Chat with Heather Dinich
Dinich covered ACC and Big Ten football for five seasons before joining ESPN.com in November 2007. She's an Indiana grad but somehow her favorite day of the week is Saturday.
Send your questions now and join Dinich at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday!
Heather Dinich (3:00 PM)
Hello everyone. I'm here, let's get started.
Micah (Raleigh, NC)
None of NCSU's running backs have averaged high yards/carry in the spring game or practices. Should I be concerned? Would you say this is because Eugene is injured and Baker isn't quite 100% yet? Or is it that the O-Line needs some work?
Heather Dinich (3:01 PM)
I'd say it's a combination of a few things. Toney Baker isn't quite 100 percent, AND the o-line needs some work. It's one of TOB's lingering concerns heading into summer camp.
Danno: Philly, PA
Heather: Please make a prediction for the Nebraska/Va Tech game. What will that game indicate for each team and the rest of the season?
Heather Dinich (3:02 PM)
I think the Hokies have handled Nebraska before and after seeing them live this spring a bit, they're capable of doing it again. That said, I think the Alabama game will be more of a statement for how the Hokies will fare in '09 than Nebraska.
heather, do you feel like you missed the boat, in covering a tired ACC passed its heyday?
Heather Dinich (3:04 PM)
You're kidding, right? The ACC is on an upswing. It's bringing in better coaches, particularly in the Coastal Division. And its noncon record last year wasn't too shabby.
Heather, how will the FSU academic sting affect the Noles this year?
Heather Dinich (3:05 PM)
Honestly, I think very little on the field. The coaches were prepared to lose a few schollies, which they did, and they've still got talent on their roster. They should be more concerned about injuries and suspensions to wide receivers. They can't afford any more of those.
Patrick (Mobile, AL)
HD, I am in withdrawals here. Dont know if I can make it till late Aug/Early Sept. What is your preseason top 5, and does Florida repeat?
Heather Dinich (3:06 PM)
Oh geez, I don't know. You've got to have Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama ... Schlabach and I agree to disagree on the Hokies being a top five team. Maybe USC. No, Florida doesn't repeat. Time for a change.
Bill (Carrollton, Ga)
Last year, Acc Refs had a hard time distinguishing legal cut blocks from illegal chop blocks, and Ga Tech really suffered. Cut blocking is an essential to Tech' scheme-- do you think it will get better?
Heather Dinich (3:07 PM)
If I remember correctly, ACC officials also invited Paul Johnson down after the season to go over it with them, so that might have helped. The Jackets were certainly practicing it this spring.
speaking of seeing the hokies in action... what are your thoughts about how they'll do this season. are they more or less impressive than last year?
Heather Dinich (3:08 PM)
Squirm! Offensively, I honestly think they're more impressive. The young receivers will be better, Tyrod Taylor has a better command of the offense, and the running backs are legit.
Ben (Carrollton, GA)
How many ACC teams do you foresee being ranked in the pre-season Top 25, and will GT be a co-favorite in the Coastal Division?
Heather Dinich (3:10 PM)
Ah, I think Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Florida State are all legit picks, but I bet some voters are afraid of having FSU in there because they're not sure how the NCAA sanctions will affect the team, and are wary of the reciever position. No, the Hokies will be the preseason favorite I'm guessing.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Does NC State finally have a QB who can play all year and lead the team to a decent record?
Heather Dinich (3:11 PM)
Sure, if he learns how to better go through his progressions and get rid of the ball faster so he doesn't get clobbered trying to run for six when he can throw for 12.
Stacey: (Bluefield WV)
The ACC has not had a Qb ranked in the Top-20 of Passing Efficiency since the days of Phillip Rivers at State. What gives? How come the ACC has been so far down in quarterback play for so long?
Heather Dinich (3:11 PM)
Easy -- recruiting.
Adam (Galax, VA)
With a antitrust lawsuit coming, are we much closer to seeing a playoff in college football any time soon?
Heather Dinich (3:12 PM)
Well, it definitely sparked the conversation again, but that's not something that can happen overnight.
Hi Heather, I was wondering which division you think is shaping up to be the strongest this year. Also, do you think NC State has a realistic chance at taking the Atlantic this year or may that be a few years off?
Heather Dinich (3:13 PM)
The Coastal Division looks the strongest, from top to bottom. Duke will be better. Virginia HAS to be better, and who knows which direction Miami will go. Yes, NC State is my sleeper in the A-Division this year.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Did you answer my question? If so, what was the answer in English?
Heather Dinich (3:14 PM)
Yeah, right now Russell Wilson isn't getting past his first option at receiver. If that guy's not open, he pulls the ball down and takes off. TOB wants him to learn how to get to his second and third option before he hits the gas and goes. That's how he gets hurt.
How badly do you think BC is going to be hurting from the loss of Jadksnxowski, or do you see his successor making a smooth transition?
Heather Dinich (3:16 PM)
Don't worry, it took me a season to spell Jagodzinski, too. (Krzyzewski isn't easy, either). Frank Spaziani will make a smooth transition because a) he's a BC guy, b) everyone there loves him, and c) he's building a plan for the long haul. The question now is on offense, where they've got a new coordinator in Gary Tranquill and possibly a new starting QB.
117 Southmain (Cincinnati, OH)
I am hearing good things about the OL at VT this year. You were just in B'burg, what was your take?
Heather Dinich (3:17 PM)
Yes, I just spoke with a few of their olinemen while I was down there and gist of it is this -- four of the five guys who have been starting were former tight ends, therefore, they're more athletic than in years past. Staff is excited about this group. So is Darren Evans.
Any chance that EJ Manuel can win the starting job b/c us Noles fans are sick of watching Ponder play like a Div II QB-why not bring in Paulus for a year? Can't be any worse.
Heather Dinich (3:19 PM)
Ouch, harsh! First of all, Ponder has gotten a lot better this spring. Second, he was hurt pretty badly last year. Third, I just spoke with David Cutcliffe, and he warns not to knock Paulus. I think EJ needs to get a full spring without hurting his finger before you deem him the next Heisman winner, no?
Bill (Carrollton Ga)
HD--I tried to post a question, but don't see it. Is this chat working?
Heather Dinich (3:19 PM)
It works when I make it work, Bill. :)
Ryan Columbia ms
Who do you think will end up having the best stable of Rb this year?
Heather Dinich (3:19 PM)
Oooh, baiting me into the Georiga Tech/Virginia Tech argument, huh? OK, I think the Jackets will. They're deeper.
Nick from Annapolis MD
Will CJ Spiller end up regretting his return for his SR like James Davis probably did?
Heather Dinich (3:20 PM)
Nah, Spiller thought about it long and hard. I asked him about it when I was down there this spring, and he said he talked with Swinney and Napier, and they assured him he'd get his carries.
Heather What do you think will happen with FSU this year? What is you prediction and what games do you think we need to watch out for?
Heather Dinich (3:22 PM)
First of all, in getting all of these FSU questions, I'm wondering where the Miami fans are today. Because let's start with that game as one to "watch out for." The Canes are revved up about their schedule and know they have to get off to a good start. BYU and USF are also going to be tricky. Oh, and Florida. Can't forget the Gators.
KJ Lee (Jonesboro Ga)
Is there any chance that virginia Tech overlooks a team like ECU or NC State on there way to another ACC title
Heather Dinich (3:23 PM)
If they do, count 'em out, but I think the staff always has these guys prepared.
Brian (Alexandria, VA)
HD, what is your opinions of Ju-Ju being declared #2 so early in spring ball? Do you think davis will be an effective receiver?
Heather Dinich (3:24 PM)
I think it's a good call, and one that Frank wouldn't have made so early if he wasn't confident in it. Receiver is Davis' natural position, and considering Mike O'Cain said Davis is a better athlete, he'll do fine wherever they put him.
Heather, it seems like I've been hearing about these Clemson backs every spring for the past few years, and then they fall off the radar after their first 2 yard carry. will this spiller fellow ever live up to the hype?
Heather Dinich (3:25 PM)
If he doesn't this year, Dabo & Co. will be in trouble.
Virginia Tech is getting a lot of talk in the national media about being the ACC's "potential national championship contender", however can you point out the reasons why Georgia Tech should not be in that conversation with Va. Tech?
Heather Dinich (3:27 PM)
I cannot, and I've said this before: If Virginia Tech is No. 5 in the country, then Georgia Tech must be No. 6, because that's how much separation is between them. What will separate those teams on the field this year, is their lines. And right now, Virginia Tech wins that battle in the trenches.
Do the Canes have a legit shot at the first 4 games? They have 2 of their toughest losses from last year in the first 2 games (added motivation).. and if they for some reason go 4-0 how high would you rank them after that start?
Heather Dinich (3:28 PM)
Dude, if the Canes win their first four games, tell Florida to watch out, and somebody get Randy Shannon a contract extension. Do I think it will happen? Probably not. That's a brutal lineup.
Robert (Atlanta, Ga)
Heather- I am already a fan of Kyle Parker. Do you think he is baseball guy or a football guy or both and do we even get to see him on the field this fall?
Heather Dinich (3:29 PM)
I think he hit a home run in their last game, didn't he? Yet Dabo Swinny has made it clear that Kyle HAS to be on the football field, and all reports about him have been positive. I'd be surprised if we didn't see him, but no doubt it's a competition that will continue this summer.
Hello, Just curious if you guys type yourselves or have somebody else type for you during these chatting sessions.
Heather Dinich (3:30 PM)
It's me, Samuel. All me. So pardon the typos.
Joshua (Tallahassee, FL)
So I know it's still a long way away (way too long), but what's your "way too early to predict" prediction for FSU-Miami on Labor Day? Four wins in five years over Miami would be pretty awesome for us Florida State fans. Thanks, Heather!
Heather Dinich (3:32 PM)
Yes, way too long, but that means we can talk about it until then. So today I'll pick Florida State. Why? Because Miami will be playing with new coordinators for the first time and they'll have a few kinks to work out. Disclaimer: This prediction can change.
Matthew (Raleigh NC)
Do you think Duke has a chance at making it to a bowl game?
Heather Dinich (3:32 PM)
I interviewed David Cutcliffe this afternoon. Check the blog for his answer on that tomorrow.
Curious in Durham
Which fans send you the least amount of questions/comments? I would guess Duke?
Heather Dinich (3:33 PM)
Heather Dinich (3:33 PM)
With Wake Forest a close second.
Maryland keeps hanging around each year but to be honest, the fridge just doesn't seem like his heart is in it anymore. Will continue to just hang around or do they have a chance to be better this year?
Heather Dinich (3:34 PM)
He joked today he's gotten "softer," but he might have. The Terps are so young, but the staff is very confident in the talent at the skill positions and Don Brown was an excellent hire. The defense should be better. So yes, I think they have a chance to improve.
Canes in space
Hey HD. Love the post. I think UM will handle FSU week one. There is a big difference between freshman and sophomore year - and i don't think any knows how good the Canes may be. Miami beat Va tech fairly convincingly last year - why all the Va Tech hype? Canes shut Evans down.
Heather Dinich (3:35 PM)
You might be right. I was at that Miami/Va Tech game last year. There IS a big difference between frosh and soph, but older doesn't always mean better. Still, I think Miami has a very good football team.
hi heather! i know miami's opening stretch is tough to say the least and we could be the underdog for every game. but dou you really think we'll go 4-0 or 0-4 like you said earlier??
Heather Dinich (3:36 PM)
Yepper, really do. They'll pick one up, though. My point is that they've got the chance to go one extreme or the other this year.
Do you see the FSU offensive line creeping into the top 10 offensive line rankings at the end of next season? IF we do not suffer any injuries?
Heather Dinich (3:36 PM)
No doubt. Should be one of the best, along with BC.
why will Alabama beat Virginia Tech this season
Heather Dinich (3:37 PM)
Heather Dinich (3:38 PM)
Alabama's defense is going to be very good, they'll have a new quarterback and have to replace what, four offensive linemen? The Hokies have a chance. I see a defensive struggle with Bama coming out on top. And yes, I reserve the right to change my mind on that.
T.C. (Richmond, VA)
RE: carter Atlanta : why will Alabama beat Virginia Tech this season ----JULIO
Heather Dinich (3:39 PM)
well, yeah, and Bama's got a young receiver in Julio Jones who could make me look like an all-star. Well, not quite, but you get it.
Curious in Durham ...
Follow up! Which teams get the most questions asked?
Heather Dinich (3:40 PM)
Follow up! Virginia Tech, Miami, FSU, GT. NC State is starting to come on.
how often do you reserve the right to change your opinions? is this an everyday thing, or do you limit it to sporting predictions?
Heather Dinich (3:41 PM)
Hahaha ... well, during the season we really do post predictions every week. That will be my final word. So many things change in spring and summer -- players get hurt, positions change, starting jobs won and lost, etc. I feel like we always know more after summer camp.
Can Butch Davis get the Tar Heels to a BCS at large game, or at least the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl? Or do we need another season?
Heather Dinich (3:43 PM)
I'm not counting Butch Davis out of anything. Let's see how his young receivers fare, that's the big question. He's got an improved quarterback, guys who can run the ball well, and a smashmouth defense. Davis is still concerned about special teams. There are questions, but it should be a higher bowl bound team.
UNC is in the acc you know....who will they beat and who could they lose to this year??
Heather Dinich (3:45 PM)
Hey there ... There are definitely some trap games on there, like ECU, but you know what games people will overlook on their schedule? Duke and NC State.
james (holister, CA)
whats the deal with Miami's new defensive coordinator? why are there so many questions there and not the overwhelming support like the whipple hire?
Heather Dinich (3:48 PM)
Well, because he was fired from a few places. He didn't last at Clemson. He's got a reputation as a hard worker and is a respected coach. I'm just not sure he was Randy Shannon's first choice. Who knows. Give him a chance.
Terence. Salisbury. Nc [via mobile]
Can florida states defensive line still dominate. With the lost of everette brown.
Heather Dinich (3:50 PM)
I think the bigger question on defense for the Noles is in their secondary.
best teams in north carolina....ready rank em!
Heather Dinich (3:51 PM)
How about this: Tom O'Brien beat East Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and UNC. I'll stick with the Pack on that answer.
John Richmond, Va
What are your thoughts about UVa's new spread offense? Do you think it will be suprisingly explosive this year or will it be a bust?
Heather Dinich (3:53 PM)
I think that nobody in the public has seen enough of it to be able to tell. However, in talking to the players, they are genuinely excited about it. Sounds like Gregg Brandon is making a difference. The thing is, they lost SO many skill players on offense, all their linebackers ... there was a lot to replace. Having Sewell back and Vic Hall as an option should help.
Is the ACC going to beat each other up again this year, and we have 10 more teams make it to bowl games?
Heather Dinich (3:54 PM)
See, that's why I think it's too hard to claim VT or GT or anyone else national champs right now. There is legitimate parity in the league. Teams are going to lose. Maybe next year there will be more separation, but I see it being another crazy season in the ACC.
greg norman (pebble b.)
HD- the spread O has been known for a few years now. Will defenses start catching on, big time?
Heather Dinich (3:55 PM)
Well, there are obviously different versions of it, and that's Paul Johnson's argument when people ask him if teams will be better defending his offense in its second season.
Hey HD what is your thoughts so far on the young defensive line for GT, have they surprised you or are they still a mystery card for you? Also do you think Nesbitt will throw for 60% completion % this year? Thanks!
Heather Dinich (3:56 PM)
I think that if the staff was more confident in the line, they wouldn't be asking more of the linebackers and DBs.
Josh (Blacksburg, VA)
If VT loses to Alabama but wins out, can they play for a National Championship?
Heather Dinich (3:57 PM)
Depends on what everyone else does. Remember two seasons ago when Virginia Tech moved up the BCS standings by watching everyone else?
Mike (Hokie Nation)
What is your early prediction on the top three starting QB's in the conference?
Heather Dinich (3:58 PM)
1. Russell Wilson. 2. Thaddeus Lewis. 3. Tyrod Taylor.
Alex (Miami, FL)
Considering that Myrone Rolle, a Rhodes Scholar, believes the punishment handed down by the NCAA was too harsh, are you going to disagree with him?
Heather Dinich (3:59 PM)
What, I can't disagree with a Rhodes Scholar?
Kris from Panama City Beach
First off great job! I've been reading your blogs and stories for some time now and finally decided to join in. Here's my question: Given the talent that Miami has at the WR and RB position, which group do you think will benefit the most from Whips offensive system? I know the RB's will be used a lot in the pass so I'm just curious what you think. Thanks again and go Canes!
Heather Dinich (4:00 PM)
Well, this is a pretty basic answer, but I'm out of time. Whipple will be intent on running the ball, so those guys are going to get their carries, But Miami has sooooo many receivers. I think they'll shine.
Heather Dinich (4:01 PM)
OK guys, I'm out. Thanks for joining me, and feel free to get questions in the mailbag on the ACC blog for Friday. Later.