NCF Nation: Alphonso Smith

ACC: Keys to the conference

September, 2, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Each team has one area, one phase of the game, one position group -- something -- that will help determine how its season unfolds. Here's a look at the keys to the season for each team in the ACC:

-- The Eagles need to find a dependable leader at quarterback, somebody capable of managing the game without losing it for them. The rest of the pieces are in place on offense for the Eagles to have a respectable season, but they need to find their identity.

-- Considering much of the same talent returns from the team that received so much hype a year ago, it's up to the new staff to do what their predecessors couldn't, and contend for the Atlantic Division title. How first-year offensive coordinator Billy Napier and coach Dabo Swinney fare on the sidelines will be key.

-- Pave the way for quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and Re'quan Boyette. The Blue Devils have two standout players on offense, but they need the supporting cast. It should be a receiver-by-committee effort to replace Eron Riley, and if three new starters on the offensive line can give Lewis and Boyette the timing they need, the Blue Devils should surprise some people.

-- The offensive line should be the best in the conference and could be one of the best in the country, even though there's still not a senior in the lineup. With so many questions on defense, this unit will be the anchor and help the offense ease the burden of a defense in transition.

-- If the Jackets make a seamless transition on the defensive line, where they lost three NFL-bound starters, there's no reason Georgia Tech shouldn't be atop the Coastal Division standings again. With 19 starters returning, the only pieces that are missing are up front.

-- The Terps will fare as well as their offensive line, and it's a group that has 27 career starts up front. They lost five of their top seven linemen from a year ago, and the success of veteran quarterback Chris Turner and running back Da'Rel Scott will hinge upon the blocking and protection they get up front.

-- Starting off strong and keeping Jacory Harris unscathed in the process will keep the Canes in the running to win the Coastal Division. Following the transfer of both backup quarterbacks, Miami can't afford to lose Harris, nor can it afford to lose its first four games.

-- Finding receivers and a cohesiveness on the offensive line would make Carolina a complete team. The Heels have a championship-caliber defense to work with, but replacing their top four receivers from a year ago could take some time.

-- Staying healthy has been one of the Pack's biggest obstacles, if not the biggest, and before the season even started they lost their best player in linebacker Nate Irving. Cornerback DeAndre Morgan will miss the opener with an ankle injury. NC State is a better football team, but nobody will know it if key players continue to go down.

-- Find playmakers, starting with the old Mikell Simpson. It's cliche, yes, but the Cavaliers lost their top five pass catchers from a year ago, their leading rusher and their top three linebackers. Gregg Brandon's spread offense will only be as effective as the players who execute it, and if Simpson returns to his 2007 form, he could be an X factor for this team.

-- Keeping Tyrod Taylor healthy is the only way the Hokies will challenge for their fourth ACC title since joining the conference. None of his backups have any collegiate experience, and Taylor's backups were needed a year ago. While some fans might not exactly miss Sean Glennon, he did win them an ACC title.

-- Find stability on defense. The Deacs can survive without the likes of Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry because they've still got solid veteran players. If everyone knows their role, plays assignment football and doesn't try to do too much, Wake will win with a group effort.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There was some progress in the ACC this spring, and each team got a little bit of help at certain positions. Here's a look at who found some help this spring and where:

BOSTON COLLEGE: Marcellus Bowman and Wes Davis are two safeties who should help make the Eagles' secondary one of the best BC fans have seen in recent years. Four players return to the secondary with starting experience.

CLEMSON: It's amazing what a year of experience can do, and the Tigers' offensive line needed it. The only direction for this group to go is up, and it started to do that this spring. All five starters return.

DUKE: The return of running back Re'quan Boyette will give the Blue Devils' running game a more potent punch. He could be a difference maker on the field this fall, and Duke will need him to be.

FLORIDA STATE: Leading rusher Antone Smith is gone, but FSU fans can rest assured Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones can carry the load for the Noles. Both had several breakaway runs this spring.

GEORGIA TECH: On a defense that lost its leaders up front, defensive end Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett established themselves as the new captains of the ship this spring, and they should be the Jackets' top two defenders.

MARYLAND: Phil Costa helped ease the transition of the graduation of longtime leader Edwin Williams at center. The Terps lost three starters up front and have four players in new positions, but Costa proved he can be the new leader of the group.

MIAMI: This "got help" award goes to new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. He had an immediate impact on the offense this spring and has Jacory Harris' full attention.

NORTH CAROLINA: Da'Norris Searcy and Melvin Williams gave the staff some confidence in life without Trimane Goddard. Searcy played well in the Meineke Car Care bowl as a fifth defensive back and played with confidence this spring.

NC STATE: Mike Glennon answered the distress signal at backup quarterback, a position that had been exposed far too many times in the past. Glennon completed 23 of 38 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown in the Kay Yow Spring Game.

VIRGINIA: The return of Jameel Sewell at quarterback and addition of Vic Hall no doubt helped the Cavaliers. At this point last year, they didn't have one quarterback who had any starting experience. Now they've got three.

VIRGINIA TECH: Confidence grew in the linebackers this spring, and that's because of the efforts of Barquell Rivers and Jake Johnson. Bruce Taylor and Quillie Odom are still learning, but there was progress at this position.

WAKE FOREST: Kenny Okoro and Josh Bush both proved to be dependable players at a position that just lost Alphonso Smith. Okoro in particular stood out, but both of them got a lot of reps with Brandon Ghee out with an injury.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Good morning, ACC fans. Amazingly, we survived February with no college football. March is when 10 of the 12 schools begin spring practice, with Miami having already started, and Virginia Tech waiting until April 1. We've taken a look at what to watch for each team during spring football, but there are a few overriding themes to keep an eye on throughout the entire conference this spring. We've touched on some of these in individual posts, but here it is wrapped up with a little spring bow:

1. New coordinators -- Boston College, Clemson, Miami and Virginia all have them, on both sides of the ball. BC should have a smooth transition on defense, because coach Frank Spaziani was previously defensive coordinator and promoted linebackers coach Bill McGovern. But how involved Spaziani will be remains a question. The Eagles will have to get used to first-year offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill, and could have a new starting quarterback. Clemson's offense will be interesting to watch unfold under Billy Napier, who was promoted from recruiting coordinator. Jacoby Ford said he thinks they're going to let loose a little bit, but the Tigers have the benefit of familiar faces on that side of the ball. The biggest question marks are at Miami and Virginia, where there are some serious expectations for improvement.

2. Backup quarterbacks -- The importance of these guys just can't be underestimated, and Virginia Tech could attest to that last season when their top two quarterbacks were both injured at Florida State. This spring, it will be an area of big competition at almost every school, particularly Miami, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke. Backups either transferred or quit at Miami, Maryland and Wake Forest.

3. Third-year coaches -- Butch Davis, Tom O'Brien and Randy Shannon. The progress watch has begun. All of these coaches took an important step last year and won more games than they did in their first season, but the next step -- contending for their division titles -- is more difficult. Both Davis and Shannon, at some point last year, were in the mix to win the Coastal Division. O'Brien has a little bit further to go, but the team's success at the end of the season was something to build on.

4. Running backs and wide receivers -- For different reasons, these are the two positions to keep an eye on offensively in the ACC. Many of the league's top receivers from a year ago are gone, but the talent at running back runs deep at a lot of schools.

5. The next defensive superstar -- Who is it going to be? Macho Harris is gone at Virginia Tech, as is the ACC's leading tackler, Michael Tauiliili of Duke. Everette Brown, Trimane Goddard, Michael Hamlin, Clint Sintim, Jon Copper, Aaron Curry, Alphonso Smith -- a lot of big names on defense have to be replaced. The ACC's Defensive Player of the Year returns in Mark Herzlich, but who will challenge him for that title this year?

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 23, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here's your daily dose of ACC news:

  • NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said former Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson is "wasting" his talent, and that there is "way too much bad game tape" of Johnson. To that Johnson replied, "God bless him."
  • Here is an interesting article on the usually hidden salaries of private school coaches, including former BC coach Tom O'Brien.
  • Here are five questions (and answers) about Miami football as the Canes prepare to start spring practices on Tuesday.
  • Former Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith will try to repeat his success at the next level.
  • One weekend leftover -- Virginia will have some competition at quarterback this spring, where cornerback Vic Hall will pick up where he left off.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There is enough drama in college football recruiting for its own reality TV show (please, no), but I pulled five particular ACC recruiting memories that stand out over the past five years.

Two you might be wondering about after reading this are A.J. Davis' switch from UNC to NC State after Chuck Amato's Dean Martin serenade, and Miami's infamous recruit, Willie Williams. Well, the Davis thing was in 2002, and the Williams circus happened in February, 2004, so technically, Miami wasn't yet a part of the ACC.

Here are five others I came up with, in no particular order:

Logan-El's hat trick -- Maryland native Antonio Logan-El wore a Maryland-red tie under his black suit, and made his college announcement in the Baltimore ESPN Zone on national TV in front of dozens of Maryland fans, including coach Ralph Friedgen's wife, Gloria. And then, in dramatic fashion, Maryland's top-rated offensive lineman picked Penn State. Logan-El first reached into a bag and pulled out a baseball cap from the University of Florida and tossed it on the floor. Maryland fans roared. Then he did the same thing with a Tennessee cap. Another roar of approval from the Terps fans. Then he got to the Maryland cap, the program which he had verbally committed to before his sophomore year in high school. And he threw it on the ground, too. All this while Gloria Friedgen held her cell phone up to a speaker for her husband to hear. There was stunned silence, followed by a voice in the back of the room that yelled "TRAI-TOR!" By then, Gloria Friedgen had already grabbed her coat and left.

Little's big decision -- Regarded as one of the top high school athletes in the country, Greg Little of Durham, N.C., held a press conference to reveal his choice between North Carolina and Notre Dame early in the 2006 season. At the last minute, he announced he could not make a decision and canceled the press conference. A few weeks later, former coach John Bunting was fired and Little had another press conference where he announced he would attend Notre Dame. A few weeks later, Carolina played at Notre Dame and on the Friday evening prior to the game, rumors circulated that North Carolina would hire Butch Davis as its next head coach. With Little in attendance as a Notre Dame pledge, the Irish defeated North Carolina. Little continued to show up at many men's and women's basketball games in Chapel Hill in December and January and asked to continue to be recruited by Davis. Little called Davis on the night before signing day and inked with the Tar Heels the following day.

Gator tears -- Everyone but C.J. Spiller seemed to think the star running back was going to play for the Florida Gators, which was just about 25 miles from where he grew up. Spiller's mom, Patricia Watkins, certainly thought so. On the morning of Spiller's press conference at Union County High School, his mom broke into tears when Spiller announced he would sign with Clemson.

"Before we got here, he told me that it wasn't going to be Florida State, so I knew Florida State was out of it," Watkins told at the time. "I knew it was Florida and Clemson, and in my heart, I really felt that it was going to be Florida, so it was a big shock to me."

Sign what paper? -- Alphonso Smith had it down to three schools -- Pitt, Iowa and Wake Forest. He was committed to Pitt for over a year, but left the door open and visited Wake Forest. On signing day, Smith's two best friends on the football team -- D.J. Boldin and Antonio Wilson -- were pleading with him to come to Wake, and Smith couldn't make up his mind. His mom came to the signing day press conference at Pahokee High and handed Smith about 20 handwritten notes from Wake Forest coaches and advised him to play with his friends. Smith pushed the Pitt paperwork aside and was ready to sign with Wake Forest, but realized he had left the papers at the house. His mom had seen them lying on the kitchen table and stuck them in her purse. Smith's commitment was a key shaping the future of Wake Forest recruiting.

Miami's No. 1 -- at least in recruiting -- Coach Randy Shannon's first full recruiting class in 2008 was considered the best in the nation by ESPN's Scouts Inc., and in 2008 many of them lived up to the billing. The 2008 class included 12 prospects from the ESPNU 150, and some -- like Marcus Forston, Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, and Aldarius Johnson -- played integral roles as true freshman last season. Shannon brought in top-tier defensive talent and kept a lot of the most highly regarded prospects from South Florida at home, despite a 5-7 record in 2007. At the time, our experts wrote: "This top-five class may give Miami the foundation necessary to make a run for a national title."

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Wake Forest can finally exhale.

 AP Photo/Nick Wass
 Riley Skinner more than made up for his earlier performance against Navy, completing all 11 of his passes for 166 yards and one touchdown.

The Demon Deacons strung together a little over two quarters of arguably their best offense this season, and another impressive performance from their top 20 defense led to redemption in a 29-19 win over Navy in the inaugural EagleBank Bowl.

The difference the second time around was glaring -- the offense moved the ball.

Quarterback Riley Skinner, who had accounted for five of his team's six turnovers in Wake's September loss to Navy, completed all 11 of his passes for 166 yards and one touchdown.

Wake Forest was finally able to run, which in turn helped Skinner pass effectively. Skinner's mobility took some pressure off of his offensive line, and offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke was able to accomplish his goal of giving Navy a dose of its own medicine. The Demon Deacons were able to control the clock on offense and contain fullback Eric Kettani on defense. There were only a few occasions they fell asleep on quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, and allowed only a few big plays.

Wake Forest's offense, which had struggled all season, peaked at the right time and now has a springboard heading into next season. The Demon Deacons racked up a season-high 405 yards of total offense and a season-high 239 rushing yards.

Believe it or not, Wake Forest outrushed the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation.

Wake scored three touchdowns on the ground to Navy's one, and Kevin Harris led both teams with 136 yards on 24 carries. That's an amazing feat, considering Wake Forest was held to under 100 yards rushing in half of their regular season games, including the 24-17 loss to Navy on Sept. 27.

It was a gritty comeback effort for a team that trailed 13-0 in the first quarter, when the defense still looked asleep for the 11 a.m. kickoff.

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe is not one to reveal his emotions on the sideline, but as he pursed his lips together tightly in the first half, his team's miscues were clearly wearing on him. Lobotzke got creative in the first quarter and gave standout cornerback Alphonso Smith a tryout on offense. Smith made a nice run, but it was negated by a fumble that was returned 50 yards for a touchdown, and Wake Forest trailed 10-0 early.

That was exactly what the Demon Deacons were afraid of when they accepted the invitation into the bowl for a rematch against Navy. There wasn't any lack of drama in the first bowl game of 2008, but not only did Wake Forest save face in this game, the Demon Deacons looked good in the process.

Despite the many veterans who will be lost on defense, Wake Forest has also used plenty of young players this season who can build on this win.

EagleBank pregame

December, 20, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich


What to watch: Wake Forest's veterans on defense in the first half. Linebacker Aaron Curry, safety Chip Vaughn, defensive back Alphonso Smith, and a veteran defensive line have a chance at redemption in their final game. Curry and Smith are projected first-round draft picks, and Vaughn, of Fairfax, Va., will practically be playing in a home game. They'll have to set the tone on defense early, and play sound assignment football in the first quarter -- something the Deacons didn't do in the September loss.

Why to watch: It's the very first bowl game of 2008, the first time for this bowl, and a rematch of the Sept. 27 game.

Who to watch: Wake Forest place-kicker Sam Swank. He's the healthiest he has been since pulling his right quadriceps in September -- three days after the loss to Navy. During the first four games of the season, Swank had seven touchbacks on kickoffs. Wake Forest didn't have one in eight games without him. Coach Jim Grobe said losing Swank this season has been like other teams losing a quarterback.

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 18, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

  • Boston College has made a profit from joining the ACC, regardless of what bowl it winds up in, and despite the fact that the Eagles are likely to sell about 2,000 of their 10,000 tickets for the Music City Bowl.
  • Wake Forest corner Alphonso Smith isn't just an All-American, he's a riot, and Houston Nutt can vouch for that.
  • FSU receiver Corey Surrency is looking for another second chance, but this time, he must petition the NCAA to get it.
  • Not a lot of Maryland fans are expected to make the trek to Boise, but can you really blame them? Heck, Georgia Tech didn't even bring 250.
  • Every now and then, Victor "Macho" Harris can't help but think he's getting closer to possibly being a millionaire.

All-ACC 2008

December, 10, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich


QB -- Russell Wilson, NC State
RB -- Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
RB -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
TE -- John Phillips, Virginia
OL -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
OL -- Matt Tennant, Boston College
OL -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
OL -- Edwin Williams, Maryland
OL -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, UNC
WR -- D.J. Boldin, Wake Forest
K -- Graham Gano, Florida State


LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
LB -- Mark Herzlich, Boston College
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
DL -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DL -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DL -- B.J. Raji, Boston College
DB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
DB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
S -- Trimane Goddard, North Carolina
S -- Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech


C.J. Spiller


Travis Baltz, Maryland

Dec. 20, 11 a.m. (ESPN)

Wake Forest take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: There really wasn't any way to avoid a rematch between Wake Forest and Navy, and the Demon Deacons are determined not to lose twice to a team they should have beaten the first time around. This will be the first time in 63 years that Wake Forest has played the same team twice in one season. The Midshipmen beat the Deacs on their home field, 24-17, on Sept. 27.

Like many teams in the ACC, Wake Forest has been dependent upon its defense to win games, and Deacs have come through with their ability to create turnovers. Corner back Alphonso Smith is one of the best in the league, and linebacker Aaron Curry could be a first-round draft pick.

Receiver D.J. Boldin has been Riley Skinner's favorite target this season, but Wake Forest has struggled in the red zone, scoring just 20 touchdowns in 41 trips. That doesn't bode well, considering Navy's defense hasn't allowed a single point over its past eight quarters. The last team to score on Navy was Notre Dame on Nov. 15. Wake's problems on offense have started up front, and the Deacs have struggled to get a consistent running game going all season.

Navy take by Independents blogger Graham Watson: This is a rematch of an earlier game that essentially turned Navy's season around.

The Midshipmen were 2-2 heading into the Sept. 27 matchup against No. 16 Wake Forest and no one expected them to win. But Navy was the beneficiary of six Wake Forest turnovers and came away with a 24-17 win.

Navy went on to finish the season 5-2 and Wake finished its season 4-4.

Navy is a much better team than the one from September. The Midshipmen have won four of their last five and the last two games -- Northern Illinois and Army -- have been shutouts by the defense. Prior to the shutout against Northern Illinois on Nov. 25, the Midshipmen had not shut out an opponent in 58 games.

Navy, behind tailback Shun White, leads the country in rushing with 298.33 yards per game. Unlike the first meeting between these two teams, starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is expected to be totally healthy for the game. He left in the first meeting in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

Wake Forest has the 19th-best total defense in the country, allowing 300.33 yards per game, and it's allowing just 116.1 yards on the ground. Navy was able to rush for 292 yards in the last meeting.

ACC Helmet Stickers: Week 10

November, 2, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith -- He intercepted Thaddeus Lewis twice in the game, including the game-ending pick in overtime, and he also blocked a punt for a safety. He now has 19 career interceptions and a team-best five this season.

Miami quarterback Jacory Harris -- For the second time this season, Harris came off the bench and led the team to a win. He threw the game-tying touchdown in the final minute and then another one in overtime to give the Hurricanes the 24-17 win over Virginia. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami's defense -- Not only did it keep Virginia's standout running back Cedric Peerman in check, but Lavon Ponder stripped Peerman of the ball on Virginia's first play of overtime. Miami held Virginia to just 3 of 14 third-down conversions and 71 total rushing yards. This was the game that changed the face of the Coastal Division standings and it snapped Virginia's four-game winning streak.

Clemson running back C.J. Spiller -- Nobody was going to stop this guy from playing, not even the team trainers. His performance helped the Tigers beat BC for the first time in six tries since 1958. He caught six passes for 105 yards -- the most by a Clemson running back -- and had eight carries for 55 yards.

Georgia Tech safety Cooper Taylor -- The true freshman will likely always remember his first collegiate start. He changed the game when he knocked the ball out of Marcus Sims' hands, forcing a fumble in the end zone that prevented FSU's game-winning touchdown. He also set up a touchdown with his second-quarter interception and led Georgia Tech with 10 tackles.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 7

October, 12, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

North Carolina -- Good luck singling out one person or phase of the game in this one. They couldn't have done it without Connor Barth's field goals, or Cam Sexton's touchdown. And the defense. The Tar Heels snagged four turnovers in the second half -- two interceptions and two lost fumbles -- including Quan Sturdivant's momentum-changing 32-yard interception return for a touchdown to start the third quarter. Don't forget Trimane Goddard's fumble recovery with three seconds left.

Virginia coach Al Groh -- Yes, Cedric Peerman had an amazing game, Clint Sintim, too. But it's time to give the man behind it all some credit. He took so much heat for the off-field incidents in the preseason, for how he handled the Peter Lalich situation, and for the losses. Now he deserves recognition for turning this once laughable team into a contender.

Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner -- He redeemed himself after an uncharacteristically poor performance against Navy and completed 22 of 34 passes for 186 yards, and he also ran for 74 yards. He marched the Deacs downfield on a 15-play, 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter that led Wake to its 12-7 win over Clemson.

Wake Forest defense -- Alphonso Smith tied the school record with his 17th interception, and the defense held Clemson to just 21 rushing yards and 2 of 14 third-down conversions. Linebacker Stanley Arnoux broke up Cullen Harper's fourth-and-20 pass with about 3:30 left to seal the win.

Miami's defense -- The Hurricanes forced Central Florida into a school-record 12 punts and allowed just 78 total yards on an afternoon when, save for Graig Cooper, Miami's offense was going nowhere.

Preseason All-ACC team

August, 26, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Just so you know, I agonize over these things. You can't pick everyone.

Here's the final version:


QB -- Cullen Harper, Clemson
RB -- Josh Adams, Wake Forest
RB -- James Davis, Clemson
WR -- Aaron Kelly, Clemson
WR -- Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina
TE -- Ryan Purvis, Boston College
T -- Andrew Gardner, Georgia Tech
T -- Eugene Monroe, Virginia
G -- Rodney Hudson, Florida State
G -- Sergio Render, Virginia Tech
C -- Edwin Williams, Maryland


DE -- Everette Brown, Florida State
DE -- Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
DT -- Ron Brace, Boston College
DT -- Vance Walker, Georgia Tech
LB -- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
LB -- Clint Sintim, Virginia
LB -- Michael Tauiliili, Duke
CB -- Victor Harris, Virginia Tech
CB -- Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
S -- Michael Hamlin, Clemson
S -- Chip Vaughn, Wake Forest


PK -- Sam Swank, Wake Forest
P -- Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech (Graham Gano is injured, out 3-5 weeks)
KO RET -- C.J. Spiller, Clemson
PUNT RET -- Preston Parker, Florida State (following his two-game suspension, of course)

Posted by's Heather Dinich

One more member of the Wolfpack just got voted off of Quarterback Island. Freshman Mike Glennon will redshirt this year to learn the offense. What started out as a five-man competition is now down to two -- Russell Wilson and Daniel Evans.

Odds are both play. (Where have we heard that before this summer? Miami, Maryland, Virginia Tech ...)

Smart move, especially considering Glennon has guys in front of him who know the offense better. While I trust Tom O'Brien's judgment on his quarterbacks, the fact that he withheld passing stats from the media (and in turn Steve Spurrier) for the second straight scrimmage is a little much. Either you've got a quarterback or you don't.

FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has three, and he's prepared to wait longer if he has to before he names the Seminoles' starter for the season opener.

Nobody in Tallahassee seems to be willing to wait, though, for late-arriving running back Tavares Pressley to learn the offense. 

The offense isn't the problem for senior wide receiver Richard Goodman -- his knee is.

Here's more from around the league:

* Wake Forest corner Alphonso Smith is trying to fuel the rumor that his team is pretty darn good. One more winning season would certainly help.

Wake Forest fans have been asking about Skylar Jones. Well, he's a heck of an athlete, but barring something crazy happening, he's not going to play this season. Here's further evidence why -- they don't need him to.

* Miami is practicing at 5:30 a.m. on Friday. Wake-up call, anyone?

* Keep an eye out for Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich this season. The NFL certainly is. Not only is he an incredible athlete, but he's also well-spoken and a good guy.

* If Virginia fans are looking for some sort of a sign that everything is going to be OK this season, they might want to look outside the stadium. The university just banned signs at games.

* Clemson beat writer Paul Strelow sat down with the university president and asked some important questions about Tommy Bowden and the football program. Here's a lighter Clemson story with a neat twist on the Alabama game.

* This future Hokie might have earned a scholarship by not following directions, and he couldn't be happier.

* Terence Moore and I are on the same page when it comes to Paul Johnson -- it's only a matter of time. 

* Here's a more extensive breakdown of Deacon Tower, one of the places I got to visit this summer.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The votes are in, as the USA TODAY Coaches' poll came out Friday. Here are the ones you're looking for:

No. 9 Clemson -- No doubt Clemson should start off as a top 10 team, and the Tigers have more answers right now than Texas and Auburn, but I'd be surprised if those two programs don't eventually push past Clemson in the rankings. And yes, West Virginia should be good - Pat White will get Heisman consideration -- but to have the Mountaineers ranked above Clemson right now seems high, especially without Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt.

No. 15 Virginia Tech -- Wow. That's saying something for Frank Beamer and his staff. Considering how many questions the Hokies have heading into Monday's practice (we don't really need to rehash it again, do we?), that's a little high. Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons should be ranked higher at this point, but neither team should be above 20 right now.

No. 23 Wake Forest -- This seems just about right. The program is still asserting itself on the national level, but this ranking is further proof Wake Forest is getting taken more seriously and that maybe 2006 wasn't a fluke, but the start of a trend. Wake was just one of two ACC teams to win its bowl game last year. They've got 16 starters back, including two of the league's best playmakers on defense in Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry.