ACC: Jordan Steffy

Mailblog in the morning

April, 3, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Good morning, ACC fans. With the Hokies starting their spring practices this week, one question seems to be on the minds of Virginia Tech fans:

Daniel in Wytheville VA writes: Everyone is talking about Virginia Tech possibly make a national title run this year. Do you think it is possible? Tech never seems to do well when there are high expectations.

Heather Dinich: After watching the Hokies do so much with so little last year, I'm not counting them out for anything. That said, this is still a young team. Those receivers who managed to catch a whopping eight touchdowns last year? They're sophomores now. This team will be better, but so will Georgia Tech. And Miami. And everyone else in the Coastal Division. Let's see how the Hokies fare against Alabama before we start declaring them national champs.

Kok in Putnam County, Fla., writes: If Florida State stays healthy, do you see them as a lock to win the ACC championship this year.

Heather Dinich: Nobody is a "lock," Kok, but the Seminoles are my spring pick as the favorite to win the Atlantic Division. Let's see who emerges during summer camp.

Well-informed Miami fan "Monty" writes: Heather, Here's one for ya'. Apparently Miami basketball player Jimmy Graham has been working out with the football team and is expected to play with the football team this upcoming fall. At 6-8 and 240 pounds, he's supposedly working out at the TE position. This is NOT a belated April Fool's joke.

Heather Dinich: Thanks for the tip, Monty, I'll see if I can get a post worked up on it.

Adam B. in Apple Valley, MN writes: Hi Heather. I've been a reader of your CFB/ACC blog since the Baltimore Sun days, and you're doing a great job on ESPN. I can tell by your mini-conference preview the other day (where you named the top 3 teams in each division)you're not very high on Maryland this year. I know they lost a lot, but they've got a lot of good young players coming up. Plus I think with Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis gone Chris Turner can finally settle in to the QB position knowing it's his job in his senior season. Add James Franklin being in his second year as OC, and Don Brown taking over for Chris Cosh at DC (defenite upgrade in my opinion) and I think Maryland will compete in the Atlantic Division in 2009. I was just curious about your thoughts on Maryland?

Heather Dinich: Thanks for reading, Adam. I agree with your points, but here's the thing ... Turner (at least once Steffy's thumb was injured) was the undisputed starter last season, and the Terps had one of their most veteran teams in a long time and still couldn't close the deal. They've got a knack for staying in the hunt until the final two games of the season and then blowing it. So why, when so many questions abound (linebacker, center, backup quarterback, young receivers ...) should Terps fans be any more convinced about this year's team?

Ben in Miami writes: Regarding the ACC, you said "On the verge? Florida State. Miami. Georgia Tech. North Carolina. None of which have a senior quarterback in 2009." ... Is that really cause for concern? All three Heisman finalists last year were juniors. Numerous underclassmen have succeeded in the conference at quarterback. Why do these ACC teams need a senior quarterback to succeed? Age ain't nothin' but a number!

Heather Dinich: Fair point, and you'll have a hard time finding a woman who disagrees with your last sentence. The point is, though, the ACC quarterbacks are still relatively young when it comes to playing time. Last year was Christian Ponder's first year as a starter, same for Nesbitt, and Yates, well, he threw 18 interceptions in 2007 compared to four last year. Yates, a junior now, makes my point. It's not cause for concern, and they don't need to be seniors to succeed, but more than one year as leader of the offense helps.

Chuck writes: There is a great deal of attention on Virginia Tech football this Spring. Several writers have even pegged them as being a serious national title contender. Why has so little been written about their lack of depth at the QB position. Tyrod Taylor is a very injury prone QB. If he gets hurt, the Hokies' season is over. Why have writers seemingly brushed aside this danger in the Hokies' depth chart this year?

Heather Dinich: Well, not only did Taylor get hurt last year, but so did Sean Glennon -- in the same game -- and their season wasn't exactly over. A significant amount has been written about that problem, and Frank Beamer and his staff are well aware of it. That's one reason why Marcus Davis is starting the spring at quarterback, and not receiver.

Maryland recruiting needs

January, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The Terps rebounded from their disappointing finish in the regular season with an impressive win over Nevada in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, and a bowl win never hurts recruiting.

The Terps' main focus was to stock up on linebackers, especially with the departure of Rick Costa, Moise Fokou and Dave Philistin. Maryland will have to replace three seniors on its offensive line, and that was the staff's second priority. The Terps are still shopping in that department, but have a good start with three commitments in Pete DeSouza (Hyattsville, Md.), Bennett Fulper (Gretna, Va.) and Ryan Schlieper (Wexford, Pa.).

With backup quarterback Josh Portis transferring and Jordan Steffy graduating, the Terps also had to fill a void there. Chris Turner is a veteran with a winning record, but his backup, Jamarr Robinson, is a redshirt freshman who hasn't thrown a pass yet. Maryland is expecting two commitments at the position in C.J. Brown (Cranberry, Pa.), and Danny O'Brien (Kernersville, N.C.).

The Terps are always looking for defensive linemen and defensive backs. Kevin Barnes is the biggest name in the defensive backfield who will have to be replaced. The defensive line will also lose a lot of depth in Jeremy Navarre, Mack Frost, Dean Muhtadi, and Olugbemi Otulaja. De'Onte Arnett, a highly regarded defensive end from Forestville, Md., is an early entry who might contribute immediately.

Maryland will need a kicker to replace Obi Egekeze, and they've got a commitment from Nick Ferrara of St. Anthony's in New York.

The most glaring departure on offense was star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, but the Terps have several talented, young receivers who emerged this season. That position will be more of a focus for the class of 2010.

ACC's 'Good Works' players honored at Allstate Sugar Bowl

January, 2, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

 Getty Images
 Duke's Re'quan Boyette and Maryland's Jordan Steffy were honred during the halftime of the Sugar Bowl for their community service.

NEW ORLEANS -- Greetings from the Allstate Sugar Bowl, where two ACC players will be honored at halftime for their commitment to community service.

Too often the off-field incidents reported are negative, and the "Good Works" of athletes like Duke running back Re'quan Boyette and Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy go unnoticed.

Not in the ACC blogosphere. Here we take the good, the bad, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Seriously, though, players like Steffy and Boyette -- even though they didn't play this season -- deserve some recognition. There are plenty of other players who have taken on important leadership roles with their teams, too (FSU safety Myron Rolle and Georgia Tech defensive tackle Darryl Richard come to mind), but Boyette and Steffy were named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, and they came to New Orleans to help with a rebuilding project here.

We're not talking about athletes who spent five minutes tutoring local middle schoolers here, either. We're talking about significant time sacrifices -- something college football players don't have a lot of to spare.

Earlier this morning, Boyette, Steffy and 20 other college football players participated in a clean-up initiative in the Oak Park neighborhood. At halftime, there will be an on-field ceremony and video tribute.

Boyette was a "Big Brother" to a student at Lakewood Elementary in the spring of 2006 and spent a couple of hours a week with him. They still keep in touch.

Boyette has also volunteered at the Erwin Gardens Rehabilitation Center and the Forest at Duke, a pair of Durham nursing homes. He visited once or twice a week and talked with residents. He also volunteered at YE Smith Elementary School once a week and helped kids with their homework projects or tutored them for their classes.

But wait, there's more ...

Boyette has also volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House and the Durham Rescue Mission. He visited residents and helped serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House. He has been to the Durham Rescue Mission twice and helped out with serving meals. As part of Duke's community service programs, he has also gone to local elementary schools for the Read With the Blue Devils program where Duke student-athletes read to kids and stress the importance of reading.

Steffy started his own non-profit organization, Children Deserve a Chance Foundation, which raised more than $50,000 in 2008 to aid young people in need, and he wants to expand his foundation in order to contribute even more.

(Read full post)

The ACC's bedazzling backups

September, 25, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Listening to Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson praise backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw this week, and in talking to NC State coach Tom O'Brien about the success of his third string tight end, it got me thinking.

There have been a lot of backups making differences in the ACC this season. Some, like Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, have simply stolen the spotlight from the starter. Others, like the Hokies' Tyrod Taylor, have stolen the starting job. And many have gotten their opportunity at the unfortunate expense of an injured -- or suspended -- teammate.

Here's a look at the ACC's best backups through the first four weeks:

Boston College: True freshman running back Montel Harris wasn't even on the two-deep when the season started, but after filling in for injured starter Josh Haden (ankle), Harris is the Eagles' leading rusher with 133 yards in two games.

Clemson: Freshman defensive tackle Brandon Thompson was supposed to redshirt, but couldn't after the news Rashaad Jackson would be out for 10 weeks and Jamie Cumbie was lost for the season after the first game. Thompson leads Clemson in tackles for loss with four, and his playing time will only increase.

Duke: Running back Clifford Harris assumed the starting role after a preseason knee injury to Re'quan Boyette. He has rushed 49 times for 203 yards (4.1 YPC) and three touchdowns. He leads Duke and is sixth in the ACC with 67.7 yards per game.

FSU: Linebacker Kenny Ingram filled in for Dekoda Watson while he was suspended and recorded seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, three pass break-ups and had a forced fumble and recovered one. He also batted down a Riley Skinner pass on fourth and one from the FSU 10 which was one of two Skinner passes he batted down in last week's game.

Georgia Tech: In the absence of starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt, Jaybo Shaw has completed 6 of 10 passes for no interceptions, 91 yards and a touchdown in the two games he played in. He also rushed 18 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

  • Tyler Melton, a true freshman wide receiver, stepped in for injured Correy Earls (hamstring) before the season opener and is the Yellow Jackets' second-leading receiver (five catches, 53 yards), and primary punt returner.
  • Sedric Griffin, a junior linebacker, made his first career start at Boston College after two starting linebackers (Brad Jefferson, Anthony Barnes) went down in the season opener. Paul Johnson recently called Griffin their "most consistent linebacker" and he is the third leading tackler with 25 tackles and one tackle for loss.

Maryland: Running back Morgan Green took over for the ACC's injured leading rusher, Da'Rel Scott, and scored two touchdowns last weekend against Eastern Michigan.

  • Quarterback Chris Turner started the season as second string behind Jordan Steffy, but inherited the offense after Steffy injured his thumb. Since throwing three interceptions in a loss to Middle Tennessee, Turner has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Miami: Senior running back Derron Thomas. He's filled in the role that Graig Cooper had when Cooper was 1b to Javarris James. Thomas has 19 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, and a 34-yard run against Texas A&M. He's got 121 all-purpose yards in three games.

UNC -- Robert Quinn, a true freshman, started the past two weeks after defensive end Darrius Massenburg went down with a knee injury. Quinn has six tackles, three tackles for losses, one sack and two pressures.

NCSU -- Tight end George Bryan. He was the only option after injuries to Anthony Hill and Matt Kushner. Now he leads the team in catches (13), is third in yards (127) and tied for first with two touchdowns.

Virginia Tech: Darren Evans, the Hokies' No. 2 tailback, leads the team with 264 yards and four touchdowns.

  • Tyrod Taylor -- He's a work in progress, as he hasn't thrown a touchdown yet, but there's no question his playmaking abilities have helped the offense. He's second on the team in rushing with 221 yards and leads with 73.7 yards per game.


Wake Forest: Ryan McManus, a fourth-year walk-on and the holder for PATs and field goals gets the unsung hero award so far. He saw the play clock running down as the Demon Deacons were lining up for the game-winning field goal against Ole Miss and very alertly called time out. The third-string quarterback does whatever he can to get on the field, including helping out on the punt and punt-return teams. His father was a starting quarterback at Wake Forest in the 1970s and is now an assistant coach at Kent State.


Here are the three most notable opportunities for players to join the list:

UVA: Quarterback Marc Verica. He was a respectable 22 for 30 (1 INT) for 158 yards in the loss to UConn, but now it's officially his offense. Let's see what he can do now that he's had time to prepare as the starter.

UNC: Quarterbacks Cam Sexton and Mike Paulus. Both are expected to play at Miami this weekend, and will have to carry the offense in the absence of T.J. Yates, who is out for six weeks.

NCSU: Freshman Dwayne Maddox is taking over at weakside linebacker for Nate Irving, the Wolfpack's top playma
ker on defense.

Boo hoo?

September, 23, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Daniel Evans got it from NC State fans. This past weekend, Chris Crane got it from Boston College fans. And I do believe Maryland fans have given Jordan Steffy his share of "boos" in the past.

Mark Blaudschun of the Boston Globe told fans to "stick a sock in it" after Crane rebounded from a poor first half to rally the Eagles to a 34-7 win over Central Florida on Saturday.

While I agree that it is a classless act from the home crowd (not to mention one that doesn't travel very well), I also think it comes with the territory. Especially since fans are paying good money to watch these guys. Blaudschun is right, this isn't the NFL. But if these guys want to get there, get used to it (especially if you wind up in Philly).

ACC in the Tallahassee morning

September, 18, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Good morning from the Sunshine State, where the Seminoles are confident they're going to win. (In addition to Christian Ponder, who high-fived me yesterday for my motivational o-line ranking, Preston Parker also made the declarative statement they're going to win this game).

The Seminoles know, though, that this is their first true test. There are so many veteran players on the Wake Forest defense that even a veteran can get overshadowed.

While there is plenty to write about here, don't forget about that other important divisional game.

Whomever wins the Virginia Tech-North Carolina game is going to come out looking like the early frontrunner of the Coastal Division. Don't forget about those Hurricanes, though. Randy Shannon has had his team working on turnovers this past week. The question on defense, though, is if Eric Moncur will play.

Georgia Tech got a key piece of its defense back, as Vance Walker is back from a head injury.

Speaking of getting hit ...

- The effects of Kevin Barnes' hit on Cal running back Jahvid Best are still resounding in College Park. Imagine how Best feels. Really. It's all over the Internet.

- Clemson receiver Tyler Grisham is now tied with Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy at five concussions. Seriously. Not all bad news in Clemson, though. What was once a weakness for the Tigers is now a strength.

- Has Boston College mended its bruised ego?

- UVA has plenty to work on during its bye week.

- Duke has a bye week. And there is a story in the paper about their defensive line. Yes, things have changed in Durham. 

Maryland's QB from Cali hopes to impress against Cal

September, 11, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

This should be a good week for Maryland quarterback Chris Turner. Should.

He celebrated his 21st birthday on Monday, and six or seven family members are flying in from California to cheer him on as the Terps host Cal.

The only problem is the Terps (1-1) are hosting Cal (2-0).

Maryland is one of the most consistently inconsistent teams in the ACC, and if it is going to have any chance against the surging Golden Bears, Turner knows he's got to play better than he did in the 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee State last weekend.

Turner completed 13-of-28 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown and threw three interceptions -- two of which halted fourth-quarter drives as Maryland trailed by 10 points.

"As you can imagine, I'm not happy with how I played," Turner said, "but I keep telling everyone the good news is I can only get better. I'm confident. I've had some pretty good games in the past. If I just play to my ability, I think we'll be alright."

After starting the last eight games of 2007, Turner was benched in favor of Jordan Steffy this summer. But he regained his starting spot last week when Steffy injured his thumb. Turner has tried to figure out what went wrong for him, and the one thing he came up with is being out of rhythm.

"Our offense now takes a lot of timing, a lot of rhythm going through progressions," said Turner, a native of Simi Valley, Calif. "Sometimes I'd rush through progressions, sometimes I'd be so slow. Basically I have to translate what I do in practice onto the field. In practice things mesh pretty well. The timing is there. In the game it's a little bit faster."

And Cal will certainly bring the speed. On defense, cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson is tied for the nation's lead in interceptions with three, and offensively, Jahvid Best leads the Pac-10 with 155.5 rushing yards per game. They're coming off a 66-3 romp of Washington State.

Still, Turner is convinced the team is better than what it showed a week ago.

"I can't even think of a good way to describe how much better we are," Turner said. "On paper, obviously we're much better than that. We have tons of speed, tons of athletes. We were a much better team and we didn't play like that. People can take that for what it's worth. There are always going to be skeptics, but we know what we're capable of. We know that if we play how we're capable of playing, we can beat anybody. We showed that last year."

ACC in the morning -- Ponder edition

September, 4, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Let's start in Tallahassee, where Jimbo Fisher named Christian Ponder his starting quarterback on Wednesday. And yes, Drew Weatherford was disappointed. But Fisher had a "gut feeling" about Ponder. He also had several other reasons. Still, it sounds like more than one quarterback might play in Saturday's season opener against Western Carolina. And the second name Fisher mentioned wasn't Weatherford.

That's where most of the attention in the league was Wednesday evening, but there is plenty to talk about elsewhere:

Chris Turner to start for Maryland; Steffy out 'indefinitely'

September, 3, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said Chris Turner will start this weekend against Middle Tennessee State and Jordan Steffy is "out indefinitely" with an injured thumb.

"He had a ligament tore away from the bone is what they showed," Friedgen said. "They think it will be a minimum of three weeks."

Friedgen also said Josh Portis will play again.

Turner is No. 2 on the depth chart this season, but No. 1 in the eyes of Maryland fans.

As for how Turner has looked in practice this week?

"He's looked OK," Friedgen said.

ACC in the morning -- Part I: Second-guessing

September, 3, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer have more in common than their neighboring lake houses in Georgia. After just one week, both of them are now second-guessing their original calls at quarterback.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming.

Me too, just not after one game.

At Maryland, Jordan Steffy's injured thumb is part of the problem. Friedgen passionately defended Steffy as if he were his own son on Tuesday, but at the same time wouldn't commit to him as a starter for this weekend against Middle Tennessee State.

At Virginia Tech, Beamer decided to revert back to last year's two-quarterback system and use Tyrod Taylor instead of redshirting him.

Did anyone see the UCLA-Tennessee game?

UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft threw four interceptions in the first half against Tennessee, and instead of leaving him in the locker room for the second half, Rick Neuheisel told his quarterback that he, too, threw four picks in his first start.

The only way for a quarterback to play with confidence is to know he has it from his head coach, and neither Beamer nor Friedgen are showing that right now. Yet both of them still expect Sean Glennon and Steffy to win games for them.

This will likely be an ongoing drama in College Park this season, as Chris Turner and Josh Portis have already played in the first game with Steffy. At Virginia Tech, how Glennon handles this decision will affect the entire team. But the Hokies appear to have more problems than just Taylor can solve.

While Hokies' quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain makes some valid points, the fact he said "I'm not sure we didn't feel this along" makes you wonder why the staff didn't go with its gut the first time around. They knew their personnel heading into the ECU game. It was the same team they had after it.

And Friedgen knows exactly what he has at quarterback. Three guys, three styles and three personalities.

None of whom can, apparently, do it all by himself.

On the road again in ACC country

September, 1, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Good morning, ACC fans. Hope you're enjoying a long weekend. Watch the replay of the Clemson game last night? Didn't think so.

I'm moving on to the ACC's next hope at making a statement on the national level -- Miami. It doesn't help the Canes' odds that Percy Harvin and linebacker Brandon Spikes will be back. It does help, though, that Florida has provided a little trash-talkin' motivation about the U.

Randy Shannon will have his news conference for the Florida game on Tuesday, and I'll be in town to chat with him and a few of his players.

In addition to Robert Marve's debut, there are a few quarterback situations throughout the league worth watching this week:

MARYLAND -- Will Jordan Steffy start Game 2? This is déjà vu from a year ago. Once again it's unclear whether an injury or his play will determine Steffy's status.

FSU -- Finally, the Noles are playing. But who will be their starting quarterback? It looks like D'Vontrey Richardson has really impressed Jimbo Fisher. We should know his choice soon.

NC State -- Tom O'Brien is expected Monday to update the status of Russell Wilson, who was diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion in Thursday's loss to South Carolina.

Getting ready to board, but I'll have other updates for you throughout the day.

What to watch

August, 29, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here are 10 things to keep an eye on in the ACC this Saturday:

  1. Clemson's offensive line: Enough with the questions already. Let's see if these guys can hold their own against Alabama. The Tigers had to replace four of five starters, but these guys are not inexperienced and they're eager to prove it.
  2. Boston College offense: Quarterback Chris Crane will be making his first start as leader of this young group and another torch will be passed to freshman running back Josh Haden. For the first time in a while, the Eagles' receivers will be the ones bringing everyone else along.
  3. East Carolina upset over Virginia Tech: With possibly no Macho Harris in the mix (ankle), this becomes even more of a possibility. Odds are the Hokies get a good scare in the first half before sneaking out of Charlotte with the win.
  4. Virginia's quarterback: Finally. We'll find out which one of the mystery trio will start against USC. We haven't heard much about who's leading the race between Peter Lalich, Marc Verica and Scott Deke.
  5. Brian Toal's comeback: The BC linebacker was missed last season, and he was out for a few days last week with a pinched nerve in his trapezius, but Toal is finally 100 percent. Will he be used again in those short-yardage situations?
  6. Clemson freshman Da'Quan Bowers: How much of an impact will he have in his debut with the Tigers? About 25-30 snaps against Alabama will give him a chance to show us.
  7. Maryland's offense: With James Franklin running the show and Jordan Steffy at quarterback, how much different can this offense be? And how much will the Terps really show against Delaware?
  8. Virginia Tech's wide receivers: When it comes to experience, depleted is an understatement. True freshmen will have to grow up quickly. Now that we know who the Hokies' quarterback will be, let's find out who Sean Glennon's favorite target is.
  9. North Carolina's defense: This is the first chance we get to see the impact of first-year coordinator Everett Withers, particularly his work in the secondary. It's also the first opportunity to see how the Tar Heels replaced Hilee Taylor and Kentwan Balmer.
  10. Duke's first win: You wouldn't want to miss that, would you? James Madison could very easily win this game, but the excitement around that program and the high expectations of David Cutcliffe make 1-0 a real possibility.

ACC in the morning: Time to 'Wake' up

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA -- A belated good morning, ACC fans. Sorry for the late start, but there's one thing you need to know before this season officially gets started: If I know I'm going to be in a press box until at least midnight (as is the case tonight), there ain't no way, no how I'm starting my work day at 5:30 a.m.

Speaking of being a-Wake, let's check in on those Demon Deacons ...

Jim Grobe put them through one of the two toughest training camps since he's been there, and it should pay off tonight in Waco, Texas. They can be confident in their quarterback, but the preseason expectation and hype surrounding this program has the players a little uneasy.

At least they don't have to worry about a redshirt freshman making his debut at quarterback. We'll know much more about Russell Wilson and NC State tonight, too. Is there an upset brewing?

We already know plenty about the quarterback I'll be watching. I'm excited to be here for the start of the Paul Johnson era, which begins tonight against former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and Jacksonville State.

I'll be keeping an eye on every ACC game, even though I'm in Atlanta. (Good times last night at a place called Six Feet Under, by the way. Nice view of the Dome from the roof).

Miami also opens its season tonight, and it's time for a fresh start, in a new stadium with a brand new quarterback. Don't get too excited, though, Greg Cote says. Better days in Coral Gables aren't here quite yet. The players at Charleston Southern aren't thinking any less of the Canes, though.

Unfortunate news out of Tallahassee last night, as projected starting defensive lineman Emmanuel Dunbar was taken to the hospital with a back injury. I'll check in with FSU for an update on that today.

Elsewhere in the ACC, keep an eye on this "son of a gun" at Maryland. Defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre has been such a force this summer coach Ralph Friedgen was worried he'd hurt the confidence of the offensive lineman. How's that for a compliment?

Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy has endured more criticism than praise during his career in College Park. Can he change that this season?

Virginia is looking to silence some doubters this season, too.

Meanwhile, Duke coach David Cutcliffe is working to change attitudes inside and out of his program. The seniors on the roster are still hoping to be part of the turnaround in Durham.

Way up north, Boston College right guard Thomas Claiborne had to shed some major weight in order to get on the field. His efforts have paid off.

On a more serious note, Victor Harris was a little shaken up about his recent testimony in court.

ACC anticipation

August, 27, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

I thought this top 25 list was going to be difficult, but as it turns out, there are a gazillion things I can't wait to see in the ACC this season -- Chief Osceola and Renegade included. But this year, the quarterbacks top the list.

I can't wait to see ...

1. Miami quarterback Robert Marve in his first collegiate start against Florida. First there was the car accident. Then the suspension. Can we please get an official snap now?

2. Boston College quarterback Chris Crane. Finally. Let's watch what he can do and stop talking about the other guy.

3. Who will wind up as Florida State's most consistent starting quarterback. It was Drew Weatherford's job to lose this summer, but Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson both have Jimbo Fisher thinking too much.

4. Maryland third-string quarterback Josh Portis. So much hype, so little action. Not this season. After spending the past two years on the scout team, we finally get to see what this speedy transfer from Florida can do.

5. Which Miami freshman is going to have the most impact. There are so many to choose from, on both sides of the ball, including the two who are in the starting lineup for Thursday's season opener against Charleston Southern -- quarterback Jacory Harris and defensive end Marcus Robinson.

6. James Davis and C.J. Spiller try and get through B.J. Raji, Ron Brace, and the other guys in the Eagles' front seven. BC's defense should be even better than it was in 2007, and Thunder and Lightening only rushed for a total of 62 yards against them last year.

7. Macho Harris as a receiver. He switched to offense for a part of the spring, and the Hokies certainly could use him there, but will they?

8. Jacoby Ford used on a reverse in the same game he takes a kickoff or punt return all the way back. He's super fast, athletic and can be used just about anywhere on the field. Let's see it.

9. An upset -- I don't care who it is, and I don't care when it happens. That could mean Clemson shocking somebody in the postseason, or it could mean NC State shocking Clemson. Clemson losing to Wake? Not a shocker.

10. Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt throw it. It's bound to happen sooner or later, and don't think the receivers were standing around at practice this summer gossiping.

11. James Franklin calling the plays. Go deep, Hey-Bey. The offense should be more fun to watch as long as the staff doesn't get caught up in Jordan Steffy throwing five-yard passes.

12. Michael Johnson absolutely flatten somebody. He hasn't started a game yet, but the Yellow Jackets' new defensive scheme will free him up to rush from the edge.

13. Preston Parker take one home. Sure, he's suspended for two games, but this guy is a playmaker. I remember what he did against Maryland last year in his first shot at tailback and would love to see more.

14. The Wake Forest defense score 11 touchdowns. Hey, they scored 10 last year. OK, so the odds of this happening are slim to none, but this defense is still one of the most exciting to watch because of its playmaking potential.

15. Butch Davis' return to Coral Gables. Davis' coaching ties make for a good subplot, but so does the fact that the Tar Heels beat these guys last season.

16. Al Groh in a good mood. Too bad I'm heading to the season opener. Odds are Charlottesville is a happier place around Week 10. Then again, maybe not.

17. NC State get a break that doesn't involve a body part. These guys are due for one. It's not the third-string left tackle that gets hurt for these guys, either, it's their leading rushers and receivers. I want to see what the Pack can do at 100 percent.

18. Thaddeus Lewis after a summer of instruction from some former SEC coaches. He was the third best QB in the league before he started taking advice from a coach that tutored the Manning brothers.

19. The return of NC State tight end Anthony Hill. This guy is a veteran playmaker, and after missing last season with a torn ACL, he's ready to rock.

20. The Blue Devils win more than one game. These guys have put in way too much work this summer not to.

21. The Tar Heels defense under Everett Withers. The first-year defensive coordinator is the first to admit his Minnesota defense last year was "awful." What can he do with the talent on the Tar Heels' roster?

22. Frank Beamer's hip-hop dance. I missed it last year after the Hokies won the ACC title. Then again, they've got to win it again in order for another show.

23. The Euro kicker make his first field goal against USC. Yannick Reyering has never played a game of football in his life, and here he is starting against USC. Fun.

24. Jim Grobe explain his gameplan to the well-to-do fans in Deacon Tower an hour before kickoff against Clemson. If only I were a well-to-do sports reporter ...

25. The inside of the Esso. I've heard a lot about this place, but didn't get a chance to go there this summer. I was too busy running down some hill.

Mailblog in the morning -- 'po Dukies

August, 21, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Robb, in Raleigh, writes (and I shortened this one): Heather - I have really enjoyed the blog because although I am a big fan of college football in general, I care most about ACC. You blog gives me a great place to go to find out what's happening around the ACC without having to read the beat reporters from 12 different papers. One little problem I am starting to have is your constant ripping on Duke. Either report on Duke or don't report on Duke but please stop leading every Duke report with some funny little quip about how no one cares or how bad they are. We all get it. Sure Duke has been pretty bad in the past and yes, they deserve no respect from the players and fans of other ACC teams. However as a member of the media now I think it is your duty to gives these guys a little respect.

Heather Dinich: Whoa. First of all, toughen up buttercup. Second, read the blog a little more carefully and you'll find I've backed the Blue Devils and their head coach this season.

Brandon, writes: Heather, You should be ashamed that you linked anything to a Mike Bianchi article. He is absolute garbage. I would say that you just went out of your way to make FSU look bad. You didn't go to UF too did you? Bianchi will try to do and say anything if it makes FSU look is sad really. As far as the other article, who the heck wants to go see 2 1-AA schools to start the season? I'm a season ticket holder and it takes 5 hours to get to Tally. Simply can't make it every week. When the economy picks back up, this will be a non-issue. The downturn in ticket sales isn't to non-performance, its due to the location of Tallahassee and the economy. Keep the word good on the Noles, they need it. Oh yeah, maybe you should mention how well Smurf is doing in practice. He'll open some eyes this year. GO NOLES!!! P.S. - Keep up the good work Heather!

Heather Dinich: I got a lot of notes like this one. Does anyone realize that the ACC in the morning post is stuff I can't make up?

Ashwin, in Fairfax, Va., writes: Heather, you didn't respond to my last question, so here's hoping you respond to this one: It's been a foregone conclusion that Clemson would win the Atlantic division. I don't think anyone is denying that. But when they do meet Virginia Tech (..could be Miami, just maybe), then I don't think their talent will mean anything. The hokies are just too fast and talented, despite the horrible unit rankings people are doling on them (besides OL). How come you don't see that?

Heather Dinich: Sorry, man, take a number. I've got a few questions in there. Because Clemson's players are proven and many of Virginia Tech's are not, particularly at wide receiver and running back and defense and ...

Billy, in Chestnut Hill, MA, writes: Heather, I was wondering if you could explain the idea that TOB left the cupboard filled when he left BC. The 2009 BC Eagles will be almost exclusively Jags' players. He left us with a great senior class and a very good junior class, but not much of anything beyond that.

Heather Dinich: Billy, I'll let Jagz answer that one. He told me this yesterday:

"We're going to have to use a lot of young backs. I was left with none after last year, and that's just the way it is. Same with the offensive line. I've got all freshmen behind them. I guess we will find out how good a coach I am this year."

Ryan, in Altoona, Pa, writes: Heather, for the most part you do pretty nice work. I do however think you need to stop taking your pokes at Florida State and occasionally Miami. It's getting quite old. FSU is about a season away from being a national powerhouse and have more current talent then every team in the ACC minus clemson. And as far as the scandals and such, enough already how about you talk about some positive news thats going on in the conference. FSU is far from the most troubled team out there. Penn State has had more arrests then any team in the past few yrs so stop making FSU out to be some black sheep. There are problems all over the country especially involving the cheating scandal EVERY SCHOOL HAS THESE PROBLEMS

Heather Dinich: Ryan, I'll admit I've been tough on Miami, but FSU? Come on. I've said nothing but good things about Jimbo Fisher, guys like Everette Brown, Myron Rolle, and even did an interview with Drew Weatherford. Having covered Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, I can tell you only one guy has handled the exit plan the right way, and he's not in your neck of the woods.

Coop writes: I love how the Miami Hurricanes get no respect. Yes I know that the last couple of years have been sub-par for the Canes and we have a lot of unproven players this year, but we still should get some kind of love. Everyone accross the nation is in for a big surprise from this year on because, we are back with a vengance. We have recruitted Talent out the ying yang, not only professional prospects but all around students and people. Miami has had one of the highest graduation rates in all of college football over the past couple of years, but again we get no love. Well to all that hate the Canes get ready to do some crying for a lot of years to come, because THE U is Back. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE U, BABY. R.I.P #26 Sean Taylor.

Heather Dinich: Your Canes will get respect again when they win more than two conference games.

Chad, in Greensboro, writes: Thanks for all of the love for the Pack. I think TOB has a couple of kids at ESPN. Maybe in the TV part. My question is "Who is going to be the starter for NC State at Quarter back when we open at USC? I think having this story is going to be benificial come game time. It is going to be some story with five quarterbacks battling for a starting job. Most of which where highly recruited nationally coming in. This may be a game time storyline. Chad

Heather Dinich: It's obviously either going to be Daniel Evans or Russell Wilson now that Glennon is going to redshirt, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Evans because of his game experience. Or Russell starts the game and watches the defense a bit while Evans comes in.

Speaking of QBs, somebody in Columbia, Md, writes: I honestly think that Ralph made a sympathy decision to choose Steffy over Turner. Steffy is a 5th year senior who's been with the program for ever it seems and I just think Ralph had to make that decision. Who cares what you look like in practice. You don't win games in practice and that is a reason why Maryland loses out on the good recruits in the area. I'm very very disappointed with the decision like many other Terp fans and we will see how this turns out. Chris win games for you point blank.

Heather Dinich: I can tell you the coaches agonized over this decision until about midnight Sunday. I can also tell you it wasn't a "sympathy" decision. This was based on practice stats. Steffy was more consistent. That being said, I agree that Chris Turner is the better quarterback. Odds are Steffy is on a short leash, but it's highly likely all three will play anyway.