ACC: Rashaad Reid
ACC: For the earliest time in its seven-year history, all of the public tickets available for sale to the Dr Pepper ACC championship game have been sold. That happened on Nov. 9. The only tickets remaining are the 10,000-seat team blocks for Clemson and the Coastal Division winner. Clemson has already received ticket requests which exceeds its 10,000-seat allotment, leaving the only block available at this point to be that of the Coastal Division champion, which will either be Virginia or Virginia Tech. In its six previous years, the championship game has drawn two crowds in excess of 72,000 fans and the 2011 game should at least match that if not set a record.
BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles ran only 49 plays in Saturday’s 14-10 win over NC State; the total tied a school record for fewest offensive snaps in an ACC game and was the Eagles’ lowest in a victory over an FBS opponent since Oct. 27, 2001, when BC had 47 plays in defeating Notre Dame 21-17. Saturday’s game took only 2 hours, 29 minutes; that’s 44 minutes below the national average.
CLEMSON: Coach Dabo Swinney has a winning percentage of 85.7 against ACC competition at home in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. In the shadow of Howard’s Rock in Death Valley, the Tigers have posted a 12-2 mark under Swinney against conference opponents, including a 7-0 record this year.
DUKE: Duke has 19 rushing touchdowns through 10 games this season -- matching last year’s total for the most since 1994. Sophomore running back Juwan Thompson has seven rushing scores -- the highest total by a Duke running back since 2005 when Justin Boyle scored nine times on the ground.
FLORIDA STATE: Florida State enters Saturday’s home finale against Virginia looking to extend its winning streak against ACC opponents to six games. Since the Seminoles joined the league for the 1992 season, there have been a total of 15 six-game winning streaks among ACC teams, 10 of which belong to FSU. Florida State last strung together six ACC wins in 2003, when it won its first six league games en route to a 7-1 finish. Only Georgia Tech (2009, 2000) and Virginia Tech (2010, 2004) have posted multiple six-game conference win streaks. The Hokies can notch their third six-game conference winning streak by beating North Carolina Thursday night.
GEORGIA TECH: Senior A-back Roddy Jones will make his 50th career start Saturday at Duke. Assuming Jones starts the final three games (including the bowl game), he will have more career starts than any player in Georgia Tech history. Senior safety Rashaad Reid will play in his 51st career game Saturday at Duke. Assuming Reid plays in Tech’s remaining three games, he will tie the Yellow Jacket record for career games played.
MARYLAND: According to the Washington Times, Maryland has given up 500 yards on 14 occasions since 1997, and three of them have come in the Terrapins' last five games. It's the first time since 1999 that Maryland has surrendered three 500-yard performances.
MIAMI: Receiver Travis Benjamin became the sixth player in school history to surpass the 2,000-yard receiving mark with his 18-yard reception in the first quarter against Florida State. The senior entered the FSU game needing only three yards to reach the milestone. He now has 2,024 career receiving yards.
NORTH CAROLINA: Dwight Jones had six catches for 105 yards in the loss to Virginia Tech, making him only the second receiver at UNC to post 1,000 receiving yards in a season, following Hakeem Nicks in 2008. With tailback Giovani Bernard already over 1,000 yards, it marks the first time in school history that UNC has had a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season.
NC STATE: The Wolfpack are 5-0 this season when forcing three or more turnovers and are 0-5 when causing two or fewer.
VIRGINIA: When senior defensive tackle Matt Conrath blocked a field goal attempt by Duke in the first quarter of the Cavaliers’ 31-21 victory last Saturday, it marked the third time this year he has done that. Conrath now has five blocked PAT or FG attempts in his career. The fact he is 6-foot-7 certainly helps.
VIRGINIA TECH: On senior night, receiver Jarrett Boykin caught a career-high 10 passes for 106 yards in the win over UNC. Boykin became the first Tech player to catch 10 or more passes in a game since 1990 when Nick Cullen had 13 against Southern Miss. He has caught at least one pass in 47 of 51 career games and at least two passes in 41 of 51. Danny Coale had four catches for 37 yards. He has caught at least one pass in 48 of 52 career games and at least two passes in 42 of 52. Boykin, who holds the school record for career receptions (173) and career receiving yardage (2,752), has caught 50 passes this season, while Coale has 48. The school record for receptions in a season is 55 by Ernest Wilford in 2005.
WAKE FOREST: Jim Grobe has led Wake Forest to a number of close encounters during his 11 seasons as head coach but Saturday’s 31-28 loss at Clemson on a “walk-off” field goal was the first time that the Demon Deacons had lost in that manner under Grobe. In 2009, the Deacons scored a touchdown with :02 remaining to defeat Stanford but the final play of the game was a Wake Forest kickoff. The same was true in 2008 when Wake Forest scored a touchdown with :03 remaining to beat Ole Miss. The last true “walk-off” decision for Wake Forest occurred in 2006 when Duke missed a field goal on the final play of the game to preserve the Deacons’ 14-13 win over the Blue Devils.
Holton played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman and was competing for a starting job in the secondary. Despite the fact that Georgia Tech had to replace all four starters in the secondary, the Jackets still have a talented and experienced group of defensive backs.
Holton was the team's No. 3 safety behind Isaiah Johnson and Rashaad Reid, but Holton had a great offseason and would have also contributed on special teams.
1. Florida State: The Noles have one of the best cornerback duos in the country in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. They combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Mike Harris had 41 tackles and four picks as a reserve.
3. Maryland: The Terps return both starters in Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, who combined for 36 career starts. Chism is a strong cover corner who had 70 tackles and eight deflections last season. Hughes had nine pass deflections.
4. NC State: Both starters return in C.J. Wilson and David Amerson. Wilson had 46 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups, and Amerson had 57 tackles. Justin Byers and Gary Grant also have experience.
5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost some remarkable talent in their secondary, including cornerback Kendric Burney, but there is a lot of depth at the position. Jabari Price started four games last season, Charles Brown has 22 career starts but sat out last season, and Mywan Jackson and Tre Boston both have at least four starts each.
6. Boston College: The Eagles will miss DeLeon Gause, but Donnie Fletcher has 17 career starts, 56 tackles last season, and led the team with five picks. C.J. Jones played in 12 games as a backup last season with 16 tackles. Dominique Williams also saw some time and had four tackles, and true freshman Al Louis-Jean, who was the No. 9 cornerback in the nation as ranked by ESPN Recruiting, enrolled early.
7. Clemson: It’s a young group, as the Tigers had to replace Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. Xavier Brewer had 10 starts with 50 tackles and two interceptions last season, Coty Sensabaugh had 31 tackles in three starts, and senior Mansa Joseph will also be competing for playing time with sophomore Martin Jenkins.
8. Virginia: The Cavaliers return both starters in Chase Minnifield and Devin Wallace, but Wallace was suspended and missed spring ball and is still suspended. Wallace had 38 tackles and six breakups last season. Chris Broadnax, Rijo Walker, Drequan Hoskey and Pablo Alvarez will all compete for playing time.
9. Miami: The Hurricanes have to replace both starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Jo-Jo Nicholas moved to corner and Brandon McGee, who was the nickel back last season, will compete along with Lee Chambers, Keion Payne, Nathan Gholston and true freshman Thomas Finnie, who had a great spring.
10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace their entire secondary, including cornerbacks Mario Butler and Dominique Reese. They’ve still got several cornerbacks with experience in Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009, Rod Sweeting (38 tackles, seven pass breakups, one interception), Louis Young (10 tackles), and Michael Peterson (six tackles, one pass breakup).
11. Wake Forest: The Deacs have a deep enough secondary that they can live without the experience of cornerback Kevin Johnson, who started five games last season but will sit out this season while academically ineligible. Josh Bush had 33 tackles and four pass breakups last season, Kenny Okoro is a rising star, A.J. Marshall has three starts and Dominique Tate returns after missing last season while on academic suspension.
12. Duke: Ross Cockrell is a returning starter and finished last season with 60 tackles and 10 passes defended. He was only a freshman but he tied for eighth in the ACC with passes defended with 10 in 12 games. Johnny Williams had four pass breakups last season.
Biggest reason for hope: Improved defense
Despite the fact that the Yellow Jackets have to replace six starters on defense, Georgia Tech should be better in the second season under coordinator Al Groh. The defense had the edge on the offense almost all spring, and it was evident the players are more comfortable in the 3-4 scheme and have a better understanding of what Groh expects from them. Six of the top nine tacklers must be replaced, along with all four starters in the secondary, but both starting defensive ends return in Jason Peters and Izaan Cross. Linebacker Julian Burnett was the team’s leading tackler a year ago with 89 stops, and the overhaul in the secondary should be tempered by several players who have seen significant playing time, like cornerback Rashaad Reid, who started 14 games in 2008 and 2009.
Biggest reason for concern: The quarterback position
The fact that Synjyn Days closed the competition on Tevin Washington in the spring game should be a bit unsettling to Georgia Tech fans. Not because Days isn’t capable of running the offense, but because Washington has yet to truly establish himself as the leader of the offense. There’s no question it’s his job to lose, but the problem is, he could actually lose it if he doesn’t make better decisions in summer camp. Of course, the offensive line could do a better job of helping him out, and it should be noted that overall, Washington was the most consistent quarterback this spring.
More in this series:
There are no lineup changes for Georgia Tech, but Jerrard Tarrant will start at corner over Rashaad Reid. I'm still waiting on Iowa's lineup changes. The officials are an SEC crew.
With Georgia Tech ranked No. 9 and Iowa No. 10, it's the first time the Jackets have played in a game involving two top 10 teams since 1999, when No. 1-ranked Florida State beat No. 10 Georgia Tech, 41-35, in Tallahassee. That helps put into perspective just how big this game is for the program, which is making its first appearance in a major bowl since 1967.
The underlying matchup we've talked about at length is Iowa's defense against Georgia Tech's offense, but there are a few intangibles at play here, too. How rusty will Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi be after missing the last two games with an ankle injury? How much progress has Georgia Tech's defense made during this long layoff? With both teams proven winners in close, fourth-quarter games, who has the edge if it's close? All questions that will soon be answered. We should know early who sets the tone in this game. If Iowa's defense doesn't figure out Paul Johnson's offense quickly, it could be a long night for the Hawkeyes.
The lone roster change is on Georgia Tech's sideline, where cornerback Rashaad Reid will start in place of Jerrard Tarrant.
The question is which defense shows up tonight. Both teams have showed their vulnerabilities this season. The key stat is is that Clemson is holding its opponents to 19.5 points per game, while Georgia Tech is scoring 35. One player who could be an X-factor in this game is safety DeAndre McDaniel. His ability to move up and give help could be key in stopping the option game. Guys like Jonathan Dwyer and C.J. Spiller are going to get their yards today, though.
It could be yet another record-setting weekend for Spiller:
- He needs one punt or kickoff return for a touchdown to set the NCAA record for kick returns for touchdowns.
- He needs three touchdowns to set the Clemson single-season record.
- He needs one touchdown to tie the school record for consecutive games with a touchdown.
- He needs 88 yards rushing and 60 receiving to become the first player in school history to reach 1,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving in the same season. He would also be the first player in the nation to do it this year.
For Georgia Tech, junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt needs two touchdowns to tie the ACC single-season record of 19. Junior Demaryius Thomas averages 24.5 yards per reception, which would be the highest in ACC history.
Both teams threw fans for a loop with their subpar performances last week against their respective SEC rivals, but this is the game that counts. If Georgia Tech and Clemson go back to what they were doing prior to last weekend, it should be a great game. Both teams have improved since they met earlier during the regluar season. It's time to find out which one has made the biggest strides.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- It's not like the Cavaliers haven't been in a position to win this game. But they're just 1-of-3 inside the red zone through the first three quarters, and haven't been able to punch it in. Georgia Tech's defense deserves credit for that, but there have also been plenty of missed opportunities. Because of that, this game doesn't seem as close as the 20-9 score might indicate. Rashaad Reid laid a hit on Virginia receiver Kris Burd in the end zone that broke up what could have been a momentum-changing play. Virginia's defense was never the problem this season. This game is another example of what is, though the Jackets deserve credit for playing two straight games of better defense.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Maybe it's a sign of change, but former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross is in attendance today. Yes, the same Bobby Ross who won the national title in 1990, which also happens to be the last time Georgia Tech won here in Scott Stadium.
Will the streak stop today?
If Georgia Tech wins, they take the lead in the Coastal Division, and that's what's on the line here. Here's a scenario for you, though: If Virginia, Clemson and Duke win today, and Virginia Tech would somehow lose on Thursday night, Virginia and Duke would be playing for the Coastal lead next weekend. Unlikely, but possible.
Georgia Tech defensive end Anthony Egbuniwe is back in the lineup for the first time in two weeks after an undisclosed illness, and it's possible Rashaad Reid might start over Dominique Reese. There's no question Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell will be starting as will Mikell Simpson. The only question in their lineup is how the defensive end position shakes out without Matt Conrath.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There are some teams in the ACC that are stacked at a particular position or positions -- meaning there's not just depth there, but depth and legitimate all-conference talent. Here's a quick look at who in the conference is simply loaded:
UNC front seven: All four starters return on the defensive line, and there is outstanding depth both there and in the secondary. On the line, tackle Cam Thompson is coming off his best season at UNC, tackle Marvin Austin and end E.J. Wilson both started the majority of games last season, and Robert Quinn had 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant both started every game last season, and the position is the deepest it's been in recent years. Carter led the team with 11 tackles for loss and Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles.
Georgia Tech secondary: Morgan Burnett, Rashaad Reid, Mario Butler, Dominique Reese, and Cooper Taylor all have experience, and the group also welcomes back Jerrard Tarrant from a suspension.
Boston College secondary: The Eagles return DeLeon Gause, Wes Davis and Roderick Rollins, who have combined for 32 career starts. This should be the best group BC has had in a while.
Clemson defensive line: The Tigers return three starters across the front, and coach Dabo Swinney has said this unit could be the strength of the entire team. Ricky Sapp is the leader, senior Kevin Alexander is a returning starter, and there are really three starters returning for the two defensive end positions, including DaQuan Bowers, who started six games last year and finished with 47 tackles, the most among the linemen.
Miami wide receivers: Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier, LaRon Byrd, Kendal Thompkins, Tommy Streeter ... the Hurricanes could field a team that consists entirely of receivers.
Florida State offensive line: The Noles are oozing with talent here. Tackle Andrew Datko, guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon combined to start all but one game last season. What was the youngest offensive line in the FBS last season could be one of the best this year. For the first time since 2004, all five starters return.
Wake Forest offensive line: The Demon Deacons return eight offensive linemen with a total of 118 career starts among them. Jeff Griffin and Joe Birdsong are Wake's returning starters at tackle while Barrett McMillin and Joe Looney each started at guard in 2008. Russell Nenon, who started the season at guard, moved to center at midseason following an injury to Trey Bailey. Bailey returns after fully healing from a broken ankle. The Deacons also welcome back Chris DeGeare who missed the 2008 season while getting his academics in order.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
A quick spring update from Atlanta, thanks to sports info guru Dean Buchan:
- The Jackets have had two good practices in shells, including one in a steady rain. They're expecting rain through Sunday in Atlanta. They usually have access to the Georgia Dome in bad weather, but can't use it this weekend because the city's marathon is using it for their expo. They also have access to the Falcon's training facility in Flowery Branch, but Paul Johnson doesn't mind practicing in the rain, as long as there isn't lightning.
- Senior center Dan Voss is out all spring after shoulder surgery and Nick Claytor, a probable starter at tackle, is out all spring with a back injury. In place of Voss has been junior walk-on Sean Bedford, an aerospace engineer major, and redshirt freshman Nick McRae.
- One of the best competitions going on is for the starting jobs at cornerback. Junior Mario Butler started last year, but rising sophomore Rashaad Reid and sophomore Jerrard Tarrant (suspended all of last season) are both very good.
I'll be talking to the head man next week, so more to come then.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
With so much attention on what Georgia Tech's defense is trying to replace this spring (100 career starts and 100 tackles-for-loss on the defensive line), the Yellow Jackets' secondary might be one of the best kept secrets in the ACC. It's definitely one of the deepest.
Juniors Morgan Burnett, Mario Butler, Dominique Reese and sophomore Rashaad Reid all return from last year's nine-win season with starting experience, and the group goes even deeper. Junior Correy Earls, a part-time starter at wide receiver last season, moved to the secondary, and redshirt freshman Kamaron Riley will also be in the mix. Cooper Taylor returns along with sophomore defensive back Jerrard Tarrant, who is back after being suspended for the entire 2008 season. If Tarrant can shake the rust off, he will immediately compete for a starting job, most likely at cornerback.
"We missed him last year," safety Burnett said. "That's a big key coming back."
Last year's group was young, and in the first year under defensive coordinator Dave Wommack. The expectations are higher this year. Burnett tied for third nationally in pass interceptions last year with seven in 13 games, a .64 percentage. He also ranked 18th in passes defended with 15 in 13 games.
"We're going to be a whole lot better," Burnett said. "A lot of people tried to use the excuse that we're young. I know we do a lot of film work together. I know we can get a whole lot better. We have the same guys from last year, but this being our second year, a lot of have a second year in coach Wommack's defense, so we feel more comfortable in the defense."
Burnett said the Jackets' embarrassing loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl will provide a little extra motivation this spring.
"I think the next thing is to try to top what we did last year so everyone won't just think that was a lucky year," Burnett said. "After losing to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl we've got to redeem ourselves. I still think there's a lot of stuff we've got to prove to everybody."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
First, let's get one thing clear: I have no opinion on the rape charges that were dropped against Georgia Tech defensive back Jerrard Tarrant. If you want the background, here it is. This isn't a courtroom, it's a college football blog, so I'm going to stick to how this affects Georgia Tech's football team.
Tarrant's return will have a positive effect.
Had he not been suspended, Tarrant very well could have been the starting cornerback in 2008 instead of Jahi Word-Daniels. Now that Tarrant is back, he is a strong candidate to replace Daniels. It's not a given, though. Tarrant will have to compete with Mario Butler and Rashaad Reid, who played well last year when Word-Daniels was hurt.
Tarrant is going to be rusty -- he hasn't even put his uniform on since last spring -- but he could definitely have an immediate impact on the Jackets' defense. He's probably not an all-conference player just yet, but by the time his final three years of eligiblity are up, he could be.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Not sure if you guys saw this, but Georgia Tech corner back Jahi Word-Daniels will miss the homecoming game against Virginia, according to the team's injury report released Monday. Also out is freshman receiver Tyler Melton, who has a knee injury.
Both players were injured against Clemson.
Word-Daniels will be replaced by true freshman Rashaad Reid, who has two interceptions this year. Word-Daniels will be missed, but because Reid and another true freshman, Cooper Taylor, are so good, they'll survive until he gets back.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
FSU coach Bobby Bowden might want to give the officials a helmet sticker for their performance in the second half of his win over NC State on Thursday night after he gave 'em a talkin' to at the break, but I'll go ahead and stick with the guys who made the plays.
Here's a look at the best of the ACC in Week 8:
Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder -- He threw the go-ahead 17-yard touchdown pass and completed 23 of 35 pass attempts for 254 yards and a touchdown. No interceptions. He had a career-high in almost every category, and was 6 of 8 for 71 yards on the game-winning, 70-yard touchdown drive, including a 23-yard pass on third-and-17.
Maryland -- The offense totaled 470 yards, the defense handed Wake Forest its first shutout in 123 games, and kicker Obi Egekeze made four field goals. I'd say that makes for a complete game. It was Maryland's fifth straight win over a top 25 team. Much of the credit goes to the combo of quarterback Chris Turner and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Georgia Tech's secondary -- Safety Dominique Reese had one forced fumble and returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, safety Morgan Burnett had two interceptions, and cornerback Rashaad Reid added another in the Yellow Jackets' 21-17 win over Clemson.
Virginia linebacker Jon Copper -- He had a career-high 16 tackles, including 10 solo in the Cavaliers' 16-13 overtime win. The Cavaliers held the Tar Heels, who were averaging 31.8 points without a touchdown after the first quarter.
Boston College defense -- The Eagles beat Virginia Tech despite turning the ball over five times and not scoring after halftime. Virginia Tech was held to a season-low 240 yards of total offense.
Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35 Final Rutgers 40 North Carolina 21 Final North Carolina State 34 UCF 27
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State