ACC: Ty Jones

FSU RB Thomas ineligible for bowl game

December, 21, 2011
Florida State senior running back Jermaine Thomas has been declared academically ineligible for the Champs Sports Bowl and will not play in his final college game.

As if Florida State's offense needed to take any more hits. The Noles finished the regular season on an unimpressive note and enter the bowl game with the nation's No. 99 rushing offense. And that was with Thomas, the team's second-leading rusher, in the lineup. The good news is that there is lots of young talent waiting in the wings.

Freshman Devonta Freeman has 531 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and freshman James Wilder Jr. (150 rushing yards) are rising stars. The Noles also have senior Ty Jones (71 rushing yards), who should see increased playing time.

FSU has been winning with its defense and special teams, and until proven otherwise, that's going to be the expectation against Notre Dame -- with or without Thomas.

Summer summary: Florida State

August, 23, 2011
The series recapping summer camp for each team in the ACC as we gear up for game week continues today with Florida State:

  • The Seminoles’ injury issues on the offensive line carried over from spring ball into August. The good news is that a lot of younger players got some reps, but there were too many bumps and bruises to starters along the way to know just how good this group can be. Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders both missed time with injuries, and David Spurlock just got cleared for full contact this week. The depth has developed but the cohesiveness has not.
  • Clint Trickett has been named the No. 2 quarterback behind starter EJ Manuel.
  • In addition to the offensive linemen, the running backs have also had their share of injuries. Chris Thompson played sparingly and was withheld from contact with a back injury, and Jermaine Thomas missed some time with migraines. Coach Jimbo Fisher was overly pleased with Ty Jones, and has said it was his best preseason camp. Because of the injuries to veterans, rookies Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. have gotten some reps and learned the system. Freeman, who participated in spring drills, looks like he can contribute this fall.
  • Fisher was pleased with the play of Manuel, but he pushed him harder than usual this month so that Manuel is prepared for any situation. The receivers played well, but Bert Reed was highlighted for his maturity and play.
  • The defense has been dominant, particularly up front where the line has created a lot of pressure. The secondary, in particular Lamarcus Joyner, has played well. The young linebackers have been impressive, and Christian Jones will start. The staff has raved about Telvin Smith and is pleased with the progress of Jeff Luc and Vince Williams.
Last week we looked at how the quarterbacks stacked up in the ACC. This week, we’ll take a closer look at the running backs. Again, the position rankings by team put heavy weight on the depth of the position -– hence the team ranking, not individual. Just because Virginia Tech has one of the best running backs in the ACC doesn’t mean that collectively, as a group, Virginia Tech is the best team in the league at the position. Florida State? Loaded. Wake Forest? Not. These are based on the best combination of talent, experience and depth.

Here’s a look at how each team ranks in the position:

[+] EnlargeChris Thompson
Lee Coleman/Icon SMIChris Thompson averaged 6.4 yards per carry for the Seminoles last season.
1. Florida State: Chris Thompson, Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas combined for 1,862 yards, 6.1 yards per carry, and 17 touchdowns last year. Thompson had 1,000 yards combined from both rushing and receiving last year, and Thomas enters his senior season with 1,084 career yards -- the second most of any active ACC runner, behind only Montel Harris (3,600).

2. Boston College: Montel Harris could break a 33-year-old ACC rushing record this fall, and his backup, Andre Williams, is a bigger back who has proven more than capable of shouldering the load himself. Together they’re one of the best one-two combos in the league.

3. Miami: The transfer of Storm Johnson hurt, but Lamar Miller should be one of the best in the ACC, and Mike James was ahead of Johnson on the depth chart. The Canes also have Darion Hall, Maurice Hagens and incoming freshman Kevin Grooms.

4. Clemson: Andre Ellington will be the leader of the pack, but true freshman Mike Bellamy could also make an immediate impact, and the group runs deep with Roderick McDowell, D.J. Howard and Demont Buice.

5. Virginia Tech: Had Ryan Williams and Darren Evans returned, this would have been one of the premier groups of running backs in the country. Instead, it will be the David Wilson show (and Josh Oglesby). Not that the Hokies will have any problem with that.

6. Maryland: Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams are a talented duo, but depth should be a concern. Meggett posted a team-high 720 rushing yards in 2010, while Adams had a freshman school-record 11 rushing touchdowns.

7. NC State: The Wolfpack are in a much better position at running back than they were a year ago, when nobody with starting experience returned. Mustafa Greene, James Washington and Brandon Barnes should make NC State’s running game a bigger factor this fall.

8. Georgia Tech: Coach Paul Johnson isn’t concerned about his B-back position because it’s one of the deepest on the team. There isn’t one superstar like in recent years, but Richard Watson, Charles Perkins and Preston Lyons will work together to keep the Jackets one of the top rushing teams in the country.

9. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have to replace three tailbacks who accounted for 96 percent of their rushing last year. Ryan Houston is back for his sixth season of eligibility, but he is the only one who has seen significant playing time. Giovani Bernard, Hunter Furr and Travis Riley help the depth.

10. Wake Forest: Josh Harris could crack the 1,000-yard mark if he stays healthy, and Brandon Pendergrass is a capable backup. There are three true freshmen at the position, and it’s one area coach Jim Grobe can’t afford any injuries.

11. Virginia: Perry Jones and Kevin Parks are talented, but the Cavaliers will miss the production of Keith Payne, who accounted for 14 of the team’s 17 rushing touchdowns. Jones started all but one game last year, but only scored one touchdown.

12. Duke: The Blue Devils’ running game is starting to show progress, but last year it still ranked 104th in the country. Depth isn’t a problem, as Desmond Scott, Josh Snead and Juwan Thompson should help make it a more productive group this year.

Stay tuned for the top 10 ACC running backs for 2011 ...

ACC's Dream Team

June, 1, 2011
My blogger colleagues had a fun idea and composed dream teams for their respective conferences, a good way to highlight the strongest position groups in the ACC. Here are my votes for the team I’d like to match up against anyone in this year’s Orange Bowl:

Quarterbacks: Maryland

At some point, Danny O’Brien deserves credit for his performance last season. There was a reason he was named the league’s 2010 Rookie of the Year: He’s that good, and he’s only going to get better. O’Brien had a 7-3 record as a first-year starter last season, and despite not starting the first three games, his 22 touchdown passes were third in the country among freshmen and second in school history. His efficiency rating of 134.5 last season is the best in the conference among returning quarterbacks. The question is how quickly he’ll adapt to the new offense, and which receivers will emerge as his favorite targets.

Honorable mention: Florida State, Duke

Running backs: Florida State

The Seminoles return their top three rushers in Chris Thompson, Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas, who combined to run for 1,862 yards last season -- an average of 6.1 yards per carry -- and 17 touchdowns. Thompson hit the 1,000-yard mark (exactly) in combination yardage with 845 rushing and 155 receiving. Thomas has rushed for 1,804 yards in his career heading into his senior season, the second-most of any active ACC runner, trailing only BC’s Montel Harris. Speaking of Harris, …

Honorable mention: Boston College, Miami, Clemson

Receivers: Duke

Conner Vernon led the ACC in pass receptions (73) and finished third in receiving yards (973). He has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons, while Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their 274 combined pass receptions are the most of any active duo in the conference.

Honorable mention: North Carolina, Virginia Tech

Offensive line: North Carolina

This could be one of the biggest and most athletic groups under Butch Davis since he was hired in Chapel Hill. None of the players in the two-deep is under 305 pounds (the starting lineup averages 319 pounds), and eight of the top 10 linemen return, including three starters from last season’s roster. The left side of the line will be particularly strong with guard Jonathan Cooper (22 career starts), and tackle James Hurst.

Honorable mention: Clemson, Miami

Defensive line: North Carolina

All four starters return, making this what should be one of the most fearsome fronts in college football. Defensive end Quinton Coples played both tackle and end last season and had 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Tydreke Powell and Donte Paige-Moss should also be first-team all-conference candidates.

Honorable mention: Florida State

Linebackers: Boston College

The Eagles return Luke Kuechly, a unanimous All-American last season, and the top tackler in the country. Kuechly led the nation in tackles (183) and solo stops (110) a year after ranking second in those categories as a true freshman. But it’s not just Kuechly. Kevin Pierre-Louis will start alongside him on the outside. He started all 13 games as a true freshman and ranked second on the team with 93 tackles and 59 solo stops. The Eagles have to replace three-year starter Mark Herzlich, but Steele Divitto played in 11 games last season.

Honorable mention: NC State

Cornerbacks: Florida State

Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes combined for 33 passes defended last season, the most of any pair of cornerbacks in the nation. Rhodes was named the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after he ranked No. 16 nationally in passes defended with four interceptions and 12 breakups. Reid finished tenth in the nation in passes defended with three picks and 14 deflections. He was also fourth in the ACC in punt returns and led the nation in punt returns as a freshman.

Honorable mention: Virginia Tech, Virginia

Safeties: Miami

Even though he wasn’t a starter last season, Ray-Ray Armstrong was third on the team with 79 tackles and tied for the lead in interceptions with three. He started four games last seaosn and also had 4.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Vaughn Telemaque has 24 career starts and finished last season with 58 tackles and three interceptions.

Honorable mention: Florida State

Punter: Florida State

Shawn Powell would have led the ACC in punting last season with a 44.3 average, but he didn’t have enough punts to qualify. Still, 16 of his 50 punts (32 percent) were downed inside opponents’ 20.

Honorable mention: Virginia

Kicker: Duke

Will Snyderwine ranked seventh nationally in field goals last seaosn, making 21 of 24 attempts. He has made 38 of 44 field goal attempts in his career, and his career field goal percentage of .864 ranks third among all active FBS kickers.

Honorable mention: Florida State

Top 5 RBs for 2011

March, 23, 2011
There's usually at least one question on the weekly chat that's worthy of a separate post, and Ryan from Florida wanted to know who the top five running backs will be this year. The position isn't as loaded or experienced as it has been in recent years, but there's still a good mix of young and proven talent to choose from. Here are the spring predictions for who the top five running backs will be in the ACC this year:

[+] EnlargeBoston College's Montel Harris
AP Photo/Michael DwyerBoston College's Montel Harris is the top returning running back in the ACC.
1. Montel Harris, Boston College: It has to start with Harris, who has been one of the most dependable, durable running backs in the conference. He's one of the most experienced returning to the position, and is the leading returning rusher in the ACC at 103.6 yards per game, but when he was injured, we learned there is a capable young replacement in Andre Williams. With quarterback Chase Rettig in his second season as a starter and more help in the backfield, Harris shouldn't have to carry the offense on his shoulders again. It's possible his carries decrease and so do his numbers in 2011, but he's got to start at the top based on what he's accomplished so far.

2. David Wilson, Virginia Tech: The departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans leave Wilson the most experienced player in the Hokies' backfield. He's one of the most explosive runners in the conference, as evidenced by his 26.5 yards per kickoff return, but he'll be expected to carry the load for Virginia Tech's running game this year.

3. Lamar Miller, Miami: I know, I know, I said Storm Johnson on the chat, and that's because he was at the top of the depth chart released Tuesday. One of those guys is going to have a breakout season, but based on what I've been told, Miller is the guy to watch. He could be the next great running back at Miami, but it's not a surprise to see Johnson pushing him.

4. Andre Ellington, Clemson:With Jamie Harper gone, Ellington will get the bulk of the carries, and as long as he stays healthy, he has the speed and explosiveness to be one of the most productive backs in the ACC. Through seven games last year, Ellington ranked 10th in the nation in scoring with 12 touchdowns and had four 100-yard rushing games, including 22 carries for 140 yards against eventual national champion Auburn. Coach Dabo Swinney called Ellington's return "as important as any aspect of our football team."

5. Chris Thompson, Florida State:He's a home run threat, but he's also in a crowded backfield that includes Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones and true freshman Devonta Freeman. Thompson averaged 6.4 yards per carry last year and almost 900 yards, but will he separate from the pack this year?

Chick-fil-A Bowl: 3 keys

December, 30, 2010
Here are three keys for Florida State against South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl:

1. Stop the run. Florida State has been much better against the run this year -- No. 25 in the country and third in the ACC -- but it showed some weaknesses against Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game that the Gamecocks can exploit. Marcus Lattimore has run for 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns this year, and quarterback Stephen Garcia has scored six rushing touchdowns this year.

2. Pressure Garcia. Florida State is No. 2 in the country and first the ACC in sacks with 3.54 per game. The Noles have had 46 sacks this season, and Garcia makes mistakes under pressure. South Carolina’s ability to pick up the rush and handle defensive ends Markus White and Brandon Jenkins will play a huge role in the outcome of the game.

3. Establish the run. Florida State’s tailbacks have been banged up this year, but this could be the healthiest they’ve all been in a while. Ty Jones, Chris Thompson and Jermaine Thomas will force the Gamecocks to be disciplined, but South Carolina has a knack for finding the ball and has also improved against the run this year, ranking ninth in the country and leading the SEC with 104.31 yards per game.

ACC title game edition: Did you know?

December, 3, 2010
Thanks to the sports information directors at FSU and Virginia Tech for this week's notes:
  • Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is one of only three coaches who have guided their teams to nine or more wins in the first season as a head coach and their first season in the ACC, along with Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen, and former BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski. Fisher is one of only two coaches (Jagodzinski was the other) to have guided their teams to the ACC title game as a rookie head coach.
  • When Florida State sophomore placekicker Dustin Hopkins made a 55-yard field goal on the last play of the game to defeat Clemson on Nov. 13, it was the longest game-ending field goal in ACC history.
  • FSU quarterback Christian Ponder had been at his best in the red zone this year, going 29-of-47 (61.7) for 234 yards and 16 TDs, with just one interception
  • FSU tailbacks Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones became the first trio at FSU to rush for at least 400 yards each since 1985.
  • FSU has broken up 52 passes and intercepted 12 more for a total of 64 passes defended this season, its highest total over the past five years.
  • Virginia Tech is 0-3 in games in Charlotte, losing 12-5 to Clemson in 1900, 32-5 to North Carolina in 1895 and 27-22 to East Carolina in 2008.
  • Virginia Tech safety Eddie Whitley is an avid chess player, who’s been playing since he was 4 years old. He plays online, in the locker room, on his computer and even on his iPhone.
  • Hokies receiver Danny Coale’s brother, Kevin, played midfield for Virginia’s men’s lacrosse team. Their father, Jimmy, is the head strength and conditioning coach at Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
  • Tech’s current winning streak is the longest by an ACC team since Florida State won 17 straight in 1999 and 2000. The Seminoles were 12-0 in ’99 and started the following season with five victories.
  • If Virginia Tech wins the ACC title on Saturday, it will be the first ACC team to drop its first two contests and win 11 games thereafter in the same season. Maryland, 0-2 but ultimately 10-3 in 2003, is the only ACC team with 10 or more victories in a season that began 0-2.

Week 10: Did you know?

November, 5, 2010
Here's your weekly dose of ACC knowledge, thanks to the sports information directors throughout the league.
  • Virginia Tech’s 28-21 win over Georgia Tech marked the 200th game for Bud Foster as Virginia Tech’s defensive coordinator/co-coordinator. He was the co-coordinator in 1995 and took over in 1996, a position he has held since.
  • Georgia Tech has now lost consecutive games for the first time under coach Paul Johnson.
  • Clemson’s current six-game winning streak over NC State is its longest active winning streak over any league opponent and the longest by the Tigers against an ACC opponent since it won eight in a row over Maryland from 1993-2000.
  • Despite losing two starting offensive tackles to season-ending injuries (Justin Gilbert, knee; Pete DeSouza, fractured legs), the Terps have allowed just five sacks in their four ACC games. Only Clemson (4) has surrendered fewer.
  • This week the ACC is conducting its inaugural “ACC Fall Sportsmanship Week.” Throughout the first week of November, every team will showcase its dedication to the ideals of sportsmanship by participating in a pregame handshake. Over 40 events will be part of the 2010 ACC Fall Sportsmanship Week including all of the ACC’s home football games.
  • Boston College senior cornerback Chris Fox made the first start of his career against Clemson last weekend in place of the injured DeLeon Gause. Fox, who has been a special-teams player and Gause’s backup, made career highs with five tackles, three solo tackles and three pass breakups. Two of those breakups were at the goal line. Entering the season, Fox had two career tackles.
  • Florida State’s tailback trio of Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones has equally shared the rushing load for the Seminoles, who are averaging 207.4 yards per game. Thompson (484 yards), Thomas (446) and Jones (426) have all eclipsed 400 rushing yards through eight games. A quarter century has passed since Florida State had three running backs with more than 400 rushing yards at the end of the season. Tony Smith (678), Victor Floyd (619) and Cletis Jones (405) last pulled off the feat in 1985.
  • Miami wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is having one of the most productive seasons in school history. Through eight games, Hankerson has 44 catches for 681 yards and a team-best nine touchdowns. He has scored at least one touchdown in six of UM’s eight games and needs just two more receiving touchdowns to tie Michael Irvin’s single-season school record mark of 11 set in 1986. After recording 801 receiving yards last season, Hankerson is also looking to become just the third player in school history to record back-to-back 800-yard receiving seasons. Michael Irvin (840 in 1985; 868 in 1986) and Andre Johnson (881 in 2001; 1,092 in 2002) are the only other Canes to have ever accomplished the feat.
  • Over the last three games, North Carolina receiver Dwight Jones has 20 receptions for 379 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 19.0 yards per reception. He leads the Tar Heels with 32 receptions and 483 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Jones had a career-high nine catches for 107 yards, his second career 100-yard game in three weeks, in the win over William & Mary.
  • Eight games into the 2010 season, NC State has not lost a single player for the season due to injury. Only one starter -- offensive tackle Mikel Overgaard -- has been injured and forced to miss time. He started the first three games before injuring his elbow and missed three games. This healthy trend is a complete reversal of Tom O’Brien’s first three years. In the past three seasons, players who were starters at one point in their careers missed a total of 180 games. That’s an average of 60 games missed per season.
  • Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield is tied for the lead among all FBS players with six interceptions this season. “Mini” had two picks against Miami in UVa’s 24-19 upset last Saturday. Minnifield is currently tied for 14th on the UVA career interceptions list with 10. Among the players he is tied with are College Football Hall of Famer Bill Dudley (1939-41) and Paul London (1992-95), the brother of coach Mike London. Minnifield’s father, Frank, was a four-time Pro Bowler who played nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns. He made sure his son would understand the meaning of success when he was born. Chase’s first name comes from Chase Manhattan Bank. His Middle name? Onassis.
  • Ten true freshmen quarterbacks have started a game this season in the FBS. Saturday could mark the first time that two of those quarterbacks have faced one another. Wake Forest’s Tanner Price has started five games for the Deacs, including the last three, while BC’s Chase Rettig has started three games this season.
  • Duke’s two straight victories over Virginia in 2008-09 marked the first back-to-back wins over the Cavaliers since 1981-82.The last time Duke defeated Virginia in three consecutive seasons came on the tail end of a five-game streak between 1974-78.
Every time he touches the ball, Florida State running back Chris Thompson thinks big -- as in, 20 yards big.

“My thing is first down, touchdown,” said Thompson. “That’s my mindset every time I touch the ball. One thing I really believe in is always having at least a 20-yard gain every time I touch the ball. That’s just the way I think. I know that the offensive line is going to do their job, and Lonnie [Pryor] is going to do his job and the receivers. I just know after that it’s all God-given talent and I believe I have it to be able to get those extra yards and push for those yards we need.”

[+] EnlargeChris Thompson
Lee Coleman/Icon SMIChris Thompson already has scoring runs of 93 and 80 yards under his belt.
He’s proved as much through Florida State’s current undefeated streak in ACC play. As the Seminoles (6-1, 4-0 ACC) prepare to face NC State (5-2, 2-1) in Raleigh on Thursday night in what will be a season-defining game for the Atlantic Division standings, they do so with one of the most productive running games in the country. The carries are divvied among three talented backs, including Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones, but Thompson has been the most productive with the 58 carries he’s had.

Considering what he’s accomplished so far this season -- an average of 7.7 yards per carry -- Thompson’s goal of 20 yards per touch isn’t so far-fetched.

Try 90 (Miami). Or 83 (BYU).

Thompson leads Florida State with five plays of 25 yards or longer, including his 90-yard touchdown run against Miami -- the third-longest play in school history. Thompson is one of only two players in school history with multiple scoring runs of 80 yards or more. Sammie Smith did it twice in 1987 against East Carolina (83) and Furman (95).

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be in the record books with all of those great running backs,” Thompson said. “It’s like one of the greatest accomplishments in my life, honestly.”

And he’s only a sophomore.

“He’s got great potential,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s really learning what we’re doing. He’s gotten physically stronger, faster, and his confidence level is going up. He’s blocking well, he’s catching the ball, he really understands his reads and he’s very disciplined and dependable. He comes to work every day, a very intelligent guy, picks things up very quickly.”

Thompson, who has four brothers and three sisters, is used to sharing. He said he would eventually like to be the featured back, but who doesn't? Right now he’s comfortable in the system under coach Eddie Gran, and the trio has yet to lose a fumble in seven games and 174 total carries. Thompson, who scored twice last year against the Wolfpack, leads the team with an average of 63.6 yards per game.

“That’s not really a focus,” Thompson said of getting the majority of the carries. “It’s whatever I need to do for the team. Coach Gran, he tells us we have to do what we need to do with the carries that we get.”

So far, Thompson has done that -- big time.

FSU running game could be 'back'

October, 14, 2010
Florida State's defensive improvement is a big reason behind the Seminoles' success this season, but it's not the only factor.

This FSU ground game has the potential to look old-school, and when it comes to Florida State, that's a good thing.

The Seminoles are averaging 223.5 rushing yards per game -- a 74-yard per game improvement from 2009. FSU is on pace to produce the program’s most productive rushing season since 1987. Led by the tailback trio of Chris Thompson (70.0 ypg), Jermaine Thomas (64.3) and Ty Jones (56.6), the Seminoles are averaging 6 rushing yards per play.

FSU has not averaged more than 200 rushing yards a game since 1995 (222.8), with all-time rushing leader Warrick Dunn. The 1987 Noles, led by future NFL backs Sammie Smith, Dexter Carter and Edgar Bennett, averaged 272.3 yards per game.

"We thought we could be pretty good at it," coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I mean, I don't know if we're unbelievable at it, but we are running the ball very solidly and doing a good job with it. We thought we would be able to run the ball and we have experience with the offensive line. Some backs have been back. We have a quarterback that gets us in and out of the right plays and does a good job that way. We felt we could be good. Like I say, we are having a pretty good year at it so far. Like I say, we are only halfway through. We will wait and see how it goes. We thought we would be able to run the ball this year, we really did."

They thought right.

Miami-FSU pregame notes

October, 9, 2010
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- FSU running back Ty Jones (ankle) has been running around during warmups, and looks like he'll be good to go, and left tackle Andrew Datko (shoulder) is expected to return to the starting lineup. Zebrie Sanders will move back to right tackle. Haven't heard of any lineup changes yet for Miami.

Quarterback play is critical Saturday night, and Christian Ponder has been the better of the two. If Jacory Harris makes better decisions and cuts down on his interceptions, it could be the difference in the game. With Ponder healthy and Datko back in the lineup, FSU's passing game has the potential to take another step -- if, of course, that veteran offensive line can hold off the Canes.

Weekend rewind: Scrimmages

August, 23, 2010
Here's a quick look back at the weekend scrimmages, thanks to reports from the schools' sports information offices:


Sophomore quarterback Mike Marscovetra was perfect, going 12-for-12 for 90 yards and a touchdown. Dave Shinskie went 14-for-19 for 116 yards, but threw an interception. True freshman Chase Rettig was 2-for-4 for 13 yards.

Sophomore Clyde Lee and true freshman Bobby Swigert led the receivers with five catches each. Lee had a game-high 43 yards, and Swigert went for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman kicker Nate Freese made a 51-yard attempt that hit the crossbar and went through, and he made another from 39 yards. He missed a 47-yarder that hit high off the left upright.

Sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly led the defense with six tackles, and junior safety Dominick LeGrande recorded five tackles and an interception.


The Seminoles went through what amounted to a full-scale dress rehearsal, as they did their pre-game routine, returned to the locker room, then returned to the field for a three-hour scrimmage. Offensive coordinator James Coley and quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig were in the press box, along with defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot and a graduate assistant. They helped call the plays on headphones, and there weren't any personnel or clock-management issues.

Junior college transfer Mike Harris earned some high praise from coach Jimbo Fisher:

“Mike’s a good player; he’s a real good player,” said Fisher. “He breaks on the ball. He’s almost like a quiet assassin. You never hear him out there, but he’s always in the right place."

Statistics weren't included in the team's scrimmage report, but sophomore Willie Haulstead played well, and Fisher used a tailback-by-committee approach with Jermaine Thomas, Ty Jones and Chris Thompson. Defensively, former cornerback Ochuko Jenije started at safety.


First, the injury report: Backup receiver Xavier Boyce sprained his left MCL and will have an MRI, backup linebacker Lorenzo Williams sprained his right foot and will have an MRI, and punter Brian Saunders bruised his right ankle. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, linebacker Barquell Rivers will not play against Boise State, and Bruce Taylor will start in his place. Starting field corner Jayron Hosley is still out with a hamstring injury.

Offensively, Tyrod Taylor completed 7 of 9 passes for 95 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Ryan Williams was the leading rusher with 46 yards on nine carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. David Wilson added 38 yards on six carries and scored on a 12-yard run. Defensively, Eddie Whitley led the way with seven tackles and a pass break-up. Kicker Chris Hazley made field goals of 43 and 47 yards, but missed his first field goal in a preseason scrimmage when he was wide left on a 48-yard attempt. Cris Hill blocked two punts.

You can find more on the Hokies' scrimmage here.

Opening camp: Florida State

August, 5, 2010
Schedule: Practice begins at 6 p.m.

What’s new: Everything. New coach, new coordinators, new attitude under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.

Sidelined: Linebacker Nigel Carr has been suspended indefinitely after facing a felony charge. Nobody else on the two-deep depth chart is expected to be missing.

Key battle: Boundary corner, where redshirt senior Ochuko Jenije, the only returning starter in the secondary, will be fighting off redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes. Offensively, the tailback position is so loaded that Jermaine Thomas, the top returning rusher from a year ago, is not at the top of the preseason depth chart. That spot belongs to sophomore Chris Thompson. Ty Jones, Tavares Pressley and Lonnie Pryor will also be competing for time.

New on the scene: Defense. The whole thing -- the scheme, the personnel and coordinator Mark Stoops. He’s tasked with turning around a unit that ranked among the nation’s worst in nearly every relevant statistical category last year.

Breaking out: Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins. Given all of the issues Florida State has had up front, he’s a player who is poised to make a difference. The staff is expecting a breakthrough season after earning “most dependable” honors this spring.

Don’t forget about: Junior tight end Beau Reliford. He came on to replace Caz Piurowski last year and caught the game-winning touchdown against North Carolina. He could help a receiving corps that lacks proven talent. Taiwan Easterling is back after missing spring practices to play baseball, and he could also help that group.

All eyes on: Quarterback Christian Ponder. The whole nation will be watching, especially during a trip cross country to play Oklahoma, to see if Ponder is truly worthy of the Heisman hype.

Quotable: “That’s why I’m here at Florida State, to win it all.” -- Ponder.

Fully loaded in the ACC

June, 8, 2010
Florida State fans can rest assured their quarterback situation is in good hands. After all, how many other teams could lose their starter and have the backup earn MVP honors in a Gator Bowl win?

Darren Evans/Ryan Williams
US PresswireVirginia Tech has the luxury of two 1,000-yard rushers in the same backfield.
E.J. Manuel proved Christian Ponder isn’t irreplaceable last season, and that’s a good thing for a program vying to win the Atlantic Division title in the first season under Jimbo Fisher. When it comes to the offense, there isn’t much Florida State is missing, but the Seminoles are just one of several teams in the ACC prepared to replace key players if need be.

The deepest position throughout the ACC appears to be at running back, where numerous programs have to figure out how to divvy up the carries this fall. Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are all at least two deep at the position -- at least. The Hokies are fortunate enough to have two former backups turned 1,000-yard rushers in Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, both of whom got their opportunities at the expense of an injured teammate.

At Florida State, running back Chris Thompson passed Jermaine Thomas on the unofficial post-spring depth chart, but there’s also Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley, who is a fullback/tailback like Pryor. Both Florida State and Boston College return at least four starters each on their offensive lines, which immediately helps the depth there.

Miami has four returning receivers who had at least 200 yards receiving a year ago, and Duke had so much depth at receiver that it was able to move one of its top four pass-catchers -- Johnny Williams -- to cornerback this past spring.

Miami is also stocked on the defensive line, where the defensive ends go about three-deep on each side. The same can be said at Clemson, which returns three starters on the defensive line, and can also depend upon DE Andre Branch (38 tackles, 7.5 for loss) and DE Malliciah Goodman (26 tackles, 6.0 for loss).

Maryland returns all three of its starting linebackers and their backups. At Boston College, defensive coordinator Bill McGovern’s scheme utilizes a lot of players, which helps continue the strong defensive tradition there because the players are always prepared. Reserves from 2009 such as CB Donnie Fletcher (51 tackles), DE Brad Newman (45 tackles), LB Dominick LeGrande (36 tackles), LB Anthony DiSanzo (28 tackles) and CB Isaac Johnson (27 tackles) all saw significant playing time.

No team in the ACC, though, is as loaded on defense as North Carolina, which returns nine starters. They have combined for 234career starts -- the most of any team in the ACC, with S Deunta Williams and CB Kendric Burney making 38 starts each. The challenge for Butch Davis this fall will be getting the backups some playing time in preparation for 2011.

The goal of course for all coaches is to use their backups when they want to -- not when they have to.

ACC's lunchtime links

May, 19, 2010
A few things here and there ...



Monday, 12/22
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