independence Bowl, a bit of a consolation game considering what might have been. Head coach Al Golden spoke to about the idea of the team’s finish being a letdown, “The disappointment is over. It’s a new season. It’s a one-game season, and it’s bowl season.”

The team will be without tight end Clive Walford (knee) and receiver Herb Waters (neck) against the Gamecocks. The Hurricanes also got a bit of good news this week when junior safety Deon Bush announced he will remain with Miami for his senior season. Fellow junior, running back Duke Johnson will announce his plans pertaining to the NFL on December 28th, the day after the team’s bowl game.

Pittsburgh doesn’t have to deal with the normal questions involving players before their Armed Forces Bowl game against Houston. Instead the Panthers questions revolve around their coaching situation. Paul Chryst took the vacant head coaching position at his alma mater Wisconsin Wednesday. It is expected his current coordinators Matt House and Joe Rudolph could go with him to Madison as well. Pittsburgh also parted ways with Athletic Director Steve Pederson, leaving their program in flux heading towards their bowl game in two weeks.

Duke on the other hand, won’t have to worry about coaching questions as they head into their Sun Bowl appearance against Arizona State. Head coach David Cutcliffe’s name was linked to the Michigan opening, but he is going to remain with the Blue Devils. Fellow Tar Heel State school’s North Carolina and NC State will also be in bowl games, kicking off bowl season for the ACC on December 26th.

The Tar Heels will have the services of quarterback Marquise Williams and receiver Ryan Switzer when they take on Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. Both players were injured in the Tar Heels season Finale against NC State. The Wolf Pack meanwhile have spent this week giving heavy reps to their redshirt players in practice before going into preparation for UCF at the end of the week.

Stay with us for all the news and notes leading up to all of the ACC bowl games. Follow me on Twitter @GQuintero_84 and check out ITA on Facebook.


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