Tag:North Carolina
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 1:37 pm
 

Is Brandon Willis going back to UCLA?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

I'm truly beginning to wonder if Brandon Willis prefers flying back and forth across the country to actually playing football.

Here's a quick recap of what Willis has done since his senior year in high school. First, Willis gave his verbal commitment to Tennessee, twice. He also decommitted from Tennessee twice before signing a letter of intent with North Carolina in February of 2010. Then, after spending six months as a Tar Heel, Willis decided he wanted to give the west coast a try and transferred to UCLA.

Willis then spent seven months with the Bruins before announcing he wanted to transfer back to North Carolina in March. Yes, well, in the shocker of all shockers, Willis recently announced he was leaving North Carolina again.

Guess where he's likely headed this time? Yep, time to rack up those frequent flyer miles as Willis appears to be headed back to UCLA. That's according to the Daily News in Los Angeles. How long will Willis be at UCLA this time? I'm guessing he'll be there an entire eight months before he announces he's transferring again. Where will he move onto next?

I don't know, but that's the fun part about playing "Where In The World Will Brandon Willis Transfer To Next." You never really know where, just that he won't be there very long.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:53 pm
 

PODCAST: ACC season preview

Posted by Chip Patterson

As part of our ACC Preview, Adam Aizer, J. Darin Darst, and I sat down to take a look at the season ahead in the league. The ACC is a league with a lot of individual talent, but few teams that really stand out on the national level. We discuss the possible shift of power from the Coastal Division to the Atlantic Division, as well as the chances of Florida State reclaiming the conference. I throw an obnoxious amount of support behind Miami as a sleeper, and we run through Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and make our pick for the ACC Championship Game.

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If you are having trouble seeing the player, you can download the MP3 HERE













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 9, 2011 9:42 pm
 

Ted Hendricks Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Watch List season has mostly wound down, but on Tuesday one more individual award announced their watch list for the 2011 season. The Ted Hendricks Award is given annually to the defensive end of the year. Ted Hendricks was a defensive end at Miami, where he was college football's first three-time first-team All-American.

Last season's winner was Clemson defensive end Da'quan Bowers, who led the nation with 15.0 sacks. Other notable recent winners include Brian Orakpo (Texas, 2008), LaMarr Woodley (Michigan, 2006), and Elvis Dumervil, (Louisville, 2005).

Clemson's Andre Branch will try to follow in Bowers' footsteps, while West Virginia's Bruce Irvin and Troy's Jonathan Massaquoi will be trying to repeat impressive 2010 campaigns.

Here is the full watch list for the 2011 season. Players may be added or deleted from the list based on performance until the final watch list is issued in November. The winner will be announced on Dec. 7.



Who is your pick to win? Feel like anyone got left out? Let us know in the comment section below.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:42 pm
 

Ted Hendricks Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Watch List season has mostly wound down, but on Tuesday one more individual award announced their watch list for the 2011 season. The Ted Hendricks Award is given annually to the defensive end of the year. Ted Hendricks was a defensive end at Miami, where he was college football's first three-time first-team All-American.

Last season's winner was Clemson defensive end Da'quan Bowers, who led the nation with 15.0 sacks. Other notable recent winners include Brian Orakpo (Texas, 2008), LaMarr Woodley (Michigan, 2006), and Elvis Dumervil, (Louisville, 2005).

Clemson's Andre Branch will try to follow in Bowers' footsteps, while West Virginia's Bruce Irvin and Troy's Jonathan Massaquoi will be trying to repeat impressive 2010 campaigns.

Here is the full watch list for the 2011 season. Players may be added or deleted from the list based on performance until the final watch list is issued in November. The winner will be announced on Dec. 7.



Who is your pick to win? Feel like anyone got left out? Let us know in the comment section below.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:27 pm
 

DT Brandon Willis transferring from UNC, again

Posted by Chip Patterson

After a turbulent offseason that ended with the dismissal of head coach Butch Davis, North Carolina opened their fall training camp on Friday in Chapel Hill. When it came time for the players to report Friday morning for team photos, there were a few faces from the media guide missing.

The most notable name was defensive tackle Brandon Willis. Willis, a redshirt freshman, signed his Letter of Intent in February 2010 before requesting a transfer to UCLA due to family issues in August. Then in March 2011, Willis was granted a release from his UCLA scholarship so he could return to the Tar Heels. On Friday, the school announced that the defensive tackle has decided to transfer again.

The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive lineman was considered one of the top recruits in North Carolina's 2010 class, but his inability to stay in one place has not allowed him to showcase his talents on the field. No reason was given this departure, and it is unknown where Willis might be headed next.

Interim head coach Everett Withers also announced the departure of cornerback Mywan Jackson. Jackson's exit is unrelated to football, as it appears he will be taking some time away from school as well.

"Mywan is working through some personal issues right now with his family and he felt it was in the best interest to stay in Florida until he decides where to continue his education," said Withers. "He indicated he would like to attend a school closer to his home and we support his decision. I wish him nothing but the best."

Jackson started five games in 2010, totaling 20 tackles on the season. He, along with several other members of the secondary, saw early action while North Carolina sat Charles Brown, Kendric Burney, and Deunta Williams in the midst of the NCAA investigation.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: ACC

Posted by Chip Patterson

The first official preseason poll was released on Thursday, with USA Today announcing the results of the Coaches Poll. The ACC, which has spent much of the offseason discussing ways to increase their national prominence, finds themselves with only two teams ranked in the top 25.

The teams come as no surprise, as the ACC preseason favorite Florida State starts the season ranked No. 5, while Virginia Tech-picked by the media to win the Coastal Division - is ranked No. 13.

#5 Florida State - Seeing the Seminoles in the top 5 seems appropriate. They had a strong finish to the 2010 season, falling 44-33 to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game then defeating South Carolina in the Chick Fil-A Bowl, and return 16 offensive and defensive starters. One of the new starters, junior quarterback EJ Manuel, was already selected to the preseason All-ACC team. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has embraced the expectations, and feels certain that his team is prepared to stay focus regardless of hype. Manuel himself claims that he doesn't even read articles and blogs about the team.

But as far as national dominance goes, the Seminoles' campaign hits a fork in the road on Sept. 17 when the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners visit Tallahassee for a spotlight showdown that will likely make or break either team's national title hopes. A loss puts them in the position of battling for an Orange Bowl berth, a win makes a trip to New Orleans seem like a legitimate possibility for Florida State fans.

#13 Virginia Tech - One year ago, the Hokies were ranked sixth in this same preseason poll. Then an exhausting 33-30 Labor Day loss to Boise State was piggy-backed by an upset loss to James Madison at home. Suddenly, the top-10 Virginia Tech team with title hopes was unranked and looking for answers. The season had changed tone in only a five-day period. But the Hokies bounced back winning 11 straight games and an ACC Championship before losing to Stanford in the Orange Bowl.

Frank Beamer returns 12 starters from last year's squad, and a more than favorable schedule makes an eighth straight 10+ win season seem like a possibility. New starting quarterback Logan Thomas has drawn praise for his development and athletic ability, but the Hokies still need to answer some questions offensively. Being ranked just behind South Carolina and ahead of Arkansas seems a little high for this unproven squad, but I would not have put them below No. 16 Ohio State or No. 17 Michigan State. Considering the talent returning and the coaching staff in place, the ranking seems not only appropriate - but a good guess at where they could end up at the end of the season.

Other Receiving Votes
No. 25 Penn State finished with 161 points in the poll, here is a breakdown of how the other vote-getting teams fared.

Miami, 49 points, No. 29 - The Hurricanes have been picked by the media to finish second in the Coastal Division behind the Hokies. With a new head coach and still no decision on a starting quarterback, it is easy to see why coaches are reserving their endorsements of "The U."

North Carolina, 14 points, No. 36 - Anytime you dismiss a head coach just eight days before players report for training camp, it is going to shake up confidence in the upcoming season. The Tar Heels have one of the best defensive lines in the ACC, but big question marks in the secondary and unproven sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner make another "7 or 8 win/just outside the Top 25"-type season seem likely in Chapel Hill.

Clemson, 7 points, No. 40 - The Tigers pulled in a Top-10 recruiting class this offseason, with many of the stars expected to see playing time almost immediately. New offensive coordinator is promising upwards of 70-80 plays a game for the Tigers' offense, which could make for either a dominating or painfully reckless experience for sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd.

North Carolina State, 4 points, No. 44 - For the first time since his arrival, Tom O'Brien has recruited every player on the N.C. State two-deep depth chart. He feels confident that last season's 9-win performance was a sign of the program turning a corner. A favorable schedule makes a return to the postseason seem likely for the Wolfpack, but letting all-conference quarterback Russell Wilson walk to the Badgers will not get you preseason votes from most coaches.

Georgia Tech, 1 point, No. 49 - Head coach Paul Johnson is not on the USA TODAY Board of Coaches, so I'm not sure who gave the Yellow Jackets the sole No. 25 vote. Georgia Tech lost 5 of their last 6 games in 2010, only defeating Duke 30-20. They've got talent, but not enough to deserve national ranking after last season's collapse.
 
 
 
 
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