NCF Nation: Greg Boone

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The ACC has released its preseason all-conference team last month, now ESPN.com is releasing ours. Here's the final version with minimal tweaks from the original ballot:

OFFENSE

QB Riley Skinner, Wake Forest
RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
WR Jacoby Ford, Clemson
WR LaRon Byrd, Miami
TE Greg Boone, Virginia Tech
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College
OT Jason Fox, Miami
OG Thomas Austin, Clemson
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State
PK Matt Bosher, Miami

DEFENSE
DE Willie Young, NC State
DE Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech
DT Vince Oghobaase, Duke
DT John Russell, Wake Forest
LB Sean Spence, Miami
LB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
LB Dekoda Watson, Florida State
CB Stephan Virgil, Virginia Tech
CB Patrick Robinson, Florida State
S Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech
S Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech
P Travis Baltz, Maryland
SP C.J. Spiller, Clemson

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- During a group photo shoot for the players on Sunday at the ACC Football Kickoff, Clemson bandit end Ricky Sapp asked Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone what it felt like to wear his ACC championship ring -- the third one. Boone's bling was impossible to miss.

"He said it felt good," Sapp said, almost wistfully.

Clemson, the team that at this time a year ago was expected to be a formidable opponent for Alabama and cruise through the ACC to make some noise on the national level, has officially switched places with the Hokies, who now bear the brunt of the league's expectations.

Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech -- quite frankly, nobody around here seems to care much who it is, just as long as somebody in the ACC is a legitimate national title contender. It's exactly what this conference needs to give its reputation a boost.

An NCAA-record 10 ACC teams were bowl eligible in a crazy, competitive and unpredictable 2008 season, and the conference took a step forward in polishing its image. There is still plenty of progress yet to be made, though, said ACC commissioner John Swofford, who added the ACC has "unlimited potential."

"I think if you really step back and take a look at the conferences a year ago, top to bottom, we may well have been the deepest conference in the country a year ago," Swofford said. "What we didn't have is a team or two involved in the national championship race down the stretch. I think that has a lot to do with how a conference is perceived competitively, maybe more than it should. But the fact of the matter is it does have a lot to do with that."

Swofford said that once teams are involved in the national championship race and win certain games outside the conference, "then I think that our league will receive the kind of respect it deserves."

The Hokies are the front-runners to win the Coastal Division title, and should be a preseason top-10 team, but it's not as if they're strangers to the top of the BCS standings. Boone remembers what was lost in 2007 when the Hokies were humiliated 48-7 at LSU. That season, the Tigers bumped Virginia Tech to No. 3 in the final BCS standings.

Can Virginia Tech be the team the conference can depend on?

"We have been that team," Boone said, "we just didn't win the games we should have."

Of course, Virginia Tech isn't the only team with the hope -- or the potential -- to make a splash on the national stage. In fact, the Hokies are going to have a difficult time getting through their conference schedule unscathed, let alone the lone nonconference schedule in the league that doesn't include an FCS team. It's the parity in the ACC, the players say, that makes title talk so difficult.

"I think that's why the ACC is so competitive -- because everybody wants to take that role and become that leader of the pack," said Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox. "I think we're really close. [The freshmen] have had a year under their belt, we have a great senior class, great senior leadership, and we've got two great coordinators. ... We're getting all the pieces together."

It's a rebuilding challenge both Miami and Florida State are facing simultaneously, and many say it's the resurrection of those two programs alone that can make the difference.

"For the ACC to really be a top-tier conference, there needs to be some people fighting for that national championship and being top five," said FSU quarterback Christian Ponder. "But the problem is, the ACC is so competitive and the ACC is also known for great defenses, so it's hard to really get up there. But I think we're close. There's a bunch of good teams this year that are getting better, getting up to that top tier, so we'll see. Florida State has a lot of potential. Virginia Tech should be ranked high up there. There's a lot of potential in the conference."

The question is when that potential will be realized.

North Carolina coach Butch Davis has told his players that they should want to play "when the blimp is in the sky," meaning it's a nationally televised game that holds postseason consequences. UNC defensive end E.J. Wilson said the Tar Heels are building the program into a national contender, but in order for the league to be taken seriously, they've got to have some company.

"I do agree with that because you have the Pac-10, who has USC, which is competing for a national championship almost every year, then you have the SEC, and they have four or five teams every year that's competing for it," said Wilson. "So in order for us to get talked about in the same respect with those conferences and be mentioned in the same breath with those, we have to have a few teams -- not just one team -- consistently every year competing for the national championship. We need to get more teams that can actually be successfully on the national level and not just around here."

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It was a game that resonated throughout Blacksburg for all of the wrong reasons, and Virginia Tech tight end Greg Boone hasn't forgotten it.

 
  Chris Keane/Icon SMI
  Greg Boone finished third on the team with 22 receptions last season.

Two years ago, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated an amazing comeback, throwing two touchdown passes in the final 2:11 for a 14-10 come-from-behind win in Lane Stadium on a Thursday night.

During that wacky 2007 season, Virginia Tech finished third in the final BCS standings behind LSU.

"If we would have won that game and won out, we probably would have been playing Ohio State in the national championship game," said Boone. "It's always been in the back of our heads and we always let it slip in a meaningful game. This year, we're trying to win it all."

And Boone plans on doing anything and everything he can to help.

"Since I'm going to be a senior, I'm going to have a lot of people looking up to me," he said. "And I don't want to be the one to have a disappointing season."

Boone played a significant role in the Hokies' offense during the last half of the 2008 season, and finished third on the team with 22 receptions. During a season in which passing touchdowns were hard to come by, Boone had 278 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It was his role in the "Wild Turkey" formation, though, that got people talking about the beefy, 6-foot-3, 287-pound tight end.

Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring came up with the formation, a variation of Arkansas' Wild Hog, which lined up running back Darren McFadden at quarterback. Boone, who was already conveniently practicing at quarterback because of the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, lined up in the shotgun seven times against Maryland and caught the Terps off-guard.

Boone, who was recruited to Virginia Tech as a quarterback but moved to tight end prior to the 2006 season, said he hasn't thrown the ball much lately, but he did this spring. Only recently have the players started getting together to run some routes.

"I spent a fair amount of time with the quarterbacks, just basically seeing the things like how they take the drop steps on different plays, different reads in the passing game," he said.

During his career, Boone has lined up on the line, in the slot and in the backfield. He's big, strong and tough to tackle. He was also a safety and a linebacker in high school.

What position can't he play?

"I probably could play them all," he said.

Boone said the one thing that will separate the Hokies from the rest of the Coastal Division this fall will be the "want to" factor.

"We had a lot of young guys on the team last year that really stepped up," he said. "We have to make sure they don't get comfortable with what we did last year, because last year's in the past. We have to move onto bigger things this year."

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
 Quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed for a touchdown and led the Hokies to a 20-7 victory over Cincinnati.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was convinced his team had yet to play its best football game of the season, and he was right. The Hokies saved their best for last.

Cincinnati played not to lose, and Virginia Tech played like it had everything to lose.

Instead, the Hokies gained respect and redemption in this year's FedEx Orange Bowl with their 20-7 win over Big East champ Cincinnati. Virginia Tech represented the ACC well by playing a complete game and snapping the league's eight-game losing streak in BCS games. The win gave the conference a needed boost, as the ACC finished with a 4-6 bowl record, and it helped ease the sting of last year's Orange Bowl loss to Kansas.

Virginia Tech's youth, which was a frustrating hindrance for much of the season, has finally turned into an exciting foundation for next season. Even without three starters in the lineup because of injuries and academics, the Hokies got the job done. But that's how they roll. All season, game after game, they've proved their critics wrong and won despite setback after setback.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor looked like a dual-threat quarterback, and added another dimension to his game, in addition to the Hokies'. He outplayed Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike, whose four interceptions were momentum killers, and the third was the difference in the game. Taylor made some impressive throws, save for his poorly thrown interception, and the defense, as usual, did its part.

The extra preparation time and focus and new mentality paid off. Virginia Tech got good blocking from everyone, including Darren Evans. The players weren't the only ones to made good use of their time off. This year, the coaches began planning earlier and showed some wrinkles in the offense. There was definitely more balance, and that kept Cincinnati's defense off-guard.

Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring got the receivers involved in the running game, tailback Darren Evans involved in the passing game and used the wild turkey formation, lining tight end Greg Boone up for the direct snap. Boone rumbled, and the revamped offensive line paved the way for him and Evans, who rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown.

Both teams had missed field goals and interceptions in the first half, but it was Pike's interception in the end zone that was like a punch to the gut for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati came out hot and scored quickly, but Virginia Tech's defense settle down and adjusted. Cincinnati had just 11 rushing yards in the first half, and the Bearcats' defense became visibly tired in the third quarter while Virginia Tech seemed to be re-energized with every big stop.

Cincinnati missed plenty of opportunities, and Virginia Tech took advantage of it.

Virginia Tech changed its philosophy about this bowl game, treating it more as a business trip than a reward, and in the end, they got the biggest reward of all.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Virginia Tech has used all three quarterbacks (well, two and their tight end), but Miami has only needed one. Robert Marve, save for his one fumble that didn't cost the Canes, hasn't made many mistakes and has gotten his team out of jams with his ability to escape and has thrown the ball away instead of costing his team yards.

The Canes are giving the Hokies a dose of their own medicine here in Dolphin Stadium, and if Miami's receivers would be able to hold onto the ball, the offense would be twice as effective. Marve is giving them catchable balls and Patrick Nix isn't afraid to throw it downfield.

Virginia Tech used Sean Glennon, Tyrod Taylor and tight end Greg Boone on their final possession and it hasn't flustered Miami. This is one of those times when it can't hurt to have a former defensive coordinator as your head coach.

ACC internal affairs: Week 12

November, 12, 2008
11/12/08
11:04
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

FLORIDA STATE: The Seminoles are expecting a similar defense from the one they saw in their loss to Wake Forest, but the Noles are more confident in their offensive line and running game this time around. Coach Bobby Bowden said tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace are probably the best they'll play to date, and his task will be to "mix the running game in there." Bowden said BC has a different defensive alignment than Wake, but the zone is similar. "We have to execute," Bowden said. "A team like that gives you things. You can have a little hook out there but you better not miss it. We must protect the passer and then execute and then get a running game going where they can't just tee off on the passer."

WAKE FOREST: Placekicker Sam Swank likely won't play again, and coach Jim Grobe is still trying to further integrate the I-formation with the spread offense, so the defense will once again be heavily relied upon this weekend at NC State. In the first half of the season, Wake was spending three-fourths of its practices on throwing the ball, blitz pickup, reads for the quarterbacks and route concepts for the receivers. Now, Grobe said, they're "probably 50/50 or 60/40 run-pass, which I think has helped us on Saturday, because we have the ability to do more than one thing." Running back Josh Adams, who has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle, is likely to return on Saturday.

MARYLAND: After allowing the Hokies a school-record rushing performance last week, the Terps made some changes to their defensive line in order to give their rushing defense a boost, and it starts inside. Travis Ivey will start at defensive tackle in place of Jeremy Navarre, who has been moved to defensive end, and redshirt freshman Dion Armstrong will start at nose tackle in place of Olugbemi Otulaja, who has started every game this season. Navarre, who started every game at defensive tackle, leads all ACC defensive linemen with 5.3 tackles per game. Mack Frost, who started five games at end this season but hasn't completely healed from knee surgery last year, is his backup.

VIRGINIA TECH: Things have been coming together for the Hokies on offense and special teams lately. Overshadowed by the record-setting success of tailback Darren Evans, true freshman Dyrell Roberts has also shown big-play capabilities for the Hokies. The former tailback turned receiver has found his niche as a return man. Roberts has 10 catches for 158 yards, but is averaging 26.9 yards per return -- ninth-best in the country. He has had returns of 55 and 54 yards in the past two games. Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has also said he'd like to continue to use the "Wild Turkey" formation, with 280-pound tight end Greg Boone rushing out of the shotgun formation, but wants to make sure he only confuses defenses, and not his own players.

MIAMI: The Hurricanes spent their bye week focusing on special teams, but a consistent key to beating the Hokies has been a high-scoring game. Miami is 11-2 against Virginia Tech when it has scored 20 or more points against the Hokies. The Hurricanes lead the ACC in scoring offense with 30.4 points per game in ACC games. The Hurricanes could be without injured left tackle Jason Fox, though, and that could obviously hurt. Starting in his place would be senior Reggie Youngblood. Fox has started 22 straight games, and he and Xavier Shannon are the only two players on offense who have started every game this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech tailback Darren Evans had heard the doubters from the time he was in high school to the days leading up to Thursday night's game against Maryland.

 
 AP Photo/Don Petersen
 Darren Evans rushed for a school-record 253 yards Thursday night.

There were legitimate reasons, though, for the wavering confidence. Not only had Evans not had a 100-yard rushing performance this season, but the entire offense wasn't even able to hit that mark in its last game at Florida State.

Evans single-handedly changed that on Thursday night when he ran for a school-record 253 yards and a touchdown in the Hokies' critical 23-13 win over Maryland.

"I know a lot of people back home never thought I would be this way, or come this far," said Evans, a redshirt freshman. "I've even heard people talking about turning me into a quarterback when I got to college, that I was too big or too slow. I don't have that Noel Devine-type speed, but I do think I'm a good running back. It was big to come out and have a good game on Thursday night at our home when we needed it most."

It was a validating performance not just for Evans, who carried the ball 32 times, but for an offense in dire need of a spark. Evans and backup Josh Oglesby combined to average 64 yards per game and had no touchdowns in losses to Boston College and Florida State.

This time, though, the holes were big enough for an elephant to go through. The offensive line blocked. The receivers blocked. Tight end Greg Boone blocked. And Evans ran and ran.

He called it "beautiful."

"This game really put my head above the water," he said. "It really showed me I belong out here."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech has turned the page in its playbook, and in turn has found some offense.
Offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring has revealed a few wrinkles. They're using tight end Greg Boone a bit at quarterback and a lot at tight end, getting some plays at receiver out of cornerback Macho Harris, and running the ball efficiently with Darren Evans. It seems like everyone on Virginia Tech's offense is getting a piece of the action, and that just might be the answer to a young team lacking a superstar or go-to player.

Some of the credit, though, has to be given to Maryland's bend-but-don't break defense, which looks broken. It can't match the Hokies' speed when a player gets out in space. Maryland's defense has been like a giant rubber ball Evans is just bouncing off of instead of wrapping him up. Evans was hobbling around on the sideline, but a school spokesman said he's OK.

The Hokies' young players -- particularly Dyrell Roberts -- are making plays tonight. The one thing that's not a surprise in this game is the fact Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster has his defense jacked up.

Maryland came in with the intent of making Virginia Tech one-dimensional and that's more of what the Hokies have done to the Terps. Maryland can't run the ball against these guys, and it's taking away from the passing game.

Maryland started to get more production out of its running game with Davin Meggett instead of Da'Rel Scott, but the offense still stalled.

The Terps are getting outplayed and outcoached.

Maryland might lead the Atlantic Division standings right now, but it's certainly not playing like it deserves to be there. And if it keeps this up, it won't.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

As a fifth-year senior who already graduated, and a third-string quarterback and backup wide receiver who has watched more games than he had played in, Cory Holt could have understandably closed his career at Virginia Tech after last season.

 
 Doug Benc/Getty Images
 Virginia Tech's Cory Holt is preparing to start at quarterback against Maryland on Nov. 6.

He thought about it. Just not for too long.

"I'm not going to give up on this team, I'm not going to quit," he said. "And they're not going to give up on me. And they haven't for the last four years."

The Hokies certainly aren't going to give up on Holt now. Not when he could be their starting quarterback on Nov. 6 against Maryland.

On the first play of last weekend's game at Florida State, Virginia Tech starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor suffered a left high ankle sprain. In the third quarter, backup Sean Glennon dropped down and writhed in pain with a left ankle sprain. Both of them are wearing a protective boot until "at least Thursday or Friday," according to trainer Mike Goforth, and will be listed as questionable for the Maryland game.

While Holt was warming up at halftime at Florida State, receivers coach Kevin Sherman approached him and asked him if he was ready "just in case you have to go in." Holt was joking when he said, "yeah." He didn't really think he'd be playing.

After all, Holt hadn't taken a snap at quarterback in six weeks.

That changed within minutes, and Holt was suddenly searching for his helmet and running the Hokies' offense without even getting a chance to talk to quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain.

"He ran the offense just like you wanted him to," O'Cain said. "I'm very proud of him because he was in a very tough situation and did a great job."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

HOME SWEET HOME -- But not for long. Heading to Maryland today and Boston College on Wednesday. There are 10 days remaining until Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State get things started, and plenty to keep an eye on and talk about until then.

Let's get started on our FINAL WEEK without ACC football games:

* Boston College's offense made some progress in Sunday's scrimmage, but it helped that three starters were missing on defense.

* Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews just thought his defense was missing something in Saturday's scrimmage.

* Last year, the 'Noles were missing opportunities in the red zone, something they're working on this summer.

* Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen seems very close to naming a starting quarterback. The one thing he found this summer was a second-string running back.

* Miami quarterback Robert Marve appears to have taken some recent forward in the competition, but coach Randy Shannon still isn't ready to name his starter. Maybe he'll do it by the end of this week.

* Regardless of who it is, Marve and receiver Jermaine McKenzie are ready to play football again about a year after their car crash.

* Just how much better can NC State be this season? It all starts up front.

* Is Tommy Bowden on the verge of signing another quarterback? Yes, if Morgan Newton's mom has anything to do with it.

Here are a few things worth reading from Sunday in case you missed 'em:

* Georgia Tech's injuries are piling up, and Navy's former quarterback gives his take on what these guys need to run Johnson's offense: Sure hands and toughness.

* He's not Kenny Moore, but bruising fullback Mike Rinfrette might catch some balls for Wake Forest this season.

* While the rest of the ACC is wrapping up its scrimmages, FSU was just getting things started.

* Virginia kicker Chris Hinkebein was inconsistent this spring, but not on Saturday.

* It looks like Greg Boone will be helping out the Hokies on offense. So might Ryan Williams.

SPONSORED HEADLINES