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Thursday, August 13, 2009
Around the ACC

By staff

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here are the reports that came in from Wednesday's practices around the league, as reported by each school's sports information office:


Clemson had its second day of two-a-day practices on Wednesday. The Tigers worked for two hours and 15 minutes in the morning and for an hour and a half in the evening.

Much of the day was spent reviewing the film from Tuesday's scrimmage and correcting mistakes. Coach Dabo Swinney felt better about his team after watching the film on Tuesday afternoon and evening.

"We played better than I thought," said Swinney. "I was very disappointed with the penalties [on offense] and a lack of attention to detail immediately after the scrimmage. And I still feel that way about those mistakes. But after watching the film we played better overall than I thought."

Swinney was impressed with the performance of his defense after the scrimmage on Tuesday and he was still happy with that performance on Wednesday.

"We have a chance to be pretty salty on defense. I look out there and really can't tell the difference between the units. I was talking to Jamie Cumbie yesterday and he said it doesn't make any difference who starts, they are just waiting to have their name called.

"There is great depth on the defensive front and the secondary. The linebackers are doing well also. I was really impressed with Kavell Conner's performance on Tuesday. He has had a terrific preseason."


After some deliberation, the Florida State football coaching staff opted to delay the first day of practice in full pads until Thursday, which is also the first, two-session practice of the offseason.

If the Seminoles were disappointed about the delay, it did not show during Wednesday's morning session.

"We really tested them today," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said after the 2 1/2-hour workout on the Al Dunlap Practice Fields. "It was their third day in a row with no break -- no day off -- and they survived it pretty good."

Better still, the Seminoles appeared energized after a somewhat lethargic effort a day earlier.

"We improved today as a football team," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "Our attitude and effort was very good. Our work ethic and approach was good."

And there's little doubt the team is getting ample work. By splitting the offense -- and in some instances the defense -- into two groups, the coaching staff is exposing more players to more repetitions, which is critical to development. Bowden signed off on the change in practice structure and likes what he's seen thus far with the new system, even though it's difficult to keep up with both groups simultaneously working on separate fields.

"From up high [in the tower] I can see both of them," Bowden said. "It's a lot more reps, which is really taxing on them. From what we've done in the past, this doubles it."

Double the work also means double the opportunity and both the offense and defense capitalized at various times.

Quarterbacks Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel were on target much of the practice, which included small group work, a down-and-distance period, plus 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.

Cornerbacks Patrick Robinson and Xavier Rhodes had pass breakups of balls intended for wideouts Richard Goodman and Rodney Smith in a two-defender, skeleton session. Cornerback Dionte Allen, working opposite A.J. Alexander with the second-team defense, had a break-up and an interception in pass skeleton.

"By schedule, it's time for him to step up," Bowden said, when asked the progress of Allen, a redshirt sophomore who saw little action due to injury last season.

Ponder completed 3 of 4 attempts during a third-down conversion drill, including a 9-yard strike to tight end Caz Piurowski, who made a leaping grab. Ponder zipped a sideline pass to Bert Reed for a 12-yard gain, then connected with Rod Owens for 10 yards and another first down.


Practice Tidbits: The defensive line looked impressive during Wednesday's workout as a number of players showed good moves in breaking through the offensive line. A.J. Francis, Zachariah Kerr, Carl Russell, and Derek Drummond all had impressive days in terms of power, speed and agility off the line. Coach Ralph Friedgen singled out Drummond after practice for his pass-rushing ability. ... The highlight of 11-on-11 drills came on a long pass play between Chris Turner and sophomore wide receiver Tony Logan. Logan was able to get a step ahead of the defensive back covering him, and Turner delivered a pinpoint pass 35 yards down field to a striding Logan, who made the catch just before the safety arrived to help. ... DB Kenny Tate had a couple of interceptions in team drills ... Friedgen thought Lamar Young had his best practice of the preseason Wednesday. Young is battling Andrew Gonnella for the starting left guard position.

Strong Effort: After a bit of a down day Tuesday, Friedgen was impressed with the effort and the way the players competed on Wednesday. "I thought we gave in a little bit to the heat yesterday. When things started going bad today, guys started rallying around each other. We have to be able to keep our composure when things aren't going well. They have to be able to focus and hang together. There were a lot of things wrong with practice today. But I was looking at the way we competed and our effort and enthusiasm."

Predictable Punter: During individual workouts, preseason All-America punter Travis Baltz showed why he has received such high accolades. Baltz was consistently punting the ball 50 to 60 yards and keeping the hang time over 5.0 seconds. That, combined with his ability to place the ball toward either sideline, makes him a weapon for the Terps.


On the fifth day of fall camp, Miami practiced in full pads for the first time, working out for nearly two-and-a-half hours Wednesday morning on the Greentree Practice Fields.

Brandon Harris and Colin McCarthy stood out defensively, with each recording two interceptions. Offensively, Leonard Hankerson made a few big catches while Graig Cooper, Damien Berry and Mike James each had a few big runs.

· Harris and McCarthy each recorded two interceptions on the morning. Harris made the first pick of the morning in 11-on-11 action before McCarthy recorded his first in 7-on-7. Both players then wrapped up the morning with back-to-back INTs during the two-minute drill in 11-on-11 play toward the end of the session.

· Vaughn Telemaque (7-on-7), Ryan Hill (11-on-11) and Brandon McGee (11-on-11) also recorded i
nterceptions Wednesday.

· Leonard Hankerson made two catches of 30-plus yards in 11-on-11 action.

· Jacory Harris connected with LaRon Byrd for a deep ball in 11-on-11.

· Jimmy Graham and Damien Berry each scored during red zone drills.

· Damien Berry, Graig Cooper and Mike James all picked up significant gains in middle drills.

· Dedrick Epps, Tervaris Johnson and Aldarius Johnson all recorded catches of 20-plus yards in 7-on-7 play.


Wake Forest practiced in full pads for the first time this preseason, as the Demon Deacons held a two-hour session on Wednesday afternoon at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex.

The fifth practice of the preseason began in a steady drizzle, but the rain eventually tapered off and the Deacons were treated to a less-than-sweltering afternoon under overcast skies. The break in the weather might have helped, as the crisp workout impressed Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe.

"We had a pretty good practice today," said Grobe. "I was really expecting it to be sluggish. The first day in full pads after four practices is usually pretty sluggish, but I thought we did fine. We probably dropped too many balls and missed too many blocks and probably missed too many assignments on defense, but for a fifth practice when normally things start to drag a little bit I thought we bounced around pretty good today."

The Deacons were able to get in several periods of work going 11-on-11 offense vs. defense. The team also worked on kicking and punting, as the coaches begin to evaluate who will handle those duties in 2009.

"We got some good work in the kicking game today," said Grobe. "I like all of our kickers right now. I think they're all doing some good things -- probably not punting as consistently as we should be right now but we're kicking the ball pretty good right now. Cline Beam and Shane Popham and Jimmy Newman are all kicking the ball pretty good.

"I have a good feeling about this football team. We've had five pretty good practices, and of course we're going to come out and drag in one of them but we haven't done it yet so I'm happy."