Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Divining 2010, Barrel Style......

Sweat lodge. Peyote. Haunting Peruvian mountain flutes. Fermented shark fin. Ayn Rand. Paul Johnson's old Georgia Southern playbook. Howard Schellenberger's suspenders. Joe Pa's glasses. A ouija board. Bourbon. And the year in ACC football, all layed out before your very eyes:

ACC Atlantic Champion?

Frank: Florida State
Hash: Florida State

ACC Coastal Champion?

Frank: Virginia Polly
Hash: Miami

ACC Champion?

Frank: Virginia Polly
Hash: Florida State

Frank: Sometimes you just have to be honest and not play radio. Other teams I wouldn't be surprised by: UNC, Tech, Miami, and BC. Dark Horse - NC State

Hash: A returning senior QB, the offensive line returns for their 308th consecutive year, and like Tech, the defense will improve. An upset in Charlotte on a cold night. When little Jacory shrinks up due to the weather, bad things happen to the U.

ACC player you like the most (Tech players not eligible)?

Frank: Its gotta be Marc Herzlich from BC. Really just warmed my heart to see a bald Herzlich (undergoing chemotheropy) standing on the side line next to coach Spaziani last year, and he's back and playing this year. For a pure football reasons I'd put Christian Ponder here and Torry Smith from Maryland. Dude can straight up fly. Greg Little from UNC is a pure warrior, does whatever his team asks him to do, unfortunately that also includes free plane trips.

Hash: Since Frank is being all sentimental I'll go NC State's Nate Irving. Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins comes to mind, as does the entire BC offensive line. Greg Reid is a baller. But I'll go FSU's Rodney Hudson. Perfect technique.....

ACC player you like the least?

Frank: I'm sick and goddamn tired of "swag" at Miami. "Swag" talk makes you thoroughly unrootable. Don't confuse me with some old school s.o.b. I like some smack talk, but you gotta walk before you can talk. Then again, Jacory Harris looks like gumby when he's in uniform, and that's infinitly entertaining.

Hash: Kam Chancellor....wait he's gone. Luke Kuechly? No real reason, just wonder if he's really the anointed one. Never gotten the whole Russell Wilson thing. Used to be the UNC defense but after Twitter/Nanny-gate, you really have to love them. Final Answer: BC QB Dave Shinskie. Fucking Chris Weinke wanna-be. You shouldn't be allowed to play at 26....here's looking at you, BYU.....

Surprise ACC team?

Frank: I could say BC, or Clemson, two teams that never get respect, but if you are reading our blog you probably already know they are good. I know I'm way out on a limb, but I'm guessing a third team is going to join the race in the ACC Atlantic, and I'm betting NC State will be that team.

Hash: BC just gets no love, even from me & I should know better. A factory for offensive linemen, a solid RB (Montel Harris), and a solid defense every year. Combine that with Spaziani's mustache & you get success. Always undervalued. For what it's worth, Duke under David Cutcliffe continues to improve. They will ruin somebody's Saturday this Fall.....

Disappointing ACC team?

Frank: Not counting UNC? I'll say Miami. Not so much because I think they are bad, they could very easily win the ACC Coastal, but I like Tech and VPISU better, and anything short of a Top Five finish is a considered a disappointment in Coral Gables. Is that a cop out?

Hash: not a cop out. Carolina is easy. Clemson is my choice. They won't be bad, mind you. But there's LOADS of talent up there that is year-after-year squandered by poor coaching. Maybe this year will be different but my Brad Scott-o-meter says no....

Most under-rated ACC player?

Frank: I'd say linebacker Nate Irving of NC State. Dude missed all of last year, but when he played in 2008, NC State won. He's a difference maker. For people you can watch and actually understand what they are doing, I'd go with Montel Harris, RB from BC. Even though he pops up on some preseason watch lists, I still don't think people appreciate him. He's the only weapon BC has on offense. As the English would say, he's bloody useful. Policy wonk answer: Kyle Hill, Left Tackle, Duke and Bryan Morgan, Center, Duke. Offensive lineman are always undervalued. Particularly in preseason polls. There is no stat to show you how much production a team lost from the previous year, and lazy pollsters like numbers, but offensive line continuity is a strong indicator of a team's performance. Both Hill and Morgan have an outside chance of making the end of the year All-ACC team.

Hash: the BC offensive line. Maryland LB Alex Wucjiak? I mentioned Clemson DT Jarvis Jenkins earlier. I'll go with VPISU DT John Graves as my final selection. Holds down the fort for Bud Foster. Policy wonk answer: center Russell Nenon, Wake Forest. See Frank's reference to offensive line play as an indicator of success. Hence my FSU pick as conference champs.....

Most over rated ACC player?

Frank: Jacory Harris. You're the Miami QB, you're over rated. Not necesarrily bad, just overrated.

Hash: Harris. It's unanimous. He's not the second coming. He threw like 18 picks last year. And at the first sign of contact he folds like a rag doll. Not a bad player, but far from great.

Guy on the other team that when he is on the field you say "oh shit, this will be bad for us?"

Frank: The offense. Just kidding. Christian Ponder's the obvious answer. For a player Tech will face this year, I'll go with Tyrod Taylor every time he breaks containment on third and long. Him picking up third and long with his legs is death by a 1,000 paper cuts.

Hash: Ryan Williams. Kid can play & we're thin up front. Every time he touches the ball I'm waiting for a huge gain. I hate tight ends & historically we just pretend they don't exist when we play defense. That said, NC State's George Bryan, when not high as hell, scares me to death.

Guy on the other team that when you see him on the field you lick your chops?

Frank: TJ Yates. Can't move, can't pass, and they can't block for him. Anyone from Maryland's secondary would also qualify, and Marc Verica, QB for Virginia.

Hash: I shouldn't let you go first, you steal my thunder. Yates is the obvious answer. He's an offensive albatross. Seeing Nigel Bradham on the field for FSU will make me smile after last year's bitch slapping/fumble recovery by Joshua Nesbitt. Oh, seeing an opponent's punter this year would be novel & cause a mighty ruckus amongst our section.

ACC Offensive POY?

Frank: Joshua Nesbitt. I think he rushes for 1,000 and throws for 2,000 this year.Non-Jacket addition: Christian Ponder, Montell Harris, Tyrod Taylor (Williams and Evans are going to cancel each other out if VPISU has a good year). Russell Wilson, because he'll have ungodly numbers.

Hash: Ponder. It's heresy but he would have won it last year if he hadn't gotten hurt. Other than Ponder, Nesbitt has the best shot. I agree Joshua goes for 1,000 rushing & 2,000 passing, making him the second best QB I've seen at Tech.

ACC Defensive POY?

Frank: with all the UNC players being disqualified? Allen Bailey, DE, Miami is the early favorite. Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel (DeAndre being a traditional Scotch-Irish first name) is another possibility.

Hash: If he's remotely healthy Herzlich gets it. I'll take a gamble & say FSU DB Greg Reid brings home the hardware. Kid is a real ball hawk & the best DB in Tallahassee since you-know-who.....

ACC Program on the Rise?

Frank: Duke for sure, but I think you could really put four teams from the top half of this conference (FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech, and UNC, if they survive the investigation) in this catagory. At the end of the year we'll have to re-access NC State. UVA is a few years away.

Hash: Agree on Duke & UVA trending upward. I'll go homer & say this is the year people realize Tech is here to stay with CPJ at the helm. FSU still has cache & will be a force with the staff Jimbo Fisher has assembled.

ACC program on the decline?

Frank: Maryland....Maryland... Wake will take a step back this year and we'll wait and see if they can ever get back to the way they were now that the conference is really taking off. UNC's problems could be a boom to them.

Hash: NC State & UNC. Trading Lee Fowler for Debbie Yow is like stepping on a land mine versus a grenade: either way, your fucked. O'Brien leaves, and the Pack must start over again. Butchie is in real trouble and the beginning of the end is nigh.....

ACC Coach of the Year?

Frank: Thats tough, because it kind of depends on who over-achieves, my guess is it comes out of the Atlantic. NC State or Wake make a run, making O'Brien or Grobe the choice. Possibley Jimbo Fisher if FSU's defense jumps to life and they have a monster year.

Hash: Jimbo Fisher. All hail the resurrector.....One of these years Cutcliffe will win....

Favorite ACC Coach other than CPJ?

Frank: Dave Cutcliffe. In a defensive league, its fun to see one guy say screw it, we're throwing it 40 times a game, if we loose 45-42, awesome. Also appreciate Jim Grobe.

Hash: Jim Grobe. Never any bullshit. Believes in the cut block. Adjusts his scheme to suit his talent. Redshirts every freshman. Does a lot with so little....

Least Favorite Coach in the ACC?

Frank: Dabo Swinney. Generally, he reminds me of Jim Mora Jr. In interviews, he always mentions some lame ass book he's reading like Rick Patino's "Winning is a Choice." Maybe he can coach, but that's a hard peanut core surrounded by a mountain of fluffy motivational BullShit. I'm still waiting for the day he does double duty as Eight-Ball the Tiger and head coach.

Hash: Butch Davis. Can't stand Beamer's relentless whining but I respect what he's built. That and I respect his fierce loyalty to Brian Stynespring, the annual "Patrick Nix Incompetent ACC Offensive Coordinator Award" winner. But when all is said & done it's Davis. Arrogant, smug, cheatin' ass bastard. And believe me when I say that CPJ & staff haven't forgotten 2008 when Davis, up by 21 with two minutes to go, threw the ball into the endzone instead of taking a knee. CPJ's country ass doesn't forget that kind of shit. I promise I'm not reveling in the chaos in Chapel Hill....really....

Player Likely to Step Up This Year?

Frank: I'll say Jacory Harris. I know I hit him up for being overvalued, but thats based on what he's done on the field. I think he may make a real leap this year, and then become wildly overrated like Ken Dorsey.

Hash: Duke QB Sean Renfree. Kid can throw the pill, and they ain't got much else....

Player whose production you think will fall of?

Frank: Robert Quinn, UNC, DE. If he doesn't get hit with the scandal, and so far his name has barely come up, then Quinn is going to suffer with the extra attention he'll get with Austin out. Really, its not an easy question to anwer.

Hash: BC running back Montel Harris. He'll get all the attention. BC's wide receiver corp makes Tech's look like the Skins' old Fun Bunch. It's funny a team with a pro-style offense could have worse wide outs than we do.....

Tomorrow we have rooting interests and some thoughts on college football in 2010.....


ACC Thumb Nails; Frisky Division

Florida State


Losing Senior Quarterback Christian Ponder to a shoulder injury for the final four games of 2009 turned out to be a good thing for the Seminoles in 2010. Ponder has stated that if it wasn’t for that injury, he would have left for the NFL. Coming back for this year means half of the Seminoles’ team is set. The offense will be real, and it will be spectacular.

The defense is a different story. It was the worst in Florida State history, by a wide margin. While there aren’t many indicators that this unit will be among the best in the country, there are many indications that it will be improved. FSU lost most of their productive players before the 2009 season, and schisms within the coaching staff didn’t help. This year’s unit will be older, field tested, and led by a coaching staff not at war with itself.

Meta Narrative

Everyone loves Sarah’s old boy friend Tom. You secretly think not only is Tom a total dick, but he was only hanging out with Sarah because her Daddy’s rich. You have no reason to like Sarah’s new boy friend, but you do simply because he’s not Tom.

Players to Watch

Rodney Hudson-Left Guard-#62-Senior

2009 Winner ACC Jacobs Blocking Award

2009 First Team All ACC

Did not allow a sack or quarterback pressure in 2009

Christian Ponder-Quarterback-#7-Senior

321.8 passing yards a game


68.8% completion percentage

Andrew Datko-Left Tackle-#67-Junior

Datko and Hudson anchor a unit that will create wall from behind which Christian Ponder will be free to pick from any of his solid wide receiver corps.

Greg Reid-Corner Back-#5-Sophomore

Physically gifted, and playing in DC Stoops new zone coverage scheme should help him mature

Nigel Bradham-Weakside Linebacker-#13-Junior

Some are saying he’s a potential All-American

Spirit Guide

Boston College


After losing a head coach to inter/intra-office politics, a quarterback to graduation, a quarterback to just not wanting to go to class, a linebacker to a knee injury, and a linebacker to cancer in 2009, 2010’s off season has been a breeze.

Under Coach Frank Spaziani, Boston College reverted to the formula they applied so successfully under Tom O’Brien. Run the ball and play defense. Expect more of the same out of BC this year. Their schedule is favorable. They have one of the best offensive lines in the conference, a running back who can tote the rock, serviceable QB play, and a couple of really good linebackers and defensive backs. BC will be in the thick of the Atlantic Division Championship Race.

Meta Narrative

You don’t have time for Meta Narratives, you are too busy punching people who called you “short” in the mouth. And you are short, you beautiful crazy 5’-4” Irish Catholic Bastard you. Also, your brother was your dad’s favorite, but now he’s smoking crystal meth in an Indiana cornfield.

Players To Watch

Montell Harris-Running Back-#2-Junior

10th all time in BC history for Rushing Yards

BC record holder for yards rushing as a freshman and sophomore (that’s’s two separate records)

2009 Second Team All ACC

Anthony Castonzo-Left Tackle-#74-Senior

A four year starter

Will be a top NFL Prospect

Mark Herzlich-Outside Linebacker-#94-Senior

2008 ACC defensive player of the year

Herzlich missed last season while being treated for Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. As of now he is clear of cancer.

Luke Kuechly- Inside Linebacker-#40-Sophomore

2009 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

2009 First Team All ACC

Ranked Second in Country in Tackles

As a true freshman played Herzlich’s vacated outside linebacker spot

Wes Davis-Free Safety-#45-Senior


Boise State has finished the season in the Top 25 five times after not being ranked at all to start the season. Four teams are tied for second having done it four times. Two are from the ACC. Clemson is one, Boston College is the other.

Spirit Guide

North Carolina


As Senior Quarterback TJ Yates goes, so will the Tar Heels. If he doesn’t make the Heels go, he could be replaced by Red shirt Freshman Braden Hanson. The passing game’s regression last year cannot be solely laid at the feat of Yates. UNC’s offensive line underwent a huge change in 2009, and its short comings exposed Yates limitations. Though injured for part of the season in 2008, Yates completed 60% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. In 2009 Yates’ interceptions jumped to 15.

Not only did the offensive line fail to protect Yates, but it also failed to get any push for the running game, and that’s what should concern UNC fans. Yates may never be a great quarterback, but if a return to his 2008 form is in the making not only will Yates have to improve, but the offensive line will also.

North Carolina’s Defense will be very good, to put it simply, but hanging over all of this is an on going NCAA investigation, and while UNC appears to have the talent to overcome some of these losses, it certainly doesn’t make it easy to win football games.

Scratch that. Hire this man. He's Scottish, and deep down at the bottom of your genteel Tobacco road bullshit family is a naked angry illiterate Scotsman who gets shit straight, and you're knee deep in NCAA investigators, Twitter posts, and nanny's. You need to get on message.

Meta Narrative

See the movie Blue Chips. Right down to Shaq’s complete lack of offensive skill other than “get close, dunk hard”. Also, unlike Nick Nolte you don’t care whose getting paid by who.

Players to Watch

Greg Little-Wide Receiver/Running Back-#8-Senior

2010 Biletnikoff Award Candidate

Led the Team in Receiving

Third on the team in Rushing

Little is a versatile player who has started at wide receiver and running back for the Tar Heels, and the coaching staff likes to get the ball in his hands.

He is one of the players under investigation.

Robert Quinn-Defensive End-#42-Junior

2010 Peseason First Team All American

2009 ACC Defensive Player of the Year

2009 Second Team All American

2008 Brian Piccolo Award

Marvin Austin-Defensive Tackle-#9-Senior

2010 Lombardi Award Candidate

2009 Second-Team All ACC

Under investigation: likely to been seen mat Sizzler buffet

Quan Sturdivant-Line Backer-#52-Senior

2009 First Team All ACC

2009 Butkus Award Semifinalist

Kendric Burney-Cornerback-#16-Senior

2010 Preseason Second Team All-American

2009 First Team All ACC

2008 Second Team All ACC


Deunta Williams-Safety-#27-Senior

2009 First Team All ACC

Spirit Guide


The Barrel's 2010 Season Prediction......

With toe gloriously approaching leather it's time to break out the trusty divining rod & ouija board in our best attempt to predict the outcome of this year's Tech season. We're now in year three of the Paul Johnson era and while we lost a ton of talent from last year's team this marks the beginning of Johnson recruited talent entering the fray, particularly on the offensive line. So after some deliberation (over what beverage to drink while deliberating; beer won, FWIW, brown liquor is on hold until Saturday) this is our collective best guess at how this season unfolds on the Flats. We won't pick actual game scores just yet but leave that until our weekly previews the Thursday before each contest. Without further ado, the 2010 season:

9/4/10 South Carolina State, Bobby Dodd Stadium @ Historic Grant Field

In our first game ever against an HBCU, we open with a team that is frankly pretty good. Are they good enough to hang with Tech for four quarters? No, but they'll serve as a good opponent to christen the campaign. Watch how Tech's new 3-4 scheme, particularly the defensive line, fairs against a huge & veteran Bulldog offensive line. Verdict: Win....and a hell of a halftime show:

9/11/10 @ The University of Kansas, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence Kansas

The Jackets head to Lawrence to face new head coach & all-time great option QB Turner Gill. The Jayhawks have been depleted by injury this off-season and will be hard pressed to contain the spread option. For some reason both Frank & I sense blowout. Gill will wish he could click his heels together twice & get the hell out of Kansas by the end of the 3rd quarter. Verdict: Win

9/18/10 @ The University of North Carolina, Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

What once looked to be a stern test now looks like.....a giant NCAA goat rodeo. It's a "charlie foxtrot" up in Chapel Hill and no one knows what's going to happen. But our guess is nothing good for UNC. Regardless of whose playing defense for the Heels, CPJ has an axe to grind with Butchie after he threw the ball into the endzone twice in the waning moments of a 21 point Tar Heel victory in 2008. Johnson will unveil some trickeration, TJ Yates will shit on himself for no apparent reason, Marvin Austin & Greg Little will be in California, & Butch Davis will be back stuping the Nanny in an attempt to placate her........Any way you look at it, UNC is in trouble. Verdict: Win

9/25/10 North Carolina State University, BDS @ HGF

The natives are restless up in Raleigh. Tom O'Brien was supposed to right the ship & get things headed upward. Instead, they've floated listlessly in ACC waters. Russell Wilson is good. So is Nate Irving. Might need to add a third column to the scoring section in the Jumbotron at Bobby Dodd. The game easily eclipses 1,000 yards in offense...could be a video game score here. Verdict: Win.....and Buzz is toast from all the push-ups.

10/2/10 @ Wake Forest University, BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Please tell us this is Ted Stachitas?
Nothing says rebuilding like Ted Stachitas & what surely must be a mustache worthy of nacho cheese drippings & Tom Selleck. We refuse to google search Stachitas because we've built him up as an ACC icon. Surely we can't be wrong. Wake lost the Julius Hodge of ACC football in QB Riley Skinner along with both starting defensive tackles & several offensive linemen. Expect Grobe to go back to his run centric, cut blocking ways, giving us at least one ally against Beamer's relentless whining. No matter, Tech cruises in Winston-Salem. Verdict: Win

10/9/10 The University of Virginia, BDS @ HGF

Will Al Groh get his revenge? Umm, yes. Mike London will need a while to convert the Cavs into his image. Too much talent on display for Tech. A solid conference victory. Verdict: Win

10/16/10 Middle Tennessee State University, BDS @ HGF
Always the safest of poker options, in any circumstance....
A revenge game for the second week in a row. This time it's defensive line coach Andy McCollum's turn to smack down his former employer. In a year featuring a schedule that at best can be called moribund, Dwight Dasher done gone & gotten himself suspended after starring in Rounders 2, the Geriatric Version. Not good, sir, not good at all.We were actually looking forward to seeing Dasher play & maybe he will as he's applied for re-instatement. Tech is rolling now, in this the sixth game of the year. Verdict: Win

10/23/10 @ Clemson University, Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Sometimes I touch myself down there & point to the sky......feels good.........my way of saying thank you...
A visit to Auburn-with-a-lake highlights the Jacket's October schedule. There's plenty of talent left at Clemson, even after the departure of CJ Spiller & Jacoby Ford. Expect a big year from tailback Andre Ellington and a stout defense. While Clemson has something to prove Kevin Steele & Co. still haven't figured out how to stop our running attack. Heading into a bye week, the Jackets win a close one. Verdict: Win

10/30/10 BYE

Tech wins an easy one this week & now sits at 7-0 with a chance to get healthy heading into the biggest game of the year between two top ten teams with the ACC Coastal on the line.....

11/4/10 VPISU, Lane Stadium, Blacksberg, Virginia

Is Frank Beamer the Kraken?
This will be epic. Lane Stadium. Thursday Night. Two Top 10 teams. ACC Coastal at stake. Put on your big boy pants.....Virginia Polly is 13-3 all-time on Thursday night at home. They are also a pretty damn good football team with tons of talent at all their skill positions. It wll be a great game but VPISU's home field is too much to conquer. Our first defeat on the year. Verdict: Loss...and quit whining, Beamer......

11/13/10 University of Miami-Florida, BDS @ HGF

Hope for a cold night! Miami has loads of talent. They also have two very good coordinators to run the show for Randy Shannon. The Jackets will want revenge after last year's poor showing on the road and it will be a hard fought battle. In the end we just don't have the horses to pull it out defensively. Miami wins a squeaker, setting up a VPISU vs. Miami showdown for the Coastal division title in two weeks. A heavy dose of cold weather could easily change this outcome. Verdict: Loss

11/20/10 Duke University, BDS @ HGF

Consecutive losses have CPJ & Co. a little agitated & Duke is the target this Saturday. We like David Cutcliffe & respect the job he is doing. Doesn't really matter what we like. The words curb stomping come to mind. Jackets roll big heading into Athens. Verdict: Win

11/27/10 The University (sic) of Georgia, Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia

So the conference title is out the window at this point thus leaving this little game the biggest thing left on the schedule. Both defenses will have established an identity by this point & Aaron Murray will no longer be unseasoned. It will be close but no way CPJ let's this one get away. No rational explanation except to say we were never picking the Mutts this early in the year. Verdict: Win

By our math, which is somewhat suspect, that's a 10-2 season for Tech. Why the optimism with a tough schedule and the loss of five key players? First, the defense has to be better. The addition of Al Groh brings renewed enthusiasm to a beleaguered unit but more importantly a continuity of defensive scheme & philosophy, something we didn't have last year, will allow this unit to grow & develop as the season progresses. Remember, defensively we had five games last year where we forced one or no punts. Suffice it to say, we'll be better.

We will also improve offensively. Year three has traditionally been the year Johnson's offenses "click" & I expect the same this year for us. Nesbitt is now truly comfortable in the offense, for one thing. But most importantly, we finally have players specifically recruited to play this scheme able to contribute, particularly on the offensive line. You simply can't under-estimate how important this will be for our success this year. We are also deep this year & better able to sustain injuries than in the past, something which may prove crucial before the year is out.

This is a very important year for Tech. A season like we predicted above & expect will silence many doubters & begin to elevate us from being thought of as a good team to being regarded as a good program. Everyone has good teams now & again. Good programs simply reload & move on to the next year. Who knows, maybe after another great year they won't have figured out our "gimmick" offense? Now it's your turn: how do you see the Jackets this year? Give us your win-loss record & any thoughts in the comments section. Three days.....

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Short Preview of Tech's 2010 Defense

A little piece I did for SBnation on this year's defense. Who knew they would out me.....I'm ruined......

The Most Interesting QB in the ACC......

That's a pretty good supporting cast......(h/t From the Rumble Seat)

Note: at some point last night this kick ass video was removed by the user. Put the damn thing bak up, the point is publicity.......

Athlete+Gambling+Theft by Taking=Problem

Middle Tennessee may not be sexy, but in quarterback Dwight Dasher they have the kind of player who could beat a very good team, like Georgia Tech, on any given Saturday. Now we learn that Dasher has been suspended indefinitely for borrowing $1500 from an eighty year old veteran, losing the money in the poker game, and using a teammates stolen check as collateral. There is a solid chance Dasher will be back by the time Middle Tennessee plays Tech, but it's worth keeping an eye on. See the details here.

ACC Thumb Nails; Seven Ate Nine



Going into his third season, Coach David Cutcliffe seems to have the passing game pointing in the right direction. He has a bevy of young, talented, and proven wide receivers, and a talented group of young quarterbacks from which he’s plucked sophomore Sean Renfree to replace the departed Thaddeus Lewis. Renfree looked good in limited action last year, although he was hurt against Georgia Tech.

It’s the other three-fourths of football the Devils have trouble with: running the ball, stopping the run, and stopping the pass. Duke’s ability to run the ball will be helped by an improving offensive line, which was woefully undermanned in 2009.

Defensively' Duke isn’t going to stop many people, though they may be better against the pass. If the Devils can run the ball adequately they could quickly become very dangerous.

Meta Narrative:

You are Larry the Cable Guy. A case of mistaken identity finds you teaching weenie rich kids at an exclusive boarding school. At first you clash, but then they learn the wisdom of your redneck ways. You laugh, you learn, you take on the kids from the military academy across the lake in a series of bizarre physical challenges. You lose, but through trying your best you’ve earned the respect of Col. Dick, who runs the military academy.

Players to Watch

Kyle Hill-Left Tackle-#79-Junior

2008 Second Team Freshman All American

Bryan Morgan-Center-#62-Senior

2010 Remington Trophy Candidate

Undersized, but widely considered one of the best centers in the ACC

Donavan Varner-Wide Receiver-#26-Junior

2010 Preseason First Team All ACC

2009 All ACC First Team

Varner leads perhaps the second most talented wide receiver group in the ACC after Miami


Duke is playing a home and home series with Alabama. Alabama was expecting Duke’s home game to be moved to a neutral site. It didn’t get moved, and Duke has sold out its season tickets. Wallace Wade Stadium might be host to the smallest crowd to watch Alabama football in the last thirty years.

Spirit Guide

8-NC State


People seem to have forgotten about NC State, a faddish choice as dark horse contender to win the ACC last year. The Wolfpack maybe caught in a classic over correction. While they weren’t as good as people expected last year, they may not be as bad as people think this year.

While junior quarterback Russell Wilson gets all the attention, it's another player whose presence in the line up seems to impact more whether or not the Wolfpack win or lose. Linebacker Nate Irving missed parts of the 2008 season with injuries, but when he played the Wolfpack won. Last off season, Irving injured his leg in a one car accident and missed all of the 2009 season. He’s back for 2010, and his presence could raise the play of the defense enough to move NC State to the top of the Atlantic and to flirt with the top 25. Of course they have to replace all four starters on the defensive line this year.

Meta Narrative

A promising engineering career is brought into question by a series of unforeseen disasters and delays. Whispers begin to circulate that the disasters weren’t so unforeseeable, and you have one last chance to recoup your reputation and save the project.

Players to Watch

Russell Wilson-Quarterback- #16-Junior

Wilson is closing in on many NC State passing records

2008 First Team All ACC as a freshman

Owen Spencer-Wide Receiver-#13-Senior

In 2009 set an ACC record for yards per reception at 25.5

Leader in Receiving Yards among all active ACC Players

George Bryan-Tight End-#84-Junior

2010 Preseason First Team All ACC

Fourth among active ACC players with 11 touchdown receptions

Nate Irving-Linebacker-#56-Senior

2008 All ACC Honorable Mention

Spirit Guide



Sophomore Quarterback Kyle Parker did sign a minor league baseball contract in the off season but will be back for 2010. Good news for the Tigers, but Parker’s role last year was to not loose the game and let Clemson’s explosive play makers, wide receiver Jacoby Ford, tight end Michael Palmer, and particularly do-it-all CJ Spiller, make the plays to win the game. This is not to take anything away from Parker. As a true freshman “not messing it up” is a tall order to fill, and he did it well, finishing in the middle of the ACC statistically.

This year Parker is going to have to make some plays. Playing as a freshman suggests he can. Teaming with Parker will be a strong offensive line, and two good young running backs, Andre Ellington, a player who can break off a long play, and junior Jamie Harper who has more of a working class style.

Meta Narrative

You’re on date with an incredibly hot woman. Way to hot for you. Way, Way to hot. Things are going well. You’ve just farted. Does she notice?

Players to Watch

Kyle Parker-Quarterback-#11-Sophomore

2009 Second Team Freshman All American

2009 First Team All-ACC Freshman

Chris Hairston-Left Tackle-#61-Senior (actually a graduate student)

2009 Second Team All ACC

Leads a unit with four returning starters, Junior Mason Cloy steps in to play Center, a position at which he has started in the past.

Jarvis Jenkins-Defensive Tackle-#99-Senior

2010 Preseason Second Team All ACC

Jenkins leads the deepest tackle corps in the ACC

DeAndre McDaniel-Strong Safety-#2-Senior

2009 First Team All American

2010 First Team All ACC

102 tackles in 2009

8 interceptions in 2009


Boise State has finished the season in the Top 25 five times after not being ranked at all to start the season. Four teams are tied for second, having done it four times. Two are from the ACC. Clemson is one of them. With Parker back, and a solid defense, they could do it again.

Spirit Guide

Monday Madness.....

Game week is finally here! So much to do, so little time. First we'll get caught up from the weekend:
  • These are the team's goal's for 2010 courtesy of Arball on the Hive. It will be a great year if we reach those goals. Interesting to note who doesn't factor in to the equation....
  • The staff released a new depth chart on Saturday with a couple of interesting changes. On offense, things were pretty much as we predicted: Kevin Cone has overtaken Tyler Melton at WR opposite Stephen Hill while Phil Smith is entrenched at left tackle. No one should freak out about seeing walk-on Tyler Kidney behind Smith as Claytor is the back-up at both spots while Zach Krish can also play there. On defense things changed a bit from our prediction. TJ Barnes is listed at #1 nose tackle but that's because Logan Walls was out a couple days last week with a virus. No worries, Logan will be ready to go on Saturday. Emmanuel "Too Tall" Dieke has a shoulder injury so senior Ben Anderson is backing up Jason Peters this week. Robert Hall is behind Izaan Cross but will not play against SC State due to suspension. The big shake up is at LB where Steven Sylvester is starting at the SAM spot and former starter AT Barnes is now backing up Anthony Egbuniwe at Jack. Kyle Jackson has replaced Brandon Watts in the starting line-up but I'm hearing it will be a three-way rotation at inside linebacker between Jefferson, Jackson, & Watts. As we predicted, true freshman Isaiah Johnson is starting at safety along with Cooper Taylor. Expect a rotation there, also. Scott Blair will handle all the placekicking duties. Orwin Smith & Daniel McKayhan are handling kick off returns.
  • An ESPN "analyst" who we've never heard of (hard to believe the way we follow college football) gave his viewpoint on Tech & UGA football in Saturday's AJC. Said ESPN's Ed Cunningham, "I think it’s a mistake this year to have Georgia Tech ahead of Georgia. It’s nice that you get to see these teams play each other at the end of the year. I think Tech’s schedule is brutal, and the offense there is little-by-little getting figured out. So I’m surprised to see Tech higher. I certainly don’t think it’s an indication that the Tech program has passed Georgia’s." (our emphasis added). AHH, the offense is slowly being figured out....never heard that before....It's not that he likes UGA more than us or predicts them to be better, I'm actually fine with that. But the offense is getting figured out argument? Well, having no credibility in your business shouldn't be a problem.....
  • Where does this fall on the pucker meter if you're a Miami fan? On one hand, we pretty well know how that program was run during those years. And Butch Davis' recent troubles at Carolina won't do anything but fan the fire. On the other hand, the guy was convicted of defrauding people of $900 million dollars. How much credibility can a convicted felon have? FWIW, there's no denying how close he was to the Miami program....
More ACC Thumbnails from Frank later.....

Friday, August 27, 2010

ACC Preseason Thumb Nail Sketches



The cupboard is bare, just bare. This year is all about a change in culture for the Cavaliers. New Head Coach Mike London has close ties to former head man Al Groh, having worked for him in the past several times, but it’s unfair to call London a Groh man. On the field, the biggest change will be a shift from Groh’s 3-4 to London’s preferred 4-3. In the short run this will be ugly as the Cavalier roster has been built to support the four linebackers and three line men, and not the other way around. Offensively, London isn’t one of these hip spread option guys that seem to be popping up every where. His teams are about running the ball and doing the little things.

Meta Narrative

You’ve made it through December. The fields are still frozen. Time to sharpen the plow shear and wait out the spring time floods.

Players to watch

Ras-I Dowling-Corner Back-#19-Senior

2009 First Team All ACC

Dowling is a possible All American in 2010.

Of course an All-American corner back on a team this bad may be the most worthless All-American ever.

Matt Conrath-Defensive Tackle-#94-Junior

2008 Second Team Freshman All-American

Nick Jenkins-Defensive Tackle-#96-Junior

3008 Rivals.com ACC All-Freshman team

Spirit Guide



Quick history lesson, Ralph Friedgen won ten or more games in his first three seasons as head coach at Maryland. Over the next six seasons he would go a combined 35-38, with four losing campaigns. Coach-in-waiting James Franklin, current offensive coordinator, is scheduled to take over after 2011, but will Friedgen make it that far?

It wasn’t hard to predict that Maryland would struggle in 2009; after all they had graduated forty scholarship athletes. That’s not an excuse for Friedgen, but rather an example of where he’s failed as a head coach despite being a talented offensive coordinator. Maintaining some form of balance between your graduating classes and your recruiting classes is important to a programs stability and continuing development.

This year will possibly be Friedgen’s last, and it will determine largely how his time at Maryland will be remembered. Turning around the team on the field isn’t as important as turning around the program off the field and developing some stability for future head coaches. Friedgen has some talented skill positions coming back this year and a maturing defense to work with.

Meta Narrative

You wrote a critically acclaimed novel at 27. It was turned into a hit movie making you a talk show regular. While your public profile is second-to-none among writers of your generation, deep down inside you are racked by a fear that you can’t write another book. Your nights are a never ending string of vodka stingers. Dude, you’ve got to pull yourself out of this.

Players to Watch

Torrey Smith-Wide Receiver/Kick Returner-#82-Junior

2009 All ACC Wide Receiver and Kick Returner

Scored two touchdowns on kick returns

Smith is a true star; he will be receiving passes from Jamarr Robinson, a mobile quarterback who looked good in limited action last year

Da’Rel Scott-Running Back-#23-Senior

2008 First team All ACC

Was limited by injuries and a terrible offensive line last year, more experience should make the line better

Mike Wujciak-Line Backer-#33-Senior

2009 First team All ACC

131 tackles in 2009

Two interceptions in 2009

Spirit Guide

10-Wake Forest


We’ve all forgotten that Jim Grobe is the creator of a quirky, option-based offense. Wake never expected to have a passer the quality of Riley Skinner, nor a quarterback who ran so slowly. To accommodate Skinner’s skills Wake transitioned to emphasize the pass more, but with Skinner gone expect a return to Grobe’s run-based ways. Wake will make use of their solid and deep running back group to power the offense. Of course they’ll be running behind an inexperienced offensive line so they have that to deal with. Defensively the Deacs took a step back last year, a problem that will be compounded by losing both starting defensive tackles this offseason.

Meta Narrative

Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Life gives you shit, you make shit sandwiches and feed them to all the cool kids. They may kick your ass later, but they will never underestimate you again.

Players to Watch

Marshal Williams-Wide Receiver-#8-Senior

Led the team in receiving in 2009

2009 All ACC Honorable Mention

Josh Adams-Running Back--#27-Senior

Led the team in rushing in 2009

11th all time among for rushing yards at Wake Forest

Spirit Guide