NCF Nation: Rashad Carmichael

ACC and the NFL combine

February, 4, 2011
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The official list for the NFL combine has been released. A total of 48 players from the ACC have been invited to audition for the NFL from February 23 – March 1. When categorized by school, it's somewhat of a reality check to see how many of the best players in the conference are moving on, and which programs will take the biggest hit. It's impossible not to wonder how good North Carolina could have been had all of the following players remained eligible. The Tar Heels will send the most players to the combine with 11.

Here are the players who will represent the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE (3)
  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Rich Lapham
  • Mark Herzlich
CLEMSON (7)
  • Da'Quan Bowers
  • Marcus Gilchrist
  • Chris Hairston
  • Jamie Harper
  • Jarvis Jenkins
  • Byron Maxwell
  • DeAndre McDaniel
FLORIDA STATE (3)
GEORGIA TECH (3)
MARYLAND (3)
MIAMI (9)
NORTH CAROLINA (11)
NC STATE (2)
VIRGINIA (2)
  • Danny Aiken
  • Ras-I Dowling
VIRGINIA TECH (5)
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.

Third time's the charm for Hokies

January, 3, 2011
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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Unlike Stanford, which has never been to the Discover Orange Bowl, Virginia Tech has its routine here in South Florida. The staff knows where everything is, the layout of the land, and it's figured out the best schedule that works for the Hokies. This is the program's third trip to the Orange Bowl in four years, having also gone following the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

This one, though, carries the most meaning because of how Virginia Tech began the season.

The players and coaches will tell you that every appearance in a BCS bowl is special, but this week they've also conceded that this one is a little more so because of their 0-2 start.

“First, winning the [Atlantic Coast Conference] championship game to get here, that does a lot for the fan base, for the recruiting," said senior cornerback Rashad Carmichael. "Being able to go out and perform and hopefully win the Discover Orange Bowl, it gives everyone a chance to see us. It is a great opportunity to show what we are made of -- especially for us where we started off 0-2 and to come back to win 11 straight -- we deserve a top game that everybody is going to watch. The Discover Orange Bowl is definitely that. This is my third one and I remember my first two like it was yesterday. Everything I did in my first two Orange Bowls, I tried to come back and do the exact same thing because it is a great experience.”

Discover Orange Bowl preview

January, 2, 2011
1/02/11
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This is the big one for the ACC, a chance for Virginia Tech and the conference to make a statement on the national stage against the No. 4 team in the country. Virginia Tech enters this game with an all-time record of 1-26 against teams ranked in the top 5 of the AP poll, and the Hokies are 0-22 in such games away from Blacksburg, Va.

This is Stanford’s first Orange Bowl appearance and second BCS bowl appearance. At 11-1, Stanford is trying to finish a season with as few as one loss for the first time since 1940 (10-0). The Cardinal have already set a school record for most wins in a season. There’s plenty to play for in the Discover Orange Bowl. Here’s a quick preview:

WHO TO WATCH: The quarterbacks. Stanford’s Andrew Luck is a projected first-round NFL draft pick, and Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor was the ACC’s Player of the Year after leading the Hokies on an 11-game winning streak. They’re major reasons why their teams are ranked among the top 20 in the country in scoring offense. Both have been invaluable to their respective teams, both have given defenses fits, and both are too good to miss.

WHAT TO WATCH: Virginia Tech’s secondary against Stanford’s receivers. Cornerbacks Jayron Hosley and Rashad Carmichael will have to win their matchups, especially when safeties Davon Morgan and Eddie Whitley line up closer to the box. Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin is one of Luck’s top targets, and Carmichael will be tasked with disrupting that connection. The Hokies’ pass efficiency defense is No. 8 in the country, while Stanford is No. 7 in passing efficiency.

WHY WATCH: These programs have gone on remarkable runs this season and come a long way. Stanford made a turnaround from 1-11 in 2006 to a school-record 11-1 this year. Virginia Tech made a turnaround from its 0-2 start to win 11 straight and become the first team to go undefeated in ACC play since Florida State in 2000. Both have an opportunity to finish the season with unprecedented success.

PREDICTION: Stanford 35, Virginia Tech 31. The difference in this game will be Stanford’s ability to run the ball. If there has been one weakness in the Hokies’ defense this year, it’s been at linebacker, where injuries and youth have provided some bumps. Virginia Tech’s run defense has been average, but when the Hokies dare to load the box, Luck can beat them with his arm.
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was reluctant to travel all the way from Blacksburg, Va., to Delray Beach, Fla., to woo a recruit until one former player persuaded Beamer to put in the effort to get to know a kid named Jayron Hosley out of Atlantic High School.

Former cornerback Brandon Flowers, also a graduate of Atlantic High, didn’t have to say much -- only that Hosley was just like him.

“He told them, ‘he might even be better than me,’” Hosley said with a smile. “That’s a big compliment coming from Brandon, being a great corner that he was coming out of Tech. That was big.”

[+] EnlargeJayron Hosley
AP Photo/Michael DwyerSophomore cornerback Jayron Hosley grabbed eight interceptions this season.
Hosley is only a sophomore, but if this season has been any indication of what lies ahead, Beamer might want to send Flowers a little thank-you note. Hosley enters the Discover Orange Bowl against Stanford tied for the national lead in interceptions with eight and leads the country in interceptions per game with .67. He was a first-team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Foundation, and will be integral to the Hokies’ chances of an upset over Stanford, which features a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick in quarterback Andrew Luck (if he comes out).

“J-Hosley, man, he definitely brings a lot to the table,” said cornerback Rashad Carmichael. “He’s a playmaker -- I think one of the most pure corners I’ve ever seen. When he first came on campus, I was like, 'this guy’s a corner. That’s what he do.'”

Hosley, who grew up about 30 minutes from Sun Life Stadium, said he will have 15 or 20 family members in the stands, “depending on how many tickets” he can get.

“My family is definitely looking forward to it,” Hosley said. “They want me to go out there and put on a show and do what I’ve been doing all season. They want to see me grow even more.”

So does secondary coach Torrian Gray, who’s had to “push and nudge” Hosley to be a little more aggressive. Gray said Hosley had the ability to play as a true freshman last year, but lacked a sense of urgency to be a starter.

“He’s a very quiet, laid-back kid,” Gray said, “almost too laid-back for my personality because I want you to be in it, communicate, talking, and that’s not how Jayron is. That’s the reason for his progression being kind of slow, but he’s a smart football player. Once he gets it, he’s got it.”

This year, Hosley got it -- just ask NC State.

Hosley had six tackles, four pass breakups and three interceptions against quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. He clinched the win against the Wolfpack with a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown. He also had a critical fourth-quarter interception he returned 32 yards in the win at Miami, and two interceptions against North Carolina.

“I’ve always said when he first got here as a true freshman he has an ‘it factor,’ and you can’t teach it, whatever it is,” Gray said. “His ‘it’ is to be able to make interceptions, make plays on the ball and finish plays. For him to have some of the games he’s had, kept us in games or won some games for us, I can say that kind of took me by surprise for him to come on this quickly.”

Hosley has also been an electric returner, and brought a punt back 80 yards for a touchdown in the win over Central Michigan. He has returned 19 punts this year for 239 yards (12.6-yard average) and a touchdown. He has 37 tackles this year, including one for loss, and seven pass breakups.

“I’m glad we came and got him,” Beamer said. “He’s just an exceptional player. He’s kind of got it.”

Flowers had ‘it’ too.

Discover Orange Bowl

December, 6, 2010
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Stanford Cardinal (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2

Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Stanford take by Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller: The big question for Stanford in the preseason was how would the Cardinal do without Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart. The answer quickly came: Pretty darn well.

Stanford finished 11-1 because quarterback Andrew Luck looked every bit like the No. 1 overall pick in this spring's NFL draft, the running game was nearly as good as it was with Gerhart and the defense was significantly improved. That Stanford ranks eighth in the nation in scoring should be no surprise. But the defense ranking 11th in the nation in scoring is why the Cardinal are playing in the Discover Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech. That defense has pitched three shutouts and seemed to improve under first-year coordinator Vic Fangio as the year went on.

Stanford rolled through its early schedule until it got hammered at Oregon 52-31. That loss seemed to suggest that the Cardinal still lack the overall team speed to play with the elite programs. But that would be their final loss. They played a couple of tight games with USC and Arizona State, and they dominated Arizona before winning their final two games over California and Oregon State by a combined count of 86-14.

What is most notable about Stanford is how it’s taken on coach Jim Harbaugh's tough-guy image. It's an extremely physical team, particularly on an offensive line that ranks among the best in the nation.


Virginia Tech take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: Despite their current 11-game winning streak, the ACC champions still feel like they have something to prove after an 0-2 start. The Hokies will have an ideal chance to silence any remaining doubters with their matchup against Stanford, one of the best one-loss teams in the country. The ACC, which is 2-10 in its BCS bowls, needs the Hokies to represent well.

Virginia Tech will once again rely on the ACC’s Player of the Year, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and a defense that has 14 interceptions in the past six games. Even with two starting linebackers sidelined with stingers in the ACC championship game and starting corner Rashad Carmichael out for most of the game with an ankle injury, Virginia Tech found a way to pressure FSU backup quarterback E.J. Manuel into mistakes. The Hokies will look to do the same against Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, a Heisman contender. Luck leads an offense that averages over 40 points and 200 rushing yards per game -- a challenge for Bud Foster’s defense, which has been average against the run this year. Stanford’s rushing defense has been better, and the Hokies will need all three of their running backs -- Darren Evans, Ryan Williams and David Wilson -- to contribute.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor is questionable to return with a stinger in his shoulder, and linebacker Lyndell Gibson is probable to return, according to a school spokesman. It looks like Rashad Carmichael (ankle) will see some playing time in this half.

Pregame observations

December, 4, 2010
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher loves having a competitive advantage, and if that means having both Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel on the field for warm-ups, so be it. Both quarterbacks were out there throwing, and Ponder didn't seem to be hindered by his elbow, but there's no way to know right now how much pain he is in, if any. At one point during warm-ups, Manuel was taking snaps from starting center Ryan McMahon.

On Virginia Tech's side, the Hokies will use warm-ups to determine the status of cornerback Rashad Carmichael, who was listed as probable with an ankle injury on the injury report. He was in full uniform and out stretching with the team, which is progress from a week ago, when he didn't dress.

The cold here today won't help any injured player stay loose. Weather.com is calling for rain/snow (40 percent chance of precipitation) and 28 degrees tonight.
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Following Virginia Tech’s 0-2 start to the season, there was some “finger pointing,” according to linebacker Bruce Taylor. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor said there were "a lot of people on the team going different ways.” Tight end Andre Smith said there was “a little bit of disconnect.”

So they decided to do something about it.

The seniors on the roster called a players-only meeting in the team auditorium on the eve of the season's third game against East Carolina game. Each senior stood up and talked about how much work they had put into their collegiate careers and how much the season meant to them.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Bob Donnan/US PresswireDavid Wilson is expected to take over the lead back role in Blacksburg.
“We just preached to the guys and talked about what was in our hearts that day,” said defensive tackle John Graves. “I think it took effect immediately. We had a lot of adversity in the ECU game and we overcame it. .. The guys that we have on this team, they just keep fighting and fighting, and you just have to respect that.”

The ability to rally has become this team’s identity. Not only did it climb out of an 0-2 start and back into the BCS Standings after an embarrassing FCS loss to James Madison, Virginia Tech has trailed by double digits in four games this season and won three of them, including Thursday night’s 28-21 win over Georgia Tech.

The Hokies were down 14-0 after one quarter, but with Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt sidelined with a broken arm, they pulled together for a comeback and sealed the win with David Wilson’s blazing 90-yard kickoff return. It turned into a wild, back-and-forth game that was a microcosm of the entire ACC -- impossible to predict. The one constant in the league this year, though -- at least since Sept. 11 -- has been Virginia Tech.

With the win, the Hokies remained the only undefeated team in conference play. In order for anyone else in the Coastal Division to have a shot, Virginia Tech would have to lose two of its next three games. The Hokies have back-to-back road games looming at North Carolina and Miami before closing the season at home with rival Virginia.

And this Virginia Tech team doesn’t look like it’s going to fold anytime soon.

“It’s a completely different team from the standpoint of guys being together,” said Bruce Taylor, who had a career-high 14 tackles and had two sacks. “In the beginning of the season, there was a lot of finger pointing, guys wondering why we’re losing. Nobody had the answer, so we kind of got separated, but when we had that meeting after the 0-2 start, guys really came together and started playing as a team.”

It’s been the difference in their season.

While Tyrod Taylor has gotten a lot of the attention, Virginia Tech has benefited from three talented tailbacks and a group of wide receivers able to catch the ball in traffic and hang onto it. The defense, which had to replace seven starters heading into this season, has still made game-changing plays under longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

Senior Rashad Carmichael’s fourth-quarter interception of backup quarterback Tevin Washington in the end zone ended Georgia Tech’s final attempt at an upset. It also likely ended the Yellow Jackets' chances of defending the ACC title.

Virginia Tech got what it needed in all three phases of the game -- a collective effort that was missing in September.

“It’s huge, especially in comeback wins like this,” Smith said. “We don’t want to have individuals, or groups. When we’re all on the same page, that’s when you see cohesion. As a team we talked about it. It’s easy when things are going bad to fall apart. As seniors and older guys on the team, we knew we weren’t going to let that happen.”

And in one of the most important games of the season, they didn’t.

Back and forth in the ACC

September, 20, 2010
9/20/10
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It’s time to look back on Week 3 and fastforward to Week 4:

The good: Toughness. Clemson’s has been called into question before, but there was no doubting it against Auburn, when everyone – particularly quarterback Kyle Parker – took some hits in one of the more physical games on the schedule so far. Virginia Tech’s defense showed some in the second half against East Carolina, finally making some game-changing plays led by Rashad Carmichael. Georgia Tech showed a much better effort at North Carolina, and Duke showed some just by showing up and scoring against No. 1 Alabama.

[+] EnlargeChandler Catanzaro
AP Photo/Dave MartinClemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro's missed field goal in overtime at Auburn kept the ACC winless against Top 25 teams.
The bad: Record against ranked opponents. The ACC is 0-for-9 against Top 25 opponents after three weeks and missed chances this past weekend at Auburn, at West Virginia, at Stanford and against Alabama. And after Duke’s loss, the ACC is 0-7 against reigning BCS national champs.

The ugly: Wake Forest and Duke defenses. Duke gave up 626 total yards and 62 points. It was the first time since 1989 that Alabama had racked up at least 600 yards. When Duke coach David Cutcliffe talked about setting milestones, he didn’t mean for the other team. Anyone would’ve looked like a Heisman candidate against the Blue Devils' D– especially last year’s Heisman winner, Mark Ingram. Wake Forest allowed Stanford 68 points and 535 yards. In the past two games, the Deacs have allowed 116 points.

The emerging: Virginia Tech running back David Wilson. He ran for two touchdowns and 89 yards on two carries, determined to prove that not redshirting was the right decision. The Hokies trailed ECU 27-21 in the third quarter until Wilson scored on an eight-yard run with 29 seconds remaining.

The disappearing: Opportunities at marquee wins. The biggest chances at making a statement against ranked opponents have passed, and it’s time to start turning our attention to the conference race, as half the conference will play for ACC standings on Saturday.

Top three games this week:

Miami at Pitt (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Pittsburgh is still one of the top teams in the Big East, but the Panthers are no longer ranked after their road loss to Utah. Still, the Hurricanes need this win to rebound from their loss to Ohio State and maintain their place in the AP Top 25.

NC State at Georgia Tech (12 p.m., ESPN): The Wolfpack is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2002, but it’s facing the defending ACC champs on their home turf. NC State’s defense allowed Cincinnati just 75 rushing yards, but this will be an entirely different challenge.

Virginia Tech at Boston College (12 p.m. ET): It’s tough to tell what to make of these two teams right now, as the Hokies’ are hurting (Ryan Williams’ status will be released on the injury report later this week) and Boston College has yet to play a high-quality opponent. If either one of these teams is going to be a contender for the conference title, though, there has to be some improvement this week.
Before the calendar even hit March, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his staff had already met with each of the players individually as part of their weekly academic meetings. Before spring practices began, Foster spoke to the defense as an entire group, so everyone got the same message: in Blacksburg: “Defense is king.”

After losing six starters from last year’s 10-3 team, there are plenty of young players on the roster this year who will be expected to uphold that tradition this fall.

“We make sure right up front, we want them to know we’ve got a tradition here, an expectation here, and those expectations aren’t going to change,” Foster said. “They’ve got to come up to our level, and the thing about us here, defense is king. As good as we’ve been, we also went through a stretch there where we won 10 or 11 games with 100th-ranked offense. I want them to know we’ve won games around here just by playing great defense, and that’s not going to change. It’s their responsibility to carry the torch, so to speak.”

[+] EnlargeRashad Carmichael
Bob Donnan/US PresswireVeterans like Rashad Carmichael will be counted on in 2010.
It’s not an easy task, as no other defense in the FBS has played more consistently than the Hokies. Virginia Tech finished nationally in the top 12 in total defense in each of the past six years, five times in the top 7. Over the past six seasons -- a span of 80 games -- Virginia Tech has allowed its opponents an average of just 268.33 yards per game. The next-best team in the country during that span? Alabama.

“We know what it takes,” Foster said. “We’ve been doing it a long time and we’ve had a lot of success. We’ve got the formula for success here, at least I think we’ve got it cornered a little bit. It’s just getting the kids to understand that’s what our expectations are, and you’ve got a certain responsibility to live up to those expectations, and understand this is what it’s going to take for you to be successful, for you to be on the field, your work ethic and how we want you to do certain things a certain way.”

The older players on the team, like boundary corner Rashad Carmichael, take seriously their role in ushering the younger players along.

“It goes back to recruiting and us guys on that defense trying to build a brotherhood more than anything,” Carmichael said. “That’s the kind of player I am. If you put it on the line for your brother, then the game will go a little bit easier. It just feels great when you can look to the left and the right and see guys who are ready. A lot of teams on this level don’t have that chemistry. It’s more of a family here. I’m confident.”

The defensive line, particularly the defensive tackles, is the biggest question mark. Virginia Tech has to replace three of four starters and talented backup tackle Demetrius Taylor. Veteran tackle John Graves returns as the lone starter, and he is expected to be the leader of the entire defense, not just the line. Antoine Hopkins should be the starter opposite Graves, but the staff needs to find quality depth on the interior.

Despite the loss of Cody Grimm, Foster said he is confident in his linebackers, a group that progressed as the year went along, but there will be some competition in the secondary, particularly at safety where Kam Chancellor was the anchor. Free safety is the position that does most of the communication and checks, so he’ll need a leader there. Foster will look at junior Eddie Whitley, and sophomore Antone Exum, a highly recruited player, among others.

Foster doesn’t have much time to prepare the younger players for their Labor Day matchup against Boise State, which will again have one of the most productive offenses in the country. Then again, it’s not like Foster hasn’t had to reload before.

“We’re inexperienced, we’re going to be very inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball,” Foster said. “But at the same time, that’s not a bad thing. I think we’re going to have a good mix of guys who have played. We’ve got a good mix of guys who are leaders, and at the same time we have some young, hungry guys. Sometimes that can really be even better for you than maybe having a bunch of guys come back who think they’re going to be pretty good. I kind of like that challenge a little bit more sometimes. We’ve had some of our best years when people thought we weren’t going to be as good.”

Usually in their best years, though, defense was king.

Scouting Virginia Tech's defense

February, 11, 2010
2/11/10
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The Hokies' defense will be one of the biggest questions in the ACC this preseason, as Virginia Tech has to replace six starters. Still, expectations are high heading into 2010 that Virginia Tech will be one of the best teams in the country. Much of that confidence comes from defensive coordinator Bud Foster's proven ability to reload.

Can he do it again?

Bud Foster
AP Photo/Steve HelberBud Foster will have some new pieces to work with this season.
Here's a closer look at exactly what Virginia Tech's situation is on defense heading into spring practice, and how much work the Hokies have to do:

  • Overall, Virginia Tech needs to replace three of four starters up front, outside linebacker, cornerback and free safety.
  • The only defensive ends with any significant playing time are Chris Drager, who the staff wanted to move back to tight end, and Steven Friday. There are a few redshirt freshmen you might get to know: Duan Perez-Means, Tyrel Wilson, James Gayle and J.R. Collins. Of course, the only problem with redshirt freshmen is that they haven't played yet. Isaiah Hamlette is the only other defensive end who has played, but that was extremely sparingly. It's possible the staff could move tackle John Graves back to end, where he practiced last spring, or possibly look at moving other players.
  • At defensive tackle, Antoine Hopkins will be the front-runner to replace Cordarrow Thompson, and he has experience so that shouldn't be too much of a concern.
  • At outside linebacker, Cody Grimm and Cam Martin have to be replaced, leaving a wide open competition.
  • At cornerback, Jayron Hosley or Cris Hill will likely take over for Stephan Virgil. No worries there.
  • At free safety, Eddie Whitley was Kam Chancellor’s backup, and the staff is confident in him. Antone Exum will also be given an opportunity.
  • The good news? Virginia Tech returns cornerback Rashad Carmichael, rover Davon Morgan, Graves at defensive tackle, and Lyndell Gibson at inside linebacker.
It's a lot to ask for a team that faces Boise State's offense on Labor Day, but the Hokies wouldn't be so highly ranked this preseason if people didn't think they could do it.

ACC recruiting rewind

February, 2, 2010
2/02/10
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You would think that with how well the ACC has fared in recruiting the past four years, it would have eventually made a bigger push on the national landscape during the season. Miami has had three top-10 classes, and Florida State has had two. Overall, the trend in the ACC has been that Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have led the conference on the recruiting front. Three of those teams have appeared in ESPN.com's final Top 25 ranking in each of the past four years (UNC has been there three of the past four.) Only the Hokies, though, have had it translate into postseason success -- so far. There was a common thread, though, amongst the other programs -- a coaching change or, in Florida State's case, coaching questions.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Paul Abell/US PresswireAldarius Johnson was one of 12 ESPNU 150 players in Miami's No. 1-rated 2008 class.
It was impossible to predict, though, that players like former Miami quarterback Robert Marve would transfer, or that former FSU linebacker Marcus Ball would have off-field troubles and ask for his release.

Here's a reminder at how highly ranked several teams in the ACC have repeatedly finished since 2006, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. rankings. You can click on the year to go to the full ranking. I mentioned a few of the top players in each class who were facing high expectations at the time, or players who weren't facing many expectations and have since proved otherwise (see: Virginia Tech).

2006

No. 6 FSU (Myron Rolle)
No. 13 Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jamie Cumbie, Ricky Sapp)
No. 17 Miami (Kylan Robinson)
No. 23 Maryland (Pha'Terrell Washington, Drew Gloster)
No. 24 Virginia Tech (Rashad Carmichael, Nekos Brown, Kam Chancellor)
No. 25 UNC (Aleric Mullins, Johnny White)

2007

No. 9 Miami (Robert Marve, Allen Bailey)
No. 11 UNC (Quan Sturdivant, Marvin Austin)
No. 14 Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Barquell Rivers)
No. 18 Clemson (Willy Korn, Scotty Cooper, Marcus Gilchrist)
No. 25 Florida State (Brandon Paul, Markish Jones)

2008

No. 1 Miami (Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, Aldarius Johnson)
No. 2 Clemson (DaQuan Bowers, Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper)
No. 12 FSU (Zebrie Sanders, E.J. Manuel, Nigel Carr)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Ryan Williams)
No. 20 NC State (Mike Glennon, Brandon Barnes)

2009

No. 7 Miami (Ray Ray Armstrong, Mike James)
No. 8 FSU (Greg Reid, Jacobbi McDaniel)
No. 13 UNC (Bryn Renner, Donavan Tate, Jheranie Boyd)
No. 18 Virginia Tech (Jayron Hosley, David Wilson, Logan Thomas)
No. 19 Clemson (Tajh Boyd, Bryce McNeal)

All-ACC bowl team

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
11:37
AM ET
Bowl season deserves more than just helmet stickers. It deserves its own team. Regardless of whether they won or lost, these ACC players had an impact this postseason. Here is your 2009 All-ACC bowl team:

[+] EnlargeRyan Williams
Todd Kirkland/Icon SMIRyan Williams ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Offense and Special Teams

QB: E.J. Manuel, Florida State: The Gator Bowl MVP completed 17 of 24 passes for 189 yards, had 73 rushing yards on 14 carries and one touchdown with zero turnovers. He led the Noles to 415 total yards in their 33-21 win over No. 18 West Virginia.

RB: Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech: Williams ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Tennessee. He finished the season with 1,655 rushing yards and broke Kevin Jones' single-season school record (1,647).

RB: Jermaine Thomas, Florida State: He had 121 yards rushing on 25 carries and two touchdowns. He also had one catch for nine yards and posted his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He led FSU back from a 14-3 first quarter deficit against West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

WR: Rich Gunnell, Boston College: Gunnell finished with six catches for 130 yards, breaking Pete Mitchell's school record for yards receiving with 2,659 in his career. His 61-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter closed the gap to 14-13 against USC in the Emerald Bowl.

WR: Greg Little, UNC: He finished with seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Pitt in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

WR: Jarrett Boykin, Virginia Tech: His 64-yard reception to the Tennessee 3 in the final seconds of the first half was a major turning point in the game. The Vols had already begun to head to the locker room, but officials determined there were still two seconds left on the clock. The play led to Matt Waldron’s 21-yard field goal and a 17-14 halftime lead. Boykin finished with four catches for 120 yards.

TE: Jimmy Graham, Miami: He had three catches for 30 receiving yards against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl and became the seventh Hurricane to record at least 200 receiving yards this season. Graham closed out his only season with the Canes with 15 catches for 213 yards and five touchdowns.

OL: Ed Wang, Virginia Tech: In his final performance, Wang paved the way for a career-day for Williams, and helped the Hokies rack up 438 total yards of offense.

OL: Sergio Render, Virginia Tech: Like Wang, Render was impressive in his final performance as a Hokie, and helped Virginia Tech use a balanced offense and gave quarterback Tyrod Taylor the time he needed to make plays.

OL: Rodney Hudson, Florida State: The All-American returned to the lineup after missing two games with knee sprain and helped FSU rack up 415 total yards, 37 minutes time of possession and he did not allow a sack.

OL: Andrew Datko, Florida State: He teamed with Hudson on the left side (where two of three rushing touchdowns came) and kept a WVU team averaging 2.6 sacks per game without one.

OL: Dalton Freeman, Clemson: He graded out at 80 percent with seven knockdowns. Freeman was key to Clemson averaging 5.5 yards per rush and a Clemson bowl record 6.8 yards per play against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

K: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State: He tied a school bowl record converting 4 of 5 field goal attempts and scoring a season-high 15 points on a windy day. His 42-yarder at the end of the first half pulled FSU within 14-13.

P: Chandler Anderson, Georgia Tech: He had a career-high seven punts with an average of 49.1 yards and a long of 59 yards. Three of his punts were downed inside the 20 and only one was returned.

Spc: C.J. Spiller, Clemson: Spiller finished his career with 172 all-purpose yards (68 rushing, 57 receiving), giving him an ACC record 2,670 for the season and 7,588 for his career. He finished his career in second place in FBS history in all-purpose yards.

(Read full post)


Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


Turning point: As soon as the clock started. Virginia Tech has controlled this game and the clock from its opening possession. As for when it seemed like the game was over? When Dave Shinskie was intercepted -- the first time -- in the second quarter. Rashad Carmichael returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and put the Hokies ahead 31-0. Fans entertained themselves then by doing the wave during a timeout.

Stat of the half: Boston College had 3 yards of total offense in the first half compared with the Hokies’ 293 total yards. The only passes Shinskie completed were to the Hokies on two interceptions. Keep in mind the Eagles have a veteran offensive line and the No. 2 running back in the ACC in Montel Harris. But it hasn't mattered against this defense today.

Best player in the half: Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Yes, he can pass the ball, and no, last week’s performance against Duke wasn’t a fluke, it was just a sneak preview. Taylor has been extremely efficient, as he only threw it nine times, but completed seven passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaging 14 yards per pass so far.

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