ACC: Fred Roland
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Biggest reason for hope -- They honestly believe they can win.
David Cutcliffe and his staff brought that SEC swagger to Durham, and the standards have been raised. Having spoken to a few of the athletes this offseason, they honestly don't seem to care what anyone on the outside is thinking of them. Sure, there's a little locker room talk and a mini chip on their shoulders, but they won four games last season and have carried that confidence into the weight room and individual summer drills. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is a talented veteran not only capable of winning, but also of convincing his teammates they are, too. Four wins should be reason for Duke to celebrate, but nobody within the program was satisfied, and that starts at the top.
Biggest reason for concern -- Rebuilding the offensive line.
Duke lost three starters up front to graduation in Cameron Goldberg, Fred Roland and Rob Schirmann. The offensive line struggled this spring to replace them and will have to take greater strides this summer. There was improvement, but they still lack game day experience. Kyle Hill moved from left guard to left tackle, so the unit has a whole new look. The one player back in his original position is center Bryan Morgan. In order to get the most out of Re'quan Boyette and give Lewis the protection he needs while dealing with a young receiving corps, Duke will need its line to come together quickly.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Georgia Tech's big plays -- and one costly 15-yard pass interference play by Duke's Jabari Marshall -- have changed the tone of this game early in the second half. The Yellow Jackets finally seem to have separated themselves as they're about to cross the goal line again in the fourth quarter.
Jonathan Dwyer is having a career day rushing with 22 carries for 154 yards, and Duke still can't muster anything out of its running game. The matchup of consequence here is defensive end Derrick Morgan against Duke right tackle Fred Roland. Morgan is getting to Thaddeus Lewis and has one sack and one tackle for loss.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
|AP Photo/Wade Payne|
|Duke's players appear to appreciate coach David Cutcliffe's no-nonsense approach.|
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is a straight shooter, which is why he had no qualms about reminding his upperclassmen just how poorly they have performed against the ACC. The fifth-year seniors are 1-31 in league play, and the seniors are 0-24 but have a chance to improve on that when Virginia visits Durham this weekend in the Blue Devils' conference opener.
"I'm up front with everything," Cutcliffe said. "I don't sugarcoat anything. I tell 'em when they're good and I tell them when they're not good. I tell them what we think about an opponent. I really believe in being honest with your players. If you ever say something that's not true, you completely lose their trust.
"I've never been afraid of that kind of stuff," he said. "Maybe I'm a real bad psychologist, but I'll try to have fun coaching this game and try to make sure the players have fun playing it. Hey, it is the way it is and if we don't like it, let's do something about it."
It's an attitude his players have not only accepted, but welcomed.
"He's a true guy, that's one thing I can say," said senior safety Glenn Williams. "He's every honest. The honesty makes you play better. It helps you out a lot."
Williams joked that before they get too confident about the possibility of winning their first ACC game, the Blue Devils have to "join the ACC first." Duke hasn't had a winning record in the league since 1994, when it finished 5-3 under Fred Goldsmith.
Duke has already surpassed last year's win total with its 2-1 record, and Virginia is in an uncomfortable transition year with a 1-2 record. If anyone knows what it's like to be judged on past performances, though, it's the Blue Devils.
"They are [down], but that doesn't really play too much into how we prepare for them," senior offensive lineman Fred Roland said. "They're still a competitive team we have to take seriously. We can't really use other people's pasts against them, just like people can't underestimate us by our past."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Here they are, the unheralded linemen. The guys who do the dirty work and make their teammates look good. Check out who's got the best:
1. Maryland -- The Terps have just one starting job open here and five of the top six linemen are seniors. The experience younger players like Bruce Campbell and Paul Pinegar gained last year at the misfortune of injured teammates should pay dividends this season. The Terps' depth is why they're ahead of the Hokies.
2. Virginia Tech -- Four starters are back, including Ed Wang, who moved from right to left tackle; left guard Nick Marshman, who at 6-foot-5, 357-pounds was the largest man on the roster but dropped 25 pounds in the offseason; center Ryan Shuman, who missed the spring because of offseason knee surgery; and right guard Sergio Render, who has already caught the eye of NFL scouts. Wang's backup, Greg Nosal, is a redshirt freshman moving from tight end. Marshman's reserve is Hivera Green, who hasn't played.
3. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have struggled in the past, but with four starters returning and the second season under Butch Davis, it should see improvement. Senior tackle Garrett Reynolds and junior tackle Kyle Jolly -- who missed the spring with an injured left foot -- lead a group that has 67 total starts.
4. Wake Forest -- This group should be better than people think, despite having to replace center Steve Justice. Barrett McMillin has starting experience at right guard, and left tackle Joe Birdsong and right tackle Jeff Griffin both split time at one of the tackle spots last season. Left guard Russell Nenon didn't start but picked up a lot of playing time toward the end of the season. Center is a question mark. Because he was stuck behind Justice, center Trey Bailey has the most catching up to do.
5. Boston College -- There are still two spots up for grabs. Sophomore Anthony Castonzo, who holds the distinction of becoming the school's first offensive lineman in a decade to start as a true freshman, moved from right to left tackle to replace Gosder Cherilus. Matt Tennant is back at center along with returning staritng guard Clif Ramsey. Former defensive lineman Thomas Claiborne moved to right guard this spring.
6. NC State -- Moving defensive linemen Ted Larsen to center and John Bedics to left guard will only help this football team, but neither of them has taken a snap on offense yet in a college game. Jake Vermiglio, a hulking tackle who played well against Chris Long as a freshman last year, moved to guard behind Bedics (which shows Tom O'Brien's confidence in that move). Andy Barbee, a redshirt junior, was a longtime backup at center. Depth is a question mark, but the Wolfpack has three returning starters in right tackle Meares Green (who played at guard, center AND tackle last year), right guard Curtis Crouch, and Julian Williams, who is in his second full year starting at left tackle.
7. Miami -- The Hurricanes are looking for a starting center but have two starters back in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood. They've got experience in Orlando Franklin, Joel Figueroa (a key reserve) and Chris Rutledge (split time as a starter).
8. Virginia -- The loss of Branden Albert and two other starters left a gaping hole. The best thing the Cavaliers have going for them is senior Eugene Monroe, who might be the best offensive lineman in the ACC. He didn't allow a sack last year at left tackle. There's also experience at right tackle, where Will Barker has 25 career starts.
9. Georgia Tech -- The good news is that left tackle Andrew Gardner came back instead of heading for the NFL. The bad news is the cohesiveness of this unit is mostly gone because Gardner is the lone full-time returning starter. Cord Howard missed the spring because of foot surgery, but he and Dan Voss, who started the final seven games of last season at left guard, at least have starting experience.
10. Clemson -- Finally. A flaw. Tommy Bowden had to replace four starters, and named all but the two guard spots. Still, Cory Lambert has never started a game at left tackle and three of the four players competing to be guards are redshirt freshmen. Freshman Antoine McClain, who was ranked the No. 6 offensive tackle prospect [Insider] in the country by ESPN.com, could help.
11. Duke -- The Blue Devils have three starters back, including both tackles -- Fred Roland and Cameron Goldberg -- and guard Rob Schirmann. The reason they're not last? They've got one more body with experience than the 'Noles.
12. Florida State -- For the first time in school history, there's not one junior or senior on the line. That doesn't mean there's not talent, but much of it is unproven. What the Seminoles do have is sophomores Ryan McMahon and Rodney Hudson. McMahon was the only freshman or sophomore in the FBS to take every offensive snap for his team at center. Redshirt freshman Antwane Greenlee, a bulky 302-pound tackle who was very highly recruited, still hasn't played. A true freshman will most likely start somewhere, but first the coaches have to find the best one they have.
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State