Robert Aguayo

Clemson paces All-ACC preseason team; Miami shut out

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Clemson was tapped by the media as the preseason favorite to win the ACC title, so it’s not surprising that the Tigers have fared well individually as well.

The ACC released its preseason all-conference team Thursday morning, with Clemson leading the way with five players landing on the first and only team.  Deshaun Watson was voted as the preseason Player of the Year, and received the expected All-ACC nod as well as 100 of the 163 voters selected the true sophomore as their first-team quarterback.  The next quarterback, Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas, was named on 33 ballots.

Watson wasn’t the leading vote-getter, though, as that nod belongs to Pittsburgh running back James Connor, who received 148 of a possible 163 votes.  Others receiving the most votes at their position include one of Connor’s teammates, wide receiver Tyler Boyd (141), and one of the top placekickers in the history of the game, Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (141).

After Clemson, Florida State and Virginia Tech were next up with four players each selected.  Three of the 14 ACC teams went without representation: Boston College, Miami and Syracuse.  The interesting school in the latter group is, of course, The U.

Not only did the Hurricanes get shut out of the first team, the closest they got to landing a player on the squad was Deon Bush, whose 20 votes left him fourth amongst the safeties.  Other than Bush, Stacey Coley (21 votes, eight amongst wide receivers) Rafael Kirby (19, eighth amongst linebackers) Danny Isidora (18, ninth amongst offensive guards) KC McDermott (12, seventh amongst offensive tackles) and Brad Kaaya (10, fourth amongst quarterbacks) were the Hurricanes receiving double-digit votes.

It’s that lack of talent, or perception thereof, that will have Al Golden heading into the 2015 season on one of the hottest coaching seats in America.

2015 All-ACC Preseason Football Team

Offense
WR – Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt
WR – Mike Williams, Jr., Clemson
WR – Artavis Scott, So. Clemson
TE – Bucky Hodges, r-So., Virginia Tech
OT – Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State
OT – Adam Bisnowaty, r-Jr., Pitt
OG – Landon Turner, r-Sr., North Carolina
OG – Eric Mac Lain, Gr., Clemson
C – Matt Skura, r-Sr., Duke
QB – Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson
RB – James Conner, Jr., Pitt
RB – Shadrach Thornton, Sr., NC State

Defense
DE – Dadi Lhomme Nicolas. r-Sr., Virginia Tech
DE – Shaq Lawson, Jr., Clemson
DE – Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville
DT – Adam Gotsis, Sr., Georgia Tech
DT – Luther Maddy, r-Sr., Virginia Tech
LB – Terrance Smith, r-Sr., Florida State
LB – Brandon Chubb, r-Sr., Wake Forest
LB – James Burgess, Sr., Louisville
CB – Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State
CB – Kendall Fuller, Jr., Virginia Tech
S – Jeremy Cash, r-Sr., Duke
S – Quin Blanding, So., Virginia

Special Teams
PK – Roberto Aguayo, r-Jr., Florida State
P – Alex Kinal, r-Sr., Wake Forest
KR – Ryan Switzer, So., North Carolina

FSU’s Ronald Darby, Mario Edwards make NFL declarations official

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Florida State’s early-entry quartet is officially complete.

Following up on reports regarding both players of late, FSU announced via a press release Friday afternoon that cornerback Ronald Darby and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. have made decisions to leave the Seminoles early for the NFL draft.  The defensive duo joins quarterback Jameis Winston and cornerback P.J. Williams, who revealed their respective decisions earlier in the week.

Edwards was a first-team All-ACC performer in 2014 after leading the ‘Noles in tackles for loss with 11, and started 26 games in his career.  Darby, the conference’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, started 23 games the past two seasons, including all 14 in 2014.

“Mario was a tremendous player and person here at FSU and I want to thank him for three great years here,” said head coach Jimbo Fisher. “Mario improved each year since he arrived on campus and I’m excited to see him continue that growth in the NFL. I’m excited for him and his family and I think he will have a great professional career.”

“Ronald was a big part of our success here and helped us reach the next level over the last three years,” the coach said said. “I’m excited for Ronald and his family. He was a phenomenal player for us here at Florida State, and I think he has a chance to be a great pro.”

The Seminoles did get good news on the draft-eligible front Thursday as All-American kicker Robert Aguayo announced he would be returning for his redshirt junior season in 2015.

FSU’s Aguayo, Duke’s Cash to bypass NFL, return to school

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In the midst of a bevy of draft-eligible players jumping early, a pair of ACC schools will welcome back key components to their recent run of success.

Florida State, hit hard with early defections recently on both sides of the ball, announced Thursday that star kicker Robert Aguayo will return for to the Seminoles for his redshirt junior season in 2015.  Because Aguayo is three years removed from high school, the redshirt sophomore would’ve been eligible for the NFL draft this year.

“I’m very excited that Roberto has elected to come back to school,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. “He’s a big part of our Florida State family’s success. I believe he has a chance to become arguably the best kicker in NCAA history and we’re very fortunate to have him. But more importantly, what he brings to our team from a leadership and character standpoint means more to us as an organization and we’re truly blessed to have him back.”

Despite playing just two seasons, Aguayo is already one of the best kickers in FBS history. He’s a two-time All-American who won the Lou Groza Award in 2013, and was a finalist for the honor this season.

Aguayo has not missed an extra point in 149 attempts, and has converted on 94.2 percent (48-52) o his field goal attempts. That percentage is the best ever at this level, topping Nebraska’s Alex Henery’s 89.5 percent (68-76) from 2007-10.

“After praying about it and talking with my parents, coaches and others I trust, I know that the best decision for me is to return to Florida State for another year,” Aguayo said. “I am more than excited to continue to build on the success we have had here at Florida State and I’m looking forward to continuing to improve next fall, to obtain my degree and to grow as a person.”

Meanwhile, in the Coastal division, standout Duke safety Jeremy Cash has decided to return as well. While Aguayo could very well have been a mid-round pick, Cash was faced with the possibility of going undrafted, will likely played a significant role in his decision.

In 27 career games with the Blue Devils, Cash has compiled 232 tackles, 20.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, six interceptions, 11 pass breakups, seven QB pressures, six caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries. According to the school, he was the only defensive back in the nation to record 100-plus tackles, 10.0-plus tackles for loss and 5.0-plus sacks this past season.

Cash, who received his degree in psychology last month, is a two-time second-team All-ACC selection.

Week 13, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.592 – Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (29-20) this season. The six teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and USC) have a combined overall road record of 23-6 (.793).

.815 — Ohio State’s winning percentage (97-22) in Big Ten play since 2000, the highest league winning percentage among all Power Five schools.  Oklahoma 99-24 is next at .805.

.933 — Career field-goal percentage for Florida State’s Robert Aguayo (42-45).  The all-time career mark, for at least 45 attempts per the 2014 FBS record book, was .900 (45-50) by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer (2009-12). The career mark, for at least 55 attempts, is .895 (68-76) by Nebraska’s Alex Henery (2007-10).

0 — Touchbacks this season for Wake Forest punter Alex Kinal, the only player in the Top 25 in punting average who can make that claim.

1 — 400-yard passing games for Jake Waters in his career, the lone one coming in Kansas State’s win over West Virginia Thursday night (400 even).  Waters had only one previous 300-yard game, that coming in November of last year against Oklahoma (348).

Ohio State v Maryland
Brad Craddock

1 — Kickers at the FBS level who have yet to miss a field goal attempt (minimum eight attempts) this season: Maryland’s Brad Craddock (17-17).  Craddock has made 23 straight attempts dating back to 2013, the longest current streak at the FBS level and third-longest in Big Ten history.

1.2 — Yards per play Savannah State averaged in its 64-0 loss to BYU.  The Cougars limited the Tigers to 40 yards passing on 28 attempts and 23 yards rushing on the same number of attempts.

4 — FBS teams currently undefeated in conference play:

Florida State (ACC, 8-0)
Georgia Southern (Sun Belt, 7-0)
Marshall (Conference USA, 7-0)
Ohio State (Big Ten, 7-0)

5 — Consecutive games Auburn allowed 30 or more points prior to playing Samford, the first time that’s ever happened in the history of the football program.

5 — Number of undefeated home seasons in the history of Utah State football: 1968 (4-0), 1972 (5-0), 1982 (4-0), 2012 (6-0) and 2014 (6-0).

6 — Total touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving) for Colorado State’s Dee Hart in a win over New Mexico, the second-highest single-game total in Mountain West History.

(more…)

2013 winner, FSU’s Aguayo, one of 20 Groza semifinalists

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They may not be “football players” according to some folks but, dammit, kickers are people too and deserve some recognition for something other than missing a kick and costing their team a game.

In that vein, the Lou Groza Award Thursday announced its 20 semifinalists for the 2014 version of the booting honor.  The headliner for this year’s group of semifinalists is last year’s winner, Florida State’s Robert Aguayo.

There are also three other 2013 semifinalists who made the cut this year: Maryland’s Brad Craddock, Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez, and Utah’s Andy Phillips. Additionally, two 2012 semifinalists — Duke’s Ross Martin and TCU’s Jaden Oberkrom — made a return trip after being absent in 2013.

If I were a voter — and as it happens I am — my three votes for finalists would go to Aguayo, Craddock and West Virginia’s Josh Lambert at the moment.  That could change, though, in the two weeks before they’re due.

Anyway, below are the 20 finalists for the 2014 Groza Award:

Corey Acosta, Southern Miss
Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
Kyle Bullard, Houston
Will Conant, Air Force
Brad Craddock, Maryland
Sam Ficken , Penn State
Elliott Fry, South Carolina
Ian Frye, Virginia
Andrew Gantz, Cincinnati
Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
Ammon Lakip, Clemson
Josh Lambert, West Virginia
Justin Manton, Louisiana-Monroe
Ross Martin, Duke
Cole Murphy, Syracuse
Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
Andy Phillips, Utah
Scott Secor, Ball State
John Wallace, Louisville