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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Thanks for the questions, everyone, here's your weekly Mailblog:
Evan in Atlanta, Ga. writes: Hey Heather, do you know what games you'll be visiting this season? Like to see you come to Atlanta for homecoming, because if I remember right you've been good luck when you show up (weren't you at the FSU and Miami game last year?).
HD: Yep. Every Georgia Tech game I was at last year they won -- except for one. The Virginia Tech game. Which games I go to depends on how the season unfolds, so I don't know until the week of where I'm headed. It's more fun that way (and much tougher to get a hotel room). But I'm sure at some point I'll see the Jackets. Last year, I saw 11 of the 12 teams play live, only missing NC State. I'm making up for that this year by starting out in Raleigh on Thursday night. Speaking of that game ...
Matt in Lynchburg, Va., writes: Hey HD, the ACC plays 7 against the SEC this season...and the first one is NC State vs. South Carolina. How do they match up? Seems like a win would be a big first step for the Pack.
HD: That's going to be a close game because the teams are so similar, starting with how thin they are in the secondary. Here's a mini scouting report on South Carolina: There's nobody remotely ready to play quarterback behind Stephen Garcia, and they don't have any proven big-time threats at receiver or running back. Still there's a lot of good young talent in the program. They'll be strong at linebacker, good at defensive end. They'll look like an SEC defense, but will have to start one or two true freshmen in the secondary. Like NC State, they can't afford for anyone to get hurt. They were terrible at pass protecting last year, gave up a lot of sacks, and didn't run the ball well. Their defense will have to be the rock for them.
Evan King in Okeechobee, Fla. writes: Do you think FSU could be a 2010 BCS contender with all the young talent on this years team?
HD: Yes, but only if the intangibles are there -- staff continuity, no off-field distractions, no me-first, no NFL attitudes, and the work ethic to maximize their talent and potential.
CJ Fitz in College Park, Md., writes: Hey HD, heard you were in the area. Great post on Tate, any chance you can give me a little bit more of an insider on the team... how the o-line did in your opinion and how the defense is coming along under coach brown?
HD: Yes, I was, CJ, and while I'd like to say I saw anything worth reporting, the practice was closed to the media. Having talked to the players and coaches, though, the o-line is still a work in progress and a concern, and the defense is definitely ahead of the offense at this point. I think the hire of Don Brown will be an upgrade, and the scheme will baffle some ACC offenses.
Bob K in Atlanta writes: Heather, who is the most under-rated player in the ACC? Obviously someone who didn't make your top 30 list.
HD: Well, my first instinct is to say Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, because from a national perspective, he doesn't get the credit he deserves. He was, however, on my Top 30 list. So, I'll go with Chris DeGeare, an offensive lineman at Wake Forest. He was academically ineligible last year, but should be the anchor of that line this fall. You could also look at BC's roster for some underrated players. Safety Wes Davis, or receiver Rich Gunnell come to mind.
Anthony Burke in Orlando, Fla. writes: What is the likelihood that the ACC will be represented in the National Title? I have it that it will be Florida vs. someone from the ACC and Florida getting upset. I am a Miami fan and I believe they will comeout of September and October smelling like Rose's because they are a better team than last year. The toughest team they will play will be Georgia Tech and they can win that game. I believe that The U is back, and I think this team will prove me right, because they have reminenses of the young canes team back in 2000. Go Canes
HD: This year? I'd say pretty slim. Why? Because I don't think Virginia Tech is going to beat Alabama, and I don't think they'll escape the ACC undefeated. And right now, the way everything is set up, the Hokies are the ACC's best hope -- even without Darren Evans. Now, if your Canes start off 4-0, then Florida better look out.