There still are plenty of questions facing the ACC as teams prepare for summer camp, but this spring revealed a little more about how the conference will look this fall. Here are five lessons learned from spring practices in the ACC:
1. The future is bright for new ACC quarterbacks. There was nothing but rave reviews coming out of Tallahassee, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Blacksburg this spring, where EJ Manuel, Bryn Renner, Mike Glennon and Logan Thomas, respectively, are taking over as first-year starters. For Manuel, it was the first time he was healthy enough to participate in spring drills, and he showed leadership and poise, leaving no doubt it's his offense now. Renner might have had the best spring game of the rookies, and Tom O'Brien has compared Glennon to some of the best quarterbacks he has ever coached. Thomas exceeded expectations at Virginia Tech, where he's replacing the program's winningest quarterback, and looked ahead of schedule.
2. Players have bought in to new coaches and schemes. Miami coach Al Golden and Maryland coach Randy Edsall both made an immediate impact this spring, and those within their respective programs seem to have embraced their styles and personalities. Golden held open scrimmages to win back the fans, and an astounding estimated 300 former players returned for the spring game. Edsall took a more militant, closed-door approach, but the players are adhering to his stricter rules. At Boston College, quarterback Chase Rettig showed improvement under first-year coordinator Kevin Rogers, and the Clemson Tigers were thrilled with the up-tempo offense Chad Morris brought from Tulsa.
3. Miami and Virginia still need starting quarterbacks. It's a major issue for both programs heading into the spring, as none of the candidates was able to separate this spring. Two turnovers each for Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris in the spring game had Miami fans concerned past problems will still exist, and four quarterbacks remain in the mix at Virginia. The Cavaliers had a tough time evaluating the candidates, as six receivers were injured this spring. Coach Mike London has said the game experience of Ross Metheny and Michael Rocco doesn't necessarily give them an edge.
4. The bottom is better. Both Duke coach David Cutcliffe and Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe were pleased with the progress their respective teams made this spring despite finishing 2010 with one conference win each. Cutcliffe said his defense is the fastest it's been since he arrived in Durham, and quarterback Sean Renfree had a great spring. Wake Forest welcomed back nine starters on defense, and despite the departure of coordinator Brad Lambert to coach Charlotte, Grobe said the staff changes were a positive this spring.
5. The 2009 division champs still don't look like division champs. Clemson and Georgia Tech, two teams that followed up their appearances in the 2009 ACC championship game with losing seasons last year, still have a lot of work to do. Georgia Tech's offensive line struggled, starting quarterback Tevin Washington was outplayed by his backup in the spring game, special teams remains a concern, and despite the depth at B-back, there doesn't appear to be one superstar like in years past. At Clemson, quarterback Tajh Boyd was inconsistent in the first spring under a new offense, and the Tigers will start the learning process all over again this summer when the majority of the recruiting class arrives on campus.