ACC Spring Wrap: League champ Florida State and ACC deal with quarterback changes

Thu, Apr 25, 2024

ACC Spring Wrap: League champ Florida State and ACC deal with quarterback changes

Florida State coach Mike Norvell, like most every other coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference and across the sport, has spent the spring handling change.

He hopes it can lead to another league title and a spot in the 12-team College Football Playoff.

The biggest new addition for the Seminoles is at quarterback, where one-time Clemson starter D.J. Uiagalelei takes over for Jordan Travis, who helped Florida State to its first ACC championship in nine years before a late, season-ending injury.

Uiagalelei, a backup behind Trevor Lawrence when the Tigers last went to the national playoffs in 2020, looks to keep the Seminoles near the top.

"All in all, it's just been a really good spring that we've been able to put together," Norvell said following the team's spring game this past weekend.

Uiagalelei, who twice defeated Florida State as a Clemson starter, spent last season at Oregon State. Uiagalelei said he joined the Seminoles because expectations are high after last season's success.

"That's what you want. You want to be able to be able to be able to play at a place where the expectations are high and it's ACC championship, national championship or bust," said Uiagalelei, playing his fifth season.

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The Seminoles are not the only program navigating change this offseason. Louisville is without Jack Plummer, who led Jeff Brohm's first-year program to its first ACC title game berth.

North Carolina State broke in Coastal Carolina transfer Grayson McCall this spring. North Carolina, Duke, Pitt, Syracuse and Wake Forest will all have quarterbacks getting their first extensive action with their teams.

Brohm liked what he saw out of Texas Tech transfer Tyler Shough this spring. "Once we get into game planning and ways to move the chains, he'll be very efficient because he's an accurate passer," Brohm said.

Accuracy is what new Wolfpack passer McCall is all about. He set the NCAA record with a 207.6 passer efficiency rating in 2021, a mark that was surpassed by LSU's Jayden Daniels (208) this past season.

North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren saw McCall's poise and confidence all spring. "He's got a lot of grit. He's a really tough kid, couldn't be happier with what he's doing," he said.


Three ACC teams had new leaders in charge this spring in Boston College's Bill O'Brien, Duke's Manny Diaz and Syracuse's Fran Brown.

O'Brien took over when Jeff Hafley left to become Green Bay's defensive coordinator. O'Brien had success as head coach at Penn State before going to Houston. He also was on Nick Saban's Alabama staff and helped develop quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bryce Young

Diaz, the former Miami coach, was hired after Mike Elko left to become Texas A&M's choice to replace the fired Jimbo Fisher.


The ACC, like all other Power Five leagues except the Pac-12, will add to their membership with SMU of the American Athletic Conference joining officially on July 1 and Cal and Stanford the Pac-12 joining on Aug. 2.

The moves mean additional travel for college football coaches that don't generally like change. Florida State will play at SMU next season and host Cal.

Louisville goes to Stanford next season a week before facing Pitt at home. Another contender, North Carolina State, heads to Cal in mid-October.


The Tigers, picked last summer to repeat as ACC champions, instead lost four league games before November and missed the CFP for a third straight season.

Clemson finished with a flourish - five straight victories including over ranked opponents in Notre Dame and North Carolina - and took plenty of confidence into spring drills. Coach Dabo Swinney anticipates a huge step forward for quarterback Cade Klubnik in his second full season as starter.

"We had to learn the hard way sometimes and I had to learn the hard way," Klubnik said. "That's just how it is."


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