NCF Nation: Morgan Moses

ACC media days primer

July, 12, 2013
7/12/13
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Andrea Adelson and I are gearing up for the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff, two days of interviews with players and coaches from every school in the conference. For us (and most members of the media), we consider this the unofficial start of the season. Vacations are over and the previews begin. Here’s a quick look at what you need to know:

When: July 21-22

Where: The Grandover Resort, Greensboro, N.C.

Who will be there: Two players and the head coach from every school, and ACC commissioner John Swofford. Highlights from this year’s player attendees include: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd; North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner; Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu; Miami quarterback Stephen Morris; Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro; Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner; Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses; and Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

Who won’t be there: 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson; Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins; FSU quarterback Jameis Winston (and understandably so, because he hasn’t played yet); Wake Forest DL Nikita Whitlock (he was there last year, along with quarterback Tanner Price); Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs and half the quarterbacks in the league (most of whom will be first-time starters).

Five storylines/things to watch:

1. The Clemson spotlight. Bring your shades. Not that FSU coach Jimbo Fisher won’t have a crowd at his table -- he will -- but expectations are even higher for Clemson. Many predict the Tigers will be chosen the preseason favorite to win the conference. Boyd could be a Heisman contender again, and the Tigers will be playing in the league’s marquee matchup of the nonconference season when they open the season at home against Georgia.

2. The addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the room. This will be the first football kickoff that includes the entire conference with its two newest members, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which officially joined July 1. It will be the first chance for those four players to interact with their new opponents, and for coaches Paul Chryst and Scott Shafer to talk to reporters about their expectations for Season 1 in the ACC.

3. The media circle around Virginia Tech. Quarterback Logan Thomas and coach Frank Beamer are sure to be a big story after such a disappointing 2012 season. Once a projected first-round draft pick, Thomas struggled last year to do it all, but he didn’t have the supporting cast or the accuracy to make another run at the Coastal Division title. Whether the Hokies can rebound this fall after Beamer made sweeping changes to his staff is sure to be a hot topic.

4. Miami’s questions. Many expect the Hurricanes to be very good this season, but nobody knows if they’ll even be eligible to win a title. The NCAA still hasn’t ruled on their highly publicized case, but those within the program keep plodding on. Coach Al Golden appears to have put this year’s roster in contention to win the division, but defensive improvement is a must -- and so is closure from the NCAA.

5. Three new head coaches. Shafer was promoted at Syracuse after spending the past four seasons as defensive coordinator, and this also will be the first ACC Football Kickoff for first-year NC State coach Dave Doeren and Boston College coach Steve Addazio. The three have inherited different challenges, and all are in the Atlantic Division with league heavyweights Clemson and Florida State. What are their plans for keeping their programs relevant in the ACC race?
Duke and Miami have the most returning experience on the offensive line in the ACC this year, according to the conference. The Blue Devils return four starters in tackles Perry Simmons and Tacoby Cofield, and guards Laken Tomlinson and Dave Harding, who have combined for a total of 100 starts.

Miami returns all five starters from last year’s team: tackles Seantrel Henderson and Malcolm Bunche, guards Jon Feliciano and Brandon Linder, and center Shane McDermott. They have combined for 97 starts. (Um, yeah, Duke Johnson is set for another great year).

Here's a look at what the rest of the league has returning up front, according to the ACC:


Ouch, Virginia Tech. The Hokies are trying to rejuvenate their offense under first-year coordinator Scot Loeffler, and they've got to do it with one of the least experienced offensive lines in the conference. There are plenty of veteran linemen in the Coastal Division, but few in Blacksburg.

The league's top veteran is actually at Duke, where Simmons is a three-year starter at tackle and leads all returning offensive linemen with 36 career starts.

Here's a look at the returning offensive linemen in the ACC with the most career starts:

1. Perry Simmons, Duke, Sr., Tackle: 36
2. James Hurst, North Carolina, Sr., Tackle: 35
3. Brandon Linder, G, Sr., Miami: 31
3. Morgan Moses, Virginia, Sr., Tackle: 31
5. Brian Stork, Florida State, Sr., Center: 28
6. Dave Harding, Duke, Sr., Guard: 26
7. Macky MacPherson, Syracuse, Sr., Center: 25
7. Luke Bowanko, Virginia, Sr., Center: 25
9. Laken Tomlinson, Duke, Jr., Guard: 24
9. Ray Beno, Georgia Tech, Sr., Center: 24
11. Ian White, Boston College, Sr., Guard: 23
12. Jon Feliciano, Miami, Jr., Guard: 22
At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Virginia left tackle Morgan Moses is impossible to miss. That’s a good thing, because he’s going to be the face of the offensive line this fall. UVa returns four starters up front, experience the program will need as it gets acclimated to first-year offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. Moses’ decision to return to school instead of leaving early for the NFL was a big boost to the program and the offense. He started 11 games last year and helped the Hoos rack up over 500 yards of total offense multiple times in a season for the first time since 2004. I spoke with Moses recently to get his take on the offense and his decision to return. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

How do you think your role is going to change? Do you have to be more of a leader this year?

Morgan Moses: Definitely. Me being a four-year starter and a guy who played every game last year on the offensive line, I know there are a lot of people looking up to me and I just have to help the team as a leader and push them forward.

What was really the driving force that made you decide to come back?

MM: Just being able to play with these guys for my last year, having those guys call me over break and tell me they wanted me to be a part of the team. Just sitting down with Coach London, and all of the changes we had with the coaching staff. I felt comfortable with the coaches, and of course, the schedule we’re playing. I always talk to Coach London about it. If you want to be the best, you have to play the best, so it’s set up for a great senior year. I love to be back here.

[+] EnlargeMorgan Moses
AP Photo/Steve HelberVirginia's Morgan Moses, No. 78, said he's eager for the challenge of playing left tackle in 2013.
Who called you to try to convince you to stay?

MM: David Watford, Kevin Parks, a whole bunch of guys, Tim Smith.

Sometimes that just doesn’t really resonate with guys. Why did what they say have such an impact on you like that?

MM: Just because these guys, I’ve been with them for the last three years. They know what I went through, I know what they went through. Just being able to finish out my last year here, plus to graduate with a degree from the University of Virginia, you can’t get any better than that.

What’s your degree going to be in?

MM: Anthropology.

Anthropology? What are you going to do with anthropology? What have those classes been like?

MM: It’s been really good being able to learn about the culture of people. I really don’t know what I want to do with that after football, but I have some plans.

It never fails that offensive linemen are among the most interesting interviews I have. So tell me a little more about the staff changes. You said you sat down with Mike London. What was that conversation like and what did he tell you about the guys he brought in?

MM: Through that whole situation about coming back to school for my senior year, Coach London was really helpful. He was beside me 100 percent on any decision that I made. Just being able to have coaches like Coach O’Brien, who’s been around for a long time – he’s been a head coach, he’s coached offensive line, he’s a high-energy guy. To have those guys and Coach Fairchild brings a great opportunity for me and the offense as a team.

How is the offensive line looking this year? With four starters back you guys should be a pretty strong group this year, right? How excited are you about the experience returning?

MM: I’m excited. Right now we’re learning a new offense and trying to get everyone on the same page. We’ve got a lot of young guys we’re bringing along that haven’t really played games yet, but they have some opportunities to have some playing time this year. Us older guys who have been around know what’s expected from the coaches. We’re trying to take them under our wings as we move forward.

You don’t come back to school to be 6-6 or not go back to a bowl game. What encouraging signs did you see on the field that led you to believe you can have the kind of season you did in 2011?

MM: You just think about it: Offense and defense, we didn’t really lose that many players. Of course you lose a stud tackle like Oday [Aboushi] and a great running back like Perry Jones, but we got a lot of guys, a lot of quarterbacks, running backs … we’ve got the pieces, it’s about putting them together and putting them in the right places.

So who filled in for Oday this spring and what has the competition been like there?

MM: I moved over to left tackle, and they are battling at right tackle.

What’s that change been like for you?

MM: It’s been interesting. I’ve been wanting to play left tackle since the first day I stepped on campus. Just being able to switch from right to left and being able to play guard my first year has really helped me learn the offense. I know what every position is doing.

No kidding. Now you’re on the blindside. What’s that like?

MM: It’s great to be there. I played a little bit last year, switching with Oday, so I have some experience at it, and I know the quarterbacks feel way comfortable to have me at left tackle knowing they’ve got the big guy on their back side.

Ya think? I could play quarterback if you’re watching my back. Tell me more about the quarterback competition. I know you mentioned Watford. What’s going on there?

MM: It’s a competition. David Watford, he brings so much to the table with his running ability and his throwing ability. Same with Phil. He’s able to move around in the pocket, and then we have Greyson [Lambert], who has a helluva arm. He can make any throw. He’s not as mobile as the other two, but he’s definitely making strides. They’re all good. I’m pleased with their work ethic and whoever is back there, I’m going to fight for them regardless.

What are you looking forward to most this fall, your last year?

MM: It came so fast, too. I was just talking about it the other day. But just being able to compete with these guys. We’re playing BYU, Oregon and these great teams we have on the schedule. Being able to have those guys in Scott Stadium, and you never hear about eight home guys. I’m excited to just get out there with the guys and compete.
This is getting ugly.

First Virginia coach Mike London fired four of his assistants, including defensive coordinator Jim Reid -- a man London likes very much. Quarterback Michael Rocco decided to transfer (can you blame him?), and now Rocco has blasted London for his use of a two-quarterback system (just like many ACC fans have all season long):
"It's an unhealthy environment for any quarterback at UVa," Rocco told Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times. "It was hard on all the quarterbacks, not just me."

Ouch.

London's decision to fire Reid was as puzzling as his use of the quarterbacks this year, which leads me to believe it wasn't entirely his decision. If this was an administrative move forced upon London, it was the wrong one, and London is going to take some heat for it. Reid was tasked with coaching a group that had to replace seven starters and was very young. Virginia was No. 31 in the country in scoring defense and showed progress every week. Don't forget the offense in that two-quarterback mess was turning it over every other play and putting the defense back on the field again.

Arguably the biggest disappointment for Virginia was its inability to run the ball, not the defense. Virginia was supposed to have two of the ACC's top offensive tackles in Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi. With Kevin Parks and Perry Jones in the backfield, along with talent up front, there's no reason Virginia should have ranked No. 96 in the country in rushing offense. That certainly doesn't fall on Reid.

London, just one year removed from being named the ACC's Coach of the Year, has a bit of a mess to clean up in Charlottesville, starting with hiring a defensive coordinator. Look for the Hoos to go in a different direction regarding style and philosophy, otherwise it really wouldn't make any sense. And Phillip Sims better be every bit as good as many seem to think he is. Otherwise, we'll have Sims and David Watford repeating the Sims and Rocco storyline, and there will only be one scapegoat left.

ACC power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
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There was plenty of news in the ACC this summer, some of which has affected the order of the power ranking since it was last released post-spring. The biggest difference is at the bottom, where Maryland has sunk following the season-ending injury to starting quarterback C.J. Brown. The first five teams remained the same, but UNC got a small boost after positive reviews by the staff and players who were learning the new systems and terminology of first-year coach Larry Fedora.

This list will change with the season, but for now, here is the starting point for how the ACC teams stack up heading into Week 1:

1. Florida State: There is no excuse for coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff not to take advantage of the ubertalented roster this year and run away with it. The biggest questions remaining are how the Noles will handle the loss of cornerback Greg Reid, and how much better the offensive line will look than it did a year ago.

2. Clemson: The Tigers will be without suspended starting receiver Sammy Watkins for the opener against Auburn, but there are enough other options that Clemson’s offense should still be productive. The depth on the offensive line remains a question, though, and the pressure is on first-year defensive coordinator Brent Venables to help Clemson fans forget the Orange Bowl.

3. Virginia Tech: The Hokies are confident in the speed, talent and athleticism of their young running backs and receivers, but the lack of experience remains a concern. Bud Foster’s defense should again be the strength of the team, particularly early, but with Georgia Tech on the schedule for Labor Day, there’s no time for a tuneup.

4. NC State: The Wolfpack kicks off the season against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl trying to sustain the positive momentum with which it ended 2011. Coach Tom O’Brien has said this is the deepest, most talented team he has had since he was hired in Raleigh, but will it be good enough to beat Florida State and Clemson in the same season?

5. Georgia Tech: The Jackets could sneak up on some teams this year, as they have one of the best offensive lines coach Paul Johnson has had since he was hired there. Expectations are higher for the defense in Year 3 under coordinator Al Groh, and the hire of assistant Dave Walkosky should help the special teams.

6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have the potential to play spoiler this year, or they could have a particularly bumpy ride given the complete overhaul in staff, schemes and philosophy. The players have bought in, though, and quarterback Bryn Renner adapted well to the spread offense this summer.

7. Wake Forest: Coach Jim Grobe has some hidden gems on this team, as players like receiver Michael Campanaro, nose guard Nikita Whitlock and cornerback Kevin Johnson are all-conference candidates. Questions still remain, though, about the offensive line, and two league games in the first three weeks won’t be easy.

8. Virginia: Coach Mike London is expected to release a depth chart today naming his starting quarterback, but the bigger concern should be a secondary that has to replace three starters. The Hoos have two of the best offensive tackles in the country, though, in Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi. They could pave the way for Perry Jones to have a 1,000-yard season.

9. Miami: Quarterback Stephen Morris earned the starting job this summer, and his leadership will be critical to a young offense that must replace seven starters. The Canes will continue to play with the NCAA investigation hanging over their heads, but those within the program say it hasn’t been a distraction.

10. Duke: The Blue Devils have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the ACC in Sean Renfree, but they need to stay healthy and show improvement on the defensive line in order to have a chance at a bowl game. Duke has a legitimately tough task in getting past FIU in a game that will set the course for its season – and possibly postseason.

11. Boston College: The Eagles couldn’t seem to get a break this offseason, as injuries piled up and athletic director Gene DeFilippo announced his retirement. Coach Frank Spaziani enters this season with the hottest seat in the ACC. It’s only Week 1, but the game against Miami is a must-win for the Eagles.

12. Maryland: Barring something catastrophic, the season-ending injury to quarterback C.J. Brown was arguably the worst thing that could have happened to the Terps this offseason. The offense will be in the hands of true freshman Perry Hills, and Maryland will adjust to two new coordinators in its quest to turn around last season’s 2-10 finish.
Virginia coach Mike London is biased (as he should be when it comes to his players) but he’s also right – the Cavaliers might have one of the nation’s best offensive tackle duos in Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi.

[+] EnlargeMorgan Moses
Steve Helber/AP PhotoVirginia's Morgan Moses, who started 13 games last season, is expected to shore up the line again.
Both are on the preseason watch lists for the Outland and Lombardi trophies. Both started all 13 games last year. And both can play either side, left or right, protect the quarterback’s blind side or help off the edge. Individually, they’re both talented, and Aboushi could be a first-round NFL draft pick. Together, though, they should be a major asset for the Cavaliers’ quarterbacks.

“I think there’s a level of experience there that we have,” London said. “...From a recognition standpoint, from a physical skills standpoint, they’ve been in big games and have played on both sides so it has to be one of our strengths, to protect the edge, and hopefully they’ll do a good job of doing that.”

London said Moses dropped about 30 pounds this offseason and it has made him a better, faster player.

“When he lost weight before it was one of those liquid diets,” London said. “He would put on a rubber suit and run around and say, ‘Hey coach I lost it.’ We have a sports nutritionist here who put a menu together for him and cut out certain meals, told him what time to eat. He stayed on schedule with that. He worked out, he was running, now he weighs 30 pounds less, did sprints the other day with the linemen, last year he was in the middle to back of the pack, today he was out in front. When a guy sees his conditioning level has improved, feels lighter, it’s a mind-set that's been created or been revealed to him. If you take care of your body, it’s going to take care of your performance on the field.”

Moses was rated the No. 6 player at his position by ESPN.com in 2009, and Aboushi was No. 26. They’re living up to the hype. Last year, Aboushi was twice named the ACC’s offensive lineman of the week. He had 13 knockdown blocks in a road win at Indiana, and he had 11 knockdown blocks in a road win at Miami. He and Moses should again pave the way for UVa’s offense.

“From what I’ve seen from them in games, when you have two guys who have played both positions, left and right ... the notoriety they’ve garnered is based on accomplishments on the field,” London said. “Their skill level at the tackles those two guys have I think does make at least consideration for being one of the best pair (in the country).”

There’s little doubt they’ll be among the best in the ACC.

ACC helmet stickers: Week 11

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
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Here are your top five performers for Week 11:

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas: He played an outstanding game in the Hokies' 37-26 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Thomas threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 209 yards and ran for another 70 yards. He also completed 75 percent of his third-down passes.

Florida State's special teams: Greg Reid scored on an 83-yard punt return, and Dustin Hopkins kicked three field goals to help lift the Noles over rival Miami, 23-19. Hopkins accounted for the only points in the third quarter with a 21-yard field goal, and his 38-yarder to start the fourth quarter put FSU up 23-7.

BC linebacker Luke Kuechly: He finished with 18 tackles in the 14-10 win over NC State, extending his streak of double-digit tackles to 32 consecutive games, the longest such streak in FBS. In the third quarter, Kuechly became the fifth player in ACC history to record 500 or more career tackles. He now has 509, fourth-best on the conference record list.

Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro: His game-winning, 43-yard field goal as time expired assured Clemson of a 31-28 win over Wake Forest and its second appearance in the ACC title game in three seasons. It was the first time since 2007 that Clemson had won on a last-second field goal. It was also the first time since 1948 -- when the stat started being tracked -- that Clemson won at home on a last-second field goal.

Virginia's offensive line: The Cavaliers have now gone three consecutive games without giving up a sack and the line paved the way for Kevin Parks and Perry Jones in the 31-21 win over Duke. It was the tenth game in a row that the offensive line has had the same five starters -- guards Austin Pasztor and Luke Bowanko, tackles Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses and center Anthony Mihot . The last time the same five players started an entire season on the offensive line at UVa was 2004.
Ranking offensive linemen is not easy. But hey, either is being an offensive lineman. Here are your best "big uglies."

1. North Carolina: Three starters and one part-time starter return from last year’s team, and this line could be the biggest and best since Butch Davis was hired. Guard Jonathan Cooper (22 starts), center Cam Holland (20) and tackle James Hurst (12) have combined for 54 career starts. Travis Bond has four starts and is the leading candidate to take over at the other guard position.

2. Miami: The Canes return nine of their top 10 offensive linemen including four starters from last year, and Joel Figueroa was granted a sixth season of eligibility. Even with the coaching change, the Canes should be strong up front. Center Tyler Horn is a veteran, Brandon Washington is a difference-maker, and there’s enough competition that Seantrel Henderson spent most of the spring as a backup.

3. Clemson: First-year offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has four returning starters to work with in Landon Walker, Antoine McClain, Dalton Freeman and David Smith. They also have top reserve Mason Cloy, who has 19 career starts and has played in 38 games. There is plenty of depth for a dependable rotation.

4. Virginia Tech: All four returnees started every game last year, and there is enough depth that the Hokies should be able to rotate the most players up front they ever have. It’s a veteran group led by Blake DeChristopher, Andrew Lanier, Jaymes Brooks and Greg Nosal.

5. Florida State: Despite the losses of Rodney Hudson and Ryan McMahon, there’s experience up front. This fall, the starting lineup will consist of tackle Andrew Datko, left guard Bryan Stork or David Spurlock, center Jacob Fahrenkrug, right guard Spurlock or Stork, right tackle Zebrie Sanders. Just how good they’ll be remains to be seen as the majority of them were out with injuries this past spring.

6. NC State: The Pack lost Jake Vermiglio and will be without injured left guard Andrew Wallace for about half of the season, but Zach Allen, Camden Wentz and R.J. Mattes are returning starters. There’s also a lot of talent waiting to emerge with young players like Duran Christophe, Rob Crisp, Tyson Chandler, Torian Box and Andy Jomantas.

7. Virginia: Four players return with a combined 64 career starts in Anthony Mihota, Austin Pasztor, Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses, who started the final seven games of the season as a true freshman. Pasztor is in his fourth season as a starter and has 32 career starts.

8. Boston College: Despite the losses of Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne and Rich Lapham, the Eagles are almost settled up front, it’s the experience behind the starters that’s reason for concern. The No. 2 offensive line is comprised entirely of redshirt freshmen. Mark Spinney returns at center, the projected starting guards are Nathan Richman and Ian White, who started three games as a freshman, and the tackles are Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel.

9. Maryland: It’s been an injury-prone group the past two seasons and that didn’t change this past spring. Left tackle Justin Gilbert, one of the top linemen on the team, reinjured the same knee he had ACL surgery on and will be out until October. R.J. Dill was also injured this spring, though he played in the spring game, and Justin Lewis was rehabbing from offseason surgery. Pete White also missed practices, so the group needs to solidify the two-deep roster.

10. Georgia Tech: The Jackets return three starters in guard Omoregie Uzzi, guard Will Jackson and tackle Phil Smith. Sophomore Jay Finch played extensively last season and Ray Beno and Nick McRae were key reserves. Redshirt freshmen Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey could also work their way into the rotation. Uzzi will be the leader of the line, but they were outplayed by the defense this spring.

11. Wake Forest: Four starters are back, but the Deacs will sorely miss the experience and leadership of former center Russell Nenon. Garrick Williams started the final three games of 2010 -- two at guard and one at center, but he struggled with the snaps towards the end of spring and isn’t where the staff needs him to be yet.

12. Duke: The Blue Devils should take another step forward this season under offensive line coach Matt Luke, and they need to -- Duke’s running game was last in the ACC last year and 104th in the country. Brian Moore replaces a three-year starter at center, but given his experience at right guard the past two seasons, it should be a smooth transition. That will leave a hole, though, at the right guard position, where Laken Tomlinson and John Coleman are the top candidates.
This morning we looked at the main recruiting needs for the Atlantic Division. Here are the priorities for each team in the Coastal Division:

DUKE

Offensive line: The Blue Devils will have to replace one starter in center Bryan Morgan, and it’s still a relatively young group, but with several redshirt sophomores on the roster, the staff wants to load up two grades behind them to fully stock the position for the future.

Defensive line: This has always been Duke’s deficiency, which means it will always be a priority to catch up and build depth. The Blue Devils will have to replace two starters in Wesley Oglesby and Patrick Egboh. Noseguard Charlie Hatcher will be a redshirt senior.

Cornerback: Duke only loses one starter, cornerback Chris Rwabukamba, but it’s another position that has been weak and needs better athletes.

GEORGIA TECH

Offensive line: The early departure of Nick Claytor to the NFL didn’t help the depth, but there were still several young players who gained valuable experience and others who redshirted to help the depth. While no true freshman is likely to make an immediate impact, the staff is still looking to build the numbers up front.

Linebacker/defensive line: The Jackets need to find more athletes who are suited for Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme. Fast athletes who are versatile enough to play a hybrid role, with the ability to move in space, will be a priority in this class.

MIAMI

Quarterback: With Jacory Harris being a senior, A.J. Highsmith moving to defense, and Spencer Whipple struggling in what little time he has played, the position needs a boost. It didn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater reneged on his commitment.

Linebacker: This is a position former coach Randy Shannon had put an emphasis on building, and there are young players and depth, but it was also a veteran group in the 2010 two-deep, with mainly juniors and seniors.

Wide receiver: The upperclassmen did all of the work in 2010, with Leonard Hankerson leading the way. Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson and Laron Byrd will all be seniors. An influx of young talent is needed.

Defensive end: The staff is looking to improve the depth here, get stronger up front, and build upon the success from 2010. Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, and Micanor Regis will all be seniors.

NORTH CAROLINA

Tailback: Injuries depleted this group in 2010, and Anthony Elzy, Johnny White and Shaun Draughn were both seniors. Ryan Houston was able to redshirt and will return as a fifth-year senior, but the Tar Heels need more dependable runners and a foundation for the future.

Defensive line: The Tar Heels have to prepare for some departures, especially on the interior, where all four players on the two-deep roster in 2010 were juniors.

Secondary: UNC will have to replace three starters in the secondary this spring, and three backups this year were juniors. Because of the NCAA investigation, this is a group in which backups had to develop quickly, so there are some experienced younger players, but the group still needs to reload.

Tight end: The loss of Zach Pianalto and his backup, Ed Barham, leaves the position thin.

VIRGINIA

Offensive line: With starting right guard B.J. Cabbell gone, starting center Anthony Mihota a senior, and starting left guard Austin Pasztor a senior, the staff has to prepare for some departures. Morgan Moses and Oday Aboushi are talented young players, but the rotation needs more of them.

Defensive line: End Zane Parr’s decision to leave early for the NFL draft hurt the position’s depth, and the Cavs will also have to replace John-Kevin Dolce at tackle. Three other players in the two-deep will be rising seniors, and with Virginia switching back to a 4-3 defense under Mike London, the Cavs have to rebuild up front.

Secondary: Cornerback is of particular concern, as Chase Minnifield will be a senior, and starter Mike Parker will graduate.

VIRGINIA TECH

Running back: The early departures of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans to the NFL left David Wilson as the only tailback with any significant experience. Overall, the Hokies have four tailbacks on their current roster.

Defensive line: The Hokies will have to replace redshirt senior starters Steven Friday and John Graves, and starting left end Chris Drager will be a redshirt senior this year.

Wide receiver/tight end: Starters Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale will be seniors, and tight end Andre Smith will graduate.

Secondary: Half the players on the two-deep roster against Stanford were either juniors or seniors, and the Hokies will have to replace rover Davon Morgan and cornerback Rashad Carmichael.

True freshman OTs learning quickly

October, 20, 2010
10/20/10
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When Virginia offensive lineman Morgan Moses lined up at right tackle against North Carolina this past weekend, he became just the third true freshman in school history to start at an offensive tackle position.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Brad Butler both did it in 2002.

There’s a simple reason Moses is in select company -- it’s hard. Very hard.

“It’s very difficult to come in and play as a freshman on the offensive line,” said NC State coach Tom O’Brien, who spent the first 16 years of his coaching career with offensive linemen at Navy and Virginia. “Not a lot of people are able to do it or can do it. In most of the cases it’s by necessity. There are a lot of very good prospects or good talented kids coming in, but it’s something that you don’t want to be in the situation to have happen if you’re coaching a football team.”

[+] EnlargeMorgan Moses
Lee Coleman / Icon SMIMorgan Moses was just the third true freshman in Cavaliers history to start at offensive tackle.
That’s why it’s even more impressive that of the eight true freshmen to have started at offensive tackle in the country this year, four are in the ACC: UNC’s James Hurst, NC State’s Robert Crisp, Miami’s Seantrel Henderson and Virginia’s Moses.

Moses wound up playing every snap against North Carolina.

“The speed of the game, things like that, he had to adjust to,” London said. “… I would say Morgan had a couple of mental errors, which is probably the case for any true freshman that took close to 60 snaps. But I think overall his play was very good in terms of knowing assignments, getting on the defender he had to block. But like anything else, the more reps, the more opportunities he has to play, I think he’ll develop into being a really, really good player here.”

The question is whether it will be at tackle or guard. Moses had moved to tackle because of an injury to Landon Bradley.

Henderson has helped Miami’s depth and stability at the position. He played the entire game against Duke.

“Anytime you play as a freshman it’s always difficult,” Miami coach Randy Shannon said. “He’s big, he’s athletic, and he’s got a lot of things that are positive. Like anything he has to still learn and keep going because of so many different defenses you see and different ways they try to attack you. I’ve got to expect North Carolina will do those things to confuse him, to have some hesitation.”

Crisp has since taken the backseat to veteran starter Jake Vermiglio. O’Brien said pass protection is the most difficult part of the playbook to digest from the left tackle position, and all of the intricacies that go with each different protection as they relate to the defense the player sees.

“He’s somewhat of a special young guy,” O’Brien said of Crisp. “He’s very mature for his age and has very good physical talent. He did a nice job for us. He’s learning each and every week for us and getting better. He’s in a backup role now, so he’s about where he should be.”

After all, that's where most true freshman offensive linemen in the country usually are.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami coach Randy Shannon said injured leading rusher Graig Cooper has been able to work out completely with his teammates this offseason, and that there's nothing he hasn't been able to do. Still, Shannon said the staff will be cautious about actually giving him the green light to play again. They want to ease him back into it.

"He's running, he's squatting, he's lifting, he's jumping," Shannon said. "He's full go at everything. Now, will that day come when he gets on the football field and plays? I don't know. That's a process that we're going to take it slow and give him certain drills to build his confidence up and get him where he needs to be at. If he's healthy, he'll play."
  • Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor "would be great in our offense. We couldn't grab him in a phone booth when we played them."
  • Beamer said he "wished like heck" he would have redshirted Taylor, and they tried it twice, but at the time it was in the best interest of the team not to. Barquell Rivers still hasn't been cleared to play in the Boise State game.
  • Virginia coach Mike London compared Morgan Moses to a tractor trailer and said he could play right or left tackle.

Recruiting rewind: Virginia

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
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When coach Mike London arrived in Charlottesville in early December, there were 13 players who were already committed to play for former coach Al Groh. It was up to hold-over assistants Bob Price and Anthony Poindexter to keep the group intact, and they managed to do that, losing just one player. Price and Poindexter visited each of the previously committed recruits, every week.

London came in and added five more.

The timing of the coaching change made it impossible for the new staff to put its stamp on this recruiting class, but by keeping it together, they filled a major need at quarterback and officially began the rebuilding process with a respectable group.

“The message was you choose universities for reasons,” London told reporters at his news conference on Wednesday. “The reasons for these young men were the academic opportunities, the atmosphere here at the school, great college campus. You walk around on [the] grounds and you see it's historic. The facilities are very eye pleasing. Then you add that to the staff, the guys that I hired, 'cause they had a chance to go out and visit with them, go into the homes. I had a chance to talk to them on the telephone, visit with them out at their schools. It kind of reiterated and bolstered all those decisions why they chose it in the first place.

“It's very true that players choose personalities -- they choose coaches,” he said. “But I think in this situation, I'm grateful they chose the university. We just had to add up to it. They liked the fact it had a new staff here, new energy, new focus on things. I think it made it very appealing to them to stay with their commitment.”

The top prospect in this class was four-star offensive tackle Morgan Moses, who had to spend a year in prep school to qualify academically. He was still being recruited until the last hour, so it was a relief to London when the fax finally came through.

Where the staff filled its biggest need, though, was at quarterback, where four have been added to the roster. Michael Strauss came mid-semester, a move that was agreed upon by the previous staff. The other three -- Jake McGee, Mike Rocco and Miles Gooch -- are players London knows well.

“I think looking at the quarterback position where we stand now with a fifth-year senior, coming on his last year, two others that have yet to take a snap, if you're going to be a quarterback at this program, now is the time to be one.

“We'll look at these players as they transition into college,” London said. “Strauss will practice in spring practice. We'll have the other three there. Then the other three young men will come in and bide for time.”

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