ACC: Travis Benjamin

One good reason: Miami

July, 10, 2012

This series looks at one good reason each school in the ACC will win this year, and, just to make sure we cover both sides of the story, one good reason why it won’t. For most schools, the focus is on winning the ACC title. For the programs that missed out on the postseason entirely last year, the focus is on getting back to a bowl game (at least it is here in the blogosphere). We’re going in alphabetical order.

The series continues today with one good reason why …

Miami will win the Coastal Division: Al Golden. Around this time a year ago, Golden was blindsided by an NCAA investigation that put Miami in the middle of a firestorm. He didn’t flinch. Golden worked with what he knew and the players he had and somehow managed to get the team bowl eligible in what was a tumultuous first season. Many thought he would leave, but Golden showed no signs of turning his back on the program. Now, with the NCAA investigation still looming, Golden is tasked with rebuilding a roster that lost 12 starters. In a season full of change, Golden remains entrenched in his plan for the program and has recruited well. There will be plenty of opportunities for his highly touted recruiting class to make an immediate impact. While some still question whether Golden is the right man for this job, his experiences at Temple have helped him prepare for the ongoing obstacles at Miami.

Why it won’t. Seven new starters on offense. Talk about a clean sweep. No team in the ACC lost more talent from 2011. Between graduation and early entries to the NFL, Miami has to find a new starting quarterback, receivers, leading rusher and replace three starting offensive linemen. The days of Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller have passed, now Stephen Morris will try to assert himself as the full-time starter and Mike James will try to win the job over some talented younger players. The Canes also need to find some big-play receivers to replace Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter, who combined for 11 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch might have to scale down the playbook to help some of the younger players transition into more prominent roles.

More in this series

Miami spring wrap

May, 8, 2012
2011 overall record: 6-6
2011 conference record: 3-5 (T-4th, Coastal)
Returning starters: Offense: 4; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
WR Allen Hurns, TE Clive Walford, RT Jon Feliciano, RG Brandon Linder, DE Anthony Chickillo, DT Darius Smith, LB James Gaines, LB Denzel Perryman, CB Brandon McGee, S Vaughn Telemaque

Key losses
WR Travis Benjamin, WR Tommy Streeter, LT Brandon Washington, LG Harland Gunn, C Tyler Horn, QB Jacory Harris, RB Lamar Miller, DE Marcus Robinson, DT Adewale Ojomo, LB Sean Spence, CB Mike Williams, S JoJo Nicolas

2011 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Lamar Miller (1,271 yards)
Passing: Jacory Harris (2,486 yards)
Receiving: Tommy Streeter (811 yards)
Tackles: Sean Spence (106)
Sacks: Anthony Chickillo*/Marcus Robinson (5)
Interceptions: JoJo Nicolas (2)

Spring answers

1. Ryan Williams can challenge Stephen Morris: Williams received most of the spring reps with Morris sidelined, and the Memphis transfer should enter preseason camp with a chance to overtake Morris for the No. 1 spot. That's all the Hurricanes can hope for with Morris recovering from back surgery.

2. The defense should be OK: Yes, some of that ugly 7-6 final from the spring game has to be blamed on putrid offense, but the defense deserves plenty of credit for forcing five turnovers. The unit also forced 10 sacks and picked off three passes in the team's March 30 scrimmage. The Canes return six starters from a defense that ranked 17th nationally in scoring in 2011.

3. Running backs stepping up: Al Golden has praised Mike James and Eduardo Clements this spring for both their performances on the field and their leadership off it. A strong showing from the duo will certainly ease the loss of Lamar Miller, but that could depend more on the progress of the offensive line than anything else.

Fall questions

1. What will Morris be like upon return? No one wants to lose his job to injury, and Morris surely noticed the performance of Williams this spring. Morris was able to take reps toward the end of spring without pads, which is certainly encouraging, but how he fares against defenses remains to be seen.

2. How soon can newcomers contribute? Golden landed the nation's No. 8 recruiting class for 2012, and many of the rookies can't get to campus soon enough. Miami lost 30 players this past season and has questions at receiver, in the secondary and along the offensive line. Spots could be there for the taking, so seeing which newcomers step up early will be interesting.

3. About that elephant in the room … Coaches and players will repeat that they only worry about what they can control, but the black cloud from the Nevin Shapiro scandal won't stop looming over the program until the NCAA delivers its ruling. The day that comes will be a welcome relief for the program, dark as that day may be. But if Golden could lure the No. 8 recruiting class despite the scandal, imagine what he could do once it subsides.

Miami leads ACC draft contingent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mocks aplenty on NFL draft eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami pro day notes

March, 12, 2012
A trio of Miami players broke the 4.5 barrier in the 40-yard dash at the school's pro day, but two of the fastest Hurricanes decided to sit out the 40 on Thursday.

Lamar Miller and Tommy Streeter, both content with their 4.40 performances at last month's NFL scouting combine, participated only in position drills, with both performing the "L" drill and Miller participating in the vertical jump.
"I think I did pretty good," Miller said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I had a very good day catching the ball out of the backfield, doing the position drills."

Miller, whose 40-time led all running backs at the combine, is projected as a late-first or early-second round draft pick. Streeter figures to be a mid-round pick.

Leading the way for Hurricanes runners at their pro day was LaRon Byrd (4.41), followed by Lee Chambers (4.43) and Ben Bruneau (4.48). Defensive end Olivier Vernon, one of five Miami players to declare for the draft early, ran a 4.64 40, up from his 4.80 in Indianapolis.

Chambers topped all in the vertical, at 40.5 inches, with Bruneau just behind him there, as well, with a 39.5-inch jump. Jacory Harris and Travis Benjamin opted to rely on most of their combine numbers.

Linebacker Sean Spence, who benched 225 pounds just 12 times at the combine, told reporters a bone bruise in his left shoulder was the reason for the low number, saying he can usually do 19 reps.

Eight Miami players had participated in last month's combine, and 26 worked out at the school's pro day

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 27, 2012
Biggest news of the day: The ACC schedule will be released at 2 p.m. Seriously. Promise.

NFL combine rewind

February, 27, 2012
The ACC has done it again.

We're always hearing those guys over there in that SEC blog talk about "SEC speed," but at the NFL combine, the ACC continued to represent.

Former Miami receiver Travis Benjamin and former Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill clocked the fastest 40 time this year, at 4.36. Overall, it was a good Sunday for several former Canes. Hill was among several players highlighted by ESPN's Scouts Inc. crew, as Todd McShay wrote that Hill had the most impressive workout. Of the wide receivers at the combine, Hill had the best broad jump (11-1) and tied for the fourth-best vertical (391D2). McShay wrote that Hill "owned the day."

Not bad for a player who faced a lot of doubts about his decision to leave early.

It was also a strong day for two former ACC running backs, as Virginia Tech's David Wilson and Miami's Lamar Miller both performed well. McShay wrote that Wilson had "the most complete" workout of the backs, and Miller's 4.40 was the fastest 40 time.

The only "missed opportunity," according to McShay, was for former Maryland running back Davin Meggett, who "didn't run crisp routes, struggled to adjust to passes thrown outside his frame, and wasn't as explosive as other backs after the catch."

ACC WRs and TEs could shine at combine

February, 22, 2012
ESPN's Scouts Inc. broke down the top NFL prospects at each offensive position heading into the NFL combine, and it looks like the ACC could have some stars at wide receiver and/or tight end.

When it comes to ball skills, former Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale ranked among the top five receivers at the combine. Scouts Inc. also ranked the receivers by their big-play abilities, and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill ranked No. 4, followed by Miami's Travis Benjamin, who was tied for fifth.

Former Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen was No. 3 in the "separation skills" category, while Miami's Chase Ford was No. 3 in big-play abilities, and NC State's George Bryan was No. 2 in competitiveness.

Two of the ACC's offensive linemen were also featured, as Florida State's Zebrie Sanders was the No. 3 tackle in run blocking, and Wake's Joe Looney was the No. 2 guard in awareness.

ACC and the NFL combine

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

Here are your ACC representatives:

We’ve already taken a look at what the recruiting needs were for the Atlantic Division. Let’s shift our attention to the Coastal Division. Here’s a look at where each school’s biggest holes will be in 2012 or are anticipated to be in the near future:


Offensive skill positions: After last year’s rare class that didn’t include either a quarterback or running back, both positions are needed in this group. Quarterback Thomas Sirk -- the MVP of the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic last December -- has already enrolled in school while Shaquille Powell -- a PARADE All-American running back from Las Vegas -- has committed to the program. In addition, with David Cutcliffe’s offense, wide receivers and tight ends also are a priority.

Kicker: Will Snyderwine, who earned first team All-America honors as a junior before struggling through a sub-par season in 2011, graduated, but Duke has a commitment from Ohio native Ross Martin, considered the No. 2 placekicking prospect in the country by

Safety: With the transition to a 4-2-5 alignment that utilizes three safeties, this becomes an annual point of emphasis. The Blue Devils lose All-American Matt Daniels to graduation.


Defensive line: This is the most glaring need in the current class. The Yellow Jackets have to replace senior starters Logan Walls (DT) and Jason Peters (DE), but return Izaan Cross (DE) and solid backups T.J. Barnes (DT), Emmanuel Dieke (DE) and Euclid Cummings (DE). The Jackets are expected to sign about 18 players in this year’s class, and five of them should be defensive linemen.

Wide receiver:This is another glaring need after the departures of Stephen Hill, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, and Tyler Melton. Darren Waller and Jeff Greene, who both played last season as true freshmen, have lots of potential, but the position still needs depth.


Defensive backs: There’s still a lot of depth with this group, and the return of Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque helps, but the Canes have to replace two starters in the secondary and have six commits in the current class to help do that.

Defensive line: The Canes have to replace Adewale Ojomo, Micanor Regis, Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon from last year’s two-deep. The defensive end position was a particular focus in this class.

Receiver: This position lost a lot with the departures of Tommy Streeter, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. Allen Hurns is now the veteran of the group, along with redshirt senior Kendal Thompkins. There are five receivers currently committed in this class.

Quarterback: Beyond Stephen Morris, Miami has a lot of questions at the position and not a lot of experience. True freshmen Gray Crow and Preston Dewey are already on the roster, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams.


Defensive line: This is one of the biggest areas of concern after the departures of Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell.

Receivers: Larry Fedora’s offense will make good use of this group, but he needs to replace standout Dwight Jones.

Linebackers: This group was thin to begin with in 2011, and now the Heels need to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. Kevin Reddick is now the main man.

Safety: UNC will have to replace two starters in Matt Merletti, Charles Brown and Jonathan Smith, so this position will have to be rebuilt for the future.


Defensive back: This should be the main priority in this class. The Cavaliers will lose four DBs, including two starting safeties in Rodney McCleod and Corey Mosley, and standout cornerback Chase Minnifield. They’ll also miss Dom Joseph, who came in for the nickel packages. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is suddenly the veteran of the group.

Offensive line: The Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard. Redshirt freshman center Cody Wallace could get a promotion, and sophomore right guard Luke Bowanko started in the bowl game. They’ve got some big bodies waiting in the wings, but they’ll have some questions to answer here this spring.

Kickers: This position needs to be rebuilt, as the Cavaliers lose Robert Randolph, who finished sixth all time in scoring at UVa, kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein, and four-year punter Jimmy Howell. The position is wide open heading into the spring.


Running back: This one is a no-brainer, as the Hokies have lost four players here in the past two years. David Wilson and his backup, Josh Oglesby, were the latest to depart, and Tony Gregory just had ACL surgery and is out for the spring. The staff likes Michael Holmes, who redshirted last year, and J.C. Coleman enrolled last week.

Receiver: The Hokies will miss Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, and next year’s class has three seniors in Dyrell Roberts, D.J. Coles, and Marcus Davis. The future of the position is young, and the staff is still going after several uncommitted players pretty hard.

Defensive line: This year’s class already includes at least five committed defensive linemen, and the Hokies will be particularly thin at noseguard. They had some players graduate early who didn’t play a lot, but at least provided depth.

Linebacker:The Hokies have four committed, and are still chasing another just to build the depth. The staff missed on some recruits at this position last year and would like to make up for it in this class.

'08 Miami class falls flat in recruiting re-rank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 12: Did you know?

November, 18, 2011
Thanks as always to the sports information directors at each school for this week's notes:

ACC: For the earliest time in its seven-year history, all of the public tickets available for sale to the Dr Pepper ACC championship game have been sold. That happened on Nov. 9. The only tickets remaining are the 10,000-seat team blocks for Clemson and the Coastal Division winner. Clemson has already received ticket requests which exceeds its 10,000-seat allotment, leaving the only block available at this point to be that of the Coastal Division champion, which will either be Virginia or Virginia Tech. In its six previous years, the championship game has drawn two crowds in excess of 72,000 fans and the 2011 game should at least match that if not set a record.

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles ran only 49 plays in Saturday’s 14-10 win over NC State; the total tied a school record for fewest offensive snaps in an ACC game and was the Eagles’ lowest in a victory over an FBS opponent since Oct. 27, 2001, when BC had 47 plays in defeating Notre Dame 21-17. Saturday’s game took only 2 hours, 29 minutes; that’s 44 minutes below the national average.

CLEMSON: Coach Dabo Swinney has a winning percentage of 85.7 against ACC competition at home in Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. In the shadow of Howard’s Rock in Death Valley, the Tigers have posted a 12-2 mark under Swinney against conference opponents, including a 7-0 record this year.

DUKE: Duke has 19 rushing touchdowns through 10 games this season -- matching last year’s total for the most since 1994. Sophomore running back Juwan Thompson has seven rushing scores -- the highest total by a Duke running back since 2005 when Justin Boyle scored nine times on the ground.

FLORIDA STATE: Florida State enters Saturday’s home finale against Virginia looking to extend its winning streak against ACC opponents to six games. Since the Seminoles joined the league for the 1992 season, there have been a total of 15 six-game winning streaks among ACC teams, 10 of which belong to FSU. Florida State last strung together six ACC wins in 2003, when it won its first six league games en route to a 7-1 finish. Only Georgia Tech (2009, 2000) and Virginia Tech (2010, 2004) have posted multiple six-game conference win streaks. The Hokies can notch their third six-game conference winning streak by beating North Carolina Thursday night.

GEORGIA TECH: Senior A-back Roddy Jones will make his 50th career start Saturday at Duke. Assuming Jones starts the final three games (including the bowl game), he will have more career starts than any player in Georgia Tech history. Senior safety Rashaad Reid will play in his 51st career game Saturday at Duke. Assuming Reid plays in Tech’s remaining three games, he will tie the Yellow Jacket record for career games played.

MARYLAND: According to the Washington Times, Maryland has given up 500 yards on 14 occasions since 1997, and three of them have come in the Terrapins' last five games. It's the first time since 1999 that Maryland has surrendered three 500-yard performances.

MIAMI: Receiver Travis Benjamin became the sixth player in school history to surpass the 2,000-yard receiving mark with his 18-yard reception in the first quarter against Florida State. The senior entered the FSU game needing only three yards to reach the milestone. He now has 2,024 career receiving yards.

NORTH CAROLINA: Dwight Jones had six catches for 105 yards in the loss to Virginia Tech, making him only the second receiver at UNC to post 1,000 receiving yards in a season, following Hakeem Nicks in 2008. With tailback Giovani Bernard already over 1,000 yards, it marks the first time in school history that UNC has had a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season.

NC STATE: The Wolfpack are 5-0 this season when forcing three or more turnovers and are 0-5 when causing two or fewer.

VIRGINIA: When senior defensive tackle Matt Conrath blocked a field goal attempt by Duke in the first quarter of the Cavaliers’ 31-21 victory last Saturday, it marked the third time this year he has done that. Conrath now has five blocked PAT or FG attempts in his career. The fact he is 6-foot-7 certainly helps.

VIRGINIA TECH: On senior night, receiver Jarrett Boykin caught a career-high 10 passes for 106 yards in the win over UNC. Boykin became the first Tech player to catch 10 or more passes in a game since 1990 when Nick Cullen had 13 against Southern Miss. He has caught at least one pass in 47 of 51 career games and at least two passes in 41 of 51. Danny Coale had four catches for 37 yards. He has caught at least one pass in 48 of 52 career games and at least two passes in 42 of 52. Boykin, who holds the school record for career receptions (173) and career receiving yardage (2,752), has caught 50 passes this season, while Coale has 48. The school record for receptions in a season is 55 by Ernest Wilford in 2005.

WAKE FOREST: Jim Grobe has led Wake Forest to a number of close encounters during his 11 seasons as head coach but Saturday’s 31-28 loss at Clemson on a “walk-off” field goal was the first time that the Demon Deacons had lost in that manner under Grobe. In 2009, the Deacons scored a touchdown with :02 remaining to defeat Stanford but the final play of the game was a Wake Forest kickoff. The same was true in 2008 when Wake Forest scored a touchdown with :03 remaining to beat Ole Miss. The last true “walk-off” decision for Wake Forest occurred in 2006 when Duke missed a field goal on the final play of the game to preserve the Deacons’ 14-13 win over the Blue Devils.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 10, 2011
Gaaaame day! Who ya got??

Week 10: Did you know?

November, 4, 2011
Thanks as always to the sports information directors throughout the league for this week’s notes:

ACC: The ACC leads all leagues in pass plays of 75 or more yards. When Virginia running back Perry Jones took a short pass from quarterback Michael Rocco 78 yards for a touchdown against Miami, it was the eighth scoring pass play of 75 yards or longer in the conference this year. The Pac-12 is second (6), followed by the Sun Belt (5), the SEC, Conference USA, the Mid-American and Big Ten all with four. The WAC has had three such plays and the Big East two. NC State and Georgia Tech each have had two scoring pass plays of 75 or more yards and they are joined by Virginia, Miami, North Carolina and Wake Forest all have one 75+ yard scoring play each. -- Mike Finn

BOSTON COLLEGE: Linebacker Luke Kuechly had 20 tackles in the loss to Florida State, the fourth 20-plus tackle performance of his career. He needed just one half to extend his streak of double-digit tackles to 31 consecutive games, the longest active streak in FBS college football. After Thursday’s game, Kuechly has 491 career tackles and ranks seventh on the ACC career tackles list. -- BC’s postgame notes

CLEMSON: When Clemson plays Wake Forest on Nov. 12, the Tigers can clinch the Atlantic Division for the second time in three years. Two years ago, the Tigers won the division with a victory over Virginia on senior day. Now the 2011 Clemson seniors can do the same thing. The Tigers also will be looking to finish the home schedule with a 7-0 record, which would be the first undefeated finish in Death Valley since 1990 (6-0). -- Tim Bourret

DUKE: Donovan Varner is aiming to become the first player in ACC history with three seasons of 60-plus receptions. He is one of 12 players in league history with two seasons of more than 60 catches. With 51 this season, Vernon has become just the third player in Duke history to have three seasons with 50 or more pass receptions, joining Clarkston Hines and Scottie Montgomery. -- Art Chase

FLORIDA STATE: With Lonnie Pryor's fourth-quarter rushing touchdown against BC on Thursday night, FSU has now scored 15 rushing touchdowns in the last five games. Quite a turnaround when you consider Florida State had just three in the first four games of the season. -- FSU postgame notes

GEORGIA TECH: Between 1967 and head coach Paul Johnson’s arrival in 2008, Tech went 2-29-1 at home against teams ranked in the top 10. Johnson is 2-0 at home against top-10 teams -- a win over No. 4 Virginia Tech in 2009 and a victory against No. 6 Clemson Oct. 29. -- Dean Buchan

MARYLAND: Defensive tackle Joe Vellano has had double-digit tackles in three of the past four games, including 10 in Saturday’s Boston College game. The nation’s leader in tackles among defensive linemen (7.75 per game), Vellano is averaging 10.6 stops over the past five games, including a career-best 20 vs. Georgia Tech (10/8), a mark which still ranks tied for seventh on the 2011 FBS single-game tackle chart and is the most for defensive lineman since 2006. -- Shawn Nestor

MIAMI: With 45 more receiving yards, senior wide receiver Travis Benjamin will become just the sixth player in program history to reach the 2,000-yard plateau. Benjamin is on the verge of joining former UM and NFL greats Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Michael Irvin, Lamar Thomas and Leonard Hankerson. -- Miami game notes

NORTH CAROLINA: In North Carolina’s six wins this season, the Tar Heels are outscoring their opponents 49-0 in the first quarter. In the three losses, opponents are outscoring Carolina 30-14. UNC outscored its opponents 42-3 in the first quarter through the first six games of the season but was outscored 27-7 in the next two games vs. Miami (17-0) and Clemson (10-7), both losses. The Tar Heels bounced back to lead Wake Forest, 14-0, in the first quarter last weekend. -- Kevin Best

NC STATE: NC State quarterback Mike Glennon and UNC quarterback Bryn Renner last played against each other in high school. Glennon attended Westfield High School in Centreville, Va., and Renner was two years behind him at West Springfield High. Those schools are just 18 miles apart according to Google Maps. In 2007, the two quarterbacks squared off in the Virginia high school playoffs, with Glennon’s Westfield squad coming out on top. The two also played against each other in Little League basketball and other youth sports. -- Annabelle Myers

VIRGINIA: Virginia is averaging 186.4 rushing yards per game. That number is the second-highest amount by the Cavaliers in the past 12 seasons. During that time, only the 2004 team (242.8) had a higher rushing average than the current 2011 squad. Virginia rushed for 1,672 yards in 2010 through 12 games. Through eight games, UVa has rushed for 1,491 yards, needing 182 yards to surpass its 2010 total. -- Jim Daves

VIRGINIA TECH: Coach Frank Beamer earned his 248th career victory last Saturday when the Hokies won at Duke -- their school and ACC record 11th-straight road victory. With one more win, Beamer will tie Lou Holtz (249) for eighth place all-time in FBS wins. That next opportunity will come on Nov. 10 when the Hokies travel to Atlanta for an ESPN-televised game at Georgia Tech. -- Bryan Johnston

WAKE FOREST: When Notre Dame visits BB&T Field on Saturday, the Irish are guaranteed of playing in front of their smallest audience in a number of years. If Wake Forest were to equal its stadium record attendance of 37,623 set against North Carolina in 2004, it would be the smallest crowd to watch a Notre Dame game since 1981 when Air Force drew 36,700 fans to Colorado Springs. BB&T Field, with a listed seating capacity of 31,500, is the smallest stadium to host a Notre Dame game since Dec. 1, 1945 when the Irish played the Great Lakes Naval Training Station (22,000). -- Steve Shutt

Miami can still be a contender

August, 30, 2011
Miami can finally move on.

The biggest question of the offseason in the ACC -- who will play for the Hurricanes and who will not when Miami lines up against Maryland on Labor Day -- has been answered.

The NCAA has mandated that defensive lineman Olivier Vernon will sit out six games, while Ray-Ray Armstrong and tight end Dyron Dye will miss four games apiece. Quarterback Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo all must sit out one game.

Cornerbacks Brandon McGee and JoJo Nicolas, defensive tackle Micanor Regis, safety Vaughn Telemaque and linebacker Marcus Robinson have been cleared by the NCAA to play.

There are your 13 players whose eligibility was in question.

Now, not only can Miami prepare for Maryland this week confident in its starting lineup, it can also move forward knowing the majority of its roster will be intact for the most critical games of the season. This could have been a lot worse for the Canes, but they’ve got a capable starting quarterback in Stephen Morris, and the majority of top players will miss no more than the season opener. Maryland is Miami’s lone conference opponent in the first four weeks, so the Canes will almost be at full strength when they need to be the most -- for the Oct. 8 game at Virginia Tech.

Miami is still very much in the Coastal Division race.

The Canes’ season could have been over before it started, but this is a very manageable punishment for a team loaded with talent. It's not over yet -- the Hurricanes could still face more sanctions as the NCAA continues to investigate. There's no reason to believe this will be fully resolved faster than any of the other NCAA investigations, but as far as the impact it will have on the field this season, Labor Day will be the worst of it.

The biggest hits will obviously come against the Terps, but mainly on the defensive side, as the offense will be missing only two starters. Defensively, Andrew Smith steps in for Vernon. It’s not NFL talent, but Smith is experienced and more than capable of handling the job. He played in 11 games last season and had three sacks. Marcus Robinson, a senior who played in 10 games last season, is another veteran who fills in at the other end spot. Nicolas moved from corner to safety to take over for Armstrong, but Nicolas has played safety the majority of his career anyway -- including 10 starts at the position last season.

The biggest drop off will be at linebacker, where Jordan Futch replaces Spence, but we’re only talking about one game.

No, this is not an ideal way for Al Golden to start his career at Miami, but so far, these suspensions don’t look like they’ll stand in the way of him making a case to finish his first season strong.