Friday mailblog

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Don't worry, Hokies, I'm playing nice today ...

Eric in Blacksburg writes: Is it just me, or does Virginia Tech (not Va Tech, we really hate that) have one of the most brutal schedules for any NCAA team in recent memory. I mean starting out against a probable top 5 ranked team in Alabama, which may as well be a road game. Follow that up with games against much improved Nebraska and Miami teams, then a showdown in Atlanta with a great Georgia Tech team. Add to the fact the this years ACC will probably be its best ever, we have no FCS teams scheduled, and have a road game against the Pinkney Pirates. Does it get much tougher than that? If we get through this season with one loss, we should be in the National Championship game (claim dependent on a win against Alabama and less then two undefeated teams)

Heather Dinich: You are absolutely right, and in retrospect, I probably should have ranked the Hokies' schedule as more difficult than Georgia Tech's. One of the reasons I didn't, though, is because the Jackets have to face two ACC opponents in the first three weeks, including a trip to Miami. The Hokies will at least have home-field advantage for that one. But no doubt, it's one of the most difficult lineups in the ACC.

Ed in Chesterfield, Va., writes: Hey Heather how are you? I'm a VT grad but have a question about Georgia Tech. Do you think that it's been overlooked, by yourself and others who expect GT to contend next year, that ACC teams were new to facing Johnson's offense last year but will now atleast be aquainted with it and find weaknesses? I agree the Jackets have a lot of talent in the backfield but LSU showed what can happen when you have time to prepare. Thanks

Heather Dinich: Definitely not, and the reason I say that is because this isn't the NFL -- there are constantly new players rotating into the programs who will be facing the Jackets for the first time. And remember, even veterans only see this once a year -- unless you're Wake Forest and make a habit of playing Navy. So regardless of how good a coach is against Georgia Tech's offense, he still has to teach it to his players, usually within a week. Also, I expect the offense to run even smoother this season.

Mike writes: I noticed BC has a kicker in their class of incoming freshman. Does this mean that Billy Bennett is not on the team any more? Between his back problems in 2007, and being suspended for most of last season, I don't know how much they can count on him if he is back in the fall.

Heather Dinich: They won't have to count on him because Steve Aponavicius returns. To answer your question, though, Bennett is not on the team right now. Whether he comes back or not remains to be seen.

Brock in Winston-Salem writes: Heather, I am glad to see UNC and NC State are finally playing on the last Saturday of the season. As this is the state's best football rivalry, do you think this is overdue?

Heather Dinich: Well, I'll let the North Carolina natives argue whether or not that's the best rivalry, but don't forget that whole Duke/UNC element. I know, I know, it's November, not March, but in the last four games in the football series, UNC won by a whopping 3, 1, 6 and 8 points. As for the way the schedule worked out, some of that probably had to do with the fact that Wake Forest didn't end the season with Vanderbilt and needed a conference opponent. Another reason for the switch is the Duke-UNC game needs the students from both schools involved, and that wasn't happening with the game falling on Thanksgiving weekend. So, is UNC-NC State overdue for the final weekend? No, but it should be a good game.

Somebody in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Heather, What is the status of Jason Worilds and whether or not he'll be playing this fall after his shoulder surgery? Some of the experts say his speed and smaller size as a DE give him an advantage over the guys he's usually matched up against. Do you see him being an impact player on defense next year? He had an unassisted sack in each of his last six games! Thanks.

Heather Dinich: Worilds had surgery on Jan. 6 and will miss spring ball, but he'll be back and fully cleared to participate in summer and preseason workouts. The Hokies will need him to be an impact player on defense, especially with the graduation of Orion Martin at the other end spot. He was a difference-maker last year, so there's no reason to think he won't be again.

Anthony writes: Heather: What do you think made Shannon choose to play Oklahoma so early in the season..or at all?

Heather Dinich: From what I understand, Oklahoma was on the schedule prior to Randy Shannon becoming head coach. Miami always tries to have at least one marquis home game per year. Virginia Tech and FSU, which are historically marquis games, are both on the road.