Clemson coach Tommy Bowden understands that the return of quarterback Cullen Harper, running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller and receiver Aaron Kelly would bring heightened expectations for his Tigers — the preseason favorites to win the ACC for the first time since 1991.
"The media loves skill guys," he said.
But how will he deal with the pressure inherent with such prognostications?
"It's going to be a strain," said his father, FSU's Bobby Bowden. "If he doesn't meet expectations, there's going to be a lot of criticism. But I'd rather have that than not get there or at least get a shot at it. He's got to learn how to live with that. The advantage Tommy has and Terry had (when coaching at Auburn) is they were around me all their lives. They've see me kicked around, they've seen me hung in effigy, they've seen me nearly fired. That's the way this game is."
What were we thinking?
North Carolina coach Butch Davis is the first to admit that he was a bit slow on the uptake when it came to Greg Little and just where the former prep All-American should be playing.
Actually, "stupid" was his word choice.
"It took us 10 games to realize our best running back was at receiver," he said.
Little moved to tailback for the final two games, at Georgia Tech and against Duke, and rushed 50 times for 243 yards (a healthy average of 4.9 yards) and two touchdowns, including a 25-yarder for the winner in overtime against the Blue Devils.
"It was a huge step for our football program when we got him to move to running back," Davis said. "He's now 215 (pounds)and he looks the part. He looks like a Marcus Allen."
Playing the waiting game
Though more and more freshmen want to play immediately and do with increasing frequency, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe usually has them sit out as redshirts.
"I really don't have any problem with playing true freshmen," he said. "I just tell our coaches, you've got to promise we're going to get 20-30 snaps a game (from them) on offense or defense. … We're reaping the rewards now. Most of the guys we're really hanging our hat on are guys who are fourth-year juniors and fifth-year seniors."
By the numbers
8 Boston College's bowl winning streak, longest in the nation.
11 Former Duke players and coaches in the College Hall of Fame, the most among the ACC's current 12 schools.
38 Career touchdowns by Clemson's James Davis, tied for 12th in league history. Wali Lundy of Virginia tops the list with 52.
72.4 Completion percentage in 2007 by Wake Forest's Riley Skinner, tops in the nation.
Compiled by Brian Landman, Times staff writer
Sign of the times
Bay area organizers prepared large signs for each of the 12 football coaches so they could show their players just how far they must travel — on the road, not on the field — to reach Raymond James Stadium and the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 6. FSU wasted little time hanging it prominently in its locker room. "That's definitely one of our goals and where we want to be," said Seminoles QB Drew Weatherford, the former Land O'Lakes High star. "And just the thought of playing in front of a lot of friends and family would be special." Here's the mileage for the schools: FSU 204, Miami 287, Georgia Tech 467, Clemson 567, North Carolina State 657, Wake Forest 672, Duke 684, North Carolina 686, Virginia Tech 759, Virginia 873, Maryland 923 and Boston College 1,337. For information about the game, see TheRoadToTampaBay.com.