Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 3:57 pm
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.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:38 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
On Monday the media at the ACC Football Kickoff voted for the Preseason All-ACC team. The veteran group is made up entirely of juniors and seniors, and is led by Boston College's Preseason Player of the Year Montel Harris. Harris, along with Eagle teammate Luke Kuechly and N.C. State tight end George Bryan all earned preseason and end of the year all-conference honors in 2010. Kuechly was also named a unanimous first-team All-American heading into the 2011 season.
Here is the full rundown of the 2011 ACC Preseason Team:
Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown
WR Conner Vernon, Duke (20) 6-2 195 Junior Miami, Fla.
WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina (26) 6-4 225 Senior Burlington, N.C.
TE George Bryan, NC State (40) 6-5 265 Senior Castle Hayne, N.C.
T Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (30) 6-5 312 Senior Midlothian, Va.
T Andrew Datko, Florida State (29) 6-6 321 Senior Weston, Fla.
G Brandon Washington, Miami (28) 6-4 320 Senior Miami, Fla.
G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (21) 6-3 300 Junior Lithonia, Ga.
C Tyler Horn, Miami (18) 6-4 305 Senior Memphis, Tenn.
QB EJ Manuel, Florida State (23) 6-5 245 Junior Virginia Beach, Va.
RB Montel Harris, Boston College (49) 5-10 200 Senior Jacksonville, Fla.
RB Andre Ellington, Clemson (19) 5-10 190 Junior Moncks Corner, S.C.
Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (44) 6-3 265 Junior Tallahassee, Fla.
DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina (38) 6-6 285 Senior Kinston, N.C.
DT Tydreke Powell, North Carolina (21) 6-3 310 Senior Ahoskie, N.C.
DT Brandon Thompson, Clemson (21) 6-2 310 Senior Thomasville, Ga.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (49) 6-3 235 Junior Cincinnati, Ohio
LB Sean Spence, Miami (35) 6-0 224 Senior Miami, Fla.
LB Kenny Tate, Maryland (23) 6-4 220 Senior Forestville, Md.
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (38) 6-0 185 Senior Lexington, Ky..
CB Jayron Hosely, Virginia Tech (32) 5-10 170 Junior Delray Beach, Fla.
S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami (36) 6-4 215 Junior Sanford, Fla.
S Eddie Whitley, Virginia Tech (17) 6-1 187 Senior Charlotte, N.C.
Pos. Name (Votes) Ht Wt Class Hometown
PK Will Snyderwine, Duke (18) 5-11 190 Senior Potomac, Md..
P Dawson Zimmerman, Clemson (21) 6-0 205 Senior Lawrenceville, Ga..
SP Greg Reid, Florida State (22) 5-8 186 Junior Valdosta, Ga.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 6:08 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
N.C. State will have a new look in 2011.
It won't just be new starting quarterback Mike Glennon, or Audie Cole taking over Nate Irving's spot at middle linebacker. The entire roster will look different on the field thanks to their new state-of-the-art uniforms.
As CBSSports.com's Mike Potter reported earlier today, the Wolfpack will don a brand new uniform style and fabric in the upcoming season. The new jerseys will have "STATE" across the chest, while the white pants will carry the "Block S" logo. N.C. State football is under contract with adidas, and the company will suit the team up with new TechFit fabric, which boasts a more "breathable and comfortable fit" for the players.
"The uniforms have a very clean, traditional look," said head coach Tom O'Brien in the official release. "Our older fans will like them because they are reminiscent of the uniforms of great teams of the past and our current players will like them because they are stylish, comfortable and actually have elements that will benefit them on the field of play."
What are your thoughts on the new threads? Sign into CBSSports.com and let us know in the comment section below.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 7:19 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week saw one high-profile two-sport college athlete -- Russell Wilson -- forsake professional baseball (and a sizable chunk of money) to continue pursuing his career on the gridiron. But as if to prove that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, even in college football, Florida State has now seen that same decision go against them with wide receiver Taiwan Easterling.
Make that former wide receiver Taiwan Easterling, as a Florida State official confirmed to the Sun-Sentinel that Easterling (who already has his degree) will sign a professional contract with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs took Easterling in the 27th round of last month's MLB draft.
Though hardly the kind of seismic baseball-or-football decision Wilson's was at N.C. State (and, eventually, Wisconsin), there's little question Easterling's absence will be felt to some degree in the Seminoles' pursuit of their first ACC championship since 2005. The 5'11" Mississippi product finished in FSU's top-four receivers all three years of his career, finishing second on the 2010 team with 43 receptions (and 551 yards). He finishes his FSU tenure as the 18th-leading receiver in school history.
But even for all that, the 'Noles receiving cupboard isn't exactly bare. Not only do top two receivers Bert Reed and Willie Haulstead return, but not one player who caught a ball for Jimbo Fisher's team last season was a senior.
Certainly, they'd have been better off if Easterling had turned the Cubs down for one last hurrah. But we doubt there's going to be many tears shed for the 'Noles in Blacksburg or Coral Gables, or even many sleepless nights in Tallahassee.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 1:28 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 1:43 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Earlier this week, former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson ended the long-awaited indecision regarding his immediate future by announcing his transfer to Wisconsin. Wilson chose the Badgers over Auburn and continuing his career with the Asheville Tourists, the Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.
While some assumed that this may be the end of Wilson's baseball career, his time with the Rockies. according to Wilson's agent, may not be over after all.
"The Rockies have been incredibly understanding of how torn emotionally Russell is between baseball and football. He's not being disrespectful," agent Mark Rodgers told The Denver Post. "He's a 22-year-old kid who wants to keep his options open. The Rockies haven't closed the door on him coming back. And Russell has not closed the door."
Wilson did not have a fantastic start to his first season with the Tourists, batting .228 and only driving in 15 runs. He was second on the team in stolen bases (15), but it was not the kind of season expected from a fourth-round pick. If he chooses to stick with football, and does not return to the Rockies; he will have to forfeit "slightly less than 50 percent of his $200,000 signing bonus."
As Dennis Dodd pointed out, Wilson's arrival makes the Badgers the new Big Ten favorite. Wilson walks into a situation where he will be able to take advantage of the big stage to boost his professional football chances.
If Wilson can't impress scouts while playing for a Big Ten powerhouse, then heading back to the diamond might be his best move. Wilson has totaled up 93 touchdowns (passing and rushing) in his three-year career on the gridiron, and has stated his dream to play in both the NFL and in the major leagues.
The good news for the new Badgers signal-caller is that both doors are still open.
READ MORE: Eye on College Football Roundtable: Russell Wilson's impact on Wisconsin, the Big Ten
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:34 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 11:34 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The annual Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff has its pairing for 2013, the Hampton Roads Daily Press has reported.
According to columnist David Teel, Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver has confirmed an agreement that pits his Hokies against the Alabama Crimson Tide in a rematch of the 2009 Kickoff game between the two sides, won 34-24 by the eventual national champion Tide.
Though the game's organizers have yet to make the announcement official, Weaver told the Virginian-Pilot last week that he didn't foresee any "sticking points."
While the Tide's participation has been expected for some time, the Hokies had previously been scheduled to play East Carolina in the two teams' 2013 opener. But with Weaver confirming that the Hokies and Pirates have reached an agreement to move their scheduled home-and-home to 2016 and 2017 instead of 2012 and 2013, Tech was free to return to Atlanta for the Alabama rematch.
The meeting promises to continue the Chick-Fil-A game's recent run of salty season-opening matchups, which include not only the Tide's 2008 thumping of Clemson that began Tommy Bowden's downward spiral into unemployment and last year's LSU-North Carolina thriller but this year's Georgia-Boise State showdown and next year's Auburn-Clemson and Tennessee-N.C. State doubleheader.
The only problem? We have to wait until 2013 to see it.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2011 2:50 pm
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:
So Russell Wilson is transferring to Wisconsin. What does his decision mean for the Badgers? For the Big Ten race? For the Auburn team he spurned? Could it have an impact on the national title picture?Tom Fornelli: I think it puts Wisconsin right there with Nebraska in the role of Big Ten favorite, and considering the uncertainty surrounding T-Magic in Lincoln and the quarterback position there, Wisconsin may in fact be the favorite. We already know they can run the ball, and now they added a new dynamic to the offense they've never had before.
Adam Jacobi: I'd like to caution everyone from going overboard here. This will be Wilson's first year in the Wisconsin offense, and while Paul Chryst (pictured bottom right) is a solid enough coordinator to craft his offense around its strengths year to year, there's just naturally going to be an adjustment period.
Further, at what point, has Russell Wilson ever been a great quarterback? Sure, he threw the ball a lot at N.C. State, but he wasn't great at it; his passing efficiency last season ranked 62nd in the nation, right above Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz (who looked promising last year, sure, but no one's arguing he's "there" yet).
I'm willing to grant that Wilson is an upgrade over Wisconsin's returning quarterbacks, and that he makes the Badgers better than they were before. I just don't think setting high expectations on Wilson has ever been a recipe for success beyond eight or nine wins.
Chip Patterson: When Wilson exploded on the scene as a freshman in 2007, it was his playmaking ability and natural athleticism that caught his opponents off-guard and led to Wilson being named the ACC Rookie of the Year. But in 2010, it was a change in his game that helped the Wolfpack finish with their first nine-win season since 2002. Instead of scrambling to the sidelines, Wilson improved his pocket presence. He started stepping up in the pocket and hurting teams with his legs up the middle. Wisconsin doesn't need a dual-threat quarterback; it needs a competent one who will take what the defense gives the Badgers.
As Adam said, Wilson is not the most efficient passer. He also benefited last season from having a receiving corps made up mostly of tall pass catchers who could "go up and get it" when Wilson got in trouble (T.J. Graham was the only receiver on the two-deep last season under 6-foot-3). But there will be many upgrades that Wilson will get offensively in the move to Madison, most notably the availability of a dominant run game. Since his arrival at N.C. State, the Wolfpack have ranked in the bottom half of the ACC in rushing offense every single season. In 2010 Wisconsin's rushing offense ranked 12th nationally.
Wilson's addition answers perhaps the biggest question mark in Wisconsin's 2011 outlook. But his arrival also brings about new concerns, such as how his late addition might affect team chemistry or how quickly he can adjust to Paul Chryst's offense. The Badgers now become a favorite for the Leaders division, but there are still plenty of adjustments to be made before penciling them in for a return to Pasadena.
Jerry Hinnen: Well, no, it's too early to project the Badgers for a return trip to the Rose Bowl. But as I think Wilson's arrival puts Wisconsin firmly in that mix, I don't think we should undersell the importance of this decision, either. I don't know about "great" (to respond to Adam's question), and yes, he took a step back last year even as his team was taking a step forward. But in 2008 and 2009 Wilson was pretty damn good all the same: a combined touchdown-to-interception ratio of 48 to 12, a healthy 7.6 yards-per-attempt in that span, 640-plus rushing yards for good measure, All-ACC honors.
Much of Wilson's decline in efficiency can be attributed to N.C. State asking him to do too much, something we all know Wisconsin is most assuredly not going to do. The Badgers have already made the likes of Scott Tolzien and John Stocco into hyper-efficient stars, something Wilson's already proved himself more than capable of being with the Wolfpack. With the assets surrounding Wilson in Madison and the entire summer to bone up on Chryst's playbook now that he's already left his minor league baseball team, the Badger offense could be nearly as dynamic as it was in 2010.
And look at the Wisconsin schedule: no true road games until back-to-back dates at Michigan State and Ohio State in late October, and key dates with Nebraska and Penn State at home. If the Badgers can get past the Huskers and split the two October roadies, 11-1 and a second-straight BCS berth is right back in play. That's just not the case with Jon Budmayr under center, so, yeah, I think we're talking about a potentially major, national-sized impact -- maybe not crystal football major, but the next best thing.
(And as for the team on the other side of it, yes, Auburn could have used a player of Wilson's physical gifts during what looks like a rebuilding year. But as long as the Tigers have got Gus Malzahn (and two quarterbacks in Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley in their third year of his system to boot), there's only so far their quarterback play can slip; Wilson or no Wilson, they'll have bigger questions to answer than who's under center.)
Bryan Fischer: Going off what Chip said, Wilson's numbers are not the most efficient ones out there. He had to throw the ball 527 times last year, thanks in part to an inconsistent run game that had a few young running backs who tended to have trouble holding onto the ball. Toss in some wideouts that struggled and you get part of the reason he managed to only complete 58 percent of his passes last year. Still, you saw flashes of why he can be a threat with his arm and legs regardless of what talent is around him.
I still think it will take Wilson awhile to get adjusted to 1, playing football again after playing minor league baseball; and 2, Wisconsin's offense. With a big offensive line and very good running game, the Badgers won't need him to make plays right away but rather just be consistent with his play. He does hold the NCAA record for most pass attempts without an interception, and if he can take that part of his game to Camp Randall, I don't see why the Badgers won't be thinking about the Big Ten title game. I'm not ready to anoint them with Wilson coming in, but they certainly have a lot going for them now with an experienced signal-caller.
Posted on: June 27, 2011 12:47 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:49 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
After a three month "free agency" that was kicked off with the release from his scholarship with N.C. State, Russell Wilson has made a decision about his immediate future with football and baseball. On Monday, Wilson confirmed what many people had speculated: that he would use his final year of football eligibility this fall playing for Wisconsin.
Wilson chose the Badgers over Auburn and the Colorado Rockies organization, where Wilson was drafted in the fourth round last summer. He started at second base for the Class A Asheville Tourists this spring, but began to reconsider his future in football back in April. The next months were a whirlwind of reports and discussion, as Wilson visited with the coaching staffs at Auburn and Wisconsin during days off from the Tourists. With fall camp approaching in a little more than a month, and with a growingly frustrated Rockies' front office -- Wilson decided it was time to make a decision.
"I never want to be told I have the starting job, I never believe in that," Wilson explained in an appearance on ESPN's College Football Live on Monday. "I believe that, being the competitor I am, you have to compete every day. Once I found out I would get the opportunity to compete and be the best I could be every single day, I was truly excited about that.
"I think that with [Wisconsin's] coaching staff and the players they have, the tradition they have there in terms of their fans and the players that have played there before -- I am truly excited about it, I think it's a great situation for me."
Head coach Bret Bielema offered his thoughts on the arrival of Wilson in the school's official release.
“Russell will come in and compete for the starting quarterback position,” Bielema said. “This is an unusual situation, especially for a program that prides itself on developing players throughout their careers, as we do here at Wisconsin. However, this is a special situation and Russell is the type of player and person that fits very well with our team.”
For Wisconsin, Wilson's addition answers one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2011 season. When the Badgers closed spring practice, there still was not an official starting quarterback for the fall. Now Wisconsin gets the addition of a three-year starter with an all-conference resume. With Ohio State now facing a season of uncertain expectations thanks to the offseason scandal, Wilson makes the Badgers the biggest on-field story in the new Leaders Division of the Big Ten.