Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here. Let's go!
FB the bear (The Asylum)
Greetings from the Asylum HD, Bruce Feldman had a lot of great things to say about Logan Thomas, How long do you think it will take before we see his true potential?
Heather Dinich (1:01 PM)
Greetings. I think Hokies fans can rest assured he'll be ready by the time it matters most -- the ACC opener against Clemson. The best thing about VT's friendly noncon sked is that it gives Logan some time to work the kinks out.
Darryl (Concord NC)
Why is it taking so long for the NCAA to deliver the news on UNC football prgram? It seems like other programs under investigation get final word fairly quickly relative to this situation. As an insider, what do you think sanctions will be if any? How will this impact incoming recruiting class?
Heather Dinich (1:03 PM)
1. Because it's the NCAA. 2. Your guess is as good as mine. 3. The fact that it didn't turn any of them away during the recruiting process was impressive, but you never know. Look at what happened to USC. The bigger question is if the sanctions are significant, will it allow players to transfer without making them sit out a year?
LifeLongNole (Tallahassee, Fl)
What is the talk around the office about the Tressel thing?
Heather Dinich (1:05 PM)
Well, my home doubles as my office, and here in this house, the talk is he deserves a harsher penalty.
How will Virginia Tech's playcalling change with a new person calling the plays?
Heather Dinich (1:05 PM)
I think it's less about the person calling the plays and more about the quarterback executing them. I expect it to be tweaked a bit, but only to fit Logan Thomas.
Will you be making a trip to Tallahassee to cover the Noles spring practice?
Heather Dinich (1:06 PM)
I'll leave tomorrow morning. Well before you open your eyes.
It seems to me at Clemson putting two SEC teams on their schedule automatically takes them out of any national conversation. Of course if they could win both it would do quite the opposite, but they have both division winners from last year yet again. Why do they do this?
Heather Dinich (1:07 PM)
Well, South Carolina is South Carolina. As for Auburn, I think the Tigers can win that one this year. And for Dabo Swinney's sake, he better win against South Carolina, too.
Chris (Coral Gables)
Hey HD, do you think Coach Golden's depth chart based on effort, his seeming lack of energy and enthusiasm, and the workouts he has been putting the guys through will all lead to an immediate impact for The U or do you think it will be another mediocre 7-6 or 8-5 season?
Heather Dinich (1:09 PM)
I think it's definitely helping, Chris, but I also think that will depend a lot on the quarterback situation, and how much better Miami gets at winning the turnover battle and staying disciplined.
Mike (Salem, VA)
HD. You're on record saying my 'Noles will lose 2 games this season & 1 of them was OU. Who's the other 1?
Heather Dinich (1:10 PM)
I am, you're right, but I never said who the other was, just that I don't think they'll make it through the ACC sked undefeated. If Clemson beats Auburn, that could be the one.
Hey HD, will FSU open up the offense a little more with Manuel or try and keep it simple like last year?
Heather Dinich (1:10 PM)
Like any QB, I would expect him to shoulder more with experience.
what are realistic expectations for the terps in year 1 of the edsall tenure. Can they contend for the division title with danny o'?
Heather Dinich (1:12 PM)
Edsall inherited a good team, and yes, they can contend, but Florida State is a huge obstacle in their way. They've got a significant change in schemes. I think it's realistic to expect a bowl appearance, but it's too much to ask to win the division in Year 1.
AFter you spent some time down in Coral Gables last week do you forsee the Canes having a better year than last year? Acc title game appearance?
Heather Dinich (1:14 PM)
Better than seven wins? It's possible because so many other teams in the Coastal Division have just as many questions to answer, but the schedule is tough and the bye week is early. Those tough offseason workouts are going to have to pay off in November.
First off, i LOVE how you said the tigers will win the auburn/clemson game...but my question is: If you pick one ACC player for heisman contention, who is he?
Heather Dinich (1:16 PM)
Lol ... CYA, right? I think Clemson will win that game. And my pick for ACC Heisman candidate is Luke Kuechly. I know, I know, defenders never win ...
Heather, do you have any sense what the feeling is like in Chapel Hill for the 2011 season? I get the sense of optimism with so many young players getting on the field last year but they do lose a lot.
Heather Dinich (1:16 PM)
I would say cautiously optimistic. Not even Bryn Renner knows what to expect. More on that tomorrow.
Jeremy (Chesapeake, VA)
So there's been a lot of VT talk about Logan Thomas and the offense, but what about the defense? Do we just assume they get better under Bud Foster?
Heather Dinich (1:19 PM)
Never assume anything, especially since Foster will probably lose some bodies to the offense. Chris Drager is moving back to tight end from defensive end, and James Hopper, a backup safety, is reportedly moving to running back to help the depth there. Should be an interesting spring for the Hokies' D.
It sounds like you will be in town for Ponder's Pro Day tomorrow. How do you think he will fair?
Heather Dinich (1:20 PM)
I will, but honestly, I'm not sure how much of it I'll see since my main focus is talking to the current team. I have always thought, though, that when healthy, Ponder is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. I have said he's better than Jake Locker.
Josh Smith (Atlanta, GA)
What are you looking for when UNC starts its spring ball tomorrow? Do you think they will show you enough to list them as a potential ACC Champ?
Heather Dinich (1:22 PM)
Two main things: One, how the quarterbacks progress, and two, how the depth at running back looks. Three key players graduated, and it's an area I think they need to get better and stronger at to be a true contender.
Heather, in your opinion, which program can consistently compete for championships, UVA or GT?
Heather Dinich (1:23 PM)
Why do I have to choose one? I think both have good coaching staffs, good facilities, and if they have strong recruiting classes can get that tradition back.
Lamar (South Beach, Miami FL)
HD, how do my Canes look at the cornerback position?? I'm worried about that position the most as we near the season. We lost B Harris, DVD and Ryan Hill (all starters). Thanks!
Heather Dinich (1:25 PM)
I think it's too early to tell. There are a lot of young guys trying to make names for themselves. Thomas Finnie was in high school a few months ago don't forget. That group has a lot to prove.
Do you think it's reasonable to expect the NCSU defense, as opposed to the offense which was the stronger portion of the team, to be the reason the Wolfpack improves signficantly this fall, if we are continue improving as a team?
Heather Dinich (1:27 PM)
Well, I think the Pack's defense wasn't too bad last year. You're talking about one of the top scoring defenses in the country, and to me, that's the most important stat. Across the board, though, NC State's defense took a huge step forward last year.
How do you feel about Audie Cole in Nate's old spot?
Heather Dinich (1:27 PM)
I like it. Cole is an underrated player, and he'll be fine there.
Shane Beamer (Blacksburg, VA)
Do you see us being the best recruting headquarters in the acc next year?
Heather Dinich (1:29 PM)
I see a definite upgrade, but the best? Florida State might have something to say about that.
Sam (Greensboro, NC)
Assuming Russell Wilson doesn't come back for next season, do you expect an Amato style slump after the loss of a great QB, or has O'Brien recruited well enough to retain a top 25 (or at a vote getting) team?
Heather Dinich (1:30 PM)
Even without Wilson, TOB has said this year's team is the deepest and healthiest it has been during his tenure there, and I KNOW he's confident in Glennon. While they probably won't be a Top 25 team heading into the season without Wilson, the schedule is favorable enough they could finish as one.
Rich (Chestnut Hill)
BC seems to be in a good position to improve next year. I know we lost some important linemen and we have a tough schedule, but with the hiring of Kevin Rodgers, a bunch of our most important defensive and offensive players returning, and a pretty strong recruiting class, what do you see as BC's ceiling and what do you think is our floor?
Heather Dinich (1:32 PM)
Sounds like a good blog series, thanks. :) Having FSU at home on a Thursday night is in the Eagles' favor, but finishing with back-to-back road trips against Notre Dame and Miami is not. I think the Eagles will be better, but I'm not sure how much that will translate into a better record. I expect something along the lines of an eight-win season.
Clint (Pelzer, SC)
Have you seen the videos of Clemson's spring practice offense? Talk about fast. I can imagine even the announcers will have trouble keeping up.
Heather Dinich (1:33 PM)
The only thing that matters though is the speed at which Dabo Swinney can get back to the ACC title game.
Buck (Eagle Country (Chestnut Hill))
When does the shine star to wear off J Grobe's halo? The glory days for Wake are getting further in the rear view. How long will past performance and good things off the field keep him in good graces?
Heather Dinich (1:34 PM)
Funny you should ask. I answer that very question this afternoon in the blog. Long story short: Grobe is still the right man for the job.
Does David Wilson have what it takes to carry the load by himself? I know you mentioned Hopper earlier as an answer for the depth, but are there others to look at splitting time or do you see him on the field 90% of the time?
Heather Dinich (1:35 PM)
I'll have a better idea once they get going this spring, and so will the staff, but as of right now, it seems as if he HAS to be able to carry the load.
Ryan (Jacksonville Beach )
Do you see FSU sweeping the State again this year?
Heather Dinich (1:37 PM)
I think it depends on what kind of a season the Noles have heading into the Florida game. That one is on the road. On paper, right now, I'd say yes.
GT doesnt stand a chance to win the Coastal this year, and possibly any other year if they continue to run the same offense under CPJ. Does CPJ change his game plan or does GT change their game plan?
Heather Dinich (1:39 PM)
You're kidding, right? They ran that offense when they won the ACC title, right? The only thing that needs to change in Atlanta is the Jackets' attitude.
A depleted OSU team visits S. Fla this year. Who do you have winning this year?
Heather Dinich (1:40 PM)
The more that comes out of Columbus, the more I'm liking the Canes.
If you had to win one game with any ACC qb, who would it be?
Heather Dinich (1:42 PM)
Considering the turnover at the position, that's a tough question this year. We haven't seen enough of half of these guys, and let's say Russell Wilson isn't an option. I'd probably go with Danny O'Brien right now.
Is offensive line the biggest question mark for FSU?
Heather Dinich (1:43 PM)
I would say so. McMahon and Hudson are going to be tough to replace, but the Noles have experience and talent there.
Heather, do you think coach Golden will be able to translate wins on the practice field to wins on game day? Nobody doubts the guy's enthusiasm and work ethic, but his W-L history says it might be another mediocre run in Miami. Randy Shannon could recruit, but had no clue when to call a timeout. Any reason to think Golden will be better in that regard?
Heather Dinich (1:44 PM)
A lot of people seem to be getting caught up in Golden's record at Temple, but as a native of Northeast PA, I know how tough it is to win at Temple. What he did there was impressive. When it comes to Miami, though, I don't care who is coaching -- I've been doing this long enough that I'll believe it when I see it.
If FSU gets the O-line playing good, do you think they can run the table this year?
Heather Dinich (1:45 PM)
No. But I said that about the Hokies and the ACC sked last year, too.
If FSU beats OU and is a top 10 team all season and the rest of the ACC plays like it did last year with 2-3 teams in the top 25 at a time, will the conference gain any respect? If not what will it take?
Heather Dinich (1:47 PM)
If FSU beats Oklahoma, it's automatically a national title contender, and that's exactly what the league needs. So yes.
Joe (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Have read lots about QB competitions for starter position at various schools in ACC - especially Miami. Any competition for Rettig at BC this Spring/Fall in your view?? Thanks..
Heather Dinich (1:48 PM)
I doubt it. Rettig went through the ringer last year a true freshman starter. They're not going to start from scratch again, and with Kevin Rogers taking over the OC job, he'll have some experience to mold.
Danny O'Brien over EJ Manuel? EJ's won 2 straight bowl games for the Noles! Get back to us after you see EJ later this week.
Heather Dinich (1:49 PM)
Yeah, I know. I thought about EJ, and I think he'll have a great season, but the ACC's Rookie of the Year is only going to get better.
The second year under a new coach is when we tend to see real progress as a team adjusts to a new system. There is a lot of hype about FSU going into next season. Are FSU fans getting set up for disappointment next year?
Heather Dinich (1:51 PM)
I have said and written before that the hype is a little overblown. I would guess that if you asked the coaches on the staff, they would say that they're not where they want to be yet depth-wise. Very close, but not quite. That doesn't mean this year will be a disappointment. I just don't think it will be a national title.
Florida plays an easy OOC sked year in and year out, with the only exception being FSU (which sucked in the last 5 years anyways). If VT runs the table, you're telling me they won't be in contention for the nat. title?
Heather Dinich (1:53 PM)
If they're undefeated, you have to consider them in contention, yes, but in the end, I don't think the voters will give them enough credit for that schedule. Of course, it depends on whether or not any other undefeated teams are out there and who they are.
Rob (Hampton Beach)
only going to get better without his best receiver? believe it when i see it...
Heather Dinich (1:54 PM)
Terps are plenty deep at WR without Torrey Smith. The bigger question is how O'Brien adapts to the new offense.
Any follow-up on how Beamer's long-time staffers are handling the role changes in Blacksburg? Has to be tough on them
Heather Dinich (1:54 PM)
I think it's been mixed reviews, but Billy Hite and I traded emails and he seems happy.
Brendan, Fort Lauderdale [via mobile]
Heather, when you visit campuses for Spring ball, what are the things you look at when trying to get a feel for how a team's season may flesh out?
Heather Dinich (1:55 PM)
Brendan the truth is you glean little from watching a spring practice or two. I learn MUCH more from talking to the players and coaches and people around the program about what direction it's going.
Tom (Atlanta, GA)
Who do you think will start at RB for UNC and what are you thoughts on the Defense with so many play-makers graduating?
Heather Dinich (1:57 PM)
Well, you've got to start with Ryan Houston I think, but they need more. There are some younger guys in the mix, but right now I'd say Houston. As for the defense, it starts up front, and they should be strong there again.
HD, FSU's D turnaround in year 1 was impressive. Do you think with the 2nd year in Stoops system, with more experience, and the influx of talent and depth at all positions that FSU's D will be elite next year?
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
They had a top 20 scoring D last year, and yes, I think they can be even better, particularly in the pass defense.
Any reason to be optimistic for my hokies on D?
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Bud Foster counts as a reason. Not to mention that Jayron Hosley guy.
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Ok guys, my time is up here. Thanks for joining me and see you next week. If you see me in Tally this week, say hi.hd