ACC: Scotty Cooper

Clemson's Scotty Cooper quits team to heal

August, 23, 2010
8/23/10
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Clemson senior linebacker Scotty Cooper has decided to give up football due to a neck injury, the school announced on Monday. Cooper started six games over the past three years and was a backup strongside linebacker behind Quandon Christian entering August practice.

“Scotty has had problems with a nerve in his neck and the only way to solve the problem is to not hit anyone,” coach Dabo Swinney said, according to the team's practice report. “Scotty is a violent player who hits people when he plays this sport, and the only way he can get better is to give up football.

“This is a big loss for us because we counted on him making plays for our defense at the linebacker position. But his health is much more important. He will stay with our program as a student coach the next two years. He aspires to go into the coaching profession, so this will be a good way for him to learn.”

Cooper has had neck problems in spring practice and fall camp since first suffering an injury at Maryland last year. Last year he played in 12 of the 14 games, but suffered a neck injury at Maryland that limited him the rest of the season. He was Clemson's top special teams player in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech.

Daniel Andrews is now the backup at that position as the Tigers enter the final two weeks of preparation for the season opener with North Texas on Sept. 4.

Andre Branch (virus), DeAndre Hopkins (shoulder) and Rod McDowell (concussion) returned to full strength for Monday’s practice.

2010 likely Kyle Parker's last season

August, 19, 2010
8/19/10
7:53
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Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker told the local media after today's practice that he is 99 percent sure this is likely his last football season at Clemson, according to sports information director Tim Bourret.

This shouldn't come as any surprise, considering Parker, a first-round MLB draft pick, would lose even more money than he has already turned down (reportedly about $800,000) from the Colorado Rockies to return to Clemson this fall. Parker returned to practice on Thursday after missing the previous two while working on his contract with the Rockies.

If he sticks with that plan, Clemson fans will no doubt get his best effort this fall, as he knows it will be his last chance to win an ACC title. He didn't come back to lose.

INJURY UPDATES

Running back Rod McDowell missed practice with a concussion he suffered in Tuesday’s practice. He is expected to return next week. Scotty Cooper missed practice with a neck strain and Andre Branch was out with a virus. Drew Traylor was out with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hopkins was limited in practice due to shoulder sprain.

ACC practice reports

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
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Here's a quick recap of the latest practices, with information and quotes provided by the sports information directors at each school who releases them:

CLEMSON

The Tigers had their first scrimmage on Tuesday and got in about 100 snaps in a little over two hours.

Offensive highlights: Kyle Parker completed 9 of 18 passes for 114 yards. He did not throw and interception and ran for a score on a 14-yard run. Tajh Boyd completed 7 of 18 passes for 71 yards. He had a 13-yard run for a score that culminated a 75-yard drive early in the scrimmage.

Rod McDowell was the top rusher with 76 yards on 12 carries. He had a 22-yard run and a 34-yard run on the same drive. Andre Ellington gained 45 yards in 11 carries, while Jamie Harper had seven carries for 35 yards. Ellington had the only rushing touchdown among the running backs with a 15-yard score.

Five different receivers had two catches apiece. Dwayne Allen had 2-49, including a 36-yard completion from Parker. Drew Traylor had 2-29, Terrance Ashe had 2-28 and Marquan Jones had 2-11. Jaron Brown had 2-14 and also had an 18-yard run.

Defensive highlights: Andre Branch intercepted a tipped pass and raced 25 yards for a score. Tig Willard was the top tackler with seven, while Brandon Maye, Coty Sensabaugh and Scotty Cooper all had five apiece. Jonathan Meeks had two tackles for loss. Freshman Tra Thomas had the only fumble recovery.

Special teams: Richard Jackson was 4-4 on field goals attempts, including a pair from 42 yards. Spencer Benton was 3-4 and Chandler Catanzaro made 2-3 with his only miss from 56 yards.

Dabo Swinney said: “It was a better scrimmage than I expected for the first scrimmage. We had a lot of new guys in action in Death Valley for the first time and we did a lot of mix and matching during the scrimmage. We need to perform better in the red-zone on both sides of the ball.

“Defensively, Andre Branch had the big play of the day with an interception return for a touchdown I thought he was a consistent player last year. But, he has become a physical player who is a team leader. Opposing teams will talk about 93 [Da’Quan Bowers], but they better pay attention to number 40 [Branch].

Injured: All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, who suffered an injury near his tailbone. He was able to walk off the field on his own. I'll try and get an update for you on this today. Freshman running backs D.J. Howard and Demont Buice both missed the scrimmage as they recover from a concussion suffered this past Saturday. Da’Quan Bowers missed the scrimmage as he is home with his family after the sudden death of his father last Sunday.

DUKE

The Blue Devils held their second practice on Tuesday night.

Defensive highlights: Johnny Williams, who moved from receiver this past spring, showed that he is grasping the cornerback position well as he intercepted a deep pass down the sideline during 7-on-7 drills and also made two nice plays to force incompletions during the 1-on-1 period against the receivers.

The defense has emphasized forcing turnovers early in the preseason and came up with three on Tuesday. Along with Williams' interception, junior safety Lee Butler returned an interception for a score off a tipped ball and redshirt junior Charlie Hatcher recovered a fumble. The defense had several other pass breakups on the day, including a couple by sophomore safety Walt Canty.

Offensive highlights: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyree Watkins made several big plays, and senior wide receiver Austin Kelly ran two good routes during team drills to provide redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree with some wide open looks. The offensive line did a good job in both pass and run blocking during the first session of team drills.

MARYLAND

The Terps opened camp on Tuesday in temperatures in the upper-90s, and spent much of the practice working on individual drills to help acclimate 21 newcomers and refresh veterans. Maryland has 24 preseason workouts scheduled.

Ralph Friedgen says: “The kids showed they worked hard over the summer. We’re a little further along in some areas than I thought. I think it got hot out there at the end and they got a little tired, but overall I thought it was a good first day.”

Jamarr Robinson, who proved to be a dangerous dual-threat quarterback while filling in for an injured Chris Turner last year, enters camp atop the depth chart. The Terps also have a pair of talented redshirt freshmen in Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown, who spent a year learning offensive coordinator James Franklin’s system and look ready to contribute.

“I saw more of a leadership role by Jamarr [today],” said Friedgen. “I thought his fundamentals were better. I thought his reads were better. The guy that kind of showed some improvement was C.J. Brown. I thought he did some things better than he did in the spring. I sat in a meeting with him and to me he was a lot sharper than he has been, so maybe he’s starting to mature a little bit.”

Notable: Avery Murray, who was the listed as the backup at Mike linebacker behind Alex Wujciak, has left the team for personal reasons. Sophomore Ryan Donohue moves up a spot on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman De’Onte Arnett, a reserve defensive tackle, will also miss preseason camp. He was diagnosed with a cyst on his ankle and will be out of action about six weeks. Taylor Watson is the only other member of the two-deep who will not be a part of the 105-man preseason roster. Watson had knee surgery in the spring and is not expected back until next month.

MIAMI

The Canes had a walk-through practice Tuesday morning on the Greentree Practice Fields. They spent just under an hour on the practice fields sharpening up for the first fall scrimmage Wednesday night. After working through positional drills, the team came together and spent the rest of the session in 11-on-11, two-minute drill work.

Defensive highlights: In the two-minute drill, the first-team defense forced a quick three-and-out, and only allowed one score the rest of the session. Among the highlights were a DeMarcus Van Dyke pass breakup, a Marcus Forston quarterback hurry and a Luther Robinson sack.

Offensive highlights: Tight end Chase Ford may have turned in his best showing of camp on Tuesday. Ford caught a first down pass over the middle on a third a long before later scoring the session’s only touchdown on a 40-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline.

Up next: Wednesday’s scrimmage is closed to the public. Following the scrimmage, the team will take its first day off from camp on Thursday before returning to the practice fields for its first two-a-day on Friday.



WAKE FOREST

The Deacs practiced in pads for the first time.

Jim Grobe says: “We didn’t have the greatest practice mentally but it was a good night effort wise. The guys are working real hard, flying around and bumping into each other. We have a lot in right now offensively and defensively and the young guys are a little flustered but at least when they're making mistakes, they’re making them in a hurry.”

On the competition: “We have nine seniors and quite a bit of juniors but some of our most talented guys at spots are freshmen and sophomores. So there is quite a bit of competition right now and there are number of spots were you can feel comfortable at the top of the depth chart one day and be at the bottom of the chart the next. It’s a good position for us because we don’t just have guys that are talented at the top and there’s no one pushing them. We have talent at every position and guys know they have to come out to practice each day and get after it.”

On the quarterbacks: “We have a great group of guys right now at quarterback. I think you get a little concerned if you don’t have any talent back there but we have three or four guys that have enough talent to win. What we’re looking for right now is a guy who makes very few mental mistakes and does not turn the football over. That’s going to be the key. The flashiest guys, the fastest guy, the guy with the best arm may not end up being our quarterback. It’s going to be the guy that doesn’t get us beat. The guy that takes care of the ball the best and makes the fewest mental mistakes is probably going to be the guy.”

Up next: The Deacons continue to practice this week as they prepare for their first intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at 2 p.m. at BB&T Field. The team will practice again Wednesday evening from 8-10 p.m. at the Doc Martin Practice Complex on campus.

ACC recruiting rewind

February, 2, 2010
2/02/10
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You would think that with how well the ACC has fared in recruiting the past four years, it would have eventually made a bigger push on the national landscape during the season. Miami has had three top-10 classes, and Florida State has had two. Overall, the trend in the ACC has been that Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have led the conference on the recruiting front. Three of those teams have appeared in ESPN.com's final Top 25 ranking in each of the past four years (UNC has been there three of the past four.) Only the Hokies, though, have had it translate into postseason success -- so far. There was a common thread, though, amongst the other programs -- a coaching change or, in Florida State's case, coaching questions.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Paul Abell/US PresswireAldarius Johnson was one of 12 ESPNU 150 players in Miami's No. 1-rated 2008 class.
It was impossible to predict, though, that players like former Miami quarterback Robert Marve would transfer, or that former FSU linebacker Marcus Ball would have off-field troubles and ask for his release.

Here's a reminder at how highly ranked several teams in the ACC have repeatedly finished since 2006, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. rankings. You can click on the year to go to the full ranking. I mentioned a few of the top players in each class who were facing high expectations at the time, or players who weren't facing many expectations and have since proven otherwise (see: Virginia Tech).

2006

No. 6 FSU (Myron Rolle)
No. 13 Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jamie Cumbie, Ricky Sapp)
No. 17 Miami (Kylan Robinson)
No. 23 Maryland (Pha'Terrell Washington, Drew Gloster)
No. 24 Virginia Tech (Rashad Carmichael, Nekos Brown, Kam Chancellor)
No. 25 UNC (Aleric Mullins, Johnny White)

2007

No. 9 Miami (Robert Marve, Allen Bailey)
No. 11 UNC (Quan Sturdivant, Marvin Austin)
No. 14 Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Barquell Rivers)
No. 18 Clemson (Willy Korn, Scotty Cooper, Marcus Gilchrist)
No. 25 Florida State (Brandon Paul, Markish Jones)

2008

No. 1 Miami (Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, Aldarius Johnson)
No. 2 Clemson (DaQuan Bowers, Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper)
No. 12 FSU (Zebrie Sanders, E.J. Manuel, Nigel Carr)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Ryan Williams)
No. 20 NC State (Mike Glennon, Brandon Barnes)

2009

No. 7 Miami (Ray Ray Armstrong, Mike James)
No. 8 FSU (Greg Reid, Jacobbi McDaniel)
No. 13 UNC (Bryn Renner, Donavan Tate, Jheranie Boyd)
No. 18 Virginia Tech (Jayron Hosley, David Wilson, Logan Thomas)
No. 19 Clemson (Tajh Boyd, Bryce McNeal)

ACC injury reports: Week 9

October, 30, 2009
10/30/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I think I actually have them all this week ...

BOSTON COLLEGE

Questionable

DE Alex Albright (ankle)

Doubtful

OT Rich Lapham (shoulder)

LB Mike McLaughlin (leg)

Out

WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee)

RB Rolandan Finch (illness)

CLEMSON

Out for Season

J.K. Jay, OT, back

Probable

Scotty Cooper, LB, Concussion

Doubtful

Michael Palmer, TE, Concussion

Out

Kantrell Brown, S, Concussion

DUKE

RB Re'quan Boyette (knee) -- Questionable

CB Lee Butler (leg) -- Doubtful

LB Abraham Kromah (leg) -- OUT

WR Tyree Watkins (leg) -- OUT

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

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

FLORIDA STATE

Out for the season

44 LB Maurice Harris (neck)

81 TE Caz Piurowski (knee)

Out

28 CB Dionte Allen (thumb)

76 OT Garrett Faircloth (hip)

70 OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)

51 LB Aaron Gresham (knee)

97 DT Demonte McAllister (knee)

74 OT John Prior (knee)

72 DT Budd Thacker (knee)

11 LB Vince Williams (back)

Questionable

27 CB Xavier Rhodes (thumb)

21 CB Patrick Robinson (ankle)

Probable

9 WR Richard Goodman (groin)

26 RV Korey Mangum (shoulder)

94 DT Justin Mincey (knee)

36 LB Dekoda Watson (groin)

GEORGIA TECH

Out

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

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

Cooper Taylor, So., S (undisclosed)

Questionable

Julian Burnett, Fr., LB (knee)

Out For Season

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

MIAMI

Probable

OL Joel Figueroa – Upper Extremity

K Matt Bosher - Illness

Out

DB Ray-Ray Armstrong – Lower Extremity

FB Patrick Hill – Lower Extremity

RB Javarris James – Lower Extremity

DL Eric Moncur – Lower Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Lower Extremity

LB Sean Spence – 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

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Ryan Cheek, LB - hip

Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB - knee

Everett Proctor, QB – shoulder

Jeff Rieskamp, DE – sports hernia

Rashard Smith, CB - knee

Javon Walker, S – knee

James Washington, HB - knee

OUT

T.J. Graham, WR/RET – leg

Ray Michel, LB - ankle

Jesse Riley, DB - knee

Dwayne Maddox will start at middle linebacker in place of Michel; Clem Johnson, Jamelle Eugene and Donald Bowens will return punts/kicks.

VIRGINIA

Out

Aaron Clark (knee)

Matt Conrath (ankle)

Probable

Oday Aboushi (knee)

Landon Bradey (knee)

Darren Childs (leg)

Nate Collins (leg)

Cam Johnson (knee)

Corey Mosley (shoulder)

Brandon Woods (shoulder)

WAKE FOREST

Out for Season

WR Terence Davis (knee)

Questionable

DE Kyle Wilber

ACC injury reports: Week 8

October, 23, 2009
10/23/09
9:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

If you don't see it, that means I didn't get it:

CLEMSON

Out

Kantrell Brown, DB, Concussion

Scotty Cooper, LB, Concussion

DUKE

RB Re'quan Boyette (knee) -- OUT

LB Abraham Kromah (leg) -- OUT

WR Tyree Watkins (leg) -- OUT

RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT FOR SEASON

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

GEORGIA TECH

Out

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

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

Doubtful

Julian Burnett, Fr., LB (knee)

Questionable

Anthony Egbuniwe, Jr., DE (illness)

Cooper Taylor, So., S (undisclosed)

Out For Season

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

MARYLAND

Out for season:

Tyler Bowen (foot)

Nolan Carroll (leg)

Out:

Kerry Boykins (upper body)

Gary Douglas (upper body)

Bennett Fulper (upper body)

Demetrius Hartsfield (hand)

Da’Rel Scott (wrist)

Lansford Watson (lower body)

Questionable:

Lamar Young (upper body)

MIAMI

Probable

RB Graig Cooper – Lower Extremity

OL Joel Figueroa – Lower Extremity

DL Josh Holmes – Lower Extremity

RB Javarris James – Lower Extremity

RB Mike James – Lower Extremity

WR Aldarius Johnson – Upper Extremity

DL Eric Moncur – Lower Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Upper Extremity

DB Randy Phillips – Upper Extremity

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

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

VIRGINIA

Out

Matt Conrath (ankle)

Doubtful

none

Questionable

Oday Aboushi (knee)

Joe Torchia (shoulder)

Probable

Javaris Brown (ankle)

Cam Johnson (knee)

Corey Mosley (shoulder)

Mike Parker (knee)

LaRoy Reynolds (knee)

Jameel Sewell (ankle)

Brandon Woods (shoulder)

ACC injury reports: Week 7

October, 16, 2009
10/16/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


BOSTON COLLEGE

OUT FOR SEASON

LB Mark Herzlich (illness)

FOR NC STATE GAME

WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) – OUT

TE Jordon McMichael (hip) – DOUBTFUL

LB Will Thompson (shoulder) – DOUBTFUL

FB James McCluskey (Achilles) – QUESTIONABLE

FS Okechukwu Okoroha (leg) – PROBABLE

DT Austin Giles (back) – PROBABLE

CB Roderick Rollins (Leg) – PROBABLE

DE Alex Albright (ankle) – PROBABLE

DT Damik Scafe (neck/shoulder) – PROBABLE

CLEMSON

I don't have an injury report, but I do have the following lineup changes:

After practice Thursday coach Dabo Swinney announced that Dalton Freeman would start at center. Scotty Cooper will miss the game while still recovering from a concussion suffered at Maryland. Daniel Andrews will move up to second-team strongside linebacker behind Kevin Alexander.

GEORGIA TECH

Out

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

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

Questionable

Anthony Egbuniwe, Jr., DE (illness)

Cooper Taylor, So., S (undisclosed)

Out For Season

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

MARYLAND

Out for season:

Tyler Bowen (foot)

Nolan Carroll (leg)

Out:

Travis Baltz (ankle)

Masengo Kabongo (leg)

Da’Rel Scott (wrist)

Questionable:

Bruce Campbell (leg)

Demetrius Hartsfield (hand)

MIAMI

Probable

RB Lee Chambers – Lower Extremity

RB Graig Cooper – Lower Extremity

Doubtful

OL Joel Figueroa – Lower Extremity

Out

FB Patrick Hill – Lower Extremity

DL Josh Holmes – Lower Extremity

WR Aldarius Johnson – Upper Extremity

DL Eric Moncur – Lower Extremity

DB JoJo Nicolas – Upper Extremity

DB Randy Phillips – Upper 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

DE Adewale Ojomo – Jaw

NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON

Mario Carter, TE - knee

Ryan Cheek, LB - hip

Denzelle Good, OL - shoulder

Nate Irving, LB - leg

Colby Jackson, FB - knee

Everett Proctor, QB - shoulder

Javon Walker, S - knee

OUT

Jeff Rieskamp, DE – hip

Jesse Riley, DB - knee

VIRGINIA

Out

Javaris Brown (ankle)

Doubtful

Mikell Simpson (neck)

Questionable

none

Probable

Landon Bradley (knee)

BJ Cabbell (ankle)

Patch Duda (flu)

Mike Parker (knee)

Zane Parr (ankle)

Brandon Woods (foot)

VIRGINIA TECH

Out for Season

Darren Evans (ACL)

Probable

Marcus Davis (ankle)

Mark Muncey (knee)

Sergio Render (pec strain)

Eddie Whitley (ankle)

Ryan Williams (illness)

Out

Brandon Dillard (ankle)

Ranking the ACC units: Linebackers

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
5:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This would be an entirely different list if the top two linebackers in the league -- Mark Herzlich and Nate Irving -- weren't sidelined right now. There are still a lot of standout linebackers in the conference, but this season just won't be the same without those two guys, not that Irving's return has been completely ruled out yet. Having spoken with NC State defensive coordinator Mike Archer Wednesday, though, it's simply a miracle that Irving is even alive. In looking at the rest of the conference, it's tough to find teams that are deep at this position. It's a question mark for a lot of teams, and there's a lot of inexperience.

Here's a shot at ranking the best linebacking corps in the ACC:

1. Miami -- Sean Spence was one of the hardest hitters in the conference as a true freshman and will only be better this year, but the key to this group will probably be the return of a healthy Colin McCarthy, who injured his shoulder in the first half of the season last year. Darryl Sharpton, Arthur Brown and Jordan Futch still have something to prove.

2. North Carolina -- Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter started every game last year, and there are high expectations for sophomore Zach Brown. Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles last year and ranked third in the ACC in total tackles per game. This is one of the deepest groups the Tar Heels have had recently, but they are lacking some experience.

3. Virginia Tech -- Cam Martin and Cody Grimm combined to play all but nine plays at the whip linebacker spot, but they've got to replace Purnell Sturdivant and Brett Warren. Barquell Rivers proved he's up to the task when he filled in in the Orange Bowl, and Jake Johnson will have an increased role, too. There's a lot of potential in this group.

4. Clemson -- The Tigers return two starters plus a third player with starting experience. Kavell Connor started all 13 games last year and was the team's top tackler with 125. Brandon Maye had an impressive season as a redshirt freshman, and finished with 87 tackles. Scotty Cooper was a part-time starter at strongside linebacker.

5. Georgia Tech -- Even with Kyle Jackson possibly out for the whole summer with an injured right foot, the Yellow Jackets till have plenty of depth with Sedric Griffin, Brad Jefferson, Anthony Barnes and Steven Sylvester. Barnes and Jefferson are both finally healthy after injury-plagued seasons and there should be good competition for starting jobs. This group can't afford anymore injuries though.

6. Florida State -- With the graduation of Derek Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell, the Noles lose their top two tacklers. Dekoda Watson will be back from elbow surgery this spring, but it's a young group counting on sophomores like Nigel Bradham and Nigel Carr. Junior Kendall Smith is the only other upperclassman on the two-deep roster.

7. Maryland -- Alex Wujciak could be a star at this position for the Terps, and he'll definitely need to be a leader there this fall. Maryland lost four linebackers who combined to play 144 games and 54 starts. Adrian Moten is one of the few experienced faces in the group, and he earned his first start last year in the Humanitarian Bowl.

8. Duke -- The Blue Devils have to replace the ACC's leading tackler in Michael Tauiliili, but they've still got Vincent Rey, who made 109 tackles last year. The problem is, Rey is the only experienced linebacker they've got. Competition remains among Damian Thornton, Abraham Kromah, and Adam Banks.

9. NC State -- It's not clear when Nate Irving will return, but for as long as he's out, the Wolfpack will be missing their best player on both sides of the ball. The Pack still have senior Ray Michel, who is a returning starter in the middle, and Dwayne Maddox started in place of Irving when he was out last year. But this is an entirely different group -- and defense -- without Irving.

10. Boston College -- The Eagles' linebacking corps took a huge hit when Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer, and they still don't know when Mike McLaughlin will be cleared to play from a torn Achilles. BC has a reputation for its defense, so odds are this group will be OK, but there are too many unknowns right now.

11. Wake Forest -- All three starters from last year are gone, and the Demon Deacons have big shoes to fill after the departure of Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry. It's going to have to be a group effort, but there's still some athleticism and depth to work with. Matt Woodlief and Hunter Haynes are the most experienced players retuning.

12. Virginia -- The Cavaliers graduated the veteran group of Jon Copper, Clint Sintim and Antonio Appleby, and because they were so good, their backups didn't see much playing time. This group is the feature in Al Groh's 3-4 defense, and it's going to have a whole new look. There were good reports about Steve Greer this spring, and Groh said Greer tried to mimic his game after Copper, which is reason for hope.

Clemson's defensive progress overshadowed by, well, Clemson

October, 30, 2008
10/30/08
5:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

So much attention has been paid to Clemson's coaching change, its shocking 3-4 record and its struggling offense that the Tigers' gritty defense has been overshadowed, to say the least.

Clemson enters Saturday's game at Boston College 16th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 16.1 points per game. In the ACC, that's second only to Georgia Tech. Clemson has allowed just three rushing touchdowns all season, and five total touchdowns in the past five games.

It's hardly been a flawless season, but considering the injuries and inexperience they've had to overcome, it's been far from a disaster.

Injuries to four defensive linemen and two linebackers could help explain why Clemson has struggled against the run this year. Four different starters -- defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson (knee), defensive end Ricky Sapp (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Maye (flu) and defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie (wrist) -- have each missed at least a game this season.

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said the group has matured since the Alabama game.

"We honestly had some guys that were pretty young up front when Rashaad Jackson got hurt and Ricky Sapp got hurt, we got very young up front," Koenning said. "And were already extremely young at linebacker. Alabama kind of got the better of us. ... We still have a lot of young guys, but I think they're getting better."

Brandon Thompson was supposed to redshirt this year, but when Cumbie and Jackson were injured, he moved to the forefront. He has 15 tackles in six games, including five tackles for loss, fourth best on the team.

"I think we've gotten better through the course of the year," linebacker Scotty Cooper said. "Just playing as a team, playing as one and playing for each other. Everybody is not going to make every tackle. A lot of guys understand that. We're just playing as a team and we believe in each other. That's the big improvement of the defense."

The Tigers have more interceptions (8) than touchdown passes allowed (7), and are holding opponents to just six yards per pass attempt. Still, Koenning said the group is capable of more.

"To be honest, we haven't been as good as we can," he said. "We'll have a miscue here, not playing the reverse against Maryland ... we've had one or two or three mistakes in a game and it's cost us, but we're giving up about 10 points a game, ones we've legitimately given up in conference games. We're just trying to drive on some positives."

As far as positives go at Clemson this season, the defense has been it.

A few more injury updates

September, 19, 2008
9/19/08
10:07
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

NC STATE

Probable: Jamelle Eugene, HB, ankle injury

Out: Alan-Michael Cash, DT, knee surgery; Curtis Crouch, OG, foot injury; Anthony Hill, TE, pectoralis strain; Geron James, WR, ankle injury; Clem Johnson, S, broken jaw; Jeff Rieskamp, DE, shoulder injury

Out for the season: Toney Baker, HB, knee surgery; Donald Bowens, WR, lower back stress fractures; Matt Kushner, TE, knee injury; Javon Walker, S, knee surgery

CLEMSON

Jamie Cumbie, DT, broken wrist, out
Rashaad Jackson, DT, knee, out
Chris Hairston, OT, Knee, out
Barry Humphries, OG, knee, out
Terrance Ashe, WR, sprained ankle, probable
Scotty Cooper, LB, flu, probable
Dawson Zimmerman, P, pulled hamstring, probable

VIRGINIA TECH

Blake DeChristopher, OL, leg -- probable
Barrett Mears, C, ankle -- out

Three questions for Clemson

August, 1, 2008
8/01/08
3:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I've been posing three questions for each team as they start practicing, and today it's go-time for Clemson, North Carolina and Wake Forest.

Let's take it in predicted order of finish, starting with Clemson:

1. Can the Tigers handle unprecedented expectations?

If you measure expectations by the preseason AP poll, they've never been this high for Clemson under Tommy Bowden. (The Tigers were ranked No. 17 in 2000.) Nor have the Tigers ever been picked to win the ACC during Bowden's tenure by the sports writers at the ACC football kickoff. The last time that happened was in 1991 -- when Clemson won its last ACC title.

Just what does the media know? The writers got it right in 21 of the past 32 seasons. (Well, 19 times they picked the winner and twice there was a tie. Eleven times they were just wrong.)

So yes, the expectations are the highest the Tigers have ever faced, but this is also the most veteran team Tommy Bowden has ever coached. Quarterback Cullen Harper appears to be a pretty laid-back, poised-in-the-pocket kind of guy. As long as he keeps that cool, odds are the rest of the team does, too.

2. Can talented playmakers compensate for youth and inexperience on the offensive line?

As Tommy Bowden pointed out this spring, it's not like Clemson is "recruiting zeros." Plus, there are three linemen returning with starting experience. With a lineup that includes James Davis, C.J. Spiller, Aaron Kelly and Jacoby Ford, there should be a little margin for error.

3. Does Clemson have any linebackers?

Yes, but they're the least experienced group on defense. According to the depth chart, Kavell Conner is starting at weakside, Scotty Cooper at strongside and Brandon Maye in the middle. They've got a combined four starts. If you're looking for an area of concern, this one trumps the o-line.

ACC position rankings: linebackers

July, 18, 2008
7/18/08
6:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Virginia: Senior captain Clint Sintim started all 37 games in his career and was third on the team with 77 tackles last season. His nine sacks last year were the most of any linebacker in the nation. Inside linebacker Jon Copper is UVA's active leader in tackles with 200, and Antonio Appleby is third on that list with 155.

2. Wake Forest: All three returning starters are back, including strongside linebacker Aaron Curry, a two-time defensive player of the week who had three interception returns for touchdowns and led the nation in interception return yards with 256. He also led the team with 13.5 tackles for a loss. Middle linebacker Stanley Arnoux also returns, along with weakside linebacker Chantz McClinic, who had 42 tackles.

 
 Ned Dishman/Getty Images
 Senior linebacker Brian Toal, who has 180 career tackles despite missing last season, is healthy again for Boston College.

3. Boston College: The Eagles lost two key starters, but senior Brian Toal's shoulder is healed and he has 180 career tackles despite missing last season with a medical redshirt. His primary competition at weakside linebacker will come from senior Robert Francois, who finished last season with 39 total tackles. Junior Mark Herzlich, who started all 14 games last year and finished second in total tackles with 97 should anchor this unit. Junior Mike McLaughlin started three games at middle linebacker last season when Jo-Lonn Dunbar was injured and is the heir apparent there.

4. Maryland: This could be one of the Terps' deeper positions, even with the loss of Erin Henderson to the NFL. Seniors Dave Philistin and Moise Fokou each started all 13 games last season, and Adrian Moten, who played all three positions as a freshman, tied for the team lead in sacks (5.5) and had 50 tackles even though he didn't start a game. Philistin ranked fourth in the ACC with 9.5 tackles per game.

5. Florida State: These guys have talent, it's just a matter of when it will all come together. Geno Hayes is gone, and so is Marcus Ball, who was expected to fill in for Hayes but was booted off the team. Still, the Seminoles' leading tackler is back. Underrated middle linebacker Derek Nicholson made 99 stops last year and was the only linebacker to start all 13 games. Strongside linebacker Dekoda Watson started every game but the bowl game because of the academic scandal and will miss the first three, leaving the job to sophomore Kendall Smith. The 'Noles are also excited about freshman Nigel Bradham.

6. Miami: The Hurricanes lost their leading tackler in Tavares Gooden, a third-round NFL draft pick by the Ravens, but are still better off than the way they ended last season -- with three healthy linebackers. Senior Glenn Cook is back after missing last season with a foot injury, and the freshmen -- Arthur Brown and Sean Spence -- didn't waste any time impressing the staff while Coin McCarthy was out this spring. Darryl Sharpton and Spencer Adkins are possible starters in the middle.

7. Virginia Tech: The Hokies will obviously miss Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi, but middle linebacker Brett Warren played well last year when Hall got hurt and earned the confidence of defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Purnell Sturdivant is No. 1 heading into the fall, but should be challenged by veteran Jonas Houseright and redshirt freshman Hunter Ovens. Redshirt junior Cam Martin started 13 of 14 games last season at weakside after being moved from free safety and finished fifth on the team with 78 tackles and was third in sacks with 4.5.

8. Duke: Senior Michael Tauiliili is the top active player in the league in terms of career tackles, and finished last season with 108. He also had four sacks and three interceptions. Vincent Rey led the Blue Devils with 111 tackles. The third slot will be between Marcus Jones and Adam Banks. There's not a lot of depth here, but there's talent.

9. Clemson: This is the least experienced unit on the Tigers' defense. Josh Miller is the only senior in the group and is competing for the starting middle linebacker job. Tommy Bowden was impressed with freshman Stanley Hunter this spring, but Brandon Maye had the top spring among the newcomers and is listed as first team in the middle entering the fall. Junior Kavell Connor is the top option at weakside linebacker and had a career high 15 tackles in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He had 46 stops for the year, tops among linebackers on the spring depth chart. Sophomore Scotty Cooper also started the Chick-fil-A Bowl at strongside linebacker. He had 33 stops for the season in 183 plays on defense.

10. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have to replace leading tackler Durell Mapp, but return sophomore Bruce Carter and sophomore Quan Sturdivant. Carter played in all 12 games and started seven. He made 18 of his 25 tackles in the final five games. Sturdivant's experience is similar, having played in all 12 games, but started just five. He finished the season with 47 tackles, but also added an interception and a blocked punt. Senior Mark Paschal played in all 12 games and started four at middle linebacker, and Chase Rice was still recovering this spring from a torn tendon in his left ankle. He was the starter in 2007, but got hurt in the season opener and missed the rest of the season.

11. NC State: There's not a lot of experience, as the top candidates have combined for five starts and only four guys have played in a collegiate game. Nate Irving is the lead candidate at weakside linebacker, having started four games. Ray Michel started one game in the middle, and strongside should be wide open. Robbie Leonard, a converted walk-on defensive back, is the starter heading into summer camp. He played in eight games as a strong safety and has seen most of his action on special teams the past two seasons. Thomas Barnes got valuable experience as a backup middle linebacker last season, playing the last 10 games and scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery in only his third career play from scrimmage.

12. Georgia Tech: Two of the three stars from last year -- Philip Wheeler and Gary Guyton -- are now on NFL rosters. Junior Shane Bowen started nine games last season, but sophomore Anthony Barnes has the most potential and started three. Two young rookies, sophomore Brad Jefferson and redshirt freshman Kyle Jackson, are good enough that Bowen may lose his starting job.

Clemson position battles: Only a handful up for grabs

July, 9, 2008
7/09/08
1:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I know, I know, it seems like Clemson is all over the place today, but it happens to be Atlantic Division day for our Blue Ribbon previews and Clemson is second in the position battles because it starts with C. I didn't make up the alphabet.

Clemson has 14 starters returning, so most of the positions are already locked up. Here's a look at the few that aren't heading into summer camp:

DEFENSIVE END: Kevin Alexander or DaQuan Bowers.  It's up to one of these guys to fill the void left by Phillip Merling, who was the first pick in the second round in the NFL draft. Alexander isn't as big as Merling, but he's quick and was a key contributor on special teams. And everyone knows Bowers, the No. 1-ranked high school player in the nation in 2007. He led the defense with seven tackles in the spring game.

LEFT GUARD: Jamarcus Grant or David Smith. Grant, a 305-pound junior, has played sparingly the past two seasons. He played 18 snaps against Central Michigan and graded 75 percent for his best game of 2007. Smith, a freshman from nearby Greenville, S.C., is the other option.

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER: Scotty Cooper and Jeremy Campbell. Cooper might have edge because he started in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and had 10 tackles in that game. He finished with 33 last season. Campbell was a backup last year who played in nine of the 13 games and averaged 13 snaps.

Check back tomorrow for Duke.

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