ACC mailblog

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
4:00
PM ET
Keep your notes coming. Mailbag is always open!

Jon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, writes: I thought you were decent until I read the recent article about whether ND was good for the ACC. In particular, talking about FSU's SOS this year (2014) with the big bad Oklahoma State and "improved" UF team... my goodness, that's a load. Your "improved" UF team is still fielding an awful offensive line, an inept quarterback, no wide receivers, a serviceable running backand a decent defense. Have you looked at the FSU team? I'm pretty sure we're going to steamroll Oklahoma State in Dallas and ND & UF at home. And ND is an awesome addition to the ACC, even if they beat FSU. This is college football and sports in general. If you were scared to lose, don't come to play. I'm sure you were just playing devil's advocate, but I expected more of you, even if you are a UF grad.

Andrea Adelson: When in doubt, blame the Gator. I hope you guys have figured out by now that I call 'em like I see 'em. Regardless of where I attended college, my job is to present different points of view. Florida State has a more challenging schedule this year than last. That doesn't mean I'm against Florida State. It means I think they have much bigger tests this year, tests that will challenge this team in ways it was not challenged a year ago. Oklahoma State is not Nevada; Notre Dame is not Idaho; and Florida will win more than four games this year. Will Florida State be favored in those three big nonconference games? Yes. Does Florida State deserve to start the season ranked No. 1? Yes. But that is not a guarantee the Noles will win all their games again. Part of the fun in the offseason, and in college football in general, is to speculate and hypothesize, to debate topics of interest. I think Notre Dame is a fascinating one from a football perspective. The Irish are a great addition in all other sports. But this quasi-scheduling agreement in football is no sure thing. The Irish could wreak havoc this season. Or they could slump and hurt strength of schedule. Or they could very well be the perfect addition. Nobody knows how it will play out.


Trevor in Miami writes: Just curious as to you being "more confident" in the quarterbacks at Pitt and Georgia Tech than Miami. Care to elaborate?

Adelson: Jake Heaps' addition is big for Miami from a depth and experience standpoint, but will he win the starting job until Ryan Williams returns? Nobody has the answer there. At least Pitt and Georgia Tech go into the season with a solid idea of what they will be getting out of the position. Chad Voytik played a good bowl game and has been in the Pitt system for two years now. I think he is in line for a great season. Justin Thomas played extensively a year ago for the Jackets, and those close to the program believe he is better suited to run the offense than Vad Lee. Tim Byerly provides a nice 1-2 punch there as well. Miami simply has no answers at quarterback right now. Kevin Olsen still has to prove he is the right man for the job (forget the fact he has never taken a snap in a college game). If he's not, Miami turns to a fifth-year senior in his third different program learning a new scheme essentially on the fly. Easy to see why I have concerns about Miami's quarterback.


Wayne in Tallahassee, Florida, writes: Will you remind these "Cane fans" they lost to Duke last year! I'm getting tired of this fan base claiming "Da U Da best." For a school that prides itself on academics, it sure does have a lot of illiterate fans/alumni! I know it may seem like a shot at Duke, but it isn't. Just a friendly reminder you can't say a school is garbage and call your school " the best" when said school beat you!

Adelson: I think you just reminded them yourself!


Jerry Ballard in Richmond, Virginia, writes: I do realize that UVa has not had much to be positive about in recent years... But is it wrong to think they will be a lot more successful, now that we have a legit QB playing this season? Fewer interceptions means better ball control, better field positioning, better time possession for our offense. Do you feel that UVa can turn the tide on our losing ways, now that we have a smart QB?

Adelson: Of the ACC teams that finished with losing records last season, I think Virginia will have the best win total increase this season. There is no doubt this team has been hurt because of its recent quarterback struggles. If Greyson Lambert plays well, Virginia is capable of being a bowl team. Having said that, the schedule is absolutely brutal. With a nonconference schedule like NC State's, Virginia absolutely would make a bowl. Instead, I think the Hoos will have a tough time getting to six.


Jay in Pittsburgh writes: Andrea, isn't No. 93 low for Tyler Boyd in the top 100? Don't you think he's a potential Heisman candidate this year?

Adelson: Yes, it is low. We had Boyd ranked in the top 15 of our ACC player countdown. Part of the issue there is I don't think he has a national name just yet, so perhaps folks outside this region who contributed to the Top 100 rankings undervalued what type of impact he makes in a game. As for the Heisman, I'd call Boyd a big-time dark horse at the outset.


Juan in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, writes: With what looks like a mas exodus of scholly players from UNC, whom would you now have as the Coastal favorite?

Adelson: Still got Duke there.


Greg in Washington, D.C., writes: Andrea, that no Wake Forest players (rightfully) made it onto your preseason list of ACC Top 25 players is a testament to the barren cupboard of talent left for Dave Clawson. Are there any incoming (or young and unproven) players we should keep an eye on for a future top-25 list? Or maybe even your end-of-2014 list?

Adelson: He is not young, but cornerback Kevin Johnson is somebody to keep an eye on for the final Top 25. Not many people know who he is, but he is in the next tier of ACC cornerbacks behind the elite players at Florida State and Virginia Tech.

Report: Sweatshirt caught Nike's eye

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
3:47
PM ET
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Florida State officials received an email from Nike during the 2013 season asking for Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher to eliminate any Under Armour gear from his son's wardrobe after the 9-year-old was seen on TV wearing the competitor's sweatshirt, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Mark Dupes, the Nike assistant director for football sports marketing who oversees FSU's licensing and apparel deal, sent an email congratulating athletic department officials for the team's victory over Miami on Nov. 2. In it, he references Fisher's son Ethan, who was caught on television cameras running and jumping into his father's arms after the victory.

"Hey guys great win and game! Appreciate everything you all do for us! Keep it rolling," Dupes wrote in the email, obtained by the WSJ under the Freedom of Information Act. "Hey got a text from the USA Director of Sports Marketing last night telling me of how good things look w FSU and our players and sideline staff, exposure for the Brand was exceptional. Then 5 min later I rec a new message...Said ABC cameras were on Jimbo and his Son [at] end of the game...His son was Wearing Under Armour FSU sweatshirt! Ouch. Can we please ask Jimbo to eliminate that from the son's wardrobe in the future! Let me know if I can help w anything. Thx guys. MD".

FSU senior associate athletics director Monk Bonasorte told the Journal on Thursday that he never acted on the email, but thought Dupes' comment was made more in jest.

"What am I going to do, go to coach and say, 'Hey, can you take that shirt off him?'" Bonasorte told the WSJ. "I'm not going to call Jimbo Fisher and tell him what his son can wear.


(Read full post)


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Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher explains why Jameis Winston is the top player in college football.
The Florida State Seminoles have a 40 percent chance of finishing the 2014 regular season undefeated, according to ESPN Stats & Information's Football Power Index. Florida State's toughest game this season statistically will be one in which the opponent has a 13.2 percent chance to win. That team is the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami? Are we in the 1990s?

Florida State still has an 87 percent probability of beating Miami on the road Nov. 15, and with such a high probability in Florida State's statistically toughest game, naturally there are several other games within a few percentage points. So, does Miami really present the toughest matchup this season?

Since Jimbo Fisher took over as coach, Miami has provided little resistance. His teams are 4-0 against rival Miami and have doubled up the Hurricanes in total points, 142-70. History won't dictate the game, but it illustrates the gap between the two programs whose annual rivalry game had national title implications seemingly every season for the better part of two decades.

Nowhere is the gap more noticeable than at quarterback. Florida State has Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Miami doesn't know who will start the opener as it's unlikely Ryan Williams, who tore an ACL in April, will be able to play. The hope is Williams will return at some point this season, but it has only been four months since the surgery.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen could be in line to see the most playing time in Williams' stead, but he still has yet to fully command the respect of his teammates and head coach.

"Kevin is really made a lot of improvement this summer on being a good teammate, but, for him to be the quarterback of the team, he needs to ascend to a leadership position," Miami coach Al Golden said last week. "He's matured … and he's being a good teammate. Now he needs to go and be a good leader like Ryan Williams is. You can't be a quarterback without being a leader."

What the Hurricanes do have is the conference's top running back in Duke Johnson, and he is Miami's best chance at the upset. If Johnson can find some running room early and the Hurricanes offer him a steady diet of touches, it could provide the winning formula.

A 100-yard game from Johnson would benefit the Hurricanes two-fold: The offense would move the ball with limited risk of a mistake from the quarterback, and it keeps Florida State's offense off the field. Miami played well defensively in Tallahassee last season through two quarters, but ultimately the unit spent too much time on the field; Florida State held the ball for more than 38 minutes. The defense collapsed over the final five games.

But while this rivalry awoke last year from a nearly decade-long hiatus from national relevancy, it seems there are games on Florida State's schedule that are equally tough.

Clemson is considered the next toughest game on the schedule (88 percent win probability), and the Seminoles host the Tigers on Sept. 20. There are not many recognizable faces on the Clemson offense, but the defense is among the best in the country. Critics will point to last season when that defense allowed 51 points to the Seminoles, and with good reason, but the unit should be better with Vic Beasley, Stephone Anthony and now five-star Mackenzie Alexander in the secondary. Florida State might not be as potent on offense in 2013 either without Kelvin Benjamin, Devonta Freeman and Kenny Shaw.

Florida is the next toughest matchup statistically for the Seminoles (91 percent), but there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the Gators. The injury bug bit Florida hard last season, and it showed on the field, especially at quarterback. Jeff Driskel has been on the hot seat much of his career in Gainesville, but he was clearly missed in 2013. If the Gators' offense can simply be efficient and avoid turnovers, similar to 2012, Florida's defense might be able to keep the Seminoles' offense at bay.

Those two games might not be as tough statistically as the Miami game now, but that could drastically change once the season begins.

Top ACC players: Nos. 5-1

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
9:00
AM ET
We wrap up our preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the ACC with the best of the best:

5. Jamison Crowder, Duke

Position: Wide receiver
Year: Senior

Crowder has a chance to leave school as the ACC's career leader in receptions and yards receiving. The electrifying Crowder needs 85 receptions and 1,152 receiving yards to set those marks, well within reason considering he has gone over 1,000 yards receiving each of the last two years. But beyond his receiving skills, Crowder is one of the best punt returners in the country, ranking No. 6 in the nation last year. He has led Duke in all-purpose yards for three straight seasons and needs just 1,537 yards to set the school record in all-purpose yards.

4. Rashad Greene, Florida State

Position: Wide receiver
Year: Senior

Greene makes the top five here, but he continues to be one of the most underrated receivers nationally. His numbers speak for themselves. Greene has led the Seminoles in receiving three straight seasons and is coming off his first 1,000-yard campaign. Already, he ranks fourth in school history in career receptions (171), sixth in receiving yards (2,465) and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns (22). Greene has caught a pass in 29 straight games, and that speaks to what he has done better than any receiver in recent history. He is consistent. Greene rarely makes mistakes and rarely drops passes. He will be critical to Jameis Winston's success this year.

3. Duke Johnson, Miami

Position: Running back
Year: Junior

Johnson knows how much he means to Miami. That became pretty clear when the Hurricanes went into a tailspin after he broke his ankle against Florida State in November. Nobody else on that team can replicate his speed, power, quickness and ability to make defenders miss. Johnson has never posted a 1,000-yard season -- a backup as a freshman and injuries derailed him last year -- but he does have something more impressive. His career average is 6.6 yards per carry, a true testament to how dynamic he is as a runner.

2. Vic Beasley, Clemson

Position: Defensive end
Year: Senior

Beasley could have left school early for the NFL draft after a monster 2013, in which he had 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss to rank as one of the best in the nation. But he decided to return to anchor what could be one of the best defensive lines in the country. Beasley is not that much bigger than a year ago, but he has worked on dropping back into coverage along with fine-tuning his pass-rushing skills to be even better this season. Clemson expects him to be, especially since the Tigers will be relying on Beasley and the defense to set the tone.

1. Jameis Winston, Florida State

Position: Quarterback
Year: Redshirt sophomore

Maybe Winston can do what Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel could not -- become just the second player in history to repeat as the Heisman winner. Winston has a terrific shot to do so, given all the talent the Seminoles return. He was the overwhelming choice to repeat as ACC Player of the Year and is on the preseason watch list for every major quarterback and player of the year award. He will be playing behind the best offensive line in the country, though he faces his biggest test adapting to new players at the skill positions. Outside of Rashad Greene and Nick O'Leary, a new cast of players need to step up as reliable targets. There is no 6-foot-5, 240-pound safety blanket named Kelvin Benjamin anymore. If the offense can transition seamlessly with new faces at key spots, Winston will be the reason.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Imagesnull
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Chris Spielman and Brian Griese discuss the players ranked 21-40 in ESPN.com's top 100 college football players.
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The Florida State Seminoles' latest addition, four-star ESPN 300 QB Deondre Francois, may be the eventual heir apparent to Jameis Winston. Here's a look at what his commitment means for the Seminoles:

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While Florida State has Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston for at least one more season, the future of the quarterback position is up for grabs.

The Seminoles added another player to the race with the commitment of ESPN 300 No. 55 Deondre Francois, who announced his decision Thursday at his high school.

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Elite 11 participant and No. 4 dual-threat prospect in the 2015 class selected the defending national champions over Auburn.

The Seminoles were considered the favorite for the majority of the recruitment, but Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Tennessee all made runs at the Under Armour All-America selection at various times since the end of the 2013 season.

Francois played his junior season at Olympia High in Orlando, but transferred in the spring to IMG Academy in Bradenton, where he now plays for former Florida State quarterback and 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.

Francois joins fellow ESPN 300 signal-caller De'Andre Johnson in the Seminoles' 2015 class, and just minutes before Francois' announcement, quarterback Kai Locksley, son of Maryland assistant Mike Locksley, also committed to the Noles.

Once on campus, Francois and Johnson will compete with current Florida State backup quarterbacks Sean Maguire


(Read full post)


Coaches pick Florida State as No. 1

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
2:03
PM ET
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The Florida State Seminoles aren't going anywhere, as the defending national champions are the No. 1 team in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.

FSU, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, got 56 of the 62 first-place votes.

"We're very excited about being No. 1 and happy to be No. 1, but we understand that we have to play like No. 1 and play great football," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told USA Today. "That's going to be our objective. We're proud to start there and now we just have to go play great football."

Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and Auburn, which lost to FSU in the final BCS title game last season, round out the top five. Ohio State starts at No. 6, and is followed by UCLA, Michigan State, South Carolina and Baylor.

Overall, the SEC leads the way with seven teams in the poll. The Pac-12 is represented by six teams, and the Big 12 and Big Ten each have four teams in the poll.


(Read full post)


FSU No. 1 in coaches' poll

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
12:50
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Surprise, surprise -- Florida State is the preseason No. 1 team in the Amway Coaches Poll.

The Seminoles received 56 of the 62 first-place votes as they enter 2014 looking to repeat as national champions.

Clemson and North Carolina were the only other ACC teams to be ranked, coming in at Nos. 16 and 23, respectively. For those keeping track, that means UNC is the only team from the Coastal Division to be ranked in the poll. This comes after Miami was chosen by the media in Greensboro, North Carolina, last week as the preseason Coastal favorite, in the same poll that saw Duke receive the most first-place Coastal votes. It is worth repeating again: This division race is wide open.

Notre Dame, which begins its football affiliation with the ACC this fall, checks in at No. 17 in the coaches' poll.

Miami leads the ACC contingent in the "others receiving votes" category of the coaches' poll, coming in at No. 34 overall. Right behind the Hurricanes? Duke and Louisville, at Nos. 35 and 36, respectively. Virginia Tech comes in at No. 40 while Georgia Tech is No. 48.

Half of the ACC's coaches vote in the poll: Frank Beamer, David Cutcliffe, Larry Fedora, Jimbo Fisher, Al Golden, Paul Johnson and Dabo Swinney. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly votes as well. Shockingly, all eight of those coaches saw their teams receive votes.
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Andrea Adelson discusses Florida State WR Jesus "Bobo" Wilson's no-contest pleas related to a scooter theft incident.g

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
12:00
PM ET
The season really cannot get here soon enough, can it?

Until then, no news is good news, and North Carolina is the latest to find that out, with multiple reports saying that three scholarship Tar Heels are no longer on the team.

A school spokesman confirmed the departures to ESPN.com.

Defensive tackles Shawn Underwood and Greg Webb and linebacker Clint Heaven will not be with the Heels when fall camp kicks off Friday. Offensive guard J.J. Patterson is not a part of the 105-man roster, the spokesman said.

Underwood and Webb are no longer a part of the program due to personal reasons, the spokesman said, while Heaven has transferred to Northern Iowa.

Underwood is the most decorated of the four, having been on the two-deep up front and coming off a 10-tackle junior season.

As Insider Carolina's Greg Barnes notes, 15 UNC scholarship players with eligibility remaining will not return for the 2014 campaign, a number that would be staggering if it wasn't so familiar in the conference already. As Andrea Adelson noted last week, fellow Coastal division foe Georgia Tech has lost 13 non-seniors since last season ended.

Here's to relatively quiet camps this next month.

Elsewhere across the ACC:

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Fisher's Son's Sweatshirt Caught Nike's Eye
Wall Street Journal reporter Sharon Terlep discusses Florida State officials receiving an email from Nike in 2013 asking for Jimbo Fisher to remove Under Armour gear from his son's wardrobe.
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