NCF Nation: Tommy Streeter
Offensive skill positions: After last year’s rare class that didn’t include either a quarterback or running back, both positions are needed in this group. Quarterback Thomas Sirk -- the MVP of the 57th annual Florida Athletic Coaches Association North-South All-Star Football Classic last December -- has already enrolled in school while Shaquille Powell -- a PARADE All-American running back from Las Vegas -- has committed to the program. In addition, with David Cutcliffe’s offense, wide receivers and tight ends also are a priority.
Kicker: Will Snyderwine, who earned first team All-America honors as a junior before struggling through a sub-par season in 2011, graduated, but Duke has a commitment from Ohio native Ross Martin, considered the No. 2 placekicking prospect in the country by ESPN.com.
Safety: With the transition to a 4-2-5 alignment that utilizes three safeties, this becomes an annual point of emphasis. The Blue Devils lose All-American Matt Daniels to graduation.
Defensive line: This is the most glaring need in the current class. The Yellow Jackets have to replace senior starters Logan Walls (DT) and Jason Peters (DE), but return Izaan Cross (DE) and solid backups T.J. Barnes (DT), Emmanuel Dieke (DE) and Euclid Cummings (DE). The Jackets are expected to sign about 18 players in this year’s class, and five of them should be defensive linemen.
Wide receiver:This is another glaring need after the departures of Stephen Hill, who decided to leave early for the NFL draft, and Tyler Melton. Darren Waller and Jeff Greene, who both played last season as true freshmen, have lots of potential, but the position still needs depth.
Defensive backs: There’s still a lot of depth with this group, and the return of Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque helps, but the Canes have to replace two starters in the secondary and have six commits in the current class to help do that.
Defensive line: The Canes have to replace Adewale Ojomo, Micanor Regis, Andrew Smith and Olivier Vernon from last year’s two-deep. The defensive end position was a particular focus in this class.
Receiver: This position lost a lot with the departures of Tommy Streeter, LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin. Allen Hurns is now the veteran of the group, along with redshirt senior Kendal Thompkins. There are five receivers currently committed in this class.
Quarterback: Beyond Stephen Morris, Miami has a lot of questions at the position and not a lot of experience. True freshmen Gray Crow and Preston Dewey are already on the roster, along with redshirt sophomore Ryan Williams.
Defensive line: This is one of the biggest areas of concern after the departures of Quinton Coples and Tydreke Powell.
Receivers: Larry Fedora’s offense will make good use of this group, but he needs to replace standout Dwight Jones.
Linebackers: This group was thin to begin with in 2011, and now the Heels need to replace outgoing senior Zach Brown. Kevin Reddick is now the main man.
Safety: UNC will have to replace two starters in Matt Merletti, Charles Brown and Jonathan Smith, so this position will have to be rebuilt for the future.
Defensive back: This should be the main priority in this class. The Cavaliers will lose four DBs, including two starting safeties in Rodney McCleod and Corey Mosley, and standout cornerback Chase Minnifield. They’ll also miss Dom Joseph, who came in for the nickel packages. Demetrious Nicholson, who started as a true freshman last year, is suddenly the veteran of the group.
Offensive line: The Hoos will have to replace their starting center and left guard. Redshirt freshman center Cody Wallace could get a promotion, and sophomore right guard Luke Bowanko started in the bowl game. They’ve got some big bodies waiting in the wings, but they’ll have some questions to answer here this spring.
Kickers: This position needs to be rebuilt, as the Cavaliers lose Robert Randolph, who finished sixth all time in scoring at UVa, kickoff specialist Chris Hinkebein, and four-year punter Jimmy Howell. The position is wide open heading into the spring.
Running back: This one is a no-brainer, as the Hokies have lost four players here in the past two years. David Wilson and his backup, Josh Oglesby, were the latest to depart, and Tony Gregory just had ACL surgery and is out for the spring. The staff likes Michael Holmes, who redshirted last year, and J.C. Coleman enrolled last week.
Receiver: The Hokies will miss Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin, and next year’s class has three seniors in Dyrell Roberts, D.J. Coles, and Marcus Davis. The future of the position is young, and the staff is still going after several uncommitted players pretty hard.
Defensive line: This year’s class already includes at least five committed defensive linemen, and the Hokies will be particularly thin at noseguard. They had some players graduate early who didn’t play a lot, but at least provided depth.
Linebacker:The Hokies have four committed, and are still chasing another just to build the depth. The staff missed on some recruits at this position last year and would like to make up for it in this class.
2. Miami receiver Tommy Streeter. He went from zero starts and one catch in 2010 to becoming the Canes’ leading receiver in 2011 with 811 yards and eight touchdowns in seven starts.
3. NC State receiver T.J. Graham. He caught 25 passes in 2010, 46 in 2011. He led the team with 757 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2010 he had 316 yards and four touchdowns.
1. Virginia Tech defensive back Kyle Fuller. He went from getting benched in the 2010 ACC title game to being an all-conference performer who led the Hokies in tackles for loss from a DB position in 2011. He had two interceptions, 65 tackles, 14.5 TFL, and 4.5 sacks.
2. Florida State S Lamarcus Joyner. A reserve cornerback and kickoff return specialist as a true freshman, Joyner moved to safety in the spring and was a big hit. He finished fourth on the team in tackles with 54 (38 solos), led the Seminoles with four interceptions and was second with seven passes defended. He also led the team in kickoff return yards (13-397) with an impressive 30.5 average.
3. Florida State LB Christian Jones. He moved into the starting lineup after a solid freshman season in a reserve role at SLB. He finished third on the team with 56 tackles (33 solo), including six tackles for loss (three sacks). He also led the Seminoles with two forced fumbles and added a fumble recovery for the ACC’s top defense.
1. Clemson K Chandler Catanzaro. Catanzaro went from the goat of the Auburn game in 2010 to hitting 22 of 27 field goals, including 9 of 12 on field goals from 40 yards or more, second most in Clemson history from that distance.
Miami will be hit hard enough by graduation this year without players leaving early for the NFL draft, and the departure of these two will definitely hurt. The Canes will already have to replace second-leading receiver Travis Benjamin and senior LaRon Byrd. That will leave Allen Hurns (31 catches this season) and Phillip Dorsett, a rising sophomore, as the most experienced returning receivers. Forston was injured for much of his career, and never really reached his full potential. He ends his 31-game career at Miami with 60 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. Whether or not this decision pays off for the players remains to be seen, but it definitely isn't going to help the Canes.
Miami has no reason to be afraid. Not after that half. Duke's defense has allowed about a whole game's worth of offense in the first half, as Miami has had four drives, four trips into the red zone, and quarterback Jacory Harris has thrown three touchdown passes already. Miami already has 300 total yards, and Harris has only thrown four incomplete passes.
This is the Duke team that held Virginia Tech scoreless in the second half last week?
This is the Miami team that lost at home to Virginia last week?
The Canes have already scored more points today than they did in four quarters last week (21). Miami has controlled the clock, and was 4-of-5 on third downs. Touchdown Tommy Streeter is at it again, and these Canes look unstoppable offensively right now. Even backup quarterback Stephen Morris is getting into the action, and fans could see more of him in the second half.
The question is which Duke defense will show up in the second half.
Clemson lost. BC won. You never know what you’re gonna get in the ACC. There were a few tweaks this week, but nothing major. No. 1 is still No. 1, at least in the ACC:
1. Clemson (8-1, 5-1 ACC; LW: No. 1): The Tigers didn’t look like a national title contender in their loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday, and because of it, they’re not anymore. The goal of winning the Atlantic Division title, though, is still very much in reach. Clemson has its bye week to regroup before hosting Wake Forest in a critical division matchup.
2. Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1; LW: No. 2): It wasn’t a pretty 14-10 win against Duke, but the Hokies are still in the Coastal Division lead with only one ACC loss. Virginia Tech has a bye week to prepare for Georgia Tech, and will enter that game on a four-game winning streak. Historically, this game has decided the division winner, and it could do so again.
3. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2; LW: No. 5): The win over Clemson was impressive not because of what Clemson didn’t do, but because of how well the Jackets played. They looked like the best team in the Coastal Division on Saturday, but with back-to-back losses against Virginia and Miami, it’s still up for debate.
4. Wake Forest (5-3, 4-2; LW: No. 4): It was an uncharacteristically undisciplined performance for Wake Forest, which had five turnovers in the 49-24 loss to North Carolina. The Deacs are still Clemson’s biggest challenger in the Atlantic Division, but they can’t afford to look past a tough night game this weekend against Notre Dame.
5. Florida State (5-3, 3-2; LW: No. 6): Seminoles fans want FSU to be ranked higher, and they eventually could be, but don’t forget they lost to Wake Forest, and Saturday’s 34-0 win over NC State – while convincing – was its first win over a program with a winning record. The Noles have a Thursday night game at BC this week, and while FSU is the better team, the Eagles finally have some confidence from their first ACC win.
6. North Carolina (6-3, 2-3; LW: No. 8): The win over Wake Forest was a much better performance than what UNC fans saw in the loss to Clemson. UNC quarterback Bryn Renner was efficient, running back Giovani Bernard racked up over 100 yards, and the defense had five turnovers. The Tar Heels have to continue that success now in back-to-back road games at NC State and Virginia Tech.
7. Virginia (5-3, 2-2; LW: No. 9): The Hoos deserve credit for going on the road and beating a Miami team that was on an upward trend. The Cavaliers ran the ball well, quarterback Michael Rocco played well without having to share time with David Watford, and Virginia is looking ahead of schedule and bowl bound in Mike London’s second season.
8. Miami (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 3): The Canes allowed too many explosive plays, and it was another narrow defeat that hurt Miami’s chances of winning the Coastal Division. Receiver Tommy Streeter had 176 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to make a fourth-quarter comeback. Miami can’t afford to overlook Duke this weekend.
9. NC State (4-4, 1-3; LW: No. 7): It was an ugly performance by the Wolfpack in the loss to Florida State. NC State had only 166 yards on offense and had its first shutout since the 2008 season opener. It’s not exactly the confidence builder the Wolfpack needed heading into the rivalry game against UNC.
10. Duke (3-5, 1-3; LW: No. 11): The Blue Devils have become the masters of almost-wins. Duke threatened an upset of No. 12-ranked Virginia Tech, but it couldn’t overcome four turnovers. Duke has now lost three straight heading into back-to-back road games at Miami and Virginia.
11. Boston College (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 12): The Eagles finally got their first ACC win, and snapped a three-game losing streak with a 28-17 win at Maryland. Rolandan Finch ran for 243 yards and two touchdowns. His performance helped offset the four turnovers. So did Maryland’s defense.
12. Maryland (2-6, 1-4; LW: No. 10): The Terps have officially hit rock bottom. They lost at home to a Boston College team that had yet to win an ACC game, and the defense allowed 404 total yards. In order to get to a bowl game, Maryland now has to win out in November, starting this weekend against a much-improved Virginia team.
Coach Frank Spaziani told reporters after the 70-minute scrimmage that there were some good things, but "it's like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces in the box; they're not connected yet."
- Quarterback Chase Rettig completed 12 of 19 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. “I think Chase showed the progress he's been making,” Spaziani said. “The obvious things were fine; there were some subtle things he needs to work on.”
- Rettig connected on passes of 10 yards six times, including a 30-yard pass to Colin Larmond, Jr., a 24-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to receiver Bobby Swigert and a 3-yard touchdown pass to senior captain Ifeanyi Momah.
- Larmond (3 receptions for 53 yards), Swigert (3-for-33), junior receiver Donte Elliott (3-for-37) and redshirt freshman tight end Jarrett Darmstatter (3-for-16) led a total of 12 receivers that registered at least one reception each.
- Rettig and fellow quarterbacks Mike Marscovetra and Dave Shinskie combined for four touchdowns as Marscovetra went 6-for-9 for 30 yards and a touchdown pass of five yards to junior receiver Hampton Hughes and Shinskie connected on 4-of-5 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown to sophomore tight end Mike Naples.
- Tailback Rolandan Finch carried the ball 10 times for a total of 30 yards to lead all running backs while sophomore Andre Williams broke free for a 20-yard touchdown run during red zone drills. Williams finished with five attempts for 21 yards and redshirt freshman Tahj Kimble accounted for 20 yards on five carries.
- Linebacker Nick Clancy and defensive back Sean Sylvia led the team with four tackles each.
- Sophomore linebacker Jake Sinkovec had one interception and one fumble recovery.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd had an impressive performance, as he completed 10 of 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown to highlight the new offense in Clemson’s 75-play scrimmage in Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning.
- Boyd completed each of his final eight passes to six different receivers. He threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to receiver DeAndre Hopkins, then connected on a 3-yard score to Dwayne Allen in a goal-line situation.
- Allen had three receptions for 66 yards, including a diving catch over the middle for 14 yards and a first down. Brandon Ford had three receptions for 37 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cole Stoudt.
- Stoudt was 4-of-14 passing, but threw for 71 yards and two touchdowns, one to Ford and one to Bryce McNeal (23 yards).
- Rod McDowell was the leading rusher with four carries for 68 yards, including a 39-yarder on his first carry of the day. Andre Ellington had five rushes for 41 yards and added two receptions, while freshman Mike Bellamy had five carries for 40 yards.
- The first-team defense did not allow a scoring drive.
- Martin Jenkins led the team with seven tackles, including a tackle for loss.
- Corico Hawkins had five tackles and a fumble recovery, while freshman defensive end Corey Crawford had five stops, including a sack.
- Clemson’s three kickers, Chandler Catanzaro, Ammon Lakip and Brian Symmes were a combined 16-of-16 on the day in field goal attempts and extra points against a live rush.
- Three Tigers missed the scrimmage because they were going through graduation exercises across the street from Memorial Stadium in Littlejohn Coliseum. Starting offensive tackle Landon Walker, starting safety Rashard Hall and reserve defensive end Kourtnei Brown all graduated from Clemson on Saturday. It was especially noteworthy for Hall, who has been at Clemson just three years. He joins Nick Eason (now in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals) as the only scholarship football players to graduate with two years of athletic eligibility remaining.
- Four players missed the scrimmage due to injury. Those players were defensive back Xavier Brewer (sprained foot), defensive back Garry Peters (bruised calf), Andre Branch (head injury), DeShawn Williams (sprained ankle).
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson had mixed reviews after the Yellow Jackets' first scrimmage, which ran 90 minutes inside Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday morning.
"It was like a lot of first scrimmages, there were way too many balls on the ground and way too many penalties," Johnson said. "But we hit some big plays. When you play against each other there's positives and negatives on both sides. It's a starting place and we'll look at it and try to make some improvements."
- While no official statistics were kept, quarterback Tevin Washington passed for well over 100 yards, including a 63-yarder to senior A-back Roddy Jones. Redshirt freshman quarterback Synjyn Days threw the only touchdown of the day, to true freshman Jeff Greene.
- Greene ran with the first unit Saturday as most of the veterans -- junior Stephen Hill, senior Tyler Melton, sophomore Jeremy Moore and junior Daniel McKayhan -- all sat out with injuries.
- Washington scored the only other touchdown Saturday on a 1-yard QB keeper.
- Defensive end Emmanuel Dieke had a sack, true freshman Jamal Golden intercepted a Vad Lee pass, and Steven Sylvester and Isaiah Johnson both recovered fumbles.
- Sophomore Justin Moore booted a 45-yard field goal on his only attempt.
- David Scully's 52-yard attempt was long enough, but just wide left.
The most important news out of Miami's first scrimmage was that quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris combined for five touchdown passes and only one interception. That sounds like improvement. Miami's quarterbacks combined for 407 passing yards on 38-of-52 passing for six touchdowns and only one interception.
- Receiver Tommy Streeter had the best offensive day for the Canes, catching five passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came from Harris.
- Lamar Miller had runs of 16 and 31 yards on the opening drive.
- Senior defensive back JoJo Nicolas led all defenders with eight tackles (six solo), with two tackles for loss.
- Ramon Buchanan and freshman Gionni Paul and each had six total tackles, with Paul also recording a tackle for loss.
- The defense totaled eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a total loss of 29 yards
The Hokies' offense was the highlight, but what does that mean for the defense? Coach Frank Beamer pointed out that there were some long plays allowed, as the offense racked up 398 yards of total offense in the 78-play scrimmage at Lane Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The touchdowns came against Tech's second- or third-team defense, though, so the jury is still out.
"I thought it was a good first scrimmage -- better than most," Beamer said, according to the team's scrimmage report. "You take into consideration that you're trying to get everyone some work, people who don't know quite what they're doing, and that makes things a little ragged. I thought overall, though, it was a sharp scrimmage. The quarterbacks made some nice plays and Wilson got a couple of long plays against the defense, and we need to see what's going on there. Overall, the effort was good and the play was good."
- Backup quarterback Mark Leal led the quarterbacks with 116 yards passing, completing 6 of 13. He also threw an interception. Beamer said Leal is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Logan Thomas. Ju-Ju Clayton, who has dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart, completed 6 of 10 for 51 yards, while starter Thomas completed 4 of 8 for 79 yards, with an interception, in limited action.
- Tailback David Wilson scored against the Hokies' second-team defense on a 22-yard run. Wilson led all rushers with 57 yards on five carries. Freshman Michael Holmes added 54 yards rushing on a game-high 11 carries.
- Freshman tackle Luther Maddy led the team with eight tackles, including two for a loss, and a sack. Freshman Michael Cole added six tackles, while Telvion Clark and Jack Tyler each finished with four.
- Barquell Rivers had three tackles and an interception.
- Jayron Hosley and freshman Ronny Vandyke also had interceptions. Hosley intercepted a Logan Thomas pass, while Vandyke intercepted a Trey Gresh attempt.
- The kickers connected on 5-of-6 attempts. Cody Journell hit from 35, 22 and 35 yards, while Justin Myer drilled a 52-yarder and a 28-yarder. "Cody's kicking extremely well," Beamer said. "Myer has a load of potential, and he needs to win some of the kicking contests during the week. That shows consistency, and that's where he is right now. Cody is usually winning it or right in the running at the end."
1. Virginia Tech: With Jarrett Boykin and Coale returning, the Hokies’ passing game has a chance to flourish this fall. Boykin, Coale and Dyrell Roberts were the team’s top three receivers last year for the second straight season, combining for 113 catches, 1,882 yards and 11 touchdowns. Add to that Marcus Davis, D.J. Coles, E.L. Smiling -- it’s a bottomless cup of depth and talent.
2. Duke: Conner Vernon has 128 catches in his first two collegiate seasons and Donovan Varner ranked fourth in the ACC in pass receptions (60) and seventh in yardage (736). Their combined 274 receptions are the most of any active duo in the ACC. They are the top two returning leaders in catches per game, and Vernon is the ACC’s returning leader in receiving yards per game. The Blue Devils also have sophomore Brandon Braxton (14 catches), who could make a name for himself as the third option this year.
3. Florida State: Every Seminole who caught a pass last season returns. Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith return with a combined 50 career starts. Reed ranks second among all returning ACC receivers with 141 career receptions. Willie Haulstead had 38 catches last season, Smith had 31, and there’s plenty of rising talent like Christian Green.
4. North Carolina: Like Florida State, North Carolina returns all of its receivers, including two who redshirted last season. Dwight Jones, who had 946 yards and 62 receptions, leads the group, but Erik Highsmith (25 catches, 348 yards and three touchdowns) must be accounted for as well. Defenses also can’t forget about Jheranie Boyd, who is a deep threat.
5. Miami: The Canes will miss the production of Leonard Hankerson, but they don’t have to if one or two of the other players show more consistency. Travis Benjamin has big-play capabilities and averaged 17.3 yards on his 43 catches last season. There is no shortage of other options with LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson, Tommy Streeter, Allen Hurns and Kendal Thompkins. Which one will rise to the occasion?
6. Clemson: It was the DeAndre Hopkins show last season, and he should again highlight the Tigers’ passing game. As a true freshman, Hopkins had 52 catches, the most by a first-year player in school history. Jaron Brown returns with 10 career starts, and the Tigers also have Marquan Jones (21 catches) and Bryce McNeal (19).
7. Maryland: The Terps have to replace their top two receivers from a year ago in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, and no clear frontrunners emerged this spring. Quintin McCree leads all returners with 16 catches, followed by Kevin Dorsey (15), Ronnie Tyler (13), Kerry Boykins (10), and Tony Logan.
8. Boston College: True freshman Bobby Swigert led the Eagles last year with 39 catches and four touchdowns in five starts. The Eagles are hoping to get a significant boost from the return of Colin Larmond Jr., who missed all of last season with a knee injury, but the young group should be better regardless because of the experience gained last season.
9. Virginia: The Cavaliers will miss Dontrelle Inman, who averaged 16 yards per catch on 51 receptions, but returning starter Kris Burd finished fifth in the ACC last season in pass receptions (58). The group will also get a boost from the return of Tim Smith, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, and Matt Snyder (30 catches) and Ray Keys (three catches).
10. NC State: NC State has to replace its top two receivers from a year ago, and T.J. Graham is the team’s leading returning receiver with 25 catches. Steven Howard, Jay Smith and Quintin Payton all have experience, and redshirt freshman Bryan Underwood, Tobias Palmer and Everett Proctor have also been competing for playing time.
11. Wake Forest: Chris Givens (35 catches, 13.7 average), Michael Campanaro (10 catches) and Danny Dembry are the lead candidates to start, but the Deacs are missing a spark like Kenny Moore (2007) and D.J. Boldin (2008) provided. There were too many dropped passes in the spring game, so this group has some work to do in summer camp.
12. Georgia Tech: Yes, Georgia Tech throws the ball, just not often enough or efficiently enough to be anywhere but last place on this list. Stephen Hill led the Jackets last year with 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He should show progress this fall now that there’s no pressure on him to be the next Demaryius Thomas. If he doesn’t show more consistency, the Jackets could turn to Daniel McKayhan, Tyler Melton or Jeremy Moore.
They're a complete unknown.
With more than half of the ACC introducing first-year starting quarterbacks, there's not enough on tape yet to determine how this group will fare. There is enough evidence, though, to pinpoint which position groups -- based on past performances and future potential -- enter this fall as the strongest and weakest in the ACC:
Center: There are three above-average centers in the league this year: Cam Holland at North Carolina, Tyler Horn at Miami, and Dalton Freeman at Clemson. Beyond that, it's a thankless yet vital position that's in transition throughout the conference. Brian Moore is replacing a three-year starter at Duke, Florida State loses one of its best players in center Ryan McMahon, the same with Georgia Tech and Sean Bedford, Virginia Tech and Beau Warren, and Wake Forest and Russell Nenon. With the exception of Freeman (22), and Holland (20), no returning starter at center in the league has more than 13 career starts.
Cornerbacks: Unless, of course, you're Florida State, where Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes should be one of the best duos in the country. Chase Minnifield at Virginia and Jayron Hosley should also be candidates for national honors, but that's about where the confidence in corners comes to a halt. North Carolina has to replace its entire secondary, and so does Georgia Tech. Clemson also lost two starting corners in Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell, and Miami lost two starters in Brandon Harris and Ryan Hill.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
When Miami coach Randy Shannon took over the program three seasons ago, there were only about three or four scholarship receivers on the roster -- far below the usual eight to 10 most schools carry. So this offseason, when receivers coach Aubrey Hill faced the popular question, ‘You’ve got so many receivers, wouldn’t you rather just have one guy?’ his response was logical:
“I said, ‘If you’re at Christmas, would you rather have one toy, or as many toys as you can?”
|AP Photo/J. Pat Carter, File|
|Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has plenty of options.|
Now, after building depth with recruiting classes that included some of the elite talent in the country, and players who could contribute immediately, the Hurricanes’ toy box overfloweth.
Twelve different players have caught at least one pass for the No. 9-ranked Hurricanes heading into Saturday’s showdown at No. 11 Virginia Tech. And six of them have at least five catches. Seven different players have scored touchdowns in wins over two ranked ACC opponents. Three different receivers have run a reverse. Miami returns nine of its top 10 leaders in all-purpose yards from 2008. Running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James have helped the Canes to a 7-2 record when they combine for at least 25 carries. And, of course, they’ve finally got a quarterback to lead them all in Jacory Harris.
“This Miami team we’re getting ready to play,” said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, “Wow.”
Receivers Travis Benjamin, Thearon Collier, Davon Johnson and Kendal Thompkins bring straight speed, quickness, elusiveness and big-play capabilities. Leonard Hankerson and Aldarius Johnson are talented possession players with great hands who move the chains. LaRon Byrd and Tommy Streeter can stretch the field deep with their speed and height. Cooper is elusive, while James is the power back, and Lee Chambers and Mike James provide dependable depth at the position. Tight ends Jimmy Graham and Dedrick Epps have both given the offense a boost, while the offensive line makes it all possible.
|Steve Mitchell/US Presswire|
|Graig Cooper has averaged 5.2 yards per carry so far.|
Miami’s versatility is not only in its athletes, but also in its playbook. The addition of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, coupled with the wide array of abilities, size and speed on the roster, has made Miami’s offense the total package and extremely difficult to defend.
“He’s just so creative, bringing so many different offenses and making it Miami’s offense,” Hill said. “He’s been one of the most creative offensive coordinators I’ve been around and knowing how to set-up plays, run and pass. That’s been really good for the whole coaching staff and also the players because they’re really, really excited to come into the meeting room to see what the mad scientist is creating next.”
In fact, some of the Canes have gotten into it so much some have tried to write their own plays on the board.
“Some have had consideration,” Hill said with a chuckle, “and some haven’t.”
Almost all of the players, though, have had their moments in the spotlight.
“We spread the wealth around to each guy,” Shannon said. “They know that they have to run their routes and everything full speed because they don’t ever know when Jacory is going to throw the football to them. That’s the difference in this team.
“The best thing about it is the competition in practice. You don’t have to worry about a guy getting too extreme as far as thinking he’s the guy who makes the offense run, or he’s the guy who makes the defense run. We’ve got depth at those positions to say, ‘You know what? You don’t want to work hard? OK, fine. We love you, and you’re part of this program, but we’re going to go with somebody else.’ That’s a big help.”
And it’s a nightmare for opposing defenses -- even ones as renowned as Virginia Tech's.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for them,” said Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. “They’re just right now, really a complete football team.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There are some teams in the ACC that are stacked at a particular position or positions -- meaning there's not just depth there, but depth and legitimate all-conference talent. Here's a quick look at who in the conference is simply loaded:
UNC front seven: All four starters return on the defensive line, and there is outstanding depth both there and in the secondary. On the line, tackle Cam Thompson is coming off his best season at UNC, tackle Marvin Austin and end E.J. Wilson both started the majority of games last season, and Robert Quinn had 6.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Linebackers Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant both started every game last season, and the position is the deepest it's been in recent years. Carter led the team with 11 tackles for loss and Sturdivant led the nation with 87 solo tackles.
Georgia Tech secondary: Morgan Burnett, Rashaad Reid, Mario Butler, Dominique Reese, and Cooper Taylor all have experience, and the group also welcomes back Jerrard Tarrant from a suspension.
Boston College secondary: The Eagles return DeLeon Gause, Wes Davis and Roderick Rollins, who have combined for 32 career starts. This should be the best group BC has had in a while.
Clemson defensive line: The Tigers return three starters across the front, and coach Dabo Swinney has said this unit could be the strength of the entire team. Ricky Sapp is the leader, senior Kevin Alexander is a returning starter, and there are really three starters returning for the two defensive end positions, including DaQuan Bowers, who started six games last year and finished with 47 tackles, the most among the linemen.
Miami wide receivers: Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Thearon Collier, LaRon Byrd, Kendal Thompkins, Tommy Streeter ... the Hurricanes could field a team that consists entirely of receivers.
Florida State offensive line: The Noles are oozing with talent here. Tackle Andrew Datko, guard Rodney Hudson and center Ryan McMahon combined to start all but one game last season. What was the youngest offensive line in the FBS last season could be one of the best this year. For the first time since 2004, all five starters return.
Wake Forest offensive line: The Demon Deacons return eight offensive linemen with a total of 118 career starts among them. Jeff Griffin and Joe Birdsong are Wake's returning starters at tackle while Barrett McMillin and Joe Looney each started at guard in 2008. Russell Nenon, who started the season at guard, moved to center at midseason following an injury to Trey Bailey. Bailey returns after fully healing from a broken ankle. The Deacons also welcome back Chris DeGeare who missed the 2008 season while getting his academics in order.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
I saw some of your comments yesterday regarding the same schools being mentioned lately in the daily links, and I just wanted you guys to know I check at least one paper for each ACC school every day, and also do a Google news search to see if anything else pops up. As the coaches would say, "It is what it is." Hopefully it will start to pick up once spring ball begins for some other schools.
Until then, say hello to Tommy Streeter and Randy Phillips, two Miami players who were injured last season but could make an impact this year. Safety Vaughn Telemaque is another player coach Randy Shannon has high hopes for.
The Orlando Sentinel is doing a preview on each school that will have a new head coach in 2009, and they featured Boston College in Wednesday's post. Here's another one I missed from Wednesday ... Virginia's General Assembly honored former Hokie Bruce Smith.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is one of the few coaches on Dave Curtis' list of coaches to call to fix some problems bigger than an inexperienced quarterback.
Maryland lost its No. 2 athletic director to Georgia State on Wednesday, and coach Ralph Friedgen apparently helped her make the move.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
With a new season comes new faces and the potential for new stars. Redshirt freshmen, transfers and early enrollees will all have a chance to contribute. Here are five newcomers worth watching this spring:
Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams -- After expecting to play as a true freshman and then redshirting last season, Williams is eager to show what he can do. He was a member of the 2008 ESPN 150 and rated the No. 4 running back in the country by ESPN.com. Williams rushed for over 3,000 yards during his career as a four-year starter at Stonewall Jackson High School.
Miami redshirt freshman receiver Tommy Streeter -- He was part of last year's eight-man recruiting class from nearby Miami Northwestern High, and one of Jacory Harris' favorite targets in high school. Streeter had wrist surgery last year, though, and missed the season. At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Streeter is quick and can take off for significant yardage after the catch.
Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins -- Sure, E.J. Manuel will be fun to watch compete against Christian Ponder at quarterback this spring, but Manuel doesn't have to replace the Lou Groza Award winner. Hopkins, rated by ESPN.com as the nation's No. 1 high school kicker, could be called upon immediately to replace Graham Gano. He has a strong leg and his kickoffs are deep or out of the end zone.
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker -- He redshirted last season, but Parker is first-team All-ACC in baseball so he is used to being in the limelight and someone the team relies on. Parker was rated the No. 4 quarterback in the 2008 class behind Terrelle Pryor, Dayne Crist and Mike Glennon. Parker was the No. 34 recruit in the 2008 ESPN 150 and our analysts compared him to Todd Reesing and Chase Daniel.
North Carolina freshman receiver Joshua Adams -- Adams chose Carolina as a junior on last year's signing day. He is physically imposing, but still quick for his size. Adams graduated early, enrolled in January, and has already looked impressive in the voluntary workouts. With the Heels' situation at wide receiver, Adams should be in the mix in August.