Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger Heather Dinich stops by talk some college football.
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 Monday at noon ET!
Heather Dinich (12:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Just got off the teleconference with Frank Beamer. Ready to talk some football.
George (Arlington, Tx)
How stacked will Virginia Tech's backfield be next year with Darren Evans back ?? Those young backs put up ridiculous numbers this past weekend.
Heather Dinich (12:01 PM)
Yeah, they did, but it was against Marshall. Let's see how the Hokies' offense fares against Nebraska's defense, but to answer your question, VT will be loaded back there next year, very talented - if they can keep everyone healthy.
Arthur (Lewes, DE)
Hi Heather,I know the Heels offense looked anemic for most of the game against UConn, but how much of that can we chalk up to the O-line injuries and UConn's underrated defense?
Heather Dinich (12:02 PM)
Both definitely played a role in that, Arthur, and Yates deserves some credit for the drive in the fourth quarter and they made great use of their tight end (no word yet, BTW on the MRI that I've heard of).
hey there heather, here's a quick question. Although we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves two weeks (and one game) into the season, how highly would you rank miami if they went 4-0? Do you think that with an undefeated season and a slip-up by one of the top teams there would be a way of getting into the championship game even this year?
Heather Dinich (12:04 PM)
Personally, I'd have them in my top 10 of ESPN.com's Power Rankings I turn in each week, but it also depends on if Bradford is back for that game. Considering VT finished No. 3 in the BCS standings and this year is starting out a lot like that 2007 season, nothing would surprise me.
FSU struggling against JSU Saturday night...does that effect your opinion of how well Miami played on Labor Day?
Heather Dinich (12:04 PM)
No, it doesn't. I think FSU played better that night and was looking ahead to Jax State. In fact, I was thinking this morning about how that game shouldn't take anything away from the Monday night game.
Roger (New York, New York)
What kind of chances does BC have going into their next two games against Clemson and Wake Forest? Is BC going to be able to compete with, or even beat what were predicted to be two better teams?
Heather Dinich (12:06 PM)
You are always going to get your best effort from Boston College, and the staff will have them ready as they can be, but I just don't think they match up with the speed or experience of Clemson. As for Wake Forest, if the Deacs play like they did this past weekend against Stanford they should have the edge because of the experience on offense.
Beef (Hootown, Va)
How much longer will UVa have to put up with Al Groh? I'm hearing he will be fired next week after the Cavs lose to So Miss this Saturday. Enough is enough!!
Heather Dinich (12:07 PM)
I hesitate to say how long, because his contract goes through Dec. 2011, so it would be costly for them to get rid of him now, especially with the hire of Tony Bennett. But an 0-3 start is more than likely.
Should Tyrod Run or Throw?
Heather Dinich (12:07 PM)
Both if they want to win.
Austin G (Blacksburg, VA)
Hey Heather, based on what you have seen so far? Who are your predictions for the Atlantic and Coastal divisions, and who will win it the conference?
Heather Dinich (12:08 PM)
Based on what I've seen, Miami looks like it could be the most complete team, but I'm holding off on that until I see their defense against GT. In the Atlantic, I really like Clemson despite that loss. This team doesn't quit under Swinney.
Todd (Tobacco Rd, NC)
What is up with the Duke QB situation? Is there one? Should there be? Yes...I know, it's Duke Football.
Heather Dinich (12:10 PM)
Check the blog for a more detailed answer on that, but the short one is Thad Lewis was one of the guys who had swine flu this summer, then an ankle .. he's working his way back. Renfree not total package yet, but Cutcliffe not afraid to play him. Thad is the clear cut starter though.
Do you really think FSU is the 8th best team in the ACC? Emotion is such a big part of college football, even great teams get caught looking ahead.....
Heather Dinich (12:11 PM)
Well, after the way they played this weekend, yes, and that's why we do the power rankings each week. You can't win the Atlantic playing that way. Yes, FSU is probably better than that, but they have to prove it, and it's going to be tough to do on the road this weekend.
Lowell (Hamden, CT)
Is Jim Grobe on the short list of best in-game coaches in the country? Both weeks thus far Wake has made significant in-game adjustments to manage comebacks.
Heather Dinich (12:12 PM)
Well, he is a very good Xs and Os coach, but they also lost to a Baylor team they could've beaten. No doubt he's one of the better coaches out there.
Derrick Morgan is tied for the National lead in sacks with 5. Looks like the best DE in the ACC to me, thoughts?
Heather Dinich (12:13 PM)
He certainly looked like it against Clemson ...
Heather Dinich (12:14 PM)
Hang on one second ... UNC's Deunta Williams on the phone ...
Craig (Charlotte, NC)
How good is that UNC defense? Very impressive so far.
Heather Dinich (12:16 PM)
Williams says he's sick of hearing about this D's "potential" and they're ready to make some noise this year. No doubt they can, and they came up huge in that game on Saturday.
Rich Gunnell had 114 yds receiving and two TDs for BC, the week after he returned a punt for a TD. What's a guy got to do to earn a helmet sticker?
Heather Dinich (12:17 PM)
Do it against a BCS conference opponent.
Kevin (Abilene, TX)
In your opinion, what was FSU's biggest problem against Jacksonville St.? Energy? Mental focus? Leadership?
Heather Dinich (12:18 PM)
D. All of the above. Plus they simply made too many mistakes.
Who starts for BC this weekend? Tuggle or Shinskie?
Heather Dinich (12:18 PM)
Great question, and one Spaz said on Sunday's he's still "evaluating." Both of them have had success.
Heather, come on, tell me its not going to go that bad for my Noles this weekend.
Heather Dinich (12:20 PM)
Sorry, man, BYU is legit. It's a road trip. And Florida State's defense has to show some improvement.
What happened to Dwyer? Spiller is the ACC's Heisman candidate-yes?
Heather Dinich (12:22 PM)
Clemson's defense happened to Dwyer, that's what. Considering how the other candidates are playing - Max Hall, Jahvid Best, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow ... I don't think the ACC HAS a Heisman candidate - this week.
Chris (Charleston SC)
to expand on this post earlier, how does va tech accomadate 4 backs next year???
Heather Dinich (12:22 PM)
Same way they did heading into this season. Billy Hite told me the players would determine it. Whoever practices the best, plays the most. It's a good problem to have, no?
Kyle Parker.. a great quarterback? or the greatest?
Heather Dinich (12:24 PM)
Haha, he's got great potential, but he's not great yet. He looks like an upgrade for the Tigers, though, and made some impressive passes against Georgia Tech. The future looks good there for Clemson.
Heather, did you watch the FSU game? We gave up 9 points, with the TD coming after we touched a punt deep in Jax St territory. Ponder threw for 300 yards and the D took a huge step forward yet you rank the Noles 8th in the conference. It's the same team that played Miami a short while ago, with a defense that is growing and learning game to game. Comment?
Heather Dinich (12:25 PM)
Yeah, they almost lost to Jacksonville State. At home.
The only are of inexperience for BC on offense is at QB, and both QBs have looked good so far, not to mention the entire secondary returned. How can you say that Clemson has a huge advantage?
Heather Dinich (12:26 PM)
Because neither QB has faced a defense like Clemson, and the Tigers are excited to show their base defense they've been practicing all summer. So far they've faced a spread team and lined up in a dime package and then defended the option. It's go-time for Clemson's D. Plus, BC still has questions at linebacker. Very young.
If the Terps lose at home to MTSU this weekend I can see things unraveling in a hurry. Agree?
Heather Dinich (12:28 PM)
Oh, no doubt, and they just lost Nolan Carroll with a broken leg. If they lose to MTSU (and we all know it's possible since it happened last year), it could be a long, disasterous season.
neal (virginia beach)
Heather, what is your prediction for the miami-gt game? with the way clemson came back on gt, do you think teams' defenses are catching up to the triple option?
Heather Dinich (12:29 PM)
Teams have had two decades to "catch up" to Johnson's offense. Either you can defend it, or you can't. Miami had ample time to prepare for it, so they should be ready.
What should and shouldn't the Hokies do against Nebraska to win the game Saturday? How good are the Huskers?
Heather Dinich (12:30 PM)
Nebraska is very good up front, and Virginia Tech's offensive line will have to play a smart game to open things up for the Hokies' offense.
henry (richmond, va)
does UVA need to look at the AD and Groh? They have spent a small countries budget on facilities in the past 10 years without anything to show for it in the "money sports"
Heather Dinich (12:32 PM)
Yes, I think Virginia fans are ready to see some bang for their buck.
Nick (Chapel Hill)
Coming in to the UConn game everyone was talking about how great UConn's running game is even though they lost Brown. UNC held them to just 72 rushing yards though. Do you think that UNC's defense (esp. run D) is that good or was UConn's offense overrated?
Heather Dinich (12:33 PM)
I do think North Carolina's defense is that good, but I don't know that the Tar Heels can depend on it all season. If they put it together on offense, they'll be a tough team to beat. It was also UConn's first real test of the season with Todman and Dixon, too.
vthokielover8 (the boards)
Did you give up on NC State as a dark horse in the Atlantic because of the SC loss? I admit they didn't look fantastic but it was only their first game. The Atlantic looks weak enough for them to make a play.
Heather Dinich (12:34 PM)
Whaddup, Hokielover. No, I didn't give up on them, but I'm still waiting to see their offense against a legit opponent. South Carolina's D didn't look too hot against Georgia.
Which game this week is the most important game for the ACC?
Heather Dinich (12:35 PM)
I think Thursday night's Miami/GT. It's another nationally televised game, it's between two ranked teams, and it will go a long way in determining the Coastal Division standings.
Duke and Virginia are BCS teams, do you think they should be FCS teams?
Heather Dinich (12:37 PM)
You know the saying, if you can't beat 'em ... join 'em.
There are 4 teams in the Coastal Division that could win the Atlantic. Agree or disagree?
Heather Dinich (12:38 PM)
If you're talking "Atlantic" as in ACC, then yes, and they're all ranked this week.
Even though MD is young they are too talented to have allowed JMU to take them to overtime. What is wrong with their Defense or is it just poor coaching. Despite the young offensive line they still seem to move to ball even in the Cal game.
Heather Dinich (12:39 PM)
It's not poor coaching, Don Brown is very well-respected, is a former head coach and knows what he's doing. But he implemented an entirely new scheme, and has young players to work with. New faces up front is always a challenge.
Drey (W. Columbia, SC)
UNC is overrated and could not win the ACC Atlantic.
Heather Dinich (12:40 PM)
Especially since they're in the Coastal ...
Steven (Tyson's Corner)
Do you think VT could still make a national championship run? And if not this year, shouldn't we be seet up well for next year?
Heather Dinich (12:41 PM)
Frank Beamer certainly thinks to think that the ACC still has a NC contender in the group, but he didn't say if it was the Hokies. You only have to look back to 2007 to realize it's possible, but don't forget in 2007 that the loss to LSU came back to haunt them just like the Bama loss could.
Dave (Va Beach)
Will Stiney run the ball to open the passing game. It usually is the other way around but I think VT can use the Play Action to its advantage more so this year as they have a good line and running backs....your thoughts
Heather Dinich (12:42 PM)
Actually, it's not the other way around. If you can't run the football, it's much harder to win. You've got to make teams respect your ground game to open up the passing.
T.C. (Richmond, VA)
I think it would be a mistake to write off FSU or the Atlantic division as a whole at this point. I wouldn't be surprised to see Clemson or FSU in the BCS game.
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
Oh you're right. I wouldn't be surprised either. The Atlantic is wide open, and those two teams have the most speed and athleticism in that division. It takes more than that, though, to win games. Otherwise Wake wouldn't be on it's three-game winning streak against FSU.
Andy (Charleston, SC)
The hokies loss to bama was far more respectable than you make it. At the very least its exponentially better than the loss to LSU
Heather Dinich (12:44 PM)
Well, sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, because I don't think there was any shame in that loss to Bama. They played and lost to a great team.
Neil (Simi Valley, CA)
I think the Canes are going to try score early and often to force GT to throw which is their weekness. What do you think?
Heather Dinich (12:46 PM)
I think they should follow Clemson's lead, and commit to stopping the option first. THAT's what forced GT to throw.
Brian (Raleigh, NC)
Was NC State's dismantling of Murray State a sign of the offense returning to the form of the latter part of last year, or just another Sauraday against an FCS opponent?
Heather Dinich (12:47 PM)
You'd think it was just another Saturday, but the rest of the ACC didn't have it as easy. But yes, I'm waiting until that Pitt game to judge NC State's offense this year.
Downwiththeheels (Durham, NC)
What do you think Duke's chances are at KU? Given their impressive road performances last year (Vandy, VT) I think they could give them a game.
Heather Dinich (12:48 PM)
You know, because of how good a coach David Cutcliffe is, I think it could be a good game, too, but I think Kansas, as a program, is obviously further ahead than Duke and will be too much to overcome on the road.
David (Techwood/Bobby Dodd)
Snap decision, as of right now how many bowl teams out of the ACC?
Heather Dinich (12:50 PM)
snap answer, eight or nine.
Brian (New York City)
Do you know what Groh's thought process is in keeping Sewell in instead of Verica at QB? Verica at least seems to get the ball downfield even if he forces interceptions. I am beginning to feel like we not even get a win this season if we can't run the ball, pass the ball or even stop offenses.
Heather Dinich (12:51 PM)
I would imagine it's because Groh needs as many pure athletes on the field now as he can get. Remember how Beamer used Tyrod for that same purpose? He's looking for somebody who can make a play anyway he can.
Method (Lexington, SC)
What do you think of NC State's defense so far this year? I know they've only played 2 games, including Murray State, but they look pretty solid, even without Nate Irving.
Heather Dinich (12:52 PM)
Yeah, I'm impressed with them on that side of the ball so far. So is Willie Young. They've gotten better and should continue to improve.
I know Tech's offense didn't play great against Clemson and that the passing game was a mess, but shouldn't one be okay with the fact that they STILL had over 400 yards, shined on special teams, and had zero fumbles? And they did, after all, make the plays when they had to in order to win.
Heather Dinich (12:53 PM)
Yeah, but Paul Johnson will probably be one of the first people to tell you it doesn't amount to much if there aren't more points on the board than the other guy.
David (New Yor)
HD, you have to give Spaz a ton of credit for this D. He lost two top two round DTs and all six LBs from the two deep of last year. And yet he still had his D only allow 7 points in two games, and those seven points came in garbage time. After watching the first two games, there's no question who the QB will be for BC on Saturday, it's Tuggle's team.
Heather Dinich (12:54 PM)
No doubt, and you'd expect it to be a strong defensive team with Spaz coaching. But it still hasn't been tested yet like Clemson will. If you say Tuggle's the guy, you know more than Spaz right now, but OK.
Steven (Blacksburg, VA)
I am a cane fan living in blacksburg. And all i hear here is that miami cant hold a candle to tech and that miami is an easy win for tech. I need a 3rd party view and could you tell me where you see vt having an advantage over miami? i see miami being miles ahead on offense and more athletic on defesne. And jacory being way ahead of tyrod right now. Do you see the same?
Heather Dinich (12:55 PM)
I'm not sure I'm ready to say "miles ahead," but after watching Miami for one game, their offense looks ahead of Virginia Tech's.
Jonathan (Newport News, VA)
Is the lack of respect given the ACC due to the fact that many in the media, including yourself if applicable, and in the stands expect the conference to perform better? There seems to be lower expectations for the Big East, for example, and their "respect factor" tends to be more positive.
Heather Dinich (12:57 PM)
Even the coaches expected the ACC to be better this year, but the "respect factor" for the ACC, at least to me, seems to be based on one thing - how they perform against ranked and BCS conference noncon opponents, and whether or not they take care of the teams they should beat. It's not very complicated.
Do you think Virginia will win a game this season i mean they look terrible they cant move the ball of play defense
Heather Dinich (12:57 PM)
Don't forget this is what everyone was saying last year about the Cavaliers, too, and then, boom, what was it, a five-game winning streak?
Crosby (South Carolina)
You've got Clemson ranked in the power rankings at 4th, but the 1st Atlantic team mentioned. Do you think Clemson is going to finally play for an ACC championship this year?
Heather Dinich (12:58 PM)
Sure, as long as nobody is expecting them to, hoping for them to, or talking about it.
Did JuJu Clayton's performance on Saturday scare you as much as it scared me?
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Haha, what was he, 0-for-3? So far it looks like Duke's Sean Renfree is one of the few dependable backups in the ACC, though we should be seeing more of Mike Glennon.
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Alright guys, back to the blogosphere. I'm late for my lunchtime links. See you over there ...