NCF Nation: Dominique Lindsay

One of the great parts of the spring is watching the various position battles unfold and reading the quotes from the coaches criticizing the poor play of the competitors (talking to you, Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild).

There are a lot of teams with questions and below I look at some of the bigger ones as we head into spring practices.

1. BYU quarterback: Three players will be vying for the starting quarterback role left vacant by Max Hall this spring. Riley Nelson is the incumbent since he was the backup last year, but he’ll be challenged by true freshman Jake Heaps and James Lark, who is returning from his mission.

2. Louisiana Tech quarterback: Ross Jenkins has been the starting quarterback for the past season and a half and has done a decent job, but with a new head coach, new coordinator and new system, the starting quarterback role is going to go to the player who wings the ball around Texas Tech-style.

3. Central Michigan quarterback: With Dan LeFevour gone and a new head coach, Central Michigan is basically entering a new era. Ryan Radcliff and Derek Rifenbury will be the top two competitors for the starting position, but don’t count out Kyle Smith and A.J. Westendorp.

4. Colorado State running back: The Rams know they have a competent running game, but picking the player to spearhead that running game will be a challenge. Both John Mosure and Leonard Mason return as seniors, but the Rams also have Lou Greenwood, Raymond Carter (a transfer from UCLA), power back Chris Nwoke (a redshirt freshman in 2010), and true freshman Tony Drake, who was one of the top all-purpose backs in the country.

5. TCU defensive end: Jerry Hughes is gone and Braylon Broughton is next in line on the depth chart, but don’t rule out any of the other athletes on the roster. The Horned Frogs signed a lot of running backs and they won’t all stay at that position. Remember, Hughes was a running back before turning into an All-America defensive end.

6. Utah running back: It looked like Eddie Wide was going to be the premier back, but with Matt Asiata applying for a sixth season things could get dicey in the backfield. Add Sausan Shakerin to the mix and the Utes have a trio of guys who could start in the backfield for many teams. Which one will start for the Utes, though, is up for competition.

7. San Diego State running back: The running game has been downright awful for the Aztecs the past few years, so coach Brady Hoke has brought in a stable of running backs to find the right one. SDSU could be auditioning as many as nine running backs this year in an effort to find one who will get the Aztec running game out of the cellar.

8. North Texas receivers: The Mean Green struggled last year, but return their top six receivers and add Oklahoma transfer Tyler Stradford, who was the offensive scout team player of the year last year while sitting out, and junior college transfer Christopher Bynes. But finding the go-to receiver will be a chore this spring and into fall camp.

9. East Carolina running back: Giavanni Ruffin returns, but the rest of the running back depth is a little sketchy to replace 1,000-yard rusher Dominique Lindsay. Senior Norman Whitley, senior Jonathan Williams and junior Brandon Jackson are the other running backs on the rosters, but both Whitley and Williams have had trouble with suspensions and Jackson was inconsistent last year.

10. Southern Miss O-line: The Golden Eagles must replace four offensive linemen from last year’s squad, which is no easy task. Guys who will be competing for spots include senior R.J. Brown, redshirt freshman Ed Preston, senior Trevor Newsom and junior Ben Schoenberger as well as early enrollees Jamar Holmes and Jason Weaver and four other freshmen signed in this year’s class.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

A year ago, East Carolina coach Skip Holtz was undecided at running back.

His starter, Dominique Lindsay, was lost for the season with a knee injury and the other running backs were either unproven or dealing with off-field issues.

Holtz is in a similar position now, only this year the problem is having too much talent from which to choose.

Lindsay and transfer Brandon Jackson have been taking the bulk of the reps and both players will share time in the season opener against Appalachian State. Jackson suffered an injured thumb during last Friday's scrimmage and has been limited, but Holtz doesn't see the injury keeping him out of the game.

Giavanni Ruffin and Jon Williams are the next two in line for carries.

"It's a long cry from where we were a year ago when we didn't have Lindsay, Jackson, Ruffin and Williams wasn't here for the second half of the season,” Holtz said during his weekly press conference. “Right now, the top four guys you're looking at are bigger, more physical backs. In the past, we have struggled in short-yardage situations and have not had the success we needed to have in the past in order to keep drives alive. I feel good we have improved the running back position tremendously and I feel good about the guys who are there and the guys who will play Saturday."

Running back is probably the deepest position for the Pirates this season. In addition to the top four backs, Holtz said Darnel Ballard and Norman Whitley have done some good things during camp to work their way into the mix. Whitley came into fall camp nursing a hip injury, but led the Pirates in rushing last season with 698 yards and four touchdowns.

Holtz said he didn't know which running backs would play in the season opener beyond his top two, but that all of the running backs would get some time with special teams.

"They will all play,” Holtz said. “I can't say they will all see time at tailback, however. I feel like we have four backs that can play. Right now, I'd be very comfortable looking up and seeing any one of those four out there."

Week 1 ACC predictions

August, 28, 2008
8/28/08
11:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Well, here it is. Warning: I have a tendency to be either dead-on for these things or waaay off. Let's rock.

Miami 34, Charleston Southern 10: Despite the suspensions and a freshman starting at quarterback, Miami will have the upper hand against this small school that went 5-6 in the Big South Conference last year. The Buccaneers do have more experience at quarterback, though, as former Clemson backup Tribble Reese attempted 11 passes with the Tigers.

Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 17: JSU might be favored to win the Ohio Valley Conference, but not this game. With three sophomores on the offensive line, the Yellow Jackets' defensive line will be too much even for Ryan Perrilloux to overcome.

Wake Forest 31, Baylor 14: Who will start at quarterback for Baylor is a mystery, and it could be Miami transfer Kirby Freeman. Regardless, the Demon Deacons have the edge at quarterback. Four starters return to Baylor's offensive line, but that's not necessarily a good thing considering the Bears ranked 113th in the nation in rushing last year with 77 yards per game.

Clemson 24, Alabama 21: In a game of experience versus youth, the Tigers have the edge. Alabama has only five starters returning on defense and its receiving corps took a hit. Third-year starter John Parker Wilson was a record-setter last year, and they've got the more experienced offensive line, but Tommy Bowden has the veteran team.

Duke 26, James Madison 17: JMU has 15 starters back from its 8-4 playoff season, and is 37-13 over the past four seasons under coach Mickey Matthews. There are no guaranteed wins for a team that won one game last year, but Duke has a new energy this season and home field advantage, not to mention one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. I say Duke will beat the Dukes.

Maryland 23, Delaware 10: This is not Joe Flacco's Delaware team. Still, Maryland has a tendency to underperform in these types of games and keep things interesting. The Terps have a better offensive line and are stacked at linebacker. Jordan Steffy should have a successful comeback.

UNC 38, McNeese State 10: Brandon Take, Hakeem Nicks and T.J. Yates (not to mention Greg Little and Deunta Williams) are reason alone to pick the Tar Heels. With expectations soaring in Chapel Hill this year and a sold-out home crowd for this game, there's no question UNC will take care of business.

South Carolina 20, NCSU 10: These teams have enough in common it should be close. Both teams have an inexperienced quarterback, a starting running back out, and both were terrible against the run last year. I'm going with the home team. The program has a .775 winning percentage in home season openers.

USC 42, Virginia 21: There's a reason the Trojans are the favorite in the Pac-10. Starting at quarterback, the Trojans win this game, even if Pete Carroll goes with backup Aaron Corp. USC's defense is loaded, and should be just as good as it was last year, when it ranked second in the country.

Virginia Tech 21, East Carolina 17: This shouldn't be much different from last year. If there was an upset watch this week, this would be it. Both teams have named their starting quarterbacks but Sean Glennon is the more experienced of the two, and East Carolina lost its top running back, Dominique Lindsay.

Boston College 24, Kent State 17: The Eagles are eager to prove the naysayers wrong, and BC's defense will carry will this team through the first few games. There is no doubt, though, that Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis will get his yards on these guys.

FSU is off.

 
 Icon SMI
 Running back Dominique Lindsay suffered a knee injury during practice.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Every year there are a few teams in the non-BCS possible that are labeled as teams to watch as the season unfolds. This year, teams such as BYU, Fresno State, BYU, East Carolina, TCU and Tulsa ascended that list either for past performances or future potential.

But East Carolina took a major hit to those chances when starting running back Dominique Lindsay suffered a knee injury during practice Tuesday evening and had surgery Thursday to repair it. Early estimations have Lindsay out for at least six-to-eight weeks, but that's the optimistic prognosis.

This is a huge blow to the Pirates, who graduated last season's leading rusher, Chris Johnson. Johnson was the school's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage and No. 3 in rushing. Lindsay was the next best rusher who had played significant snaps.

"I'm absolutely sick for a guy like Dominique who is a senior and has really busted his tail," East Carolina coach Skip Holtz said. "He put his heart, soul and energy into the winter workouts, the spring and the summer. I know that he's really devastated... We're just going to have to wait and see where this thing goes after the surgery."

The injury bug has hit few non-BCS offenses as badly as East Carolina. Six offensive players missed practice Wednesday because of injury, and three of those were running backs. ECU hasn't played with its full complement of offensive players since the first day of camp.

Already, ECU has to be worried about playing its loaded nonconference schedule of Virginia Tech, West Virginia, NC State and Virginia with its running back situation in flux. If the Pirates could have gone 3-1 through its nonconference season and made a nice showing in their loss, they might have had a case for a BCS bowl.

But now, that thought appears more like a dream, unless East Carolina finds a diamond in the rough during the rest of fall camp.

If Lindsay is lost for the season, East Carolina's hope of crashing the BCS party might be lost, too.

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