<
>

Breaking down the ACC's QB battles: Coastal Division

Parker Boehme is Duke's starter by default at the moment, but what happens if he's playing well when Thomas Sirk returns from injury? Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports

Spring is wrapping up around the ACC, so we’re checking in on where each team stands at the game’s most important position: Quarterback. Here’s a rundown of where things stand in the Coastal Division.

Duke Blue Devils

Starter: Parker Boehme

Security: Questionable, but solid in the short-term. Boehme is the starter by default at the moment. Thomas Sirk's Achilles injury pushed Boehme into the starting role this spring, and after he got significant playing time a year ago -- including one start -- he looked ready. But how long will Sirk be out? And what happens if Boehme is playing well when Sirk returns? David Cutcliffe wouldn’t mind having to find answers to those questions because it would mean the Blue Devils were in good shape on offense.

Plan B: Quentin Harris and Daniel Jones combined for just 7-of-17 passing for 54 yards in Duke’s spring game Saturday, but both received a hefty dose of reps this spring due to Sirk’s injury. In the long run, that’s crucial for building depth, but the best Plan B for Duke would be to have a healthy Sirk back sooner than later.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Starter: Justin Thomas

Security: Airtight. As one ACC defensive coach said this offseason, there isn’t a player in the league who scares you much more than Thomas in terms of devising a game plan. The problem in 2015 was that Georgia Tech’s star QB had little support around him. He needs to be more consistent in 2016, but more than that, he needs his supporting cast to step up.

Plan B: Sophomore Matthew Jordan has not only firmly established his grip on the No. 2 spot but appears destined for regular playing time in short-yardage situations as a runner. He did get some crucial in-game experience last season, and he’s a solid backup if something were to happen to Thomas.

Miami Hurricanes

Starter: Brad Kaaya

Security: Airtight. It’s only Miami’s difficulty achieving wins that has kept Kaaya from blossoming into a household name, but with the arrival of Mark Richt and a new coaching staff, the hope is Kaaya helps lead the Hurricanes to the next level in 2016.

Plan B: Malik Rosier got a start last year with Kaaya injured and looked solid, but redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs and junior Vincent Testaverde both have potential to push for the No. 2 spot, while freshman Jack Allison enrolled early, too. He was an ESPN300 recruit and one of the top QBs in the nation coming out of high school. The Canes appear to be in good shape at the position for both 2016 and beyond.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Starter: Mitch Trubisky

Security: Strong. As he does every spring, head coach Larry Fedora insists all jobs are open. Still, players have raved about Trubisky, noting that he’d established a leadership role and earned their respect long before he stepped into the role of starter. Given the weapons around him, he could easily emerge as one of the top QBs in the ACC -- and perhaps the country -- in 2016.

Plan B: Caleb Henderson has one career pass to his name, which means there’s not much in the way of depth behind Trubisky, but North Carolina remains excited about freshman Logan Byrd -- a four-star prospect who enrolled early. It’s hard to envision Byrd pushing Trubisky now, but by fall camp, the hope is that he’ll be game-ready if called upon.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Starter: Nathan Peterman

Security: Strong. The final two games of 2015 weren’t a high point for Peterman, but he still finished as one of the most consistent and efficient QBs in the league. For the year, Peterman tossed 20 touchdowns and completed nearly 62 percent of his throws. The biggest question is how he’ll transition into new coordinator Matt Canada’s offense -- Peterman’s third offensive coordinator in as many years.

Plan B: With Chad Voytik's transfer, there aren’t many solid alternatives to Peterman at this point. Manny Stocker has seven career pass attempts to his name and none came at Pitt. Redshirt freshman Ben DiNucci has ample upside, but he’s never seen the field. So the formula for success at Pitt is to keep Peterman healthy.

Virginia Cavaliers

Starter: Matt Johns

Security: Strong. With little fanfare, Johns was one of just two ACC quarterbacks to average at least 230 passing yards per game and have 20 total touchdowns last year. Even with a coaching change, he’s still settled as the starter and offensive leader for the Cavaliers.

Plan B: Connor Brewer is the only other QB on the roster with playing experience, though he threw just eight passes last season. Redshirt freshman Nick Johns and two incoming freshmen arriving this summer offer depth, but in what capacity? In other words, there is no clear Plan B.

Virginia Tech Hokies

Starter: Jerod Evans

Security: Too soon to say. Justin Fuente has cloaked this QB competition -- the only true, wide-open battle in the ACC this spring -- in mystery, with no media availability by those competing for the job and virtually no serious insight from players or coaches. The thought is that Evans, a JuCo transfer who’s gotten at least a share of the first-team reps this spring, should have the upper hand, and his talent is for real. But his hold on the job? It’s just a guessing game right now.

Plan B: From the sounds of things through spring, Evans’ closest competition might be Brenden Motley, who started a handful of games last year in Michael Brewer's absence and has by far the most experience on the depth chart. But even behind Motley, Dwayne Lawson and Josh Jackson look like options if they continue to develop. Fuente has a knack for finding QBs, so there’s optimism he’ll do that at Virginia Tech. It’s just a question of who that QB will be.