ACC: Brandon Linder

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 11, 2014
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The NFL draft combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis will be held from Feb. 19-25 and will feature workouts, medical examinations, psychological testing and interviews for the 335 invited prospects. The ACC has a total of 46 players who will participate, including at least one player from every school (we included Maryland and not Louisville in this post, because it is from the 2013 season). National champion Florida State led the league with eight players heading to the combine, but UNC was right behind with seven. Don't cry ... you're gonna miss some of these names next year. Good luck to these guys.

Here is the official list of the ACC attendees:

BOSTON COLLEGE (5)
CLEMSON (4)
DUKE (1)
FLORIDA STATE (8)
GEORGIA TECH (2)
MARYLAND (1)
MIAMI (5)
NORTH CAROLINA (7)
NC STATE (1)
PITTSBURGH (3)
SYRACUSE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
VIRGINIA TECH (4)
WAKE FOREST (1)

ACC players in the Senior Bowl

January, 21, 2014
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Senior Bowl practices are underway this week, and wouldn't you know it -- scouts have their eyes on the quarterbacks.

That means Stephen Morris, Logan Thomas and Tajh Boyd are firmly in the spotlight this week among featured ACC players participating in the college all-star game, a critical first step in evaluations for the NFL draft in May. Scouts Inc. lists Thomas as the highest rated quarterback among the three and broke down what each has to accomplish this week.

For Thomas: The need to "thrive with an even playing field."

For Morris: More consistency with footwork and ball placement as a passer.

For Boyd: "Show improvement throughout the week with pro-style progressions and anticipation as a pocket passer."

Scouts Inc. also lists Miami offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson and Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses as having the most to prove.

Here is a look at all the ACC players participating in the Senior Bowl, with the game set for Saturday. Boston College running back Andre Williams was invited but pulled out so he can continue to rehab his injured shoulder.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, the reigning ACC Player of the Year and preseason Player of the Year, leads the 2013 Preseason All-ACC Football Team announced on Wednesday.

Boyd, who enters his senior season with 8,053 career passing yards and 73 career touchdown passes, was the overwhelming choice at quarterback in voting by media at the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff, held this week at Greensboro’s Grandover Resort.

Boyd is one of three Clemson players on the 25-member team. Florida State led all schools with six players, and North Carolina had four. Duke, Miami and Wake Forest followed with two selections each, while Boston College, Georgia Tech Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Virginia Tech each placed one player on the team.

Here is the full team:

OFFENSE

WR Sammy Watkins, CL (57) 6-1 205 Jr. Fort Myers, Fla.

WR Michael Campanaro, WF (20) 5-11 190 Sr. Clarksville, Md.

TE Eric Ebron, UNC (35) 6-4 245 Jr. Greensboro, N.C.

T James Hurst, UNC (37) 6-7 305 Sr. Plainfield, Ind.

T Morgan Moses, UVa (35) 6-6 325 Sr. Richmond, Va.

G Tre' Jackson, FSU (46) 6-4 330 Jr. Jesuup, Ga.

G Brandon Linder, UM (28) 6-6 317 Sr. Southwest Ranches, Fla.

C Bryan Stork, FSU (29) 6-4 298 Sr. Vero Beach, Fla.

QB Tajh Boyd, CL (59) 6-1 225 Sr. Hampton, Va.

RB Duke Johnson, UM (58) 5-9 194 So. Miami, Fla.

RB James Wilder Jr., FSU (23) 6-2 229 Jr. Tampa, Fla.

DEFENSE

DE Jeremiah Attaochu, GT (39) 6-3 242 Sr. Washington, D.C.

DE Kareem Martin, UNC (37) 6-6 265 Sr. Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

DT Nikita Whitlock, WF (35) 5-11 250 Sr. Wylie, Texas

DT Timmy Jernigan, FSU (34) 6-2 294 Jr. Lake City, Fla.

LB Jack Tyler, VT (42) 6-1 236 Sr. Oakton, Va.

LB Christian Jones, FSU (38) 6-4 232 Sr. Winter Park, Fla.

LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, BC (21) 6-1 215 Sr. Norwalk, Conn.

CB Ross Cockrell, DU (48) 6-0 180 Sr. Waxhaw, N.C.

CB Lamarcus Joyner, FSU (32) * 5-8 190 Sr. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

S Tre Boston, UNC (30) 6-1 205 Sr. Ft. Myers, Fla.

S Jason Hendricks, PITT (18) 6-0 180 Sr. Brooklyn, N.Y.

SPECIALISTS

PK Chandler Catanzaro, CL (41) 6-2 195 Gr. Greenville, S.C.

P Will Monday, DU (41) 6-4 210 So. Flowery Branch, Ga.

SP Stefon Diggs, MD (34) 6-1 185 So. Gaithersburg, Md.

* FSU's Joyner also received 11 votes at the safety position
The Football Writers Association of America today announced the watch list candidates for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football. The ACC tied the Pac-12 for the second-most nominees with 12 players. The SEC led the watch list with 16 players.

Here are your ACC representatives:
The FWAA also today announced the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, presented annually to the national defensive player of the year by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. The ACC (12) had the fourth-most players on the list behind the SEC (16), Pac-12 (14), and Big Ten (13).

Here are your ACC reps:
Duke and Miami have the most returning experience on the offensive line in the ACC this year, according to the conference. The Blue Devils return four starters in tackles Perry Simmons and Tacoby Cofield, and guards Laken Tomlinson and Dave Harding, who have combined for a total of 100 starts.

Miami returns all five starters from last year’s team: tackles Seantrel Henderson and Malcolm Bunche, guards Jon Feliciano and Brandon Linder, and center Shane McDermott. They have combined for 97 starts. (Um, yeah, Duke Johnson is set for another great year).

Here's a look at what the rest of the league has returning up front, according to the ACC:


Ouch, Virginia Tech. The Hokies are trying to rejuvenate their offense under first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler, and they've got to do it with one of the least experienced offensive lines in the conference. There are plenty of veteran linemen in the Coastal Division, but few in Blacksburg.

The league's top veteran is actually at Duke, where Simmons is a three-year starter at tackle and leads all returning offensive linemen with 36 career starts.

Here's a look at the returning offensive linemen in the ACC with the most career starts:

1. Perry Simmons, Duke, Sr., Tackle: 36
2. James Hurst, North Carolina, Sr., Tackle: 35
3. Brandon Linder, G, Sr., Miami: 31
3. Morgan Moses, Virginia, Sr., Tackle: 31
5. Brian Stork, Florida State, Sr., Center: 28
6. Dave Harding, Duke, Sr., Guard: 26
7. Macky MacPherson, Syracuse, Sr., Center: 25
7. Luke Bowanko, Virginia, Sr., Center: 25
9. Laken Tomlinson, Duke, Jr., Guard: 24
9. Ray Beno, Georgia Tech, Sr., Center: 24
11. Ian White, Boston College, Sr., Guard: 23
12. Jon Feliciano, Miami, Jr., Guard: 22
Buried beneath pounds of paperwork from the NCAA is the fact that Miami’s depth chart should be good enough to win the Coastal Division in 2013. With so much attention focused on the NCAA investigation, Nevin Shapiro has gotten more ink (unfortunately) than quarterback Stephen Morris. And Morris is going to be very, very good.

As Miami begins spring practices on Saturday, the Canes do so underneath a cloud for the third straight preseason under coach Al Golden. If those within the program, though, can focus on their on-field goals and avoid the distractions once again, Miami should pick up right where it left off in 2012 -- at the top of the division standings. Miami returns 10 starters on offense and defense. Golden and his staff brought in the No. 15 recruiting class in the country, coupled with the experience of 21 freshmen who played in 2012.

[+] EnlargeAl Golden
Kevin Liles/US PresswireAl Golden and the Hurricanes enter the spring with experience on the offensive and defensive lines.
This Coastal Division race is going to be tight. Expect every team in the division to be better. Trying to predict the division winner right now is like trying to predict when the NCAA will hand down its verdict. On anything. Miami fans, though, have reason to believe that if the program is eligible to play in the postseason, the pieces are in place to get them to Charlotte.

Here are three reasons why Miami is my way-too-early pick to win the Coastal Division:

1. QB Stephen Morris and running back Duke Johnson: This dynamic duo is going to be a highlight in the ACC. As a true freshman, Johnson had arguably the greatest freshman season in the program’s history. He was named the ACC’s Overall and Offensive Rookie of the Year after racking up 2,060 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns in 12 games. And Morris can be good enough to push Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd as the ACC’s best quarterback in 2013. Morris finished 2012 on a hot streak, as he threw for 1,131 yards and 11 TDs – with zero interceptions -- in his final four games. Morris finished the season with a program-record 3,415 yards of total offense, eclipsing the previous mark of 3,412 held by Bernie Kosar.

2. Experience up front: Miami returns all five starters on the offensive line (Malcolm Bunche, started 12 games at left tackle; Jon Feliciano, started 12 at left guard; Shane McDermott started 12 at center; Brandon Linder started 12 at right guard; Seantrel Henderson started seven at right tackle and Ereck Flowers started four at right tackle). Miami also returns all four starters on the defensive line (Anthony Chickillo 12 at defensive end, Curtis Porter the last three at defensive tackle, Olsen Pierre 11 at defensive tackle, and Shayon Green at defensive end). How many schools in the country can say they return every starter on both their offensive and defensive lines? Granted, the defensive line is Miami’s unit most in need of improvement this offseason, but considering the group only had 13 sacks a year ago, it should only be better.

3. A favorable schedule: Miami has an entire month to prepare for league play, as its first ACC game isn’t until Oct. 5 against Georgia Tech. It doesn’t even have to leave the state until Oct. 17, when it travels to North Carolina, and even then the Canes have a bye week to prepare for the Thursday night game against the Tar Heels. Yes, they have to play rival FSU on the road, but they do get Virginia Tech at home. Winning at Pitt on a Friday in November won’t be easy, but getting Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech at home helps compensate for it.

ACC NFL draft early entrant list

January, 16, 2013
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The deadline for underclassmen to enter the NFL draft has passed.

So here is a quick look at who is going and who is staying in the ACC.

Leaving early
Sticking around

Of the underclassmen declaring early, Werner is the only one rated among the top 32 prospects by Scouts Inc. But Mel Kiper lists Bernard as the top junior running back available Insider; Hopkins as the No. 3 junior receiver; Amerson as the No. 4 junior cornerback and Rhodes as the No. 5 junior cornerback. Watson is the only player not rated at the Top 5 at his position.

As for the group of players staying, it certainly is an impressive bunch. You have the ACC Player of the Year in Boyd; an All-ACC first-team selection in Joyner; and second-team All-ACC picks in Gayle, Exum and Jones. Interestingly enough, Kiper has Exum rated higher than Amerson and Rhodes -- two players that declared for the draft.

Miami trio will return to school

January, 14, 2013
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Miami starting offensive linemen Seantrel Henderson and Brandon Linder and defensive lineman Curtis Porter will return for their senior seasons, bolstering a team that should be a preseason favorite to win the Coastal Division.

The trio announced their intentions to return Monday.

"I think it means a lot to the team," Henderson said. "It means a lot to everybody as far as the team and the coaching staff. I think everybody on the team and the coaching staff loves us and I think they would love for us to stay as long as we can."

Henderson, a first-team Freshman All-American in 2010, has had an up-and-down career with the Hurricanes and still has yet to live up to his full potential. He had to work his way back into the starting lineup in 2012 after dealing with a few personal issues, and ended up starting the final seven games at right tackle.

Linder started all 12 games at right guard in 2012 and has made 24 consecutive starts. In three seasons on the offensive line, he has played all 36 games and has made 29 starts. After two-plus injury-plagued seasons, Porter was finally healthy during the latter part of the 2012 season. He played in the Hurricanes' final four games, starting the last two contests against USF and Duke.

In all, Miami returns a whopping 20 of 22 starters for 2013. You see why expectations are high in Coral Gables.

Coach Al Golden released the following statements on all three players.

Golden on Henderson: "I'm really proud of Seantrel. He exhibited patience and self-restrain and approached this business decision with transparency and maturity. Instant gratification and leaving would have been easy for Seantrel; Instead, he's accepted the challenge to become the best person and player he can be.

"I believe that Seantrel is really enjoying his teammates and wants to be a part of bringing the Canes back. There is room for growth with respect to Seantrel's game. He has started 18 games in his career, suffered through some injuries, has endured personal tragedy as well as created a number of self-inflicted distractions which we believe he has left in the past. It's essential that he continue to keep trusting our process, make great choices and surround himself with the right people. If he does this, the sky is the limit for Seantrel."

Golden on Linder: "We're blessed to have Brandon returning to our football team. He has clearly grown over the last year and has been a beacon of consistency for our student-athletes during an extraordinarily turbulent time. He's not only the most experienced Miami Hurricane having started 29 games in his career, possessing at 24 consecutive games started streak, but he is a tremendous student and one of our finest leaders.

"You can see in his demeanor that he has unfinished business on his mind and is excited about returning to Coral Gables for the 2013 season. Brandon will be considered among the best at his position in the ACC, if not the country."

Golden on Porter: "We're excited to have the opportunity to work with Curtis for an entire year. He's had some unfortunate injuries which have encumbered his development over the last couple of years; however, he really came on strong during the last half of the year for us.

"He exhibited to everyone associated with our program a glimpse of what he can become. Curtis is talented - he's smart, strong, powerful and explosive yet has room for development on and off the field. If he continues to trust his coaches, cultivates his position skills and develops consistency in his daily approach to football, he will undoubtedly develop into the type of player he wants to become. Our hope is that Curtis will start to 'enjoy the journey' as he deserves this opportunity and every measure of good fortune in 2013. We're excited that he will be joining us for his final year."

ACC weekend wrap

January, 14, 2013
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A few items of interest for you from around the league this past weekend:

CLEMSON

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney presented the first Brian Dawkins Clemson Lifetime Achievement Award to -- surprise -- Brian Dawkins at the team’s banquet on Saturday evening.

From the release:
Dawkins recently retired from the NFL after 16 years with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Denver Broncos. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and played 224 games overall. He was a three-time All-ACC selection at Clemson between 1992-95 and was an AP All-American as a senior in 1995 when he led the ACC in interceptions.

“I got the idea to present an award like this from last year’s experience with the Bobby Dodd Award,” said Swinney, who won the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year Award in 2011. “The Dodd Award takes into account performance on the field, but also qualities like leadership, community service and others.

“Brian Dawkins epitomizes everything you strive to be on and off the field when it comes to being a Clemson football player. He is the ultimate professional and has represented this university with distinction in every way. He has set a standard of excellence in every way."

Swinney said that the award would be presented annually to a former Clemson player who had been out of school for at least 10 years. A committee will make a selection each November. The player will be honored at the banquet in January and at a football game the following fall.
FLORIDA STATE/GEORGIA TECH

Florida State has hired former Georgia Tech interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly as its linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. On Saturday, Georgia Tech responded with the following statements:
Charles Kelly: “I would like to thank Paul Johnson and Chan Gailey for giving me the opportunity to coach at Georgia Tech. I would also like to thank all the current and former Georgia Tech players for the effort they gave, on and off the field.

“My family and I will always have fond memories of the past seven years and we appreciate the support of the Georgia Tech administration, alumni and fans.

“I have a great deal of respect for Paul Johnson and I am very appreciative of his understanding of this great opportunity for me and my family.”

Paul Johnson: “I want to thank Charles for all that he has done for Georgia Tech football, especially in my five years at Tech. Charles is a hard-worker, a good football coach, and I’m certain he’ll be successful for years to come. I wish the best for him, Kristy and the kids.”
MIAMI
  • The NCAA's investigation is reportedly nearing an end, according to The Associated Press. The program could find out its punishment by May or June. Maybe. Possibly. It still needs the notice of allegations, but it sounds like some key officials are set to meet today.
  • At 11 a.m. today, Miami juniors Seantrel Henderson, Brandon Linder and Curtis Porter will announce their intentions on whether they will declare for the 2013 NFL draft or return for their senior seasons.
VIRGINIA

Virginia hired Larry Lewis as the its special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Lewis replaces Jeff Banks, who joined the UVa staff on Jan. 1 before resigning last week to coach in the SEC.

From the release:
Lewis has 32 years of collegiate coaching experience, including an eight-year stint as the head coach at Idaho State. Lewis first started coaching special teams when he was an assistant on Mike Price’s Weber State staff in 1981 and became one of the first college coaches to hold the title of special teams coordinator when he took on that role for Price’s Washington State teams in the 1990s.

“Larry Lewis has probably been coaching special teams for as long as anyone in college football and we’re really fortunate to have him join our staff,” coach Mike London said. “On the offensive side of the ball, he has worked for some very successful and innovative coaches out west and coached two of the nation’s top running backs over the past two seasons. Larry is high energy and our players are going to enjoy his style. It is ironic that Jeff Banks played for Larry at Washington State. I guess you could say we’ve gone from the pupil to the teacher.”

Lewis comes to Virginia after working for Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault at Nevada in 2012. Ault announced his retirement in late December. Lewis served as the Wolfpack’s special teams coordinator and running backs coach. Nevada averaged 271 rushing yards per game last season, the seventh-best average among FBS programs.

Miami spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
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2011 overall record: 6-6
2011 conference record: 3-5 (T-4th, Coastal)
Returning starters: Offense: 4; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
WR Allen Hurns, TE Clive Walford, RT Jon Feliciano, RG Brandon Linder, DE Anthony Chickillo, DT Darius Smith, LB James Gaines, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Brandon McGee, S Vaughn Telemaque

Key losses
WR Travis Benjamin, WR Tommy Streeter, LT Brandon Washington, LG Harland Gunn, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, RB Lamar Miller, DE Marcus Robinson, DT Adewale Ojomo, LB Sean Spence, CB Mike Williams, S JoJo Nicolas

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Lamar Miller (1,271 yards)
Passing: Jacory Harris (2,486 yards)
Receiving: Tommy Streeter (811 yards)
Tackles: Sean Spence (106)
Sacks: Anthony Chickillo*/Marcus Robinson (5)
Interceptions: JoJo Nicolas (2)

Spring answers

1. Ryan Williams can challenge Stephen Morris: Williams received most of the spring reps with Morris sidelined, and the Memphis transfer should enter preseason camp with a chance to overtake Morris for the No. 1 spot. That's all the Hurricanes can hope for with Morris recovering from back surgery.

2. The defense should be OK: Yes, some of that ugly 7-6 final from the spring game has to be blamed on putrid offense, but the defense deserves plenty of credit for forcing five turnovers. The unit also forced 10 sacks and picked off three passes in the team's March 30 scrimmage. The Canes return six starters from a defense that ranked 17th nationally in scoring in 2011.

3. Running backs stepping up: Al Golden has praised Mike James and Eduardo Clements this spring for both their performances on the field and their leadership off it. A strong showing from the duo will certainly ease the loss of Lamar Miller, but that could depend more on the progress of the offensive line than anything else.

Fall questions

1. What will Morris be like upon return? No one wants to lose his job to injury, and Morris surely noticed the performance of Williams this spring. Morris was able to take reps toward the end of spring without pads, which is certainly encouraging, but how he fares against defenses remains to be seen.

2. How soon can newcomers contribute? Golden landed the nation's No. 8 recruiting class for 2012, and many of the rookies can't get to campus soon enough. Miami lost 30 players this past season and has questions at receiver, in the secondary and along the offensive line. Spots could be there for the taking, so seeing which newcomers step up early will be interesting.

3. About that elephant in the room … Coaches and players will repeat that they only worry about what they can control, but the black cloud from the Nevin Shapiro scandal won't stop looming over the program until the NCAA delivers its ruling. The day that comes will be a welcome relief for the program, dark as that day may be. But if Golden could lure the No. 8 recruiting class despite the scandal, imagine what he could do once it subsides.

Most Important Player: Miami

May, 1, 2012
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Our series continues today with the Hurricanes, who are replacing a just-drafted running back and face a lack of depth on their offensive line.

For a complete recap of the series, click here.

Miami: RG Brandon Linder

2011 stats: Linder started all 12 games as a sophomore at right guard and earned ACC offensive lineman of the week honors after playing center, guard, tackle and tight end in the Hurricanes' 35-10 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 12.

What he means to the Hurricanes: Miami's offensive line trouble this spring has been well-documented, with coach Al Golden having to defend signs the program posted on campus looking for walk-on additions to the unit. Three starters from the end of last season are gone, including the entire left side. Linder looks like the only sure thing for the unit coming out of spring. Jon Feliciano is the only other returning starter, but he moved from right tackle to left guard, and he may not even start there, as he exits spring in a tight battle with Jermaine Johnson for the No. 1 spot. That leaves Linder as the lone holdover, and his presence on the line will provide a strong sense of stability for a unit that paved the way for Lamar Miller to rush for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Miller was just drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round. The Canes currently have 13 offensive linemen on the roster as they exit spring, and will have one more come fall once guard recruit Daniel Isidora arrives.
Andrea Adelson had a chance to sit down with Miami coach Al Golden during a recent visit to Coral Gables. Here is a little of what he had to say.

I know depth is an area of concern. How are you working to address that this spring?

Al Golden: Any time you’re bringing in a class of 33, that’s three starting units. Obviously, those guys are going to have an impact somewhere on your depth. You never want to have a year where you take six receivers or seven defensive backs, but the symmetry at those positions was not good. It was not vertical depth. It wasn’t fifth-year seniors, fourth-year seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen, then incoming guys. It didn’t exist. So that was a blanket approach of trying to bring in a lot of guys to fix a depth issue. Between the depth and those guys challenging for playing time as starters, that’s going to improve our team. I’m not worried about playing young guys. We’ll find a way to get them in a game if they’re talented and they learn it and they’re in good condition. I don’t care whether they’re freshmen or seniors, I just need guys who want to execute.

You lost some senior leaders. How is that aspect of your team developing?

[+] EnlargeAl Golden
Robert Mayer/US PresswireCoach Al Golden has been impressed with the physicality of the linebacking corps this spring.
AG: So far it’s been good. Mike James and Eduardo Clements at running back, Stephen Morris at quarterback. (Brandon) Linder on the offensive line has been very good. David Perry at tight end has been a nice surprise for us. Allen Hurns at wideout has done a nice job with the leadership. Defensively, (Ramon) Buchanan will be a leader for us, Ray Armstrong will be a leader for us, Jimmy Gaines has been and will be a leader for us. It’s been positive in terms of that. We just have to continue to develop leaders and give them opportunities to lead.

How about some questions that have been answered about your defense so far?

AG: I think the one thing that jumped out in the (first scrimmage) is we had a lot of linebackers that played physical. So that part of it was good. Even the young guys, [Raphael] Kirby was physical, Gionni Paul was physical, Denzel [Perryman] was physical on top of [Tyrone] Cornileus and Jimmy Gaines and those guys. Seeing that was good. We tackled a lot better in Scrimmage 1 this year than Scrimmage 1 a year ago, which was important, and we’re still trying to develop our depth on the defensive line and at cornerback. Those are two positions we need to bolster this spring.

Speaking of the defensive line, you don't have many players with starts or experience. What do you want to see out of that group this spring?

AG: I want to see, like Curtis Porter, I’d like to see him take his game to the next level. Darius Smith has got to continue to improve. Then we’re going to have a host of other guys at the defensive tackle position that need to compete and improve their game. At defensive end, Shayon Green’s had a good spring for us so far, and really at defensive end, we’re going to have in addition to what we have right now, we’re going to have three defensive ends coming in that are going to have to compete for starting jobs and also add depth.

Right now, do you have any idea of what team you will have in the fall?

AG: We have a long way to go. I just think before these other 23 players come in, because 10 are here now, you have to assess where you are at every position and see how they come out of it. We have a long way to go to get through spring ball, and then from April 14 until Aug. 5 there’s a great opportunity for them to grow and develop. It’s too early to assess where we are right now as a team.

A year into the job, what are your impressions of coaching at Miami, a place where championships are always expected?

AG: We’re not at that level right now. The first order of business when you’re trying to fix something or you’re trying to build something is to recognize where you are and then to not only plot a course but then to follow that path, follow that strategy and execute it. I’m glad the standards are where they are, and I’m glad we produce NFL players, and I’m glad we have so many things to offer young people. It’s the reason why you take the job. But we can’t jump from where we are right now to there without taking all the steps we need to take in between. We’re just trying to implement our schemes and our system and follow the process on a daily basis.

ACC's Players of the Week

November, 15, 2010
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Here are the ACC's players of the week, as announced by the league offices in Greensboro, N.C.:

OFFENSIVE BACK – E.J. Manuel, Florida State, QB, r-Fr., 6-4, 223, Virginia Beach, Va. (Bayside)

In his first start of the season Manuel directed the Seminoles to a come-from-behind 16-13 victory against Clemson. Filling in for starter Christian Ponder, Manuel completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 210 yards and led the Seminoles in rushing with a career-high 71 yards on 15 carries. Manuel improved his career record to 4-1 as the starter. Trailing 10-6 to start the fourth, Manuel led the Noles on a 12-play, 85-yard scoring drive, capped by his 8-yard touchdown run for a 13-10 lead. He accounted for five first downs, four of which were rushing, and 34 rushing yards along the way.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Brandon Linder, Miami, OL, Fr., 6-6, 300, Southwest Ranches, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Linder took snaps at center, guard, tackle and tight end for Miami in its 35-10 win over Georgia Tech. While playing four different positions, he managed to grade out at 97 percent with two pancake blocks and one lumberjack. He also played a key role in the Canes posting season-highs in rushing yards (277) and total yards (507).

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Luke Kuechly, Boston College, MLB, So., 6-3, 235, Cincinnati, Ohio (Saint Xavier)

Kuechly, the nation’s leading tackler, kept a firm grip on that title with 21tackles in the 21-16 win at Duke (9 solos, 12 assists). It marked his second game this year with 20-plus tackles, and he is the only player in the country with two 20-tackle games this year. He extended his streak of games with 10-plus tackles to 19, which is the nation’s longest active streak. Kuechly also had 0.5 TFL for 1 yard, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups. He was part of a BC defensive interior that held Duke to four total rushing yards and 311 total net yards on the day.

DEFENSIVE BACK – Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB, So., 5-11, 170, Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic)

Hosley jumped into the national lead for interceptions per game with two picks off North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates in the Hokies’ 26-10 win over the Tar Heels. He now has seven on the season. Hosley returned his fourth-quarter interception 12 yards. He is also second nationally in passes defended.

SPECIALIST – Dustin Hopkins, Florida State, K, So., 6-2, 185, Houston, Texas (Clear Lake)

One week after missing two fourth-quarter field goals, including the potential game-winner, against North Carolina Hopkins delivered the final blow in a 16-13 win over Clemson. Hopkins’ career-long 55-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Noles to victory. The longest walk-off field goal in ACC history was Hopkins’ third in a 10-point performance. He also converted field goals of 28 and 29 yards, while extending his streak of consecutive PAT conversions to 73. Hopkins also registered two touchbacks on four kicks. The Groza Award semifinalist ranks second nationally with 34 touchbacks on the season.

ROOKIE – Danny O’Brien, Maryland, QB, r-Fr., 6-3, 215, Kernersville, N.C. (East Forsyth)

O’Brien led the Terps to a 42-23 come-from-behind win over Virginia. The redshirt freshman connected on 18 of his 28 passes for 289 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another one. He directed six scoring drives, which all resulted in touchdowns, was a perfect 6-for-6 in red zone efficiency and hit on 10 of his 11 passes in the second half. O’Brien did most of his damage on third down, completing 8 of 12 passes for 152 yards and one score. O’Brien, who is 5-2 as a starter, ranks fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency (133.5) and fourth nationally among FBS freshmen.

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