ACC: Dexter McCluster

Checking in on the ACC

September, 6, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

So Peter Lalich is playing against Richmond, despite making headlines on Friday for admitting to using marijuana while on supervised probation for an underage drinking charge.

Remember how much heat Randy Shannon took for suspended Robert Marve 10 months after the fact? Hey, at least he suspended him.

Al Groh clearly can't afford to do that, and in case you haven't noticed, the Cavaliers' offense isn't exactly lighting it up with Lalich.

  • Elsewhere in the ACC, I was wrong about the Boston College pick (but hey, I knew it would be close).
  • Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets came into Chestnut Hill and got their first league win. It was the second straight week Jonathan Dwyer looked like he could be a go-to player in this system, and it looks like Josh Nesbitt can be a dual-threat quarterback.
  • Wake Forest is having trouble with Ole Miss and it's no surprise. With Houston Nutt taking over and Dexter McCluster running out of the shotgun like Darren McFadden did, the Demon Deacons are going to have their hands full.
  • Once again, Clemson and Virginia Tech aren't exactly dominating. Tyrod Taylor, though, has shown why he was brought back from redshirt land -- his feet.

Check back later for more on the ACC. I'm taking my laptop downstairs now to the ESPNews studio so I can do double duty more effectively.

Thanks for your patience while I figure out how to blog and talk at the same time.

What to watch for in the ACC: Week 2

September, 5, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here are 10 things worth keeping an eye on this weekend:

1. Reputation: Can the ACC improve upon its 2-4 start against FBS teams? The wins were over Baylor and Kent State and the losses were by an average of 27 points. The spotlight is on Miami and Wake Forest to restore some pride.

2. Robert Marve: All eyes will be on the Hurricanes' redshirt freshman as he makes his collegiate debut against the No. 5-ranked Gators. The number of big passing plays have dropped significantly in the past three seasons. Can two rookies reverse that trend?

3. The other quarterbacks: Daniel Evans is taking over at NC State. Chris Turner at Maryland. Christian Ponder at Florida State. And Tyrod Taylor is back in the mix at Virginia Tech. How will these changes affect each team?

4. Clemson's rebound: Yes, this game is against The Citadel, but Tigers' egos and players have been noticeably bruised. Clemson will be without three key defensive linemen and starting offensive guard Barry Humphries.

5. Virginia Tech's tackling: The Hokies missed open field tackles against East Carolina and safety Kam Chancellor told the Virginia Pilot he missed six of 12. It's something Bud Foster has stressed this week in practice, but this game is the final tune-up before the run-happy Yellow Jackets come to town.

6. Dexter McCluster for Ole Miss: Ole Miss was 0-8 in the SEC last season, but this game is going to be more interesting than people might think, and McCluster is a main reason why. He had 125 all-purpose yards in the season opener. Wake needs this win because it needs to go to Tallahassee 2-0.

7. The X's and O's in Chestnut Hill: It's the debut of Paul Johnson's offense against an ACC opponent, but it's nothing the Eagles haven't seen before, as they beat Navy two years ago in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. What wrinkles will we see from Johnson he didn't reveal in the season opener against Jacksonville State?

8. Wake forcing turnovers: The Demon Deacons have earned a reputation for winning with defense and forcing turnovers, and they made Baylor give the ball back four times. Wake turned three of those miscues into touchdowns. Can they do it again?

9. Richmond coach Mike London: Virginia didn't just lose its best player on defense last season, it also lost its defensive coordinator. Now London has 16 starters back from a CAA championship team that reached the national semifinals of the FCS. Can London pull an upset against his former team?

10. Duke: Can the Blue Devils start 2-0 for the first time since 1998, when they beat Northwestern 44-10 in the second game? They've got home-field advantage and a bit of confidence after winning their season opener, but Northwestern has a score to settle and a talented running back in Tyrell Sutton.

Week 2 predictions

September, 4, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

With the exception of Miami and Wake Forest, who both face legitimate FBS opponents, this should be a relatively pain-free week for the ACC. Boston College and Georgia Tech are facing each other, so an ACC team has to win that one, and everyone else is playing what Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen likes to call "Sisters of the Poor." Himself included. So they had better win. Duke? That game could go either way.

Here's the guessing game for Week 2:

Boston College 24, Georgia Tech 21 -- This one is based on the fact that the Eagles played Navy two seasons ago and won 25-24 on a last-second field goal. BC's defense remembers that game and knows it can't afford to get into a shootout with Paul Johnson. Plus, it has seasoned defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani and home field advantage.

Virginia Tech 38, Furman 17 -- This game is in Lane Stadium against a team from the Southern Conference that doesn't have any players who have ever beaten a FBS team. The question here is how the two-quarterback system will be used, and how the offensive line will fare without Blake DeChristopher.

Maryland 21, Middle Tennessee State 14 -- With Chris Turner and Josh Portis leading the way, the Terps should score more points this weekend, but they're still settling into their offense and have a tendency to keep these nonconference games a little too interesting.

Wake Forest 35, Mississippi 28 -- Dexter McCluster, who works out of the shotgun the same way Darren McFadden played under Houston Nutt at Arkansas, is tough to defend and can change the pace of the game, so Wake's ability to adjust on defense will be key. Wake has the experience, though, to win this one.

Clemson 38, The Citadel 17 -- The Tigers have something to prove, and they're going to take it out on these guys. Well, they should. The Citadel is 1-13 in games played in Clemson and the No. 23-ranked team in the FCS Coaches Poll.

Virginia 21, Richmond 17 -- Upset watch? Richmond coach Mike London was Virginia's defensive coordinator a year ago, so look for DE Sherman Logan to smother Peter Lalich. London has 16 starters back for a team that won a school-record 11 games and the CAA title before falling to Appalachian State in the national semifinals.

Florida State 41, Western Carolina 17 -- The suspensions shouldn't matter for this game and Christian Ponder has already played in an ACC game, so this should be a warmup for him. WCU coach Dennis Wagner is in his first season and trying to snap the Catamounts' 13-game road losing streak that dates back to 2005.

NC State 28, William & Mary 17 -- Considering the fact that the Wolfpack hasn't scored in its past two games, there's no reason to anticipate a blowout against anyone. Then again, the Tribe has 19 starters back from a team that won just two games in the CAA last year.

Northwestern 28, Duke 21 -- Both teams are coming off wins (gasp), but the Wildcats are a better team than they were last season because of senior running back Tyrell Sutton and first-year defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz. Then again, Duke is also a better football team and beat Northwestern last year.

Florida 45, Miami 27 -- One is a national-title contender, the other coming off the program's worst season in 30 years. One has a Heisman Trophy quarterback, the other a rookie who has never thrown a pass in a collegiate game. The odds and the Gators are stacked against the Canes, but Miami might put up a better fight than expected.

North Carolina is off.



Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12