ACC: Jamarr Robinson

BC turnovers adding up

October, 23, 2010
In an otherwise evenly matched game, mistakes will make the difference, and BC freshman quarterback Chase Rettig just made a costly one with an interception. BC has also lost a fumble, and together they've added up to two touchdowns for the Terps and a 21-7 Maryland lead. Terps' quarterback Danny O'Brien is exhibiting great patience today, going through his progressions and finding the open receiver. Offensive coordinator James Franklin has also made use of Jamarr Robinson to run the option, but the biggest difference in this game has been Maryland's good field position and BC's mistakes.

Rookie QBs in Atlantic worth watching

October, 14, 2010
The ACC has introduced a total of five new starting quarterbacks this year, and four of them play in the Atlantic Division -- including two at Wake Forest.

Their play will be important this weekend, as Boston College freshman Chase Rettig is expected to play at Florida State, Wake Forest's Tanner Price is coming off a record-setting performance in a loss to Navy and Maryland freshman Danny O'Brien should see playing time at Clemson. (Wake's Ted Stachitas and Duke's Sean Renfree have also earned their first career starts this year.) Terps coach Ralph Friedgen has not said who will start this week in Death Valley, as Jamarr Robinson is also healthy.

[+] EnlargeTanner Price
Sean Meyers/Icon SMITanner Price threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's loss to Navy.
"Well, both will play," Friedgen said. "We haven't decided on who will start yet, but both will play."

Boston College has had the most difficulty with the position, but so far Rettig has managed the offense the best in the limited snaps he saw against Notre Dame before he injured his ankle.

"You know," coach Frank Spaziani said, "when you have an unsettled QB situation, everything is unsettled."

It won't get any easier against a Florida State defense that for the past three weeks has led the nation in sacks. Wake's Price will also face a more difficult challenge this week -- playing in Lane Stadium against a continuously improving Hokies defense.

In the 28-27 loss to Navy last week, Price broke every school record for single-game passing by a true freshman. In addition, he became the youngest player in school history to pass for over 300 yards in a game. His 53 attempts also marked the most pass attempts in a game by a Deac without throwing an interception.

"He showed as much improvement as any kid I've had in any of my programs in a week's time," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "He missed the Florida State game and came out Saturday just played great. I thought he had good pocket presence. He came out of a couple of good pockets.

"But when he did have a pocket collapse, I thought he showed some composure, and moving around and trying to keep the play alive and finding checkdowns. You know, just in literally a week's time, [he] improved as much as any kid that I've seen in that short of time."

All of them, though, haven't had much choice but to learn quickly.

Midseason report: Maryland

October, 12, 2010
Maryland Terrapins

Record: 4-1 (1-0 ACC)

It’s been a complete turnaround from a year ago for coach Ralph Friedgen, whose job was in question following a 2-10 finish in 2009. This year, a 4-1 start is as good as can be expected with the lone loss coming on the road to a ranked West Virginia team.

One of the biggest reasons for the improvement can be found in the turnover margin, where the Terps are fourth in the country. They’ve only lost the ball four times this season and have 12 takeaways.

Injuries to quarterbacks – including starter Jamarr Robinson -- have been an issue, but freshman Danny O’Brien has been a success as he has managed the offense without throwing any interceptions. The entire offense could use a boost, but stability and experience at quarterback will help that.

The defense has also shown improvement in the second season under coordinator Don Brown, holding opponents to just 18.4 points per game. Florida State and NC State have asserted themselves as the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division, but until proven otherwise, Maryland is a contender, too.

Offensive MVP, WR Torrey Smith: He leads the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (405). His five touchdown receptions rank second in the ACC and matches his total from last season. With two touchdowns each against Morgan State and West Virginia, he became the first Terp to record consecutive multiple touchdown-reception games since Jermaine Lewis in 1993. He has touchdown receptions of 60, 68 and 80 yards, and is averaging 20.5 yards every time he touches the ball.

Defensive MVP, LB Alex Wujciak: He is 10th in the country with 11.4 tackles per game. He is on the watch list for five awards - Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy, Lott Trophy, Bednarik Award and Butkus Award. He set a new career high with 18 tackles in the season opener against Navy, but has expanded his game beyond the tackles stat. Over the past 10 games, he's also forced three fumbles and broken up a pair of passes.

Maryland-Duke injury reports

October, 1, 2010
Good news for the Terps in that top offensive player Torrey Smith is listed as probable, along with starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson. If Robinson is healthy and coach Ralph Friedgen goes with Danny O'Brien, that's a change based on performance, not injury. As for Duke, three players usually in the rotation -- cornerback Johnny Williams, safety Taylor Sowell and tight end Brett Huffman -- are out. Huffman, the starting tight end when the season opened, is missing his third straight game.


LB Adam Banks (leg) – QUESTIONABLE
NG Tevin Hood (foot) – QUESTIONABLE
LB Damian Thornton (leg) – QUESTIONABLE
TE Brett Huffman (leg) – OUT
S Taylor Sowell (leg) – OUT
CB Johnny Williams (head) – OUT
S Quan Stevenson (leg) – OUT FOR SEASON



OL 77 Andrew Gonnella (leg)
WR 83 Emani Lee-Odai (leg)
QB 11 Jamarr Robinson (shoulder)
WR 82 Torrey Smith (leg)

DB 39 Desmond Kearse (leg)
LB 59 David Mackall (head)

Out for season:
QB 16 C.J. Brown (shoulder)
OL 75 Justin Gilbert (knee)
LB 42 Ben Pooler (knee)
TE 80 Lansford Watson (knee)
DL 41 Marcus Whitfield (knee)

Terps' WR Torrey Smith injured but likely to play

September, 29, 2010
Maryland receiver Torrey Smith -- the Terps' most productive player on offense -- didn't practice on Wednesday, but is still expected to play Saturday against Duke, coach Ralph Friedgen said on Wednesday's ACC coaches' teleconference.

"He's been limited in practice, but we anticipate him playing," Friedgen said. "It's more of a thing that hurts him when he slows down. We're hoping he's going to be ready to practice today or tomorrow. We'll have to see."

Smith has 355 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 23.7 yards per catch -- No. 3 in the FBS behind Kinsman Thomas of Eastern Michigan (29.1) and Jheranie Boyd of North Carolina (28.7). Smith has totalled 308 yards on 11 catches for three touchdowns in his last two games alone, including touchdown receptions of 60, 68 and 80 yards.

Friedgen also said he was going to "wait and see what happens later this week" before determining his starting quarterback. Jamarr Robinson is still not at full strength, and freshman Danny O'Brien earned the ACC's Rookie of the Week honors after leading the Terps to a win over FIU in his first career start.

"I'm not ready to make that call right yet," Friedgen said.

Friedgen said that during the recruiting process, O'Brien had narrowed his choices to Maryland and -- you guessed it -- Duke. The Terps would fare best with both O'Brien and Smith on the field Saturday.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 4

September, 25, 2010
Tough call this week, but there are only five of these to give away. Had to take into consideration the competition (sorry, Virginia) and impressive performances by a rookie (sorry Christian Ponder). Here's a look at this week's top performers:

Virginia Tech’s defense: Lunch pails for everyone! After having to replace seven starters, Bud Foster’s group finally came together and they did it when it counted most -- on the road against an ACC opponent in a 19-0 win over BC. The Hokies earned their first shutout since 2006, and it was the first time the Eagles had been held scoreless at home since 1998. In the second half, BC only had 39 yards of total offense and didn’t cross midfield.

NC State: It’s impossible to single out one player or coach, as it was a group effort in a 45-28 win over Georgia Tech. NC State linebacker Nate Irving had a career-high 16 tackles, quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 368 yards and NC State is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2002.

Miami linebacker Sean Spence: He had seven tackles in the first half of a 31-3 win against Pitt and finished with nine tackles for the game. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss including 1.5 sacks. Spence entered the game tied for ninth averaging 2.0 tackles for loss per game.

UNC’s defense: Even though the defense was short-handed in a 17-13 win at Rutgers, UNC couldn’t have won this game without the players it did have on the field. Matt Merletti intercepted Tom Savage’s pass at the Tar Heels’ 6-yard line with less than three minutes remaining, and linebacker Bruce Carter set up 10 points with an interception and a blocked punt.

Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien. It was his first career start, and O’Brien led the Terps to a 42-28 win over FIU. He threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. His performance should give coach Ralph Friedgen a second thought about who his starter will be even when Jamarr Robinson is healthy. O’Brien, who was the first freshman quarterback to start for Maryland since Latrez Harrison1999, and just the fifth in school history, threw touchdown passes of 9 and 68 yards. O’Brien led the Terps on four scoring drives and had an efficiency rating of 168.89, the sixth-highest mark by a freshman in the FBS this season (not including other games today).

Terps avoid letdown vs. FIU

September, 25, 2010
Maryland found itself tied with FIU twice this afternoon, but the Terps pulled away in the second half for a convincing 42-28 win over FIU. It was a much better performance offensively than what we saw last week against West Virginia, but then again, that was on the road against a ranked team. This is still FIU.

The Terps got their running game going, though (MUCH needed), and should get a boost of confidence moving forward from this one. Da'Rel Scott ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. It's only a matter of time before the Terps check the scoreboard and see Duke is trailing Army right now, 14-7. Maryland has Duke at home next week.

The bigger question is if Danny O'Brien has displaced Jamarr Robinson as starter. He has certainly outplayed him so far. O'Brien threw for 250 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Robinson has a sore throwing shoulder, but O'Brien made the most of his opportunity.

This is exactly where Maryland needed to be -- with a 3-1 record against its nonconference opponents -- in order to have a legitimate shot at returning to a bowl game.

Around the ACC

September, 25, 2010
A few halftime thoughts from the early games:

Virgnia Tech 7, Boston College 0: The clock ran out on Boston College. Literally. Quarterback Dave Shinskie was stopped inches short of the goal line but didn't get out of bounds and the clock expired before the Eagles could snap the ball. Virginia Tech leads 7-0, but this is anybody's game. There was also a questionable penalty called on Virginia Tech's defense on that last drive, a late hit, but even the official didn't hear the whistle so it's possible the Hokies' defender didn't either. It cost Virginia Tech 15 yards, but because of the way the half ended, it didn't cost the Hokies any points. Shinskie's interception led to Virginia Tech's lead, though, and he can't afford any turnovers in the second half. Very odd ending to the first half.

NC State 17, Georgia Tech 7: This could be a statement win for the Pack if NC State hangs onto its lead. It was an uncharacteristic scoreless first quarter for Georgia Tech, and the Yellow Jackets were hurt by two lost fumbles. NC State should have an even bigger lead, but there were two missed field goals. NC State's defense is answering the call, and has held Georgia Tech to just 2-of-8 third-down conversions. Georgia Tech has no passing yards. Russell Wilson has already thrown for 219 yards, but Georgia Tech's defense has done a good job of flushing him out of the pocket. The better performance, though, has come from NC State's defense.

Maryland 21, FIU 14: Danny O'Brien got the start at quarterback, as Jamarr Robinson's throwing shoulder is still sore, but O'Brien is making a case to be the full-time starter. The Terps haven't turned it over yet, and O'Brien has completed 12 of 17 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Torrey Smith is having a great game, and it's about time the Terps made use of that deep, talented group of receivers. Da'Rel Scott's 56-yard touchdown run helped bail the Terps' running game out as they have just 54 rushing yards at the half. Maryland got just enough things to go right in that half to avoid the early upset scare.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 4

September, 23, 2010
As the title indicates, here’s a look at 10 things to keep an eye on this week:

1. Miami’s defense against Pitt’s playmakers. The Hurricanes will be tasked with slowing running back Dion Lewis, and receiver Jon Baldwin, who has 10 catches for 171 yards and touchdowns in two games. Miami is tied for 15th in the country in total defense, allowing 262 yards per game.

[+] EnlargeAllen Bailey
Greg Bartram/US PresswireAllen Bailey (57) and the Miami defense will try to slow the playersmakers on Pitt this week.
2. Turnovers at Heinz Field. They were Miami’s biggest enemy against Ohio State, as four interceptions contributed to one of the worst turnover margins in the country this week (minus-2). In order for Miami to stand a chance, it has to eliminate them from the playbook.

3. Time of possession in Atlanta and Durham. The option offenses of Army and Georgia Tech have both programs ranked among the nation’s top 25 in time of possession, and both NC State and Duke intend on playing their best defense by keeping their offenses on the field as long as possible. That will require some running by two pass-happy teams.

4. FSU’s rushing defense against Wake’s backs. The Deacs have struggled defensively but have the No. 7 rushing offense in the country with 283.67 yards per game. Florida State is No. 17 in the country in rushing defense allowing 82 yards per game.

5. Greg Schiano’s defense vs. UNC’s offense. Rutgers has the No. 3 scoring defense in the country, allowing just seven points per game. The Scarlet Knights are holding opponents to under 100 rushing yards, and 167.5 passing yards per game. UNC is No. 11 in the country in passing offense with 310.5 yards per game.

6. BC’s rushing defense against the Hokies’ loaded backfield. With or without Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech can run the ball -- as long as the offensive line holds up. Darren Evans and David Wilson helped beat ECU, but BC is third in the country in rushing defense, holding opponents to 54 yards per game. The Hokies are averaging 205 on the ground.

7. Injured quarterbacks. FSU quarterback Christian Ponder and Maryland quarterbacks Jamarr Robinson and Danny O’Brien have all been hurting this week. Ponder has a bruised triceps, Robinson has a sore throwing shoulder and O’Brien has a nagging ankle injury. All are expected to play, but will it affect their performances?

8. Scorecard vs. the Big East. It’s even right now at 1-1 between the two conferences, but the ACC has a chance to take the lead with games at Pittsburgh and Rutgers this week. The ACC can’t afford to lose anymore nonconference games, let alone to what’s perceived by many to be the weaker of the two leagues.

9. Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Antone Exum. He started and played most of the game at free safety in Tech’s nickel package. He had 10 tackles against East Carolina in his first career start.

10. Georgia Tech’s rushing offense vs. NC State’s rushing defense. The Wolfpack is allowing only 85. 33 rushing yards per game, but Georgia Tech is No. 3 in the country in rushing offense at 345 yards per game. Something’s gotta give.

Wounded Terps in must-win mode vs. FIU

September, 22, 2010
It’s only September, and Maryland has already suffered injuries to two of the most important position groups -- quarterback and offensive line. Starting left tackle Justin Gilbert tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season, starting quarterback Jamarr Robinson has a sore throwing shoulder, backup quarterback Danny O’Brien has a nagging ankle injury, and third-string quarterback C.J. Brown is out for the season with a broken collarbone.

[+] EnlargeJustin Gilbert
Chris Gardner/US PresswireThe Terps are going to miss standout left tackle Justin Gilbert.

“It’s a concern,” coach Ralph Friedgen said, “there’s no doubt about it.”

Not after the way Maryland’s offense struggled in the first half last weekend at West Virginia. Instead of approaching Saturday’s home game against Florida International as a final tune-up before the conference schedule begins, the questions surrounding the offense now have Maryland staring at a potential trap game. FIU’s 0-2 record is deceiving, as the Panthers lost to Rutgers and Texas A&M by a combined 12 points.

The Panthers rank 28th in the nation in total defense, ninth in the nation with 17 tackles for loss, and ninth in the nation in passes intercepted with five. That doesn’t bode well for a Maryland offense that totaled just two rushing yards, four first downs and no third-down conversions in the first half against West Virginia.

“I don’t think we played as well as we’re capable of playing,” Friedgen said. “… As poorly as we played, we were in a position to make a run at them, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make. For this team, hopefully we’ll be better prepared. Next time we’re in that situation hopefully we can become successful because I really think that’s what this team needs, to be able to win a game like that to really start believing in themselves and having the confidence they need to be a good football team.”

Both Robinson and O’Brien are expected to play against FIU, but the offensive line had to be reshuffled. R.J. Dill was moved to left tackle, and redshirt freshman Pete DeSouza was promoted to right tackle.

"Gilbert is a tough loss for us, I'd say he is one of our better offensive lineman and he was starting to grow and mature the last few games,” said receiver Torrey Smith. “He has gotten better and better. Personally I'm going to miss him. I always used to joke with him in the huddle and our lockers are right across from each other so we talk every day. It's a blow for us but it's also an opportunity for Pete DeSouza to step up and show what he's worth. He's done a great job since camp getting better and better and he did a great job holding his own against West Virginia against their defensive line."

Maryland had the fortune of having all four nonconference games scheduled at the start of the season, so there has been plenty of time to prepare for the Oct. 2 ACC opener against Duke, but the Terps can’t afford to look past FIU. After a 2-10 season last year, the Terps need every win they can get in order to get back to the postseason.

"This is a very, very important game on our schedule,” Friedgen said. “It is very important for us to re-establish our momentum and really focus on whatever we need to do to win this football game."
Maryland should be embarrassed by its first-half performance against West Virginia:

Total yards: WVU 345, MD 63.

Rushing yards: WVU 119, MD 2.

First downs: WVU 16, MD 4.

Third downs: WVU 7-of-9, MD 0-of-5

Don't tell me Maryland doesn't have talent or speed on offense. Wide receiver Torrey Smith is the real deal, and his 60-yard touchdown pass from Jamarr Robinson is only a flash of his potential. Terps fans should be concerned by the current coach-in-waiting plan. Offensive coordinator James Franklin can recruit, but so far, he's done little to impress as a play-caller. Yes, Maryland has had issues up front, but the Terps have looked like a JV offense for much of this game.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 3

September, 16, 2010
Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on in Week 3:

1. Upset alert. No, not the ACC being upset (there aren’t enough teams ranked anymore for the ACC to be upset this weekend), the other way around. But there are plenty of opportunities for the ACC to knock off a ranked opponent. Maryland at West Virginia, No. 1 Alabama at Duke, Clemson at Auburn and Wake Forest at Stanford. Can the ACC save face with any of these opportunities?

2. Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel vs. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. McDaniel is going to have to help in the run support, and he’s also got to be wary of Newton’s arm. Newton is the team’s leading rusher, and at 250 pounds, he’s not easy to wrap up. Expect McDaniel to line up all over the field to help contain.

3. The “New Storm.” Clemson’s running back duo of Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper have been on cruise control, but they’ll run into a defense that has allowed just 80 rushing yards per game so far.

4. North Carolina’s running game. After just one game, North Carolina is averaging 24 yards of rushing offense -- the worst in the country. The addition of running back Shaun Draughn should help, but Johnny White and Anthony Elzy are both ahead of him on the depth chart, and both White and Elzy injured their ankles against LSU.

5. Georgia Tech’s receivers. Coach Paul Johnson said there were five dropped balls against Kansas, contributing to Joshua Nesbitt’s 5-of-15 completions, but that Nesbitt also could have thrown it better at times.

[+] EnlargeTanner Price
Brian A. Westerholt/Getty ImagesWake Forest's Tanner Price will become just the third true freshman quarterback starter this Saturday against Stanford.
6. Freshman quarterback Tanner Price. It will be the first time a true freshman quarterback has started for Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. When Price makes his debut against Stanford, he will become just the third true starting freshman quarterback in the country this year, joining, Penn State’s Rob Bolden, and Colorado State’s Pete Thomas.

7. Virginia Tech’s offensive line. East Carolina’s defense has been very generous, allowing almost 500 yards per game. If there was ever a time for the Hokies to gain some confidence up front and pave the way for Ryan Williams, this would be it. Maybe the starters are simply gassed. No backup has played a snap yet on the offensive line. Nick Becton (turf toe) is expected to return.

8. Turnovers in Raleigh. NC State’s defense forced a total of five turnovers in last Saturday’s win over UCF, including three interceptions. It was the most the Pack had forced since six against North Carolina in 2008. NC State enters tonight’s game with a plus-six turnover margin, the best in the ACC.

9. Maryland backup quarterback Danny O’Brien. He’ll definitely play, though coach Ralph Friedgen said this week he’s “not disappointed” in starter Jamarr Robinson. O’Brien threw three touchdown passes in the win over Morgan State, but West Virginia is holding opponents to just 10.5 points per game.

10. Florida State’s defense. The Seminoles should look much better this weekend against BYU, especially considering BYU is 101st in the country in scoring offense with just 18.5 points per game. The Seminoles had trouble lining up in the new zone scheme against Oklahoma’s no-huddle offense and Jimbo Fisher is looking for better tackling in open space.

Terps taking care of business

September, 11, 2010
Um, you can call the dogs off now.

Maryland is simply laying the smack down on Morgan State in a 62-3 romp in the fourth quarter. Go ahead and pencil in the Terps for a 2-0 record against the state this year with last weekend's win over Navy. Morgan State has just 19 yards rushing. As promised, coach Ralph Friedgen has played all three quarterbacks -- Jamarr Robinson, Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown. Unless you're a Maryland fan it's a game that's tough to get excited about, but at least Maryland followed the script and didn't allow any room for anyone to question who was the better team.

Terps likely to use more quarterbacks

September, 8, 2010
The Danny O'Brien sighting against Navy wasn't the last of coach Ralph Friedgen's decision to dabble with more than one quarterback.

In Maryland's 17-14 win over Navy, you might have confused the Terps for the Middies if you looked only at the box score -- Maryland threw it just five times, and quarterback Jamarr Robinson completed only two of those attempts for 11 yards and an interception.

Friedgen turned to his backup, O'Brien, who fumbled the ball on his first -- and last -- snap of the game.

"Obviously the fact it resulted in a fumble, you're always going to second-guess yourself, but we still have a lot of confidence in Danny. We're going to play both of them. I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up playing C.J. Brown some, too. We have some very talented quarterbacks. One of the big things they don't have right now is experience. We don't look at it as a negative thing as far as Jamarr is concerned. We're very pleased with him, but we also think we have some other people who could play, also."

Friedgen said on Wednesday's ACC teleconference that he wanted to throw the ball more against Navy, but they were having success with the running game.

"When we got the ball down there and threw an interception I think we got a little tentative about doing that," he said. "We feel very confident in our ability to throw the football. We have a lot of weapons to throw it to, and I think that will happen as time goes on."

What to watch in the ACC: Week 1

September, 2, 2010
There’s plenty on tap this weekend in the ACC, starting Thursday night with Miami and Wake Forest. Here are 10 things worth keeping an eye on in Week 1:

1. North Carolina’s revamped starting lineup: So far, we know standout defensive tackle Marvin Austin has been suspended, and more announcements are expected by the time the team boards the bus at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Every time UNC makes a statement, the Tar Heels situation only seems to get worse.

2. Comeback kids: NC State linebacker Nate Irving is listed as the starter at middle linebacker against Western Carolina after sustaining serious season-ending injuries last summer. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is likely to play against Weber State after recovering from Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer and then suffering a broken foot this summer, and Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans is back to full speed after missing 2008 with a torn ACL. Maryland running back Da’Rel Scott, another 1,000-yard rusher, is also healthy after missing six games with injuries last year.

3. First-year coaches: It’s starting to become a trend in the ACC. This year, the Jimbo Fisher era has begun at Florida State and Mike London is looking to turn around a struggling Virginia program. Both coaches will be facing programs they once coached and attended.

4. First-year quarterbacks: At Duke, Sean Renfree takes over for one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in school history, and Ted Stachitas is going through the same thing at Wake Forest, where he will replace the winningest quarterback in school history. Jamarr Robinson enters his first full season as a starter at Maryland, and Marc Verica takes over at Virginia.

5. Boise State’s rushing defense vs. Virginia Tech’s dynamic duo. The Broncos were ranked No. 28 in the country last year in rushing defense (120.36 yards per game), but struggled against some of the country’s better runners. Darren Evans and Ryan Williams have each had 1,000-yard seasons, and David Wilson could give Boise State additional concerns.

6. Miami’s running back rotation. The Canes have Damien Berry and Mike James listed as No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, but Lamar Miller also had an impressive camp, and if the conditions are right, coach Randy Shannon said he’d like to get Graig Cooper in the game.

7. NC State running back Dean Haynes. He has only recently switched to offense, and now he’s listed as the starter for the Western Carolina game. Tom O’Brien wouldn’t have promoted him to the top of the depth chart had Haynes not impressed him, but not even O’Brien knows what to expect.

8. Georgia Tech’s new 3-4 defense: The Yellow Jackets have been working on first-year coordinator Al Groh’s scheme all summer, and this will be the only chance for players to get comfortable in it before back-to-back road trips at Kansas and Coastal Division opponent UNC.

9. Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor. He’s expected to fill in for injured starter Barquell Rivers, and while there has been a lot of praise heaped upon Taylor this summer, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. says Rivers is “by far the unit’s best returning starter,” and that having Rivers sidelined will be “a major blow” to the defense.

10. UNC’s offensive line vs. LSU’s defensive line. The Tar Heels return more experience up front, and both of the Tigers’ defensive ends are first-year starters. T.J. Yates, who threw 15 interceptions a year ago, will need time and protection in order to avoid being pressured into mistakes against LSU’s fast, talented secondary.