ACC: Nigel Bradham

Florida State spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
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2011 overall record: 9-4
2011 conference record: 5-3 (t-3rd)
Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners:
QB EJ Manuel, CB Greg Reid, LB Telvin Smith, DE Brandon Jenkins, DE Bjoern Werner, WR Rashad Greene

Key losses:
T Zebrie Sanders, WR Bert Reed, LB Nigel Bradham

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Devonta Freeman* (579 yards)
Passing: EJ Manuel* (2,666 yards)
Receiving: Rashad Greene* (596 yards)
Tackles: Nigel Bradham (86)
Sacks: Brandon Jenkins* (8)
Interceptions: Lamarcus Joyner* (4)

Spring answers

1. Erving steps in: The Seminoles have to replace both starting offensive tackles, but coach Jimbo Fisher believes he has found a future NFL starter in converted defensive tackle Cameron Erving. The 6-foot-5, 304-pound sophomore from Colquitt, Ga., has good feet and long arms. He stepped in at left tackle, and sophomore Bobby Hart and junior Bryan Stork are battling to start at right tackle entering preseason camp.

2. Deep receiving corps: With big-play wideouts such as Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Christian Green coming back, the Seminoles were already loaded on the perimeter. Throw Willie Haulstead and redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin into the mix, and it might be the deepest receiving corps in the country. Haulstead missed all of last season with a concussion, and Benjamin was redshirted. Fisher said the pair might be his team’s best wideouts, which is saying a lot.

3. Defensive line is stocked: Defensive end Bjoern Woerner and tackles Timmy Jernigan and Jacobbi McDaniel missed the spring because of injuries, but their replacements showed FSU will be pretty deep in its defensive front. End Cornellius “Tank” Carradine and nose tackle Anthony McCloud had nice springs.

Fall questions

1. The running game: Florida State struggled to run the ball last season, finishing next-to-last in the ACC at 112.2 yards per game. Injuries were a big part of the problem. The Seminoles didn’t find many answers in the spring. Top returning rushers Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson missed spring practice because of injuries, and promising sophomore James Wilder Jr. miss a big chunk after he was arrested for resisting arrest in February.

2. Punter: The Seminoles are really going to miss departed punter Shawn Powell, who averaged 47.1 yards per punt and helped FSU’s defense by putting opponents in bad field position. Freshman Cason Beatty, a former high school quarterback, enrolled in classes at FSU in January and participated in spring practice. He struggled with consistency, but FSU coaches like his strong leg and hang time.

3. Backup quarterback: Senior EJ Manuel needs to stay healthy for the Seminoles to reach their potential, but there are a couple good backups behind him. Clint Trickett has added weight and threw the ball well in the spring. He’s still battling redshirt freshman Jacob Coker for the No. 2 job. FSU will also hold its breath to see if highly regarded quarterback recruit Jameis Winston of Hueytown, Ala., enrolls in school or signs a professional baseball contract this summer.

Miami leads ACC draft contingent

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
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Despite a 6-6 season in 2011, Miami led all ACC schools with six players getting selected during this past weekend's NFL draft. The ACC as a whole had 31 players selected, the third most among all conferences, behind the Big Ten (41) and, yes, the SEC (42).

NC State had five players taken, the second most among ACC schools. Neither the Hurricanes nor the Wolfpack had any players taken in the first two rounds. Duke and Maryland both had zero players drafted.

Luke Kuechly, as expected, got the ball rolling for the conference Thursday night, when the Panthers took the former Boston College inside linebacker ninth overall. I was a little surprised to see Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, projected by many as a late first-rounder, fall all the way to the Jets at No. 43.

Here's a school-by-school breakdown of the draft, followed by a round-by-round breakdown:

Miami: 6
NC State: 5
Clemson: 4
FSU: 4
Wake Forest: 4
Virginia Tech: 3
UNC: 2
Georgia Tech: 1
Virginia: 1
Boston College: 1

FIRST ROUND
No. 9, Panthers: ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
No. 16, Jets: DE Quinton Coples, UNC
No. 31, Giants: RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech

SECOND ROUND
No. 38, Jaguars: DE Andre Branch, Clemson
No. 43, Jets: WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
No. 52, Titans: OLB Zach Brown, UNC

THIRD ROUND
No. 64, Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson
No. 69, Bills: WR TJ Graham, NC State
No. 72, Dolphins: DE Olivier Vernon, Miami
No. 86, Steelers: LB Sean Spence, Miami
No. 93, Bengals: DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson
No. 94, Giants: CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech

FOURTH ROUND
No. 96, Rams: WR Chris Givens, Wake Forest
No. 97, Dolphins: RB Lamar Miller, Miami
No. 100, Browns: WR Travis Benjamin, Miami
No. 105, Bills: OLB Nigel Bradham, FSU
No. 113, Cowboys: OLB Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest
No. 115, Titans: CB Coty Sensabaugh, Clemson
No. 117, 49ers: G Joe Looney, Wake Forest

FIFTH ROUND
No. 144, Bills: T Zebrie Sanders, FSU
No. 163, Packers: OLB Terrell Manning, NC State

SIXTH ROUND
No. 152, Cowboys: WR Danny Coale, Virginia Tech
No. 176, Jaguars: CB Mike Harris, FSU
No. 187, Jets: S Josh Bush, Wake Forest
No. 198, Ravens: WR Tommy Streeter, Miami
No. 200, Eagles: G Brandon Washington, Miami

SEVENTH ROUND
No. 210, Vikings: ILB Audie Cole, NC State
No. 225, Seahawks: DE JR Sweezy, NC State
No. 237, 49ers: DE Cam Johnson, Virginia
No. 239, Giants: DT Markus Kuhn, NC State
No. 241, Packers: T Andrew Datko, FSU

Mocks aplenty on NFL draft eve

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
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It's NFL draft eve, and it's the last Wednesday before the event, meaning one last chance for our team of analysts to predict how this weekend will unfold.

Mel Kiper Insider and Todd McShay Insider reveal their final draft boards, and each has a mock Insider, with McShay and the rest of the Scouts Inc. team going seven rounds full Insider.

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, naturally, tops the list, going No. 5 to the Buccaneers. North Carolina end Quinton Coples is next off the board at No. 19, to the Bears, with wideout Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech going two spots later to the Bengals.

How do the rest of the ACC's draft-eligible players stand? Let's take a look:

ROUND 2
No. 36, Buccaneers: RB David Wilson (Virginia Tech)
No. 50, Bears: OLB Zach Brown (UNC)
No. 58, Texans: DE Andre Branch (Clemson)
No. 59, Packers: RB Lamar Miller (Miami)

ROUND 3
No. 64, Colts: DT Brandon Thompson (Clemson)
No. 68, Buccaneers: CB Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech)
No. 72, Dolphins: OT Zebrie Sanders (FSU)
No. 76, Texans: TE Dwayne Allen (Clemson)
No. 80, Cardinals: DE Olivier Vernon (Miami)
No. 82, Titans: WR Chris Givens (Wake Forest)
No. 91, Ravens: G Joe Looney (Wake Forest)
No. 95, Raiders:
DE Cam Johnson (Virginia)

ROUND 4
No. 100, Browns: OLB Nigel Bradham (FSU)
No. 124, Bills: OLB Sean Spence (Miami)
No. 125, 49ers: CB Chase Minnifield (Virginia)
No. 128, Vikings: OLB Terrell Manning (NC State)
No. 129, Raiders: OLB Kyle Wilber (Wake Forest)
No. 130, Ravens: WR Danny Coale (Virginia Tech)

ROUND 5
No. 154, Jets: WR Tommy Streeter (Miami)
No. 157, Falcons: WR TJ Graham (NC State)
No. 159, Steelers: G Brandon Washington (Miami)
No. 162, Saints: CB Coty Sensabaugh (Clemson)

ROUND 6
No. 176, Jaguars: DT Marcus Forston (Miami)
No. 178, Bills: ILB Audie Cole (NC State)
No. 188, Broncos: DE Rennie Moore (Clemson)
No. 191, Bengals: WR Travis Benjamin (Miami)
No. 197, Packers: OT Andrew Datko (FSU)
No. 205, Browns: G Antoine McClain (Clemson)

ROUND 7
No. 209, Rams: WR Dwight Jones (UNC)
No. 240, Steelers: DE Matt Conrath (Virginia)
No. 242, Jets: TE George Bryan (NC State)
No. 243, Packers: RB Davin Meggett (Maryland)
No. 245, Browns: DT Markus Kuhn (NC State)
No. 250, Chargers: CB Donnie Fletcher (BC)

Here's a breakdown by school of the 37 ACC players that Scouts Inc. thinks will be drafted:

Miami: 7
Clemson: 6
NC State: 5
Virginia Tech: 3
UNC: 3
Virginia: 3
Wake Forest: 3
FSU: 3
BC: 2
Georgia Tech: 1
Maryland: 1
Duke: 0

Pro day notes from this week

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
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Nigel Bradham did not need to participate in timed speed drills Wednesday to leave the biggest impression at Florida State's pro day.

With a strong Senior Bowl and impressive combine numbers -- a 4.65 40-yard dash, 24 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, a 37-inch vertical -- Bradham's draft stock has risen since his final game in a Seminole uniform, and he did not drop any balls thrown his way in position-specific drills performed in front of scouts from 27 NFL teams and one CFL team.

"From what I was just told, I've helped my stock a lot," Bradham said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "It's pretty much just showing what I can do. Getting out of breaks and showing my quickness and speed."

Bert Reed led a group of four former FSU players who ran a sub 4.65 40 Wednesday, timing in unofficially at 4.46. Antwane Greenlee's 21 reps on the bench press led all former Seminoles, and Mike Harris' 36 inches were the best on the vertical jump.

Virginia Tech running back David Wilson told reporters Thursday that he ran his 40 in the 4.35-4.40 range, an improvement from his 4.49 40 at the combine. The Hokies did not release numbers from their pro day.

Eleven players worked out in front of scouts from 11 different teams at Maryland's pro day Wednesday, while Virginia hosted 17 former players and scouts from all 32 NFL teams and one CFL team for its pro day Thursday. Times for players from either school were unavailable.

Biggest shoes to fill: Florida State

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
2:00
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Our series continues today with Florida State, which returns nine starters on defense. The Noles won't be missing much on D when it comes to starting experience, but they will be losing the anchor of the defense ...

OUT: LB Nigel Bradham. He was a three-year starter at weakside linebacker and became the first Seminole since consensus All-American Marvin Jones (1990-92) to lead FSU in tackles three consecutive seasons. He finished 2011 with 86 total tackles for a four-year total of 306. He also had 21.5 career tackles for loss. He led the Seminoles with nine tackles in their 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame, including his second interception of the season, which led to FSU’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Bradham finished with 39 career starts, including his final 37 games.

IN: Telvin Smith and Christian Jones. They’re both versatile enough to line up in either position, but Jones was a first-year starter at strongside linebacker last year and Smith was a backup in the middle. Jones was third on the team with 56 tackles last year and had six TFLs, three sacks, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Over the last six games of the 2011 regular season, Smith emerged as a playmaker. He got his first start of the season against Wake Forest. Smith played in 12 games and 42 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, three sacks, an interception, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Regardless of where they line up, Smith and Jones will be two of the Noles’ three best linebackers in 2012.

Former ACC linebackers get a boost on film

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
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Now that the NFL combine is over and pro days are approaching across the country, Kevin Weidl of ESPN's Scouts Inc. has gone back to the film room for further evaluation on several linebacker prospects Insider, and he found some good news for two former ACC players, Miami's Sean Spence and Florida State's Nigel Bradham. The two were listed among five linebackers who have gotten a boost from their film.

Here are excerpts from what Weidl had to say on both:

On Spence:
However, Spence's instincts are still above average and he flies around the field. He is quick on his feet, has good change-of-direction skills and is a reliable tackler.

He struggles to get off blocks at times, though, and as a result doesn't always get a solid hit on the ball carrier. Spence also gets caught in the wash at times and has trouble avoiding trash, but he has good range and developing instincts in zone coverage, and the ability to match up in man coverage.
On Bradham:
Bradham (6-1^, 241) still has some learning to do in terms of instincts and awareness, but he's a run-and-hit linebacker with a violent style. His range is good (4.64 in the 40), and his combine jumps (37-inch vertical, 10-foot-1 broad) confirmed the ability we've seen on film to explode into ball carriers. He could get a little better taking on blocks, but Bradham has long arms (33.6 inches) and is a solid wrap-up tackler who will fill hard when necessary.

Combine rewind: Day 6

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
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Monday was a good day for former UNC DE Quinton Coples and former BC linebacker Luke Kuechly. Here are excerpts of what Todd McShay had to say about both :

On Coples:
The 284-pound Coples ran a 4.78 and showed good burst during drills, and he has the length (33 1/4-inch arms) and upper-body strength to control blockers in a two-gap scheme. That strength didn't show up as much as his athletic ability at the combine, but Coples did an excellent job controlling offensive tackles during an outstanding Senior Bowl week.
On Kuechly:
It wouldn't affect his grade much either way, but you can't help but be impressed by the way Kuechly exceeded expectations in Indianapolis. After some timing discrepancies and trouble with the start on his second attempt, Kuechly was eventually credited with a top-five time of 4.58 in the 40, and was also in the top five in the short shuttle (4.12), three-cone (6.92), broad jump (10-3) and vertical (38).

McShay also called former UNC linebacker Zach Brown "the most athletic linebacker in space," and wrote that, "Florida State's Nigel Bradham (6-1 7/8, 241) also tested well, placing in the top 10 among linebackers in the 40 (4.64), vertical (37) and broad jump (10-1), and putting up 24 reps on the bench." McShay said the fact that former Miami LB Sean Spence only put up 12 reps on the bench was "somewhat alarming," and his other results were about average.

Check out McShay's full article for more notes on several former ACC players.

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 7, 2012
2/07/12
5:00
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The official invite list for the NFL combine is out. Every school but Duke is represented, and there are a total of 43 former players from the conference who will participate, including Miami's entire starting lineup from 2011. Well, ok, not really, but it's a pretty big hit for the Canes. Best of luck to all of these guys at the next level.

Here are your ACC representatives:

BOSTON COLLEGE (1)
CLEMSON (6)
FLORIDA STATE (6)
GEORGIA TECH (1)
MARYLAND (1)
MIAMI (8)
NORTH CAROLINA (6)
NC STATE (5)
VIRGINIA TECH (4)
VIRGINIA (2)
WAKE FOREST (4)

Senior Bowl stats

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
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Overall, it was a pretty quiet performance for the ACC in this past weekend's Senior Bowl. The North team won, 23-13, and Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after totaling 129 all-purpose yards for the North.

Former NC State receiver T.J. Graham started for the North team, along with his former teammates, quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Audie Cole, and former Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. For the South team, former FSU offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders started at right tackle, UNC's Quinton Coples at left end, Clemson's Brandon Thompson at defensive tackle, and UNC's Zach Brown at linebacker.

Here are some highlights from the official stats:

NORTH

T.J. Graham, NCSU WR, two catches for 27 yards; 1 KOR for 27 yards
Donnie Fletcher, Boston College CB, four tackles
Audie Cole, NC State, LB, four tackles

SOUTH

Dwight Jones, UNC WR, one catch for 7 yards
Sean Spence, Miami LB, five tackles
Zach Brown, UNC LB, five tackles, one TFL
Nigel Bradham, FSU LB, three tackles, one sack for a loss of 3 yards, one pass breakup
Quinton Coples, UNC DE, three tackles, one sack for a loss of 5 yards, two TFLs, one pass breakup
Brandon Thompson, Clemson DT, two tackles, one TFL
Tydreke Powell, UNC DT, two tackles

'08 Miami class falls flat in recruiting re-rank

January, 19, 2012
1/19/12
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They were superstars, a heralded recruiting class carrying high expectations before they even set foot on campus. Miami's Class of 2008 was ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN.com, but after a final review, it shaped up more like the No. 20 class. There were a few standout individuals like Sean Spence, but overall, the Canes fell out of the top 10 of RecruitingNation's re-rank. Clemson didn't receive quite as harsh of a demotion, falling from No. 2 to No. 4.

Here's a look back at how the ESPNU 150 Class of 2008 fared:

Nos. 1-25 (Da'Quan Bowers, Arthur Brown, Jamie Harper, Sean Spence)

Nos. 26-50: (Ryan Williams, Marcus Forston, Brandon Harris, Mike Glennon, Kyle Parker, Terrance Parks, Brandon Thompson, Spencer Adams, Andre Ellington, Jermaine Thomas)

Nos. 51-75: (EJ Manuel, Ramon Buchanan, Nigel Bradham, Aldarius Johnson, Xavier Brewer, Davon Johnson, Nigel Carr)

Nos. 76-100: (Jordan Futch, Antoine McClain, Dwayne Allen, Brandon Barnes, Marcus Robinson)

Nos. 101-125: (C.J. Holton, Taylor Cook, Christian Wilson, Kyle Long)

Nos. 126-150: (Kenny Tate, Kerry Boykins, Travis Benjamin)

ACC players in the Senior Bowl

January, 17, 2012
1/17/12
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The ACC will have 14 players represent the conference in the 2012 Senior Bowl, which will be held at 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 28 in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised by NFL Network.

North Carolina leads the ACC with four players on the roster, as defensive end Quinton Coples, defensive tackle Tydreke Powell, linebacker Zach Brown and wide receiver Dwight Jones have all accepted invites to the 2012 game.

Clemson will have three players (DL Brandon Thompson, DL Andre Branch, FB Chad Diehl), and the league will also send two apiece from Florida State (OL Zebrie Sanders, LB Nigel Bradham) and NC State (LB Audie Cole, WR T.J. Graham) and one each from Boston College (DB Donnie Fletcher), Miami (LB Sean Spence) and Virginia (DL Cam Johnson).

The 2011 ACC All-Bowl team

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
11:00
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It's time to wrap up the 2011 season with the top performers from the bowl games. No, they’re not all from Florida State and NC State. Although they could be …

Offense:

QB: Mike Glennon, NC State: He was named the MVP of the Belk Bowl after throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns to lead NC State past Louisville 31-24.

RB: Preston Lyons, Georgia Tech: The senior fullback started in place of injured David Sims and rushed for 138 yards in the overtime loss to Utah. Before this, Lyons had never rushed for more than 50 yards in a game.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Dave MartinVirginia Tech running back David Wilson finished the season with 1,709 rushing yards.
RB: David Wilson, Virginia Tech: He broke the school’s single-season rushing record in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Michigan with 82 yards on 24 carries. He finished the season with 1,709 yards. His 11-yard run on his second carry of the third quarter enabled him to surpass Ryan Williams’ mark of 1,655 yards set in 2009.

WR: Rashad Greene, Florida State: He had five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown in the 18-14 win against Notre Dame and was named the MVP of the Champs Sports Bowl. His 15-yard touchdown catch with just over 13 minutes to play gave the Noles a 15-14 lead.

WR: T.J. Graham, NC State: He finished with seven catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the win against Louisville. He also had three kick returns for 63 yards and one punt return for two yards.

WR: Kris Burd, Virginia: He had six catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns and a broken collarbone. He became only the third player in school history to score two receiving touchdowns in a bowl game.

OT: Zebrie Sanders, Florida State: He was the lone senior on an offensive line that started four freshmen. He posted a career-high grade of 94 percent in his final game at left tackle.

OT: Rob Crisp, NC State: Hey, no other lineman in the ACC had a reception in a bowl game. Granted, his teammates keep ribbing him for rumbling and fumbling, but Crisp played a good game, paving the way for the offense from the right tackle spot.

G: Josue Matias, Florida State: As one of four true freshman starters on the Noles’ line, Matias posted a grade of 82 percent from the left guard position in his first career start.

G: Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech: Even with guard Omoregie Uzzi sitting out with an injury and suspended tackle Phil Smith on a bus back to Atlanta, Tech rolled up 311 rushing yards and 448 total yards against a Utah defense that was ranked among the nation’s best entering the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

C: Dalton Freeman, Clemson: Freeman had an 84 percent grade and four knockdowns in helping Clemson to 443 yards and 33 points against West Virginia.

Defense:

DE: Brandon Jenkins, Florida State: He finished with two tackles (both solo), including one sack for minus-10 yards. His sack in the third quarter took Notre Dame out of field goal range.

DT: Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest: He finished with six tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery in the loss to Mississippi State.

[+] EnlargeMarkus Kuhn
AP Photo/Bob LeveroneThe Wolfpack's Markus Kuhn lands on Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater for a sack during the Belk Bowl.
DT: Markus Kuhn, NC State: He finished with three tackles, including 1.5 for a loss of seven yards. He also had one sack for a loss of six yards in the win against Louisville.

DE: J.R. Collins, Virginia Tech: He finished second on the team with seven tackles and had one tackle for loss in the loss to Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

LB: Nigel Bradham, Florida State: He closed out his career with a team-high nine tackles (eight solo) against Notre Dame, finishing the season with a team-leading 86. He was the first FSU player to lead the team in tackles for three consecutive years since All-American Marvin Jones (1990-92). Bradham also added his third career interception in the win.

LB: Tariq Edwards, Virginia Tech: He finished with a team-high eight tackles, one sack for a loss of seven yards and two tackles for a loss of eight yards in the loss to Michigan.

LB: Audie Cole, NC State: The senior ended his career with a team-high 10 tackles, including a pair of sacks and four tackles for loss.

DB: David Amerson, NC State: He had two interceptions and returned one of them 65 yards for a touchdown in the Belk Bowl win against Louisville. He became the ACC’s leader in interceptions in a single season with 13. It was one shy of the Football Bowl Subdivision record set by Al Worley of Washington in 1968.

DB: Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech: He intercepted a pass by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in the first quarter. The interception marked his second of the season and the second of his career.

DB: Merrill Noel, Wake Forest: He had a team-leading seven tackles and one interception for 18 yards in the 23-17 loss to Mississippi State.

DB: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: With Notre Dame inside the 5-yard line, Joyner intercepted his team-best fourth pass of the season. His 77-yard kickoff return after Notre Dame went up 14-0 was the longest kickoff return by a Seminole this year. It was also the third-longest in FSU bowl and Champs Sports Bowl history.

Special teams:

P: Shawn Powell, Florida State: He punted 8 times for 378 yards and a 47.2-yard average. He had three punts of more than 50 yards and landed two inside the 20-yard line. His performance sealed his title as the nation’s leader in punting.

P/K: Justin Myer, Virginia Tech: Myer entered the game 0-for-2 on the season but made field goals in the Allstate Sugar Bowl of 37, 43, 36 and 25 yards, recording a field goal in every quarter and tying Georgia’s Billy Bennett (2003) for the BCS bowl record. The four field goals tied for second-most in Sugar Bowl history. Myer missed on his fifth try, a 37-yard attempt in overtime. The field goals were the first in Myer's collegiate career. The Hokies made six field goals of 30 or more yards all season entering the game.

A/P: Sammy Watkins, Clemson: Despite the loss, Watkins broke two school records in the Discover Orange Bowl and finished with 205 all-purpose yards, giving him 2,282 for the season -- second-most in ACC history. He had seven kick returns for 143 yards, and he had five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Instant analysis: FSU 18, Notre Dame 14

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:06
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida State scored 15 points in the final frame to storm back and beat Notre Dame 18-14 to win the Champs Sports Bowl. Here's how it went down:

Turning point: In a less-than-two-minute span to start the fourth quarter, Florida State made up for the first three. EJ Manuel hit Bert Reed for an 18-yard score, Nigel Bradham picked off Andrew Hendrix on the ensuing drive and Manuel then hit Rashad Greene for a 15-yard score to make it 15-14 with 13:18 left. Twelve quick points after just three through the first 45 minutes were enough for the Seminoles.

Stat of the game: Pick your poison: Ten combined penalties or four combined turnovers? This game was sloppy on both ends for three quarters, and Florida State was able to capitalize on the miscues at the end and come out victorious.

Player of the game: Greene proved a tough man to stop in the second half. He finished the game with five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, including an outstanding 42-yard grab that he bobbled and hung onto near the sideline on a third-and-6 in the fourth quarter. (It was challenged and upheld.)

Second guessing: Tommy Rees threw two interceptions in the end zone and might have had a third if not for a spectacular touchdown grab by Michael Floyd. In a game that was dominated by both defenses, Notre Dame simply could not afford to give away its precious few opportunities.

What it means: Florida State got its ninth victory and will likely finish the season ranked. Notre Dame falls to 8-5, its same record as last season, and questions will continue to mount about the quarterback position, which has nearly as many questions to end the season as it did to begin.

Record performance: Jamoris Slaughter's two sacks were two more than he had his entire career and were a Champs Sports Bowl record. The 68,305 in attendance made up the bowl's biggest crowd since it moved to Orlando.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Bowl season has found its best play of 2011.

Michael Floyd's 5-yard touchdown grab was anything but simple, as Tommy Rees' fade pass was underthrown and nearly picked off by Greg Reid. Floyd managed to pry it loose from Reid before engaging in a juggling act — all the while absorbing a hit from Nigel Bradham just as he secured the ball.

Touchdown, Irish.

Floyd's 100th catch of the season made it 14-0 Notre Dame, which is anything but your conventional two-score lead in a game that has lacked for offensive fire power.

The Seminoles appeared to be on the verge of closing the gap after Lamarcus Joyner's 77-yard kickoff return, but the offense followed with a three-and-out that was punctuated by a — you guessed it — sack of EJ Manuel, this time by Aaron Lynch for a loss of 15.

Dustin Hopkins kicked a 42-yard field goal to get FSU on the board and cut the lead to 14-3.

The Irish offense, meanwhile, went with both quarterbacks on its first drive of the half, putting Andrew Hendrix in at the 23 yard line. He carried it three times for 18 yards before Rees entered at first-and-goal from the 5, setting up the touchdown play.

George Atkinson deserves credit for setting the Irish up so well with a 37-yard kickoff return to open the half, as well as stopping Joyner from going all the way on the ensuing kickoff.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
12:00
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Game on, Coastal Division.

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