ACC: Chavez Grant
Defensive linemen: Redshirt juniors and seniors comprised the bulk of the two-deep depth chart in 2009, and the recent dismissal of backup John Drew plus the graduation of Vince Oghobaase makes it a position of concern. The interior line needs the most help.
Running back: The Blue Devils never quite got their running game going in 2009 and will have to start to make a push at this position to help break in new starting quarterback Sean Renfree. Re’quan Boyette will have to be replaced.
Offensive line: In looking ahead, the Blue Devils will have six redshirt juniors or seniors up front in 2010. While that’s good news for the immediate future, Duke needs to work ahead for what it will lose in 2011.
Defensive backs: The biggest loss is obviously safety Morgan Burnett to the NFL draft, but the Jackets need to look ahead. Safeties Mario Edwards and Dominique Reese will be redshirt seniors this year, and cornerback Mario Butler will be a senior.
Defensive linemen: For the second year in a row it’s a concern, and thanks in large part to the NFL draft. Derrick Morgan will be missed, but overall this group needs an upgrade.
Offensive line: Three starters will have to be replaced, including the Canes’ top veteran, Jason Fox. Both guard positions are also short-timers, as Orlando Franklin and Joel Figueroa will both be seniors this fall.
Linebacker: Darryl Sharpton is the lone senior departing, but this unit could use more depth. It’s been a problem since Randy Shannon took over. And while the staff has made progress, injuries have continuously depleted the group.
Secondary: The Canes will have to replace Chavez Grant and Randy Phillips, and DeMarcus VanDyke will be a senior. Miami improved its interceptions in 2009, but not by much, ranking No. 87 in the country with nine. Of course, it helps to get pressure up front to force quarterbacks into those mistakes.
Offensive line: This is where the Tar Heels’ offensive improvement needs to start, and it didn’t help that this year’s unit was battered and bruised most of the season. Two starters will have to be replaced this year and five more of the top players in the rotation will be seniors in 2010.
Linebacker: UNC needs to reload at this position, and it's taking the right steps in that direction with this class. Although Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter elected to return, it’s only a matter of time before the talented seniors have to be replaced.
Quarterback: The Cavs have a lot of questions about this position heading into 2010 and beyond. The good news is that Michael Strauss has already enrolled this semester, so he’ll get an early start with spring ball.
Playmakers: Vague, yes, but it’s exactly what this program needs. Part of the reason Gregg Brandon’s spread offense didn’t work was because he didn’t have the personnel to execute it. Virginia will lose its most versatile player in Vic Hall, will have to replace fullback Rashawn Jackson, and needs more than just Mikell Simpson.
Linemen: The Hokies will need help on both sides of the ball, particularly interior defensive linemen. Six of the eight players on the 2009 two-deep defensive line were either juniors or seniors. Starters Ed Wang and Sergio Render will have to be replaced on the offensive line this year.
Defensive backs: This unit will be hit hard with departures in the next two seasons, as starters Kam Chancellor and Stephan Virgil have to be replaced in 2010, and Rashad Carmichael and Davon Morgan will be seniors.
Quarterback. With Tyrod Taylor being a senior next year, the staff will have to look ahead. There’s a lot of inexperience and question marks behind him. The one thing they don’t need in Blacksburg? Running backs.
n said. "He kind of looked like he had solidified the job and then he opens it up again." Defensive back Eric Franklin, a true freshman, made a scrimmage-best eight tackles and picked off Turner on the sixth possession. MIAMI The Canes wrapped up their final two-a-day of fall camp on Sunday, and coach Randy Shannon said everything -- that's right, everything -- is still up for grabs. Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post had a couple of notes for you off Sunday's practice. Morning Practice Highlights -- (pads) Joe Joseph and Marcus Robinson each had a sack in 11-on-11 drills. Randy Phillips (INT, pass break-up) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (two pass break-ups) stood out in the secondary. Lee Chambers and Damien Berry each broke off a couple runs of 15+ yards. Javarris James caught several passes in both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions Afternoon Practice Highlights -- (shells) Sam Shields (red zone), Chavez Grant (7-on-7) and C.J. Holton (11-on-11) all recorded interceptions. Grant returned his for a touchdown while Holton caught his off a tipped pass. A.J. Highsmith connected with Tommy Streeter (11-on-11) and LaRon Byrd (7-on-7) for significant yardage. Damien Berry took a short pass in the flat from Taylor Cook for a long gain. Other highlights include a near interception by Randy Phillips, a pass break-up by Ramon Buchanan and a sack by Micanor Regis. Red zone touchdowns included Jacory Harris to Richard Gordon and Taylor Cook to Jimmy Graham. VIRGINIA TECH So ... add Ryan Williams to the list of VT running backs who are banged up. Williams sprained his ankle, and Josh Oglesby has "the worst infection" coach Billy Hite has ever seen on a foot. Also, the coaches want to redshirt Logan Thomas, and Kenny Lewis Jr.'s recovery has been delayed. Not a lot of happy news coming out of Blacksburg these days. To read Virginia Tech's entire scrimmage report, click here. Tyrod Taylor completed 8 of 11 passes for 78 yards. Xavier Boyce led all receivers with two catches for 47 yards. Freshman running back Tony Gregory rushed 18 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Williams rushed just five times for 22 yards before spraining his ankle and sitting out the rest of the scrimmage. He did score on a 4-yard run and he returned several punts. Matt Waldron was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts. (31, 32, 43, 30) Defensive tackle Cordarrow Thompson led the defense with seven tackles, four for a loss, and one sack.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
ACC football officially begins this weekend when players report in Raleigh and Atlanta, so TGIF ...
- Former Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson signed a four-year deal with Cincinnati. He's just one of three players the Jackets will be missing up front this year. He's not the only former ACC superstar who just got richer.
- Former Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey signed a contract with the Raiders that will guarantee him at least $23.5 million. I need to learn how to catch the football better.
- Is the ACC getting offensive? You bet.
- Jerry Ratcliffe says there are a few reasons for Virginia to be optimistic about this season.
- Miami senior cornerback Chavez Grant has the pedigree, but he wants to create his own legacy.
- Duke running back Requan Boyette could give the Blue Devils' running game the boost coach David Cutcliffe is looking for.
- The Demon Deacons picked up an offensive tackle this week.
- There's an injury trend at Maryland that doesn't bode well for this season if "stabilizer" Chris Turner becomes the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to get hurt.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Miami cornerback Sam Shields always writes down his goals, and this year, they're quite specific: Get five picks and return three of them for touchdowns.
Having been a receiver at Miami for the past three years, there's no question he can catch the ball and score. Shields, a junior, played in all 13 games last year either as a receiver or a gunner on special teams. He has started 15 career games and enters his first season as a cornerback with 971 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His receptions decreased last year as there were several talented freshmen to share the ball with. Shields said coach Randy Shannon approached him about the move, and he was willing to do whatever it took to help the team.
|Doug Benc/Getty Images|
|Sam Shields will go from receiving catches to defending them.|
"When I started spring it was tough trying to catch on, but as the spring kept going I was getting better and better," Shields said. "Now we're doing seven-on-sevens and it seems like I've been at corner forever now."
Shields said the toughest receiver he's gone against in his new position has been LaRon Byrd, and there's been no shortage of trash-talking, from the field to the weight room.
"There's a lot of animosity," Byrd said. "A guy like Sam Shields is an athlete, so there's not too much you can fool him by. He played receiver, so he knows the routes you're going to run, and plus he's fast. He's got make-up speed. So it's kind of hard to get past him. You have to do a lot of double moves on Sam."
The secondary was definitely a place that could use some help. DeMarcus Van Dyke, Chavez Grant and Brandon Harris are the most experienced starters at cornerback, but were inconsistent last year. Van Dyke, entering his third season, made two starts last year. Harris started six games as a true freshman and Grant started seven. Ryan Hill could also slide from safety to corner this season, but Shields will definitely be in the rotation.
"I've got a real good chance of starting," Shields said. "We weren't that deep on the corner position. I've got a real good chance of starting."
To get there, though, he's got to beat the same receivers he was once practicing with. Byrd said he thinks the move will benefit the team because Shields is such a great athlete he can play anywhere. It's the backpeddling as a cornerback that's been tripping him up.
"It was tough at first," he said. "I was getting sore, just the transition from running at the receiver to having the receiver come to you. That was tough. You've just got to keep working on it, day by day."
The coaching staff hasn't made any secrets about its desire to narrow the deep group of receivers to a few go-to playmakers, and Byrd said that's upped the intensity a notch this summer.
"If you tell any group of athletes that it's going to drive them harder and make them work harder," Byrd said. "I'm kind of glad (the coaches) did that because a lot of people get complacent. I don't want to get complacent or say, 'Well, I know I'm going to start.' Everyone wants to play, so it's going to bring the level of competition up between everybody."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Here's a quick wrap-up from scrimmages around the ACC today. The information is from each school's sports information director:
Running backs Jamie Harper, Andre Ellington, Rendrick Taylor and Ronald Watson Jr. combined for 200 yards rushing on 36 carries and quarterbacks Willy Korn and Kyle Parker combined to throw five touchdown passes during a two-and-a-half hour scrimmage at Clemson Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning.
It was the first stadium scrimmage for Clemson. The spring game will be held on April 11 at 1 p.m.
"The offense scored two touchdowns on the first two possessions on 70-yard drives, but the defense came back later in the scrimmage," coach Dabo Swinney said. "The defense had the upper hand in most of our practices up until today, so it was good to see the offense have strong performance today. Overall I was pleased with the effort, but we still have a lot to work on."
Swinney singled out some performances after the scrimmage.
"I thought both quarterbacks played well today. Willy Korn and Kyle Parker both managed the offense in difficult weather conditions and made some plays. I don't know who our starting quarterback will be in the opener, but I am confident we will have a talented player under center.
"The running backs played well. Rendrick Taylor had a good day running the ball. He is going to help us. He really ran hard and broke some tackles. I have been looking for a wide receiver to step up and make a play and Marquan Jones did that with a touchdown catch on the first possession. Marcus Gilchrist made an outstanding play on an interception late in the scrimmage."
Korn completed 4 of 9 passes for 42 yards, but two went for touchdowns, a 28-yard score to Jones and a 3-yard pass to Michael Palmer in a goal-line situation.
Parker completed 5 of 12 passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his scores went to fullback Chad Diehl, one of 43 yards on a swing pass on the sidelines, and one on a 4-yard score. He also threw a 14-yard scoring pass to freshman tight end Dwayne Allen. Michael Wade was 4 of 11 for 35 yards through the air in the difficult weather conditions.
Jamie Harper led the running backs with 11 rushes for 57 yards. He scored on a 25-yard run during the regular part of the scrimmage and scored three times from the 1 on fourth-and-goal situations at the conclusion of the scrimmage.
The top receiver was Diehl with two catches for 47 yards. Jones had 2 for 27 and freshman Jaron Brown had 2 for 13 yards and added an 11-yard run on a reverse.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Tig Willard was the top tackler with seven, while Jamie Cumbie and DeAndre McDaniel had six apiece. Andre Branch had four tackles including two for loss, one a sack. Coty Sensabaugh had two pass deflections, Tarik Rollins had a fumble recovery and Marcus Gilchrist had an interception.
Quarterbacks Thaddeus Lewis and Sean Renfree combined to complete 17 of 29 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown to highlight Duke's 50-play football scrimmage on Saturday morning at Brooks Field.
"We had a lot of intensity today," coach David Cutcliffe said. "Thad Lewis and Sean Renfree were both very, very efficient. I was disappointed that we dropped the football in the passing game. Thad made some unbelievable throws. It's disappointing because we would have thought, as a staff, that we're further along. I thought the defense tackled well. I was really proud of our defensive front. The play along the line of scrimmage was crisp. It looked like real football.
"What a difference a year makes. A year ago I would go back into my office, take about an hour shower to recover emotionally, and today I think I can be a little normal. It did look like football out here."
Lewis was 10-of-20 through the air for 109 yards including a 42-yard touchdown to Donovan Varner. Renfree completed 7 of 9 throws for 39 yards. Running back Cameron Jones led all receivers with five catches for 31 yards.
Patrick Kurunwune led with 23 yards on seven attempts including a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
"We'll look at the tape," said Cutcliffe. "It's never as good as you think and never as bad as you think. We'll learn from it."
There were four, 10-minute running quarters. The offense scored 51 points, the defense scored three.
First downs: 17 (6 rushing, 11 passing, 2 penalties)
Rushing: (33 attempts, 158 gained, 27 lost, 131 total)
Passing: (38 attempts, 26 completions, 275 yards, 1 INT)
Offensive plays: (71)
Net yards: (406, 5.7 avg)
Return yards: (25)
RUSHING: Damien Berry 14-114, 1 TD, 54 long; Mike James 6-14, 1 TD,
PASSING: Jacory Harris 9-16, 141 yards, 1 INT, Long 33; Taylor Cook 11-14, 103, 34 long; Cannon Smith 6-8-, 31, 1 TD, 8 long.
RECEIVING: Thearon Collier 5-65, long 26; Aldarius Johnson 4-23, long 8; John Calhoun 3-13, 1 TD, long 5;
DEFENSIVE STATISTICS (Solo Tackles-Assisted-Total): Chavez Grant 3-2-5, 1 PBU; JoJo Nicholas 0-4-4; Kylan Robinson 1-3-4; Jordan Futch 1-2-3, 1 TFL, 1 PBU; Sean Spence 2-1-3, 1 TFL; Olivier Vernon 2-2-4, 1 sack (-5); Brandon Harris 3-1-4, 1 TFL, 1 PBU
FIELD GOALS: Jake Wieclaw 1-2 (made 41, miss 22)
INTERCEPTIONS: Randy Phillips 1-25
FUMBLES/LOST: Graig Cooper 1-0
Dwight Jones -- 3 for 61 yards
Joshua Adams -- 3 for 20 yards
Womble - 3 for 12 yards
Herman Davidson (LB) -- 6 tackles
Dion Guy (LB) -- 4 tackles
Kennedy Tinsley (LB) -- 4 tackles
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Boston College -- Yes, the Eagles' defense is among the best in the country on paper, allowing just 6.5 points per game, but defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani subtly pointed out it hasn't exactly faced the New England Patriots. "We're going to find out more about ourselves here in the next few games," he said. Regardless of who starts at quarterback for NC State, Spaziani will be focused on stopping the Wolfpack's running game first.
Florida State -- FSU coach Bobby Bowden said his young offensive line is run blocking well enough that the running game is starting to become the team's offensive identity. Antone Smith is coming off a strong rushing performance against Colorado, but Miami's defense is holding opponents to just 65 yards per game on the ground. Bowden said he is looking for more from all of his playmakers against Miami, not just Smith.
Miami -- Coach Randy Shannon told the Miami Herald he is considering making changes to the secondary, as cornerbacks Bruce Johnson, Chavez Grant and DeMarcus Van Dyke are "not doing what we want them to do." Problem is, Shannon only has five corners to choose from. Miami's secondary has already allowed eight touchdowns compared to 15 all of last season. The lone interception this season has come from defensive end Eric Moncur.
Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets will be focused on containing Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and coach Paul Johnson has stressed staying in the rushing lanes and being prepared for the quarterback draw. He said until a week ago, that was the Blue Devils' best play. "I'm sure if our defensive ends are getting up-field and giving pressure we are going to see that a few times, so you have to have a plan for that," Johnson said. "They have to be smart about their rush lanes and if we aren't getting it done that way, we have to have a plan."
NC State -- Safety Clem Johnson, a projected starter this preseason, came back last week against South Florida for the first time since breaking his jaw in fall camp and played six snaps. With the other starters in the secondary taking so many snaps, the coaching staff is expected to work him in more and more each week. Johnson was originally expected to be out all season, but he could provide some much needed depth there. The four starters have played basically the whole game every week and could use some relief.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Every day I've been breaking down the position battles to keep an eye on heading into summer camp. Here are the top spots up for grabs at Miami:
QUARTERBACK -- It's still a hot topic in Coral Gables. Redshirt freshman Robert Marve, freshman Jacory Harris and freshman Cannon Smith were all impressive during spring practices, and now freshman Taylor Cook is on campus.
RECEIVER -- There is a plethora of options here, but not one go-to guy returning. Redshirt freshman Jermaine McKenzie probably would have played last year had it not been for the car accident. Of the 12 candidates to start, seven are freshmen.
CORNERBACK -- Senior Bruce Johnson has the most starting experience, but DeMarcus Van Dyke saw significant time as a true freshman. Of the 13 defensive backs trying to win jobs in the secondary, the only true safeties are Lovon Ponder and Anthony Reddick, who will be back after missing last season with his second torn ACL. Chavez Grant is more of a nickel back, and Ryan Hill was moved back to receiver.
LINEBACKER -- This is wide open. While Colin McCarthy was out this spring, true freshmen Arthur Brown and Sean Spence impressed the coaching staff. Senior Glenn Cook is back after missing last season with a foot injury, and senior Romeo Davis also has experience. After ending 2007 with three healthy linebackers, Randy Shannon now has ample depth to choose from.
PLACE KICKER -- Matt Bosher got kicks in as the team's punter last year, but Jake Wieclaw and Alex Uribe are also in the mix.