clearn.png
Wednesday July 28th, 2021 2:25AM

Howell, King headline ACC's wealth of returning QB talent

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel wants to make every possible stop. He also knows it’s not that easy when working out against Heisman Trophy candidate Sam Howell, and he makes sure to pull aside frustrated defensive teammates to tell them so.

“Not every quarterback in the ACC can throw like that,” Gemmel said he tells them.

Maybe not, but the challenges likely won’t get much easier on game days either considering the wealth of starting experience returning at quarterback throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference. In all, 13 of 14 teams return a quarterback with starting experience, with Duke the exception.

Besides Howell, Miami star D’Eriq King is back for a sixth college season after suffering a serious knee injury in last year’s bowl game. Louisville’s Malik Cunningham rankedin the top 25 in the Bowl Subdivision in passing efficiency, while Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec and Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman all ranked among the top 30 in the FBS for passing yardage per game.

“There’s no question about it, quarterbacks are going to be ahead in the ballgame,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Wednesday during ACC footall media days. "I just know where Kenny was and where Kenny’s going to be. I see a better football player, and it’s going to be the same case for everybody.”

At the minimum, it sets the stage for the ACC to have a fast start offensively and make life difficult for defenses against quarterbacks who have seen plenty of reps, coverages and schemes.

Even younger guys like Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei — who is replacing No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Trevor Lawrence — and North Carolina State's Devin Leary have thrived in limited but meaningful game action.

Narduzzi, a former defensive coordinator, noted at least one positive for defensive coaches in facing the challenge of slowing those quarterbacks: At least there is plenty of tape available to study compared to having a league full of unknown new starters.

"The depth at the position — unbelieveable,” said ACC Network analyst Eric Mac Lain, an offensive lineman on Clemson’s national runner-up team in 2015. “I think it’s the best in the country. … the level of execution from Week 1 should be extremely high. So it’s going to be fun to watch that.”

Howell headlines the ACC class after powering the Tar Heels’ high-scoring attack for two seasons. He has started 25 games and has been the perfect fit in Phil Longo’s scheme in pushing the ball downfield yet avoiding major mistakes, throwing just 14 interceptions in 770 attempts (1.8%).

Coach Mack Brown has already indicated this will likely be the quarterback’s final season before pursuing an NFL career. And Howell will face huge expectations despite losing two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver to the NFL.

“I’d like to say I don’t think about it, but I see it, I hear about it all the time," Howell said of Heisman Trophy talk. “When you look back at the last few Heisman winners, it’s usually the best player on the best team that wins the trophy. My main goal is to just give my team everything I’ve got, not worry about the Heisman Trophy, not worry about the NFL.”

All that experience has also revealed areas of improvement among several quarterbacks. For King, it was getting better at hitting downfield throws. For Pickett, it was improving his pocket awareness. And for Georgia Tech's Jeff Sims, it was honing his throwing mechanics to sharpen his accuracy.

The outlier of the league is Duke after Clemson graduate transfer Chase Brice left for Appalachian State after one season. That opens an opportunity for graduate quarterback Gunnar Holmberg, who appeared in seven games in 2018 and 2020 after missing the 2019 season due to a knee injury.

Holmberg is hoping his experience studying the offense and taking practice reps has him ready to follow the lead of former Blue Devils veterans like Anthony Boone, Thomas Sirk and Quentin Harris — all of whom waited their turn for multiple seasons before taking over the offense under coach David Cutcliffe.

“There's a path that's been paved before me that I've seen with Coach Cut, in just the way those guys walk out and look like they have total understanding and really have the game in their hands," Holmberg said. "I think it's something that I look forward to proving myself.”

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/College-football and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, College Sports, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - College Football, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Howell, King headline ACC's wealth of returning QB talent
North Carolina's Sam Howell is a Heisman Trophy candidate and the headliner of the Atlantic Coast Conference's class of experienced returning quarterbacks
5:47PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Pelosi bars Trump allies from Jan. 6 probe; GOP vows boycott
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rejecting two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection
5:34PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Experts: Spend opioid settlement funds on fighting opioids
Public health experts are citing the 1998 settlement agreement with tobacco companies as a cautionary tale ahead of the expected $26 billion settlement with opioid producers
5:31PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
College coaches, administrators urging players to vaccinate
College football coaches around the country are spending much of the offseason urging their players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus
5:00PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Taylor leaves ESPN after failing to reach contract extension
Maria Taylor is leaving ESPN after the two sides were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension
4:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Young nucleus intact, Suns wait to see if Chris Paul returns
Chris Paul took a risk this season deciding that a young, unproven Phoenix Suns team was worth joining in his pursuit of his first NBA championship
4:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
AP Top 25 Podcast: OU gets defensive; ISU goes next level
Oklahoma has won six straight Big 12 championships and the Sooners enter the 2021 season with the most well-rounded team coach Lincoln Riley has had
1:34PM ( 4 hours ago )
Karras cared more about making Hall of Fame than he let on
A dozen seasons as one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL turned out to be just an opening act for Alex Karras
1:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
Oakland OKs terms for $12B ballpark but A's aren't happy
The Oakland City Council has approved preliminary terms for a new $12 billion waterfront ballpark project for the Oakland Athletics
8:33PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Online Football
Group licensing: A new way for college athletes to cash in
North Carolina is launching a group licensing program that will allow current Tar Heels athletes to profit from official school merchandise
3:16PM ( 1 day ago )
Mullen, Gators adapting to life with new QB, playmakers
Florida coach Dan Mullen puts a positive spin on losing his three best offensive playmakers
5:46PM ( 2 days ago )
Sankey joins call for change in college athletics oversight
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey is echoing a call for potential changes in how college athletics are governed
3:50PM ( 2 days ago )
College Sports
NY pitcher becomes 1st known drafted practicing Orthodox Jew
Jacob Steinmetz’s blazing fastball helped him pitch his way to baseball draft history
5:49PM ( 1 week ago )
Rice RB tackled off bench in the 1954 Cotton Bowl has died
Dicky Maegle, the Rice running back tackled in the 1954 Cotton Bowl by an Alabama player who came off the bench, has died
6:26PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Terry Donahue, winningest UCLA football coach, dies at 77
Former UCLA football Terry Donahue has died
11:20AM ( 2 weeks ago )
AP Sports - College Football
Steelers sign LB Melvin Ingram, T Chaz Green to 1-year deals
The Pittsburgh Steelers added depth at outside linebacker and offensive line on the eve of training camp, signing free agents Melvin Ingram and Chaz Green
12:06PM ( 1 day ago )
Rams RB Cam Akers tears Achilles tendon, out indefinitely
Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers is out indefinitely after tearing his Achilles tendon in an offseason training session
11:50AM ( 1 day ago )
Peyton Manning teams up with brother, ESPN for MNF MegaCast
ESPN has finally landed Peyton Manning as a “Monday Night Football” commentator
4:35PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Pelosi bars Trump allies from Jan. 6 probe; GOP vows boycott
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rejecting two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection
5:34PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Experts: Spend opioid settlement funds on fighting opioids
Public health experts are citing the 1998 settlement agreement with tobacco companies as a cautionary tale ahead of the expected $26 billion settlement with opioid producers
5:31PM ( 25 minutes ago )
UK man arrested in Spain, charged in US with Twitter hack
A British man has been charged in the United States in connection with a Twitter hack last summer that compromised the accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls
5:20PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Pharmacist in meningitis outbreak gets more prison time
A former Massachusetts pharmacist convicted for his role in a deadly 2012 multistate meningitis outbreak will spend more time behind bars
5:18PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Biden nominates Victoria Kennedy for Austria ambassadorship
President Joe Biden is nominating Victoria Kennedy, an attorney and the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, to serve as his ambassador to Austria
5:17PM ( 39 minutes ago )