PINEHURST — The Daily Tar Heel sent us to the 2015 ACC Football Kickoff in Pinehurst Monday, and after enjoying a lavish spread of food provided by the Pinehurst Resort staff, we actually got some work done. Here are the highlights of the first day.
- The biggest takeaway from North Carolina’s presser with senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer and senior quarterback Marquise Williams was excitement. Schoettmer talked about how new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik has energized the entire defense during spring and summer practices so far. Chizik has focused on teaching fundamentals, including some basics that are taught at the Pop Warner level. He’s also placed a heavy emphasis on tackling, a crucial skill in his 4-3, Tampa-Two defense. Schoettmer says the team tackled more this spring than it has the past three years combined.
- On the offensive side of the football, Williams says this is the healthiest he’s felt since his sophomore year of high school after recovering from hip surgery. The original injury occurred in 2013 against Pittsburgh when Williams was lit up on a screen pass. He put off surgery because he was competing for the starting quarterback job, but his ability to step into throws and generate velocity was affected this past season. Now that he’s healthy, Williams says he’s focused on consistency with his footwork — and his play on the field by extension.
- While the final preseason rankings have not been released, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech make up the top tier of teams in the ACC, while Louisville, Miami and Duke are in the second tier with potential to move up.
- ACC commissioner John Swofford said ideally the College Football playoff would have eight teams, but that the current format was unlikely to change until the contract expires in 11 years. Unlike last year with Florida State, the ACC does not have a preseason favorite expected to represent the conference in the playoff.
- Two words: Apple. Buckle. No idea quite what this dessert was except southern and delicious, much like the Pinehurst Resort.
- “Once football is done, I intend on going to the FBI and being a special agent. I’ve already been practicing, I’ll pull out my wallet sometimes (and say), ‘Special agent Jeremy Cash.’” — Jeremy Cash, safety, Duke, on his career plans after football.
- “I won’t be picking no grass out of my facemask, so that’s a plus. — Marquise Williams, quarterback, UNC, on the experience his offensive line has gained.
- “They’ve been real quiet. But I talked to Marquise when he was here and he was laughing. I wasn’t the one that knocked him out. He thought it was me, but it was one of my other teammates. Close, but not me.” — Mike Rose, defensive end, North Carolina State, on whether or not any UNC players have been talking about the two teams’ matchup this upcoming season, and on the Wolfpack’s 35-7 win against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill last year.
- “Dude, I’m here to answer questions about Deshaun (Watson). He didn’t want to talk to y’all. He sent me, and so I’m here. So you ask away.” — Eric Mac Lain, offensive lineman, Clemson, on whether he was asked more questions about himself or his quarterback Deshaun Watson.
- “When I was committed, coming to a game, I think it was when Dustin (Hopkins) missed that kick against North Carolina, and man, there were some bad things said about him coming out of that stadium. And I was just like, ‘I’m coming here next, man. If I miss are people going to be saying that about me?” — Robert Aguayo, kicker, Florida State, on a kicker’s relationship with his team’s fanbase.
The Daily Tar Heel will be back in Pinehurst bright and early tomorrow morning to bring you coverage of the head coach pressers. Coach Larry Fedora’s press conference will go live on Periscope at 10 a.m.
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