ACC: Josh Portis

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 28, 2011
2/28/11
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Some good reads today ...

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 17, 2009
8/17/09
12:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Another Monday, another day of links. Here we go, ACC fans ...

There wasn't too much to like from BC's quarterbacks in the first scrimmage, leaving coach Frank Spaziani still unsure of who his starter will be this fall.

BC receiver Clarence Megwa's comeback story has been put on hold, thanks to an injured right hand. The Eagles still have a leader at receiver in Rich Gunnell, who was named captain, making him the first receiver captain in 19 years.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney thinks the benefit to keeping C.J. Spiller on special teams outweighs the possibility he might get hurt.

UNC has some problems on the offensive line, and it's going to force some players to tackle more than one position.

Virginia's new offensive coordinator was used to being in the spotlight as head coach at Bowling Green. Now Gregg Brandon's role has changed, but it's just as important.

FSU's receivers could be a lot better than people expected a few months ago. Andrew Carter of the Orlando Sentinel gives a worst case/best case scenario for each player.

The injury to Georgia Tech backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw is significant enough it could play a role in the Coastal Division race, writes Tony Barnhart.

Wake Forest might not be ready for Baylor yet, but quarterback Riley Skinner is.

Former Maryland backup quarterback Josh Portis has found a new home in California, Pa. It might not be the biggest town on the map, but it offers Portis a chance to play.

Former NC State player Edrick Smith was killed in a car crash early Sunday morning.

Who's No. 2? Ranking the ACC's backup quarterbacks

May, 27, 2009
5/27/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

One of the major themes this fall in the ACC will be keeping starting quarterbacks healthy because of the lack of experience behind them. Virginia Tech, which saw both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor get hurt against Florida State last year, knows this scenario all-too well. How will the Hokies fare this season if Taylor's ankle fails him again? Based in large part by experience and some on recruiting hype, here's a look at who's got the best backup situations in the ACC -- and who doesn't.

1. Virginia -- Say what you will about the Cavaliers' chances this fall, but no team has more experience at quarterback right now. Jameel Sewell, Marc Verica and Vic Hall have all started a game. That, in itself, is progress from last season. And they all have different strengths. Sewell is an elusive runner, Verica is more of a drop-back passer, and Hall, well, he was a cornerback with tremendous athletic ability.

2. Georgia Tech -- If need be, the Yellow Jackets can also go three deep, as starter Josh Nesbitt has experience behind him in Jaybo Shaw and a talented newcomer in redshirt freshman Tevin Washington. Shaw quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets almost exclusively in two games last season -- a 38-7 win over Mississippi State and a 27-0 victory over Duke. When Nesbitt hurt his hamstring eight snaps into the Mississippi State game, Shaw took over and promptly threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. By the final buzzer, Georgia Tech had accumulated 500 yards of total offense.

3. NC State -- The Wolfpack finally have a prized recruit to fall back on should Russell Wilson need some help. Mike Glennon, who is perfectly suited for Tom O'Brien's Matt Ryan-esque style, made significant progress this spring and could see some playing time even if Wilson is 100 percent. Glennon was rated the No. 3 quarterback in his class and No. 32 player overall in the ESPN 150.

4. Duke -- Sean Renfree earned himself some playing time behind Thaddeus Lewis this fall and will use this season to ease into the role of next year's starting quarterback. Renfree had originally committed to Georgia Tech, but was also recruited by Tennessee when David Cutcliffe was there. He's the real deal.

5. Florida State -- The Seminoles probably would have been moved up a notch or two on this list had E.J. Manuel actually made it through more than one spring practice without hurting himself. But FSU offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher has high hopes for his first hand-picked quarterback.

6. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have the Paulus who actually IS a quarterback, and he's even got some experience at it. The problem is, Mike Paulus was 4-for-13 for 33 yards with two interceptions in four games last year. Paulus entered the Virginia Tech game when T.J. Yates was injured and was 3-for-8 for 23 yards and two picks. There's a reason Cam Sexton took over last year, but Sexton has since transferred.

7. Clemson -- If by chance Kyle Parker wins the starting job, then Willy Korn will be like 1a. Korn played two games as a true freshman in 2007 then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He played in six games last year, including a start against Georgia Tech in Dabo Swinney's first game as a head coach. His career efficiency rating is 132.9 and he has completed 69.4 percent of his passes. Those are starter stats, but Parker had an impressive spring.

8. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons at least have depth. They had a competition between Ryan McManus, Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones this spring, and McManus came out on top heading into summer camp. McManus is a former walk-on who has seen most of his playing time as a holder and on special teams, Stachitas is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jones finished his first spring working exclusively at quarterback.

9. Miami -- At least Randy Shannon made a decision and decided Taylor Cook earned the No. 2 spot at the end of the spring, but it's not a done deal. Cannon Smith will continue to push Cook this summer, but neither one of them have taken a collegiate snap yet. Cook, though, was a very highly touted recruit, ranked the No. 9 quarterback in his class and No. 108 in the ESPN 150.

10. Virginia Tech -- Joseph Ju-Ju Clayton won the backup job over Marcus Davis, but he's still a redshirt freshman who hasn't been tested when the lights come on. Clayton was projected by some to be a better defensive back in college. He wasn't as highly touted a recruit as Manuel, Cook, Glennon or Renfree, but the Hokies are known for finding talent and making the most of somewhat unheralded recruits.

11. Maryland -- The Terps' depth took a hit when Josh Portis decided to transfer, but sophomore Jamarr Robinson had an impressive spring. He completed 15 of 19 passes, including his final 12 attempts, for 253 yards and four touchdowns.

12. Boston College -- The Eagles don't know who their starting quarterback is, let alone their No. 2. Dominique Davis struggled in the ACC championship game and the bowl game -- both losses -- but he has the most experience among Justin Tuggle and Codi Boek.

Mailblog in the morning

April, 3, 2009
4/03/09
9:02
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Posted by ESPN.com'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.

What to watch in the ACC this spring

February, 11, 2009
2/11/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With Miami kicking off spring practice on Feb. 24, it's never too early to start thinking about spring football in the ACC. There are plenty of story lines heading into the 2009 season -- like backup quarterbacks and new coordinators.

Here are a few things to watch for each team in the ACC this spring:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

BOSTON COLLEGE
Spring practice starts:
March 17
Spring game: April 25

What to watch

  • Replacing 325-pound defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace will be a large challenge -- literally. Damik Scafe could be a starter, but beyond him it's anybody's guess.
  • Quarterback Dominique Davis only has three games of experience over everyone else, so it's definitely not a given that it's his job to lose. Davis was thrown into the fire at the end of 2008, but former coach Jeff Jagodzinski and former offensive coordinator Steve Logan liked freshman Justin Tuggle, who redshirted this past season. Whether the new staff is as high on Tuggle remains to be seen.
  • Including former defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, who was promoted to head coach, the Eagles will have six coaches in new positions this spring. With two new coordinators, a new offensive line coach, tight ends coach and a linebackers coach, this spring will be a chance for a few introductions.

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Tags:

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ACC's lunchtime links

January, 22, 2009
1/22/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are a few stories of note from around the ACC:

  • Miami is expected to hire an offensive coordinator soon, and quarterback Jacory Harris said he is confident coach Randy Shannon "will hire the perfect guy."
  • Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson is healthy, but he's not playing in the Senior Bowl. He's not the only one. Wake Forest outside linebacker Aaron Curry, Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe have also decided not to play in Saturday's 6 p.m. game. Odd.
  • Florida State still has a few needs to fill with signing day just around the corner. UNC just added another defensive back.
  • Virginia Tech fans have reason to be excited. The preseason polls aren't out yet, but most believe the 2009 Hokies are a top 10 team.
  • My favorite part of this analysis of Maryland's 2008 quarterbacks is how much bang for the buck the Terps got on backup quarterback Josh Portis.

Maryland recruiting needs

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

Maryland backup QB to transfer

January, 7, 2009
1/07/09
10:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maryland backup quarterback Josh Portis will transfer to California (Pa.) for the spring semester, Portis said late Wednesday night.

"It just wasn't the right situation," Portis said. "I learned a lot, got a good education. I learned about perseverance and it made me a better person. I wish Maryland the best. I hope they do well next year. It was a fun school to be at as far as socially, but it didn't work out for me. It didn't pan out for me so I have to move on."

There was a lot of hype surrounding Portis, who transferred from Florida at the end of the 2005 season, but his time at Maryland fell far below expectations. He sat out the 2006 season because of NCAA transfer rules, sat out 2007 because he was caught cheating on a pop quiz and ruled ineligible, and was used sparingly this season. He threw the ball just three times this season and ran 31 times for 186 yards and a touchdown in eight games. Playing time was obviously a factor in his decision.

Whether he was underutilized in Maryland's offense or didn't execute it as well as the coaches would have liked depends on who you talk to. Most everyone agrees, though, that he is tall (6-4), fast (he set a quarterback school record during '06 spring testing with a 4.53 40-yard dash), and extremely athletic.

Portis is three credits shy of graduating, but said he can take a Spanish class at Cal that will transfer back to Maryland so he can get his degree from College Park. He said he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

ACC internal affairs

September, 24, 2008
9/24/08
10:55
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Clemson -- The Tigers are expecting ACC leading rusher Da'Rel Scott to play, which will force defensive coordinator Vic Koenning to load more players at the line of scrimmage. That, of course, will open up the play-action passing game. Koenning is looking for some sacks to come from his ends in this game, as South Carolina State's tackles blocked them one-on-one last weekend and the sacks came from the interior linemen and the linebackers.

Maryland -- Backup quarterback Josh Portis is doing the best he can to put the team ahead of his frustration over a lack of significant playing time. Expect some wrinkles in the Terps' offense this week, but it's unclear if Portis will play more of a role in it. "I'm still waiting to help the team out a little more with my talents, but I'm a team guy and the bottom line is you got to win," he said. "Obviously I'm a little frustrated with what's going on, but I'm here for the team. ... I'm just rolling with the punches."

Duke -- Virginia's switch at quarterback from Peter Lalich to Marc Verica has caused a small tweak in the coaching staff's preparation. Not only isn't there a lot of film of Verica, who started his first game and saw his first significant playing time in this year's loss to UConn, but he's also a different quarterback than Lalich, which means the Cavaliers could switch up their offense. So David Cutcliffe and his staff have watched more 2007 film, thinking that Verica's mobility and athleticism is more similar to former starter Jameel Sewell.

Florida State -- Playmaker Preston Parker has been working more at receiver this week and less at tailback, and that's probably how he'll be used against Colorado. That could open an opportunity for freshman running back Jermaine Thomas, who played well in the first two games, but watched the Wake Forest game from the sidelines. The running game should also get a boost from the blocking of tight end Caz Piurowski, one of the formerly suspended players.

NC State -- Defensive coordinator Mike Archer is tasked with simplifying things for freshman Dwayne Maddox, who is taking over for injured starting weakside linebacker Nate Irving, while at the same time stopping South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe. Archer is familiar with the Bulls from his time at Kentucky and said this will be the best offensive line the Wolfpack will have faced. He also said there is a misconception Grothe just throws it, and that he is a tough quarterback who gets hit, gets back up and scrambles. The good news is that after watching practice film, NC State coach Tom O'Brien told Archer that Maddox is "practicing like a starter now."

Maryland needs quick fixes before Cal comes to town

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
2:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the Terps need to do a better job from top to bottom -- players and coaches -- when they host California this week. A few players approached him this weekend, disappointed about the 24-14 letdown loss to Middle Tennessee State, but Friedgen said there's little he can do about it now other than stay positive.

"I still think this team has a lot of talent on it," he said. "I think we've got a lot of great kids and I believe they've got character. One night doesn't make a season. You've got to keep hanging in there, get ready for the next game. There's nothing we can do about the last one except learn from our mistakes. That's the approach I'm going to take."

He's right -- this team does have talent (not to mention 30 seniors on the roster). Which makes it all the more perplexing why there were so many breakdowns.

Part of the problem, Friedgen said, was that the offense is in a new system under first-year coordinator James Franklin. They've also got young players anchoring the running game. But special teams struggled and so did the defense. Friedgen said he's thinking about making a few changes in all three phases of the game, but declined to elaborate.

He said there was miscommunication on defense, which doesn't bode well for Saturday, considering Cal -- a team that scored more points in two quarters last Saturday (42) than Maryland has done in two games (28) -- will present similar problems offensively.

"One of the things we've got to do a better job of coaching and getting them to talk to each other," Friedgen said. "They were doing a lot of what we call 'freeze' where they set your defense and then the coaches in the press box get a chance to look at it and they call a play based on what your defense did. We had some things in there to show them one thing and then go to another. Sometimes we didn't communicate the call as well as we should've. They had some unbalanced formations ... we failed to recognize those and get the adjustments right."

As for the quarterback play?

"We all could've probably done better," Friedgen said. "Chris (Turner) has played better. That's my take on it."

In his first start of the season, Turner threw one touchdown and three interceptions.

Friedgen said he'd like to get Josh Portis involved more, but it's tough to find spots for him. Portis was in on 11 snaps in the first two games, but 10 of those plays were rushes.

"I think we've got to do more with him, either him throwing it, or him handing it off," Friedgen said. "Something along those lines."

And the veteran offensive line?

"They're not playing as well as they're capable of playing," Friedgen said.

The same can be said for his entire team.

Note: Safety Terrell Skinner is doubtful with a high ankle sprain.

ACC power rankings: Week 2

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons are off to a 2-0 start and the ACC's lone representative in the AP top 25. They were able to beat a much-improved Ole Miss team despite not playing their best football.

Clemson -- The Tigers got what they needed from their game against the Citadel -- big plays on both sides of the ball and some rushing yards. While the loss to Alabama won't be forgotten, this was the first step in regrouping.

Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets got their first conference win and are also off to a 2-0 start heading to Blacksburg on Saturday.

Miami -- If the Hurricanes play the way they did in the first half for four quarters all season, Miami has a legitimate shot at the Coastal Division title. This group is bound to improve over time, but there is still a learning curve for these baby Canes.

Florida State -- The Seminoles brushed aside Western Carolina even without almost a dozen suspended players, but we won't know how good this team really is until Wake Forest rolls into Tallahassee on Sept. 20.

Virginia Tech -- The Hokies didn't exactly dominate Furman (it was 3-0 at the half), and will have an even tougher challenge when Georgia Tech visits this weekend. And the whole quarterback situation is beginning to wear on Sean Glennon.

Boston College -- Georgia Tech fumbled the ball three times and the Eagles still lost. Quarterback Chris Crane was hit with the reality of just how tough it's going to be to replace Matt Ryan when he was sacked in the end zone for a safety.

UNC -- The Tar Heels were off this past weekend, but still seem to have more answers than Maryland offensively, especially considering the opening performance of Brandon Tate and the fact that T.J. Yates can hit his open guys in the numbers.

Maryland -- There's enough talent on this team that it should be 2-0 right now and fans have to be scratching their heads over the poor execution in the Middle Tennessee State game. Where is the Chris Turner we saw against Rutgers? And where is the "freakish athlete" named Josh Portis we heard so much about?

Duke -- The Blue Devils put up one heck of a fight against Northwestern, and still have back-to-back home games on their schedule to improve upon last year's one-win season.

NC State -- The Wolfpack finally scored some points, but guess what? So did William & Mary. It should help that Russell Wilson is expected to return against Clemson.

Virginia -- The Cavaliers did little, if anything, to redeem themselves from an embarrassing opening weekend route against USC. The defense is the one thing they could feel good about from the win over Richmond as they head to UConn.

Week 2 predictions

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
9:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

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

Here's the guessing game for Week 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Carolina is off.

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

September, 3, 2008
9/03/08
12:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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
9/03/08
7:05
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

ACC anticipation

August, 27, 2008
8/27/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

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