Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger Heather Dinich stops by to wrap up the spring football season.
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 Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.
fendi (coral springs)
hd, do you think rick petri will turn this miami d line into the beasts that they should be? they have the talent to be the backbone of this team
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Yes, and I mentioned on the blog yesterday just how high the expectations are for Allen Bailey this year. I've only heard good things about Petri, so I expect that group to be very good.
If the Big 10 expansion takes at least 3 of the teams from the Big East, how likely is it that the ACC adds teams that are left out such as West Virginia, UConn etc.?
Heather Dinich (2:02 PM)
I still don't see what the Big Ten would gain by adding three Big East teams, and I know the ACC is happy with the 12 teams it has. Now, should one of its teams get stolen away by another league that would be a different story. But the ACC isn't going to add teams from the Big East just because they're lonely.
chris (richmond va)
will north carolina be able to score anough points to win games because they looked really bad in the spring game.......
Heather Dinich (2:03 PM)
That's one of the biggest questions in the Coastal Division, Chris, and one I'm not sure even Butch Davis has the answer to. I do expect that group to be better. Youth and injuries shouldn't be an excuse this season.
what do you expect from miami when they travel to ohio state? do you think they will be competitive?
Heather Dinich (2:03 PM)
Sure the Canes will be competitive. I think it will be a good game, but it will be hard not to go with the home team in that one. Ohio State is thinking NC. Miami is still trying to win the Coastal.
I know it's just the spring game but are you more confident in VT's defense now or are there still major questions?
Heather Dinich (2:05 PM)
The coaches -- and they're the ones who count -- seem to be more confident in the defense after this spring. I know they were happy with a few players who will have increased roles this year, a guy like Antone Exum for example. There are still questions, though, and only Boise State will reveal the answers.
In your complete honesty, how will Virginia Tech fair against Boise State come labor day?
Heather Dinich (2:07 PM)
Speaking of Boise State ... Well, honestly, I don't know. Virginia Tech will have the advantage of location and two 1,000-yard rushers and an experienced quarterback. Boise State has the advantage of returning just about everyone from last year. All but one player. And if the Broncos win that game, they could go undefeated. Again. I'd say they've got more to play for and should be expected to win that one.
Shaquille (South Carolina)
Hey im a Seminoles fan and I was wondering how good our defense will be this year under stoops? Because he did a good job at Arizona with a low level of talent.
Heather Dinich (2:09 PM)
You're right about Stoops. He has earned a reputation for making chicken salad ... Look at it this way: FSU's defense can't get much worse than it was last year. It has to be an upgrade and I think it will be. Stoops is putting the players in position to succeed.
Floyd T. (Clemson, SC)
Hi Heather,You posted an article yesterday about Coley tweeting -- someone else posted tweets from coach D Craig -- do you think that this can be an effective recruiting tool? if so, how? and why?
Heather Dinich (2:10 PM)
Definitely. There are a lot of potential players out there Tweeting, and it's not just how relentlessly Coley tweets, it's how EXCITED! he is when he TWEETS!! It's like he's HOPPED UP on some SKITTLES over FLORIDA STATE!!
Let's assume Shannon does not win Coastal division this year. Is he gone?
Heather Dinich (2:12 PM)
Hmm. I'd say depends on just how far out of the race he is. There's nothing Miami's AD has said to me that leads me to believe RS won't be there for a while, but the contract situation is still hanging out there (unless I missed it while I was out but I don't think so). I think he'd be given one more year after this one.
Hi Heaher. When all is said and done, which team do you think has the most upside to win a National Championship, UNC, GT or UVA. Lets's say 3-4 years from now?
Heather Dinich (2:13 PM)
I'd say Georgia Tech, and I say that because of Al Groh. I don't think he would have taken that DC job if he didn't think GT had a chance to win it all. Groh is a smart coach. He saw something there.
Do you see my Devils going to a bowl game this year?
Heather Dinich (2:14 PM)
It depends on how they fare in those swing games -- at Maryland, Virginia, at Wake Forest. If they can pick up wins against those teams, then yes.
Matt (Fort myers)
Ponder in New York, in December?
Heather Dinich (2:15 PM)
Depends on just how well the rest of the team plays. We saw what happened with C.J. Spiller last year. Plus, it depends on what the other candidates are doing obviously, but if Ponder plays the way he did last year, he should be there.
Daniel (Richmond, VA)
Nobody wants to see another VT/BC ACC championship game, but if VT is playing a different team such as Clemson or FSU do you think there would be a lot of interest?
Heather Dinich (2:17 PM)
Definitely. Virginia Tech fans always travel well, and either one of those teams would draw interest. Last year's game between Clemson and GT was one of the best ACCCGs I've been at. Take that back. It was THE best. And of course FSU back in a title game would be a huge boost.
Adam (Douglas, GA)
Whew...finally found you. You didn't give us a link to get to chat today
Heather Dinich (2:17 PM)
Shoot, sorry, but ACC fans are smart enough to figure it out, right?
The Boise State game proves nothing. If Virginia Tech is what everybody says that they are (a Top 5 team and National Championship contender) then they will dispatch a mid major team that possesses inferior talent to them in their own back yard. Period. If they lose that game, then the entire ACC shares in the humiliation.
Heather Dinich (2:19 PM)
Disagree. Oregon and TCU might feel the same way. And if Boise State is a top three team heading into the season, it's hardly a shame losing to them. Same can be said for VT's loss to Bama last year.
Dinich! Which big OOC game are you most looking forward to and which do you think will be the biggest challenge?
Heather Dinich (2:21 PM)
T.C.!! Tough question. There are a ton of good OOC games this year, but I think Miami-Ohio State tops my list, just narrowly edging VT-Boise, which is in my backyard. I'm eager to see just how good the Canes are.
Heather Dinich (2:21 PM)
And to follow up, I think that one will be the biggest challenge, too, Miami-Ohio State that is.
Is there a more important player to how the ACC season plays out than T.J. Yates?
Heather Dinich (2:23 PM)
Wow, great question, and I see where you're going with it, but what about Dave Shinskie at BC or if Kyle Parker doesn't come back to football? How about the health of JoshUA Nesbitt, Tyrod Taylor or Jacory Harris? It's not fair to pin a whole season on one guy, but yes, if Yates makes better decisions and cuts down on his turnovers, there's no reason UNC can't win the ACC.
Adam (New Hartford, NY)
HD, what does Tyrod Taylor have to do this year to get respected as one of the top QBs in the ACC, and possibly even the country? All the guy does is make plays and win games.
Heather Dinich (2:27 PM)
Well, last year he finished somewhere around 70th in the country in passing yards per game. Behind Thaddeus Lewis, Jacory Harris, Russell Wilson and Chris Turner. How much more will those numbers improve with Darren Evans and Ryan Williams out there? I was at the Nebraska game. I know what he can do in the clutch. If he gets the chance to flourish in a balanced offense, I think he'll get the recognition he deserves.
Heather, what do you think the odds are for Russell Wilson returning for his SR season?
Heather Dinich (2:29 PM)
Well, with baseball not a factor I think the odds are pretty good.
Alabama is expected to roll over Duke this year in Durham. If this happens does this hurt recruiting for Duke, or does playing a high caliber non-conference team help Duke's recruiting regardless of the result?
Heather Dinich (2:30 PM)
Aww, poor Duke. I think it only helps Duke because of the exposure, and while there might be a difference in talent right now, it should be a pretty even coaching match. I think it sells the program much more than playing NC Central.
Will (Metairie, LA)
Early take on the LSU-UNC opener in ATL? Two great defenses, but LSU is loaded on offense with skill players, and QB Jefferson is beginning his 2nd full year. The UNC offense was worse than LSU's. Tigers by 6, IMO.
Heather Dinich (2:31 PM)
I'm leaning towards UNC in that one. LSU's offense SHOULD be better, but that's because it was one of the worst in the country last year. I bet the UNC D is chomping at the bit to get at those guys.
Heather, what have you heard about the performance of GT's defensive front seven this spring?
Heather Dinich (2:33 PM)
I heard that the players are getting more comfortable with their roles and they're finding more spots for the guys who were sort of inbetween positions last year. Jason Peters is a guy to watch. He might have had the best spring of any of them.
Matthew (Renton, WA)
Will Miami ever be Miami again? I know, I know - the talent is there, but something has been missing ever sent Butch Davis & the eplayer he recruited moved on. Randy Shannon definitely seems to be a good man but do I have any reason to consider him anything more than a good recruiter/disciplinarian? Thanks.
Heather Dinich (2:35 PM)
Honestly, I don't think we'll know that until after this season. Some have argued that he has made some questionable in-game decisions. There really are no more excuses not to win there. He's got everything in place. Now it's time to see if he can coach them to a title.
Will O'Brien be able to last in Raleigh with a new boss?
Heather Dinich (2:36 PM)
Yes. His contract runs through 2015, and that team is capable of an eight-win season this year if everyone stays healthy. And of course, that's a huge IF in Raleigh.
Heather, VT has their toughest stretch in November, they like november... How likely are they to get through there unscathed?
Heather Dinich (2:37 PM)
Unlikely. Forget about Boise State. The Hokies have to beat Georgia Tech and win at North Carolina and at Miami the first three weeks of November. One of them will knock off Virginia Tech.
Drew (Chestnut Hill)
Heather, with BC's linebacking corps of Kuechly and Herzlich (if he can perform), do they have the best linebackers in the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:38 PM)
Hmm, North Carolina makes a tough argument as well, but I'd say yes. That's if Herzlich returns to his 2008 form, and I think it's waaaaay to early to assume how well Mark might be able to play.
Heather, you talked about the Hurricanes potentially "loaded" backfield this coming season. Do you think we finally see a 1000 yard season from a Miami RB this year?
Heather Dinich (2:41 PM)
It depends on a) how they're all used and b) how well the offensive line comes together. If it's a group effort, then probably not. Three players had over 400 yards last year, but one of them was Javarris James. If it's the Damien Berry show, or Graig Cooper comes back full strength, then it's very possible.
Adam (New Hartford, NY)
Heather, are you sick of all the expansion talk yet?
Heather Dinich (2:42 PM)
But of course ...
Which ACC team is poised to take the biggest hit after the 2010 season with regard to graduation and players leaving early for the NFL?
Heather Dinich (2:42 PM)
Well, the UNC guys had their chance to leave early but came back, but look at the hit that defense will take next year ...
Nick (Fort Myers)
who do you feel in the acc has the most talent on the offensive side of the ball? personally being a miami fan i feel that they have the deepest talent in the wr position as well as at rb
Heather Dinich (2:44 PM)
I'd say Florida State, and it starts with the fact they have all of their o-linement coming back, only lost one starter and have Christian Ponder, who had a better year than Jacory Harris. But yeah, Miami is one of the deepest teams in the ACC.
Do you think Montel Harris is a top 3 running back in the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:45 PM)
Heck yeah he is. He's one of the best in the country. He was NO. 18 in the country last year in rushing. All the more reason to keep him healthy. The Eagles have nada behind him.
Seems to me Jacory Harris "floats" alot of passes, rather than having zip on the ball. Wouldn't a guy like Whipple work on that? Do you think this is why there were so many INT's last year?
Heather Dinich (2:48 PM)
I think Jacory's main weakness last year was throwing vertically downfield. Plus, Whipple's game plan was no longer new, and as the season wore on, defenses started to figure it out. He's more accurate in executing those underneath passes, and defenses started to crowd those routes and dare him to throw it deep. Plus, he doesn't bring the added dimension of running. And his receivers could've helped him out a few more times.
David James (Bristol, CT)
If GT does better than expected do you see any press for Nesbitt in NY?
Heather Dinich (2:49 PM)
Not if he didn't get any last year, and not if he passes the way he did in the Orange Bowl.
Heather, while most all of us UVA fans recognize that Mike London is the right man for the job, saying the right things, and doing the right things, I think it's also safe to say optimism is at zero. I just can't see us being good (8+ wins) for at least 5 years and I imagine London will be gone by then if that's the case. Do you see any upside at all to this Cavalier squad?
Heather Dinich (2:50 PM)
I think London can get it done within five years. Virginia Tech should be a bit concerned about the progress he'll make recruiting in-state. He should bring more competition there. Upside to this year's squad is that London is getting Virginia back to the schemes that work.
Greg (Washington, DC)
Hi Heather! Wake Forest has managed to accumulate a pretty good number of playmakers on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. But even if the offensive line stays healthy this year, do the Deacs have enough talent up front to allow the team to contend in the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:52 PM)
Right now it's the biggest problem the Deacs have, Greg, probably even moreso than at QB. I think the interior defensive line is also a question mark. Those are two areas right there that could keep the Deacs out of a bowl game again.
Max (ocala, fl)
Heather, When i look at greg reid he reminds me so much of deon primetime sanders. can he establish himself as a shutdown corner as well as a return man?
Heather Dinich (2:53 PM)
Yeah, he's definitely a player to watch this year. I do think he'll give that secondary a boost and continue to impress as a returner.
Matty (Washington, DC)
How many years will the media continue to make excuses for Tom O'Brien? Last year, in the face of huge adversity, BC again finished second in it's division and had success with its second post-TOB coach. Have you ever thought that BC is simply a very good program that made TOB look good, not vice versa?
Heather Dinich (2:55 PM)
Who recruited those BC players? Who ran that BC program? When a program starts to slide, who's the first person to be blamed? (See: Bowden, Bobby). So when a program goes to bowl game after bowl game the coach gets no credit, it's the program?
Vickie (Burke, VA)
Hey Heather, I just watched your video clip about ACC teams that are most likely to play in a BCS bowl. Thanks for the nod to the Hokies for an at-large bid (I guess...), but I was surprised that you don't think any ACC team is ready to make a bid for the NC. Why not?? Which team is the closest to taking that next step?? Thanks!
Heather Dinich (2:58 PM)
Well, because teams like Alabama, Boise State, Ohio State and Texas are closer right now. Also because it's so tough to go undefeated, and when you do (Cincinnati, Boise State) it's not even a given to play in the NC. Not only is the ACC's OOC schedule unforgiving, but look at the November sked for the Hokies' we talked about. The ACC is so competitive they trip each other up.
Will Stephen Hill be carrying the WR load this year for GT, or is there another guy that can be counted on?
Heather Dinich (2:59 PM)
Hill has the ability to be the next great receiver, but Tyler Melton should help, and the A-backs should be catching more balls this year. I don't see it being a one-man show again.
Greg (Washington, DC)
Thanks, Heather. Am I correct to interpret your response as a very diplomatic suggestion that Wake Forest simply doesn't have the talent up front to be a viable contender this year? I only ask because the offensive line was supposed to be a strength last year, and that unit also underachieved. It is always difficult to figure out whether the problem has more or less to do with talent vs. system/coaching. Thanks again, and have a great weekend.
Heather Dinich (3:02 PM)
Well, I think Riley Skinner inadvertently (I butchered that spelling, sorry) had something to do with it. The staff had recruited great run blockers and then Riley comes out of nowhere and they readjust to a strong passing quarterback. Now they have to get back to run-based, option offense that needs strong run blockers. I think the defensive line will be ok, but the OL remains a problem area heading into summer.
Heather Dinich (3:03 PM)
Alright guys, my time is up here. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading the ACC wrap today. See you Monday.