ACC: Tariq Edwards

The NFL draft concluded with 42 ACC players selected last weekend, and a slew more ended up signing free-agent deals in the days afterward.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the ACC’s undrafted free agents landed.

QB Chase Rettig, Green Bay Packers
OLB Kasim Edebali, New Orleans Saints
LB Steele Divitto, New York Jets
OT Ian White, San Diego Chargers
OT Matt Patchan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DB Albert Louis-Jean, Chicago Bears

K Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
G Tyler Shatley, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB Spencer Shuey, Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Darius Robinson, Buffalo Bills

RB Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos
DE Kenny Anunike, Denver Broncos

LB Christian Jones, Chicago Bears
RB James Wilder Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
WR Kenny Shaw, Cleveland Browns
FB Chad Abram, Detroit Lions
DT Demonte McAllister, Seattle Seahawks
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Cleveland Browns

DT Euclid Cummings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Lou Young, Denver Broncos
DE Emmanuel Dieke, New York Giants

DT Roy Philon, Pittsburgh Steelers
S Hakeem Smith, Tennessee Titans
DT Brandon Dunn, Chicago Bears
WR Damian Copeland, Jacksonville Jaguars

WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
TE Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
DT Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
FB Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
S A.J. Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
OG Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
LB Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills

OT James Hurst, Baltimore Ravens
QB Bryn Renner, Denver Broncos

DE Carlos Gray, Green Bay Packers
TE Asa Watson, New England Patriots
DL Deylan Buntyn, New England Patriots

P Matt Yoklic, Atlanta Falcons

CB Keon Lyn, Indianapolis Colts
CB Ri’Shard Anderson, Tennessee Titans
RB Jerome Smith, Atlanta Falcons

DE Jake Snyder, Minnesota Vikings

DT Derrick Hopkins, Baltimore Ravens
LB Tariq Edwards, Miami Dolphins
WR D.J. Coles, Oakland Raiders
G Andrew Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE James Gayle, Tennessee Titans

DT Nikita Whitlock, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Justin Jackson, Detroit Lions
LB Zach Thompson, New York Jets

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 10, 2013
Two ACC Heisman finalists. How about that?
To the outside world, Virginia Tech appeared to be falling apart throughout its decidedly un-Virginia Tech-like 2012 season.

To the players on the team, the unaccustomed and unwanted losses produced stressful practices and even more stress in games -- when players routinely jumped out of position to do more than they needed just to try and make a play.

“It was like everybody was getting gray hairs,” linebacker Tariq Edwards says now.

Gray hair?

[+] EnlargeVirginia Tech Hokies
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsThe Virginia Tech defense, which is No. 2 in the nation in total defense, is a big reason why the Hokies have a shot at the ACC championship game.
“Just a few,” the 22-year-old Edwards says with a laugh.

He can afford to laugh now that Virginia Tech is back to its winning ways, ranked No. 14 in the BCS standings and a serious threat to get back to the ACC championship game once again. Nobody in this program wants to go back to the misery that was 2012, but the adversity has helped shape this team and, most especially, this stifling defense.

“Last year, we were supposed to be like this, and for some reason or another it didn’t happen,” linebacker Jack Tyler says. “We didn’t want that happen again. We’re all a year older and we knew what it was like to really underperform and not live up to expectations. Some of the leaders got together. Our defense is pretty old. We have seven or eight starting seniors and we all came together and said, ‘That’s not going to happen again. We’re not going to allow that to happen.’”

Both Edwards and Tyler point to much stronger leadership from a larger senior class in helping the Hokies reclaim their usual spot in the Top 25 rankings. But Tyler also says the final three games of last season helped Virginia Tech get on the roll it is on now.

The Hokies had to win their final two games of the regular season to just get back to a bowl game. They did that, then dominated Rutgers defensively in the Russell Athletic Bowl to finish with a winning record, a huge victory considering all the struggles. Virginia Tech ended up with six losses, its highest total since 1992 -- when most players on the team were either infants or not even born yet.

Still, Tyler saw the potential. So did his teammates. Since those final three games of 2012, Virginia Tech is 9-1, with its only loss to No. 1 Alabama in the season opener. Though the season began with questions about coach Frank Beamer and whether he could get the program turned around, nobody on the inside had much doubt the Hokies would be back.

“You definitely don’t want to come into a season thinking you’re going to do bad in any way,” Edwards said. “They say defense wins championships so if we held down our side of the ball, we knew we would be in every game.”

Indeed, the defense has been the story so far this season, ranking No. 2 in the nation in total defense and No. 5 in scoring defense. Under defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Virginia Tech has been nationally ranked in the top five of a major defensive category a whopping 35 times.

“There’s a certain way we do things here, the way Coach Beamer runs the program, we’re supposed to be good character guys on and off the field,” Tyler said. “We think here they directly correlate. Last year, there were some guys that were getting in trouble and stuff like that. It took away from the success because everybody didn’t know if they could trust them on the field.

“Some of those guys are some of our leaders this year and they really flipped the switch and started becoming more involved off the field. The trust factor and all that that you need when you want to become a good defense, it all twisted together and we’ve become a good unit because of that.”

Virginia Tech has won ugly but its biggest Coastal Division rival, Miami, is coming off a pretty ugly win of its own. All of a sudden it seems Virginia Tech has as good a shot as Miami of getting to the ACC title game. Their meeting in November in Miami should determine that.

For now, the Hokies can take pride in how far they have come. One year ago today, they were 4-4, wondering whether they would make a bowl. Today, they already are bowl eligible, with their sights set much higher.

Perhaps there are fewer gray hairs sprouting up, too.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 8, 2013
Never change, Manning family.

Bud Foster talks Hokies

October, 12, 2012
Before I even had the chance to ask him a question, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster began the conversation by saying it’s been at least 20 years since he’s been through a season like this one. “We’ll be all right,” he said, “we’ll survive.”

And there began the interview.

Virginia Tech hosts Duke on Saturday in a crucial game for the Coastal Division standings. Shockingly, Duke comes to Blacksburg with a 2-0 ACC record and ahead of the Hokies in the standings. Duke is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994. Virginia Tech, the preseason division favorites, is a pedestrian 3-3. What's even more surprising than the team's struggles, though, have been the Hokies' problems on defense. Last week, Virginia Tech allowed North Carolina to score 48 points -- more than another ACC team has ever scored against the Hokies. I spoke with Foster on Thursday to get his take on the defensive struggles.

Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What’s wrong? What’s going on?

Bud Foster: I think it’s a combination of things. We’ve give up too many explosive plays. A year ago we didn’t do that. You lost a guy who’s pretty dynamic in Jayron Hosley, we lost a really good player in Eddie Whitley. Kyle Fuller has been really banged up all year. We’re just having some growing pains back there a little bit right now, just giving up too many big plays. We gave up more explosive plays last week than we did all of last year.

How many?

BF: Oh I don’t know. I can’t tell you exactly. I lost track, that’s how many it was.

So what do you do?

[+] EnlargeBud Foster
Lee Coleman/Icon SMIVirginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has more depth at cornerback after freshman Brandon Facyson emerged this spring.
BF: We’re going to stay positive. Several of [these players] won 11 games and went to the Sugar Bowl last year. At the same time, there are some key spots with new faces in there. But it’s the same group that played really well against a good Georgia Tech offense. I don’t know. We’re not panicking. We’ve got to perform better. We’ve got some guys who have to play better, that’s the bottom line. We’re just working hard and staying positive. We’re not pointing fingers, we’re just trying to find ways to get better and keep going.

Considering most of the growing pains have been in the secondary, how concerning is it knowing Duke’s passing game is its strength?

BF: It is a concern. You’ve got a fifth-year senior quarterback, if he plays. The other kid, No. 7 [Anthony Boone] is a complete player who can run and pass. You’ve got the receiver who set all the records [Conner Vernon], he’s a good player. We’ve just got to go play. We’ve been inconsistent in our performance. Defensively, you can’t do that, especially with how people are spreading the field and putting athletes out in space, you have to be able to match up, and right now we’ve missed tackles, we’ve lost leverage, we’ve given up big plays on simple technique. That’s been the frustrating part from a coaching standpoint. … Everything that we’ve given up play-wise has been our fault, not the other team. Now there’s going to be some execution, don’t get me wrong, they’ve got scholarships, too, but the majority of the plays we have given up have been because of our lack of execution, whether it’s a missed tackle or poor technique.

When we talked before the season, you cautioned me and said, ‘Well, now, you guys are the ones who keep saying this is going to be a great defense.’ It was almost like you kind of knew.

BF: That’s exactly right. I’ve always told everybody, ‘Ask me at the end of the year.’ You’ve got a whole new secondary, basically. When it’s all said and done, Kyle Fuller has played very little corner for us the last two years. He’s been our nickel guy. He’s been a bit of a freelancer. You’ve got two new safeties in there. You’ve got a guy playing corner for the first time. In the limited time he’s played there I think he’s done a great job in [Antone] Exum. He had some penalties in the Cincinnati game, but I think that’s a good fit for us still. Some people who don’t know think it’s not, but I think it’s a great fit for us and for them. Obviously we’ve had some injuries, Tariq Edwards is out, so Bruce Taylor was playing a position he’s not accustomed to. Jack Tyler has played extremely well. Bruce has played solid. I don’t know if we’ve had as much production inside as I’d like to have. We’re going back to ground zero, so to speak. I told the defense we’re starting all over again. I know what we can do and what we’re capable of doing. We’ve got everything in front of us. We control our own destiny here and if we do a good job down the stretch it will be one of the better comebacks in our program’s recent history.

I know you said you expected some growing pains, but has this start for the team surprised even you?

BF: The team in a nutshell is, we’ve been good at times and not very good at times. We’ve just been inconsistent. That’s on both sides of the ball. Offensively when they played well we haven’t played well. When we played well, the offense hasn’t played well. We just haven’t put it all together. Offensively we lost our top three producing players at their positions in Danny Coale and David Wilson, four linemen, your tight end, and defensively we started out with a bang and for whatever reason, Kyle’s been nicked up, and that affects things, and then he got hurt in the Pittsburgh game, and that threw us all out of whack. We just have to get back to what got us to where we are, and that’s effort, hard work, and believing in each other. … I have high expectations every year. I’m disappointed. I haven’t looked at our stats. They’re probably horrendous. It’s not about that, it’s about getting guys better. The only stat I care about is that win-loss column, and right now we’re just OK. The bottom line is we’ve got to play better. Consistently better.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 26, 2012
Maybe nobody can beat Florida State ...

ACC injury reports: Week 3

September, 14, 2012
Here are the injury reports from the schools who emailed them this week:






  • Billy Schautz (lower extremity)

Out for Season

ACC injury reports: Week 2

September, 7, 2012
Here are the injury reports from the schools that emailed them (ACC schools don't have to give injury reports for nonconference games, and not all schools release them to the media anyway):








Q&A with Bud Foster

September, 3, 2012
Virginia Tech's defense will be tested early tonight against what should again be one of the top rushing offenses in the country. It will be a good coaching matchup between offensive guru Paul Johnson and defensive coordinator Bud Foster. I caught up with Foster on Friday to get his take on tonight's matchup against the Jackets. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What are the keys to the game?

[+] EnlargeBud Foster
AP Photo/Bob Leverone)Bud Foster's Virginia Tech defense will match up against Paul Johnson's strong offensive line.
Bud Foster: We’ve got to control the run game. I don’t know if anybody can stop their run game. We’ve got to control the run game and limit their explosive plays. That’s where they’ve hurt everybody. The last two years I think we’ve played them pretty well, except we’ve given up some explosive plays and it’s kept them in the game. That’s part of their offense, they make you have to play disciplined football, assignment football. A couple of those plays they popped on us last year, we had busted assignments and those are things that can be exposed if you don’t execute.

How long, technically, have you been preparing for this?

BF: I’d say about the middle of last week, to be honest with you. It’s kind of hard because we’re preparing for Georgia Tech, but we’re also preparing to scrimmage and we’ve got to prepare our young guys for a whole season at the same time, as far we’re still installing things, but also trying to get some concepts as far as Georgia Tech’s offense goes. Everybody talks about -- and I think Paul Johnson has said he doesn’t believe the extra time helps you -- I don’t know. We do what we do as far as our technique and fundamentals. The biggest time frame that helps you is getting your scout team to simulate that, and you can’t get it enough. They don’t do it fast enough. But that’s the one area it helped us the past couple of years by having a little time to prepare the scout team to play fast. If you’re just going through the motions, you’ll be down 14-0 and they’ll hold the ball the whole first half. That’s what we have to guard against.

What are your overall thoughts on your defense? So many people are talking about how it could be outstanding this year.

BF: The first game is a new season, a new year. You know me: Ask me that at the end of the year. We’ve got a lot of people back, we’ve got experience, we’ve got some young kids who are hungry and can help us, especially up front. That should be one of our strengths. We have Tariq Edwards out, that’s a big blow for us, but we’ve got Jack Tyler and Bruce Taylor playing in our mike and our backer spot. But we’re thin there. We’re thin in the secondary. We’ve got two really good corners in Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, that was a good move for us with Exum. I like our two young safeties, but after that, there’s just no experience back there. … I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s a new season it’s a new team. If we’re feeling good about ourselves, Georgia Tech’s gonna bury us.

What are your thoughts on opening with such an important game?

BF: It helps in your preparation in the offseason, as far as the kinds knowing they’ve got to work hard, they’ve got a big-time game coming up. But it also is a key game in the league race. It’s been us or them for whatever reason since we’ve been in the ACC. It’s always been big head-to-head, but win or lose, this is the first ballgame. We’ve still got 11 more, and seven more conference games. We’re not going to live and die with this game, but at the same time it’s a critical game coming out of the gate as far as the league race, maybe giving somebody a leg up in the standings.
Virginia Tech’s season opener against Georgia Tech is just a week away, and the Hokies are still unsettled at a few positions. Coach Frank Beamer held his first weekly teleconference of the season on Monday, and addressed some of the few position battles still remaining:

RIGHT GUARD: Michael Via, a redshirt senior, has lined up at every position on the offensive line during his career, but he will compete with Brent Benedict, a redshirt sophomore, for the starting job at right guard this week. “He’s the guy we’ve got a lot of confidence in,” Beamer said. “He’s smart, he can play all of them. ... We’ll practice both of them and see who starts and who’s the backup.”

PUNTER: The Hokies are counting on two freshmen walk-ons at punter, and the competition between A.J. Hughes and Hunter Windmuller continues.

“We’ve got their stats over the preseason, and their times are about equal -- their operation time, their hang time, their distance,” Beamer said. “Hughes is listed No. 1, Windmuller No. 2, and that’s how I think of it right now, but I tell you, we’re going to continue this week. Both of them certainly have had their moments. They’re two good punters, I can tell you that.”

KICKOFFS: The Hokies are still trying to replace kickoff man Justin Myer, and Michael Branthover, Cody Journell and Ethan Keyserling continue to push each other, along with freshman Brooks Abbott.

“They’ve all done very well, along with Abbott,” Beamer said, “but we’re going to next couple of days figure out who’s going to be our kickoff guy.”

NOTE: Beamer also said that linebacker Tariq Edwards (knee) will not play in the opener. Bruce Taylor will start in his place.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 7, 2012
It's a good news day ...

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 13, 2012
In other news outside of Penn State, kind of ...

Better D in 2012: FSU or Virginia Tech?

June, 4, 2012
College football guru Phil Steele picked the Noles to win it all in his preseason Top 40, and he's basing the majority of that prediction on Florida State's defense, which he holds in high regard.

Steele ranked Florida State's defensive line No. 1 in the country in his preseason magazine, and he's got the linebackers at No. 3, and the defensive backs at No. 7.

One of the most exciting competitions to watch in the ACC this fall will be between Florida State and Virginia Tech's defenses. Both should be among the best in the country. We will find out which one is better when the two teams meet on Nov. 8 in Blacksburg. I have agreed with Steele, that FSU will have the best overall defense in the conference, but it's going to be close.

The Hokies' defense had a good spring, despite injuries that kept all three starting linebackers off the field. Starting mike linebacker Bruce Taylor was out along with starting backer Tariq Edwards. Starting whip linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow saw only very limited time while still nursing his foot injury. That meant more reps for Jack Tyler (mike), Chase Williams (backer), Alonzo Tweedy (whip) and newcomer Ronnie Vandyke (whip).

Also during the spring, Virginia Tech's defensive coaches switched the secondary around with cornerbacks Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett moving to the safety spots and safety Antone Exum moving to corner. Exum excelled and will now team with Kyle Fuller as the corners. Bonner was a natural at free safety and impressed the coaches this spring. Jarrett is still progressing but will take over at rover.

Steele ranked Virginia Tech's defensive line No. 8 in the country, the linebackers No. 16, and the defensive backs No. 18.

Florida State and Virginia Tech are likely to be the frontrunners to win their respective divisions this year and we could see a repeat of the 2010 ACC title game. If defense wins championships, which one will come out on top? Cast your vote now for who will have the best defense in the ACC.

Virginia Tech spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
2011 overall record: 11-3
2011 conference record: 7-1 (1st, Coastal)
Returning starters: Offense: 3; defense: 9; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
QB Logan Thomas, WR Marcus Davis, C Andrew Miller, DE James Gayle, DE J.R. Collins, DT Derrick Hopkins, DT Antoine Hopkins, ILB Bruce Taylor, ILB Tariq Edwards, OLB Jeron Gouveia-Winslow, CB Kyle Fuller, S Antone Exum

Key losses
WR Danny Coale, WR Jarrett Boykin, TE Chris Drager, LT Andrew Lanier, RT Blake DeChristopher, RG Jaymes Brooks, LG Greg Nosal, RB David Wilson, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Eddie Whitley

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: David Wilson (1,709 yards)
Passing: Logan Thomas* (3,013 yards)
Receiving: Danny Coale (904 yards)
Tackles: Antone Exum* (89)
Sacks: James Gayle* (7)
Interceptions: Jayron Hosley (3)

Spring answers

1. Logan Thomas: The ACC is loaded with talented quarterbacks in 2012, and Thomas is among the top returners. He accounted for 30 total touchdowns last season and threw for more than 3,000 yards. He is the unquestioned leader and centerpiece of the Hokies' offense, and a strong season could result in a handshake from Roger Goodell at Radio City next April.

2. Defensive line: This unit has the potential to be the best in the conference, as it will play eight or nine men on a regular basis and be the foundation for a defense among the best in the ACC. This group led the conference in sacks a year ago and has looked every bit as capable this spring of doing that again in 2012.

3. Security: The Hokies were faced with a similar position last season, only the exact opposite: Loads of offensive talent came back and the defense had some uncertainties. Virginia Tech still reached the ACC title game and a BCS bowl, extending its nation-best streak of 10 or more wins to an eighth straight season. Entering his 26th season and first as the longest-tenured FBS coach, Frank Beamer has an established track record and knows how to get the most out of his pieces. The hard part right now is finding them on offense.

Fall questions

1. Who will replace David Wilson? Wilson is off with the Giants, a first-round draft pick following a campaign in which he ran for more yards than any running back in Virginia Tech history. Michael Holmes figures to be the No. 1 back entering preseason camp, with J.C. Coleman pushing him for time. The Hokies welcome three new backs this fall, along with Tony Gregory, who missed spring while recovering from knee surgery.

2. Who will protect the newcomer? Holmes or any of his fellow backfield mates won't have the chance to accomplish anything replicating Wilson's production if they don't get the chance. The Hokies return just one starting offensive lineman from last season and will have to adjust quickly if the offense wants to resemble last year's.

3. Secondary help. Second-team all-ACC corner Kyle Fuller is back, along with leading tackle Antone Exum. Sophomore Detrick Bonner has moved from cornerback to free safety, sophomore Kyshoen Jarrett is now at safety and Exum is now at corner. Secondary coach Torrian Gray likes to build versatility, but he will have his hands full trying to replace Eddie Whitley (graduation) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (draft).

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 21, 2012
Here's what's happening around ACC country today ...