The Miami Hurricanes spring game was on April 14th, and a large majority of the ACC played their games on Saturday, the 15th of April. Miami looked like Miami, a 5-7 team that’s completely flipping their coaching staff while also flipping 40% of the roster.
There’s a lot of new in the ACC (and with Texas A&M) in ‘23. NC State has a new starting quarterback and offensive coordinator. UNC has a new OC for star QB Drake Maye. Texas A&M hired Bobby Petrino as their OC, looking to improve upon their own 5-7 disappointing 2022.
Georgia Tech has a new head coach, but he’s a familiar face as Brent Key was on staff under Geoff Collins. Tech will have a semi-new starting QB in Zach Pyron.
Let’s take a quick walk over the ACC spring games in part one of this series.
NC State played their spring game on April 8th, a little earlier than the majority of the ACC which booked the April 14-15 weekend as their scrimmage date before summer off-season training.
The Wolfpack have a new OC in Robert Anae, and a new starting QB in former Virginia Cavaliers star Brennan Armstrong. Armstrong reunites with Anae who spend the 2022 season on Dino Babers staff at Syracuse.
Armstrong will be backed up by MJ Morris and Ben Finley in ‘23. The offense threw two pick 6’s in a cold, rainy game on Saturday.
Bad snaps plagued the Pack’s backup center. In the rain the receivers also dropped some easy passes.
As an obsessed college football fan, and someone local to NCSU that has coached against some of their players- I watched this thing in its entirety. Tony Gibson’s defense looks good once again and if the offense can gel with Armstrong at QB they’ll be a tough out for Miami on the road.
Another 5-7 team that underachieved in ‘22 were the Aggies. Jimbo Fisher did an un-Jimbo thing and hired not just any OC, but Bobby Petrino of all people. Both quarterbacks, Conner Weigman and Max Johnson, looked comfortable in the Petrino offense.
From the offense I saw motion, different personnel groups and pictures (lining different positions up at different, well, positions). Petrino could be the spark Fisher needed on offense out in College Station, TX.
The defense didn’t look bad, either. If A&M can keep their players healthy, and their heads on right, the Aggies could be a threat to win the SEC West. They looked fast and the offense hit explosives while the defense played solid, fundamental football.
UNC Tar Heels
I was actually in Chapel Hill and on campus on April 15th, but to see the Miami Hurricanes baseball team beat the UNC Tar Heels, not for the spring game.
Drake Maye is a potential Heisman Trophy candidate in ‘23 after a really strong 2022 performance. UNC has a new OC in Chip Lindsey. After Maye there are really no experienced backups and the Tar Heels should probably hit the transfer portal to bring someone in that can be a backup to Maye.
The Tar Heels have done an excellent job under Mack Brown 2.0 in recruiting wide receivers, running backs, and defensive linemen. They’ve struggled with the offensive line and linebackers and it shows in the spring game. The 2nd team O-Line is really weak and could be an issue for the Heels in ‘23.
Kent State transfer WR Tez Walker looks to be the real deal for Brown’s offense this season. He replaces Josh Downs as Maye’s top target.
Brent Key is officially the head football coach at Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets came out a little more physical this spring than under Geoff Collins in the past. Zach Pyron looks like the starting QB, and Alabama transfer Christian Leary will be his go-to target at WR.
Tech lined up in a ton of 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) even with the TE’s lined up out wide at times. They’re going to use the bigger TE bodies against the wave of smaller defenders that’s come on thanks to Tite fronts.
Texas A&M transfer QB Haynes King struggled to find a rhythm but will be a solid backup for the Jackets. The running game (split zone) was good but not great although I thought they tackled much better than in previous seasons.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Clemson Tigers still look like the top dog in the ACC, and Florida State has cemented the “second place” spot behind the Tigers. I’ll do a quick recap of their spring games in part two of the series.
How does Miami match-up against NCSU, GT, TAMU, and UNC? I see Miami on par with UNC except for Maye being that much better than Tyler Van Dyke. Maye is a legit top-5 NFL Draft pick in 2024, while Van Dyke is a late pick if he bounces back to his 2021 form. If he plays ‘23 like he did 2022, Miami and Van Dyke are in trouble.
The ‘Canes aren’t quite as talented as Texas A&M, but they are on par with NC State and above Georgia Tech in speed and overall ability.