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Aaron Beard | The Associated Press | May 3, 2015

QB uncertainty abounds for ACC Atlantic Division teams

  Injuries have slowed Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Louisville's Will Gardner at spring practice.

It was easy to spot all the quarterback uncertainty during the spring for Atlantic Division teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It starts with the health of Deshaun Watson at Clemson and how Florida State will replace Jameis Winston. But the questions extend beyond the two teams who have finished alone atop the division for three consecutive seasons, whether due to personnel loss at Boston College, injury at Louisville or a new scheme at Syracuse.

Watson is a potential all-ACC star after an impressive freshman season, but he's recovering from surgery for a torn knee ligament. The injury kept him out of the bowl win against Oklahoma, then limited his spring activity while the team broke in new co-offensive coordinators.

"He was able to do a lot this spring from a football standpoint, drill work and things like that, throwing," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I really just basically had him with me the whole time when we would do our competitive team stuff, so he had to really mentally stay sharp."

The Seminoles spent the spring preparing for life after Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner and top overall NFL draft pick.

Rising junior Sean Maguire won a start against Clemson last year when Winston was suspended, and led the spring race as FSU's most experienced quarterback. But he had an up-and-down spring game to head into the offseason.

"We've got to play better around him," coach Jimbo Fisher said afterward, "but he has to play a little better, too."

The questions linger elsewhere in the division.

Louisville is waiting for starter Will Gardner to get healthy after missing spring drills after knee surgery. The Cardinals spent the spring looking at Reggie Bonnafon (who started after Gardner's injury), Kyle Bolin (who started the bowl after Bonnafon was hurt) and Penn State transfer Tyler Ferguson.

BC lost the nation's top rushing quarterback in Tyler Murphy. And at Syracuse, dual-threat starter Terrel Hunt is learning a new offense under coordinator Tim Lester.

That leaves only NC State and Wake Forest with healthy returning starters running the same offense.

The Wolfpack had a big first year with Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett, who helped Dave Doeren's team have a five-win improvement from the previous year. The Demon Deacons are hoping for growth from John Wolford, who set numerous program freshman records in coach Dave Clawson's first year and ran with the first team again during spring practices.

This article was written by Aaron Beard from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 

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