ACC: Ryan Hill

As advertised ...

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.

[+] EnlargeGreg Reid
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireFlorida State cornerback Greg Reid is also one of the ACC's top return men.
2. Virginia Tech: Jayron Hosley is one of the top boundary corners in the country, and the Hokies also have Kyle Fuller, who had six deflections last season, and Cris Hill (two deflections) at field corner.

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.
The quarterbacks in the ACC are not strong this year. They're not weak, either.

They're a complete unknown.

With more than half of the ACC introducing first-year starting quarterbacks, there's not enough on tape yet to determine how this group will fare. There is enough evidence, though, to pinpoint which position groups -- based on past performances and future potential -- enter this fall as the strongest and weakest in the ACC:

STRONGEST/OFFENSE

[+] EnlargeDwight Jones
AP Photo/Steve HelberDwight Jones had 62 receptions for 946 yards last season, both good for fourth in the ACC.
Wide receivers: The ACC overfloweth this year with veteran receivers. Virginia Tech, Florida State and Duke come to mind first, but don't forget about North Carolina. The Tar Heels didn't lose any receivers from last year, and Dwight Jones had 946 yards last year. Colin Larmond Jr. at Boston College, who is making his way back from a season-ending knee injury, Kris Burd at Virginia and Miami's fast and talented group will also highlight ACC passing games. With Leonard Hankerson gone at Miami, somebody is going to have to emerge as the go-to receiver, and Tommy Streeter gets my vote, but he must be more consistent.

WEAKEST/OFFENSE

Center: There are three above-average centers in the league this year: Cam Holland at North Carolina, Tyler Horn at Miami, and Dalton Freeman at Clemson. Beyond that, it's a thankless yet vital position that's in transition throughout the conference. Brian Moore is replacing a three-year starter at Duke, Florida State loses one of its best players in center Ryan McMahon, the same with Georgia Tech and Sean Bedford, Virginia Tech and Beau Warren, and Wake Forest and Russell Nenon. With the exception of Freeman (22), and Holland (20), no returning starter at center in the league has more than 13 career starts.

STRONGEST/DEFENSE

[+] EnlargeFlorida State's Brandon Jenkins
AP Photo/Steve CannonFlorida State's Brandon Jenkins had 13.5 sacks as a true sophomore.
Defensive ends: The ACC has had a reputation as a defensive conference, and this year shouldn't be any different. Conference fans should be excited about the talent up front. Brandon Jenkins at Florida State and Quinton Coples at North Carolina should be two of the best pass-rushers in the country, but they're not the only players with all-league potential. Andre Branch at Clemson, UNC's Donte Paige-Moss, Virginia's Cam Johnson, and Miami's Adewale Ojomo and Olivier Vernon are all going to cause opposing quarterbacks some pain.

WEAKEST/DEFENSE

Cornerbacks: Unless, of course, you're Florida State, where Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes should be one of the best duos in the country. Chase Minnifield at Virginia and Jayron Hosley should also be candidates for national honors, but that's about where the confidence in corners comes to a halt. North Carolina has to replace its entire secondary, and so does Georgia Tech. Clemson also lost two starting corners in Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell, and Miami lost two starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill.

ACC lunchtime links

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
2:46
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Miami spring wrap

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
8:30
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MIAMI

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 7, punter/kicker: 0

Top returners

WR Travis Benjamin, RG Brandon Washington, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, QB Stephen Morris, DE Olivier Vernon, DT Micanor Regis, DT Marcus Forston, LB Sean Spence, S Vaughn Telemaque, S JoJo Nicolas, RB Lamar Miller, RB Mike James

Key losses

WR Leonard Hankerson, LT Orlando Franklin, RB Damien Berry, P/PK Matt Bosher, DT Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy, CB Brandon Harris

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Berry (899 yards)

Passing: Harris* (1,793 yds)

Receiving: Hankerson (1,156 yds)

Tackles: McCarthy (119)

Sacks: Bailey (7)

Interceptions: Ryan Hill, Vaughn Telemaque* and Ray-Ray Armstrong* (3)

Spring answers

1. Stacked at running back. Lamar Miller finished the spring atop a depth chart deep with talent at running back, including Mike James and Storm Johnson. All three have different styles, as James is the power/slasher, Johnson gets the tough yards and is elusive in the open field, and Miller is the fastest and the home run threat.

2. The Golden era has been embraced. First-year coach Al Golden made his debut this spring with a new staff and new schemes, and all of the players have bought in. The Canes now eat breakfast together every day, and the seniors were the first to latch on to Golden, as they know time is running out to win. They seem willing to follow whoever wants to lead, and the players also started to take ownership this spring.

3. Jordan Futch has helped the linebacker depth. He was a role player for most of his career and was going to move to tight end, but, as it turns out, he can play inside or outside linebacker, and he played well enough this spring to convince Golden he deserves a spot somewhere on the field. Colin McCarthy was the only starter who had to be replaced, and there was some shuffling of positions, but Futch or Gaines emerged as the leaders to take over that spot.

Fall questions

1. And the quarterback is? Golden said the quarterback competition will likely go into mid-August, as neither Jacory Harris nor Stephen Morris separated himself. It’s one of the main storylines in the ACC, and could be the difference in Miami’s season. Both struggled in the spring game, as they threw two interceptions each, but first-year offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is evaluating them on more than just picks.

2. Who will take over the secondary? It’s so wide open that true freshman Thomas Finnie enrolled early and worked his way onto the two deep. It’s a young, inexperienced group with big shoes to fill after the departures of Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill. Lee Chambers, Nicolas, Telemaque and Armstrong will have to rise to the occasion or leave it to the rookies like Finnie. This spring, Golden said Nicolas and Armstrong were the leaders of the secondary.

3. Baffled without Bosher. Matt Bosher, an all-conference kicker and punter during his career, did it all, and the kicking game is a major question without him. Jake Wieclaw is next in line, but he only played against Florida A&M and has yet to attempt a collegiate kick. Incoming freshmen kickers Matt Loudis and Dalton Botts will challenge Wieclaw for the starting job.

Miami draft notes

May, 2, 2011
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Miami had the second highest total of draftees nationally with eight, second in the ACC only to North Carolina (9).
  • While eight was among the best totals in the 2011 NFL draft, UM has had eight or more players drafted on five occasions since 2000 and 14 times in the program’s history. The eight draftees ranks ninth in UM history.
  • Cornerback Brandon Harris will have a bevy of familiar faces in Houston where former Canes Andre Johnson, Eric Winston, Chris Myers, Rashad Butler, Damione Lewis and Darryl Sharpton are on the current roster.
  • UM has had 26 first-round picks since 2000. The next highest total is 17 by Ohio State. UM has 75 total draft picks since 2000, which is third during that time span and barely trails Ohio State (78).
  • Former Canes CB Ryan Hill, RB Graig Cooper and RB Damien Berry all appeared on mock drafts and seem likely to be signed if/when free agency is lifted from the NFL lockout.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 11, 2011
3/11/11
12:30
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It's Friiiiday!

Spring preview: Coastal Division

February, 15, 2011
2/15/11
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We've already looked at who and what to watch in the Atlantic Division this spring. Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program in the Coastal Division:

DUKE

Spring practice starts: Feb. 16

Spring game: March 26

What to watch:
  • Jim Knowles taking over as defensive coordinator. After coaching the safeties last season, Knowles was promoted in late January following the departure of Marion Hobby to coach Clemson’s defensive line. It’s not a complete overhaul on defense, but for the third time in as many seasons, a different person will be calling the plays. Knowles has also assumed the lead role with Duke’s practice scheduling and weekly preparation.
  • New faces at linebacker. Duke graduated its leading tackler from 2010, Abraham Kromah, and freshman All-American Kelby Brown is out while recovering from knee surgery. Those two slots will be wide open this spring and the competition will be among Austin Gamble, C.J. France, Tyree Glover and Kevin Rojas.
  • Offensive line shuffling. The Blue Devils return four starters up front, but they’ll be missing the glue of the line in Bryan Morgan, who graduated. Brian Moore, who has started the past two seasons at right guard, will make the transition to center. John Coleman and Laken Tomlinson are expected to compete for the right guard spot.
GEORGIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 28 (tentative)

Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • Starting quarterback competition. Tevin Washington enters the spring at No. 1 on the depth chart, and it's his job to lose, as he has the most experience after taking over for injured starter Joshua Nesbitt in 2010. Synjyn Days will give him legitimate competition this spring, though, and it will increase this summer with the addition of standout recruit Vad Lee to the roster. For now, though, it’s between Washington and Days, as David Sims is expected to move to B-back.
  • Offensive line reshuffling. Georgia Tech will have to replace three starters in all-conference center Sean Bedford, right tackle Austin Barrick and left tackle Nick Claytor, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft. Phil Smith, Barrick’s backup last year, is the only one with any experience at tackle. The staff will likely have to move a player or two from guard to tackle, and only it knows who those candidates might be right now.
  • Revamped secondary. Jerrard Tarrant's decision to leave school early and enter the NFL draft left the Jackets without any returning starters in the secondary. Junior cornerback Rod Sweeting, sophomore cornerback Louis Young, redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Ayers and sophomore safety Fred Holton are front-runners, but they all have a lot to prove this spring. Holton and Young played sparingly as true freshmen and combined for 21 tackles. Sweeting played in all 13 games and had one fumble recovery and eight passes defended, including one interception. Senior cornerback Michael Peterson may help, and safety Jemea Thomas played as a true freshman in 2009 but redshirted last year. There’s some talent, but the inexperience makes it a question mark.
MIAMI

Spring practice starts: March 5

Spring game: April 9 or 16

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. Defensively, first-year coordinator Mark D’Onofrio will work with two other assistants who were with him and first-year coach Al Golden at Temple, so there is familiarity there. Linebackers coach Michael Barrow has to learn D’Onofrio’s system, but the players tend to pick it up faster if the majority of the staff is already acclimated to it. Offensively, everyone will be working together for the first time. Jedd Fisch wants to run a pure pro-style offense based on matchups, and the good news is that several of the assistants, because of their respective backgrounds, are already schooled in at least a version of it.
  • Quarterback battle. Golden has said he would like to name a starter by the end of the spring, making these practices critical auditions for both Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris. Harris has both flourished and flopped as a starter for the Canes, and his injury last year gave Morris the opportunity he needed to win the people’s choice award. Has a new era of quarterback begun, or will Harris finally have the breakout season Miami fans have waited for in his final year as a Cane?
  • Corner competition. Following the departures of Ryan Hill, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Brandon Harris, Brandon McGee is the only corner remaining on the roster with any significant experience. He played in 11 games, started one, and had 15 tackles. Redshirt freshman Devont’a Davis, sophomore Kacey Rodgers, and redshirt sophomore Jamal Reid will also compete for playing time. There are also several incoming freshmen who could be immediate contributors.
NORTH CAROLINA

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • The rookie quarterbacks. There’s no guarantee that Bryn Renner will be the Tar Heels’ starter in 2011, but he enters the spring slightly ahead of the race, as he was No. 2 on the depth chart last season and was pushing T.J. Yates for the starting job at this time a year ago. The staff would also like to see what true freshman Marquise Williams, who enrolled in January, has to offer. Braden Hanson and A.J. Blue will also compete for playing time. Blue was injured two years ago and redshirted last season.
  • Running backs race. The Tar Heels graduated three key players from 2010: Johnny White, Anthony Elzy and Shaun Draughn. Ryan Houston is back for his fifth year after redshirting last year and is the most experienced of the returnees. Giovani Bernard was a true freshman last year and had been expected to get some playing time, but he tore his ACL on the third day of training camp. It’s not clear yet how much he’ll be able to participate this spring. Hunter Furr played sparingly last year and true freshman Travis Riley, who enrolled in January, are also in the mix.
  • Another strong defensive line. If Quinton Coples was an all-conference selection as a defensive tackle, he could be scary good at his natural position, defensive end. Coples played there as a freshman and sophomore, but switched to tackle out of necessity last season. The defensive line should once again be the strength of the team, but it will be reconfigured again, as Coples’ move will leave a defensive tackle spot up for grabs. Junior college transfer Sylvester Williams, who enrolled in January, could fill that role.
VIRGINIA

Spring practice starts: March 16

Spring game: April 2

What to watch:
  • The search for a new starting quarterback. With Marc Verica graduated, the lead contenders to replace him are the ones who saw the field last year -- Michael Rocco and Ross Metheny. Neither of them started, but Rocco played in six games and Metheny five. Nobody has thrown the ball more than Rocco’s 25 times. The staff will also look at Michael Strauss, who redshirted last year, Miles Gooch, and David Watford, who enrolled in January.
  • Competition at running back. With leading rusher Keith Payne graduated, the question becomes what can Kevin Parks do after redshirting last year? There’s a lot of depth at the running back position, but Parks, the No. 56 running back in his class by ESPN.com and national prep record-setter out of the state of North Carolina, came to Charlottesville facing high expectations. With Payne gone, this could open the door for him to meet them, but returning starter Perry Jones will also be competing for carries.
  • Development of the receivers. In January, Jared Green Tweeted that he had decided to transfer after finishing his degree in Charlottesville this spring, according to a school spokesman. His departure, coupled with the graduation of Dontrelle Inman, leaves the Cavaliers without two of their top wideouts from 2010. With Tim Smith coming off an injury, the development of other receivers will be critical -- especially with a new starting quarterback.
VIRGINIA TECH

Spring practice starts: March 30

Spring game: April 23

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Logan Thomas. The Tyrod Taylor era is over, and Thomas is the front-runner to succeed the winningest quarterback in school history. Ju-Ju Clayton is the only other quarterback on the roster who’s ever taken a snap, and he’ll push Thomas this spring. It’s Thomas’ job to lose, but the staff is looking for him to improve his accuracy. He played quarterback in only his final two high school seasons and was projected as a tight end. He’s still raw and learning the position, but physically, he’s a clone of Cam Newton. If he develops some poise in the pocket, look out.
  • Competition on the defensive line. The Hokies have to replace starters John Graves (defensive tackle) and Steven Friday (defensive end), who both graduated. They’ve got Antoine Hopkins and Chris Drager back, but it’s possible Drager could move back to tight end after starting 10 games at defensive end last year. Tackle Kwamaine Battle, who started the first two games before he tore his ACL and Hopkins took over, is another front-runner. Hopkins’ younger brother, Derrick, will also be in the mix, along with James Gayle and J.R. Collins. Redshirt freshman defensive end Zack McCray, the cousin of Logan Thomas, has also impressed the staff so far.
  • Tight end auditions. The graduation of Andre Smith leaves the Hokies with only one returning tight end who’s caught a pass in a game, Randall Dunn (one). Redshirt freshman Eric Martin was the second tight end when the Hokies used two-tight end sets, but he missed three games mid-season with an injury.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 10, 2011
2/10/11
12:00
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Somehow the news keeps on giving ...

Last chance for Canes in Coastal

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
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It’s this simple: Virginia Tech has margin for error on Saturday and Miami does not.

“They’re going to bring it,” said Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, “and we’re going to, too.”

[+] EnlargeHokies head coach Frank Beamer
Bob Donnan/US PresswireFrank Beamer's Hokies jumped out to a 21-0 lead against the Canes last season.
When the two teams meet in Sun Life Stadium, the Coastal Division title will be on the line. If Virginia Tech wins, the Hokies clinch the division. If Miami wins, the Canes would still need Virginia to beat rival Virginia Tech in the season finale in Blacksburg. The Hokies need to win one of their two remaining games in order to make their fourth appearance in the ACC championship game and play for their fourth ACC title.

Miami has yet to finish better than a tie for second place in the Coastal Division since joining the ACC in 2004, and has never finished better than a tie for third under coach Randy Shannon. This is Miami’s last chance to change that this year.

“We’ve got a lot more to fight for,” said Miami cornerback Ryan Hill said. “Everything is at stake. … We still have faith and we still have a future if we can just play hard and do what we have to do.”

And not do what they did last year in a 31-7 loss in Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech jumped out to a 21-0 lead (which would be a huge surprise this year, considering the Hokies have trailed in five games this year and won four of them), there were dropped passes, a blocked punt for a touchdown, and an interception that led to the game-winning touchdown.

“They were embarrassed,” Shannon said. “We didn’t play well. You have to understand it was embarrassing as a player and a football team. They’ve gone in and watched the film and want to correct the mistakes they made. It will be on their mind that they have to get better.”

But Shannon said he doesn’t want them thinking too much about what’s on the line.

“It’s important,” Shannon said. “We’re trying to end the season winning our last conference game. I tell the guys that’s the only thing we can control -- winning the game here this upcoming week. The guys understand the focus part of it. It’s a big game, but don’t make it too big to where you can’t perform on the football field.”

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris only completed 9 of 25 passes for 150 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in the loss last year. That won’t happen this year, as Harris is still sidelined with a concussion and freshman Stephen Morris will make his third straight start.

“I don't think their game plan changes a lot with who plays quarterback,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. “You know Harris is a real talent and has been good for them for a long time then the Morris kid comes in there and is very poised for a freshman, got good pocket presence. I mean he's done a heck of a job for them so I don't think their game plan changes a whole lot regardless of what quarterback plays.”

The Hokies enter the game on an eight-game winning streak after starting the season 0-2. They have a chance to become the ACC’s first undefeated team in conference play in a decade. Cornerback Jayron Hosley said the team can’t afford to get complacent in the last two weeks despite its cushion in the league standings.

“Treat it like a big game every game,” Hosley said. “Play in and play out. You have to step up and be the man every play. Make those plays when they come to you. Practice hard, that’s the big key. Practice like it’s a championship and we understand that. Week in and week out we practice hard and get riled up. That’s what we need, everybody on one page.”

Hosley said the first two games of the season only made the Hokies stronger.

“It made us realize it’s not a game,” he said. “You’ve got to take every game seriously, no team lightly. I think we’re doing that pretty well.”
Florida State running back Chris Thompson, a native of Greenville, Fla., grew up a Miami fan. Miami defensive back Ryan Hill, a Tallahassee native, was raised a Florida State fan.

Ever heard the saying familiarity breeds contempt?

“As much as we say we hate that school, to hate a school you have to have much respect for them,” Hill said. “That’s my take on it.”

[+] EnlargeRyan Hill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeCanes DB Ryan Hill, a Tallahassee native, says the Miami-FSU rivalry is based on animosity and respect.
Familiarity runs deep in the Florida State-Miami series, which began in 1951 and has been played every season since 1969. That’s 41 straight games entering Saturday’s game. A total of 31 former high school teammates will face each other on opposite sidelines, and there are also direct coaching ties. FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was the Hurricanes’ secondary coach from 2001-03, and special teams coordinator/running backs coach Eddie Gran was a graduate assistant at UM in 1990-91. FSU defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot was a graduate assistant at Miami in 2002, and assistant strength & conditioning coach Chris Harvey is a Miami graduate and was a long-snapper for the Canes.

And of course, Miami coach Randy Shannon was a starting linebacker on the Canes’ 1987 national championship team.

“With these types of games, each team might be 010 and you may get a high scoring game, it might be a last-second field goal game,” Shannon said. “You can throw everything out the window when you play Florida State. It’s two teams who are going to play hard and get after each other. It’s also a respect factor. It’s a rivalry, but we respect them and they respect us and we play that way. I can’t tell you what will happen, but it’s a game that you watch and there’s a reason the TV networks put it on primetime. They see two teams that are fairly even and it’s a state game with old time tradition.”

FSU quarterback Christian Ponder, whose father, David, was a defensive tackle for the Noles, doesn’t need any history lessons.

“Obviously you can’t forget the wide left and the wide right,” Ponder said. “It’s an intense rivalry. It’s got a lot of history. A lot of players come out of this rivalry and go to the NFL. It’s different than Florida. It’s a mutual respect for each other, almost a friendly rivalry. But it’s always been intense. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Even some of the younger players remember some of the old school games.

“I was a big Miami fan there for a while,” Thompson, a sophomore, said. “I just remember those big games, most of the ones that were up in Miami, and even a couple down here, like the one when Roscoe Parrish was here, I remember that one. And then when I came here my freshman here, it was kind of a surprise coach (Dexter) Carter actually let me play in that game. It was a real great feeling to be out there and be a part of what I’d been seeing my whole life.”

That sentiment is likely to be shared by many of the players who will be featured Saturday night. Hill said Florida State was always a “dream school” of his.

“You don’t go to [a] school because you’re a fan of that school, you go to that school because you fit in personality-wise and your playmaking ability,” he said. “That’s why I chose the University of Miami.”

He also chose it to beat Florida State.

“Obviously this is a big game for us,” Hill said. “This is why you come to the University of Miami, and it’s why you go to Florida State.”

Miami hoping to learn from last year

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
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When Miami faces Florida State on Saturday night, it will be the first time in 37 days the Hurricanes will play in their own Sun Life Stadium. The most difficult part of Miami’s schedule -- a three-game road swing at Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson -- is finally behind the Canes.

The biggest challenge, though, still lies ahead: continuing to win.

Randy Shannon
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesRandy Shannon isn't letting his players forget their letdown following a fast start last season.
The Hurricanes struggled to do that last year after a similar start against an equally grueling schedule. Miami was once again the talk of college football after a 2-0 start that included wins over ranked ACC opponents Florida State and Georgia Tech. And then they went to Blacksburg, and were soaked in some humility after losing 31-7 to the Hokies in a downpour.

And yes, Miami coach Randy Shannon has reminded his players once or twice about it.

“The thing I’ll reiterate to these guys is we were at this point last year and we went and played a team and we didn’t respond,” Shannon said. “Anytime you can have something you can hold over guys’ heads they can understand and know that this is a game you have to practice hard and do the things in practice and not take it for granted and just say I’m going to show up on game day because it’s Florida State, I’m going to play with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of emotion.”

Emotion will only carry the Canes so far against a much-improved Florida State team that has won three straight games and is leading the Atlantic Division. Since the loss at Oklahoma, the Seminoles have outscored BYU, Wake Forest and Virginia by a combined score of 99-24; an average of 25 points per game. The biggest improvements have been made on defense, where FSU is allowing just 226.7 yards per game. Opponents are converting just 26 percent of their third-down attempts (11 of 43), have surrendered 20 sacks and made only five trips into FSU’s red zone. Offensively, the Noles are converting 56 percent of their third-down attempts and have scored on 14 of 16 trips into the red zone.

If Miami can get past Florida State, it should be favored in its seven remaining games and will have home-field advantage in four of them.

Shannon said this year’s group has proved to be a better, more mature team as evidenced by its 2-1 record on the road the past three weeks with the lone loss coming at No. 2 Ohio State.

“But I’m going to make sure those guys understand, remind them of it (Sunday) when we meet and make sure they understand this is a game you have to take advantage of,” he said. “Don’t let something that happened to you last year slip up and get you this year. I think they understand, because anytime I remind them about it, they understand it.”

The message does seem to have sunk in.

“We were on a hot streak,” defensive back Ryan Hill, a native of Tallahassee, said of the 2009 start. “We’ve done a better job. Coach Shannon, it starts with him. He’s our leader. We’ve done a better job of humbling ourselves and taking it one game at a time. We were guilty of looking forward last year. That’s something you don’t do in college football. You have to protect your ranking, you have to protect your team, you have to protect your win-loss column each week.

“With a schedule like we have at Miami, we could lose a game anytime,” Hill said. “Surely we don’t expect to lose going into games, but we humble ourselves and play Miami football and that’s one thing we’ve done a good job of doing.”

The question is whether or not they can keep it up this time.
There is never a lack of drama in this game, only a lack of relevance.

Not this year.

[+] EnlargeJacory Harris
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireJacory Harris is coming off of a four-TD game against Clemson.
With two teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, No. 23 Florida State and No. 13 Miami are once again the teams to beat in their respective divisions.

And that should have been the goal the whole time.

National relevance is important, yes, but before any team can be a national title contender -- or a conference champion for that matter -- it has to win its division first. Florida State and Miami both had opportunities to measure themselves against top-10 competition in September, and both came up short in road games. While a gap remains between both programs and the nation's elite, Florida State and Miami are now in a position to distance themselves from the rest of the ACC.

They have to get past each other, though, first.

Florida State has won three straight games, Miami back-to-back road games. With Florida falling to No. 14 in the AP poll, this week marks the first time Miami is the highest-ranked team in the state of Florida in the AP poll since Dec. 4, 2005.

Both teams can attribute much of their success to defensive improvement. Miami ranks No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss, No. 2 in sacks and No. 2 in pass efficiency defense. Florida State is No. 1 in the country in sacks, No. 2 in tackles for loss, and No. 4 in rushing defense. Both teams have veteran quarterbacks in Christian Ponder and Jacory Harris. Both have a deep stable of running backs.

[+] EnlargeChristian Ponder
John David Mercer/US PresswireChristian Ponder has eight touchdown passes and just three INTS so far this season.
"It's almost like a mirror reflection of Miami," said Miami defensive back Ryan Hill, a native of Tallahassee. "They're fast, they're physical, they're big, and they're going to come to play Saturday night. You can bet your bottom dollar on that."

This game marks the midpoint of the regular season, and once Saturday's game is over, the toughest competition will be behind both teams. With the exception of Florida, the Seminoles likely won't face another ranked opponent unless NC State works its way back into the Top 25. The same can be said for Miami, unless Virginia Tech continues to win and sways AP voters to let the Hokies back in after a loss to James Madison.

That's not to say either team should be on cruise control come Monday -- c'mon, this is the ever-unpredictable ACC. But whoever wins this game should be considered the front-runner to win it all, and it's been a while since either program could say that. Florida State hasn't won an ACC title since 2005. Miami has yet to win the Coastal Division since joining the conference.

And that's the first step toward any title.

Miami spring injury report

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
9:00
AM ET
It's time to find out who Miami's backup quarterback will be.

Starter Jacory Harris will miss the spring as he recovers from thumb surgery, leaving A.J. Highsmith, early enrollee Stephen Morris and Spencer Whipple the majority of snaps. As a senior at Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Morris completed 144 of 225 attempts (64 percent) for 2,005 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Whipple transferred from UMass to be with his father, Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.

Miami will begin spring practice on Feb. 23. The following players will not take part in spring practice:

Out

P/PK Matt Bosher – upper extremity
LB Ramon Buchanan -- upper extremity
RB Graig Cooper – lower extremity
OL Joel Figueroa -- upper extremity
LB Jordan Futch -- lower extremity
DL Levi Paalua -- upper extremity
RB Lee Chambers -- lower extremity
QB Jacory Harris -- upper extremity

Limited

DL Marcus Forston – upper extremity
DB Ryan Hill -- upper extremity
DB JoJo Nicolas -- upper extremity

ACC injury reports: Week 13

November, 27, 2009
11/27/09
9:00
AM ET
If you don't see it here, I didn't get it ...

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT FOR SEASON

LB Mark Herzlich (illness)

FOR MARYLAND GAME

RB Rolandan Finch (illness) – DOUBTFUL

LS Jack Geiser (foot) – DOUBTFUL

OG Thomas Claiborne (leg) – QUESTIONABLE

DE Alex Albright (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

DT Kaleb Ramsey (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

CLEMSON

They're "all in." (Sorry, too easy.)

DUKE

QB Thaddeus Lewis (leg) -- Probable

RB Re'quan Boyette (leg) -- Questionable

DT Vince Oghobaase (leg) -- Questionable

WR Johnny Williams (knee) -- Questionable

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

OG Mitchell Lederman (foot) -- OUT FOR SEASON

QB Sean Renfree (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

WR Tyree Watkins (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

FLORIDA STATE

Out

76 OT Garrett Faircloth (hip)

70 OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

51 LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

44 LB Maurice Harris (neck)*

62 OG Rodney Hudson (knee)

97 DT Demonte McAllister (knee)

81 TE Caz Piurowski (knee)*

7 QB Christian Ponder (shoulder)*

74 OT John Prior (knee)

27 CB Xavier Rhodes (thumb)

11 LB Vince Williams (back)

Questionable

9 WR Richard Goodman (groin)

30 ROV Jajuan Harley (hamstring)

Probable

94 DT Justin Mincey (knee)

* - out for the season

GEORGIA TECH

Out

Austin Barrick, r-Jr., OT (heel)

Kevin Cone, r-Jr., WR (ankle)

Malcolm Munroe, r-Fr., LB (knee)

Probable

Sean Bedford, r-Jr., C (ankle)

Omoregie Uzzi, r-Fr., OL (back)

Anthony Barnes, r-Jr., LB

Out For Season

Robert Hall, r-Jr., DE (knee)

Kyle Jackson, r-So., LB (foot)

Cooper Taylor, So., S (undisclosed)

MIAMI

Probable

RB Lee Chambers – Lower Extremity

WR Thearon Collier – Lower Extremity

DB Sam Shields – Lower Extremity

Doubtful

OL Jason Fox – Illness

Out

FB Patrick Hill – Lower Extremity

Surgery and Out for the Season

DL Dyron Dye – Lower Extremity

DL Marcus Forston – Lower Extremity

LB Jordan Futch – Lower Extremity

TE Richard Gordon – Upper Extremity

LB Shayon Green – Lower Extremity

DE Gavin Hardin – Upper Extremity

DB Ryan Hill – Upper Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Upper Extremity

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

NC STATE

OUT

Audi Augustin, DE - elbow

Mike Glennon, QB - clavicle

DeAndre Morgan, CB - concussion

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Ryan Cheek, LB - hip

Denzelle Good, OL – shoulder

T.J. Graham, WR – stress fracture/leg

Steven Howard, WR - knee

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB – knee

R.J. Mattes, OG - knee

Everett Proctor, QB – shoulder

Jeff Rieskamp, DE – sports hernia

Rashard Smith, CB - knee

Javon Walker, S – knee

James Washington, HB - knee

NORTH CAROLINA

Out

Joshua Adams WR Shoulder

AJ Blue RB/QB Knee

Curtis Campbell DB Wrist

David Collins OL Foot

Shaun Draughn TB Shoulder

Carl Gaskins OT Knee

Matt Merletti S Knee

Trevor Stuart DS Knee

Ryan Taylor TE Knee

Jamal Womble RB Wrist

Questionable

Anthony Elzy RB Ankle

Devon Ramsay FB Ankle

Gene Robinson CB Back

VIRGINIA

Out

Isaac Cain (foot)

Raynard Horne (back)

Torrey Mack (ankle)

Doubtful

Darren Childs (ankle)

Questionable

Jared Green (shoulder)

Mikell Simpson (leg)

Probable

Daniel Childress (ankle)

Matt Conrath (ankle)

Connor McCartin (shoulder)

Jameel Sewell (shoulder)

Patrick Slebonick (leg)

VIRGINIA TECH

Probable:

Beau Warren (knee)

Ed Wang (knee)
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Virginia Cavaliers, Miami Hurricanes, Justin Mincey, Darren Evans, Thearon Collier, Christian Ponder, Vince Williams, Anthony Barnes, Garrett Faircloth, Jason Fox, Vince Oghobaase, Alex Albright, Rodney Hudson, Adewale Ojomo, Thomas Claiborne, Jack Geiser, A.J. Blue, Patrick Slebonick, Jamal Womble, Torrey Mack, Caz Piurowski, Kyle Jackson, Marcus Forston, Mike Glennon, Jordan Futch, Raynard Horne, Xavier Rhodes, Jeff Rieskamp, Javon Walker, Matt Conrath, Carl Gaskins, Jared Green, Sean Renfree, Malcolm Munroe, Lee Chambers, Robert Hall, Darren CHilds, Ryan Cheek, Richard Gordon, Mikell Simpson, JoJo Nicolas, Mario Carter, Austin Barrick, Johnny Williams, Antwane Greenlee, Devon Ramsay, Requan Boyette, DeAndre Morgan, Beau Warren, Anthony Elzy, Sam Shields, Ryan Taylor, Sean Bedford, Joshua Adams, Jameel Sewell, Nate Irving, T.J. Graham, Mark Herzlich, Maurice Harris, Ed Wang, Tyree Watkins, Thaddeus Lewis, Matt Merletti, Cooper Taylor, Aaron Gresham, Ryan Hill, Colby Jackson, Kaleb Ramsey, Shaun Draughn, Omoregie Uzzi, James Washington, Richard Goodman, Anthony Young-Wiseman, Demonte McAllister, Dyron Dye, Rashard Smith, Kyle Griswould, Gavin Hardin, Shayon Green, John Prior, Denzelle Good, Everett Proctor, R.J. Mattes, Isaac Cain, Trevor Stuart, Mitchell Lederman, Patrick Hill, Jajuan Harley, Kevin Cone, Rolandan Finch, David Collins, Curtis Campbell, Gene Robinson, Steven Howard, Daniel Childress, Connor McCartin, Audi Augustin

ACC injury reports: Week 12

November, 20, 2009
11/20/09
9:00
AM ET
Here are the guys who are down n' out for Week 12 ...

BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT FOR SEASON

LB Mark Herzlich (illness)

FOR NORTH CAROLINA GAME

RB Rolandan Finch (illness) - DOUBTFUL

DE Alex Albright (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

DT Kaleb Ramsey (ankle) – QUESTIONABLE

FB James McCluskey (leg) – QUESTIONABLE

OT Mike Goodman Jr. (illness) – PROBABLE

CB Isaac Johnson (illness) – PROBABLE

DE Jim Ramella (ankle) – PROBABLE

LB Dan Williams (back) – PROBABLE

FS Wes Davis (leg) – PROBABLE

RB Montel Harris (back) – PROBABLE

CLEMSON

Probable

DaQuan Bowers, DE, knee

Thomas Austin, OG, ankle

DUKE

WR Austin Kelly (upper body) -- Probable

LB Abraham Kromah (leg) -- Probable

QB Thaddeus Lewis (leg) -- Probable

LB Vincent Rey (leg) -- Probable

K Will Snyderwine (leg) -- Probable

RB Re'quan Boyette (leg) -- OUT

DT Vince Oghobaase (leg) -- OUT

WR Johnny Williams (knee) -- OUT

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

OG Mitchell Lederman (foot) -- OUT FOR SEASON

QB Sean Rengree (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

WR Tyree Watkins (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

S Anthony Young-Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON

FLORIDA STATE

Out

76 OT Garrett Faircloth (hip)

70 OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

51 LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

44 LB Maurice Harris (neck; out for the season)

62 OG Rodney Hudson (knee)

97 DT Demonte McAllister (knee)

94 DT Justin Mincey (knee)

81 TE Caz Piurowski (knee; out for the season)

7 QB Christian Ponder (shoulder; out for the season)

74 OT John Prior (knee)

27 CB Xavier Rhodes (thumb)

11 LB Vince Williams (back)

Questionable

9 WR Richard Goodman (groin)

MIAMI

Probable

DB Ray-Ray Armstrong – Lower Extremity

QB Jacory Harris – Upper Extremity

Questionable

LB Sean Spence – Lower Extremity

DB Vaughn Telemaque – Upper Extremity

Out

RB Lee Chambers – Lower Extremity

WR Thearon Collier – Lower Extremity

FB Patrick Hill – Lower Extremity

DB Sam Shields – Lower Extremity

Surgery and Out for the Season

DL Dyron Dye – Lower Extremity

DL Marcus Forston – Lower Extremity

LB Jordan Futch – Lower Extremity

TE Richard Gordon – Upper Extremity

LB Shayon Green – Lower Extremity

DE Gavin Hardin – Upper Extremity

DB Ryan Hill – Upper Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Upper Extremity

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

NORTH CAROLINA

Out

Joshua Adams WR Shoulder

AJ Blue RB/QB Knee

Curtis Campbell DB Wrist

David Collins OL Foot

Shaun Draughn TB Shoulder

Carl Gaskins OT Knee

Matt Merletti S Knee

Trevor Stuart DS Knee

Ryan Taylor TE Knee

Jamal Womble TB Wrist

Questionable

Devon Ramsay FB Ankle

Gene Robinson DB Back

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Ryan Cheek, LB - hip

Denzelle Good, OL – shoulder

T.J. Graham, WR – stress fracture/leg

Steven Howard, WR - knee

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB – knee

R.J. Mattes, OG - knee

Everett Proctor, QB – shoulder

Jeff Rieskamp, DE – sports hernia

Rashard Smith, CB - knee

Javon Walker, S – knee

James Washington, HB - knee

VIRGINIA

Questionable

Vic Hall (hip)

Probable

Kris Burd (shoulder)

Darren Childs (neck)

Matt Conrath (ankle)

Colter Phillips (leg)

Jameel Sewell (shoulder)

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for Season

Darren Evans (ACL)

Probable

Beau Warren (knee)
Tags:

Boston College Eagles, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Tech Hokies, North Carolina Tar Heels, Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, North Carolina State Wolfpack, Virginia Cavaliers, Miami Hurricanes, Justin Mincey, Darren Evans, Thearon Collier, Christian Ponder, Vince Williams, Garrett Faircloth, Vince Oghobaase, Alex Albright, Dan Williams, Will Snyderwine, Rodney Hudson, Adewale Ojomo, Jamal Womble, Caz Piurowski, DaQuan Bowers, Marcus Forston, Jordan Futch, Wes Davis, Xavier Rhodes, Jeff Rieskamp, Montel Harris, Javon Walker, Matt Conrath, Carl Gaskins, Sean Spence, Lee Chambers, Darren CHilds, Ryan Cheek, Richard Gordon, JoJo Nicolas, Mario Carter, Johnny Williams, Antwane Greenlee, Devon Ramsay, Jacory Harris, Requan Boyette, Beau Warren, Vincent Rey, Sam Shields, Ryan Taylor, Thomas Austin, Joshua Adams, Jameel Sewell, James McCluskey, Kris Burd, Nate Irving, T.J. Graham, Isaac Johnson, Mark Herzlich, Maurice Harris, Tyree Watkins, Thaddeus Lewis, Matt Merletti, Aaron Gresham, Ryan Hill, Vaughn Telemaque, Colby Jackson, Kaleb Ramsey, Vic Hall, Shaun Draughn, James Washington, Richard Goodman, Anthony Young-Wiseman, Jim Ramella, Demonte McAllister, Dyron Dye, Ray Ray Armstrong, Rashard Smith, Kyle Griswould, Gavin Hardin, Shayon Green, John Prior, Denzelle Good, Everett Proctor, R.J. Mattes, Trevor Stuart, Mitchell Lederman, Patrick Hill, Rolandan Finch, David Collins, Mike Goodman Jr., Austin Kelly Abraham Kromah, Sean Rengree, AJ Blue, Curtis Campbell, Gene Robinson, Steven Howard, Colter Phillips

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