NCF Nation: Antone Smith

Final: Florida State 45, Miami 17

October, 9, 2010
10/09/10
11:51
PM ET
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Here's a quick recap of Florida State's 45-17 win over Miami on Saturday night:

How the game was won: Florida State’s defense was better and the Seminoles ran the ball more effectively. The Seminoles disrupted Miami’s passing game, and dared Jacory Harris to beat them with his arm. While he didn’t turn it over, Harris had to play from behind and tried to do too much. Miami’s defense missed too many tackles and FSU executed a balanced offense led by running back Jermaine Thomas.

Turning point: Lonnie Pryor’s 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter put the Seminoles ahead 31-7, and Florida State was in control from that point.

Player of the game: FSU running back Thomas. He ran for 78 yards and scored two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.The last person to have three touchdowns here was Antone Smith when FSU won two years ago.

Unsung hero of the game: FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. This did not look like the defense that rolled out the red carpet for Oklahoma. Jacory Harris completed just 40 percent of his passes, and the Seminoles were better up front. Miami was held to 6 of 18 third down conversions.

What it means: There was no question that Florida State was the better team and played like it wanted it more. Florida State and NC State are the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division, and the Seminoles are now the team to beat in the ACC. With Miami and Florida State the ACC’s only two ranked teams in the Associated Press poll, the Seminoles should now jump the Canes as the ACC’s top team.

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

Potential playmakers in the ACC

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
10:46
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

In addition to the newcomers to watch this spring, there will also be a few players who hinted at their potential last year, but could be on the verge of a breakout season in '09. Here are a few players who might emerge from the shadows this year in the ACC:

UNC safety Da'Norris Searcy -- He had 10 tackles against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and is slated to be the starter in place of graduated All-American Trimane Goddard. Searcy spent some time at linebacker and on special teams last year. He finished the season with 25 tackles, including two sacks, three pass breakups and three passes defended.

NC State running back Toney Baker -- Remember him? Think back to '06. Baker had over 1,200 yards heading into his junior season and suffered a season-ending knee injury and missed the rest of the season. A second surgery kept him out for 2008. Baker was cleared to return last fall, is reportedly in amazing shape and "about to have a fit to get back on the field," according to sports information director Annabelle Myers. With Andre Brown gone, Baker's progress will be a huge key to the Pack's success.

Wake Forest running back Kevin Harris -- In just the third start of his career and his first since October 2006, Harris turned in one of the most memorable performances of the inaugural EagleBank Bowl. Harris rushed for a career-high 24 carries and 136 yards. It came as a complete surprise and sparked the start of much-needed improvement in the Deacs' running game. His senior season could be his best.

FSU running back Carlton "Ty" Jones -- He scored his first collegiate touchdown in the Champs Sports Bowl and might even be better than fellow freshman Jermaine Thomas. Jones had four carries for a career-high 55 yards in the bowl game, and set a career-high for the longest rush for scrimmage with a 31-yard run. With the departure of Antone Smith, the Noles enter the spring looking for a dependable go-to back.

Georgia Tech's linebackers -- Both Brad Jefferson and Anthony Barnes played sparingly behind current NFL linebackers Philip Wheeler (Colts) and Gary Guyton (Patriots) as freshmen, and both started the opener last year. Jefferson and Barnes were both also injured in the season opener, missed a game or two, and were never really 100 percent last season. Both should be healthy this year, and could finally emerge from the shadows of their NFL predecessors.

FSU romps over Wisconsin

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
8:37
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina, even in its losing effort, set the entertainment bar high with an instant classic in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and the ACC's second game of the day paled in comparison.

Even the officials got caught sleeping in this one.

Florida State's speed beat Wisconsin's power repeatedly, and the Seminoles earned their first nine-win season since 2004. Considering how poorly the Badgers played, though, it wasn't exactly the kind of win that will have everyone proclaiming the program is back. It was a convincing postseason win nonetheless, and Bobby Bowden will take it -- especially considering it didn't happen last year.

The two major factors in this game were Florida State's defense and kicker/punter/Lou Groza award winner Graham Gano. Gano pinned Wisconsin deep in its own territory, as three of his punts dropped inside the 3-yard line in the first half, and once inside the 10. It gave the defense momentum and energy early.

The Seminoles' defense was the difference in the game, as they snagged three turnovers and kept Wisconsin's bruising, powerful backs off the field. Two of those fumbles were returned for touchdowns, and Florida State actually wound up controlling the clock by about 10 minutes. If defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews wanted to retire, he couldn't have asked for a better sendoff from his players, but all indications from within the program are that he'll be back for another season.

FSU quarterback Christian Ponder spent much of the first half on his bad back, but had enough playmakers around him -- namely receiver Greg Carr -- to take advantage of Wisconsin's mistakes on defense.

Ponder struggled with his accuracy in the first half because there was so much pressure on him, but improved in the second half when the offensive line gave him some time to throw. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has played it safe most of the season with his play calling, keeping Ponder to shorter throws. Ponder's at his best with the play action, when he uses his feet and rolls out of the pocket. Overall, he managed the offense without turning it over and will only get better.

Florida State does have a balanced offense, but the running game has been the backbone, and Wisconsin took that away and forced Ponder to beat them. Antone Smith ran it when it counted, though, and was more effective later in the game. He also got some help from Ty Jones, who will be part of the future of FSU's running game along with Jermaine Thomas.

Even without injured playmaker Preston Parker, one of the team's top receivers, FSU's depth, height and athleticism at the position were too much for Wisconsin to handle.

Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Wisconsin take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Both of these teams will have an eye toward the future when they clash Dec. 27 at Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Wisconsin's BCS bowl dreams have long since vanished, but it recovered from a miserable four-week stretch to close the regular season with three consecutive wins. The Badgers seemed to establish an identity on offense after junior quarterback Dustin Sherer replaced Allan Evridge, and they finally started to utilize the Big Ten's deepest rushing attack.

Quarterback Christian Ponder is Florida State's future, but like the team this season, the sophomore had mixed results. The same can be said for Wisconsin's veteran defense, which will need to contain Ponder and running back Antone Smith.

Defense and special teams are Florida State's strengths, and Wisconsin must wear down the Seminoles with running backs P.J. Hill and John Clay, who were used effectively in the final four games. Sherer won't have many opportunities to attack the nation's eighth-ranked pass defense, but Florida State struggled to stop the run against Georgia Tech and Florida and could be vulnerable against the ground game.


Florida State take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: Florida State will face a middle-of-the-pack Wisconsin team that was reflective of a bulk of the Big Ten -- average. The Badgers were expected to contend for the Big Ten title, but fell below the preseason expectations and barely escaped their season finale against Cal Poly.

It's the first time these programs have met, and they're similar in that their strengths are both their running games. The Badgers finished the regular season 14th nationally and lead the Big Ten with 212 rushing yards per game, and are led by P.J. Hill, who has 1,021 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

The Seminoles are holding opponents to an average of 291.8 total yards, and have the No. 5 rushing defense in the ACC. Wisconsin's challenge will also be to stop the run -- namely Antone Smith and Jermaine Thomas -- and force quarterback Christian Ponder into throwing the ball deep and making mistakes.

The Badgers will also be challenged to match Florida State's speedy playmakers, and stop the ACC's No. 1 scoring defense at 32.7 points per game. Wisconsin has the No. 5 rushing defense in the Big Ten at 133.2 yards per game. Wisconsin won three straight to end the season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

  • Butch Davis has Carolina fans right where he wants 'em, writes Caulton Tudor -- still interested, and it's November. They needed a little help from Miami this past weekend, though, and Cam Sexton knew it.
  • Here's the AJC's breakdown of the ACC, and why eight teams will make it, and why they won't.
  • FSU running back Antone Smith wasn't the only one with bruised ribs in Atlanta.
  • Virginia's tailbacks have taken a beating this season, and Mikell Simpson, who surprised everyone last season, was the latest to go down.
  • The one constant in the otherwise unpredictable ACC this season has been NC State, and the Pack have four more games to try to avoid becoming just the fifth team in school history to fail to win an ACC game.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA, Ga. -- It came down to one fumble, and shockingly, it wasn't Georgia Tech that lost the ball.

When Florida State fumbled the ball in the end zone with 45 seconds remaining, the Seminoles turned over the ball, the game and their chance at running the table in the Atlantic Division -- what they needed to do in order to win it.

Maryland was the biggest winner this weekend, and the Terps didn't even play.

The Seminoles' loss put Maryland in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division and made life a lot more difficult for Florida State. Georgia Tech's 31-28 win over Florida State, combined with Miami's, made the Coastal Division a mess.

With star running back Antone Smith used sparingly because of his bruised ribs, the Seminoles offense couldn't match Georgia Tech's running game, nor could the defense stop it. With two conference losses, including one to Atlantic Division opponent Wake Forest, the Seminoles are going to need some help getting back into the race.

With two of the nation's top defenses being featured today at Bobby Dodd Stadium, a high-scoring game didn't seem likely, but it wasn't until late in the game that the Yellow Jackets started to play aggressively on defense.

This is what Georgia Tech can do when it puts together a complete game. They won the field position battle, forced Florida State into just enough mistakes and scored enough to win. Call it an upset if you want, as Florida State is No. 15 in the BCS standings and the Yellow Jackets aren't ranked, but this game was just further proof of the parity in the ACC.

Heading down to the locker room now. Check back later.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

1. Florida State's young offensive line against Georgia Tech's veteran defensive line. The game will be won or lost here. The Seminoles will need their best run blocking effort considering that's the foundation of their offense.

2. Florida State running backs Antone Smith and Jermaine Thomas. They both expect to play, but their health, especially Smith's, will be key to winning the football game. Smith had injured his ribs and elbow, and Thomas had a concussion.

3. Georgia Tech's quarterbacks. Paul Johnson has said this week he might play both Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, but if Nesbitt is able to limit his turnovers, he might not have to. The better protection the line gives him, the less likely he is to be forced into a mistake.

4. Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. The dynamic return man will play at Boston College after missing the past seven quarters with an injured hamstring, but how much of a boost can he give a running game that combined for just 72 rushing yards in the past two games?

5. Turnovers in Chestnut Hill. It's something Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski has been talking about all week, as his Eagles have now surrendered the ball eight times in their past two games. But they're not the only ones. Clemson turned it over six times in its loss to Georgia Tech.

6. Miami's run defense. It hasn't been entirely convincing this season, giving up 113.9 yards per game and 10 touchdowns. The Hurricanes will have to give their best effort in order to slow Virginia running back Cedric Peerman.

7. Bowl eligibility. Only Maryland and North Carolina are bowl eligible, but Florida State, Miami, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia can change that this week. Problem is, half of 'em are playing each other.

8. Wake Forest's ability to create turnovers. In the first three games of the season, Wake secured 15 takeaways (five at Baylor, three against Ole Miss and seven at Florida State). They were undefeated and No. 15 in the nation. In the past four games, they have only five takeaways. It's no coincidence they've lost three of the past four.

9. The Demon Deacons' ability to create offense. For six games they tried a spread offense. For their seventh they lined up in the I-formation. This game they'll probably mix it up, but will it work?

10. Clash of the Coastal in Charlottesville. Virginia has won 15 of its past 17 homecoming games and needs to win this one in order to stay atop the Coastal Division standings. But Miami needs to win in order to say in the mix. If the Hurricanes pull off the road win, get ready for some confusion in the Coastal.

ACC's internal affairs

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
12:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON: Entering Saturday's game at Boston College, the Tigers have a chance to be as healthy as they've been all year, and that's saying a lot. Clemson has had 12 injured players miss games and seven are offensive or defensive linemen. As a result, Clemson has started five different offensive line combinations in the first seven games and it could have another different lineup in Chestnut Hill. Starting defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson, a team leader who hurt his knee during summer camp and hasn't played a down all year, has been practicing this week. Running back C.J. Spiller, who hasn't played the past seven quarters, has looked pretty mobile at practice, and starting guard David Smith, who hasn't played since he sprained his ankle in the first half against South Carolina State, could also be back. The bye week might have been the best thing to happen to the Tigers this season.

FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles' run-based offense took a hit last weekend when leading rusher Antone Smith and his backup, freshman Jermaine Thomas, were both injured against Virginia Tech. Smith's biggest concern right now seems to be his ribs, but he is expected to play. Thomas, though, had a concussion and his availability is less certain even though he practiced this week. Depending on how much they've healed, it's possible that receiver Preston Parker could be used more in the running game like he was last year against Maryland. He was forced into the starting role after all three of the Noles' scholarship runners were injured. Both Smith and Thomas, though, seemed determined to play at Georgia Tech. Smith is the fourth-leading rusher in the ACC with 77.1 yards per game, but leads with 11 touchdowns.

VIRGINIA: Virginia coach Al Groh said this week that he expects tight end John Phillips to be among the leading tight ends in the nation before the season is over. Last year, with receiver Kevin Ogletree injured and the production from the receivers down, three Cavs' tight ends combined to catch 93 passes. Some of those plays this year have gone to Ogletree and Maurice Covington. This year, Groh said he expects his tight ends to get 50-55 passes. Phillips has shown his versatility this season and is second on the team and tied for fifth in the ACC with 35 catches for 300 yards and a touchdown. That's more production than he had in his first three seasons combined (21 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns).

DUKE: The Blue Devils' coaching staff faces an interesting challenge this week. For the first six games of the season, Wake Forest ran a spread offense, and then last week, the Deacs made a sudden change to the I-formation and surprised Miami by throwing the ball just eight times. Duke's staff is now forced to prepare for two different offensive styles. While the Blue Devils are comfortable with their base defense, they're expecting to have to make adjustments. Duke's defense has been inconsistent this season, looking good against Navy's run, but unable to stop anything at Georgia Tech. Odds are Duke will see a more balanced Wake Forest offense on Saturday.

WAKE FOREST: Filming for the movie "The 5th Quarter" will take place during Saturday's home game against Duke. The movie is based on the Demon Deacons' 2006 championship season during which linebacker Jon Abbate was driven by the death of his 15-year-old brother, Luke. The crew purchased about 150 tickets for the game and will sit in section five, where Abbate's parents used to sit. The actors will be reacting to the game as it goes on, but since some scenes take place in September and others in November, they're going to have to change from short-sleeves to parkas during the game.

Sneak peek at Week 9 in the ACC

October, 21, 2008
10/21/08
11:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Boston College at North Carolina
You know this one will be a low-scoring, defensive struggle. BC ranks in the top 25 in the nation in nine different categories and boast the best pass-efficiency defense and red zone defense in the country. The defensive front seven is one of the best in the league, with B.J. Raji, Ron Brace and Mark Herzlich leading the way.

UNC's defense has assumed the role Wake Forest had last year and leads the ACC with five nonoffensive touchdowns (three interception returns, one punt return and one blocked punt recovery in the end zone). Last week was the first time in six games that UNC didn't grab an interception. Would you believe that neither of UNC's past two opponents have been able to muster more than 90 yards on the ground?

Butch Davis is 6-0 against the Eagles as a head coach, but BC has been one of the nation's best road teams over the past six seasons at 24-10. The Eagles are one win away from their 10th straight bowl appearance.

Wake Forest at Miami
The Deacs are unranked for the first time this season and will be playing their second straight ACC road game. Last week's 26-0 loss to Maryland marked the first time Wake Forest had been shut out by an ACC opponent since 1996. Sam Swank is listed as questionable for this game, and so is the WF offense, especially since the offensive line took another big hit.

Redshirt sophomore Trey Bailey, who had a tough task this season in replacing Steve Justice, suffered a broken right ankle against Maryland and underwent surgery on Sunday. Bailey is expected to be out six weeks and miss the remainder of the regular season. It is possible he could return if the Deacons are invited to a bowl game.

He was replaced at center by guard Russell Nenon. True freshman Joe Looney took Nenon's spot at left guard. Should Looney start against Miami, he would be the first true freshman to start for Wake since Chris DeGeare earned a start at right guard against NC State on Oct. 22, 2005.

The offensive line has been at the root of Wake's problems this season, and the loss of Bailey obviously won't help this weekend against an aggressive Miami defense.

Duke at Vanderbilt
Duke coach David Cutcliffe should be familiar with his next opponent from his time in the SEC, and is well-aware of the success Bobby Johnson has had this season. Like many teams in the SEC, though, Johnson has been winning with defense. Vandy ranks 118th in the nation in total offense with 249 yards per game, but the Commodores lead the SEC in sacks. Still, they're close to their first bowl game for the first time since 1982, and will have extra motivation in trying to rebound from the loss to Georgia.

Virginia Tech at Florida State
While the Hokies are still trying to find their offense, Florida State is running the ball an average of 18 times more per game and is 3-0 since its loss to Wake Forest. And the Noles success on third downs -- both converting them and stopping them -- has been significant. In their past two games, Florida State has converted 62 percent of its third downs. They're on a streak of 28 consecutive drives without a three-and-out. FSU leads the nation in stopping teams on third downs.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are 110th in the nation in total offense. They're even worse (114th) in passing offense. Coach Frank Beamer insists that it's not just one person (Tyrod Taylor), rather it's missed assignments on the offensive line or blown routes by receivers. The Hokies do have the fifth-best rushing defense in the ACC, though, and that will obviously be a factor against Antone Smith and FSU's run-based offense. Virginia Tech is holding its opponents to an average of 122.6 yards, while the Seminoles are averaging 216.

Virginia at Georgia Tech
The battle to watch in this game will be defensive end Michael Johnson against left tackle Eugene Monroe, and there will be plenty of scouts in the press box to see it firsthand. Both have first-round draft potential. Considering that matchup, it's no surprise this game will feature the ACC's leader in sacks (Georgia Tech), against the league's co-leader in fewest sacks allowed (Virginia).

Also, the Cavaliers have averaged 27.3 points and 377.3 total yards per game during its three-game winning streak, but Georgia Tech has the stingiest scoring defense in the ACC (11.6 points per game).

NC State at Maryland
NC State coach Tom O'Brien has deemed that the fickle Terps have everything they need to be a "championship-caliber football team," and Maryland enters its homecoming game in a four-way tie for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack, though, are aiming to be the spoiler. In last week's shutout of Wake Forest, though, the Terps finally put it together in all three phases of the game, and a breakout performance by receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was a huge difference in the offense. Another difference has been the offensive line, which has allowed just two sacks in the past four games.

NC State has also made improvements in recent weeks. The Pack hasn't turned the ball over once in the past two games, the first time that has happened since 2002. It's a much different offense when quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Anthony Hill are healthy and in the lineup.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Florida State left guard Rodney Hudson was sick to his stomach. It was one of the first practices of the season, and Hudson had caught a virus. He couldn't keep anything down, but refused to miss a minute of practice or complain about being ill.

"Nobody ever knew," said running back Antone Smith. "When I found out, I was like, he's a winner, this guy is a winner."

Hudson is only 19 years old, but he talks about "helping out the young guys" like he's a senior. He and offensive line coach Rick Trickett are two of the main reasons the youngest offensive line in the nation has matured quickly enough to make a difference. Their progress has been the root of the Seminoles' offensive success, and paved the way for Smith and a running game that had been lacking in previous years.

"I'm as surprised as I can be," coach Bobby Bowden said. "I mean, I'm as surprised as I can be. All five games, I'm just surprised. I just didn't think they could do this good. I mean, when you put that offensive line together, you would say, 'Well, this group is going to be pretty good one of these days, but they're not going to be ready yet.' Well, they're performing like they're juniors."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Doug Benc/Getty Images
 FSU quarterback Christian Ponder scrambled for 144 yards against Miami.

In a game that featured two talented but young quarterbacks, the team that had the better running game -- Florida State -- won. Barely.

The surprise was that the Seminoles' quarterback was so much a part of it.

Christian Ponder ran for 144 yards in FSU's 41-39 win over Miami. Antone Smith rushed for a career-best four touchdowns.

If you must compare quarterbacks, go ahead, but it's still too early in their careers to make that call. Ponder had the better day today, but until both he and Robert Marve become more seasoned, inconsistency should be expected. One might eventually distance himself from the other, or they both might just turn out to be two pretty good quarterbacks, the latter being the more likely.

Of all the young talent on the field today at Dolphin Stadium, the difference in the game was a veteran -- Smith. The one thing we learned from this game: He can be a leader on Florida State's offense and the player the staff had expected and needed him to be.

This was a bizzare, mistake-laden, rain-drenched game that revealed little about both teams other than Florida State held on to win the bragging rights and Miami sunk further into the hole it's been trying to climb out of since last season. The two programs are in such similar situations right now that they need to play everyone else in the ACC to find out where they truly stand.

In Miami's case, it's behind North Carolina. In Florida State's case, it's behind Wake Forest.

How much better is Florida State than Miami, Ponder than Marve? Apparently, just two points.

ACC internal affairs

October, 1, 2008
10/01/08
11:20
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Boston College -- Yes, the Eagles' defense is among the best in the country on paper, allowing just 6.5 points per game, but defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani subtly pointed out it hasn't exactly faced the New England Patriots. "We're going to find out more about ourselves here in the next few games," he said. Regardless of who starts at quarterback for NC State, Spaziani will be focused on stopping the Wolfpack's running game first.

Florida State -- FSU coach Bobby Bowden said his young offensive line is run blocking well enough that the running game is starting to become the team's offensive identity. Antone Smith is coming off a strong rushing performance against Colorado, but Miami's defense is holding opponents to just 65 yards per game on the ground. Bowden said he is looking for more from all of his playmakers against Miami, not just Smith.

Miami -- Coach Randy Shannon told the Miami Herald he is considering making changes to the secondary, as cornerbacks Bruce Johnson, Chavez Grant and DeMarcus Van Dyke are "not doing what we want them to do." Problem is, Shannon only has five corners to choose from. Miami's secondary has already allowed eight touchdowns compared to 15 all of last season. The lone interception this season has come from defensive endEric Moncur.

Georgia Tech -- The Yellow Jackets will be focused on containing Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, and coach Paul Johnson has stressed staying in the rushing lanes and being prepared for the quarterback draw. He said until a week ago, that was the Blue Devils' best play. "I'm sure if our defensive ends are getting up-field and giving pressure we are going to see that a few times, so you have to have a plan for that," Johnson said. "They have to be smart about their rush lanes and if we aren't getting it done that way, we have to have a plan."

NC State -- Safety Clem Johnson, a projected starter this preseason, came back last week against South Florida for the first time since breaking his jaw in fall camp and played six snaps. With the other starters in the secondary taking so many snaps, the coaching staff is expected to work him in more and more each week. Johnson was originally expected to be out all season, but he could provide some much needed depth there. The four starters have played basically the whole game every week and could use some relief.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 5

September, 28, 2008
9/28/08
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here's a look at the ACC's top performers from Week 5:

UNC quarterback Cam Sexton -- He stepped up in the absence of injured starter T.J. Yates and led the Tar Heels to a 28-24 come-from-behind win over Miami. Sexton's 14-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds left helped erase a 14-point deficit. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 242 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Maryland's defense -- It woke up in the second half against Clemson and helped the Terps to a 20-17 win in Death Valley. After racking up 260 yards of total offense in the first half, Clemson was held to 112 in the second. The Tigers had 14 first downs in the first half, and five in the second. After combining for 193 rushing yards in the first half, James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for 31 in the second.

Virginia Tech placekicker Dustin Keys -- The Hokies relied on Keys for four field goals at Nebraska in their 35-30 win over the Cornhuskers. Three of his kicks came in the second quarter to give Tech an 18-10 lead.

Florida State running back Antone Smith -- After a quiet night against Wake Forest, Smith woke up and rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-21 win over previously undefeated Colorado. It was the Seminoles' first win against an FBS opponent this season.

BC running back Montel Harris -- The true freshman ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles' 42-0 romp of Rhode Island, further asserting himself as the most productive option on offense.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher breezed into the postgame interview room following the Seminoles' second straight inept offensive performance against Wake Forest, plopped into a chair and addressed what had just happened as if it were nothing more than a bad day at practice.

"We made some boo-boos," Fisher said. "We had some chances to make some plays and did some good things. No consistency, no consistency."

No offense, either.

There were three points. Five interceptions. The leading rushers were the quarterbacks. FSU averaged 3.4 yards per play. And fumbled twice.

This was no "boo-boo." This was a black eye, broken nose and busted lip on picture day.
The opportunity for Florida State to show the college football nation it took a step toward regaining respectability was thrown away with each yellow flag. It was given away with seven turnovers. And it's going to take a while to get it back.

(Read full post)

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