Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

March 1, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Heather Dinich

Heather Dinich
  (12:59 PM)

Hey guys, I'm here! Thanks for joining. Let's go ...

Jboogie (Office Space, VA)

Heather, love the blog, but alas, I have a meeting during the "live" chat, so I'll shoot off this early. Saw Tyrod had good numbers working out (40 time, jumping, etc..) What's the take on him as a late draft pick? I know his size is killing him, but what's the word on Tyrod?

Heather Dinich
  (1:01 PM)

I'll give you the last thing his coach, Mike O'Cain said ... the truth is, he doesn't really know if Tyrod will get a fair shake from NFL scouts because of his size. Tyrod really impressed folks at the East-West shrine game, so they know he's talented, but I don't think anyone really knows if his future is at QB.

Garrett (Charleston, SC)

We all know my Tigers have a lot to work on for the offseason (developing Tajh, new offensive system and receivers, etc.) but what would you say is the one thing Dabo should focus on this offseason to have a successful 2011 season?

Heather Dinich
  (1:02 PM)

Well, I think you nailed it -- getting the offense in sync. I don't see a bigger issue facing them right now.

Allen (Boston )

How do u think Chase will do this year as BC's quarterback?

Heather Dinich
  (1:03 PM)

I think he'll be much better, especially under the direction of Kevin Rogers. The jump from Year 1 to Year 2 is usually pretty noticable.

Michael (Greenville,SC)

Hey Heather! Big fan of your blog. My question: do you think Clemson will finally break through this year and win the ACC? I know it's a long shot, but I really think having a new offensive coordinator will make a huge difference.

Heather Dinich
  (1:04 PM)

You're right -- it's a long shot, and I say that because I think it will take time for Boyd to become the QB they need him to be, simply because of the learning curve.

Silky (Woodbridge)

Will the ACC ever be as competitive as the top tier conferences such as the SEC and the Big Ten?

Heather Dinich
  (1:05 PM)

Competitive? Yes. I think the ACC HAS been as competitive as any conference out there. As good? That's a tough perception to change.

UVAGrad (Great Falls, Va)

After UVA's great recruiting year, can they surprise and go to a bowl?

Heather Dinich
  (1:06 PM)

I think you're tying together two things that aren't necessarily linked. Yes, UVA had a great recruiting class, but the majority of those players will be responsible for Virginia's future bowl games. Sure, some will have an immediate impact. But it's up to the upper classmen on the current roster and some redshirt freshmen, etc., to get the job done this year. I think they are still a year away.

allan (bristol, TN)

Even with all of the new coaches, quarterbacks, and more changes in the ACC than we care to think of, does Georgia Tech have any major points to say that they have a good shot at the Coastal?

Heather Dinich
  (1:07 PM)

There's no overriding strength with Georgia Tech that jumps out as something that separates them from the rest of the division. The best thing the Jackets have going for them? Everyone else is at a similar point.

Allen (Boston )

Do you think VT will have a powerful offense this year as they did last year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:08 PM)

I think last year was some record-setting numbers for the offense. No, not with a new quarterback and the loss of two talented tailbacks.

Alvah (Monrovia)

Will another team rise to the top beyond the usual Hokies or Seminoles in the ACC?

Heather Dinich
  (1:09 PM)

As of right now, those two will likely be the favorites as far as media picks go, but I absolutely think the door is open for a change, particularly in the Coastal Division. In the Atlantic, Florida State should be the clear-cut favorite based on what it returns and what it did last year.

Philipe (FFX)

With the dismissal of Friedgen, can/will Edsall keep Maryland competitive in the ACC?

Heather Dinich
  (1:10 PM)

No doubt. Friedgen left a talented team behind and lots of pieces in place.

Bash (McLean)

Can Tech rebound from the Orange Bowl lost or will they continue to play like a "lost dog" in big bowl games...

Heather Dinich
  (1:11 PM)

I have no doubt they'll rebound from that Orange Bowl performance. They rebounded from the JMU loss, didn't they? Frank Beamer made significant changes to get the program better. Whether or not those changes will get them to the "next level?" We have to wait to find out.

Josh Kestenbaum (Hall High School)

Will any ACC team win the national championship. Also, what do you think of Edsall leaving UConn for Maryland?

Heather Dinich
  (1:12 PM)

Yes, Florida State is (prematurely) being considered a contender this year and will have a good shot next year. North Carolina could have been a contender this past season if it weren't for the NCAA investigations. Virginia Tech is usually in the conversation. As for Maryland, Edsall says it was his dream job. I think the pressure is on him to do better than the ACC's coach of the year.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Is this Dabo's last shot? It's borderline absurd that a program with the fanbase and recruiting success of Clemson hasn't won a conference title since the 80's.

Heather Dinich
  (1:14 PM)

I don't think it's his LAST shot, unless he winds up with another losing season. But yeah, you're right -- not many programs have done less with what Clemson has had to work with, but that's not all Dabo. He needs some leeway with the new QB and OC changes this year.

Bill (Philippines, Baguio City)

Can the 'Noles continue their streak of top recruiting classes with the team already being loaded with talent?

Heather Dinich
  (1:14 PM)

Oh yeah. That staff knows how to get it done, plus, that sort of thing snowballs and the players tend to recruit each other.

Donell (Ashburn, VA)

Can the Heels take the ACC if Bryn Renner is as good as advertised? He definitely has the weapons on the outside.

Heather Dinich
  (1:15 PM)

No doubt. As long as they get some depth and durability at the tailback position, to me, Renner is the only other big question there.

Kenneth (NYC)

Will the ACC be able to get 2 BCS teams this year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:15 PM)

I'll believe it when I see it.

Seth (Tallahassee, FL)

How long do you see Stoops staying at FSU if he produces a top 5 defense this year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:16 PM)

You never know, but I would expect him to be a hot commodity. He's already proven himself to be a great coach. That's why Jimbo hired him.

jander75 (the asylum)

Any early word on the other QB's in Hokie camp beside LT and Ju-Ju? Can any of the prospects challege Ju-Ju for the back-up role?

Heather Dinich
  (1:17 PM)

I checked in on that when I was doing the spring previews, and in short, probably not. It's going to come down to the two of them right now.

Seth (Tallahassee, FL)

Will FSU's resurgence to the top catapult the ACC into the conversation with the SEC?

Heather Dinich
  (1:17 PM)

If it's playing an SEC team for the national title, sure.

FSUBIT (McLean)

Who is going to back up EJ at QB for the noles. He is injury prone

Heather Dinich
  (1:18 PM)

That's one question that should be answered this spring. Could be Rick Trickett's son.

jander75 (the asylum)

Do you think the staff changes at Tech will help on the recruiting front?

Heather Dinich
  (1:19 PM)

Yes .. did you read that lunch link on Billy Hite? It's good to have somebody replace him on the road, knowing how disenchanted he became with it all.

Murf (McLean)

Can FSU beat OK this year? They get them at home

Heather Dinich
  (1:19 PM)

We went through this one last week. I said they have a great chance. I think it will be a good game. But I still think Oklahoma wins.

Ryan (Atlanta)

Heather, isn't the hype for Golden a bit much? The guy hasn't really had a high position at a major level school (No, I don't count Virginia) and didn't even beat any MAC team above. 500. Sure Jimbo had the same hype a year ago and no head coaching expirence, but at least he worked under two of the games best coaches and won a national title as an OC.

Heather Dinich
  (1:20 PM)

I'm not sure how much "hype" there really is, Ryan. Anytime there's a new coach at Miami, it's going to get tons of attention. I think -- and Miami fans will correct me if I'm wrong -- it's more of a cautiously optimistic approach.

Max (CT)

Will Duke ever be a legitamite contender in the ACC?

Heather Dinich
  (1:21 PM)

Yes, but I also think the job is even harder than David Cutcliffe had thought it might be.

Ryan (Tampa, Fl)

Do you think the Va Tech coaching changes were more convoluted than helpful? I can't imagine how that situation is going to work out, where the guy responsible for coordinating the offense is not the one who manages it on game day. I understand Beamer is loyal, but when something isn't working you have to make a change, not rearrange the pieces in a confusing manner

Heather Dinich
  (1:22 PM)

I'll be honest -- I like this staff. It's an unusually good group of genuinely nice guys. They work extremely well together. If anyone can pull it off, they can. I spoke with Bryan Stinespring about it. He really is OK with it.

Dan (Boston)

BC's offense should start moving in the right direction this year... Any regression for the D due to the losses along the front 7?

Heather Dinich
  (1:24 PM)

If there's one defense in the ACC I would say is least likely to "regress," it's BC. They've got such a strong tradition there, and with the return of some standout linebackers, I think they'll continue to be a strength.

C-Weezy (MIAMI DADE, FL)

which ACC team do you think has had the best overall showing at the NFL Combine this year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:24 PM)

It's hard not to say North Carolina, simply because they've got the most guys there (12) and are getting the most ink.

Nathan (Kingsport, TN)

What was the last FBS game you went to that you weren't covering?

Heather Dinich
  (1:26 PM)

Wow ... that is a seriously tough question. I think it might have been Penn State - Ohio State in Beaver Stadium. Had to have been like a decade ago. All I remember is at the time it was the largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history.

MJ (Raleigh)

Hey HD, so UNC had more players at the combine than they did for some games this year. Oh what could have been

Heather Dinich
  (1:26 PM)

Imagine how Butch Davis feels.

Murf (VA)

Heather....its my birthday. Please tell me FSU runs the table in the ACC this year!

Heather Dinich
  (1:27 PM)

Happy birthday ... guess you're allowed one wish. :)

Nick (Mobile)

What was Kirby Hocutt thinking? You can't go home again.

Heather Dinich
  (1:27 PM)

Great question. I have no idea. Read the column in the lunch links from the Miami Herald today. Interesting take.

Ilsa (Falls Church)

Do you see Fridgen getting another opportunity? Despite his age, he knows how to coach

Heather Dinich
  (1:28 PM)

Lots of Fridge questions in here today. Yes, I think he'll wind up on another sideline somewhere, either in college or the NFL. I don't think he's done yet, and you're right, he's a good coach.

AsylumLeader (The Asylum)

HD, what are your early impressions of Golden Al, especially in regards to media access, availability and overall candidness in comparison to the last regime?

Heather Dinich
  (1:29 PM)

So far it's been a big difference in terms of media access, but I honestly got along with Randy well.

Ryan (Jax Beach )

If you had a guess, what ACC teams will be ranked @ the end of season?

Heather Dinich
  (1:30 PM)

Fun question. I'd guess Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech. If Russell Wilson is back, NC State.

Tran (Orlando, FL)

Will Miami finish ahead of Duke in the Coastal Division? I see a lot of losses on the 'canes schedule.

Heather Dinich
  (1:31 PM)

We're talking football, right? Yes. But it wouldn't surprise me if Miami lost to Duke. It wouldn't surprise me if any team on Duke's schedule lost. Except for maybe Stanford and Florida State.

BHB (Chantilly)

How much did Maryland suffer recruiting wise with Friedgen's departure and Edsall's hiring? Happy Birthday, Murf. Sorry FSU ill not run the table.

Heather Dinich
  (1:32 PM)

Lol ... I don't think it was a huge hit. Much like Al Golden, Randy Edsall did a good job of scrambling. It was a typical, average, Maryland class.

Steve K (Arlington, VA)

HD ... obviously biased here (UVa alum), but do you think ACC fans of other schools are a bit quick to dismiss UVa as a potentially great program because of the Chokies recent run? Everyone seems to forget UVa won 7-9 games every year for almost 20 years from the mid-to-late 1980s to the mid 2000s (including lots of wins over VT). And they turned the biggest profit in the ACC last year WITHOUT a good FB OR MBB team.

Heather Dinich
  (1:33 PM)

You might be right. Virginia has tradition, it's got facilities, a beautiful campus, and now it has a great staff to run the show. There's no reason it can't be a consistently ranked program.

Dan (Boston)

Who ya got - 2008 Herzlich or 2011 Keuchly?

Heather Dinich
  (1:34 PM)

Both? Kuechly.

#1 Cane Fan (The Insane Asylum )

Tran (Orlando, FL)Will Miami finish ahead of Duke in the Coastal Division? I see a lot of losses on the 'canes schedule.Heather Dinich (1:31 PM)We're talking football, right? Yes. But it wouldn't surprise me if Miami lost to Duke. It wouldn't surprise me if any team on Duke's schedule lost. -----------Really hope this was an effort to get Canes fans going. You can't be serious.

Heather Dinich
  (1:36 PM)

I kid you not. I'm telling you, it's only a matter of time before Duke beats somebody it's not supposed to.

Nathan (Morganton, NC)

Is Lambert leaving for Charlotte a bigger blow to Wake or a bigger boost for the 49ers?

Heather Dinich
  (1:37 PM)

I think it's a big boost for Lambert more than anything. He's getting his shot to be a head coach. Obviously the timing isn't good for Jim Grobe.

Bert (Augusta, GA)

How much improvement are you expecting in year 2 of Al Groh's defense?

Heather Dinich
  (1:39 PM)

Moderate. I'd say significant, but it's not like five-star recruits suddenly joined the team. Obviously it should be better now that the players are more comfortable in it. It should be noticable, let's put it that way.

Mike (The Asylum - Hooville)

Isn't ANY Duke football win them "beating someone they aren't supposed to"? C'mon wo-man!

Heather Dinich
  (1:40 PM)

Ha! Poor Dukies. No, they beat Virginia. I can STILL remember them almost knocking off VT AT Lane Stadium in Cutcliffe's second year with a backup QB.

TJ (Virginia)

Are you not sick of hearing people express sympathy for UNC? They were running a dirty program after Davis hired a man who is a known cheater. I don't feel sorry for that team in the least bit for not having those athletes on the field.

Heather Dinich
  (1:41 PM)

I don't think it's so much sympathy I'm hearing as just a wow-factor realization with all of these guys at the combine of what could have been.

Micah (Raleigh, NC)

With such an easy schedule what can I expect from NC State next year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:43 PM)

My job would be much easier if Russell Wilson made up his mind. Every NC State question I get, there's a "with Russell" and a "without Russell" answer. I'd say an eight-win season is a safe answer with either QB.

Mike (The Asylum - Hooville)

How big is it for the Canes that the Nuts from Columbus will be without five fairly key players coming into Miami this fall?

Heather Dinich
  (1:43 PM)

How big is it for Ohio State that Miami has an entirely new staff?

fsufan (virginia)

How does FSU's offensive line look with the holes from graduation?

Heather Dinich
  (1:45 PM)

Well, obviously the two guys they're replacing are two of the best, but I think there's enough experience and depth that they should be OK there.

Mac (NC)

Other than FSU, what teams in the ACC have the most realistic chances to be nationally relevant in the next few years? And by relevant I mean potentially compete for a national championship, not just win the conference.

Heather Dinich
  (1:46 PM)

I would say Virginia Tech, based on its past, North Carolina, Clemson and North Carolina, based on their ability to recruit. Jury is still out on Miami. Way out.

Kevin (Colorado)

Assuming that VT runs the table next year (very possible), do they have the SOS to get to the NC over let's say a 1-loss SEC team?

Heather Dinich
  (1:47 PM)

Great question. Depends on who the loss is to. I would be surprised. I'm thinking of my own poll and would probably have a hard time ranking them ahead.

Buck (Chestnut Hill (Eagle Country))

HD - your top 25 seems like it will not contain Anthony Castonzo. How can every draft projection have him in the first 20 picks of all of college football, but he can't crack the ACC top 25?

Heather Dinich
  (1:48 PM)

Patience.

Jim (Tallahassee)

Hi Heather. When do you think Christian Ponder will go in the draft?1st or 2nd round?

Heather Dinich
  (1:50 PM)

Apparently he was outstanding at the combine. I read somewhere he was better than Cam Newton. I'm hardly a draft expert, but I would think he's improved his stock since the season ended.

Noleforlife (DC)

With Florida State having a great recruiting year do you see them as a top 5 teaming entering the season?

Heather Dinich
  (1:50 PM)

Again, I don't think fans should tie the 2011 recruiting classes in with the 2011 results. Some will have FSU ranked that high. I think they're more of a 7-12 range.

edu300 (The Asylum -Tallahassee branch)

Besides Keuchly, which defensive players will have the biggest impact in the ACC this year.

Heather Dinich
  (1:51 PM)

Quinton Coples and Brandon Jenkins come to mind quickly.

Brian (Roanoke)

I feel with VT's veteran line this year they can easily make up for Logan Thomas and his inexperience. What do you think?

Heather Dinich
  (1:53 PM)

I think Logan Thomas will be fine, eventually. Once he gets the technique to match his physical abilities, he should be one of the best in the ACC.

Steve K (Arlington, VA)

LOL @ Kevin. VT run the table? Chokies have been good for two losses EVERY season before or after Michael Vick.

Heather Dinich
  (1:54 PM)

They DID just go undefeated in the ACC, though ... that counts.

AsylumGodfather (the Asylum)

Who do you see as teams in your way to early ACCCG 2011?

Heather Dinich
  (1:54 PM)

2010 rerun. This time FSU wins.

Josh (Charlotte)

Mike Glennon...1st Team All-ACC in 2011. You heard it here first.

Heather Dinich
  (1:54 PM)

And probably last. I still think Russell Wilson comes back.

Jamie (Wahoo4LifeVille)

Heather, I have to agree the Hoos have the POTENTIAL for a quick tunraround. However, I was hoping you could explain again (using small words) to the Chokies that your choice of UVA doesn't mean you or we as fans expect them to rule the ACC next season ;)

Heather Dinich
  (1:56 PM)

Ha ... No, I don't expect Virginia to suddenly win the Coastal in 2011. But I do think that of the teams that had losing records last year (save for Clemson and Georgia Tech), the Hoos will make the most progress the fastest.

Nurse Ratched (The Insane Asylum)

I don't think NCSU should let Wilson "come back" after he has played this prima donna diva roll!

Heather Dinich
  (1:56 PM)

And since when is there anything wrong with THAT role? :)

Ryan (The U)

Hasn't Jacory run out of chances by now? Every time I see him drop back I know it's going to be a 50-yard bomb for an interception. Morris may or may not be a better QB, but he sure isn't nearly as big of a liability.

Heather Dinich
  (1:57 PM)

Not with the new staff, and both Golden and Jedd Fisch made good points to me -- they're not judging the QBs only on their penchant for INTs. It's the complete package -- managing the offense, leader in the huddle, knowledge of the game, etc.

Nathan (Kingsport, TN)

Any candidates for Heisman in the ACC this year?

Heather Dinich
  (1:58 PM)

We've been through this one before, but to me, Luke Kuechly is the top candidate. I know, I know, defenders never win it ...

Jboogie (Office Space, VA)

Made it out of my meeting! My last question for the day; do you think the moves with Tech's coaches is a gracefuly way of pushing Stienspring out of the coordinator role and bringing in Ralph?

Heather Dinich
  (1:59 PM)

No. Stinespring is still the OC.

Nurse Ratched (The Insane Asylum)

But doesn't Golden, at some poin t, have to say, "is a INT less important that an leader in the huddle?"

Heather Dinich
  (2:01 PM)

For those of you wondering, the Insane Asylum is the nickname blog readers have given to their digital dysfunctional family, othewise found in the comments section of the blog posts. I don't know what I'd do without them. As for this question, you've got to remember, INTs are also a product of missed assignments, poor protection, wrong routes -- not always the QB fault, as in the Ohio State game.

Heather Dinich
  (2:01 PM)

Ok guys, my time is up. See you back in the blogosphere. Thanks for joining!hd