Erin Summers

sports broadcaster



SUMMERS SPORTS REPORT: ACC football kicks off

In light of COVID-19, we all had to wait for it however ACC football is finally here.


In the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill — for those who are unfamiliar with North Carolina geography) the Tar Heels open things up Saturday at noon as they host Syracuse. 

It’s been a unique start for any football team as conferences canceled or postponed their season due to COVID-19. The ACC had to completely revamp their schedule — meaning the Tar Heels didn’t know they’d be playing Syracuse until August 6th. That’s not a lot of time to prepare, and to add another wrinkle to things, the Orange have a new defensive coordinator this year in Tony White.

“We’re still not sure what the new defensive coordinator will do with his personnel,” UNC head football coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. “We’re looking at different possibilities. We feel like the offensive line has the biggest question marks on what Syracuse will do going into the game.”

The first quarter will be fluid as the Heels make adjustments. The Heels have a solid offensive core returning, and will rely on their sophomore quarterback Sam Howell. 

Howell is coming off a heck of a freshman campaign — 3,641 yards passing, 38 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Howell was named ACC Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year last season. Everyone is expecting big things from from Howell again this season. However, in a Zoom call Tuesday, Howell said he hasn’t let the preseason hype get to him. Howell said he holds himself to a high standard and knows that he has to put in the work to be everything people say he is and more.

Here are a couple of other things to look out for Saturday in Chapel Hill.

  • UNC DEFENSE Headlined by linebacker Chazz Surratt and defensive back Storm Duck, the defense has only gotten better. Brown spent every call praising the efforts of the secondary, and said they’ve put pressure on the offense to improve. While Surratt is technically a linebacker, expect the Heels to use his talent at several different positions. 
  • COVID TESTING Depending on COVID-19 test results, players will not know if they can play until 9am Saturday morning. The Heels will have their last of three tests Friday afternoon and those results won’t be back until 9am — 9am before a noon kick. Let’s hope things don’t get dicey and depth charts won’t have to be revisited.
  • OFFENSIVE LINE With depth in mind an area of concern for the Heels has been the offensive line. While Howell said he felt confident going out there behind the OL, coach Brown said he’d really like to have a few more players step up before he felt good about the Heels ability up front.


Duke is at Notre Dame Saturday at 2:30pm on NBC. Yes, we finally get a full season of Notre Dame in the ACC. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said his team is excited about kicking things off in South Bend.

“It’s a great opportunity to test your team,” said Cutcliffe Tuesday. “It’s a great opportunity to energize your team. And when we found out we were playing Notre Dame up there to open, I think that helped us realize how big a challenge that is. I think it really did infuse some energy into our camp and into the preseason work and practices.”

Duke has been a well-oiled machine, taking extra precautions for the health and safety of their players during COVID-19. While the ACC requires every team to test three times a week, Duke announced this week they will be moving to daily testing.  

On Sunday, coach Cutcliffe announced quarterback Chase Brice as the Blue Devils starter. Brice is a grad transfer from Clemson, in 25 games played Brice completed 82 passes for 1,023 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing 30 times for 187 yards and one score.

“I think Chase you know, as he got more comfortable with our system what you started seeing was his experience,” said Cutcliffe Tuesday. “He’s played a lot more football at this level than the other two have. Chase played a lot of games and saw a lot of game time at Clemson. You could see that pocket movement and him just feeling natural in a pocket. The timing mechanism of throws and as he got more comfortable his accuracy level grew in all of the throws whether it was deep ball’s or intermediate short layoffs. He just became more and more the most comfortable quarterback on a day to day basis. As the week closed out last week, I think it became more obvious and then we made the decision to start him at the Notre Dame game.”

For Notre Dame, they are led by three-year starter Ian Book. Last season Book became the first Irish quarterback with 2,500 passing yards, 500 rushing yards and 30 touchdown passes in a season — the only other QB to do that last year? Jalen Hurts, the Oklahoma quarterback who went No. 53 overall to the Eagles this past April. 

The Irish haven’t lost at home since Sept. 30, 2017 and while the atmosphere will be quite different (Notre Dame is limiting attendance to 20% or less with priority going to the students), there may actually be more on the line this season.

“It’s an established goal now to win a championship in the ACC,” Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday. “Our mission is to win a National Championship and graduate all of our players. We’re able to talk in terms of our mission being to win a championship and now either an ACC Championship and if you win that you obviously keep your mission alive for a National Championship. So you have both of them now in your eyes and in your vision for what you want to accomplish during the season.”

The Irish return everyone on their offensive line and have a defense that was ranked No. 12 in the country last year. For Duke this will be a much different match-up than what was supposed to be a home-opener against Middle Tennessee State pre-COVID.


NC State fans have to wait another week for game action, but in the meantime Pack fans can watch Clemson at Wake Forest Saturday night and get excited for an 8pm matchup with the Demon Deacons next weekend. 

My thoughts amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

I love to work, and I love being busy — so much so that I find it hard to say “no” to anything, which at times sends me into a fiery ball of stress. On March 11, as sporting events started announcing the restriction of fans, I was working my 21st event in the past 13 days across three different states. As news broke over the next few days and conference tournaments were canceled I secretly welcomed the chance to sleep, to reset, catch up on laundry, cook and finish that book I hadn’t quite been able to get through over the last two months. 

But then the news kept coming, spring conference championships were canceled followed by entire seasons and my calendar became a smattering of black X-marks. I felt for the athletes, my fellow freelancers and fans across the country. Me, however, I would be fine, right?

That’s what I thought, until over a week later (March 24 to be specific) I found myself sitting in front of my computer looking for jobs — any jobs. I was bidding on freelance projects, contemplating going to work at the grocery store, clicking on link after link as the dark cloud over me started pouring rain. 

It brought me back to a place in my life I worked so hard to get out of, and stay out of. Several years ago, as I was transitioning from TV news to freelance sports, I sat at my computer, unable to make rent, piling up credit card debt and searching for anything to do to help make ends meet. I was working at a summer baseball league, and then as Fall approached it was a bar, a restaurant, a gym and any area school that needed a camera op. 

While this pandemic may have stirred up old emotions of doubt, fear and insecurity for myself, I had to sit back and reevaluate the truth of those feelings. 

We are not in this position by any reason of our own (unless you are one of the jerks that has continued to go out during this pandemic and in that case I have other words for you), and we should not feel bad about ourselves during it. We are all in a holding pattern, the world will return to normal and sports will again thrive, maybe even more so than before, creating more opportunity.  

Over the next few weeks or months, I myself am going to try to practice gratitude (and I do put emphasis on the word “try” because it will be tough). Take time to be thankful for what you have accomplished so far, be grateful for what you do have and let people around you know how much they mean to you. 

We are in this together. Try to find a way to keep that “sports” spark alive during this time, whether it’s writing, watching old games, reading books or articles of people you admire, taking your camera (or phone) out for a shoot or reaching out to someone you look up to in the industry. Let’s come out of this pandemic healthy, with some personal growth and a new fire for our work because in the end we really all are so lucky to have any time at all working in the crazy, fun world of sports. 


My Reading List:
The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
Super Attractor by Gabriel Bernstein
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
ESPN: The Uncensored History by Michael Freeman
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Unlocking Us by Brene Brown

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