Around the ACC

News and notes from the around the Atlantic Coast Conference as teams begin preparations for the 2015 season.

NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame will be without Greg Bryant, its second-leading rusher in 2014, for the upcoming season because of disciplinary reasons, coach Brian Kelly announced Tuesday.

"There are certain expectations within our program that must be met on a daily basis," Kelly said in a statement released by the university. "Quite simply, Greg did not meet those expectations."

Kelly previously had suspended Bryant for the first four games of this season for violating team rules. Kelly said Bryant will be allowed to practice with the team and remains on scholarship. Bryant, a five-star recruit from Delray Beach, Florida, hasn't lived up to expectations. He appeared in three games as a freshman, carrying the ball three times for 14 yards. He rushed for 289 yards on 54 carries last season, a 5.4 yards per carry average that led Irish running backs.

Tarean Folston led the team with 889 yards rushing on 175 carries and returns for his junior season. C.J. Prosise, a safety as a freshman and a wide receiver the past two seasons, worked as a running back in the spring. The Irish also add a freshman running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams.

Kelly announced junior linebacker Michael Deeb and junior tight end Mike Heuerman have been medically disqualified to play this season but remain on scholarship. Deeb played in two games last season but didn't make any tackles. Heuerman underwent hernia surgery before the start of last season and has yet to play in a game.

The Irish begin practice on Friday in Culver, about 40 miles south of campus. Kelly is scheduled to talk to the media Thursday.

GEORGIA TECH
Defensive tackle Adam Gotsis is pleased Georgia Tech is drawing some respect in preseason polls and rankings. If the Yellow Jackets live up to their own expectations, more accolades are on the way.

Georgia Tech went 11-3 last season, including a win over Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, and was ranked No. 8 in The Associated Press final poll. It begins this year as one of the favorites in the ACC's Coastal division, and the Yellow Jackets are aiming high.

"Going into every season, we expect to be the best team in the nation," said senior wide receiver Michael Summers, who likely will start after the Jackets lost seniors DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller to the NFL draft.

Georgia Tech held its first practice on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets worked out in helmets, jerseys, shorts and cleats for about two hours, and will add pads on Wednesday.

Gotsis is the team's only preseason All-ACC pick, and the big Australian likes the feel of the expectations hovering around the team.

"We're pretty calm, cool and collected at the moment," he said. "I don't think anyone really needs to say it. We're just finally getting a bit of recognition for the work we've put in."

Fourth-year junior quarterback Justin Thomas is the biggest reason to feel good about Georgia Tech heading into a challenging schedule that includes road games against Notre Dame and Clemson and home dates with Florida State and Georgia.

Thomas rushed for 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns last season while passing for 1,719 yards and 18 more scores.

"This team has to make their own identity," he said. "Everybody's just got to go out there and do their part and not look to last year. ... You've still got to go out there and get your respect."

The Jackets have eight starters back on a defense that had 29 takeaways and six scores. That balanced out a unit that was 111th nationally in yards allowed per play (6.32) and 114th on third-down conversion rate allowed (46.1 percent).

Coach Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Ted Roof are hoping for improvement and looking forward to the return of defensive linemen Jabari Hunt-Days and Kenderius Whitehead, who were academically ineligible.

"It's good to get everybody back out together, the staff and players, get back into the grind," Johnson said after practice. "Jabari is good to go. I'm happy for him. He's worked hard."

Georgia Tech's defense, which has struggled for several years, might have to carry the team early on.

Thomas, backup quarterback Tim Byerly (204 yards, seven touchdowns) and wingback Broderick Snoddy (283, three) are the only returners from the team's top 12 rushers, and Snoddy was recently cleared in his return from a broken leg.

He will be joined at wingback by walk-on Isaiah Willis, who rushed twice for 18 yards, redshirt freshmen Clinton Lynch and converted wide receiver Qua Searcy, and freshmen TaQuon Marshall, Nate Cottrell and Omahri Jarrett, plus walk-ons.

Johnson always answers questions about any perceived shortage at running back by saying Georgia Tech merely needs to plug the next runner into his unique spread, double-wing, option attack. The Jackets have finished in the top six in the nation in rushing in each of his seven years as head coach.

Senior safety Jamal Golden thinks the offense will be fine.

"With coach Johnson's offense, no matter who it is (running) it naturally moves the ball," he said. "I feel like those guys know this is their time to step up and make plays. We expect to be better (on defense) because we need to be to be a good football team."

WAKE FOREST
Wake Forest has suspended two football players from the team and added a graduate transfer.

Coach Dave Clawson on Tuesday said defensive back Thomas Brown will be suspended for one game and offensive lineman Ryan Anderson will miss five games. Both players violated undisclosed team rules, and Clawson says both players will practice during their suspensions.

Later in the day, the Demon Deacons announced the addition of defensive back Deven Gaulden, a graduate transfer from Wisconsin who can play immediately. Gaulden started five of the Badgers' 14 games last season.

Brown played in all 12 games last season with one start. He will miss the Sept. 3 opener against Elon. Anderson redshirted as a freshman last year and won't play until the Boston College game Oct. 10.

PITTSBURGH
Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi has announced wide receiver Tyler Boyd and defensive end Rori Blair are suspended for the Sept. 5 opener against Youngstown State.

Boyd, a 1,000-yard receiver in each of his first two seasons at Pitt, was charged with DUI in June. The All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection was pulled over in June south of Pittsburgh. Boyd told police he had two shots of alcohol.

Blair, who led the Panthers with 5.5 sacks in 2014, was charged with driving under the influence of a drug after he was clocked at 117 mph in March.

Narduzzi said the players will be subject to additional internal discipline. The first-year coach said the situations are "very disappointing" and that both players expressed remorse.

DUKE
Duke breaks in new starting quarterbacks by a year before giving them the job by inserting them into short-yardage situations.

It worked before, and Thomas Sirk hopes it works again.

When preseason camp starts later this week, the redshirt junior will be the one taking the first-team snaps and replacing Anthony Boone — the winningest quarterback in Duke history.

A few years ago, it was Boone who stepped into the starting job after serving as the team's goal-to-go specialist. He wound up leading the Blue Devils to back-to-back bowls in 2013 and '14.

Now Sirk hopes to do the same thing.

Sirk says those short-yardage snaps are important "because you come out, you're ready, you don't come out and feel the pressure."

He played in all 12 games last season, often stepping in for Boone when the Blue Devils needed only a couple of yards, and he tied for third among Atlantic Coast Conference QBs with eight rushing touchdowns. He also completed 10 of 14 passes for 67 yards with three scores.

And while his teammates praise his speed, coach David Cutcliffe has insisted the 6-foot-4 Sirk is just as capable passing in the pocket as he is when he takes off and runs.

Max McCaffrey said Sirk is "ready to come out and make a huge difference," while fellow receiver Chris Taylor added that the QB is "going to have a great year — I can feel it."

"The role that I was in last year, people didn't get a chance to see me throw the ball a lot," Sirk said. "Whether they think I can throw it or not, that's what I want to go out and do every day in practice. I was running the same exact plays as Boone. I was just put in those packages, those short-yardage packages."

There's also the question of leadership.

Last year's team— which won nine games, was poised to claim a second straight Coastal Division championship and reached the Sun Bowl — belonged to Boone and a tested senior class that helped shepherd the program from perennial laughingstock to serious ACC contender.

Boone was the one spelling then-starter Sean Renfree in goal-line situations in 2012 before taking over the next year and leading Duke to a school-record 10 wins, the league title game and a tight loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Last year's team held control of the Coastal Division until the final few weeks of the season and finished 9-4 after another close postseason loss, this one to Arizona State in the Sun Bowl.

Now it's Sirk's team — and he's acting that way.

On the eve of his first camp as the starter, Sirk has taken a measure of confident ownership, repeatedly referring to his teammates as "my" tight end or center or receiver.

"It's a brotherhood. ... I wouldn't rather be in any other locker room in the country," Sirk said. "I feel like they believe in me behind the center that we're going to get the ball in the end zone every time we step on the field."


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