ACC: Kyle HIll

Duke spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
2011 overall record: 3-9
2011 conference record: 1-7 (6th, Coastal)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
WR Conner Vernon, WR Brandon Braxton, RT Perry Simmons, RG Laken Tomlinson, C Brian Moore, QB Sean Renfree, DE Justin Foxx, DT Sydney Sarmiento, DE Kenny Anunike, LB Kelby Brown, LB Austin Gamble, CB Ross Cockrell, S Jordon Byas, S Walt Canty

Key losses
WR Donovan Varner, LT Kyle Hill, NG Charlie Hatcher, CB Johnny Williams, S Matt Daniels, PK Will Snyderwine, P Alex King

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Juwan Thompson* (457 yards)
Passing: Sean Renfree* (2,891 yards)
Receiving: Conner Vernon* (956 yards)
Tackles: Matt Daniels (126)
Sacks: Kenny Anunike* (4)
Interceptions: Matt Daniels (2)

Spring answers

1. Sean Renfree keeps improving: Coach David Cutcliffe has talked about a pro future for Renfree. Getting to pick the brain of Cutcliffe's pupil, Peyton Manning, probably doesn't hurt. Neither does turning in another strong spring, as Renfree returns for his third year as a starter hoping, once again, to help the program take the next step.

2. Offensive line is cohesive: Much of the production from last season's unit is back, and the group will only grow closer with an offseason volunteer trip to Ethiopia, where 11 of Duke's offensive linemen currently are. The unit could help pave the way for a talented incoming running back class, along with returning starter Juwan Thompson.

3. Conner Vernon ready to make plays: Cutcliffe has said it will take playmakers for Duke to take the next step, and he certainly has one in Vernon, who enters 2012 within striking distance of the ACC receiving record. Having an experienced quarterback such as Renfree throwing to him should help him in the pursuit.

Fall questions

1. Will the defense step up? It is Year 2 under coordinator Jim Knowles and his 4-2-5 scheme, and plenty of talent is back. Still, the unit loses safety Matt Daniels and ranked near the bottom of most defensive categories among ACC schools last season.

2. Can the Blue Devils handle this schedule? FIU and Stanford aren't exactly nonconference cupcakes, especially for a school that has traditionally been an ACC bottom-feeder. Time will only tell if those first two games, regardless of outcome, serve the Blue Devils well before jumping into their conference slate.

3. Is this The Year? Duke holds the longest current bowl-less drought, having not played in the postseason since 1994. Three of Duke's nine losses last season came by a combined seven points, perhaps suggesting that the team was closer to breaking through than many would think. There is plenty of returning talent in key spots, but a tough schedule and recent history suggest that it will still take a huge effort for the Blue Devils to extend their season.

ACC injury reports: Week 12

November, 18, 2011
Here are this week's injury reports from the schools that released them:



DE Joe Gore (knee)
LB Tony Steward (knee)
OT Philip Price (knee)


WR Sammy Watkins (shoulder)


CB Darius Robinson (hamstring)



WR Brandon Braxton (upper body)
OT Takoby Cofield (upper body)
CB Zach Greene (leg)
WR Conner Vernon (leg)


LB Kelby Brown (leg)
WR Jamison Crowder (leg)
WR Tyree Watkins (leg)


DE Justin Foxx (leg)
LB C.J. France (upper body)
LB Kevin Rojas (lower body)
CB Johnny Williams (upper body)


S Lee Butler (leg)
QB Brandon Connette (upper body)
DE Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo (leg)
C Brian Moore (upper body)

Out for season

DE Kenny Anunike (leg)
TE Jack Farrell (leg)
OT Kyle Hill (shoulder)



Willie Haulstead (head)
Henry Orelus (head)
Darious Cummings (hand)
Andrew Datko (shoulder)
Moses McCray (knee)

Out for season

Jacobbi McDaniel (ankle)
Chris Thompson (back)



LB Morgan Carter
AB Orwin Smith

Out for season

S Fred Holton
DL Jimmie Kitchen
S Lance Richardson


Out for season

WR Tyrek Cheeseboro
DB Makinton Dorleant
OL Andrew Gonnella
DB Avery Graham
LB Garrett Lederman
QB Danny O'Brien
DB Matt Robinson
DL Isaiah Ross
TE Dave Stinebaugh
LB Kenny Tate


LB Alex Twine


OL Bennett Fulper


OL Max Garcia
RB Justus Pickett
RB Jeremiah Wilson



Marcus Robinson (upper extremity)


Luther Robinson (lower extremity)
Rashawn Scott (upper extremity)
Jordan Futch (upper extremity)
Lee Chambers (upper extremity)
Davon Johnson (lower extremity)

Surgery/Out for season

Blake Ayles (upper extremity)
Ramon Buchanan (lower extremity)
Marcus Forston (lower extremity)
Erik Lichter (upper extremity)
Corey White (lower extremity)


Out for season

CB Jarvis Byrd, (knee)
FB Taylor Gentry (foot)
LB D.J. Green (foot)
HB Mustafa Greene (foot)
LB Sterling Lucas (knee)
DE Jeff Rieskamp (shoulder)


DT Markus Kuhn (abdomen)



Pablo Alvarez (upper extremity)
David Marrs (lower extremity)
Charlie Richards (upper extremity)
E.J. Scott (medical)
Bobby Smith (lower extremity)
Tyler Smith (lower extremity)
Matt Snyder (lower extremity)
Michael Terrell (lower extremity)
Joseph Williams (lower extremity)


Kyle McCartin (upper extremity)


Rodney McLeod (lower extremity)
Kevin Parks (lower extremity)
Colter Phillips (lower extremity)



RB Josh Harris (hamstring)


DT John Gallagher (back)


OT Dylan Heartsil (back)
CB Dominique Tate (knee)
LB Kyle Jarrett (hip)
WR Airyn Willis (shoulder)

Weekend rewind: ACC

November, 14, 2011
Back and forth in the ACC:

The good: Wake Forest’s effort. Anyone watching that game knows Clemson is fortunate to have won. The Demon Deacons gave it everything they had in the 31-28 loss to the Tigers, including a 21-point third quarter. Wake Forest had a 28-14 lead in the third quarter, but the team deserves a lot of credit for pushing a top 10 team to the brink.

The bad: Injuries. Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien fractured a bone in his left arm, Duke starting offensive tackle Kyle Hill suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Virginia, and Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins sprained an AC joint in his shoulder, just to name a few.

The ugly: Part I: BC’s offense in the second half. Minus two yards. Total. ‘Nuff said. Part II: Randy Edsall's jacket and Notre Dame's helmets.

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/ Richard ShiroQB Tajh Boyd helped Clemson average more than 33 points and 440 yards per game this season.
The undefeated: Clemson finished the season undefeated at home with a 7-0 record and clinched the Atlantic Division title in the process. Not a bad day at the office for Dabo Swinney.

The streaks: Streak I: Virginia stopped its three-game losing streak to Duke. Streak II: Luke Kuechly had 18 tackles against NC State -- nine in the final 13 minutes -- for his 32nd straight game with double digits in tackles. Streak III: The Hokies have extended their ACC record to 12 straight true road wins. Virginia Tech also now has five or more ACC victories for the eighth straight regular season.

The offensive “tackle”: Late in the first half of the game at Boston College, a fan wearing a No. 40 BC jersey ran onto the field from the student section and NC State offensive tackle Rob Crisp clotheslined him. The fan got up and was taken off the field by security.

Top three games of Week 12:

North Carolina at No. 8 Virginia Tech: The Hokies are in the lead in the Coastal Division race, but North Carolina has a chance to play spoiler and help Virginia out. Virginia Tech is coming off a complete performance in its win against Georgia Tech, and with quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson playing so well, it’s going to be a big challenge for the UNC defense.

Virginia at Florida State: The Cavaliers are in a must-win situation if they’re going to challenge Virginia Tech for the Coastal Division title this year. Florida State has won five straight games against ACC opponents, though, and has been playing outstanding defense.

Miami at South Florida: The Canes lost this game in overtime last year and are still trying to become bowl eligible. The Bulls are 1-4 in the Big East. Miami should be expected to win this game, but the Canes can’t afford three turnovers and nine penalties.

ACC power rankings: Week 12

November, 14, 2011
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Florida State fans should be a little more pleased this week, as the Noles have finally been bumped ahead of Wake Forest. The top and the bottom of this list hasn't changed, though, and Clemson has solidified its spot in the ACC title game. Who's next? Here's the latest pecking order in the ACC:

1. Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Tigers clinched the Atlantic Division title with their win against Wake Forest and they finished the season unbeaten at home with a 7-0 record. It was the third time this season Clemson overcame a deficit of at least 14 points. Clemson will close the regular season at NC State on Saturday.

2. Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1 ACC; LW: No. 2) – Georgia Tech’s defense had no answer for quarterback Logan Thomas, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more. With the win, the Hokies tightened their grasp on the Coastal Division lead and eliminated Georgia Tech and Miami from the ACC race. Another must-win Thursday night game is on tap, this one against UNC.

3. Florida State (7-3, 5-2 ACC; LW: No. 5) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Seminoles got what they needed from their defense and special teams and took care of rival Miami, 23-19. It was the first time in six years the home team won. Florida State has now won five straight ACC games heading into Saturday’s game against Virginia.

4. Virginia (7-3, 4-2 ACC; LW: No. 7) – The Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak to Duke with Saturday’s 31-21 win over the Blue Devils, and they kept their hopes alive for a berth in the ACC championship game. Virginia needs to win its final two games against FSU and Virginia Tech in order to win the Coastal Division.

5. Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3 ACC; LW: No. 3) – A costly personal foul on Jeremiah Attaochu and a fourth-down gamble by coach Paul Johnson were only part of the problem in the loss to Virginia Tech. The mistakes added up, and the Yellow Jackets played their way out of the Coastal Division race. They’ll be looking to rebound at Duke this weekend.

6. Wake Forest (5-5, 4-3 ACC; LW: No. 4) - The Demon Deacons could have beaten Clemson, but two missed field goals will come back to haunt them – especially in a game that was decided by a last-second field goal. Wake would have controlled the Atlantic Division race with a win, and stunned Clemson with a 28-14 lead in the third quarter.

7. Miami (5-5, 3-4 ACC; LW: No. 8) – The Hurricanes beat themselves in the loss to Florida State with three turnovers and nine penalties. Miami is still searching for that elusive sixth win for bowl eligibility, and the Canes will get another chance at South Florida on Saturday.

8. NC State (5-5, 2-4 ACC; LW: No. 6) – Coach Tom O’Brien has yet to win a game in Chestnut Hill as a visiting coach. A week after surprising rival North Carolina with the fifth straight win in the series, the Wolfpack laid an egg at BC. Now NC State must win its final two games in order to become bowl eligible, starting this week against Clemson.

9. North Carolina (6-4, 2-4 ACC; LW: No. 9) – The Tar Heels had a bye week to recover from their loss to NC State, and now they have a chance to play the role of spoiler against Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division race. The Tar Heels have lost three of their last four games.

10. Duke (3-7, 1-5 ACC; LW: No. 10) – The Blue Devils can no longer become bowl eligible, and they’ve got two tough Coastal Division games remaining against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Duke has now lost five straight games, and starting offensive tackle Kyle Hill suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Virginia.

11. Boston College (3-7, 2-5 ACC; LW: No. 11) – The Eagles haven’t quit, and Saturday’s win over NC State said a lot about the character and leadership on the team. BC has now won two of its last three games, but faces a tough road trip to rival Notre Dame on Saturday.

12. Maryland (2-8, 1-5 ACC; LW: No. 12) – Sink. Sank. Sunk. The Terps have now lost six straight games and have to finish the season with back-to-back road trips against Wake Forest and NC State. To make matters worse, starting quarterback Danny O’Brien broke a bone in his left arm and is out for the season.

ACC's 2011 veterans

June, 13, 2011
After looking at this list, ACC fans should have a better appreciation for the lengthy, healthy career of former Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo, who graduated after a league-high 54 career starts. These are the ACC's old guys, the veterans in the conference who enter 2011 with the most starting experience. Virginia Tech, Florida State and Virginia have two players each. Here's a look at the ACC's top 10 veterans for 2011:

1. Danny Coale, Virginia Tech, WR, 40
2. Roddy Jones, Georgia Tech, RB, 39
3. Montel Harris, Boston College, RB, 37
Zebrie Sanders, Florida State, T, 37
Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech, T, 37
6. Andrew Datko, Florida State, T, 36
Kyle Hill, Duke, T, 36
8. Landon Walker, Clemson, T, 35
9. Matt Conrath, Virginia, DT, 33
10. Austin Pasztor, Virginia, G, 32

Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech have a veteran edge at one other very important position group: the offensive line. It's the second straight season that the Seminoles lead the ACC in the number of returning career starts on the offensive line. Though the Seminoles have only three returning starters, this trio -- Zebrie Sanders (37), Andrew Datko (36) and David Spurlock (28) -- combined for 101 starts.

Thanks to information provided by the ACC, here's a look at which ACC schools return the most experience up front:

Duke spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
2010 overall record: 3-9

2010 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Conner Vernon, WR Donovan Varner, QB Sean Renfree, TE Cooper Helfet, PK Will Snyderwine, S Matt Daniels, NG Charlie Hatcher, LT Kyle Hill, C Brian Moore.

Key losses

LB Abraham Kromah, DE Patrick Egboh, WR Austin Kelly, C Bryan Morgan

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Desmond Scott* (530 yards)

Passing: Renfree* (3,131 yds)

Receiving: Vernon* (973 yds)

Tackles: Kromah (129)

Sacks: Egboh (4.5)

Interceptions: Ross Cockrell* (3)

Spring answers

1. Sean Renfree has a chance to be a special quarterback. Coach David Cutcliffe said repeatedly this spring that his quarterback had a great spring, not a good one. Renfree has a chance to flourish in his second season as a full-time starter, especially in a division filled with rookies at the position and one of the top receiving corps in the ACC.

2 New talent emerging. Brandon Braxton showed this spring that he has the potential to be an excellent fit with Varner and Vernon as Blue Devils’ top three wideouts. Duke will also have a new face at center, where Moore takes over for graduated three-year starter Morgan. His move from guard paid off this spring.

3. Duke will be more athletic on defense. It remains to be seen if the Blue Devils will stop anyone this fall, but they’ll at least look better trying to. Duke was more athletic and faster this spring, and part of that has to do with the commitment to a 4-2-5 defensive scheme to get a third safety on the field. Duke dabbled in it a bit last season but will use it exclusively this year under first-year coordinator Jim Knowles.

Fall questions

1. How much better will the defensive line be? Hatcher is the only member of the entire line entering his final season of eligibility. He’ll have to carry the load from a playmaking and leadership standpoint. Redshirt freshman Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo has good speed off the edge, but the entire group will need to take another step forward in the first season under assistant Rick Petri.

2. Will the running game finally be a factor? Duke made strides on the ground last season, but still ranked 104th in the country in rushing offense. All of the running backs return, and offensive line coach Matt Luke has his group looking like an ACC offensive line, but he only has one starter in his final season of eligibility in Hill at left tackle. It’s still a young group, but they’ve got more size and athleticism than in the past. Josh Snead is the fastest of the backs, Scott is the most well-rounded, and Juwan Thompson has the most upside.

3. Can Duke get to the quarterback? Duke ranked 113th in the country and last in the league in sacks last season with one per game. Knowles likes to blitz, but his players have to have confidence to make it work.

Duke spring wrap

May, 7, 2010

2009 overall record: 5-7

2009 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters

Offense: 9, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR Donovan Varner, WR Conner Vernon, WR Austin Kelly,T Kyle Hill, RB Desmond Scott, C Bryan Morgan, DE Patrick Egboh, P Kevin Jones, PK Will Snyderwine

Key losses

QB Thaddeus Lewis, DE Ayanga Okpokowuruk, DT Vince Oghobaase, LB Vincent Rey, CB Leon Wright, SS Catron Gainey

2009 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Scott* (262 yards)

Passing: Lewis (3,330 yards)

Receiving: Varner* (1,047 yards)

Tackles: Rey (98)

Sacks: Okpokowuruk (6)

Interceptions: Wright (5)

Spring answers

1. Depth at receiver. The Blue Devils found enough helping hands that they were able to move Johnny Williams, who caught 31 passes last year, to defensive back. Tyree Watkins, who didn’t lose last year’s eligibility despite an injury, had an impressive spring, as did Cory Gattis, who redshirted last year.

2. More multiple on defense. The defense will be a little different under Marion Hobby, who will take over the play-calling for Mike MacIntyre, now the head coach at San Jose State.

3. The need for Snead. The running game got a much needed boost from rookie Josh Snead, who graduated early and enrolled in January. He’s a compact, explosive player who came physically prepared to play. He had a handful of runs of 50 or more yards in scrimmages throughout the spring that showed he can be a contributor.

Fall questions

1. Renfree’s health. All indications are that quarterback Sean Renfree is healing from a torn ACL on schedule and will be the starter this fall, despite missing the contact portion of spring drills. He’s the only player who has taken a snap in a game, and the staff is encouraged by him, but he’s still a rookie who hasn’t been tested since his injury.

2. Defensive line concerns. Can the defensive line be productive and deep enough to have a positive impact? Overall it’s thin and inexperienced. Patrick Egboh and Wesley Oglesby, two fifth-year seniors, need to lead the way. It will be Charlie Hatcher’s first year seeing significant playing time after helping out on the interior last year. True freshmen could help immediately because of the low numbers.

3. Bowling, anyone? Coach David Cutcliffe made noticeable strides in the win column his first two seasons, but Duke is still searching for that bowl bid. How Duke will fare in its toss-up games against conference opponents will answer that. If the Blue Devils can get wins against Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia, the postseason will be within reach.

Duke spring game rosters set

March, 26, 2010
Duke coach David Cutcliffe announced his spring game roster Friday morning, a day before the Blue Devils take the field for the annual spring game.

Sean Schroeder will start at quarterback for the White team. He'll have Austin Kelly and Conner Vernon to throw to at receiver and Brett Huffman at tight end. Tackle Kyle Hill and center Bryan Morgan will also suit up for the White team.

Freshman quarterback Brandon Connette will lead the Blue team with running backs Patrick Kurunwune and Desmond Scott. He'll have Danny Parker as a target at receiver.

Five returning starters on defense will be in Blue during Saturday's game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. and is free of charge.

Those will include defensive end Wesley Oglesby, safety Matt Daniels, tackle Charlie Hatcher, linebacker Abraham Kromah and cornerback Chris Rwabukamba.

The day will begin with the Blue Devil team walk at 11 a.m., starting at the Duke Chapel.

Ranking the ACC units: Offensive lines

July, 20, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Position rankings today will include who has what up front. While it's not exactly glamorous, it wins games.

Let's start with the offensive lines.

1. Florida State -- Ah, it's amazing what a year can do, no? At this point last season, I had the Noles ranked No. 12. That's right, and I'd do it again. There wasn't a senior in the group, and they were the youngest O-line in the FBS with a lot to prove. It was a work in progress, and the tight ends had to help out, but Rick Trickett did a heck of a job, and I take partial credit for the motivation. You're welcome, coach. Now this group, led by Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon and Andrew Datko could be one of the best in the country.

2. Boston College -- Four starters return who started all 14 games last year, including potential All-ACC candidates Anthony Castonzo and Matt Tennant. It took some time for this group to come together after Castonzo moved from right tackle to left, Thomas Claiborne was a defensive lineman who moved to the right guard spot and Rich Lapham came off the bench in nine games in 2007. Once they got comfortable, they were a major factor in the success of true freshmen running backs Montel Harris and Josh Haden. It should only be better this year.

3. Wake Forest -- This should be a much-improved group, and deeper, especially with the return of Chris DeGeare, who missed last fall for academic reasons, at left tackle. Seven players with starting experience return to the offensive line and they have combined for 95 career starts. Russell Nenon, who moved to center after Trey Bailey broke his ankle last year, has solidified the position, and Jeff Griffin, who had been a starting tackle, is now comfortable at right guard. Barrett McMillin returns at guard.

4. Clemson -- This is where the problems began last year, and it should be part of the solution in 2009. In 2008, Clemson had to replace four starters. This year, all five starters return. Since 1963, Clemson has had a winning percentage of 76 percent when it returns five starters on the offensive line. Thomas Austin has starting experience at center and guard and should be one of the top offensive linemen in the 2010 NFL draft.

5. Virginia Tech -- The Hokies should be more athletic up front, and this unit goes eight deep, which might be the best depth they've had in the past two seasons. Ed Wang, who is entering his third season as a starter and Sergio Render, who is entering his fourth, are the veterans of a group that includes seven redshirt freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep. Beau Warren is expected to replace Ryan Shuman at center and Jaymes Brooks took over the right guard position and played well in the Orange Bowl in place of an ineligible Nick Marshman.

6. Miami -- Depth remains a concern, but veteran tackle Jason Fox is as dependable as they come, with 36 career starts. There were some tweaks to the line this past spring, as Matt Pipho will be the new starter at right tackle, and the staff is eager to see how he handles that role. A.J. Trump moved from right guard to center, and Joel Figueroa took over at right guard. The health of the starters will be key through the tough stretch to start the season.

7. Georgia Tech -- There is definitely potential here, but first the Jackets have to replace Andrew Gardner and David Brown, which they started to do last season when that duo got hurt. Then they have to keep everyone healthy, which didn't happen this spring. With Dan Voss, Nick Claytor and Cord Howard back for summer camp, and Joseph Gilbert having started 12 games last year, this group should improve and be more consistent this fall, but it will get even better as Paul Johnson's staff begins to recruit more athletic linemen.

8. Virginia -- There are no athletic freaks on the line like coach Al Groh usually finds, but it should still be a solid group. Four starters return, including senior right tackle Will Barker, who has 37 starts. Junior B.J. Cabbell at right guard was a solid blocker last year in his first season as starter, as was Jack Shields, who improved as the season progressed. Sophomore Austin Pasztor moved into the starting lineup against Maryland and sophomore Landon Bradley was Eugene Monroe's backup.

9. NC State -- The good news is that the Pack have plenty of upperclassmen to depend on, and four of the five starters have combined to start 60 games. The only player listed as a current starter who has never started is redshirt senior Andy Barbee, who has spent the previous three years as a reserve center but has now moved to guard. Behind those veterans are several players who redshirted last year and will be given an equal opportunity for playing time.

10. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels took a hit early last month when starter Aaron Stahl decided to forgo his final year of eligibility to "move forward with the next phase of [his] life." His experience will be tough to replace, but there are a handful of players who had a good spring and will compete for his spot. Kyle Jolly, who is entering his third year as a starter, Alan Pelc, who earned a starting job at guard last year, and Lowell Dyer, who has started at center each of the past two seasons, will be the leaders of the line.

11. Maryland -- The Terps lost five of their top seven offensive linemen, including three starters, and the development of their replacements will go a long way in determining how their season unfolds. Despite the graduation of longtime center Edwin Williams, it's the position of least concern as the staff is confident in the leadership and playing abilities of Phil Costa. There are also high expectations for left tackle Bruce Campbell, a physically gifted athlete.

12. Duke -- This has been a trouble spot for the Blue Devils for years, and it's a work-in-progress for coach David Cutcliffe. This year should be another challenge as Duke has to replace three starters after making some progress last year. Center Bryan Morgan is the anchor of the group and enters his second season as a starter and is the only player back in his original position. Kyle Hill moved from left guard to left tackle, so this group will have a whole new look.

Hope and concern: Duke

June, 19, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich


Biggest reason for hope -- They honestly believe they can win.

David Cutcliffe and his staff brought that SEC swagger to Durham, and the standards have been raised. Having spoken to a few of the athletes this offseason, they honestly don't seem to care what anyone on the outside is thinking of them. Sure, there's a little locker room talk and a mini chip on their shoulders, but they won four games last season and have carried that confidence into the weight room and individual summer drills. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is a talented veteran not only capable of winning, but also of convincing his teammates they are, too. Four wins should be reason for Duke to celebrate, but nobody within the program was satisfied, and that starts at the top.

Biggest reason for concern -- Rebuilding the offensive line.

Duke lost three starters up front to graduation in Cameron Goldberg, Fred Roland and Rob Schirmann. The offensive line struggled this spring to replace them and will have to take greater strides this summer. There was improvement, but they still lack game day experience. Kyle Hill moved from left guard to left tackle, so the unit has a whole new look. The one player back in his original position is center Bryan Morgan. In order to get the most out of Re'quan Boyette and give Lewis the protection he needs while dealing with a young receiving corps, Duke will need its line to come together quickly.

SOS in the ACC

May, 26, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Each team is going to need a little bit of help this fall (some more than others). Here's a look at where everyone in the ACC needs the most help heading into summer camp:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- Quarterback. It's easily the biggest question mark in Chestnut Hill, and it will also be one of Frank Spaziani's first major decisions as head coach. Regardless of whom he picks -- Dominique Davis, Codi Boek or Justin Tuggle -- experience will be at a minimum.

CLEMSON -- Wide receivers. Somebody needs to help Jacoby Ford, and Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham are no longer around to do it. Xavier Dye didn't quite have the consistency he'd hoped for this spring. Marquan Jones and Terrence Ashe could also be factors.

DUKE -- Offensive line. The Blue Devils lost three starters there and moved a fourth (Kyle Hill from left guard to left tackle), so it will have an entirely new look. The one player back in his original position is center Bryan Morgan.

FLORIDA STATE -- Receivers. FSU is waiting until the legal process unfolds to determine the length of Rod Owens' suspension, and it's uncertain how quickly Taiwan Easterling will be cleared to play after an injury to his Achilles. Bert Reed, Louis Givens and Jarmon Fortson will be heavily depended upon.

GEORGIA TECH -- Linemen. The Yellow Jackets have to replace three of four starters on the defensive line, and injuries to Cord Howard, Dan Voss and Nick Claytor slowed the progress on the offensive line this spring.

MARYLAND -- Offensive line. The Terps lost three starters and will have four players in new positions. Phil Costa should be the leader of an otherwise inexperienced group.

MIAMI -- Linebacker depth. There were a few position changes, and Colin McCarthy missed the spring. Sean Spence is proven, but depth remains a concern.

NORTH CAROLINA -- Receivers. This group had to be completely rebuilt, as UNC lost players who accounted for 17 of 21 receiving touchdowns last year. Greg Little had a good spring and should be the leader now, and freshman Joshua Adams benefitted from enrolling early.

NC STATE -- Safety. This is coach Tom O'Brien's biggest concern, and the Pack need Javon Walker, who tore his ACL and missed the spring, back and healthy. Clem Johnson played well last year despite being hindered by several injuries. O'Brien is looking for more from Jimmaul Simmons and Justin Byers.

VIRGINIA -- Linebackers. The backups to Antonio Appleby, Jon Copper and Clint Sintim rarely played, as Al Groh wanted to keep his best players on the field. Darren Childs, Steve Greer, Aaron Taliaferro, Cam Johnson, and Darnell Carter will have to grow up quickly.

VIRGINIA TECH -- Kicker. For the third straight year, Frank Beamer is in search of a new kicker, this time to replace Dustin Keys. Matt Waldron was the leading candidate out of the spring, but the competition is wide open.

WAKE FOREST -- Linebackers. Gone are Aaron Curry, Stanley Arnoux and Chantz McClinic. Introducing Gelo Orange. Yes, that's his name. Orange, along with Hunter Haynes, Jonathan Jones and a host of others have some big shoes to fill.

Scouting the ACC's offensive lines

May, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Thanks to reader "Bentongreen" for pointing out a great link in the Wall Street Journal that takes a look at offensive lines throughout the country and makes it easy to see who's got what coming back in the ACC in 2009.

It's no coincidence that the five teams with the most starting experience returning -- Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College and Clemson, respectively -- are probably going to feature the best offensive lines this season. Just because the Hokies have the most starting experience, though, doesn't mean they'll have the best line.

Florida State could very well challenge them for that distinction, and they're good enough that the Noles should have one of their most productive seasons running the ball in recent years, despite the youth at running back. The inexperience and lack of depth at wide receiver can be masked by running the ball, so it wouldn't be surprising if FSU's passing game looked like Virginia Tech's did in 2008.

And Boston College takes great pride in its strong tradition up front, and has two all-ACC candidates in Matt Tennant and Anthony Castonzo. The Eagles return four starters, and like Florida State, will look to the running game for help. And the return of Chris DeGeare from academic struggles at Wake Forest will give the Demon Deacons an immediate boost. As for Clemson, we all know what a patchwork job that line was last season, but it should be a strength of the team in 2009.

Here are some of the ACC's top offensive linemen heading into 2009:


  • Anthony Castonzo, Boston College, Jr.
  • Chris Hairston, Clemson, Jr.
  • Kyle Hill, Duke, Soph.
  • Andrew Datko, FSU, Soph.
  • Jason Fox, Miami, Sr.
  • Kyle Jolley, UNC, Sr.
  • Will Barker, Virginia, Sr.
  • Ed Wang, Virginia Tech, Sr.


  • Thomas Austin, Clemson, Sr.
  • Rodney Hudson, FSU, Jr.
  • Cord Howard, Georgia Tech, Sr.
  • Orlando Franklin, Miami, Jr.
  • Aaron Stahl, UNC, Sr.
  • Sergio Render, Virginia Tech, Sr.


  • Bryan Morgan, Duke, Jr.
  • Phil Costa, Maryland, Sr.
  • Matt Tennant, Boston College, Sr.
  • Ryan McMahon, FSU, Sr.
  • Ted Larsen, NC State, Sr.

Duke spring wrap-up

May, 7, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Duke Blue Devils
2008 overall record: 4-8

2008 conference record: 1-7

Returning starters

Offense: 5, defense: 5, kicker/punter: 2

Top returners

QB Thaddeus Lewis, WR Johnny Williams, RB Jay Hollingsworth, RB Re'Quan Boyette, OG Kyle Hill, C Bryan Morgan, CB Leon Wright, LB Vincent Rey, DT Vince Oghobaase

Key losses

RB Clifford Harris, WR Eron Riley, OT Cameron Goldberg, LB Michael Tauiliili, FS Adrian Aye-Darko,

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Jay Hollingsworth* (399 yards)
Passing: Thaddeus Lewis* (2,171 yards)
Receiving: Eron Riley (693 yards)
Tackles: Michael Tauiliili (140)
Sacks: Greg Akinbiyi, Vince Oghobaase* (6)
Interceptions: Michael Tauiliili (4)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 Richmond
Sept. 12 at Army
Sept. 19 at Kansas
Sept. 26 North Carolina Central
Oct. 3 Virginia Tech
Oct. 10 at North Carolina State
Oct. 17 BYE
Oct. 24 Maryland
Oct. 31 at Virginia
Nov. 7 at North Carolina
Nov. 14 Georgia Tech
Nov. 21 at Miami (FL)
Nov. 28 Wake Forest

Next in line at quarterback: Redshirt freshman Sean Renfree not only solidified himself as the backup quarterback, but he also earned some playing time this fall. Renfree threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, cementing his role after former backup Zack Asack moved to safety.

Boyette's back: Boyette, the Blue Devils' leading rusher in 2006 and 2007 who missed all of last season after surgery to his left knee, answered any questions about whether or not he'd return to his pre-injury form. Coach David Cutcliffe has been calling Boyette an "all-star" since he took off for a 55-yard touchdown in a scrimmage this spring.

Catching on: The Blue Devils appear to have an answer for the loss of Eron Riley, but it's going to be a senior-less group effort led by sophomores Johnny Williams and Donovan Varner, who had six catches for 116 yards in the spring game. Williams finished second on the team last year with 30 catches for 327 yards.

Fall questions

Tackling the holes at linebacker: Vincent Rey is still the only proven linebacker. Competition remains among Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, and Adam Banks. Can two of those three guys step up to fill the shoes of Tauiliili and Marcus Jones?

Inexperience up front: The offensive line struggled this spring to replace three starters. There was improvement, but nothing can compensate for game day experience. Kyle Hill moved from left guard to left tackle, so the unit has a whole new look. The one player back in his original position is center Bryan Morgan.

Take three? The biggest question for Duke can't be answered until the fall, and that's will the program take the next step? A realistic goal for a program that won one ACC game in 2008 is winning three league games in 2009. The last time Duke won three conference games was in 1999. Since winning the ACC title in 1989, Duke has won three or more league games twice -- a span of 19 seasons.

You look a little green ...

March, 17, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

They're young. They're inexperienced. They're ... green.

In keeping with our St. Patrick's Day theme, here's a look at the "greenest" units on each team in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- If Dominique Davis wins the starting quarterback job, he's got a whopping three full games of starting experience to fall back on, and that's three more games than Justin Tuggle, who is also competing for the job.

CLEMSON -- The Tigers will be youngest at quarterback, where either sophomore Willy Korn or redshirt freshman Kyle Parker will inherit the offense.

DUKE -- The Blue Devils have to replace three starters on their offensive line and returning sophomore Kyle Hill moved from guard to tackle.

FLORIDA STATE -- Without Preston Parker, Greg Carr and Taiwan Easterling (for the spring) and Corey Surrency, the Noles will depend heavily upon a green group of receivers.

GEORGIA TECH -- Having lost three of four starters on the defensive line, it's easily one of the greenest groups in the whole conference.

MARYLAND -- Maryland lost five starters from its defensive front seven, but defensive tackles Travis Ivey and Dion Armstrong ended the year as starters and linebacker Adrian Moten had three starts.

MIAMI -- The Canes are still young everywhere, but remember quarterback Jacory Harris has only started two games and his backups have no collegiate experience.

NORTH CAROLINA -- The Tar Heels lost their top three receivers and will be counting heavily on inexperienced players to replace Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster.

NC STATE -- The Wolfpack needs to replace both offensive guards in John Bedics and Meares Green, who combined for 43 starts.

VIRGINIA -- Outside linebacker Denzel Burrell is the only returning starting linebacker in the Cavaliers' 3-4 defense.

VIRGINIA TECH -- The Hokies have to replace two starting linebackers in Brett Warren and Purnell Sturdivant.

WAKE FOREST -- The Demon Deacons have to replace three starters at linebacker, including Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry.