ACC: Kendrick Stewart
Robinson ran a 4.38 and Watson a 4.4.
“I was definitely interested in posting a better number, because I didn’t feel like I ran like I was supposed to at the combine," Watson said in a release. "I wasn’t comfortable with the surroundings and the setting and looking at the film from the combine, I noticed that my knee lift wasn’t where it was supposed to be and knocked my 40 time down at the combine. That’s what I worked on and it really helped me out. … As long as it was in that 4.4 range, I can’t be mad.”
There were about 30 representatives from NFL and CFL teams, including San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. In all, 14 total players participated. Drills included the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, standing broad jump, bench press and agility drills.
A few other highlights:
- Jamie Robinson had a 10-foot, 2-inch standing broad jump, which barely beat receiver Rod Owens’ 10-foot, 1 ½-inch effort. Owens also had a 34 ½-inch vertical jump.
- Defensive tackle Budd Thacker led the way in the bench press with 31 repetitions at 225 pounds.
Additional participants included: deep snapper Zack Aronson, receiver Louis Givens, receiver Richard Goodman, defensive tackle Justin Mincey, tight end Caz Piurowski, defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart and linebacker Recardo Wright. One-time FSU linebacker Jae Thaxton and receiver Preston Parker also participated.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
There’s one game yet to be played in the ACC (and one helmet sticker yet to be awarded), and tonight’s game between Florida State and Miami will determine the early lead in the conference race. I picked Miami to win this game, but it’s in Tallahassee, and everyone knows anything can happen in such a storied rivalry. Here’s a look at what favors each team:
THREE REASONS MIAMI WILL WIN
1. Sense of urgency. The Canes know the snowball effect a loss can have, and if there’s one thing Miami needs in the first four games of the season, it’s momentum. Miami opens up with three straight conference games before hosting Oklahoma on Oct. 3, and an 0-4 start isn’t unimaginable, especially if they lose their opener. It’s Randy Shannon’s third season, and more is expected than last year’s mediocre 7-6 finish.
2. FSU’s unproven defense. The Noles only return three starters from a group that finished third in the nation in total defense. Two of them are in the secondary, but Patrick Robinson missed a day at practice this week with a shoulder injury and according to the Orlando Sentinel didn’t seem ready to say he was 100 percent just yet. The linebacker corps and the secondary will each feature two new starters.
3. Miami’s offensive advantage up front. Again, this goes back to FSU’s inexperience on defense, but Florida State’s defensive ends remain a question, and that should help give Jacory Harris some time to think. The Canes’ offensive line is also good enough to pave the way for Graig Cooper and Javaris James, who should both have productive seasons. FSU’s defensive line is lacking depth, and four defensive tackles -- Budd Thacker (toe), Demonte McAllister (knee), Justin Mincey (knee), and Kendrick Stewart (knee) -- are on the injury report. Thacker and Stewart might play.
THREE REASONS FSU WILL WIN
1. Quarterback Christian Ponder is the most comfortable he’s ever been with the playbook. He’s aware of everything -- and every mistake -- going on around him. He’s also healthy, and has an entire year of starting experience to build on. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has said that Ponder as the ability to develop into the best player he has coached at the position.
2. The offensive line returns all five starters. This is probably the Noles’ greatest team strength, and it should be an advantage against Miami’s defensive line, which, like FSU, is also banged up. This group should give Ponder the time he needs to throw, and pave the way for young backs Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones. Miami struggled to stop the run last year, so if the Noles can get their ground game going, it would be a huge advantage.
3. FSU’s receivers are better than some might think. And Miami’s secondary, which ranked last in the nation with just four interceptions last year, still has something to prove. Now that their off-field issues are long behind them, this group looks much more capable of testing Miami’s secondary. Taiwan Easterling has shown no signs of his Achilles injury, and Fisher has said he likes what he sees from this group.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is in the midst of his weekly press conference, and said he expects both defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) to return in time for the Miami game.
As the Noles' defense prepares for Miami, Andrews' main concern seems to be youth, as he said 13 of the top 22 players will be freshmen or sophomores, and seven have not played at all, or played sparingly. He said the group isn't short on talent, and that it might be the fastest defense he ever had.
Andrews lamented the lack of accountability and discipline on defense, and said that leads to giving up plays, and puts the players in poor position to cover and tackle. He said if they can close the gap in that area and improve their overall toughness, they'll be ready for Miami.
"When Miami and Florida State get together, you don't find one team quitting," he said.
With the help of a few sports information offices and the hometown newspapers of the teams with practice reports, here's a quick trip around the league as we head into our final weekend of summer without any ACC football (thank God) ...
The Terps had their final scrimmage of the summer, and while there were some bright spots, it doesn't sound like a lot was determined. However, coach Ralph Friedgen did put some order to the deep group of receivers he has. Friedgen said he thinks nine receivers will travel with the team. At X, it's likely to be Adrian Cannon, Kevin Dorsey and Emani Lee-Odai. At Z, expect to see Torrey Smith, Quintin McCree and Tony Logan, and in the slot position Ronnie Tyler, LaQuan Williams and Kerry Boykins.
Here are a few highlights from the scrimmage, according to the practice report:
Sophomore Torrey Smith, who will be counted on to be a big-play receiver this season, had a hand in two touchdowns. He set up Davin Meggett's 3-yard score by making an acrobatic 30-yard reception from Chris Turner, setting up first-and-goal. Smith also fielded a short kickoff and raced up the left sideline for an 87-yard touchdown. Freshman Nick Ferrara made two 48 yards-yard field goals and added a 45-yard extra point after Meggett's touchdown. Mike Barbour, also competing for the No. 1 place-kicking job, made a pair of 46-yard extra points. Chris Turner completed 6 of 8 passes for 102 yards. The defense also had two other interceptions with linebackers Hakeem Sule and Alex Wujciak forcing turnovers. In addition, coordinator Don Brown's unit posted four sacks.
FSU isn't the only one with injury problems on the defensive line. Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson broke his hand - again.
Clemson spent Thursday's short practice working on Middle Tennessee's tendencies.
Brandon Ford was in a yellow jersey as he continues to heal from a foot injury. Spencer Benton was out again, but is expected to return to kicking duties on Saturday when the team holds its annual "Beannie Bowl." Jacoby Ford continues to improve from a hamstring injury and should be ready for the opener. Brandon Clear is back at full strength after a rib injury.
"The Beannie Bowl is a full rehearsal for the first game," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We will go through our pregame warm ups, even run down the hill. They we will kick off right at 6:00 PM and practice various special situations."
It was a good day for the Noles on Thursday, both at practice and in recruiting. FSU picked up two more recruits, bringing its 2010 class to 13. Florida State also got its first workout in the rain. There's one problem - all three of the senior defensive tackles are injured. You know what that means? It's time to meet Jacobbi McDaniel.
From the practice report:
Senior cornerback Patrick Robinson swatted away a touchdown pass intended for Jarmon Fortson in the end zone during 11-on-11 work. ... The best collision of the day came when linebacker Kendall Smith buried tailback and lead blocker Jermaine Thomas o
n a running play. ... Tight end Beau Reliford shook off the doldrums from several long afternoons with a 30-yard grab. ... With senior defensive tackles Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) held out of contact work for a second consecutive day, heralded freshman Jacobbi McDaniel continued to receive significant snaps alongside Moses McCray with the first-team defense. Fellow freshman Demonte McAllister is also getting a load of repetitions. "They are getting a lot of work, which is what they need," Bowden said of the youngsters. "They look like they can handle it."... Redshirt freshman Everett Dawkins, who began the preseason at defensive tackle and moved out to defensive end, was moved back inside to bolster position coach Odell Haggins' under-manned unit. ... There are quite a few position battles still being waged as the Seminoles head into Saturday's closed scrimmage, including cornerback, rover, defensive end, offensive guard, tailback, wide receiver and kicker. The competition is a welcome sign, reflecting the team's improved depth. "We let (the players) know those scrimmages are so important because they are game-like," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We've got ACC officials out there, so it's time to show your stuff if you've got it." ... The Seminoles will practice Friday afternoon.
Rise n' shine, it's practice time. The Canes started at 5:45 a.m. in shells under the lights on Mark Light Field. Dyron Dye was held out of practice with a leg injury. Leonard Hankerson and A.J. Trump returned to practice after being limited the last few sessions.
The Miami Herald is reporting that Taylor Cook is heading to Rice. With the transfer of Cook and Cannon Smith, A.J. Highsmith got a lot more work on Thursday. Here's what offensive tackle Jason Fox had to say on the transfers:
"Sometimes it can be a distraction but as a football team you have to limit the distractions, not think about it and remember why we are here. We are here to play football and win football games and anything else besides that, we have to push off to the side. You can't really do anything about it. Those were personal decisions they wanted to do for their careers that is going to help them out personally. As a team, we have to send them on their way and wish them good luck, but we still have to get ready."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Today is the day the bulk of the teams in the ACC begin practice, so to make sure I hit everybody, I'll do a quick take on each team, as well as three issues they'll face this summer. We'll start with Florida State.
The Noles are on the brink of being good -- very good. In fact, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has already had a hard time containing his excitement about the possibilities for 2010. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. FSU needs to take it to another level quickly. The Noles have the talent to win the Atlantic Division, and the ongoing appeal against the NCAA won't change that.
Quarterback Christian Ponder should be better in his second full season as starter, but needs to make better decisions. The running game should thrive behind what could become one of the best offensive lines in the country, and eventually, the passing game will develop some consistency. The good news there is that many of the off-field legal distractions the receivers have faced have come to a close. Most of the questions are on defense, and we'll get to those, but players like Markus White and Dekoda Watson should help overcome some of the losses.
Here are three pressing issues facing FSU this summer:
1. How will FSU overcome the loss of six starters on defense? First, meet the Robinsons. Free safety Jamie Robinson and cornerback Patrick Robinson will be the leaders in the secondary. The rest of the defense will have to rebuild around defensive tackles Budd Thacker and Kendrick Stewart, and Watson. Watson will be key, as the defense graduated its top two tacklers in Derek Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell. White will have the unenviable task of taking over for Everette Brown at defensive end.
2. How will the Noles replace Lou Groza Award winner Graham Gano? It's possible FSU's specialists suffered the biggest loss of any of the position groups when Gano graduated. Entering this season, no one on the roster has ever attempted a college field goal. James Esco handled all of the kicking duties this spring, but he'll get some competition this summer from the nation's No. 1 kicking prospect, true freshman Dustin Hopkins. Shawn Powell, who started the first seven games of the season as the team's punter, will take over full-time duties for Gano, and that should be a seamless transition.
3. Will this be Bobby Bowden's last year? No. No, he didn't call me up and tell me his plans. It's just a guess. FSU has the chance to be good this year and great next year. For as long as he's hung in there, why would he cut himself short a year when he could stick around for possibly even bigger and better things? Bowden is a competitor. He cares about winning (otherwise he wouldn't be able to tell you exactly how many wins he got at Samford and South Georgia Junior College). He's made it this far, so if the team is winning -- and winning big -- I think it would make it even harder for him to say goodbye.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
1. Clemson -- The Tigers return three starters up front, and first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's pressure defense is the perfect fit for guys like Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp. Sapp was having a good season last year before he tore his ACL at Virginia and missed the rest of the season. Defensive end Kevin Alexander is a returning starter who had 34 tackles last year, and nose guard Jarvis Jenkins tied Sapp for the team lead with 10 tackles for loss. Opposing quarterbacks won't have time to think against this bunch.
2. Miami -- Anyone watching the Virginia Tech game last year saw what this group is capable of, and of the nine linemen who started at least one game for Miami last year, seven are back. Allen Bailey has moved from end to tackle, but he sometimes played there in third-down situations. He led the team with five sacks. Marcus Robinson is a solid pass rusher, Marcus Forston could also be an impact and Eric Moncur is entering his sixth season and if he plays like he did in 2007 (11.5 tackles for loss) could really give this line a boost.
3. Virginia Tech -- Depth is the only question mark here, as Jason Worilds, John Graves, Cordarrow Thompson and Nekos Brown are more than capable of continuing Bud Foster's tradition of nationally ranked defenses. Nobody is questioning Worilds' toughness, that's for sure, and Graves and Thompson both started every game last year. They're still looking for another defensive end, though, and will keep an eye on what Chris Drager adds to the position after moving from tight end.
4. North Carolina -- Not only do all four starters return, but the depth is the best it's been in recent years. Last year, defensive end Robert Quinn became a starter in the second game of the season, and defensive tackle Cam Thomas had one of his his best season at UNC. Marvin Austin and E.J. Wilson played well, and should be even better this year. Reserves Quinton Coples and Michael McAdoo had solid rookie seasons and will push Wilson and Quinn for playing time this year. Aleric Mullins and Tydreke Powell are interchangeable with Austin and Thomas as starters at tackle.
5. Florida State -- The end position is reason for concern, as the Noles have to replace both Everette Brown and Neefy Moffett, who were first and second, respectively, on the team in sacks. Markus White will be tasked with filling the shoes of Brown, but he had a good transition season from junior college last year to build off of. Kevin McNeil, who had four sacks last year, is the favorite to replace Moffett. The interior should be solid with the return of Budd Thacker, Kendrick Stewart, Moses McCray and Justin Mincey.
6. NC State -- Defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash and end Willie Young have combined for 46 starts and should be two of the best linemen in the conference. The other two players penciled in as starters -- Shea McKeen and Leroy Burgess -- were both junior college transfers who earned starting time last year. Backup tackles will be a concern, but Markus Kuhn could wind up playing a bit of both until the staff decides where he can help the most.
7. Wake Forest -- Tackles John Russell and Boo Robinson will highlight a defense that recently bid farewell to some of the best seniors to come through the program. It should be one of the Deacs' most experienced groups in recent years, which is important considering the new faces behind them at linebacker. Defensive end Kyle Wilbur showed a lot of promise as a redshirt freshman with three sacks in only seven starts, and Tristan Dorty played in 10 games as a redshirt defensive end last year.
8. Virginia -- It's one of the few units on this team that didn't get a complete makeover, as seven of the top eight linemen return. Sophomore Matt Conrath, who had 35 tackles and four sacks last year, returns at end. There's a lot of experience next to him at nose tackle, where senior Nate Collins and sophomore Nick Jenkins split time last season. Collins' 35 tackles are the top among the returning linemen, while Jenkins finished with 25. Junior John-Kevin Dolce proved himself in the pass rush package with five sacks among his nine total tackles last year.
9. Boston College -- Replacing tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace is obviously one of the biggest concerns for this team, but they've got several options. Damik Scafe, Nick Rossi and Brendan Deska were each second-stringers at the tackle position and are the early favorites to replace the NFL draft picks. The Eagles also signed a pair of defensive tackles in the offseason, including highly touted recruit Dillon Quinn, who could make an immediate impact. Austin Giles replaced the injured Alex Albright last year for 12 starts, and Jim Ramella started all 14 games at the other end position.
10. Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets have to replace three of four starters up front, and until they prove they found dependable replacements, they're going to be stuck down here. The lone returning starter is junior end Derrick Morgan, and there's no doubt about his capabilities, but the Jackets will sorely miss the three starters who combined for 100 career starts and 100 tackles for loss. Ben Anderson, Robert Hall and T.J. Barnes are all candidates to start.
11. Duke -- The Blue Devils took a step forward last year and should improve again with the return of tackle Vince Oghobaase and end Ayanga Okpokwuruk, who started five games and had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. They combined for 9.5 sacks last year. Oghobaase ranks second in the ACC in both career tackles for loss (29.0) and quarterback sacks (11.5). They'll need new starters at nose guard and right end.
12. Maryland -- The Terps have to fill a void left by Jeremy Navarre and Trey Covington, and so far it looks like that will be up to Derek Drummond, Dion Armstrong, Travis Ivey and Jared Harrell, though Armstrong was dealing with some academic issues. The arrival of De'Onte Arnett, Zachariah Kerr, and Cody Blue this past spring should help with the depth.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A few quick changes to FSU's two-deep:
- Rover Roosevelt Lawson will start in place of Myron Rolle.
- Defensive tackle Justin Mincey will start and Kendrick Stewart will back him up.
There are no lineup changes for the Terps.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Georgia Tech offensive tackle Andrew Gardner WILL start today, so he won't break his streak of 47 consecutive starts (every game of his career). That ties the national lead for most current consecutive games started. He was listed as questionable for today with a shoulder injury. We'll see how long he lasts.
On Florida State's sideline, place-kicker Graham Gano will also punt instead of freshman Shawn Powell. Gano enters today's game having made 13 straight field goals, a school record, and he has made a field goal of more than 50 yards in four straight games, also an FSU record.
Also, Kendrick Stewart will start at noseguard.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
MARYLAND -- The Terps made an adjustment last week on the offensive line that worked -- starting Bruce Campbell at left tackle. Maryland's line has done a better job with its pass protection in recent weeks, but the staff knows NC State likes to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers. They're particularly wary of defensive end Willie Young. Against Wake Forest, Maryland was able to do something it hadn't in a long time, and that's depend on the passing game to set up the run. The goal this week is to get better at run blocking.
FLORIDA STATE -- The Seminoles' No. 1 priority at practice this week has been preparing to stop shifty Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. As defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews pointed out, some of Florida State's most skilled defenders had trouble tackling Taylor last year. Andrews has emphasized not creating vertical or lateral seams in their rush lanes and preventing Taylor from getting out in space. Defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said the "tackles have to push and get pressure and push him out to the ends so we can contain him."
NORTH CAROLINA -- Butch Davis is still looking for some help in alleviating some of the sting of losing injured starting receiver Brandon Tate. He moved running back Greg Little back to his original position of receiver last week before the Virginia game, but Little only had about two-and-a-half days of the transition, and Davis said "we were pushing him and pushing him, how much can you learn, how much can you get back into that role?" The Tar Heels also lost running back Anthony Elzy, who fractured his scapula at Virginia, and will be out for six weeks. UNC will need all of the offensive production it can get, as Davis said Boston College's front seven "look like the Chicago Bears."
MIAMI -- This is exactly why Randy Shannon needs to name the best young quarterback his starter, and could be the reason he is wavering on doing it. Maybe, just maybe, he's afraid to lose one of them. But Jacory Harris' father is right. Eventually, either his son or Robert Marve is going to grow tired of competing for the job every year when they could be the starter at another program. Both have said the right things publicly, but it's no secret Harris would like to start, too, and Marve said he wouldn't mind a shot at the no-huddle offense Harris got at Duke.
GEORGIA TECH -- The Yellow Jackets are "back to normal" with their two quarterbacks, Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, who haven't been quite themselves lately because of injuries. Nesbitt, who suffered a pulled hamstring against Mississippi State on Sept. 20, looked rusty last week at Clemson and coach Paul Johnson agreed, but said it wasn't too bad for someone who hasn't played in four weeks. "I think Josh would be the first guy to tell you that he could have played better," Johnson said. "For a guy that has only played in three games and been out for four weeks, it was a little bit like starting over. The thing about Josh Nesbitt is that he is such a competitor. He does not want to lose. Did he get every read right? No, but he finds a way to make plays. He has a calm confidence about his ability and doesn't get rattled. The more he plays, the better he will get."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
I've been breaking down the top position battles to watch heading into summer camp the last few days. Today it's Florida State's turn. Here's a look at the top spots up for grabs in Tallahassee:
QUARTERBACK: Drew Weatherford is the starter and will probably be out there at the start of the season, but it will most likely be a yearlong position battle as it has been the last two years. Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson will be pushing him.
WIDE RECEIVER: Greg Carr and Preston Parker start but Parker is out the first two games. Junior college transfer Corey Surrency will battle redshirt-junior Rod Owens and talented redshirt-freshman Bert Reed to get on the field immediately.
O-LINE: Now that Evan Bellamy is out, Rodney Hudson may move back to guard (where he was a freshman All-American last year). That leaves true freshmen Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders battling to protect Weatherford. If Hudson stays at tackle, you still have two true freshmen (David Spurlock and Rhonne Sanderson) battling to start at LG.
DEFENSIVE END: On the right side it will be a battle for Neefy Moffett to play with consistency and hold off Kevin McNeil.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Paul Griffin and Kendrick Stewart enter the year vying to start at NG and Justin Mincey is listed as co-No. 1 with Budd Thacker at DT.
FREE SAFETY: Big battle here to replace Roger Williams. Darius McClure is the veteran who has the spot right now but Jamie Robinson (an All-ACC freshman corner in 2006) has made the move to safety and is challenging him.
PLACEKICKER: Replacing Gary Cismesia (the fifth-most prolific kicker in school history) is falling to punter Graham Gano. In FSU history there has never been one player who handled both the kicking and punting duties. Delaware transfer Zach Hobby will challenge Gano for place-kicking duties.