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Tag:N.C. State
Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 2:51 pm
 

SEC expansion: Who's No. 14?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Baylor's
last-ditch legal effort to save the Big 12 is cute and all, but let's be realistic: Texas A&M to the SEC is something that A&M wants, the SEC wants, and even the Big 12 seems to want in an effort to put the Aggies behind them. Baylor, being Baylor, is not going to be able to hold back a tide that strong for very long. (For a visual representation of the effectiveness of the Bears' efforts, click here.*)

Which means, yes, A&M is going to become SEC school No. 13 and yes, before long the SEC is going to add school No. 14. No. 14 may not be able to join the Aggies in their new digs as soon as 2012 (it's possible -- arguably even likely at this late stage -- the SEC goes one season with an unbalanced divisional setup), but there's no way Mike Slive and Co. will stay at 13 one day longer than they have to.

So who's got next in the SEC expansion race? Breaking down the candidates in no particular order (and reminding you that a "gentleman's agreement" is in place that will prevent any expansion into states where the SEC already has a school):

MISSOURI

Pros: Excellent academics is a major plus for SEC presidents. Ties to both St. Louis and Kansas City television markets. Could be a candidate for Big Ten expansion as well. Well-supported basketball program.

Cons: Despite recent successes, not a traditionally nationally-relevent football program. Zero competitive history with any current SEC member and not even much with A&M. Little to gain in SEC recruiting by expanding to Missouri. Debatable how much impact in those major markets Mizzou actually has. Trickier to add team to West than East; would either require ignoring geography or moving current West team (Auburn?**) to the East.

WEST VIRGINIA

Pros:
Rabidly supported, traditionally strong football program with plenty of success vs. SEC. Hoops program would give SEC a boost, too. Adding school for East division would bring geographic balance opposite A&M.

Cons: Not connected to any major market and expanding into West Virginia does nothing for SEC recruiting. Presidents sensitive to SEC's reputation may not want a university not considered a strong academic school.

N.C. STATE

Pros:
Access to Raleigh TV market and fertile North Carolina recruiting grounds. More geographically accessible than other candidates. "Sleeper" football program enjoys high level of financial/fan support. Would join the East.

Cons: Despite that support, school has rarely fielded championship-level teams and won't move national needle. Academics aren't a minus, but may not be a Mizzou-style plus, either.

VIRGINIA TECH

Pros:
Most powerful, recognizable football program among potential/likely candidates; would hypthetically compete for East championships from moment of arrival. Sizable (if not national) following in Virginia and along Eastern seaboard. Could offer potential inroads in Virginia recruiting. Would join the East.

Cons: Swears up and down school is loyal to ACC. No real history with any SEC school.

OKLAHOMA

Pros:
Just hear out the scenario here: with the Sooners poised to force Texas's hand by jumping to the Pac-12 -- taking Oklahoma State with them and destroying the Big 12 in the process -- Mike Slive makes a preemptive strike against the potential Longhorn/Sooner Pac-16 by inviting the Sooners, Cowboys, and a third Big 12 castoff (Mizzou?) to form a 16-team SEC. Auburn and Alabama both move East and leaving the new SEC West looking like this: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Missouri. The blockbuster move secures the SEC a gigantic new TV rights deal, keeps the Sooners and Aggies out from under the Longhorns' thumb, and even approaches competitive divisional balance.

Cons: This is exceedingly unlikely.

But if Texas really is planning to join the Sooners in the Pac-12, that may be Slive's best option. With all due respect to the other four teams mentioned here, not one is a slam-dunk choice to justify its addition as a 14th team, much less a 15th or 16th if Larry Scott's new league redefines the college landscape. When all is said and done, the guess here is that either Missouri (or possibly N.C. State) gets the invite ... and then the SEC stops to catch its breath to figure out if 16 is a luxury or a necessity.

*Via CBSSports.com's own Will Brinson.

**The Tigers are the easternmost West team and most of their traditional rivalries -- Georgia, Tennessee, Florida -- are in the East. The issue would be what to do with the Iron Bowl with Auburn and Alabama in separate divisions; would the league risk having the Tigers and Tide play each other on consecutive weeks?




Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:50 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 4:41 pm
 

What I learned from the ACC (Sept. 3)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1) Unproven UNC QB Bryn Renner answered doubters with a record setting day. Renner only attempted two passes during his freshman year, one of them fell incomplete. In his first career start on Saturday against James Madison, the sophomore quarterback once again only missed his receiver once. Unfortunately it was intercepted, but it was the only miscue in Renner's 22-for-23 performance against the Dukes. Renner's 95.7% completion rate set a new ACC record and was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to give Everett Withers his first head coaching victory.

Renner's opposition will get much more difficult as the season goes on and teams get to prepare for the first-year starter, but that's where he will be aided by a two-headed rushing attack that also looked sharp on Saturday. Redshirt senior Ryan Houston and redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard both returned from injuries just in time to combine for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Combine their success with the reliable Dwight Jones receiving, and the quarterback position no longer looks like a question mark in Chapel Hill.

2) The ACC at least has the capability to put up big points - Of the ten ACC teams with a game under their belt, eight teams scored at least 29 points with the entire conference averaging AVERAGE points on the weekend thus far. Granted, only Wake Forest and Boston College played teams from an AQ conference (both lost) and six of the conference's opponents were FCS teams, but for a conference that has been criticized at times for a lack of offensive talent it was a nice change to see some points. For Clemson it took awhile before Chad Morris' signature offense got clicking, but the 31 second half points were testament that it is capable of wearing down a defense. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech's 60+ point performances can be attributed to a combination of their opposition (Appalachian State and Western Carolina) and some explosive playmakers. North Carolina and North Carolina State both piled on late TD's against their FCS opponents, and Florida State's defense contributed as much as their offense in the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe.

3) FSU's greatest offense might be their defense. Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles had a matchup advantage over the Warhawks as soon as the teams hit the field. But that fact should not take anything away from the impressive performance from the Florida State defense. ULM's offense was held to just 191 yards of offense and despite 39 rushing attempts, the Warhawks could not collect more than 99 yards. Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine were physical in the trenches while the Seminoles' back seven, led by safety Lamarcus Joyner, swarmed to the ball to stuff Warhawk receivers when quarterback Kolton Browning tried to utilize under routes on third downs. In fact, Florida State's ten third-down stops were a key in keeping ULM's running game from gathering any kind of momentum. The coaching staff will be focusing on Charleston Southern, but I'll say it: that kind of defensive performance will be needed if the Seminoles want to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.

4) Georgia Tech's offense shows explosion, and more of the same bad habits. Paul Johnson's first two seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach had 9+ wins both seasons and an ACC title. So there was no surprise that Yellow Jacket fans were concerned with 2010's 6-7 finish that included dropping five of their final six games. One of the reasons Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch was trouble holding onto the ball. No FBS team lost more fumbles than Georgia Tech (20) in 2010, and they ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin. So while there was plenty to celebrate with the offensive performance in the season opener, there are also plenty of red flags.

The Yellow Jackets totaled 662 yards of offense, the most for any Georgia Tech team since 2000. Tevin Washington had more passing yards in the first quarter (148) than any quarterback had in an entire game during the 2010 season. Stephen Hill's four catches for 181 yards provided support to claims that he was set to be the next great Georgia Tech receiver in the line of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. But Georgia Tech still fumbled the ball six times, luckily only losing the ball twice. Thursday's season opener showed Georgia Tech fans that this offense is dangerous. They can be dangerously good, but also dangerously destructive if they can't fix their turnover issues.

5.) Maryland - Miami - The opening weekend in the ACC wraps up on Monday night when Miami visits College Park with a shortened roster to kick off the conference schedule. It will be the first game for new head coaches Al Golden and Randy Edsall, and I'm positive we will have plenty to learn about both squads. Keep it here at the Eye on College Football for all your ACC coverage.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Even post-A&M, 16-team conferences are no lock

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



Texas A&M
announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.

The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.

Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.

But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.

Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.

Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.

But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.

That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).

Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.

The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?

When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.

14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.

*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.

**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.



Posted on: August 22, 2011 6:39 pm
 

Roundtable: AP poll vs. Coaches

By Eye on College Football Bloggers

Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:

The preseason AP poll is out and there's a few differences-of-opinion between the media and the Coaches' Poll. Which of those opinions does the AP have right--or wrong?

Adam Jacobi: I'm still extremely leery of putting Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in the top 10 (top nine, even, I suppose), but considering that this was the case in the coaches' poll too, I guess the Aggies and Cowboys are there to stay (until they lose).

The AP left Penn State out of the Top 25, and though the Nittany Lions are really 27th instead of 25th (i.e. not that big of a difference), I'm perfectly fine with that. I don't see their candidacy for the Top 25 lasting past the Alabama game, or reinvigorating itself at very many other points in the season. JoePa is notorious for slow-playing his quarterback situations--remember when Daryll Clark wasn't named starter until a week or two before the '08 season, then won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year?--but I'm completely unsold on both Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin at this point, and thus unsold on PSU too. I find it interesting that Arkansas only dropped from 14th in the coaches' poll to 15th in the AP after Knile Davis went down. I think the actual impact of his injury is going to be much more substantial. Agree?
Tom Fornelli: I'm not as surprised by Arkansas only dropping a spot, because I believe in our own Brett McMurphy's ballot he said that the Knile Davis injury occurred after ballots had to be sent in. Had the injury happened a few days earlier, I believe Arkansas would have found itself closer to 20th.

AJ: Facts are for weenies, Tom.

TF: I do agree with your sentiments on Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. While I'm more confident in Oklahoma State, I'm just not sure that either is a top 10 team at the moment, and if the preseason poll is supposed to be an educated guess on how things will look at the end of the season, then I am really hesitant about boththose teams being in the top ten. One of them, maybe. But both? No.

Another team that I feel is ranked too high right now is Florida State. I understand that the Seminoles got back on the right track last season under Jimbo Fisher, but this is still a team that lost four games last season and sent its starting quarterback off to the NFL. I'm not knocking E.J. Manuel or anything, but a four-loss team with a new quarterback suddenly vaults into the top six in both polls? Am I the only one who thinks this doesn't make sense?

Chip Patterson: I think voters are remembering the way Florida State finished their season (an impressive performance in a 44-33 loss to Virginia Tech without Ponder, and knocking off the SEC runner-up in the Chick Fil-A Bowl) rather than looking at the team that lost back-to-back games to N.C. State and North Carolina.  The Seminoles have their eyes set on returning to the top five, and arguably have their best team since 2005.  Ponder's health issues have had Manuel on constant stand-by over the last two seasons, and the junior has a 4-2 record as a starter.  The Seminoles have a pair of scrimmages on the schedule before facing top-ranked Oklahomain Tallahassee on Sept. 17.  I expect that game will reveal a lot about both teams, and the outcome could shift the landscape in the hunt for the national title.

But to the question at hand: how bout them 'Neers? After the Big East was shut out of the coaches' version, West Virginia snuck into the AP poll to keep the conference from being absent in all four of the final 2010 and preseason 2011 polls. With Dana Holgorsen at the controls, it's entirely deserved.  But unfortunately, WVU was in the same position last year and dropped from the polls after losing to LSU in September. The Bayou Bengals visit Morgantown on Sept. 24 this year, so we'll see if the Mountaineers can get revenge with their new homefield advantage.

Jerry Hinnen: Though FSU looks a hair too high to me, I'm more interested in who the AP jumped over them: Boise State. The coaches were more skeptical about the Broncos, placing them No. 7, behind both the 'Noles and Stanford.The AP bumped them up to fifth, just behind the consensus top four.

And that's the right call. Because of the torrent of hype for what was expected to be Chris Petersen's best team last year, the popular conception of the Broncos seems to be that their national title window has passed. And that probably was Petersen's best team, given the strength it wielded at receiver and corner that doesn't return this year. But with Kellen Moore, Doug Martin, a stack of gifted linemen, and one of the nations's stingiest run defenses, this year's Broncos could still give last year's a run for their money.  Plus, here's the kicker: the schedule sets up even better for a chance at a crystal football than it did last year. Potential SEC East champ Georgia could give the Broncos the high-profile scalp they need to force their way into the conversation, with TCU another possible 10-win victim to boost the profile. There doesn't appear to be any road ambush waiting a la Nevada last year, either, unless San Diego State is better than we're expecting.

Bottom line: if the Broncos get past Georgia, this is a team that should finish much closer to (as in, ahead of) the AP's ranking than the coaches'--and yes, finish higher than either FSU or Andrew Luck's Cardinal, who may feel the loss of both Jim Harbaugh and top-notch defensive coordinator Vic Fangio more keenly than most expect.


Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 3:32 pm
 

PODCAST: Miami's future, LSU's QB issues, more

Posted by Chip Patterson

Adam Aizer and I sat down on Monday to try and tackle a full slate of headlines around college football. We dive into the troubles at Miami, and offer our ideas on changes that can prevent this type of situation from happening in the future. We also discuss LSU's potential player issues in light of recent skirmishes in Baton Rouge, whether or not Oklahoma deserves the top spot in the polls, and break down the effects of injuries to key players at Arkansas, Washington, and N.C. State. Tune in to hear all that and more (including where to hide the Iowa-Iowa State trophy if you won it) on this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast.

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If you are having trouble seeing the player, you can download the MP3 HERE or CLICK HERE for the Pop-Out Audio Player so you can continue browsing.




Posted on: August 21, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 10:17 pm
 

J.R. Sweezy out six weeks after foot surgery

Posted by Chip Patterson

NC State's front seven figures to be one of the strengths of the defensive unit this season, but they lost a key component losing J.R. Sweezy to a foot injury.

The school announced on Sunday that the senior defensive tackle underwent surgery to repair a foot fracture, and is expected to miss six weeks of action. Sweezy, a team captain and 2010 All-ACC Honorable Mention, is arguably one of the most important returning starters for the Wolfpack. His injury will hold him out of N.C. State's first four games, against Liberty, Wake Forest, South Alabama, and a Thursday night road game against Cincinnati.

Sweezy recorded 13 tackles for losses and six sacks in 2010, he will likely be replaced by junior Brian Slay or redshirt freshman Thomas Teal. Teal reportedly put together a strong spring, while Slay saw 12 games of action in 2010 and recorded 20 tackles. It will be an early test on N.C. State's depth on the line, but thankfully the schedule works out so Sweezy's absence shouldn't hurt the Wolfpack too much.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 7:55 am
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-ACC Team

Posted by Chip Patterson

As part of CBSSports.com's season preview, we offer this blogger's selections for the Preseason All-ACC Team.

Offense


QUARTERBACK

EJ Manuel, Jr., Florida State - Manuel has been handed the keys to arguably one of the best Seminole teams in nearly a decade, and the first-year starter has already had several opportunities to grow comfortable with the 57 returning letterman. Manuel was impressive filling in for the injured Christian Ponder in the ACC Championship Game (44-33 loss to Virginia Tech) and the Chick Fil-A Bowl (26-17 victory over South Carolina), and completed 67.3 percent of his passes as a two-year reserve. Manuel also has the ability to burn defenses with his feet, making him especially dangerous in the red zone.

Also watch for: Expect another big year from Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien, though it will be hard to replicate last year's numbers without Torrey Smith. Also the competition between Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris at Miami could elevate the game of the to-be-named starter.

RUNNING BACK

Montel Harris, Sr., Boston College - Harris was the ACC's leading rusher in 2010 (1,243 yards) despite missing the final two and half games of the season. If Harris can stay healthy, he should have a chance to chase down the ACC career rushing record. Currently, Harris sits 15th and needs just 1,003 yards (approx. 80-85 yards/game) to become the conference's all-time leading rusher.

Lamar Miller, Soph., Miami - Storm Johnson's departure has left the Hurricanes rushing attack primarily in the hands of Miller and junior Mike James. There have been nothing but good reports on the duo, with Miller in particular drawing praise from teammate Sean Spence. "Lamar is one of the fastest backs in the ACC and the nation," Spence said. Miller's ranking nationally is debatable, but he should be one of the most impressive backs in the conference.

Also watch for: Florida State's trio of Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas, and Ty Jones combined for 1,862 yards and 17 TDs in 2010 and all return. Clemson will likely be giving Andre Ellington (5.8 ypc in 2010) more touches in Chad Morris' up-tempo system, and Roddy Jones will try to be the sixth straight Yellow Jacket to rush for 1,300 yards or more in a season.

WIDE RECEIVER

Conner Vernon, Sr., Duke - In 2010 Vernon led the ACC in receptions per game, and should see similar production this season with Sean Renfree much more comfortable under center. Despite a rocky start, the Blue Devils passing game began clicking in the second half of the season. Along with teammate Donovan Varner, Vernon is a big reason optimism is on the rise in Durham.

Dwight Jones, Sr., North Carolina - An All-ACC Honorable Mention selection in 2010, the 6-foot-4 Jones will quickly be a go-to target for new starting quarterback Bryn Renner. Jones is a threat as a possession receiver, but also has shown the ability to make a big play after the catch. Against Virginia in Charlottesville, Jones turned a short slant into an 81 yard touchdown on his way to a 198 yard outing. Jones is looking to continue the momentum from the second half of last season into his final year with the Tar Heels.

Also watch for:Questions with new quarterbacks makes selecting wide receivers difficult, but there is no reason believe that Virginia Tech wide receiver Jarrett Boykin and Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins won't be able to shine with a new signal caller. Virginia's Kris Burd is another sleeper to watch at this position.

OFFENSIVE LINE

C Tyler Horn, Sr., Miami - Horn has taken on a leadership role with this unit and this team since Al Golden's arrival. The redshirt senior was one of the many players selected by Golden and the staff to spend practices as coaches, and has become a mentor to to touted DL Anthony Chickillo. Golden has complimented his efforts, and it looks like he will hold off redshirt freshman Shane McDermott after a fierce battle for the starting spot.

OG Brandon Washington, Jr., Miami - A 1st Team All-ACC pick in 2010, Washington is arguably the most talented piece of the Hurricanes front line. Washington has been moved around because of injuries, but has never failed to deliver regardless of position. Whoever wins the Jacory Harris/Stephen Morris battle will be happy to be playing behind Washington.

OG Jonathan Cooper, Jr., North Carolina - Cooper believes that this offensive line unit is the best North Carolina has had since he arrived in Chapel Hill. What the junior guard did not mention is that he is probably one of the critical pieces in their success. Cooper can play either guard or center, and will be looked to as one of the leaders in the trenches.

OT Blake DeChristopher, Sr., Virginia Tech - Missing training camp because of a strained left pectoral shouldn't slow down DeChristopher too much this fall. He has been a three-year starter and All-ACC pick in 2010. A crucial piece to protecting new quarterback Logan Thomas.

OT Andrew Datko, Sr., Florida State - The 6-foot-6, 321 pound tackle is determined to make his senior year count, playing his last season alongside David Spurlock and Zebrie Sanders. Datko is considered the most talented of the group, and will be needed to be productive and keep EJ Manuel on his feet and healthy.

Also watch for:You could argue that Clemson center Dalton Freeman and Georgia Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi both belong on this list, and a strong case could be made for Virginia Tech guard Jaymes Brookes. One to watch this season is JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug at Florida State. If the 307-pound guard lives up to expectations it could make an already talented Seminole offense even better.

TIGHT END

George Bryan, Sr., N.C. State - Bryan earned 1st Team All-ACC honors after pulling in 35 catches for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2010. The big target could see a lot of action this fall, as the most experienced receiver for new starting quarterback Mike Glennon. When Glennon sees pressure from opposing defenses, you can bet he'll be looking for No. 84 underneath.

Also watch for:The conference is a little thin at tight end, but Clemson's Dwayne Allen and Virginia's Colter Phillips are two players to keep an eye on. Virginia Tech tight end Chris Drager is making the move back to offense after playing DE in 2010, though his primary task may be focused more on run/pass blocking.

Defense


DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Brandon Jenkins, Jr., Florida State - Jenkins is a relentless pass rusher who leads a talented unit in Tallahassee that made of habit of bringing down quarterbacks in 2010. Jenkins finished sixth in the nation with 13.5 sacks, and the return of eight defensive starters should help him follow up 2010 with another impressive campaign this fall.

DE Quinton Coples, Sr., North Carolina - After causing havoc at DT last season (10.0 sacks ranked him third in the conference behind Da'Quan Bowers and Brandon Jenkins), Coples will move to defensive end in 2011. Teams won't be surprised by Coples this year, but North Carolina's depth and talent on the defensive line will make it difficult to scheme specifically against the All-ACC senior.

DT Tydreke Powell, Sr., North Carolina - Expectations are high for Powell, who was one of the few defenders to start all 13 games in 2010. Powell has the body of a run stopper, but said in the offseason he has focused on moving faster and becoming more of a pass rusher. If he adds that aspect to his game it will make that talented unit a nightmare for opposing offensive lines.

DT Marcus Forston, Jr., Miami - Forston has returned from a knee injury ahead of schedule, and could end up having a big impact on the field for the Hurricanes this season. Golden has been high on Forston since camp started, and if he can stay healthy the standout defensive lineman could finally deliver the type of season many have waited for from the top-ranked recruit.

Also watch for: Clemson will once again will have a strong defensive line with Andre Branch and Brandon Thompson, and Maryland's Joe Vellano was a 2nd Team All-ACC selection a year ago.

LINEBACKERS

Luke Kuechly, Jr., Boston College - Kuechly might not only be the best linebacker in the ACC, but possibly the best in the nation. The unanimous All-American selection in 2010 is currently the NCAA active leader in tackles per game, averaging 13.1 tackles across his 26 career starts. There is no reason to think that "Boy Wonder," as they call him, will do anything other continue dominating on the defensive side of the ball.

Sean Spence, Sr., Miami - After a 2nd Team All-ACC selection in 2010, Spence has returned as the "clear-cut leader" on defense. Fellow linebacker Jimmy Gaines went so far as to call Spence "Mr. Miami." He is one three Hurricanes on the Nagurski Award Watch List, given to the nation's top defensive player. From making plays in coverage to getting stops behind the line of scrimmage (16.0 tackles for loss in 2010), Spence can have an impact all over the field for Miami.

Kenny Tate, Sr., Maryland - Maryland finished fourth nationally in turnover margin last season, with some of the credit going to Tate - who led the ACC in forced fumbles. Tate makes the move from free safety to linebacker this season, and can be found on most individual award watch lists for defenders.

Also watch for: Florida State weakside linebacker Nigel Bradham is expected to have a big season, and Virginia Tech's Bruce Taylor was a second team All-ACC pick in 2010.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Jayron Hosley, Jr., Virginia Tech - All-ACC and All-American in 2010, Hosley is arguably the most talented secondary player in the league. Hosley might not see as much action now that he's not playing opposite Rock Carmichael, but his impact will still be felt.

CB Xavier Rhodes, Soph., Florida State - Rhodes broke out a season ago, combining with teammate Greg Reid for 33 defended passes. His efforts earned him a Freshman All-American nod and 2nd Team All-ACC. The Seminoles' secondary is a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, and Rhodes is a big reason why.

S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Jr., Miami - There is a lot of hype around Armstrong, who is coming off a 2nd Team All-ACC season in 2010. He picked off three passes and is the second-leading returning tackler for the Hurrcanes, trailing only Sean Spence. Armstrong is also on the watch list for the Nagurski Award.

S Eddie Whitley, Sr., Virginia Tech - Whitley is the second-leading tackler back for the Hokies, and will be an important part of trying to turn around a defense that statistically did not live up to Bud Foster's recent standards. The Hokies have depth problems in the secondary, and Whitley should get plenty of chances to make plays as the only senior slated to start.

Also watch for: Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield could be set to have a big year, as could N.C. State's Earl Wolff. Sleeper pick for a big season is Duke's Matt Daniels..

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Dustin Hopkins, Jr., Florida State

P Dawson Zimmerman, Sr., Cemsoni

KR/PR David Wilson, Jr., Virginia Tech

Also watch for: Duke placekicker Will Snyderwine was the media's selection for Preseason All-ACC, and Greg Reid has a chance to cause some damage returning kicks for Florida State.

As always, let us know what you the think about the selections in the comment section below. Also be sure to click on over to the Conference Preview for more coverage on the ACC
Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Seen/Heard at Camp: N.C. State

Posted by Chip Patterson

Training camp is underway in college football, with teams all over the country getting a better idea of what to expect from the upcoming season. Along with the help of CBSSports.com's Rapid Reporters, here is a collection of recent observations from N.C. State.

- One of the most noteworthy changes from 2010 to 2011 for the Wolfpack is the absence of Russell Wilson and development of his successor, junior quarterback Mike Glennon. Glennon was a highly-touted prospect out of Virginia, and now will have a chance to live up to expectations as the new face of the offense. Head coach Tom O'Brien endorsed Glennon from the beginning of spring practice, and recently spoke about his development as they shape the offense around their new starter.

"The offense goes in in increments, and every day for about 10 days there's something new that goes in," O'Brien said. "Certainly for [Glennon], some of it is repetition from the last three years because there's the base of the offense that's going to be there regardless of who's the quarterback, the right guard."[Rapid Reports]

- Glennon's comfort with the system will be impacted greatly by the development of his wide receivers. Team captain and preseason All-ACC selection George Bryan is the most consistent receiver at tight end, but the Wolfpack will be missing three of their top four ball catchers from 2010. Senior wide receivers TJ Graham and Jay Smith each saw action last year, and will be counted on to lead the new group. According to offensive coordinator Dana Bible, the veterans have entered camp ready to go.

"We're a work in progress, but (the returnees) must have had a really good summer as far as training because they bring a lot of speed with them," Bible observed. "And they're anxious and ready to go. You're going to see it as I'm going to see it, as it develops."[Rapid Reports]

- Last season, the defense was quarterbacked by All-ACC linebacker Nate Irving, now with the Denver Broncos. Alongside Audie Cole and Terrell Manning, pressure from the starting linebackers helped the Wolfpack post 42 sacks in 2010 - good for second in the conference. This year Cole has moved into Irving's middle linebacker slot, and defensive coordinator Mike Archer is looking for some depth behind the two returnees.

"The biggest question there is going to be the (strong side). (Sophomore) D.J. (Green) has not played there. He's learning, but we've got to find a backup too," said Archer. "I don't know who the backup is. Based on three days of practice, I don't know if we have one."

Archer also explained that this year's unit will rely heavily on the defensive line to pressure the quarterback. With the linebackers helping out the secondary with some of the coverage responsibility.

"Don't get me wrong, we want to pressure and attack people. But there are going to be times, on third down in particular, where we want to get pressure with four downs, and be able to play max coverage and play five under, two deep. We've got to get better rushing with four, no matter who those guys are." [Rapid Reports]

For daily updates from N.C. State's training camp, be sure to follow CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Mike Potter. Also, bookmark the ACC Blog for news and analysis from across the conference.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com