NCF Nation: Scott Deke

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia's turnaround this season has been simply remarkable. From their formerly fourth-string quarterback to their once-on-the-hot-seat coach, everyone within the program deserves credit.

No, it wasn't a flawless performance, but the Cavaliers are looking like a much more respectable team than they were in the first few weeks of the season, and this win proved they have made significant strides. As the second half of the season progresses, so will Virginia, and it's very possible we'll look back on the Maryland game as the turning point in their season.

Virginia looks capable of winning more games in the ACC, but like every other team in the Coastal Division, will have a tough time knocking the Hokies off their perch. Then again, that Commonwealth Cup game suddenly seems more interesting now, doesn't it?

First they've got to get through the rest of their schedule, and next up is North Carolina, followed by a road trip to Georgia Tech. A month ago both of those teams could have walked right over Virginia. Now they've got to work for the win.

ECU's defense stuffed Cedric Peerman on a fourth-quarter fourth-down, but the Cavaliers got it right back when they finally got some pressure on Patrick Pinkney again and forced him to fumble. That shows that Virginia hasn't just learned how to win this season, it has learned how to play with a lead.

They even faked a field goal and scored on a pass from backup quarterback Scott Deke to tight end John Phillips. The play was a microcosm of Virginia's season -- getting contributions from everyone, third and fourth-string quarterbacks included.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Whew. Finally. I'm here. Let's get to it:

Al Groh is redefining game-time decision. A school spokesman said we won't know who Virginia's starting quarterback will be until the first snap of the game against USC. The depth chart has Scott Deke listed first, followed by two "OR"s -- Marc Verica OR Peter Lalich.

It's a million degrees out here, but that hasn't stopped the UVA fans from sporting their long-sleeved button-down shirts and khaki pants, long ties and bow ties. And, of course, there are numerous ladies in their sundresses -- most proper attire for a football game.

I only saw one "Al Groh Must Go" T-shirt.

The hill under the scoreboard is starting to fill up and the student section is nearly packed already. Lots of tailgaiting going on but not many USC fans appear to be here.

Check back for quarterly updates.

ACC: What to watch

August, 29, 2008
8/29/08
1:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are 10 things to keep an eye on in the ACC this Saturday:

  1. Clemson's offensive line: Enough with the questions already. Let's see if these guys can hold their own against Alabama. The Tigers had to replace four of five starters, but these guys are not inexperienced and they're eager to prove it.
  2. Boston College offense: Quarterback Chris Crane will be making his first start as leader of this young group and another torch will be passed to freshman running back Josh Haden. For the first time in a while, the Eagles' receivers will be the ones bringing everyone else along.
  3. East Carolina upset over Virginia Tech: With possibly no Macho Harris in the mix (ankle), this becomes even more of a possibility. Odds are the Hokies get a good scare in the first half before sneaking out of Charlotte with the win.
  4. Virginia's quarterback: Finally. We'll find out which one of the mystery trio will start against USC. We haven't heard much about who's leading the race between Peter Lalich, Marc Verica and Scott Deke.
  5. Brian Toal's comeback: The BC linebacker was missed last season, and he was out for a few days last week with a pinched nerve in his trapezius, but Toal is finally 100 percent. Will he be used again in those short-yardage situations?
  6. Clemson freshman Da'Quan Bowers: How much of an impact will he have in his debut with the Tigers? About 25-30 snaps against Alabama will give him a chance to show us.
  7. Maryland's offense: With James Franklin running the show and Jordan Steffy at quarterback, how much different can this offense be? And how much will the Terps really show against Delaware?
  8. Virginia Tech's wide receivers: When it comes to experience, depleted is an understatement. True freshmen will have to grow up quickly. Now that we know who the Hokies' quarterback will be, let's find out who Sean Glennon's favorite target is.
  9. North Carolina's defense: This is the first chance we get to see the impact of first-year coordinator Everett Withers, particularly his work in the secondary. It's also the first opportunity to see how the Tar Heels replaced Hilee Taylor and Kentwan Balmer.
  10. Duke's first win: You wouldn't want to miss that, would you? James Madison could very easily win this game, but the excitement around that program and the high expectations of David Cutcliffe make 1-0 a real possibility.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Seriously. Could things get any worse for Al Groh? Peter Lalich, the one quarterback on his roster who has actually thrown the ball, was busted for "unlawful alcoholic purchase and possession," according to the Roanoke Times.

Not that Lalich's experience meant he was going to be the Cavaliers' starting quarterback this fall. In fact, he's third on the preseason depth chart in the media guide behind Scott Deke and Marc Verica.

Not exactly pleasant reading this morning for ACC fans out of the Commonwealth.

I hope you had your coffee before you read this one. Bob Lipper of the Richmond Times-Dispatch says the ACC has no star power.

You know what?

He's absolutely right.

I know, you're thinking James Davis and C.J. Spiller. I'll defer to Todd McShay on the 2009 NFL Draft, where those guys don't even crack his top 25. Clemson's lone representative is Ricky Sapp. The ACC's only offensive player on his list is Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, and he's a junior.

For those of you who love to argue about which conference is the best, I thought you might be interested in checking out these numbers on the SEC. Well, that and it's SEC media days, so that's what all the Florida papers are writing about now.

Except the Miami Herald. . . .Miami coach Randy Shannon has been quick to praise his talented freshmen, but don't expect to see any of these guys on the field this fall -- or this summer, for that matter.

And don't expect the Hurricanes to rocket back to the top this season, either. Shannon is doing a great job of tempering expectations -- of the fans and his bosses. Now that's what I call a game plan.

As if the Clemson-Alabama game weren't going to be entertaining enough, they're also selling beer until halftime. (Yeah, I know, that's not what the article was about, but that's more important to you than how much money the schools make, no?).

UNC is ready to spend it's money. The football program isn't the only thing Butch Davis is giving a facelift. He's also been the driving force behind the push for stadium expansion.

After all, that's part of his sales pitch to recruits.

Speaking of recruits. Virginia Tech picked up another.

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