NCF Nation: Jaybo Shaw

Posted by’s Heather Dinich

It’s a good thing for the ACC that backup quarterbacks weren’t needed in September the way they were needed throughout the rest of the country (SEE: Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin, just to name a few). Had Miami’s Jacory Harris or Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor gone down early against the ranked opponents each of those teams faced -- including each other -- the ACC would be in big trouble right now. (Remember the panic, Miami fans, when FSU’s Greg Reid whacked Harris’ funny bone in the opener?)

Here’s to a healthy season in the ACC, and here’s a look at which backup quarterbacks are ready to roll after one month of football:


Sean Renfree, Duke: He’s Duke's quarterback of the future and has already been groomed as such. Renfree has appeared in 13 series, completing 29-of-43 pass attempts for 286 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Mike Glennon, NC State: He played in every game except last weekend against Pittsburgh, and has completed 10 of 13 passes for 85 yards. He’s a much more dependable option than the Pack had in the past.

Vic Hall, Virginia: He was actually the starting quarterback in the season opener, and is arguably the most athletic player the Cavaliers have, but injured his hip and hasn’t played since the William & Mary game. He’s a veteran leader who has already proven himself in a multitude of roles. Hall, Jameel Sewell and Marc Verica could all be backups any given Saturday, and they're all experienced and ready to roll. If Sewell is the starter, Hall can play just about anywhere else.

Jaybo Shaw, Georgia Tech: Shaw was finally cleared to play and could make his first appearance of the season this weekend at Mississippi State after breaking his collarbone this summer. He began throwing again on Sept. 7, and proved last year he’s a tough player who can run and pass well.


E.J. Manuel, Florida State: He’s definitely gotten more hype than he has playing time this fall, as Manuel played in two games and has completed just 1-of-2 passes for four yards. Manuel, recruited by Jimbo Fisher, was an ESPNU 150 prospect and the No. 6 ranked quarterback in the class of 2008.

Willy Korn, Clemson: Well, it’s more like he HAD the hype. It’s hard to believe Korn was the No. 12 quarterback in the class of 2007. Korn was relegated to the bench this summer in favor of Kyle Parker and has only played in two games. He’s also expressed his displeasure in the fact he’s only thrown two passes this year.

A.J. Highsmith, Miami: He earned a quick promotion after Taylor Cook and Cannon Smith both transferred, but all Highsmith has so far is hype and pedigree. He’s the son of former Miami and NFL running back Alonzo Highsmith, and was the No. 24-ranked quarterback in the class of 2009.


Ju-Ju Clayton, Virginia Tech – The former scout team quarterback was in on 23 snaps against Marshall, but threw three incompletions. Clayton won the job over Marcus Davis this past spring, who was moved to wide receiver. If Taylor is injured, uncertainty is the only thing behind him.

Jamarr Robinson, Maryland – The fact that Chris Turner has been sacked 14 times and hasn’t missed a snap makes you wonder about the confidence Ralph Friedgen has in his backup. Robinson, who was promoted after Josh Portis transferred, hasn’t seen the field yet.

Ryan McManus, Wake Forest – The redshirt senior is also a holder and backup longsnapper. He played against Elon and completed 1-of-4 passes, the only four plays he was in on as quarterback.

Justin Tuggle, Boston College – There wasn’t much separation between Tuggle and Dave Shinskie until the Wake Forest game, as both of them started with zero experience. Both have been used in every game, but it’s unclear where Tuggle’s future is headed. He has 229 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions so far.

Braden Hanson, North Carolina – He was given a shot ahead of Mike Paulus this year, and was 0-for-2 with one interception in his only chance against The Citadel, but they’re both listed as the backups this week. Neither has proven anything yet.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

One of the major themes this fall in the ACC will be keeping starting quarterbacks healthy because of the lack of experience behind them. Virginia Tech, which saw both Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor get hurt against Florida State last year, knows this scenario all-too well. How will the Hokies fare this season if Taylor's ankle fails him again? Based in large part by experience and some on recruiting hype, here's a look at who's got the best backup situations in the ACC -- and who doesn't.

1. Virginia -- Say what you will about the Cavaliers' chances this fall, but no team has more experience at quarterback right now. Jameel Sewell, Marc Verica and Vic Hall have all started a game. That, in itself, is progress from last season. And they all have different strengths. Sewell is an elusive runner, Verica is more of a drop-back passer, and Hall, well, he was a cornerback with tremendous athletic ability.

2. Georgia Tech -- If need be, the Yellow Jackets can also go three deep, as starter Josh Nesbitt has experience behind him in Jaybo Shaw and a talented newcomer in redshirt freshman Tevin Washington. Shaw quarterbacked the Yellow Jackets almost exclusively in two games last season -- a 38-7 win over Mississippi State and a 27-0 victory over Duke. When Nesbitt hurt his hamstring eight snaps into the Mississippi State game, Shaw took over and promptly threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas. By the final buzzer, Georgia Tech had accumulated 500 yards of total offense.

3. NC State -- The Wolfpack finally have a prized recruit to fall back on should Russell Wilson need some help. Mike Glennon, who is perfectly suited for Tom O'Brien's Matt Ryan-esque style, made significant progress this spring and could see some playing time even if Wilson is 100 percent. Glennon was rated the No. 3 quarterback in his class and No. 32 player overall in the ESPN 150.

4. Duke -- Sean Renfree earned himself some playing time behind Thaddeus Lewis this fall and will use this season to ease into the role of next year's starting quarterback. Renfree had originally committed to Georgia Tech, but was also recruited by Tennessee when David Cutcliffe was there. He's the real deal.

5. Florida State -- The Seminoles probably would have been moved up a notch or two on this list had E.J. Manuel actually made it through more than one spring practice without hurting himself. But FSU offensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher has high hopes for his first hand-picked quarterback.

6. North Carolina -- The Tar Heels have the Paulus who actually IS a quarterback, and he's even got some experience at it. The problem is, Mike Paulus was 4-for-13 for 33 yards with two interceptions in four games last year. Paulus entered the Virginia Tech game when T.J. Yates was injured and was 3-for-8 for 23 yards and two picks. There's a reason Cam Sexton took over last year, but Sexton has since transferred.

7. Clemson -- If by chance Kyle Parker wins the starting job, then Willy Korn will be like 1a. Korn played two games as a true freshman in 2007 then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. He played in six games last year, including a start against Georgia Tech in Dabo Swinney's first game as a head coach. His career efficiency rating is 132.9 and he has completed 69.4 percent of his passes. Those are starter stats, but Parker had an impressive spring.

8. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons at least have depth. They had a competition between Ryan McManus, Ted Stachitas and Skylar Jones this spring, and McManus came out on top heading into summer camp. McManus is a former walk-on who has seen most of his playing time as a holder and on special teams, Stachitas is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Jones finished his first spring working exclusively at quarterback.

9. Miami -- At least Randy Shannon made a decision and decided Taylor Cook earned the No. 2 spot at the end of the spring, but it's not a done deal. Cannon Smith will continue to push Cook this summer, but neither one of them have taken a collegiate snap yet. Cook, though, was a very highly touted recruit, ranked the No. 9 quarterback in his class and No. 108 in the ESPN 150.

10. Virginia Tech -- Joseph Ju-Ju Clayton won the backup job over Marcus Davis, but he's still a redshirt freshman who hasn't been tested when the lights come on. Clayton was projected by some to be a better defensive back in college. He wasn't as highly touted a recruit as Manuel, Cook, Glennon or Renfree, but the Hokies are known for finding talent and making the most of somewhat unheralded recruits.

11. Maryland -- The Terps' depth took a hit when Josh Portis decided to transfer, but sophomore Jamarr Robinson had an impressive spring. He completed 15 of 19 passes, including his final 12 attempts, for 253 yards and four touchdowns.

12. Boston College -- The Eagles don't know who their starting quarterback is, let alone their No. 2. Dominique Davis struggled in the ACC championship game and the bowl game -- both losses -- but he has the most experience among Justin Tuggle and Codi Boek.

Around the ACC

April, 18, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Happy spring Saturday, ACC fans. We'll look closer at each school after spring ball is over, but a few reports have come in Saturday from spring games around the league. Here's a quick update, per each school's sports information director:

(Usually I go in alphabetical order, but I'm starting with NC State because of the large turnout in support of the late Kay Yow).


A crowd of 21,075 fans attended the Wolfpack's spring game, which was named in honor of the late Kay Yow. Each fan was asked to donate a dollar, and the day, according to Tim Peeler's report on, was as much a celebration of Yow's life as it was a spring football game.

Of course, there was also plenty of interest in how the quarterbacks, starter Russell Wilson and backup Mike Glennon, fared. Glennon was 23-of-38 for 272 yards and one touchdown, and competed for both teams. Wilson, who had to leave early for a baseball game, completed 10 of 14 passes for 195 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown pass to Owen Spencer. NC State's entire report can be found here.


Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Renfree threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns to lead the White squad to a 24-17 victory over the Blue team in front of 4,162 fans at the annual spring game held Saturday afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

"The game was crisp with few penalties," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "No one was sloppy with the football and I thought the game was intense. I told the players before the game that we are a good football team. I thought they played like one today. We had really good execution for the most part throughout the game."

Renfree completed 15-of-24 throws with touchdowns of 17 yards to wide receiver Matt Pridemore and 17 yards to tight end Danny Parker. Pridemore led the White team with five receptions for 67 yards while running back Patrick Kurunwune led all rushers with 66 yards on 13 attempts while hauling in four passes for an additional 67 yards. Running back Tony Jackson added a touchdown run and finished with 34 yards on six carries.

For the Blue unit, quarterback Thaddeus Lewis hit on 17 of 23 passes for 257 yards while rushing for a pair of one-yard touchdowns. His favorite target was wide receiver Donovan Varner who had six grabs for 116 yards.

"We went out there and executed," Lewis said. "We had some big plays today. The coaches put us in good situations. We can go to the tight ends over the middle and to our shifty guys who can get yards after the catch. If they leave our running backs open we can get the ball to those guys with space and let them do what they do best."

Duke's entire report can be found here.


A crowd of about 8,500 saw Jaybo Shaw and redshirt freshman quarterback Tevin Washington combine for five touchdowns.

Washington ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and the Gold team held off a late rally by the White team for a 31-28 victory in Georgia Tech's spring game. With junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt sidelined with a minor shoulder injury, Shaw scored three touchdowns and produced 263 yards of total offense for the White team, which scored two touchdowns in the final 3:30 to make things interesting down the stretch.

Washington finished with 43 yards rushing and was 7-of-10 passing for 167 yards.

"The best news is that no one got hurt," coach Paul Johnson said. "We put the ball on the ground today, but we are way ahead of where we were at this time last year."

The two teams combined for eight fumbles. Both teams also produced more than 400 yards of total offense. For the school's entire report, click here.


The Cavaliers unveiled their no-huddle offense for the first time this spring, and threw the ball 53 times while mixing in 57 running plays. The offense only scored two times though. Marc Verica, the starting quarterback for the nine games in 2008, completed 14 of 19 throws for 148 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Raynard Horne.

The only other score by the offense came on a 48-yard run by tailback Mikell Simpson. He led all rushers with 64 yards.

Vic Hall, who started at quarterback in the 2008 finale at Virginia Tech, was the first signal-caller on the field with the offense. He completed 11 of 16 passes for 98 yards. Jameel Sewell, who did not play last year while not enrolled at the university, managed 61 yards while completing seven of 11 throws.

The Cavs entire report can be found here.

Check back for more on Monday.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 13, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Here's catching up on a few things from the weekend:

Uh oh. Miami fans beware. Other schools are finally starting to make an impact on the recruits in South Florida, writes Manny Navarro. 

Virginia coach Al Groh, who earned the nickname "the chairman" for his heavy involvement in everything Virginia football, has finally distanced himself a bit from the offense. He's still "more than intrigued," though, by the thought of Vic Hall at quarterback.

If Ryan Williams and Virginia Tech's offensive line played as well as they did in Friday's scrimmage, look out for the Hokies.

Clemson's coaches insist their quarterback competition will play out through August, but the play of Kyle Parker seems to indicate the choice is clear -- at least this spring.

Injuries are run of the mill for Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt, which is why his backup, Jaybo Shaw, looked quite comfortable running the offense on Saturday. As for Nesbitt's shoulder? It doesn't sound like there's much reason to panic.

Wake Forest just picked up a recruit -- too bad for the Deacs his name is Duke.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Last year, expectations were moderate to low for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who brought a new offense and a new defense to Atlanta for a young team to digest quickly. After winning nine games and tying for the Coastal Division title, the bar has been raised for 2009.

The Yellow Jackets return almost every skill position player on offense and the bulk of the linebacker and secondary units. Still, it's a young group expecting to contend for the Coastal Division title.

With spring practice now underway, Johnson shared some thoughts on this year's team. Here are the highlights of our interview:

  Kelly Kline/Icon SMI
  Paul Johnson won nine games in his first season at Georgia Tech.

When you win nine games your first year, you set the bar pretty high. What does this team need to do this spring and summer to take it to the next level and win 10 or 11?

Paul Johnson: We've got to continue to do all the same things we've been doing, work hard and certainly there are a lot of areas we can improve in. We need to be more consistent. There were times last year that we played very well and times we didn't show up. We've got to become more consistent that way. I think most of our guys are going to be a year older, so hopefully they know what we expect from them, and I've been encouraged by the way they're working.

Do you think some of that inconsistency might have stemmed from the fact you had so many young kids?

PJ: Probably some of that is the case, maybe, but it's time to grow up now. We're still going to be young. We still only have six scholarship seniors on the team.

Wow, I didn't realize that. Was from attrition or what?

PJ: There just weren't that many guys in the class when we came. We have lost a few out of the class, probably three or four that would've been in the class, but there just wasn't very many of them. We've actually only got two of them that play.

What's the biggest difference you've noticed heading into your second season?

PJ: I think the attitude and the expectation level. I think everybody understands now what we're asking and what we're trying to do. It's a lot smoother that way. We can go a lot faster.

For those of us who can't break down film, how much better could the offense have been executed last year?

PJ: I think we could've done a lot better. Not just in offense, but in most categories. We certainly have to get better in special teams. I mean, that was awful. We're working hard on that this spring, the return game specifically. We left a lot of things out there offensively that we need to be able to take advantage of. We have to protect the passer better, we need to throw and catch better, the option part of it should get better, too, as we do it more. We've got all those guys coming back, we need to get better.

(Read full post)

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 18, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Time for another trip through ACC country. Hang on, it gets a little rocky through Coral Gables ...

  • According to the Palm Beach Post, it's official -- Miami is no longer an option for Bryce Brown. A Miami source told Jorge Milian: "No one player is bigger than the University of Miami." How about one ego?
  • Two FSU assistants have had their contracts renewed, and no, Rick Trickett isn't quite there yet.
  • Duke coach David Cutcliffe picked up his third recruit of the 2010 class.
  • Uh oh. Is Steve Spurrier going to win over Georgia Tech quarterback Jaybo Shaw's little bro? It sounds like Connor Shaw has narrowed his options to Georgia Tech and South Carolina.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and B-back Jonathan Dwyer were honored Wednesday morning at the state Capitol, where they visited the House and Senate chambers, and were commended for their 9-4 season in 2008.

It only took one season for Johnson to turn skeptics of his offense into believers (some of the congressmen are Georgia alumni).

  AP Photo/John Amis
  Jonathan Dwyer has no problem with higher expectations heading into the 2009 season.

The mystique surrounding Johnson's offense has been replaced by higher expectations, and Georgia Tech should earn a top 20 ranking heading into 2009. It's quite a turnaround from last season, when the Jackets were picked to finish fourth in the Coastal Division, and many outside the program didn't know what to expect from new offensive and defensive schemes and a new coaching staff. Dwyer said the increased expectations are a welcome change during winter conditioning as they prepare for 2009.

"All that does is motivate us," said Dwyer, who averaged 107.3 rushing yards per game and was named the ACC's Player of the Year. "We want to live up to the hype and realize the opportunity we have if we do what we're supposed to do and win games. I'm excited about how much respect now we're getting. We have to feed off that and just keep earning respect 'til we reach the top and realize the opportunity we have as a team going in if we're nationally ranked. All we have to do is win all of our games and maybe we'll have a shot to be in the national championship and win the ACC."

Georgia Tech had a shot to win the ACC in Johnson's first season as the Jackets finished in a tie for first place in the Coastal Division with Virginia Tech at 5-3. It was an extremely young team that returns the bulk of its offense in Dwyer, A-back Roddy Jones, B-back Lucas Cox and quarterbacks Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw.

"Everybody will know what's going on more and be under the same system from last year," Dwyer said. "They haven't changed anything, so I think we'll have a lot more leadership coming back. We lost some important leadership last year, but being young and starting early and everybody being real close as a family, and playing for each other, that will help us next year."

There is more depth at the running back position, which should allow Dwyer to take a few plays off. The incorporation of Anthony Allen and Richard Watson into the lineup could allow for Dwyer to have some company in the backfield. It's also possible he could see some time at the A-back position, which is more like a slot back instead of a fullback.

"It's something I experienced a little bit this year, and something I'm willing to do and willing to learn," Dwyer said. "It will probably make me more versatile and get everyone more playing time. If that's what they want me to play, that's what I'll have to adjust to and do my best to help my team win."

The Jackets relished their role as underdogs in 2008, but the accolades and attention the team received after beating rival Georgia and heading into the Chick-fil-A Bowl might have contributed to their flat performance in the 38-3 loss to LSU. Dwyer said that game was a very humbling experience.

"It changed what we thought about what we needed to do," Dwyer said. "I think it changed the whole program, us and the coaches, knowing what our strengths and what our weaknesses are, and knowing what we have to improve on going into next year."

ACC internal affairs: Week 13

November, 19, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

VIRGINIA -- It will be a family affair this weekend for tight end John Phillips, who will celebrate his senior day at the same time his older brother, Jake, does at William & Mary. Jake is the Tribe's starting quarterback and a team captain. Phillips' mom, Susan, is going to Williamsburg and his dad, Gene, will be in Charlottesville. Phillips is one of 24 seniors who will be recognized before Saturday's game against Clemson. He has been an integral part of the Cavaliers' offense, as he has had at least two catches in every game. He ranks first among ACC tight ends in receptions per game with 4.6.

GEORGIA TECH -- The health of both quarterbacks is a concern. A real one. Tech is hoping both Josh Nesbitt and his backup, Jaybo Shaw, will be ready, but they've both been practicing in a limited capacity this week. Shaw has a leg injury and Nesbitt a sprained ankle. The good news is that neither one has worn the red jersey injured players typically wear during practice and neither are listed as "out" on this week's injury report. Coach Paul Johnson isn't putting a lot of stock into the Yellow Jackets' past success against Miami, considering how different the teams are this season.

FLORIDA STATE -- With safety Darius McClure on crutches this week, the odds of him actually playing on Saturday are slim, but nothing is official until Thursday's injury report comes out. McClure tore cartilage in his left knee last Saturday while celebrating his first career interception, which came against Boston College. Meanwhile, junior Jamie Robinson expects to start in place of Myron Rolle, who will miss part of the game to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship. And Kenny Ingram, who has played significantly at linebacker this season, has reportedly been moved to safety to help with the depth there.

CLEMSON -- The question this week has been whether defensive tackle Dorell Scott will return after suffering a knee injury in the second quarter against Florida State. He missed the Duke game and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game at Virginia, but has been upgraded from a yellow jersey to a green jersey at practice. Scott and defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson are the Tigers' two best interior linemen, but they have played together for only 10 plays this season. Jackson hurt a tendon in his knee in preseason practice and missed the first eight games. The only game they played in together was against Florida State.

NORTH CAROLINA -- Butch Davis has opened up his starting quarterback job and probably won't reveal it until later in the week, if he does at all before kickoff. Cam Sexton wowed and surprised just about everyone with his win at Miami -- his first game in taking over for the injured T.J. Yates -- but his production has slowly decreased since then. He wasn't the only one who could have played better at Maryland last week, but his mistakes were costly. He and Yates have been splitting the reps with the first team this week at practice.

Posted by'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, 22, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

MARYLAND -- The Terps made an adjustment last week on the offensive line that worked -- starting Bruce Campbell at left tackle. Maryland's line has done a better job with its pass protection in recent weeks, but the staff knows NC State likes to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers. They're particularly wary of defensive end Willie Young. Against Wake Forest, Maryland was able to do something it hadn't in a long time, and that's depend on the passing game to set up the run. The goal this week is to get better at run blocking.

FLORIDA STATE -- The Seminoles' No. 1 priority at practice this week has been preparing to stop shifty Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. As defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews pointed out, some of Florida State's most skilled defenders had trouble tackling Taylor last year. Andrews has emphasized not creating vertical or lateral seams in their rush lanes and preventing Taylor from getting out in space. Defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said the "tackles have to push and get pressure and push him out to the ends so we can contain him."

NORTH CAROLINA -- Butch Davis is still looking for some help in alleviating some of the sting of losing injured starting receiver Brandon Tate. He moved running back Greg Little back to his original position of receiver last week before the Virginia game, but Little only had about two-and-a-half days of the transition, and Davis said "we were pushing him and pushing him, how much can you learn, how much can you get back into that role?" The Tar Heels also lost running back Anthony Elzy, who fractured his scapula at Virginia, and will be out for six weeks. UNC will need all of the offensive production it can get, as Davis said Boston College's front seven "look like the Chicago Bears."

MIAMI -- This is exactly why Randy Shannon needs to name the best young quarterback his starter, and could be the reason he is wavering on doing it. Maybe, just maybe, he's afraid to lose one of them. But Jacory Harris' father is right. Eventually, either his son or Robert Marve is going to grow tired of competing for the job every year when they could be the starter at another program. Both have said the right things publicly, but it's no secret Harris would like to start, too, and Marve said he wouldn't mind a shot at the no-huddle offense Harris got at Duke.

GEORGIA TECH -- The Yellow Jackets are "back to normal" with their two quarterbacks, Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, who haven't been quite themselves lately because of injuries. Nesbitt, who suffered a pulled hamstring against Mississippi State on Sept. 20, looked rusty last week at Clemson and coach Paul Johnson agreed, but said it wasn't too bad for someone who hasn't played in four weeks. "I think Josh would be the first guy to tell you that he could have played better," Johnson said. "For a guy that has only played in three games and been out for four weeks, it was a little bit like starting over. The thing about Josh Nesbitt is that he is such a competitor. He does not want to lose. Did he get every read right? No, but he finds a way to make plays. He has a calm confidence about his ability and doesn't get rattled. The more he plays, the better he will get."

Posted by's Heather Dinich

We already drew the conclusion that the ACC was a wide-open, defensive league, and this weekend further enforced that. There are four teams with one conference loss in the Atlantic Division (Wake Forest, Maryland, Florida State and Boston College). But upon further review, the Coastal seems to have narrowed down a bit to Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, with the Hokies still having the advantage because of their win over the Yellow Jackets.

Still, there are always a few things to learn from a week of ACC football:

1. Clemson is still Clemson. It doesn't matter who the head coach is, the personnel is still the same -- loaded with offensive talent that can't go very far unless somebody blocks for them. It didn't matter that Willy Korn started on Saturday because Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan was able to get to him, and now Korn has a bruised shoulder and is questionable for the Boston College game. Interim head coach Dabo Swinney pulled from his grab-bag of offensive plays, and it almost worked. The third quarter was another tease for Clemson fans, a peek at the potential that always seems to fizzle by the fourth.

2. No Sam Swank, no points for Wake Forest. It's worst than we thought. Sure, you have to give some credit to the Maryland defense for handing the Deacs their first shutout in a decade, but you also have to take some credit away from the No. 21-ranked team in the nation for not being able to move the ball. Wake Forest has now scored one offensive touchdown -- one -- in three league games.

3. Out with the old, in with the new. Rookie quarterbacks throughout the league -- Chris Crane, Christian Ponder, Jacory Harris, Josh Nesbitt, Jaybo Shaw, Marc Verica, and even Russell Wilson -- are having just as much success if not more than the veterans in the league in the season. All of them but Wilson won on Saturday. It's amazing what Harris can do when given the time. Crane is 5-1 as a starter. Nesbitt looked rusty against Clemson, but has proven more than capable of running that offense, as has Shaw. Verica came out of nowhere. And Wilson is the one quarterback on the roster Tom O'Brien can win with.

4. It's a sloppy league. Clemson had six turnovers. Boston College had five. Maryland's Da'Rel Scott fumbled three times -- in the first half. And it's not like this weekend was the exception. Florida State turned it over seven times against Wake Forest. The Deacs turned it over six times against Navy. Clemson has lost the ball 18 times this season, Virginia 16, and Boston College 15. Duke and Virginia Tech are the only teams with less than 10 giveaways, and the Hokies lead the country in turnover margin.

5. North Carolina's season went from breakout to bust in a matter of overtime. It's not that this season won't be regarded as a success -- the Tar Heels have only lost two games and are still just one win shy of bowl eligibility -- but it's who they lost to that will cost them. Coastal Division losses to Virginia Tech and now Virginia are devastating to their hopes of winning the division, let alone the ACC title in Butch Davis' second season.

ACC internal affairs

October, 15, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

GEORGIA TECH: Both quarterbacks Jaybo Shaw and Josh Nesbitt have been cleared to play on Saturday against Clemson, and the Yellow Jackets are eager to gain some respect back after their all-too-interesting 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb last weekend. In order to do that, they'll need a better performance from the offensive line, which coach Paul Johnson said "took a bigger hit than they deserved" last week. "They weren't very good but neither was anybody else, so it wasn't like it was all them," he said. Johnson said that aside from the freshmen, there are only about three upperclassmen who were actually recruited to play on the offensive line.

VIRGINIA TECH: Coach Frank Beamer said he is preparing for the Boston College quarterback he saw on film against NC State, not the Chris Crane who threw the ball just four times against Rhode Island. "He made some great throws in that NC State game," Beamer said, "some throws down the field, right on the money, hit guys in dead stride, had zip on the ball. ... When he runs the option he's not going to be a blazer, but he kind of falls forward. You wouldn't think a big guy like that would. He presents some problems for you." Still, the Hokies' staff won't forget about backup Dominique Davis, who has also seen significant playing time.

MARYLAND: Coach Ralph Friedgen called the 31-0 loss to Virginia "one of the toughest losses" he ever experienced. He said there was a players-only meeting during the bye week and he was pleased with the two practices they had during that time. "What impressed me in our practices was not that we did everything right, that I saw a sincere desire to try to do things right." Now he's wondering if the Terps can sustain that desire on Saturday against Wake Forest. Friedgen also told reporters at his weekly news conference that sophomore left tackle Bruce Campbell will see more playing time.

MIAMI: Running back Javarris James is expected to play on Saturday at Duke after missing four games with a left ankle sprain. The addition of James and offensive lineman Reggie Youngblood could help the Hurricanes' struggling offense. "It really hurt us tremendously in that aspect because of the one-two punch that you have with Javarris and [Graig] Cooper," coach Randy Shannon said. "We can't ask Cooper to go in the game and play 20, 30 snaps and carry the football another 15 to 20 snaps and take another running routes. He's not there yet, he's a sophomore." Cooper has gained about 10 pounds since last season, but the staff noticed he wore down at the end of last season and they don't want it to happen again. The Hurricanes' ground game took another hit against UCF last week when Lee Chambers got "turf toe."

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe told reporters on Tuesday he's not interested in the Clemson job, saying, "I'm a Wake Forest guy." Grobe said Clemson hasn't contacted him yet anyway, and he's hoping it's not a distraction for his players heading into the Maryland game. This has become an annual trend for Grobe, but it has also forced athletic director Ron Wellman to keep it lucrative enough for Grobe to stay. One thing is for sure: If Grobe is going to consider another job, it's got to be one where he can bring all of his assistants with him. In other Wake news, punter/placekicker Sam Swank is still listed as questionable with a strained right quad.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The ACC is definitely defensive: North Carolina couldn't get in the end zone in the first half, Wake Forest has had trouble scoring from as close as the 2-yard line, and Miami held UCF to 78 total yards. And what would Georgia Tech have done if its defense didn't hold Gardner-Webb to just seven points, or get a hand on the final field goal attempt? The touchdown-less Florida State-Wake Forest game last month was a foreshadowing of what this league would be about. Three teams -- Florida State, Boston College and Georgia Tech -- are among the top six teams in the country in total defense. Add Wake Forest and Miami in the top 20.

The Tar Heels are ahead of schedule in the rebuilding process -- If this is what they're capable of without their starting quarterback and top playmaker Brandon Tate, what can they do when everyone is healthy? Heck, will T.J. Yates even get his job back? UNC hasn't been the most prolific team on offense, but the Tar Heels have become experts at capitalizing on opponents' mistakes -- and forcing them into it. UNC further padded its stats as the nation's leader in interceptions (14), picking off Jimmy Clausen twice. What it's lacked on offense, the Tar Heels have compensated for with special teams and defense.

Virginia is to be taken seriously -- The Cavaliers caught some attention with their win over Maryland, but this weekend proved they have made legitimate progress. The talent on this team is plentiful -- Cedric Peerman, Kevin Ogletree, the linebackers, and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe is an NFL lineman. They had to come together as a team, though, to find their identity, which could be determined as relentless.

Georgia Tech's offense doesn't work without its top two quarterbacks and the right offensive line -- Third-string quarterback Calvin Booker isn't suited for Paul Johnson's offense, and didn't help that he was playing behind an offensive line that has struggled all season. The more Johnson recruits, the better suited the line will be to execute the triple option. With Jaybo Shaw and Josh Nesbitt sidelined with injuries, the Yellow Jackets didn't look anywhere near a Top 25 team -- not in a too-close-for-comfort 10-7 win over an FCS team. Yikes.

Clemson is officially the biggest bust of the season -- Not just in the ACC, but possibly on a national level, too. We're talking about the No. 9-ranked team in the preseason (admittedly too high), but still a team loaded with talent -- a roster other coaches throughout the country would love to borrow from for one Saturday. And yet the Tigers have not been able to do anything with it, instead playing themselves into obscurity and almost out of the Atlantic Division race for sure.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Not an easy list to compile, considering half the teams are off and the only in-conference matchup was already played. Still, there's always something worth paying attention to in the ACC on Saturdays:

1. Jimmy Clausen against UNC's secondary -- Yes, the Tar Heels are much improved and already have more interceptions (12) than they did all of last season (11). But the pass defense is what coordinator Everett Withers is concerned about.

2. Virginia quarterback Marc Verica -- Can he do it again against East Carolina? Was last week's performance against Maryland the real deal from the former fourth-stringer? He completed 25 of 34 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Where was that all season?

3. Georgia Tech's youth movement -- Paul Johnson intends on playing just about everyone in this game, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see all three quarterbacks, too. Keep an eye on true freshman A-back Marcus Wright, a speedy player likely to burn his redshirt.

4. UNC running back Shaun Draughn -- He is listed as probable heading into this game, and they'll need him to provide a boost to an otherwise inconsistent running game. Draughn rushed for 109 yards and one touchdown on just 19 carries last week against Connecticut.

5. Miami's defense -- The Hurricanes have been struggling lately, and first-year coordinator Bill Young took the blame for it in his first public comments to the media. The Hurricanes have the ability to beat UCF, but will have to play smart football in an emotional game between players who are all-too familiar with each other.

6. UNC linebacker Bruce Carter -- How can you NOT watch this guy since he's blocked four straight punts?

7. UNC's ability to get to Clausen -- The Irish allowed more sacks than any team in the nation last year (58), but have only allowed five so far this season.

8. Georgia Tech's return game -- It's the only phase of the game left for the Yellow Jackets to have a breakout play. In the past two games, Georgia Tech has produced the longest run in school history (Jonathan Dwyer's 88-yard run against Mississippi State), and the third-longest pass play in Tech history (Jaybo Shaw's 88-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas). More like 80 yards and a cloud of dust.

9. Virginia's defense versus ECU quarterback Patrick Pinkney -- Pinkney hasn't entirely been able to compensate for the Pirates' struggles on the ground, but he is 37th in the nation in passing efficiency. Clint Sintim and the Cavaliers smothered Maryland, and every win they've had this season has been a shutout. Go figure.

10. Internal combustion at Clemson -- Athletic director Terry Don Phillips said he doesn't discuss personnel changes in the middle of the season, and Tommy Bowden said he won't make any staff changes, but after Thursday night's loss to Wake Forest, everything in the program should be under review.

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Just landed at the Raleigh-Durham airport for tonight's game at Wake Forest. Fired up the laptop to check on the news of day before heading back on I-40.

  • Only one player has lived up to the preseason hype in the ACC, writes the Raleigh News & Observer's Luke DeCock, and he won't be on Clemson's sideline for tonight's game.
  • Clemson receiver Aaron Kelly's role has diminished this season, but his frustration hasn't overcome him -- yet.
  • Have things really changed for Clemson since the scene in the locker room after its loss to Maryland? James Davis said, "a lot of guys were thinking the season was over with." 
  • It looks like Georgia Tech could be down to its third-string quarterback this weekend against Gardner-Webb, but starter Josh Nesbitt and his backup, Jaybo Shaw, practiced on Wednesday.
  • Pop quiz: What current college football player has been on each of the following rosters -- Florida State, Miami and Central Florida? Click here for the answer.
  • The Hokies didn't just lose their third-leading rusher, they lost their oldest and most vocal leader.