NCF Nation: Rick Trickett

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Red Lightning is beloved at Florida State. No opponent dare lay a hand on a Seminoles player on the sideline lest they wish a shove and a confrontation with Florida State’s red-bearded ball boy.

But as he ran onto the field and waded through the ongoing Florida State party at the 10-yard line, he was a little overzealous trying to get the football. Offensive lineman Cam Erving had a vise grip locked around it and just gave a Red Lightning a glare. Erving wasn’t handing it over.

Asked what he planned with the ball, an emotionally spent Erving pointed to the tape around his right wrist: RT, it read. This ball was for offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who was watching the game on a hospital monitor as he lay in bed.

[+] EnlargeRick Trickett
AP Photo/Phil CoaleFlorida State gave the game ball for Saturday's win against Notre Dame to offensive line coach Rick Trickett, who was in the hospital but has since been released.
"I’ve never been around a guy who takes more pride in his work, works any harder, is a better line coach than he is," Jimbo Fisher said after the game. "When I talked to him [Saturday] on the phone, he broke down. He cried, [and] that guy don’t cry over nothing. He felt he was letting me down and letting his team down and those kids down. ... We gave him the game ball. That game was for him."

Less than 24 hours before kickoff Saturday night, Trickett suffered what the athletic department called a personal health issue and would not coach.

In his postgame team address after No. 2 Florida State’s 31-27 win against Notre Dame, Fisher announced the ball would go to Trickett, who came with Fisher to FSU in 2007. One of Trickett’s sons, Chance, works in the Seminoles’ recruiting department and was handed the ball to deliver to his father, who was released from hospital Sunday afternoon and is expected to rejoin the team by Wednesday.

Considering the circumstances, Saturday had to be a proud day for Trickett. The second half of the day began with his son Clint, a quarterback at West Virginia, playing one of the best games of his career, throwing three touchdowns in a 41-27 upset of then-No. 4 Baylor. And in the nightcap, the former Marine and Vietnam War veteran is known for coaching his players hard, but in a show of solidarity, the offensive line all wrote RT on their right wrists. The Seminoles won even though their backs were against the wall much of the game.

Chance Trickett told on Sunday that his father is "doing well" and in "high spirits." He said he learned of his father’s issue just hours before the game and that quarterback Jameis Winston sought him out before kickoff to offer his support.

"Jameis Winston came up to [me] before the game and said this one’s for him," Chance Trickett said.

Then Winston spoke to his line, which he still considers the country’s best.

"I kept reminding them that you got to do this for your coach. We’re a family, and one of our 'dads' was down. Our daddy was down. I was like, 'You all got to protect your daddy’s house,'" Winston said.

Before the game, injured center Austin Barron spoke to Trickett and relayed a message to the starting linemen. However, the offensive line struggled in the first half without its patriarch. When the line wasn’t being confused by exotic blitzes that allowed free rushers, it was getting beat at the line of scrimmage.

David Spurlock, a graduate assistant who played under Trickett, and tight ends coach Tim Brewster were left making the offensive line calls, and Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders helped with adjustments. Trickett even spent parts of the game on the phone trying to relay messages and fixes to his players.

The second half was different. The group that has been criticized much of the season stepped up. It still whiffed on some blitzes, but it was not playing with an edge. In the third quarter, the offensive line pushed Karlos Williams into the end zone after he was initially stopped at the 2-yard line, and it was a fourth-quarter Williams touchdown that was the winner.

"We just had to learn to fight through adversity," guard Josue Matias said. "That’s Coach Trickett’s attitude."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State hit spring practice with two major questions -- who would start at quarterback this season, and how would the new coaching staff come together?

I got a little bit of insight into both Wednesday, when coach Jimbo Fisher opened the entire 2 1/2-hour practice to the media for the first time this spring. It was my lucky day!

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
AP Photo/Don Juan MooreWIll FSU coach Jimbo Fisher have a title contender despite having to replace 13 starters from 2012?
I paid close attention to the quarterback competition between Clint Trickett, Jacob Coker and Jameis Winston. From my viewpoint, Trickett looks to be the clear front-runner, as he should, given the time he has spent in the system and his past game experience. He knows the offense the best of the three; he seemed comfortable and at ease; and his passes were crisp and sharp, and went exactly where they needed to go.

Now, it should be noted that both Coker and Winston have been limited this spring. Coker is still not 100 percent as he recovers from a foot injury, and Fisher acknowledged after practice that his quarterback was unable to display the athleticism that makes him so good.

"But I’m not concerned about that right now," Fisher said. "I know he can do those things. I want him to win from the pocket right now. Make decisions, lead and do those things."

As for Winston, the team is monitoring his throws this spring because of his dual commitment to baseball, especially following games in which he pitches. Winston pitched Sunday out of the bullpen against Georgia Tech, and was a little sore following the game. Again, this is not a concern to Fisher but clearly something the team has to be sensitive to as Winston does both this spring. Winston, by the way, seems to be the most vocal of the three, bringing an extra bounce to practice.

Now on to the new assistants. I was impressed with the energy, passion and tempo they brought to the field Wednesday. This is a boisterous group unafraid to get in the faces of their players. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett used to be the loudest of the bunch, but that title belongs to new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, whose booming voice could be heard for most of the practice.

In particular, he was on Giorgio Newberry for a good part of the practice, clearly realizing how much potential his player has as the Seminoles work to replace both starting ends. Newberry has the physical tools, and he looks very impressive in person. Now he has to take the next step and dominate consistently in games.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was on his players, too, hollering one minute, then pulling a player aside for a teachable moment the next. Coaches want to teach first and foremost this spring, and you definitely saw a lot of that going on during the open practice.

One more note: Kelvin Benjamin was all the rage headed into last season as a player who could be a star on the rise given his size (6-foot-5, 242 pounds), speed and athleticism. He had a productive first year with 30 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns, but was maddeningly inconsistent. In the final three games of the season, he had a combined two catches for 16 yards (including a goose egg against Florida).

Benjamin is incredibly impressive in person because he is just so big. He towers over just about everybody on the field. What you now want to see out of him is complete domination. He should be winning his one-on-one matchups more; he should be able to come down with every fade pass in the end zone; he should become an All-ACC receiver. Can he?

That's it for now. Check back later for much more.

Mailbag: Oregon post-Kelly?

November, 9, 2012
Happy Friday.

Follow the Pac-12 blog on Twitter here.

To the notes.

Stephan from Shanghai, China, writes: A lot is being made about the possibility of Chip Kelly heading for the NFL next year. This past off season, he was in talks with Tampa. Who are possible candidates for his replacement should he leave Oregon? Would anyone on his staff be able to replicate the kind of offense we have come to know Oregon for?

Ted Miller: First off, I am not ready for Chip Kelly to leave. I'm obsessed with the idea of tricking him into entertaining a hypothetical question before that happens.

It seems, as former Ducks coach Mike Bellotti has said, "inevitable" that Kelly takes a shot at the NFL, probably sooner rather than later. His stock couldn't be higher. It's almost certain that he will be pursued by multiple NFL teams after the season. So if Kelly decides he likes an opportunity, he'll probably bite. Not a sure thing -- my impression is he hardly seems eager to bolt Eugene -- but a lot of folks around the program feel resigned to the eventuality.

Who would be next? Well, this has been speculated about already because of how close it appeared Kelly was to leaving for Tampa Bay last year. There are two obvious names: Boise State's Chris Petersen and Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

Oregon has long been seen as the one job that might lure Petersen away from Boise State. Petersen knows the program, having been an assistant under Bellotti from 1995-2000, and it seems to be a good fit. Oregon is one of the few big-time programs where Petersen could remain in the region and not be dumped into a big city media market, which he reportedly doesn't want. Further, he'd have a chance to win a national title and get paid a lot more money.

Helfrich would ensure system continuity, and it's no secret a lot of folks inside the athletic department and potential decision-making process are high on him.

After that, you could line up a list of the usual suspects. Oregon has become an A-list job, one that will pay well. Of course, some might shy away as Kelly would be a tough act to follow.

Beavfann from Denver writes: Ted it is deja vu all over again. I think I am correct that you are 2-6 picking the Beaver games this year is that right? It is just like 2009 and 2010 your total lack of faith continues to inspire the Beavs. If the Beavers do pull it out this weekend will you make sure to pick against them the rest of the year? It should not matter after this week since Kevin will have the picking crown about wrapped up.

Ted Miller: I'm 4-4 picking Oregon State this year. I am 4-1 picking them to win (Utah, Arizona, UCLA and Washington State being correct as wins, Washington being the wrong win pick). And 0-3 picking the Beavers to lose (Arizona State, BYU and Wisconsin).

Don't recall too many folks picking the Beavers over Wisconsin, but I did write this. I picked BYU to beat the Beavers because that was Cody Vaz's first start for an injured Sean Mannion and I thought the road venue against a good defense would prove too much. I was wrong.

I thought the QB turmoil might hurt the Beavers last week against Arizona State, particularly coming off a loss at Washington. I was wrong.

It's very possible I will be wrong picking Stanford over the Beavers. I tried to explain the tough call here.

And if Mike Riley is successfully using my predictions to motivate his team, well, that would make me very happy. The Pac-12 blog loves to be a resource to its coaches.

Sam from Los Angeles writes: Your article on UCLA ascending to the top of the LA food chain makes it so glaringly obvious that you have not watched a single UCLA game this year. It must be hard considering you are the biggest USC homer of them all.1) UCLA didn't get "whooped" by Oregon last year. In fact, they did much better than essentially any person, bruins fans included, would have expected.2) "And the Bruins have been good on special teams too" - was that leftover from an article you wrote last year about UCLA? We have about 4 fumbles on muffed punts and a freshman kicker who has missed multiple PATs and it has become glaringly obvious can only hit field goals <35 yards. Yes we have a great punter, but that doesn't make up for the atrociousness that our special teams has been this year.3) Sheldon Price is having a breakout year? - Our cornerbacks have been absolutely terrible this year. They are by far our weakest and most vulnerable unit, and most likely going to be a huge reason why we lose to USC (if we lose). Our cornerbacks are big and athletic, and it makes me laugh everytime an announcer/"reporter" talks about how great they are based purely on their athleticism when the announcer has obviously not seen them play at all this year. Its nice to finally get some recognition that the Bruins deserve, but its just insulting when it comes from a guy who has been drinking the USC kool-aid since... forever... and its obvious that he has no clue whats going on at UCLA.

Ted Miller: All righty...
You write: "UCLA didn't get "whooped" by Oregon last year. In fact, they did much better than essentially any person, bruins fans included, would have expected."

UCLA lost to Oregon 49-31. The Bruins trailed 49-24 entering the fourth quarter. Oregon outgained the Bruins 571 yards to 337.
You write: "And the Bruins have been good on special teams too" - was that leftover from an article you wrote last year about UCLA? We have about 4 fumbles on muffed punts and a freshman kicker who has missed multiple PATs and it has become glaringly obvious can only hit field goals <35 yards. Yes we have a great punter, but that doesn't make up for the atrociousness that our special teams has been this year."

As you note, UCLA has one of the best punters in the nation in Jeff Locke. The Bruins rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in kickoff coverage, No. 3 in kickoff returns and No. 5 in punt returns. They are 11 for 16 on field goals. That .688 percentage ranks seventh in the Pac-12, but 11 made field goals is tied for third most in the conference. Yes, Ka'imi Fairbairn has missed three of 41 PATs and has limited range, but refresh my memory about what he did against Arizona State.
You write: 3) Sheldon Price is having a breakout year? - Our cornerbacks have been absolutely terrible this year. They are by far our weakest and most vulnerable unit, and most likely going to be a huge reason why we lose to USC (if we lose).

I listed six guys, but you criticism is valid -- a bit overstated but valid -- with my positive assessment of Price. I overvalued Price's three interceptions, which all came against Houston. And Price played poorly against Oregon State, California and Arizona State.

I am sorry you believe I insulted your team by writing that article. I am sure your letter will be hung up in the UCLA coaches' offices and used in recruiting.

(Read full post)

For once, Andrea Adelson and I are on the same page. Both of us think this is the year Florida State will live up to the hype. Shocking, I know.

Our opinions differ, though, on exactly how they need to do that.

Will the offensive line and running game be the key? Or will it be quarterback EJ Manuel and the development of his receivers?

[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
AP Photo/Phil SearsEJ Manuel is going to require a lot of help from his offensive line to his receiving corps in order to get FSU some wins this season.
Depends, of course, on who you ask ...

Heather Dinich: It’s a good thing Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett is a Harley Davidson-driving, cigar-gnawing, old-school, kick-in-the-pants kind of coach -- because Florida State’s offensive line couldn’t afford anything less this summer.

If the No. 7-ranked Seminoles are going to stay in the top 10 -- if they’re going to win the ACC and aim for something even higher -- the offensive line must go from the weak link in 2011 to one of the team’s greatest strengths in 2012. The running game must improve, and it all starts up front with a group that introduced four freshmen in the starting lineup against Notre Dame last year in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Last year, Florida State’s running game finished No. 104 in the country. The Noles tied for No. 110 in sacks allowed. And the linemen didn’t create enough holes for the running backs, who also had too many mental errors.

Does that sound like a top-10 team? Well, that’s why it wasn’t. The Noles sank to No. 23 last year in the final Associated Press Top 25 after starting out No. 6 in the preseason poll.

Florida State can’t possibly expect to change that with only 95 total yards of offense against Florida again. It can’t possibly win its first ACC title since 2005 with only 63 rushing yards against Miami. And it certainly can’t be taken seriously as a national title contender with only 41 rushing yards against Notre Dame.

Florida State’s defense and its super special teams were the difference for the Noles last year. If the offensive line and ground game could match that, Florida State would be seemingly unstoppable.

It’s getting closer.

The experience sophomore guards Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson got in the bowl game last year was priceless, and they continued that progress this summer. Cameron Erving’s seamless transition from defensive tackle to left tackle was one of the top story lines in Tallahassee, and all three have likely earned starting jobs for the season opener against Murray State. The questions continue at center and right tackle, though, and the competition could, too. During fall camp, Austin Barron and Bryan Stork were the frontrunners at center, and junior-college transfers Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser were the leaders at right tackle.

Overall, the Noles’ offensive line has gotten bigger and stronger, but it still needs to prove that it has also gotten better.

Andrea Adelson: We have heard plenty already this preseason about the depth Florida State has at wide receiver.

Depth is an excellent commodity to have. But here is my question -- how about playmakers? Do the Seminoles have a game-breaker at receiver who will be able to help Manuel carry this offense from good to championship caliber?

I grew up in South Florida, and have watched every Miami-Florida State game going back to the early 1980s. During the heyday of both programs, you could always count on at least one receiver that made you, well, nervous. Florida State had them in spades, between guys like Lawrence Dawsey, Tamarick Vanover, Peter Warrick, Laveranues Coles, Snoop Minnis, E.G. Green, Anquan Boldin and the like.

To that point -- FSU had one receiver on the ACC first team between 1993 and 2000. Since then, the Noles have had just one -- Craphonso Thorpe in 2003. There are a variety of reasons this program has hit a major dip in recent years. One of them has been a lack of some major talent at the skill positions.

The lack of a 1,000-yard rusher (none since 1996) or 1,000-yard receiver (none since 2002) are proof. So is the fact that Florida State has not had a receiver drafted since Willie Davis in 2007. For a program in talent-rich Florida, it is almost inexcusable for there to be a dearth of game-changers at either running back or receiver. A player like Sammy Watkins? He used to be found at Florida State.

The Noles have an opportunity to change that this season given some of the talent that is returning. What FSU fans will tell you is Manuel has been good at spreading the ball around to his various receivers, and that has been nearly as good as having one go-to guy emerge. Three players had 30 or more catches last season -- Rashad Greene, Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw.

They all return.

Willie Haulstead also is back after sitting out last season. Christian Green and Greg Dent each averaged over 17 yards a catch last season. They are back, too.

Expectations are high for redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin to emerge as a game-changer. Florida State also has true freshman Marvin Bracy, a player with world class speed who may not even see the field this year. That is a testament to the depth at the position, something that is not in dispute.

But what the Noles truly need is a dynamic presence at receiver to put fear into the opposition, the way they used to do. To me, that is going to be a deciding factor in whether the Seminoles live up to all the preseason hype.

Respectable performance by Trickett

September, 17, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nice drive by backup quarterback Clint Trickett, who had to replace injured starter EJ Manuel.

It was better than Florida State could have hoped for, as he came in against the No. 1 team in the nation, held his composure, and led the Noles on an eight-play, 50-yard drive that took 3:28 off the clock. It ended in a 46-yard field goal and closed the deficit to 13-6.

Trickett looked prepared and ready for this chance. For Trickett to come into the game under those circumstances and not only keep the Noles afloat but in the game is admirable. It should give the Noles confidence moving forward.

Spring preview: Atlantic Division

February, 15, 2011
It's that time of year, ACC fans. Duke kicks off the ACC's spring football schedule with practice tomorrow, so it's time to take a look at three storylines to watch for each program. We'll start with the Atlantic Division:


Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • The progression of quarterback Chase Rettig. As a true freshman, Rettig replaced Dave Shinskie as starter against Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He’ll only get better with more experience, and there’s room for improvement, as he threw nine interceptions and six touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes for 137.6 yards per game. Two of those picks came in the 20-13 loss to Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, but he’s expected to take an important step forward this offseason and will need to if BC is going to graduate from the nation’s 109th best offense.
  • The offense under a new coordinator. Kevin Rogers replaced Gary Tranquill, who retired after the bowl game, and the Eagles will have to adjust to a new scheme and system, starting this spring. Rogers said he'll adapt his system to the personnel he has to work with, but considering he was hired on Monday, there hasn't been much time for him to evaluate film.
  • The revamped offensive line. BC has to replace three starters up front, including left tackle Anthony Castonzo, right guard Thomas Claiborne and right tackle Rich Lapham. Emmett Cleary and center Mark Spinney are returning starters, and left guard Ian White started a few games at the end of the year. Bryan Davis, Claiborne’s backup at right guard, and John Wetzel, Castonzo’s backup, are frontrunners to earn starts.

Spring practice starts: March 7

Spring game: April 9

What to watch:
  • Quarterback Tajh Boyd. Prior to the arrival of two early enrollees, Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, and his experience alone -- albeit limited -- makes it his job to lose. The staff wants him to become a little more accurate and consistent this spring. His education was accelerated at this time a year ago when former quarterback Kyle Parker spent the spring playing baseball, but that was under former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. He’s got a new coordinator -- and a new offense to learn.
  • The new offensive scheme. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo style similar to that of Auburn’s, and the Tigers will have to learn it as quickly as he’ll want them to execute it. Morris has said Boyd is suited just right to lead it. Morris will want to stretch the field in every direction, depend on a strong running game and include long pass plays. He’s tasked with improving an offense that ranked No. 10 in the ACC in both scoring offense and total offense.
  • Defense up the middle. It starts up front, where the Tigers have to replace defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins. Linebacker Brandon Maye, who played in the middle a lot, decided to transfer, and safety DeAndre McDaniel, who controlled the middle of the field in the secondary, has also graduated. The Tigers have the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 1 outside linebacker in the country in this year’s recruiting class, but they won’t arrive until the summer. For now, Corico Hawkins returns as a starting middle linebacker, while Quandon Christian is likely to stay on the outside. Rennie Moore will replace Jenkins, but McDaniel’s spot is up for grabs.

Spring practice starts: March 21

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Big holes on the offensive line. There’s depth, experience and incoming talent, but there are also big shoes to fill with the graduation of left guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon. Right guard David Spurlock has been seen snapping on the sidelines at practices, indicating he could move to center, while recovering from concussions and going through rehab. McMahon’s backup was Jacob Stanley. Henry Orelus, Bryan Stork and Rhonne Sanderson all started at right guard for Spurlock when he was out. Junior college transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug, the No. 4 overall junior college prospect, could have an immediate impact at left guard.
  • Backup quarterback battle. With EJ Manuel a lock as the starter, the attention turns to the No. 2 spot. Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman and son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and Will Secord, a redshirt sophomore, are the top two candidates. Secord was named the most improved quarterback of the spring at this time a year ago. Neither of them have thrown a collegiate pass.
  • Linebackers. The Seminoles will have to replace two starters in Kendall Smith and Mister Alexander. Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter. This spring will feature competition among Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Vince Williams and Jeff Luc. It’s a more talented crop waiting in the wings, but inexperience is a factor. It’s a chance for Luc and Jones -- two of FSU’s top recruits in the 2010 class -- to remind everyone why they were rated the No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 2 outside linebacker, respectively, in the country.

Spring practice starts: March 29

Spring game: April 30

What to watch:
  • New staff, new schemes. First-year coach Randy Edsall wants to be multiple, get vertical and take advantage of quarterback Danny O’Brien’s strengths. The departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown to Connecticut was a surprise and a blow to the defense, which will now have to make a transition under a new coordinator who has yet to be hired.
  • Competition at linebacker. Two starters have to be replaced in Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, who were also both leaders of the defense. Demetrius Hartsfield returns as a starter, but the new staff will have to figure out who else fits into what slots. Ben Pooler has had knee trouble, but he is expected to compete with Darin Drakeford and Ryan Donohue, who were both No. 2 at their respective positions in 2010.
  • Special teams. Not only did the Terps lose a four-year starter in punter/placekicker Travis Baltz, they also have to replace their top kick returner and conference leader in all-purpose yards in receiver Torrey Smith, who left early for the NFL. Nick Ferrara handled kickoffs last year and was No. 2 behind Baltz at both kicker and punter, but he’s a placekicker first, and has to get back on track with consistency. He’ll be the only scholarship kicker on the roster until incoming freshman Nathaniel Renfro joins the team this summer. Dexter McDougle has returned kickoffs in the past, and Trenton Hughes is another option, but with a new staff, it could be a clean slate.

Spring practice starts: March 17

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Mike Glennon. The team is moving forward as if starter Russell Wilson won’t return, promoting Glennon to No. 1 on the depth chart. The offense will have a new look, as the plays will be suited to Glennon’s strengths. At 6-foot-7, he’s much taller than Wilson, a more prototypical drop-back passer with a strong arm. While the plays might look different to the fans, they’re the same ones Glennon has been practicing since the day he arrived on campus. He’s a smart, unflappable player scheduled to graduate this May, but we haven’t seen enough of him to know just how good he is.
  • A new crop of receivers. NC State will have to replace three seniors in Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis. Spencer and Williams led the Pack in receiving last year, combining for nine touchdowns and over 1,600 yards. NC State will turn to Jay Smith, who had 10 catches in 12 games, Steven Howard, Quintin Payton, and T.J. Graham, who had four touchdowns and played in all 13 games. Payton played a little more toward the end of the year, and he’s a tall, big target (about 6-foot-4) and comparable to Williams. Bryan Underwood, who redshirted last year, could also contribute.
  • Running back competition. James Washington had taken over the starting job at the end of 2010, but he’ll be pushed this spring by Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene, who led the team in rushing in 2010 as a true freshman. They’ll also be under the direction of a new assistant coach, as Jason Swepson is now the head coach at Elon. It will be the first time Greene has been in a spring practice, and Washington, who was hurt last year, is finally healthy.

Spring practice starts: March 15

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:
  • Progress of quarterback Tanner Price. The maturation of Price, who started nine games as a true freshman last year, will be crucial to the Deacs’ hopes of returning to the postseason. Price was forced to play earlier than expected and finished with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 56.8 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards.
  • A defense in transition. Coach Jim Grobe has said the staff is committed to making the transition to a 3-4 defense. The Deacons used that scheme to defend the triple option against Georgia Tech and Navy, and continued to experiment with it as the season progressed. This linebackers in this year’s recruiting class were brought in specifically with the 3-4 defense in mind.
  • Redshirt offensive linemen. There were three true freshmen who redshirted last year who are expected to give four returning starters some legitimate competition -- Colin Summers, Dylan Heartsill and Daniel Blitch. The Deacs will also have to replace starting center Russell Nenon. Chance Raines was his backup last year.

FSU all-access on ESPNU tonight

October, 6, 2010
An inside look at Florida State under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher will air at 7 p.m. ET tonight on ESPNU in an all-access piece about the Seminoles.

There's no question who's in control at Florida State now, as one of the first things you'll hear is Fisher screaming. I got an advanced copy, so I've seen it already, and it's a good behind-the-scenes look at how Fisher is running the show -- with authority.

The piece was shot in the week leading up to the Wake Forest game, and starts off with an 8 a.m. staff meeting. My personal favorite is seeing offensive line coach Rick Trickett sitting there with a cigar hanging out of his mouth. (If only they had gotten a shot of him riding in on his Harley.) It's also a chance to see first-year coordinator Mark Stoops at work, a look at the strength program with Vic Viloria, a few team meetings, and of course, practice.

Fisher is pretty much all business, but he'll joke around with his players, too. He yelled at receiver Bert Reed, "hate for you to break a sweat, Bert!"

Things have changed at Florida State, and this is one opportunity to see how.
There are only a few recruits in the country who have the power to make grown men scream and rejoice like the teenagers they're pursuing.

James Wilder is one of them.

Wilder, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back from Plant High School and the No. 19 player in the ESPNU 150, chose Florida State over Florida and Georgia. He had a little fun with Georgia fans, torturing them in the process, thanks to a false Internet rumor that said he was heading to Athens. Wilder is the son of former NFL player James Wilder, and his commitment could have a ripple effect on the rest of the 2011 class.

Florida State is recruiting like it's 1999.

The Seminoles haven't done a darn thing on the field yet to impress these recruits, which makes what Jimbo Fisher and his staff have done on the recruiting trail even more impressive. Florida State just beat Florida where it counts the most. The Seminoles aren't back in the national picture on the field yet, but they've returned to that level in recruiting. It's only a matter of time before that translates into wins.

"We talk personnel and recruiting every day," said offensive line coach Rick Trickett. "He's wearing it out. He's on the phone every day. He's all over that. That's his No. 1 priority right now."

And it shows in this recruiting class.


Famous fathers in the ACC

June, 18, 2010
On Monday, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson buried his father. Our thoughts and prayers are with him this weekend as our fathers are celebrated. Wilson’s father, Harrison, died on Friday after a long illness, but at his funeral, his son remembered fondly what an impact he had on his athletic career. Russell’s father played football at Dartmouth and then made it to the last cut for the San Diego Chargers AFTER completing his law degree.

According to school spokesman Annabelle Myers, Russell and his brother spoke at the funeral and told countless stories about their dad waking them to throw baseballs to them, and how the three of them would go out and one would play quarterback, one would play wide receiver, and one would play running back.

These are the moments and memories our dads deserve a big thanks for this weekend. In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a look at some of the ACC’s ‘Famous Fathers,’ and the players who share their legacies. Thanks to the sports information directors in the league and Mike Finn in the Greensboro office for making this post possible:

  • Redshirt freshman defensive end Max Holloway’s father (Brian) played 10 seasons in the NFL (with Patriots and Raiders). His maternal grandfather, Johnny McKenzie, played 19 seasons in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins.
  • Junior wide receiver Chris Fox’s father (Tim) was an All-American at Ohio State under Woody Hayes and played 10 years in the NFL (with the Patriots, Chargers and Rams).
  • Redshirt freshman wide receiver Hampton Hughes’ father played for six years for the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Junior linebacker Mike Morrissey’s father (Jim) played nine seasons in the NFL for Chicago and Green Bay.
  • QB Mike Wade, LB Chris Richardson and Landon Walker: Their fathers, Mike Wade Sr., Chuckie Richardson and Gary Walker, played on the national championship team in 1981.
  • Kicker Paul Asack’s father Phil Asack was a 1971 Duke graduate who lettered for three seasons before joining the San Diego Chargers.
  • Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Conor Irwin’s father Tim Irwin played football at the University of Tennessee and in the NFL from 1981-94 with the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins. As an aside, his uncle, King Irwin, played football at Georgia Tech.
  • Wide receiver Matt Pridemore’s father Tom Pridemore played at West Virginia and for the Atlanta Falcons.
  • Receiver Brandon Braxton’s father David Braxton played for the Minnesota Vikings, Phoenix Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals.
  • QB Christian Ponder's father, David, was a defensive lineman at FSU from 1980-83.
  • Redshirt freshman defensive end Dan Hicks’ father is former FSU standout and NFL veteran Dan Footman.
  • Incoming freshman linebacker Christian Jones’ father, Willie Jones Sr., was a standout defensive end for the Seminoles (1975-78) and a second-round draft choice of the Oakland Raiders in 1980 and returned to FSU as a graduate assistant football coach in 1988.
  • Quarterback Clint Trickett, who enrolled as a freshman in January and took part in spring practice, is the son of FSU assistant head coach/offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Travis Trickett, another son who has been a videographer in the FSU football program, will be the graduate assistant on offense this season.
  • Junior safety Cooper Taylor’s father, JimBob Taylor, played quarterback at Tech.
  • Senior wide receiver Kevin Cone’s dad, Ronnie, played running back at Tech.
  • Senior running back Lucas Cox’s brother, Michael, was a three-year starter at fullback for Tech and now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Defensive lineman Joe Vellano’s father, Paul, played for Maryland (1971-73). He was an All-American defensive lineman in 1972 and All-ACC in 1972-73.
  • Defensive back Austin Walker and defensive lineman Alex Walker are the sons of Doc Walker, who starred at UCLA from 1974-77 before being drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. He also started at tight end from 1980-85 for the Washington Redskins, playing for the 1982 Super Bowl championship team. Their father is currently a local sports-talk radio host for Sportstalk 980 and also covers ACC football for Raycom television.
  • Running back Davin Meggett’s father, Dave, played in the NFL for three different teams -- the New York Giants (1989-1994), the New England Patriots (1995-1997) and the New York Jets (1998).
  • Backup quarterback A.J. Highsmith’s father, Alonzo Highsmith, and running back Damien Berry’s father, Kenny Berry, played for Miami. Highsmith played at Miami from 1983-86 and in the NFL for seven years. Berry was at Miami from 1987-89.
  • Backup quarterback Spencer Whipple is the son of assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mark Whipple.
  • Punter C.J. Feagles’s father, Jeff, is currently the New York Giants punter and has played 21 seasons in the NFL.
  • Backup quarterback Bryn Renner’s father, Bill, was a punter at Virginia Tech and for the Green Bay Packers.
  • Offensive tackle Brennan Williams’ father, Brent, played in the NFL from 1986-93 with the Patriots, Seahawks and Jets.
  • Linebacker Shane Mularkey’s father, Mike, is the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
  • R.J. Mattes' father, Ron, played at Virginia, where as a senior in 1984 he was an all-ACC defensive tackle for George Welsh. He also played offensive tackle in the NFL for the Seahawks, the Bears and the Colts. He is now coaching at Virginia as offensive line coach.
  • Wide receiver Jared Green is the son of Darrell Green, who was a standout cornerback for the Washington Redskins and a 2008 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jared gave his father’s induction speech at the ceremony.
  • Cornerback Chase Minnifield is the son of Frank Minnifield, a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Cleveland Browns, playing from 1984-92.
  • Zac Evans is the son of George Evans, who was a starter on the Hokies’ offensive line and lettered from 1979-82.
  • Kenny Lewis, Jr., is the son of Kenny Lewis, Sr., a standout running back for the Hokies who is enshrined in the Tech Sports Hall of Fame.
  • Beau Warren’s father, Donnie Warren, played 14 years in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.
  • Freshman linebacker Chase Williams, who entered school in January, is the son of Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
  • Linebacker Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is the son of Kurt Gouveia, who was also a starter for the Redskins.
  • Wiley Brown’s father, Chuck Brown was deemed the Godfather of GoGo music.
  • Quarterback Brendan Cross is the son of former 49ers center Randy Cross.
  • Linebacker Joey Ehrmann is the son of Joe Ehrmann, who played for the Colts and Lions.
  • Center Chance Raines’ father, Mike, was an All-American at Alabama under Bear Bryant.
  • Quarterback Ted Stachitas’ father, Len, is vice president of the National Football Foundation and the executive director of the NFF’s Play It Smart Program, a highly successful youth development program.

Posted by’s Heather Dinich

Florida State (1-1) will have its hands full this weekend when it travels to No. 7 BYU (2-0) for a statement game for both programs. The Noles bring the speed, the Cougars have the discipline. Earlier this week, I caught up with FSU tight end Caz Piurowski to get his take on the game. Piurowski has become more involved in the passing game this year, and it has paid off for the Noles.

He caught five passes for a single-season career-high 111 yards in the first two games. Of those five catches, four have ended in a first down and three have come on touchdown drives, including his own 10-yard touchdown reception against Miami. He has already caught as many passes as he did in 10 games during the 2007 season and needs only four receptions to establish a new single-season personal best for receptions.

Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Caz Piurowski says the key for FSU beating BYU is executing as well as BYU has this season.
Here are the highlights of our interview:

Let’s just start with the basics. What do you see from BYU on film and how big of a challenge is this really going to be for you guys?

Caz Piurowski: I think they are a legit team. They are real good. Their biggest thing is they don’t make mistakes. They know their assignments. They play good, fundamentally sound football and make you beat yourself. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest key to us winning is not making those mistakes, us just knowing our assignments and doing what we practiced. I think if we do that, we can be successful against them.

How badly do you guys need this win, especially coming off that performance against Jacksonville State?

CP: It would be a huge thing for us, it will show the fans and us how the season is going to go. Obviously against Miami I thought that we played well. We just didn’t come out on top. Sometimes that happens. Against Jacksonville State we came out on top but we didn’t play well. Going against a good opponent will show us what we’re made of and show everyone how the rest of our season is going to go.

How did you guys react the day after, how did you respond to that? Some people (like me), were like, ‘whoa.’

CP: The biggest thing is we won. Obviously that’s the most important thing. Of course we would’ve liked to have played better and won by a lot more, but I still think we showed some toughness not giving up. Even though we weren’t playing well, we knew we had opportunities going into the fourth quarter and into that last drive. Everyone still had confidence. We still felt like we could pull it out and we ended up doing that. I think it was a positive that came from the game. Obviously we made a lot of mistakes, didn’t play near as well as we could have or should have. Some people were disappointed about that, but the biggest thing was we won. It was our first victory of the season. That will go a long way.

What did you guys learn from that game?

CP: Basically we learned it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to come out ready to play. Whether you’re playing BYU, Miami, some of the top D-I teams or a lower division team, it doesn’t matter. It’s still college football, and if you don’t come out ready to play, come out ready to execute, there’s a chance you’re not going to be successful.

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ACC's lunchtime links

March, 31, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Plenty to chew on today ...

  • Frank Beamer will start to find out this week whether the Hokies really are good enough to contend for a national title
  • Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brad Lambert has his work cut out for him this year, as seven starters are gone from 2008.
  • There was so much offense coming out of Monday's scrimmage in Tallahassee, that even FSU coach Bobby Bowden was surprised: 
"I've never seen as many long runs in my life," Bowden told the [Tallahassee] Democrat. "I'm talking 60 yards, 70 yards. In the end, the defense kind of tightened it up a bit. I don't know what happened."
  • Ha ... this is so true ... Travis Sawchik of the Post and Courier called Clemson's hire of Dan Brooks one of the "worst kept secrets on campus." Good hire by Dabo Swinney nonetheless.
  • Georgia Tech will be deeper at receiver this year, and part of that stems from the return of Tyler Melton.
  • Here's one I missed -- the details of FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett's new contract. And another about BC kicker Steve Aponavicius' good fortunes from one coaching staff to the next.

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 Adam Rittenberg

Expect the links to have more of a recruiting flavor as we inch closer to National Signing Day. 

"The biggest news emerging from the weekend is the moves Michigan made with the two highest ranked visitors from the weekend -- [Marcus] Hall and Greenwood, S.C., defensive end Sam Montgomery."
"In the last five drafts, 166 Big Ten players were chosen, third highest among conferences. The SEC led the way with 192 players, followed by the ACC with 176. The Pac-10 had 157 while the Big 12 had 143.

If you break it down to first-rounders, the Big Ten also fared pretty well. The conference has had 28 such players in the last five drafts, including one chosen first overall -- Jake Long of Michigan by Miami last year. Only the ACC (39) and the SEC (37) have had more first-rounders. The Big 12 and Pac-10 each had 17."

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Florida State left guard Rodney Hudson was sick to his stomach. It was one of the first practices of the season, and Hudson had caught a virus. He couldn't keep anything down, but refused to miss a minute of practice or complain about being ill.

"Nobody ever knew," said running back Antone Smith. "When I found out, I was like, he's a winner, this guy is a winner."

Hudson is only 19 years old, but he talks about "helping out the young guys" like he's a senior. He and offensive line coach Rick Trickett are two of the main reasons the youngest offensive line in the nation has matured quickly enough to make a difference. Their progress has been the root of the Seminoles' offensive success, and paved the way for Smith and a running game that had been lacking in previous years.

"I'm as surprised as I can be," coach Bobby Bowden said. "I mean, I'm as surprised as I can be. All five games, I'm just surprised. I just didn't think they could do this good. I mean, when you put that offensive line together, you would say, 'Well, this group is going to be pretty good one of these days, but they're not going to be ready yet.' Well, they're performing like they're juniors."

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Posted by's Heather Dinich

In a word, quarterbacks. They're the plotline of the week. Check it out:

1. Virginia Tech's quarterbacks: The staff has kept this under wraps all week, and neither Tyrod Taylor nor Sean Glennon were available for interviews. With the offensive line's pass protection still struggling (they've allowed six sacks so far), will Taylor get more snaps than Glennon again?

2. NC State QB Russell Wilson: How Wilson responds in his first game back since suffering a concussion will go a long way in determining how long the Pack can hang with Clemson. Wilson threw just five passes against South Carolina, so this will be like his season opener again, only in Death Valley.

3. Virginia QB Marc Verica: He's never thrown a pass in a college game before, but will start on the road against Connecticut in place of Peter Lalich. He played one series against USC, but is said to be the most athletic of the Cavaliers' three quarterbacks.

4. Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers: The standout freshman has impressed Tommy Bowden enough to earn his first career start and will bring some pressure on Wilson. He's the only one on the team who has recorded a sack.

5. Duke WR Eron Riley: He's listed as probable with a "leg" injury, but he will need to be 100 percent if the Blue Devils are going to have a chance against Navy. His connection with quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is how the Blue Devils "almost won" this game a year ago.

6. Florida State's offensive line: This is the last chance for Rick Trickett to figure out who goes where before Wake Forest rolls into town, and he hasn't been entirely pleased so far. An injury to backup center A.J. Ganguzza has forced right guard Will Furlong to practice as a second center.

7. Former track stars in College Park: Cal's Jahvid Best and Maryland's Da'Rel Scott should provide some highlight-worthy runs. Both rank in the top seven nationally in rushing yardage. Scott has had two straight 100-yard rushing performances and Best had two runs of at least 80 yards against Washington State.

8. Tough tacklers in Death Valley: Clemson safety Michael Hamlin and NC State linebacker Nate Irving are tied for the conference lead in tackles with 11.5 per game. Hamlin had a career-high three interceptions against The Citadel and Irving had 13 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery against William & Mary.

9. Clemson's do-it-all Jacoby Ford: Tommy Bowden said Ford had his best week of practice catching the ball and wants to be known as a receiver as much as he is as a returner and a runner. The staff wants to get the ball in his hands this week.

10. Georgia Tech's defensive scheme: Enough about the offense. Check out what the Yellow Jackets are doing under first-year coordinator Dave Wommack and how he has tweaked the scheme. It allows the front four a little more freedom. And those guys are very good.