ACC: Dominique Wallace

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 21, 2010
Don't forget the chat at 1 p.m. today ...

Opening camp: Virginia

August, 6, 2010
Schedule: Practice starts at 3:45 p.m. and the first five are open to the public.

What’s new: Everything. New coach, new coordinators, new schemes, philosophies and attitudes.

Sidelined: Sophomore guard Aaron Van Kuiken is out with a wrist injury but is expected back by September. Redshirt defensive end Brent Urban is coming off knee surgery. Academically, today is the last day of summer school finals, so grades won’t be reported until early next week.

Key battle: Running back. The top four rushers from 2009 are gone. Perry Jones ended the spring at the lead tailback spot, but he faces competition this month from Keith Payne, Torrey Mack, freshman Kevin Parks, and Dominique Wallace, who missed the second half of last season with a foot injury.

New on the scene: The 4-3 defense. First-year defensive coordinator Jim Reid is taking the Cavaliers back to the traditional defense.

Breaking out: Junior inside linebacker Aaron Taliaferro, who got all of Steve Greer’s snaps this past spring while Greer was out with an injury. Taliaferro was previously buried on the depth chart, but he really impressed the coaching staff enough to push Greer this month.

Don’t forget about: Tight end Joe Torchia. Virginia has a great tradition of tight ends, but last year the staff deviated from it by implementing a spread offense. Torchia only had 15 catches in 12 games for what is usually a much more productive spot.

All eyes on: Quarterback Marc Verica and how he fits into the new pro-style offense. Verica said he is much more comfortable in this scheme, but he hasn’t been a dependable starter since 2008, when he threw eight touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He made far fewer mistakes this spring.

Quotable: "This is exactly what I know about him: that as a father, this is who you get down on your knees and pray that your daughter brings home some day. That is the type of character that he is. You would be so proud to call Ras-I Dowling your son, and I've told his family that." -- Defensive coordinator Jim Reid on cornerback Ras-I Dowling.

ACC position superlatives: Virginia

March, 11, 2010
We continue our strong and weak series today with Virginia:

Strongest position: Defensive backs

Key returnees: S Rodney McLeod, CB Ras-I Dowling

Key departures: CB Chris Cook, S Brandon Woods

The skinny: The Cavaliers return six of eight players on their final two-deep roster of the 2009 season, including Dowling, who opted to return for his senior season instead of enter the NFL draft. Dowling will be the face and leader of not only the defense this year, but also of probably the whole team. He was fifth on the team in tackles and broke up eight passes. The Cavaliers also return Chase Minnifield, who had two interceptions last year and played in all 12 games, and Corey Mosley, who played in every game and had 47 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Weakest position: Running back

Key returnees: Torrey Mack, Dominique Wallace

Key departures: Mikell Simpson, Rashawn Jackson

The skinny: The Cavs have to replace their four leading rushers in Simpson, Jackson, receiver Vic Hall and quarterback Jameel Sewell. That might not be so bad, considering Virginia ranked 112th in the country last year in rushing offense. True freshman Kevin Parks is an option, but the staff will also look at Mack, who played sparingly in nine games last year, and Wallace, who had just seemed to be coming on at Southern Miss when he was injured and missed the rest of the season.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 15, 2010
Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:


Spring practice starts: March 18

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• How linebacker Mark Herzlich progresses. Herzlich, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer last May, has been going through winter conditioning with his teammates, and he plans on participating in spring drills. How quickly he regains his form will be worth watching, as he and sophomore Luke Kuechly could give the Eagles one of the most formidable linebacking corps.

• The quarterback battle. After one season, Dave Shinskie has the most experience on the roster, but he’ll get some competition from Josh Bordner and Chase Rettig, two early enrollees. There were times last season when Shinskie looked like the future of the position and there were others when he looked like any other freshman.

• Defensive linemen. For the second straight year, BC is looking for some stability up front. The Eagles have to replace left tackle Austin Giles and defensive end Jim Ramella. They return Kaleb Ramsey, Giles’ backup, and Brad Newman, Ramella’s reserve, but some young faces are likely to be seen in the rotation.


Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Life without C.J. Spiller officially begins. The backs behind him had a pretty good year, so there’s no need for full panic mode. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington actually combined for a higher yards per carry average (6.1 to 5.6 yards). Clemson will also be looking to replace Spiller’s lost kickoff return yardage. The Tigers had a 13-yard advantage in average starting field position, as their start was their own 37-yard line compared to opponents’ 24-yard line. Ellington is a candidate in the return game.

• Kyle Parker’s batting average. No, really. How well Parker does this spring with the baseball team will help determine whether he remains Clemson’s quarterback or turns to the MLB draft. He didn’t have a great 2009 season, but he was still the fastest player to 25 home runs in school history. It remains to be seen this spring if he’ll become a high enough draft choice to give up college football.

• Secondary shuffling. It seems like eons ago since Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor weren’t the Tigers’ starting corners, as Butler started 40 straight games and Chancellor started 42. Butler finished his career second in school history in interception return yards. Now it’s time for a new duo. Will Marcus Gilchrist move to corner, which he’s capable of doing? Might Rashard Hall move to safety with DeAndre McDaniel?


Spring practice starts: Feb. 14

Spring game: March 27

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Somebody has to take over for the graduated Thaddeus Lewis, but his backup – Sean Renfree – will miss the spring with a torn ACL. Redshirt freshman Sean Schroeder should be heavily in the mix to be the starter, pending Renfree’s recovery.

• Defensive line makeover. It’s wide open. Charlie Hatcher is entrenched at nose guard, but it’s really anyone’s game. The staff might move redshirt senior Wesley Oglesby, who played the majority of his career at defensive end, inside. Other options are defensive tackle Sydney Sarmiento, a redshirt freshman, and Curtis Hazelton, who played sparingly last season.

• Johnny Williams’ move from wide receiver to cornerback. He had 31 catches in 2009 – the fourth-best on the team. Now they need his help in the defensive backfield. Duke will lose starter Leon Wright and his 10 career interceptions, and the pass defense, which allowed 215.75 yards per game, could use a boost.


Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Christian Ponder’s return from shoulder surgery. Ponder is expected to practice this spring, though it could be on a limited basis, at least early. He’s ahead of schedule, but the coaches won’t subject him to any risks now. Yes, E.J. Manuel is talented and played well at the end of the season, but make no mistake – Ponder is FSU’s starter and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.

• The defense under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. His secondary, in particular, will be interesting to watch, as will how quickly he can help the front seven generate a pass rush and plug the middle. Stoops has been a secondary coach, and the Noles lost three starters there. The fourth, Ochuko Jenije, could be pushed to retain his job.

• New faces, new opportunities. In addition to the fab freshmen who are coming in, FSU has a handful of unfamiliar players already on the roster who played sparingly or not at all. We'll see how they fit in this spring. RS-So DT Anthony McCloud and RS-So RB Debrale Smiley are both junior college transfers and former teammates. Physically, freshman linebacker Jeff Luc is already a man, but how quickly can he mature on the field? Two young wide receivers worth watching are Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead.


Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The defensive transformation. The Jackets will switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 under first-year coordinator Al Groh. In addition to learning the new scheme, the staff has to figure out who goes where. Linebackers might play defensive end and vice versa, safeties might play outside linebacker. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this team lines up in the spring.

• The replacements. From Georgia Tech’s coaching staff to the new faces who will be tasked with filling in for the Fab Four -- Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett and Demaryius Thomas -- the Jackets will need some “Hello My Name Is” tags this spring.

• The offensive line. Three offensive linemen redshirted who could start, and Georgia Tech might need them to, especially if guard Joseph Gilbert decides to transfer to pursue his MBA. The Jackets lose two starters on the offensive line, and Gilbert, who graduates this spring, would be a third if he leaves. Center Sean Bedford and tackle Austin Barrick return as seniors.


Spring practice starts: March 23

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. Chris Turner has graduated, leaving Jamarr Robinson the top option going into the spring, but he has limited experience. The staff liked what he did when Turner was injured, but Danny O’Brien, Miami (Ohio) transfer Clay Belton and C.J. Brown will all be given an opportunity. Look for O’Brien to start the spring at No. 2 on the depth chart.

• Cornerback: Cameron Chism is the only returning starter in the secondary, but right now the staff has fewer concerns about the safeties. Maryland will have to find some bodies at corner, and Dexter McDougle, who redshirted as a true freshman last year, is one option. Michael Carter and Trenton Hughes, who was the third corner last year, are also among a handful of candidates.

• The offensive line. Losing Bruce Campbell to the NFL hurt, but the Terps also lost starter Phil Costa. Justin Gilbert, a redshirt sophomore, could inherit Campbell’s job. And there’s always Mr. Versatility -- Paul Pinegar. He has helped the Terps at both tackle spots and left guard, and this spring he’ll likely be given a shot at center.


Spring practice starts: Feb. 23

Spring game: March 27 (tentative)

What to watch:

• Tight end/offensive line: Jimmy Graham is gone, and the Canes don’t return any tight ends with any experience other than Richard Gordon, who was injured the majority of last season. Miami signed four tight ends in this recruiting class, but none of them were early enrollees. Miami has to replace three starters up front, including both tackles and the center.

• How the two young quarterbacks perform: The health of Jacory Harris was precious last year, as he had nobody behind him with any experience after the transfers of Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith. The depth has improved a bit with A.J. Highsmith, who played sparingly last year, and Stephen Morris, one of the early enrollees.

• Upgrade on the d-line? Progress up front began with the hire of Rick Petri as defensive line coach, and it’s up to Petri to help the Canes become better pass rushers. Miami will depend upon its two mainstays -- Allen Bailey and Josh Holmes. The right end position was a group effort last year, and Miami has to replace Joe Joseph and Eric Moncur.


Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback T.J. Yates. It’s his job to lose, and the coaching staff still has confidence in him, but Bryn Renner is waiting in the wings, and Braden Hanson will also be given an opportunity. The staff is looking for the offense to improve its passing efficiency and cut down on turnovers.

• The offensive line. It was a patchwork effort in 2009, thanks to injuries and inexperience, and will be a major key in how much UNC improves offensively this year. The Heels have to replace two starters, and Jonathan Cooper is likely to move from guard to center, and right guard Alan Pelc will miss spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery.

• Defensive line tweaks. There aren’t many questions on a defense that should be one of the best in the country, but somebody has to replace Cam Thomas and defensive end E.J. Wilson. Tydreke Powell is the frontrunner to take over at defensive tackle and Quinton Coples at defensive end. Both were backups last year at their respective positions.


Spring practice starts: March 9

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• Backup quarterback Mike Glennon. Russell Wilson is the starter, but he’s going to be playing baseball all spring. Keep an eye on his backup to see if Glennon can make it any more of a competition in Wilson’s absence.

• Chris Ward at punter. No, it’s not usually, the highlight of the spring, but in this case, it’s necessary. Ward is it -- he’s their only option right now, and it’s a position the Pack struggled with last year. Ward was expected to be the starter last season, but he was inconsistent. He’s definitely got the talent to be the guy.

• The recovery of linebacker Nate Irving. After being severely injured in a one-car crash last summer, Irving is hopeful he can go through spring drills. He has been lifting with the team and running with the sports medicine staff, but it’s still uncertain how limited his contact will be.


Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

• Quarterback competition. Marc Verica is the only one with any experience, and first-year offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor hasn’t been in Charlottesville long enough to evaluate any of the candidates. That’s what the spring is for, and true freshman Michael Strauss is the lone incoming quarterback on campus, so he’ll have a head start on the playbook. Of the four quarterbacks Virginia signed in this year’s class, Strauss is the only one listed as a true quarterback. The Cavs also have Ross Metheny, who redshirted last year, and Riko Smalls, who redshirted in ‘08 and was No. 2 on the depth chart when Verica was out with a concussion.

• Coaching transition. First-year coach Mike London has hired almost an entirely new staff, and they’ll bring changes in philosophy and scheme. London has said he wants to get the defense back to the traditional 4-3, and revert to the tradition of featuring the tight ends, offensive linemen and running backs.

• Running back. The Cavs will have the help up front, but they need to replace their four leading rushers in Mikell Simpson, Rashawn Jackson, Vic Hall and Jameel Sewell. The staff will look at true freshman Kevin Parks, but also have Torrey Mack and Dominique Wallace, who had just seemed to be coming on at Southern Miss when he was injured and missed the rest of the season.


Spring practice starts: March 31

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

• Revamped defensive line. The Hokies have to replace three of four starters up front. The only defensive ends with significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the staff wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. Redshirt freshmen will be given a chance – Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins – but they’ve never played. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other end who’s played and that was a skinny minute. At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the frontrunner to replace Cordarrow Thompson.

• Darren Evans’ comeback. Evans, the team’s leading rusher in 2008, is working his way back from a season-ending ACL injury, and one of the biggest questions in Blacksburg is how the staff will divide the carries in such a talented backfield that includes Ryan Williams. With two returning 1,000-yard rushers, will David Wilson decide to redshirt? The spring will help him in that decision.

• The evolution of Tyrod Taylor. He’s going to be a senior, and with so many questions on defense heading into the season, the offense will be leading the way. This should be a breakout year for Taylor, who by now should have mastered the offense and should consistently be a passing threat to compliment his running abilities.


Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

• The quarterback competition. It’s the most glaring hole the Deacs have to fill this spring, as they’re tasked with replacing the winningest quarterback in school history, Riley Skinner, and his backup, Ryan McManus. Redshirt sophomores Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones, and sophomore Brendan Cross, will compete with rookie Tanner Price for the top spot.

• Offensive line. The Deacs will take a huge hit here, as seven players in the two-deep depth chart were redshirt seniors, including all four tackles. Three starters have to be replaced.

• The interior defensive line. Nose guard Boo Robinson and John Russell have graduated, and Russell’s backup, Michael Lockett, was also a redshirt senior. The Deacs are in good shape at the ends, but will need some help inside.

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Coastal Division, Atlantic Division, Miami Hurricanes, Wesley Oglesby, Russell Wilson, Darren Evans, Christian Ponder, Ochuko Jenije, Chris Drager, Cam Thomas, Demaryius THomas, Justin Gilbert, Isaiah Hamlette, Marc Verica, Rashawn Jackson, A.J. Highsmith, Boo Robinson, Torrey Mack, Trenton Hughes, Quinton Coples, Chris turner, Phil Costa, Cannon Smith, Jamarr Robinson, Mike Glennon, Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Cameron Chism, Jamie Harper, CHris Chancellor, Michael Carter, Ryan McManus, Joseph Gilbert, Brad Newman, Antoine Hopkins, Sean Renfree, Dave Shinskie, Cordarrow Thompson, Richard Gordon, Mikell Simpson, Austin Barrick, Johnny Williams, Morgan Burnett, E.J. Wilson, Paul Pinegar, Tydreke Powell, Bryn Renner, Jacory Harris, Riley Skinner, Joe Joseph, Skylar Jones, Derrick Morgan, T.J. Yates, Braden Hanson, Sean Bedford, Jonathan Dwyer, C.J. Brown, John Russell, Jameel Sewell, Allen Bailey, Mike London, Nate Irving, Rodney Smith, Marcus Gilchrist, Mark Herzlich, Taylor Cook, Willie Haulstead, Andre Ellington, Josh Holmes, Thaddeus Lewis, E.J. Manuel, Leon Wright, Crezdon Butler, Ryan Williams, C.J. Spiller, Kaleb Ramsey, James Gayle, Eric Moncur, Jonathan Cooper, Bruce Campbell, Ted Stachitas, Jim Ramella, Danny O'Brien, Luke Kuechly, Sean Schroeder, Tyrel Wilson, Dominique Wallace, Austin Giles, Mark Stoops, Brendan Cross, Stephen Morris, Rick Petri, Bill Lazor, Chase Rettig, Michael Strauss, Tanner Price, Anthony McCloud, Debrale Smiley, Josh Bordner, Kyle Paker, Rahsard Hall, DeAndrew McDaniel, Charlie Hatcher, Sydney Sarmiento, Chris Hazelton, Clay Belton, Dexter McDougle, Chris Ward, Ross Metheny, Roko Smalls, Kevin Parks, Duan Perez-Means, J.R. Collins, Michael Lockett

Virginia running backs continue painful tradition

September, 23, 2009

Posted by’s Heather Dinich

Unfortunately for Virginia, this is nothing new.

Coach Al Groh said the recent season-ending foot injury to freshman running back Dominique Wallace will shake up his lineup, but it’s the seventh or eighth year, according to Groh, that the Cavaliers have had to make an adjustment because of injuries at that position.

Groh said it’s a different foot injury than former running back Cedric Peerman suffered, but similar to what Wali Lundy had. Lundy was injured on the third play of his senior season and needed seven or eight weeks to recover. Peerman lost a whole season. Wallace will have surgery as soon as it can be scheduled, and Groh said it’s “unavoidable.”

“Unfortunately he joins a long list of backs here who have suffered significant injuries during their season,” Groh said. “It seems that if there’s one position where we’ve had issue with one of our top guys every year, I think this is the seventh or eighth year this has occurred. We’ve tried to investigate every possible thing -- curvature of the arch each player had, were they flat-footed, did they have a nice arch, what kind of shoes were they wearing, what kind of run were they running. Despite all due diligence, it looks like it’s just a bad set of coincidences.”

Wallace had 11 carries for 35 yards in Saturday’s 37-34 loss to Southern Miss, and was a player Groh and that staff had high hopes for in the next nine games. He had played in all three games, but moved into the starting lineup last week.

“He was becoming as you could see last Saturday a significant part of that rotation,” Groh said. “Obviously by starting that game he was about as close to the top of the rotation as a player can get, and acquitted himself very well. What was certainly a testimony to his will and his toughness was he played well over two quarters after being injured. Our trainers have remarked from their perspective how tough he must be in order to be able to do that and still produce very well. It certainly does change the rotation.”

Groh said Wallace “meets all the criteria” a player would need to be awarded a medical hardship by the NCAA, but declined to comment further until that decision is made.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 22, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech's offense will get a tutorial on Saturday ... can the Hokies defense stop it?
  • Good news for Georgia Tech in that Jonathan Dwyer has returned to practice, and he's not too concerned that the big plays have been missing for him so far this season.
  • Maryland has some history with Rutgers, but when the Scarlet Knights come to town this weekend, they won't look like the Top 10 team the Terps upended two seasons ago.
  • NC State coach Tom O'Brien likes phsyical football -- the kind Pitt plays. Not that "spread the field and play touch football stuff." Ha.
  • Virginia rookie running back Dominique Wallace, who showed promise in the first three games, will miss the rest of the season with a foot injury.
  • North Carolina hasn't defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta since 1997, and the Heels are using it as motivation.
  • Few teams have gone through as much transition as Boston College in recent years, and yes, said coach Frank Spaziani, it has an effect on the program.
  • Here are the ACC's biggest offensive surprises so far this season.
  • Like Miami and Clemson did, UNC began preparing for Georgia Tech this past summer.
  • Is the Heisman talk for Jacory Harris a little premature?
  • Six Clemson players have been sidelined with the flu, but school officials don't yet whether or not it's the big S.
  • What's up with FSU's defense? The Noles have given up enough big plays for a whole year, yet they're making them, too.