You know how this works, so let’s check back in with the latest rumblings. The pads are on and that signifies that business is picking up. Let’s go ahead and jump right in.
All info here reported by Tigernet.
Justyn Ross is starting at 2WR, Tee Higgins at 9WR, and Amari Rodgers at 5WR.
It is our recruiting that gave this philosophy shift away. The stellar play of Ross, and to some extent, Overton, accelerated the move to have two WRs that fit the 9WR profile on both sides of the field. Based on how the staff has operated in the past, I thought the desire to keep this under wraps was a possibility, but in the WR preview, I also put forth the argument against that. I’m glad they’re doing this and even more glad they’re doing it now.
If you have been reading here for a couple years, you know I love this move and think it should’ve happened in 2017. Now that the “switch” is in stone, I want to briefly explain why this is better for the program moving forward. You already know that Ross is a beast and that he and Tee are our best WRs. This move is bigger than that though. We have outgrown the single-wing principles of the offense and are better served to evolve. When you can recruit QBs and WRs at the level of Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross, why do you want a bubble screen/jet sweep guy manning an outside WR spot? It is a severe waste of resources and you are going to have to turn away elite level WR talent that doesn’t have the skills of the (WR/RB hybrid) 2WR. Now we can recruit, offer, and take twice as many elite level 9WR types (see Higgins, Overton, Ross, Ngata, Ladson) and get them on the field with a QB that can get them the ball downfield. The end result, as you saw in the CFP, is that our already explosive offense is going to be even more explosive.
The war is not won yet, though. Defensive Coordinators will have a plan and we will need to have a counter. This should involve 4 WR sets, Ross/Higgins in the slot, and Ross/Higgins on the same side of the field. We still need to give the deep safeties and NBs something to think about in order to slow their reaction time at the snap and keep them from overplaying our typical plays. If we do this right, it’s going to open up the run game, as well as the door to scoring a lot of points in a hurry.
Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata are working at the outside WR positions
This goes along with what I just wrote above. Although, if both impress and earn playing time, I could see one of them moving to the slot for 2019.
At CB, Kyler McMichael has a pulled hamstring. Mario Goodrich has been working at BCB and Denzel Johnson has also been working at CB. Dabo: “LeAnthony Williams has made a lot of improvement.” “We hit on Sheridan Jones.”
As I’ve written before, I think McMichael is the probable starter opposite A.J. Terrell at CB. However, the Denzel move is interesting because he already had meaningful snaps locked down at SS. What does this mean? It likely means a combination of three things: 1. They want the true freshmen to have reps so they can see what they have. 2. Denzel, who played CB his first couple years here, is going to get a look (albeit, probably a quick one) as the starter at BCB. And 3. They want to even the numbers out between CBs and Ss for reps purposes. We’ll see what happens with Denzel when/if McMichael comes back this spring and then again in the fall when 5-Star CB, Andrew Booth arrives.
Mario Goodrich played FCB last year, but he’s got the body of a BCB. So this move goes hand in hand with LeAnthony Williams’ improvement at FCB and McMichael’s injury at BCB. Goodrich will get more reps at BCB right now. No word on which side Sheridan Jones is playing, but I imagine he will be seeing time at both.
Dabo: “Will Spiers finished the season strong and looks like a different guy.” “Aidan Swanson has a big leg but needs to be more consistent.”
I guess Dabo is referring to Spiers’ 3 punts against Alabama and not the 12 punts from Pitt and Notre Dame. Nothing to see here. We know he likes Spiers and, based on the recruiting evaluation I did for Swanson, we know that consistency is all he’s missing…and he got a lot better as a senior in HS in that regard. I know, I know, what about Spiers’ consistency? It has not been there in games, but I bet it is there in practice. His “Spiers Specials” seem to be mental/pressure related. So, it remains probable that he will look good in practice and be the starter against Georgia Tech and A&M.
Dabo: “Darnell Jefferies caught my eye today.” “I am pleased with Xavier Kelly.”
Most likely, this is a public confidence builder for these two.
Walk-on Luke Price (6’2”/ 230) is taking reps at TE and lighting people up according to Dabo.
Yes, this is Phillip Price’s brother, who was also a walk-on and became a starter at LT for us in the Tajh Boyd era. He’s moved over from LB, and due to the TE numbers shortage, is getting reps. GWill proved that all we really need is a TE that has the size, knows his assignment, is physical, and gives 100% when he’s out there. It would be nice to have Galloway, but we don’t have to have an elite athlete out there with all the elite athletes we have on the outside already. If somebody gets hurt at TE and we have to steal some snaps, I’m all for bringing in a guy that can legitimately block and wants to pound somebody. Whether that is Price, a true freshman, or someone else, remains to be seen.
New Bowl Matchups for the ACC announced
The bowls have signed new contracts with the conferences. Here are the bowl matchup changes from 2020-2025 according to ESPN:
Belk Bowl: ACC vs. SEC or Big 10 (the SEC and Big 10 are splitting appearances in the new Las Vegas bowl at the Raiders new stadium. The conference that is left out each year will send their team here).
Holiday Bowl: ACC vs. Pac 12
Gator Bowl: ACC vs. SEC
Outback Bowl: SEC vs. Big 10 (if Big 10 team is in the Orange Bowl, an ACC team replaces the Big 10 team)
Notre Dame is still part of the ACC’s bowl lineup if they fail to make a New Year’s 6 Bowl. The ACC now has 11 bowl tie-ins which ties the SEC for the most of any conference.
Holiday Bowl: I like that we get a matchup against a Pac 12 team, even if it’s in their yard. It’s a long way to travel for ACC folks, but it’s also in San Diego which is a much better December travel destination than say, Shreveport or Birmingham. We also got full-time participation in the Gator Bowl back, which dropped the ACC in 2010 for the SEC and Big 10. In 2015, the Gator Bowl gave the ACC three of the Big 10s appearances over the next 6 years, and now, has gone ahead and just made it ACC vs. SEC from 2020-25. This will be a return to a more traditional destination for the ACC #2 or #3 every year.