NCF Nation: Terrance Parks
2. Florida State: The Seminoles return both starters in Nick Moody and Terrance Parks. Moody had 79 tackles last season and Parks had 44 and six deflections. The group was strengthened with the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who moved from cornerback and proved this spring he’s capable of being a safety.
3. NC State: The Wolfpack has two of the best in Earl Wolff, the team’s leading tackler last season with 95, and Brandan Bishop, who had 56 tackles and a team-high four interceptions. Dontae Johnson (22 tackles), also returns.
4. Virginia Tech: Eddie Whitley is the lone returning starter, but he should be one of the best in the ACC. Antone Exum, who was the No. 2 free safety last season, moved to rover this spring. He played in every game last season and had five starts when Tech went to its nickel defense.
5. Virginia: The Cavaliers return veteran starters in Rodney McLeod and Corey Mosley, who have combined for 41 career starts. Mosley had 52 tackles and two interceptions last season, and McLeod had 54 tackles and four pass breakups. Safety Dom Joseph (34 tackles) also returns.
6. Duke: The Blue Devils return both starters in Matt Daniels and Lee Butler. Daniels, a senior, has started 25 career games and is one of the top returning tacklers in the ACC. Butler had 58 tackles and nine passes defended last season.
7. Boston College: The Eagles return juniors Jim Noel, who had four interceptions in eight starts, and Okechukwu Okoroha, who started the final six games last fall. Noel, Okoroha, and Dominick LeGrande combined for 90 tackles last season.
8. Wake Forest: Both starters return in Daniel Mack and Cyhl Quarles. Mack had 45 tackles and two interceptions last season. Duran Lowe (30 tackles) could unseat Quarles, who is Wake’s leading returning tackler with 71 hits. Redshirt freshman Desmond Cooper is also competing for playing time.
9. Clemson: Rashard Hall has 19 career starts and made 62 tackles and two interceptions last season. Safety Jonathan Meeks (28 tackles, one start) also returns, along with Carlton Lewis.
10. Maryland: Just as Kenny Tate’s move to linebacker bumped the Terps up in the ranking in that category, his departure from safety drops them a few notches as they now don’t have any returning starters there. They do, however, have experience. Eric Franklin played in 11 games, with 23 tackles and three interceptions (tied for second on the team). Matt Robinson played in all 13 games and posted 29 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles. The Terps have plenty of depth with Austin Walker, Titus Till, Anthony Green and Desmond Haynes.
11. North Carolina: Matt Merletti had five starts and Jonathan Smith, who lettered in 2008 and 2009 but missed all of last season, are the projected starters. They will be pushed by junior Gene Robinson (four starts, 30 tackles, one interception) for playing time.
12. Georgia Tech: The Jackets had to replace both of their safeties in Mario Edwards and Jerrard Tarrant. Safety Fred Holton (11 tackles) and Isaiah Johnson (46 tackles, one interception) are the two most likely front-runners to start this fall.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The progress Florida State's defense has made this spring could be measured statistically in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game -- five fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews called it the "best job all spring" for turnovers.
"We started slow -- couldn't get a turnover," Andrews said of the defense this spring. "Then we started getting a couple of them. We started getting a few fumbles. We got one interception in the last scrimmage and we got two this scrimmage. Not that that's enough, but it's twice as many as we had in the previous scrimmage. Turnovers, when you get the offense the ball in a short field, you've got a great chance. ... We just have to get better fundamentally and learn how to step it up a notch."
Florida State ranked 62nd nationally in turnover margin last year and 85th with only nine passes intercepted.
Tasked with replacing Myron Rolle and Tony Carter, who combined for 85 career starts, Florida State's secondary was one of the Noles' biggest questions marks this spring. Patrick Robinson and Jamie Robinson, two seniors, have been the veteran leaders of the group. Outside of Patrick Robinson, who has seven career interceptions -- six of which came in 2007, the secondary has combined for one career interception (Jamie Robinson).
Jamie Robinson, who is in his second season at safety and said he feels more comfortable out there, proved it on Saturday with two interceptions.
"We have been lacking in interceptions for the past couple of years," Robinson said. "Generally, whenever a defense doesn't have a lot of interceptions, that falls on the secondary. So, as a secondary, we've been taking that personally and really embraced that challenge and tried to step up to the plate and answer that call of making more interceptions and causing more turnovers.
"It's real important for somebody to step up and take control and take on that leadership role, be able to give the guys some enthusiasm and inspiration to look to, something to feed off of out there on the field. It was real good to embrace that role and be there for the guys and make sure they're playing up to their potential every play."
The Noles appear to have taken steps in solidifying their starting lineup in the secondary this spring, with both Robinsons, Korey Mangum, who moved to rover, and Ochuko Jenije at field field corner. (Andrews, though, said Jenije is a "sometimes player" who has to learn to play every play. "Too many times he lets the receiver or the running back win the battle," Andrews said. "He's making progress.")
Former cornerback Terrance Parks has practiced at both rover and safety this spring, but sat out two days with a medical problem. Star recruit Dionte Allen has also been in the mix.
"We've got the four best players out there," Andrews said. "We don't have many two's that are challenging them. That's not good, because we like to play a lot of players. If we play Miami right now, we could play with four people. The other guys have got to decide they're going to get to the point where we could trust them enough to put them in the ball game. Right now, we couldn't trust 'em. It's not over, we've still got four days, the entire summer, so hopefully we can find them before we have to play Miami."
Overall, Andrews said he's confident with the first-team defense. It's the depth that remains a concern heading into summer camp.
"The first group is getting closer to having a chance to become a good defense," Andrews said. "We don't have enough guys on second team right now that you can put in a football game and say 'sic 'em.' They had to learn the terminology around here. They got 'sic 'em' and 'watch 'em' mixed up. A lot of them are freshmen and they've got to quit acting like freshmen. You've got to grow up sometime. But we've got three more days to see if we can't get a little better and hopefully we can get the progress we've got to have there."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sorry for the delay, but Spanky's on Franklin Street was calling my name for dinner.
Here's what happened throughout the league today, per the latest available report from each team:
- The defense stole the show in the Eagles' second scrimmage, and that's not a surprise. But eight sacks and four interceptions?
- The offense had 64 net rushing yards. Yikes.
- Chris Crane completed 14-of-25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.
- Junior Rich Gunnell led all receivers with three catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.
- Sophomore Billy Bennett connected on field goals of 26 and 38 yards while senior Steve Aponavicius nailed a 29-yarder.
- True freshman Ryan Quigley punted the ball three times for 104 yards (34.3 average) with a long of 36 yards while sophomore Billy Flutie punted once, a 33-yarder.
"The defense brought a whole lot of blitzes today," Crane said. "It's comforting to know this defense will be playing on our side of the ball this fall. It's a benefit to play against them every day."
- Rodney Gallon confirmed today that he is no longer a part of the Seminole football team. He told the FSU sports information office he will be enrolled in school this fall and is excited to complete the final nine hours toward his degree. Football is just not part of his future right now but completing his college degree is a priority.
- Preston Parker was held out of practice due to a cervical sprain. Tony Carter also suffered a cervical sprain and did not finish practice. Freshman Terrance Parks suffered a right knee contusion at the end of the session as well.
- One-on-one was run in the red zone and Corey Surrency caught four TD passes. Three came from E.J. Manuel and one from Drew Weatherford.
- Weatherford also had TD passes to Bert Reed, Avis Commack, Jarmon Fortson, Rod Owens and Chase Walker.
- Manuel not only had the three TDs to Surrency, but he also completed touchdown passes to Owens and Fortson. Christian Ponder, who was working mostly with the inside group, came over and completed a touchdown to Commack.
- In the 11-on-11 drill, Weatherford squeezed a pass between two defenders and it was deflected but Bo Reliford kept his concentration and hauled in the touchdown pass.
- Quarterback Josh Nesbitt didn't practice this afternoon with a shoulder injury and neither did Andrew Gardner, Sr., OT (also a shoulder). Both are day-to-day and neither is in jeopardy of missing the opener. Nesbitt got a "stinger" when a teammate fell on his shoulder.
- Practices will be closed beginning Monday. It was good while it lasted.
- The Yellow Jackets spent two periods this morning working on 3rd-and-5 situations. Back-up safety Troy Garside intercepted a Bryce Dykes passas.
- Senior quarterback Calvin Booker connected with sophomore Demaryius Thomas on a 35-yard touchdown completion.
- The Terps worked on clock management and ended with two-minute drills.
- There is still a battle at strongside linebacker where incumbent Moise Fokou is trying to hold off Adrian Moten for the starting nod. Regardless of who starts, both are likely to play extensively, including on special teams.
- During the full-team drill, wide receivers LaQuan Williams and Torrey Smith caught touchdown passes.
"We came out today and they were tired and sore," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "This was a character practice. We had a pretty good practice. I had to push them, but that's my job. I told them I'm going to get every ounce of energy and every ounce of talent out of them."
- The Hurricanes continued to stress special teams, and the defense focused on run blitzing drills with specific emphasis on red zone and run formations.
- After five practices in the past three days, coach Randy Shannon is giving his guys Thursday off.
- They'll scrimmage on Friday.
"The other day I didn't like the way we were practicing, but we came out this morning and this afternoon and finished up strong," Shannon said. "We had a lot of enthusiasm and we made a lot of plays on both sides of the football so we're excited about that. It was a big improvement from the other day."
- The Demon Deacons had their second two-a-day practice in preparation for tomorrow's scrimmage, which I will attend.
- In the first practice, during 7-on-7 drills, quarterback Riley Skinner hit running back Josh Adams on a long pass down the left sideline on the first play of the drill.
- Cornerbacks Chip Vaughn and Brandon Ghee each made a couple of nice pass breakups.
"I would like to see some improvement from the younger classes," said coach Jim Grobe. "We have older guys that are doing pretty much what we thought they would be doing at this point -- having good camps and making minimal mistakes. I think the key to a season is to have the younger guys step up. No matter how good your upperclassmen are, you are going to have to play young guys at some point, whether you are comfortable or not. So I would like to come back to the office after the scrimmage tomorrow and feel like our young guys made pretty good strides."