NCF Nation: Jeremy Navarre
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
Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou doesn't know them personally, but he rattles off the names of Virginia Tech's playmakers like they're on a first-name basis: Macho, Tyrod, Glennon, Holt.
"We like to familiarize ourselves with our opponents," Fokou said.
He just doesn't know who their starting quarterback will be.
It's remained a mystery to just about everyone except the Hokies this week, as starters Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon both suffered left ankle sprains during the Florida State game and spent most of their bye week wearing protective boots. They practiced in limited capacity this week, but Cory Holt, the Hokies' third-string quarterback-turned-receiver-turned quarterback again, was preparing as if he was the starter. They all bring a different dimension to the game, but neither team seems overly concerned about it, despite the weighty implications of the game in the conference race.
Virginia Tech, as expected, has done nothing but express confidence in Holt, a fifth-year senior who played admirably in a tough situation at Florida State. And the Terps have zeroed in on the Hokies' running game, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
"They're a running football team," said senior defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre. "Whoever they put back there, whoever starts, they're going to stick with what they do best and they're going to run the ball. They've got a big offensive line. All year long their main thing has been to run the ball. If you don't stop this team from running the ball, they're going to do it all game long."
Unless, of course, Glennon is playing quarterback. He's the one who can throw it. (Although tight end Greg Boone, who was moved to backup behind Holt when the starters went down, claims he'll throw it 80 yards every time if he gets in there. Seriously). Taylor is the one who brings a different dimension with his feet. He has had seven running plays of 20 yards or more this season and is the team's second leading rusher.
"I think Holt is kind of a blend between both of them," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "He's very mobile. I don't think he's as fast as Taylor, but I think he can do all the things that Taylor does. He's a big, tall, strong guy just like Glennon. He's in between. They can go either way with him. I thought he did a tremendous job last week having not gotten a lot of reps. He ran the option, he threw the ball ... they must have a lot of confidence in him he can do the things they ask him to do with very little reps."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
ATLANTA -- A belated good morning, ACC fans. Sorry for the late start, but there's one thing you need to know before this season officially gets started: If I know I'm going to be in a press box until at least midnight (as is the case tonight), there ain't no way, no how I'm starting my work day at 5:30 a.m.
Speaking of being a-Wake, let's check in on those Demon Deacons ...
Jim Grobe put them through one of the two toughest training camps since he's been there, and it should pay off tonight in Waco, Texas. They can be confident in their quarterback, but the preseason expectation and hype surrounding this program has the players a little uneasy.
We already know plenty about the quarterback I'll be watching. I'm excited to be here for the start of the Paul Johnson era, which begins tonight against former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and Jacksonville State.
I'll be keeping an eye on every ACC game, even though I'm in Atlanta. (Good times last night at a place called Six Feet Under, by the way. Nice view of the Dome from the roof).
Miami also opens its season tonight, and it's time for a fresh start, in a new stadium with a brand new quarterback. Don't get too excited, though, Greg Cote says. Better days in Coral Gables aren't here quite yet. The players at Charleston Southern aren't thinking any less of the Canes, though.
Unfortunate news out of Tallahassee last night, as projected starting defensive lineman Emmanuel Dunbar was taken to the hospital with a back injury. I'll check in with FSU for an update on that today.
Elsewhere in the ACC, keep an eye on this "son of a gun" at Maryland. Defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre has been such a force this summer coach Ralph Friedgen was worried he'd hurt the confidence of the offensive lineman. How's that for a compliment?
Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy has endured more criticism than praise during his career in College Park. Can he change that this season?
Virginia is looking to silence some doubters this season, too.
Way up north, Boston College right guard Thomas Claiborne had to shed some major weight in order to get on the field. His efforts have paid off.
On a more serious note, Victor Harris was a little shaken up about his recent testimony in court.