ACC: Maryland Terrapins

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
It's time for a fresh set of power rankings with another week in the books. The top four teams remain the same from last week, but there was some shuffling the rest of the way down.

1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.

3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.

5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.

6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.

7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.

8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.

9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.

10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.

11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.

13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.

14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.
The Washington Post has a fascinating story that provides great detail about how Maryland came to its decision to join the Big Ten.

One of the most interesting nuggets from that story is that Maryland will receive more money up front than Nebraska did when it joined the league in 2011 and more than Rutgers will initially get when it becomes a member. Maryland president Wallace D. Loh helped negotiate that perk to help an athletic department swimming in debt. From the story:
In the Big Ten, as in most conferences, each school receives an equal share of the league’s annual revenue. But Nebraska, which entered the Big Ten for competition in 2011, won’t receive the full share of revenue for several years, according to reports. Loh didn’t know it, but the Big Ten also was negotiating a deal to bring in Rutgers that would phase the Scarlet Knights into the conference over time. ...

The Big Ten’s desire was to have new members earn a gradually larger piece of the revenue over a six-year period. But Maryland felt its stability in the ACC offered more bargaining leverage than Rutgers had in the crumbling Big East.

“There is no reason for us to leave,” Loh said. “So if we are going to consider, seriously, leaving, it has got to be worth our while.”

Perhaps, if the Big Ten really wanted Maryland, the two sides could figure out a way the Terrapins could receive a larger share of the Big Ten’s pie earlier. The potential solution was to get creative, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal. By front-loading the deal — moving some money from years well into the future to the Terrapins’ first six years in the conference — Maryland was able to secure the cash it will need to address some of its immediate financial problems.

Those financial problems could include the ACC's $52 million buyout. The league has sued the school to recoup the entire exit fee. Maryland used its leverage to free up some Big Ten money earlier. Wonder what Nebraska thinks about that?

The Post confirmed an earlier Sports Illustrated report that the Big Ten had projected to Maryland that the Terps would receive $32 million in 2014-15 and $43 million when the conference renegotiates its TV package in 2017.

There is also great detail in how the deal came about. Loh, who used to be the provost at Iowa, took the Maryland job in 2010 and made a passing remark to Big Ten presidents about being interested in the league at an AAU meeting shortly thereafter. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, the story says, had his eye on the Eastern seaboard for years; Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon is quoted as saying Maryland came up in conversation with Delany shortly after Brandon took over the Wolverines in early 2010.

Delany reached out Loh in the first week of October, according to the story. A Maryland contingent met with Big Ten officials on Oct. 12 at the Hilton at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Delany made Loh sign a non-disclosure agreement before the meeting, promising to keep only a very tight inner circle involved in the discussions. The Big Ten was so secretive that it didn't tell either Maryland or Rutgers that it was considering the other school.

Big Ten and Maryland officials met again on Nov. 4, this time in Washington, D.C.
Both sides came armed with spreadsheets. Loh and Delany served as the point men. Over the course of a marathon session -- Delany remembers it as 4 1/2 hours, Loh as nearly seven -- the mutual interest morphed into negotiations about how Maryland could become part of the Big Ten.

As afternoon turned into evening, hotel staff replaced a depleted sandwich tray and cheese plate with a hot dinner. The group worked through what the Big Ten’s divisions might look like, because that would have an impact on the travel for Maryland’s teams. Loh and Anderson needed to hear about plans for lacrosse in the Big Ten, where the sport isn’t a mainstay as it is in College Park. Loh asked his questions about the future of the conference, its expansion plans and mission and the academic perks.

Delany briefed the Big Ten athletic directors on the talks about a week later, but those ADs didn't feel a move was imminent. Rumors were heating up on the Internet, however, and Delany felt the time was right to strike.

There's also good stuff in there about how Loh had to convince skeptical Maryland administrators and deal with an angry fan base. Go read the whole thing.

Instant Analysis: BC 20, Maryland 17

October, 27, 2012
NEWTON, Mass. -- After squandering a 13-0 first-half lead, BC completed a wild comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to grab its first win over an FBS opponent this season, 20-17 over Maryland.

How it happened: The Eagles squandered a chance to go up two touchdowns early, then couldn't capitalize in key spots in the third quarter as the Terps rallied to take the lead.

But trailing 17-13 with time ticking down in the fourth quarter, Chase Rettig brought the Eagles all the way back. The junior QB moved the ball around, overcame a fumble and made plays when he needed to. Rettig took a big hit on one play, hanging in just long enough to find Alex Amidon open over the middle for a 17-yard gain and a first down.

That set up a 14-yard TD pass to Johnathan Coleman to put the Eagles back in front at 20-17 with 52 seconds left.

Spenser Rositano then picked off a Caleb Rowe pass to seal the win for BC.

What it means: BC gets its first ACC win, improving to 2-6 and 1-4 on the season. Maryland falls to .500, 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the ACC.

What’s next? BC will hit the road again to take on Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons (4-4, 2-4 ACC) are coming off a 42-13 loss to Clemson on Thursday night.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for and a frequent contributor to Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Maryland sneaks by Wake Forest

October, 6, 2012
It's a good thing for Randy Edsall that Maryland eeked out a 19-14 win over Wake Forest.

The Deacs were without six suspended players, including four starters. They were without their top offensive playmaker, injured receiver Michael Campanaro. And they were on the road. Facing a team that had a bye week to prepare. Yet the Deacs just wouldn't go away.

Maryland's offense got the last word, though, thanks in large part to a 63-yard play by Stefon Diggs that set up the game winner, and the Terps have officially surpassed last year's win total. They're also 1-0 in league play. It just wasn't a very convincing 1-0. Still, considering last year's disappointment, the Terps will take what they can get. Wake Forest, on the other hand, has now lost back-to-back games heading into the bye week. It could use a break to regroup and heal. Once again, getting to a bowl game isn't going to be a given.

This game was a snapshot of the competition in the Atlantic Division. It was also a reminder that it's Florida State, Clemson, "and everybody else."

End of third: Irish 38, Maryland 7

November, 12, 2011
LANDOVER, Md. -- Will Andrew Hendrix get in for the first time in three games? Will Notre Dame finish with two different 100-yard rushers?

These are the relevant questions as we enter the fourth quarter with Notre Dame holding a 38-7 lead over Maryland.

Cierre Wood and Lo Wood were the scorers in the third period -- the former notching a three-yard touchdown run, the latter taking an interception 57 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Wood has 79 yards on 14 carries. Jonas Gray has his first career 100-yard game, with 125 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. The most telling play may have been a third-and-17 from the Irish 20, when Gray rushed it 19 yards up the middle for a first down on a drive that ended with Cierre Wood's score. Maryland simply has no answer for the run.

Notre Dame has now outscored its opponents in the third quarter this season by a 77-13 margin, and it has not allowed a third-quarter offensives score in nine of 10 games.

End of first: Notre Dame 10, Maryland 0

November, 12, 2011
LANDOVER, Md. -- Notre Dame's rushing game has had its way so far against Maryland, resulting in a 10-0 Irish lead after one.

Jonas Gray has six carries for 48 yards and a touchdown, a one-yard punch that came two plays after a 14-yard gain that brought him down at the 1. Gray now has 10 touchdowns in his last seven games, scoring in all seven.

Cierre Wood has four carries for 38 yards so far, largely on a few nifty moves when reaching the second level. Notre Dame is averaging 7.9 yards per carry through one quarter.

Maryland has moved the ball ever-so slightly enough to pin Notre Dame deep on several occasions, but its banged-up front-seven has no answer for the Irish's running game. The Terrapins will have to do something more on offense if they want any chance of hanging with the Irish throughout the night.
Jonas GrayMatt Quinnan/Icon SMIJonas Gray and the Fighting Irish will get a taste of ACC action the next three weekends.
Before Notre Dame can get to its regular-season finale at Stanford, it has to get through the ACC.

The Irish's next three games are against Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College. Two of the three are away from South Bend, but two of the three serve as Irish home games. (Confusing, we know.)

With the Irish 5-3 and set for confere ... er, ACC, play, Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna and ACC blogger Heather Dinich preview this week's matchup in Winston-Salem, along with the other two contests.

Matt Fortuna: Heather, first off, what do you make of this Wake Forest team? It is tough to judge from the Midwest -- it beats FSU, gets rocked by UNC and Virginia Tech. Also, the decision to make this a night game struck me as interesting. Are the folks down there treating this one like their biggest home game of the season?

Heather Dinich: Matt, there’s no question the Deacs are taking this one seriously, especially after such a poor performance against North Carolina. What to make of Wake Forest? This is a much, much better team than the one that finished 3-9 a year ago. They’re one win away from bowl eligibility and would like nothing more than to wrap that up this weekend against the Irish. Heading into this game, I thought Wake was overmatched, but now I think they’ll make it an interesting game. With both teams at 5-3, are they more alike than many thought they’d be? It’s hard to tell with such different schedules, but I think Notre Dame has the better win over Michigan State. Turnovers were a huge factor last week for the Deacs. Wake had turned it over just five times all season and then against UNC it had five turnovers. It was an uncharacteristic performance, to say the least. If the Deacs can take care of the ball and get the passing game going, they stand a chance. The bigger question to me is, are the next three weeks a foreshadowing of what’s to come with Notre Dame and the ACC? What are you hearing out of South Bend?

MF: Five turnovers in one game? No kidding, they really are alike. As for your question, Notre Dame will strive to remain independent in football at all costs. Right now I think the Irish are content to watch the dominoes fall in front of them until they are forced to make a move. If that time does come, however, I do think the ACC would be its best bet. For one, Notre Dame would be marginalized in the Big Ten, serving as just another regional power along with Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. In the ACC it can still expand its recruiting bases from as South as Florida to as North as New York and Boston. Mike Brey, the men's basketball coach, has stated his preference is to remain somewhere East if Notre Dame is forced to move. Also, it is pretty funny that, in addition to this slate of games, the Irish have already traveled to future ACC member Pitt this season, and they currently seem bound for the Champs Sports Bowl, where they would face another ACC school. That would be five out of 13 games this season against current or future ACC schools, for those keeping count at home. While we're at it, Heather, who do you think looks like Notre Dame's likely bowl opponent should it find itself in Orlando?

HD: Right now I’ve got Florida State heading to the Champs Sports Bowl, Matt, and it seems like the most likely scenario. That would be a great matchup of two traditional programs, but let’s stick with the ones we know right now. Heading into this season, I predicted the ACC would strike out against the Irish with an 0-3 record. I still don’t see BC winning at Notre Dame on Nov. 19, considering what a dreadful season it’s been for the Eagles, and if BC isn’t going to get the W, there’s no reason to think Maryland can, even though that game is a virtual home game for the Terps in FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Maryland can’t even fill its own stadium, though, let alone a pro venue, and the Terps just lost at home to Boston College. It’s been a rough first season for Randy Edsall. So, it looks like the Deacs are the ACC’s best hope at picking up a W against Notre Dame, at least from my perspective. What are you predicting the Irish do against the ACC in three games?

MF: I'm with you, Heather. I just cannot see Maryland or Boston College beating Notre Dame, making Wake the favorite among the ACC teams to do so. Even then, the Deacs are clearly overmatched and will have a tough time keeping up with the Irish on both sides of the ball. I circled this one as a potential upset when making second-half predictions a little more than three weeks ago, but Wake has done little since (its only win was over Duke ... by 1) to convince me it can pull off the victory. Who do you got?

HD: I’m sticking with my preseason prediction, Matt, and going with the Irish. I’ll leave the score for tomorrow’s predictions post, but I just don’t see Wake Forest beating Notre Dame’s offensive line or slowing down that running game. Notre Dame’s offense line averages 305.6 pounds. Wake Forest’s undersized D-line checks in at an average of 247.5. No wonder Jonas Gray is averaging 8 yards per carry, and the Irish didn’t allow one sack in October. And of course, they’ve got one of the top linebackers in the country in Manti Te’o. Wake Forest will correct a lot of the mistakes it made last week against North Carolina, but it will come up short in a close game. Since you’re the visitor to ACC country, though, I’ll give you the final word.

MF: Not sure if that qualifies as southern hospitality, but it is appreciated nonetheless. I expect Gray to have a huge game as well. He's a guy who had zero career touchdowns until Week 4 at Pitt. He has had eight since, including three this past Saturday. Brian Kelly's teams are built for November and December, as evidenced by his 21-6 mark in the regular season's final two months. I think Wake Forest has a chance to keep it close early, but it lacks the depth and size to hang with the Irish throughout the night.

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 3, 2011
Filling in for Heather today. Let's see what's happening in ACC country.

ACC afternoon links

May, 20, 2011
Here's what's happening around ACC country.
Being a leader is many things. It's difficult, for one. And necessary for a quarterback.

But it also can be amusing, at least that's what Jamarr Robinson has discovered as he's solidified his standing as Maryland's No. 1 quarterback this spring.

"I find myself yelling at people and then laughing at myself afterwards," said Robinson, who will lead the offense in Saturday's Red-White spring game at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

[+] EnlargeJamarr Robinson
Ben Solomon/Icon SMIJamarr Robinson hopes to build on his experience from last season.
What's not funny is 2-10, at least if that's your record, as it was the Terrapins' in 2009. It was their worst finish in nine seasons under coach Ralph Friedgen and their worst year since 1997, when they went 2-9 under Ron Vanderlinden.

Of course, that '97 team got beat up just about every week, losing eight games by at least 11 points and two by more than 40 points. Last fall, Maryland found ways to lose. Seven losses came by 11 or fewer points and four by four points or fewer. The Terrapins were good enough to beat Clemson but bad enough to lose to Middle Tennessee at home.

While there were many culprits in 2009 -- youth and injuries are two -- the fundamental problem was a bad offense. And the predominant blame there falls on a line that gave up 36 sacks, which ranked 110th in the nation, and couldn't open holes for the running game, which ranked 105th.

Three starters are back from a unit that must improve -- and probably couldn't get much worse.

"I'm very encouraged by the progress of our offensive line, which was a concern going into spring practice," Friedgen said.

Therein lies reason for hope. If the line holds together, the offense could improve dramatically because there's plenty of skill surrounding Robinson.

There's Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett at running back -- "They're going to be a good one-two punch," Friedgen said. There's the return of nine of the top 10 receivers, topped by Torrey Smith, who ranked second in the ACC in receptions with 61 in 2009.

And there's Robinson, who saw significant action last fall, including starting two games when Chris Turner was hurt. He completed 54 percent of his passes for 459 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 229 yards, 129 of which came against Virginia Tech.

Making his first college start against a rugged Hokies defense wasn't easy, but it should help Robinson in 2010. When he takes the field against Navy on Sept. 6, he won't be nearly as wide-eyed as a quarterback seeing his first playing time.

"It was critical for me going into this season we're about to go into," he said. "Those four games let me know what it's really like to play in a game. If I didn't have it, I'd still have those first-game starting jitters, like I had against Virginia Tech."

His athletic ability should make the offensive line's job easier, but Robinson doesn't want to just be a scrambler. His focus this spring was refining his understanding of the offense and his decision making.

"I have to know where my checkdowns are instead of taking a sack," he said.

Friedgen seemed mostly pleased with all three of his quarterbacks, including Danny O'Brien and C.J. Brown. But Robinson clearly asserted himself.

"Jamarr Robinson has had an excellent spring," Friedgen said. "He has matured. He is playing at a very high level. I've been very pleased with him. Right now, he is the starter."

Robinson said last year's team was young and lacked confidence. No surprise there. Finishing 2-10 will kill a team's confidence. Finishing 2-10 isn't much fun.

The expectation, Robinson said, is things will be a lot more amusing this fall.

"We're going to make a drastic change from what we were last year," he said. "We're a lot better. We're more together."

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 1, 2010
In ACC country, these are lunchtime links. Where I am, it's breakfast. The good news is somewhere it's Happy Hour.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen has spent the last four months evaluating.

After all, there’s not much else you can do after a 2-10 season, the Terps worst since 1997.

So, Friedgen has spent the offseason pouring over film and talking to players trying to figure out if there was any deviation from what he had done in his previous nine seasons.

"It's been very strange,” Friedgen said at a news conference before his team opened spring practice Tuesday. “I went back and I looked at things. We didn't really do any things different that we had done in the past.

“I think our team is very determined to show that we're not a 2-10 team, we're much better than that.”

The opportunity to get back on the field and start the process of making things better was something that Maryland players relished. They’ll have 15 practices over a five-week span to get better and to figure out how to win.

The biggest obstacle of last season was youth and inexperience. Injuries forced several players into service before they were ready and the team suffered because of it.

The biggest questions this spring will come on the offensive line. It lost five of its seven members a year ago and failed to adjust in 2009. Last year, the Terps allowed three sacks per game and the running game was almost nonexistent with just 105.75 yards per game.

This year, the line loses Bruce Campbell and Phil Costa, but the Terps should be better apt to deal with filling the holes. Paul Pinegar, a former walk-on who has played guard and tackle, will slide over to center to fill Costa’s shoes.

If the line can protect, quarterback Jamarr Robinson, who started the final four games of last season, can be a playmaker for the offense. Robinson showed flashes of that ability last season and has worked hard this offseason to establish leadership and set an example for the rest of the squad.

"The whole last season has been something everybody has been thinking about while working out and in everything we do,” Robinson said. “We've just been using it as motivation and something to drive us harder. Not complaining and stuff like that. Every day I think about it. With all the people we had and all the weapons we had, going 2-10 was very surprising."

Friedgen is confident that one bad season won’t turn into a streak.

During his film study he saw positives that he’ll try to accentuate this spring and negatives that he’ll try to eliminate. The Terps had 23 fumbles last season and lost 14. Overall, they were -.50 in turnover margin.

But most of all, Friedgen said after losing its final seven games, his team needs to learn how to win again.

“I feel very good about our players and the places they're in right now and their conviction is to be better,” he said. “I feel good about our staff. I looked at our tape and there were a lot of times where we just didn't have good luck. The opportunities we had that we didn't take advantage of and we just didn't make the plays when we had the opportunities to make them. I'm hoping that is going to change.”

Maryland shakes up Atlantic with win over Clemson

October, 3, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Apparently Virginia wasn't the only team with something to prove today. Maryland, after losing to Middle Tennessee and barely beating James Madison for their lone September win, beat Clemson 24-21. Neither team could run the ball. Both teams turned it over. It seemed like a game neither wanted to win.

And yet the Terps finally came out on top against a legitimate opponent.

Maryland, playing in its first conference game of the season, is suddenly ahead of the game in the Atlantic Division. They did it by concentrating on exactly what coach Ralph Freidgen enforced this week -- cutting down on turnovers and penalties. Clemson had more of both.

Maryland also controlled the clock. This was a game in which Maryland quarterback Chris Turner's veteran experience finally came into play. When neither team could run the ball, Turner had the better day over rookie Kyle Parker. The Terps finally showed off their young receiving corps and proved their struggles weren't for a lack of talent at the skill positions.

Clemson, though, has more talent. And more speed. But that hasn't mattered in the past for Clemson. And it didn't matter again today.

On tap this weekend in the ACC

August, 21, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Just because it's not September doesn't mean there's not football being played on Saturdays. Here's a look at what's on tap this weekend in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE: Third scrimmage on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Closed to the public.
Storyline: After two scrimmages, the Eagles' picture at quarterback is still as clear as mud. Dave Shinskie is in the lead but has yet to lock up the job. The defense has played well, though, and that's sure to be a trademark of Frank Spaziani-coached teams.

DUKE: Scrimmage at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Open to public.
Storyline: David Cutcliffe is still looking for consistency after Swine flu-like symptoms swept through the team and knocked out anywhere from two to five players for each practice. They're close to having everybody back now, so the Blue Devils should be able to develop some continuity.

FLORIDA STATE: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed to media and public.
Storyline: Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is still looking for more of everything -- including toughness -- from a young group that has at least a dozen freshmen or sophomores.

MARYLAND: Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Not open to general public.
Storyline: The Terps are still looking for improvement on the offensive line, and hope to see more from the running game. They'll try to solidify the first and second teamers and set the depth chart so they can break into scout teams soon and give the offense some different defensive looks.

MIAMI: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed to the public.
Storyline: The Canes are still trying to build depth across the board and will take a close look at their second- and third-string players, particularly at backup quarterback, where freshman A.J. Highsmith has kept the competition interesting.

NORTH CAROLINA: Scrimmage on Saturday. No stats.
Storyline: Same as it's been all summer -- the Tar Heels are still looking for improvement from their receivers and trying to rebuild their offensive line. Because of the lack of bodies on the offensive line, the Heels have been so limited this will be their first scrimmage.

NC STATE: Situational scrimmage on Sunday. No stats. Closed to the public and media.
Storyline: The Pack is trying to replace four players in the secondary, and while frontrunners have emerged, it's still a group loaded with youth and inexperience. This will be more of a dress-rehearsal with an emphasis on situations like third downs and two-minute drills.

VIRGINIA: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed. No stats.
Storyline: This will be the scrimmage that will help coach Al Groh and his staff really start to decide the starting lineup, as they'll review the film on Sunday and try to make some decisions.

VIRGINIA TECH: Scrimmage on Saturday. Practice will be from 2-4:15 in Lane Stadium (scrimmage will probably start around 2:30). Fans can sit on the west side only and aren't allowed to video tape.
Storyline: First, the Hokies need to keep the rest of their running backs healthy after injuries to Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby. The Hokies still aren't set on their starting receivers, and probably won't know until after next Wednesday, but this is another good audition.

ACC mailblog

August, 21, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Thanks for the questions, everyone, here's your weekly Mailblog:

Evan in Atlanta, Ga. writes: Hey Heather, do you know what games you'll be visiting this season? Like to see you come to Atlanta for homecoming, because if I remember right you've been good luck when you show up (weren't you at the FSU and Miami game last year?).

HD: Yep. Every Georgia Tech game I was at last year they won -- except for one. The Virginia Tech game. Which games I go to depends on how the season unfolds, so I don't know until the week of where I'm headed. It's more fun that way (and much tougher to get a hotel room). But I'm sure at some point I'll see the Jackets. Last year, I saw 11 of the 12 teams play live, only missing NC State. I'm making up for that this year by starting out in Raleigh on Thursday night. Speaking of that game ...

Matt in Lynchburg, Va., writes: Hey HD, the ACC plays 7 against the SEC this season...and the first one is NC State vs. South Carolina. How do they match up? Seems like a win would be a big first step for the Pack.

HD: That's going to be a close game because the teams are so similar, starting with how thin they are in the secondary. Here's a mini scouting report on South Carolina: There's nobody remotely ready to play quarterback behind Stephen Garcia, and they don't have any proven big-time threats at receiver or running back. Still there's a lot of good young talent in the program. They'll be strong at linebacker, good at defensive end. They'll look like an SEC defense, but will have to start one or two true freshmen in the secondary. Like NC State, they can't afford for anyone to get hurt. They were terrible at pass protecting last year, gave up a lot of sacks, and didn't run the ball well. Their defense will have to be the rock for them.

Evan King in Okeechobee, Fla. writes: Do you think FSU could be a 2010 BCS contender with all the young talent on this years team?

HD: Yes, but only if the intangibles are there -- staff continuity, no off-field distractions, no me-first, no NFL attitudes, and the work ethic to maximize their talent and potential.

CJ Fitz in College Park, Md., writes: Hey HD, heard you were in the area. Great post on Tate, any chance you can give me a little bit more of an insider on the team... how the o-line did in your opinion and how the defense is coming along under coach brown?

HD: Yes, I was, CJ, and while I'd like to say I saw anything worth reporting, the practice was closed to the media. Having talked to the players and coaches, though, the o-line is still a work in progress and a concern, and the defense is definitely ahead of the offense at this point. I think the hire of Don Brown will be an upgrade, and the scheme will baffle some ACC offenses.

Bob K in Atlanta writes: Heather, who is the most under-rated player in the ACC? Obviously someone who didn't make your top 30 list.

HD: Well, my first instinct is to say Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, because from a national perspective, he doesn't get the credit he deserves. He was, however, on my Top 30 list. So, I'll go with Chris DeGeare, an offensive lineman at Wake Forest. He was academically ineligible last year, but should be the anchor of that line this fall. You could also look at BC's roster for some underrated players. Safety Wes Davis, or receiver Rich Gunnell come to mind.

Anthony Burke in Orlando, Fla. writes: What is the likelihood that the ACC will be represented in the National Title? I have it that it will be Florida vs. someone from the ACC and Florida getting upset. I am a Miami fan and I believe they will comeout of September and October smelling like Rose's because they are a better team than last year. The toughest team they will play will be Georgia Tech and they can win that game. I believe that The U is back, and I think this team will prove me right, because they have reminenses of the young canes team back in 2000. Go Canes

HD: This year? I'd say pretty slim. Why? Because I don't think Virginia Tech is going to beat Alabama, and I don't think they'll escape the ACC undefeated. And right now, the way everything is set up, the Hokies are the ACC's best hope -- even without Darren Evans. Now, if your Canes start off 4-0, then Florida better look out.