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ACC in the morning: Improvement since expansion?

8/12/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- I'm not sure how Clemson will do this year, but I think I'm gonna have a heckuva season. I ran down The Hill on Monday and touched Howard's Rock. (Well, technically I touched the protective case around the rock. It's been there since 1992, when some South Carolina fans tried to chip the rock off its base).

There's plenty going on here -- and I'll get to it throughout the day -- but first let's check out what's going on around the rest of the league:

Why not start with the entire ACC, which SI.com says has improved during expansion. The ACC has produced more NFL draft picks than the Pac-10 and Big 12, but Stewart Mandel writes that "the ACC's premier teams have not stacked up with their counterparts from around the country."

Let's get back to the state of South Carolina, where NC State nabbed another recruit? Tom O'Brien is still trying to figure out what to do with the players he already has, namely at quarterback.

Life's a beach at Georgia Tech for one too many players. The Beach is what they call the spot on the practice field for injured players. As for the guys who are actually healthy? It's an infusion of youth on defense.

The same can be said for Florida State's offensive line, where just two starters -- both talented sophomores -- return. Can Will Furlong make an immediate impact? If you don't think the Noles have a chance this season, then guess what? Defensive tackle Bud Thacker says "Poop on you."

Wake Forest doesn't have to worry about youth when it's got a defensive end nicknamed "grandpa." Matt Robinson is 24, in his sixth season of eligibility, and said he feels old. Ha.

Everyone at Virginia is tired of talking about Kevin Ogletree's knee. Now that he's healthy, he should play an integral role this season. Ogletree isn't the only receiver making a comeback. Cary Koch is healthy for the first time since he transferred from Tulane.

Miami's Antonio Dixon practiced on Monday, as did Eric Moncur and a few freshmen who were facing NCAA Clearinghouse issues. Meanwhile, Randy Shannon snagged another key recruit out of his backyard. And safety Anthony Reddick is due a break.

Maryland players are taking what coach Ralph Friedgen says to heart. If they don't win big, they're at least gonna go down swinging.

But first Friedgen has to name a starting quarterback.

Don't read this one unless you feel like crying in your coffee. It's going to be hard not to root for UNC linebacker Chase Rice this season.