ACC: Billy Bennett
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sorry for the delay, but Spanky's on Franklin Street was calling my name for dinner.
Here's what happened throughout the league today, per the latest available report from each team:
- The defense stole the show in the Eagles' second scrimmage, and that's not a surprise. But eight sacks and four interceptions?
- The offense had 64 net rushing yards. Yikes.
- Chris Crane completed 14-of-25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.
- Junior Rich Gunnell led all receivers with three catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.
- Sophomore Billy Bennett connected on field goals of 26 and 38 yards while senior Steve Aponavicius nailed a 29-yarder.
- True freshman Ryan Quigley punted the ball three times for 104 yards (34.3 average) with a long of 36 yards while sophomore Billy Flutie punted once, a 33-yarder.
"The defense brought a whole lot of blitzes today," Crane said. "It's comforting to know this defense will be playing on our side of the ball this fall. It's a benefit to play against them every day."
- Rodney Gallon confirmed today that he is no longer a part of the Seminole football team. He told the FSU sports information office he will be enrolled in school this fall and is excited to complete the final nine hours toward his degree. Football is just not part of his future right now but completing his college degree is a priority.
- Preston Parker was held out of practice due to a cervical sprain. Tony Carter also suffered a cervical sprain and did not finish practice. Freshman Terrance Parks suffered a right knee contusion at the end of the session as well.
- One-on-one was run in the red zone and Corey Surrency caught four TD passes. Three came from E.J. Manuel and one from Drew Weatherford.
- Weatherford also had TD passes to Bert Reed, Avis Commack, Jarmon Fortson, Rod Owens and Chase Walker.
- Manuel not only had the three TDs to Surrency, but he also completed touchdown passes to Owens and Fortson. Christian Ponder, who was working mostly with the inside group, came over and completed a touchdown to Commack.
- In the 11-on-11 drill, Weatherford squeezed a pass between two defenders and it was deflected but Bo Reliford kept his concentration and hauled in the touchdown pass.
- Quarterback Josh Nesbitt didn't practice this afternoon with a shoulder injury and neither did Andrew Gardner, Sr., OT (also a shoulder). Both are day-to-day and neither is in jeopardy of missing the opener. Nesbitt got a "stinger" when a teammate fell on his shoulder.
- Practices will be closed beginning Monday. It was good while it lasted.
- The Yellow Jackets spent two periods this morning working on 3rd-and-5 situations. Back-up safety Troy Garside intercepted a Bryce Dykes passas.
- Senior quarterback Calvin Booker connected with sophomore Demaryius Thomas on a 35-yard touchdown completion.
- The Terps worked on clock management and ended with two-minute drills.
- There is still a battle at strongside linebacker where incumbent Moise Fokou is trying to hold off Adrian Moten for the starting nod. Regardless of who starts, both are likely to play extensively, including on special teams.
- During the full-team drill, wide receivers LaQuan Williams and Torrey Smith caught touchdown passes.
"We came out today and they were tired and sore," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "This was a character practice. We had a pretty good practice. I had to push them, but that's my job. I told them I'm going to get every ounce of energy and every ounce of talent out of them."
- The Hurricanes continued to stress special teams, and the defense focused on run blitzing drills with specific emphasis on red zone and run formations.
- After five practices in the past three days, coach Randy Shannon is giving his guys Thursday off.
- They'll scrimmage on Friday.
"The other day I didn't like the way we were practicing, but we came out this morning and this afternoon and finished up strong," Shannon said. "We had a lot of enthusiasm and we made a lot of plays on both sides of the football so we're excited about that. It was a big improvement from the other day."
- The Demon Deacons had their second two-a-day practice in preparation for tomorrow's scrimmage, which I will attend.
- In the first practice, during 7-on-7 drills, quarterback Riley Skinner hit running back Josh Adams on a long pass down the left sideline on the first play of the drill.
- Cornerbacks Chip Vaughn and Brandon Ghee each made a couple of nice pass breakups.
"I would like to see some improvement from the younger classes," said coach Jim Grobe. "We have older guys that are doing pretty much what we thought they would be doing at this point -- having good camps and making minimal mistakes. I think the key to a season is to have the younger guys step up. No matter how good your upperclassmen are, you are going to have to play young guys at some point, whether you are comfortable or not. So I would like to come back to the office after the scrimmage tomorrow and feel like our young guys made pretty good strides."