ACC: Kenny Moore

You asked, I answered. Readers (particularly @AsylumGodfather) were calling for more position rankings, so the receivers are up next. This could be the strongest position group in the conference, and one of the more difficult to rank, so I looked back on a few stats to help me separate them, including how some of these guys did against their best competition (i.e. Danny Coale versus FSU, wow). Here’s the final verdict of which teams in the ACC have the best combination of depth and talent:

1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.

2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.

3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.

4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.

5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?

6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).

7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.

8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.

9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).

10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.

11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.

12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.

ACC in the morning -- Final countdown

August, 18, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

HOME SWEET HOME -- But not for long. Heading to Maryland today and Boston College on Wednesday. There are 10 days remaining until Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State get things started, and plenty to keep an eye on and talk about until then.

Let's get started on our FINAL WEEK without ACC football games:

* Boston College's offense made some progress in Sunday's scrimmage, but it helped that three starters were missing on defense.

* Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews just thought his defense was missing something in Saturday's scrimmage.

* Last year, the 'Noles were missing opportunities in the red zone, something they're working on this summer.

* Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen seems very close to naming a starting quarterback. The one thing he found this summer was a second-string running back.

* Miami quarterback Robert Marve appears to have taken some recent forward in the competition, but coach Randy Shannon still isn't ready to name his starter. Maybe he'll do it by the end of this week.

* Regardless of who it is, Marve and receiver Jermaine McKenzie are ready to play football again about a year after their car crash.

* Just how much better can NC State be this season? It all starts up front.

* Is Tommy Bowden on the verge of signing another quarterback? Yes, if Morgan Newton's mom has anything to do with it.

Here are a few things worth reading from Sunday in case you missed 'em:

* Georgia Tech's injuries are piling up, and Navy's former quarterback gives his take on what these guys need to run Johnson's offense: sure hands and toughness.

* He's not Kenny Moore, but bruising fullback Mike Rinfrette might catch some balls for Wake Forest this season.

* While the rest of the ACC is wrapping up its scrimmages, FSU was just getting things started.

* Virginia kicker Chris Hinkebein was inconsistent this spring, but not on Saturday.

* It looks like Greg Boone will be helping out the Hokies on offense. So might Ryan Williams.

ACC power rankings

August, 5, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ACC Power Rankings
1.Just about any coach in the league will admit these guys are loaded. There's no excuse for Tommy Bowden not to win the program's first ACC title since 1991. If they don't, it's only because they couldn't handle the hype.
2.Frank Beamer is going to have to have one of his better seasons coaching if the Hokies are going to wind up winning the Coastal Division again. The only reason the Hokies are ranked above Wake Forest is because they should be playing for the ACC title. If those two teams played each other this season -- which they don't -- Wake would be No. 2.
3.Riley Skinner has already led the Demon Deacons to an ACC title, and he can hand off to 2007 Rookie of the Year Josh Adams while they try to find a replacement for Kenny Moore. Wake Forest also has a veteran defense with a knack for turning turnovers into touchdowns. Any deficiencies these guys have will be compensated for by the coaching staff.
4.The Terps could be this year's darkhorse, as Ralph Friedgen made a smart off-season hire in offensive coordinator James Franklin and has playmakers with the potential to flourish in the West Coast offense. The key will be how he uses -- not appeases -- his quarterbacks.
5.Butch Davis has both the schedule and a watered down Coastal Division working in his favor for a premature rise to the top. The Tar Heels don't have to play Clemson, Wake Forest or Florida State. That's not to overlook the talent on his roster. Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks are among the best receivers in the league.
6.Suspensions, plus a baby-faced offensive line make the Seminoles a second-half-of the season kind of team. There is still uncertainty surrounding Drew Weatherford and Seminoles fans are already pushing for Christian Ponder.
7.As talented as they might be, they're still freshmen. They will make freshmen mistakes. The fact that there is no preseason depth chart for this team further asserts the number of question marks.
8.The front seven on defense will have to carry this team until Chris Crane gets comfortable and freshman running back Josh Haden plays in his first few football games. We'll find out how good of a coach Jeff Jagodzinski is without Tom O'Brien's premier group of seniors.
9.They've got A-back and B-backs, but will they get a bowl back? Probably not. Paul Johnson is giving his players the summer to learn the triple option, but odds are it's going to take a few games to work out the timing and the kinks. Don't be fooled, though. These guys are going to throw the ball. Just not a lot.
10.Five options at quarterback and not one answer there is the main reason for this ranking, plus an almost entirely new defense. The Wolfpack will benefit greatly from the return of tight end Anthony Hill and its plethora of experienced running backs.
11.Numerous offseason academic and legal incidents affected the Cavaliers at key positions -- namely quarterback -- and they've got to introduce the new lineup to USC in the season opener. Do college athletes make mistakes? Sure, but all it takes is a few players to throw off the chemistry of an entire team. And again, the Cavaliers failed to be
at Virginia Tech or play in the ACC championship game WITH Branden Albert and Chris Long.
12.First-year coach David Cutcliffe has already revived the energy in this program, but until he resuscitates its record, the Blue Devils stay at or near the bottom. With talented players like receiver Eron Riley and Vince Oghobasse, Duke has a legitimate chance to improve upon last year's lone win. Maybe even triple it.

Wake Forest position battles

July, 25, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Well, this is it -- the last of the position battles to watch. When one of your most pressing needs is a long snapper, the future is bright.  Wake Forest lost nine starters, but has experience returning, which is why this one is more like a look at who the new faces will be in Winston-Salem. Except, of course, for that long-snapper job. It's open.

CENTER -- Filling the shoes of Steve Justice won't be easy, but coach Jim Grobe liked what he saw this spring from Trey Bailey. As backup to Justice last year, Bailey got a season-high 10 snaps against Clemson and played in seven games.

RECEIVER -- Somebody needs to replace Kenny Moore, who set an ACC record with 98 receptions last year. Chip Brinkman started each of the final nine regular season games and finished fourth on the team in receptions and receiving yards. D.J. Boldin played in all 13 games and finished with 11 catches for 127 yards.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE -- Both Louis Frazier and Matt Brim are gone. Joe Birdsong started six of the first nine games at right tackle and missed the final three with an ankle injury. Jeff Griffin started five games at right tackle and played extensively in every game.

TIGHT END -- Ben Wooster made a name for himself this spring, which is good, because the Demon Deacons graduated both John Tereshinski and Zac Selmon. Wooster played in every game last year and started in the win over Connecticut in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

LONG SNAPPER -- Four-year starter Nick Jarvis, who was selected to both the Hula Bowl and East-West Shrine game, is gone. Ryan McManus, the Deacs' No. 3 quarterback and a walk-on, was on the punt coverage team last year, was the long snapper this spring and was also the holder last year. He's actually listed as both the holder and long snapper (which would indeed be a neat trick). McManus' dad played at Wake, was an assistant coach and is now an assistant at Kent State, so football is in his genes, but Russell Nenon can also long snap.



Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12