Florida State Seminoles: Nikita Whitlock

The NFL draft concluded with 42 ACC players selected last weekend, and a slew more ended up signing free-agent deals in the days afterward.

Here’s a quick rundown of where the ACC’s undrafted free agents landed.

BOSTON COLLEGE
QB Chase Rettig, Green Bay Packers
OLB Kasim Edebali, New Orleans Saints
LB Steele Divitto, New York Jets
OT Ian White, San Diego Chargers
OT Matt Patchan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DB Albert Louis-Jean, Chicago Bears

CLEMSON
K Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals
G Tyler Shatley, Jacksonville Jaguars
LB Spencer Shuey, Jacksonville Jaguars
CB Darius Robinson, Buffalo Bills

DUKE
RB Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos
DE Kenny Anunike, Denver Broncos

FLORIDA STATE
LB Christian Jones, Chicago Bears
RB James Wilder Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
WR Kenny Shaw, Cleveland Browns
FB Chad Abram, Detroit Lions
DT Demonte McAllister, Seattle Seahawks
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Cleveland Browns

GEORGIA TECH
DT Euclid Cummings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Lou Young, Denver Broncos
DE Emmanuel Dieke, New York Giants

LOUISVILLE
DT Roy Philon, Pittsburgh Steelers
S Hakeem Smith, Tennessee Titans
DT Brandon Dunn, Chicago Bears
WR Damian Copeland, Jacksonville Jaguars

MIAMI
WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
QB Stephen Morris, Jacksonville Jaguars
TE Asante Cleveland, San Francisco 49ers
DT Justin Renfrow, Arizona Cardinals
FB Maurice Hagens, Atlanta Falcons
S A.J. Highsmith, San Francisco 49ers
OG Jared Wheeler, Carolina Panthers
LB Jimmy Gaines, Buffalo Bills

NORTH CAROLINA
OT James Hurst, Baltimore Ravens
QB Bryn Renner, Denver Broncos

NC STATE
DE Carlos Gray, Green Bay Packers
TE Asa Watson, New England Patriots
DL Deylan Buntyn, New England Patriots

PITTSBURGH
P Matt Yoklic, Atlanta Falcons

SYRACUSE
CB Keon Lyn, Indianapolis Colts
CB Ri’Shard Anderson, Tennessee Titans
RB Jerome Smith, Atlanta Falcons

VIRGINIA
DE Jake Snyder, Minnesota Vikings

VIRGINIA TECH
DT Derrick Hopkins, Baltimore Ravens
LB Tariq Edwards, Miami Dolphins
WR D.J. Coles, Oakland Raiders
G Andrew Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DE James Gayle, Tennessee Titans

WAKE FOREST
DT Nikita Whitlock, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Justin Jackson, Detroit Lions
LB Zach Thompson, New York Jets

Reviewing the ACC pro days

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
2:30
PM ET
Pro days are now in the rearview mirror, with a month remaining between now and the NFL draft. With that, let's take a look back at some notable performances from ACC pro days this year.

Boston College (March 12)
Big name: RB Andre Williams. Representatives from 29 NFL teams were on hand to see the nation's top running back from last season. Williams says he improved on his combine 40-yard-dash time of 4.56. Also of note: Nate Freese, who went 20 of 20 last season on field goal tries, did not disappoint in front of his future employers, hitting a 60-yard try.

[+] EnlargeSammy Watkins
AP Photo/Michael ConroyClemson WR Sammy Watkins in all likelihood will be the first ACC player drafted in May.
Clemson (March 6)
Big name: WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins stood on his 40 time of 4.43 from the combine but was there to help out quarterback Tajh Boyd, doing little to change the general consensus that he is the top receiver in this year's draft. Boyd said scouts told him his performance was much better than his showings at the combine and Senior Bowl, as he connected on short, intermediate and deep routes with familiar receivers in familiar environs.

Duke (March 26)
Big name: CB Ross Cockrell. Cockrell improved on his combine results, with Duke saying that his 40 time was sub-4.4, which is better than what he ran in Indianapolis (4.56).

Florida State (March 17)
Big name: Where to begin? DL Timmy Jernigan slightly improved his combine 40-time from 5.06 to 5.03. S Terrence Brooks, LB Telvin Smith, DB Lamarcus Joyner and LB Christian Jones all drew a crowd, but they declined to run the 40 in front of reps from all 32 NFL teams, content to sit on their combine performances.

Georgia Tech (March 28)
Big name: LB Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu ran drills at both linebacker and defensive lineman, recovering nicely from a hamstring injury in the Senior Bowl that forced him out of the combine. He said his 40 time was in the 4.5s. DB Jemea Thomas also impressed, reportedly running a 4.38 40.

Louisville (March 17)
Big name: QB Teddy Bridgewater. With scouts from 29 teams watching, Bridgewater was off target with several of his throws. He ran an unofficial 4.78 40 time, but the potential No. 1 pick misfired on at least 10 passes, leaving some questions lingering heading into the draft.

Miami (April 3)
Big name: OT Seantrel Henderson. This is the name that is going to stick out, as Henderson did not finish his workouts. His agent later told reporters that it was due to dehydration. With 30 NFL teams represented, quarterback Stephen Morris took a strong step forward, reportedly completed almost all of his 67 throws.

North Carolina (March 25)
Big name: TE Eric Ebron. Ebron stood on his 40 time from the combine of 4.60, but his pro day was marred by several dropped passes, though the always upbeat tight end was not stressed about the drops when speaking to reporters afterward.

NC State (March 25)
Big name: CB Dontae Johnson. Johnson showed his versatility, as he can play corner or safety, and he said he felt better than he did at the combine, where he ran a 40 time of 4.45 and jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical.

Pittsburgh (March 3)
Big name: DT Aaron Donald. College football's best defensive player rested on his combine numbers in the 40 (4.68) and bench press (35 times), but teammates Tom Savage and Devin Street helped themselves. Savage impressed during a scripted 100-throw workout while Street said he ran a sub-4.5 40.

Syracuse
Big name: LB Marquis Spruill. Spruill recovered nicely from a combine snub, weighing in at 231 pounds, nine pounds heavier than his playing weight. He did not disclose numbers. Running back Jerome Smith, meanwhile, said he ran in the 4.5-4.6 range, which would be an improvement over his combine time of 4.84.

Virginia (March 17)
Big name: OT Morgan Moses. A considerably different-looking Moses showed up at 311 pounds, roughly 20 pounds lighter from his playing days with the Cavaliers. After clocking in at 5.35 in the 40 at the combine, he unofficially ran between 4.9 and 5.06 at his pro day, though he pulled a hamstring during one of the runs, forcing him to miss the remainder of his drills.

Virginia Tech (March 19)
Big name: QB Logan Thomas. Thomas remains a fascinating prospect to keep an eye on in the NFL, and he threw well in front of NFL scouts at pro day. Corner Antone Exum impressed as well, running 40 times of 4.53 and 4.55.

Wake Forest (March 17)
Big name: WR Michael Campanaro. After seeing his final year end prematurely because of a shoulder injury, Campanaro, the only Demon Deacon to have garnered a combine invite, again impressed in receiver drills, making his case to become a potential mid-round pick. Nose guard Nikita Whitlock, meanwhile, saw himself lining up as a fullback for the first time in his career. Weather conditions were less than ideal for the NFL hopefuls.

ACC mailblog

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
4:00
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Thanks for the great comments this week, keep them coming.

We start with a difference of opinion on who should play in the BCS national title game.

Hans in Winter Haven, Fla., writes: Notre Dame went undefeated with a lame schedule last year and this year we have Ohio State with the 53rd rated schedule toughness and FSU with 70th in schedule toughness but now 42nd with Duke on schedule. How many undefeated teams in the NFL won the Super Bowl? In other words when are reporters actually going to talk about what if Auburn played FSU's schedule or maybe Alabama playing Ohio State's schedule then who would be undefeated at the end of the year? An undefeated team playing lesser opponents and getting into final two is a joke. Thank goodness for some sort of playoffs next year because Alabama or Auburn would kill FSU and beat overrated OSU. Complete bias and horrible voting. The two best teams are Auburn and Alabama with Missouri not far behind.

Andrea Adelson writes: Where should I begin? First, college football is not the NFL so there is no need to even compare or talk about the records of teams in the Super Bowl. They have a playoff. College football does not yet. Second, what purpose would it serve to imagine Alabama hypothetically playing another conference's schedule and vice versa? These teams cannot up and flip conferences. Florida State and Ohio State must play the schedules laid out in front of them. It is an impossibility to switch them into the SEC just to see how it would play out. Also, we are talking about two legitimate conferences here, not the Sun Belt and the MAC. I am completely dumbfounded as to why only an unbeaten run in the SEC should be celebrated in college football. What makes you believe Auburn, with two fluke wins and several others that came down to the final possession, would beat Florida State? Because they are in a superior conference? That is hogwash. It should matter when you WIN all your games. Auburn should not get a mulligan for losing by two touchdowns to a three-loss team that almost lost to Arkansas (winless in SEC play).

Adam in Nashville, Tenn., writes: "Winning all your games in a power conference should be good enough for a shot at a national championship."Tell that to the '04 Auburn team.

Adelson writes: I felt bad for Auburn that year. But guess what? Two undefeated teams made it in ahead of the Tigers. This year, a one-loss Auburn team is asking to move ahead of an unbeaten squad. Not the same.

Greg in Newark, Ohio, writes: Thank you for putting together a well thought out article that gives a viewpoint of why FSU and OSU should get the chance to play for the NC provided they win.

Adelson writes: Thanks, Greg. I will reiterate: going unbeaten matters.

Jason in Atlanta writes: Am I correct in assuming that bowls must select 7-5 teams over 6-6 teams? So my Jackets (and BC and Maryland) are safe, right?Thanks!

Ryan in Clemson writes: Hey Andrea, I saw that you had Miami in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, however I thought there was a rule that would force them to pick Duke. The "Boston College" rule or something like that. I'm probably just remembering the rule wrong, but I was wondering if you could explain it? Thanks and have a great day!

Adelson writes: Let me answer Jason and Ryan at the same time. There is only one rule requirement in the bowl selection process: the one-win rule. Using the conference records of each team, if a bowl passes on a team with the best available league record, it can only choose another team within one conference win. So for example, if a bowl passes on a team that went 5-3 in league play, it could only choose another team that went 4-4. In the case of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Miami would be an eligible candidate. We kept the Hurricanes there based on a better potential national matchup vs. the SEC. Either Clemson, Miami or Duke will play in that game, depending on what happens with the Discover Orange Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJim Grobe
Jeremy Brevard/US PRESSWIREJim Grobe resigned on Monday as Wake Forest coach after 13 seasons at the helm.
Mark in Roanoke writes: Andrea, Thank you for the kind words you have written about Coach Grobe. I have been a Wake fan for just about my whole life. As a kid growing up in nearby High Point, N.C., I can tell you that very few people in the Piedmont Triad area of NC even cared about WF football. Coach Grobe changed that. You are right, Wake lost a great coach today, but college football lost an even better man. Jim Grobe succeeded at a place few thought anyone could succeed. Thanks again.

Adam Kessler in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Thank you for your incredible profile of Coach Grobe. I was at Wake during probably the best 4 years of sports imaginable (2004 - 2008), and Coach Grobe was an absolute standout. I am so glad you were able to share his Wake Forest legacy with the rest of the country with your wonderful article. In a time filled with coaching scandals, recruiting violations, and testy media relationships, Coach Grobe always did things the right way. I think our fan base agrees with his decision to step down, and while we're sad he's leaving, we're excited to have (hopefully) some new life in our football program. Thanks again!

Adelson: I know I speak for Heather when I say we are going to miss talking to Coach Grobe dearly. One of the nicest coaches I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

Vern in Atlanta writes: Andrea: I just saw the "All-ACC" team. All I can say is WOW. The No. 1 scoring defense and No. 1 pass defense (FSU) has only ONE player listed on the "first team" (Lamarcus Joyner). Moreover, the placekicker from FSU has only missed one kick -- all year -- and he's second-team" Who selects the "all-ACC" team - a Florida Gator cheerleader???

Adelson: Very funny, Vern. The team you referenced was selected by 65 voting members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. I do not have a vote and neither does Heather. I understand why Florida State fans were upset, but there are other players in this league who had outstanding seasons. I only had issues at two spots: I would have had Telvin Smith and Christian Jones in at linebacker. Timmy Jernigan could have made it in over Nikita Whitlock at defensive tackle. You can also make the case for Roberto Aguayo at kicker, but Nate Freese made all 18 of his attempts, including two 50-yarders. Aguayo obviously got many more opportunities to score points because he was on a far better offensive team. I did not think that choice was as egregious, even though Aguayo is the Groza finalist over Freese. Let us also remember Florida State had 17 total selections to lead everyone. The coaches will come out with their own team next Wednesday, so we can compare then.

Florida State headlines All-ACC team

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
3:28
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Florida State led all schools with seven players on the All-ACC first team, including quarterback Jameis Winston, running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner.

In all, the Seminoles had 17 players chosen to the first, second and third teams as voted on by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and announced Monday. Eleven players were selected from Coastal Division champion Duke, including four on the first team.

Boston College back Andre Williams, who leads the nation and set an ACC single-season record with 2,102 yards rushing, was the only unanimous selection to the All-ACC team. Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins received 63 votes, while Winston received 61. Duke receiver Jamison Crowder, who leads the ACC in receptions with 88 and has returned two punts for touchdowns this season, was the only player selected at multiple positions. Crowder was voted to the first team at receiver made the second team as a specialist.

First team

Offense

QB – Jameis Winston, Florida State

RB – Andre Williams, Boston College

RB – Devonta Freeman, Florida State

WR – Sammy Watkins, Clemson

WR - Jamison Crowder, Duke

WR – Rashad Greene, Florida State

TE - Eric Ebron, North Carolina

T- Cameron Erving, Florida State

T- James Hurst, North Carolina

G- Tre’ Jackson, Florida State

G-Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech

C- Bryan Stork, Florida State

Defense

DE - Vic Beasley, Clemson

DE - Kareem Martin, North Carolina

DT - Aaron Donald, Pitt

DT – Nikita Whitlock, Wake Forest

LB - Kelby Brown, Duke

LB – Denzel Perryman, Miami

LB – Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College

CB – Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

CB – Ross Cockrell, Duke

S – Anthony Harris, Virginia

S – Jeremy Cash, Duke

Special Teams

PK - Nate Freese, Boston College

P - Pat O’Donnell, Miami

SP - Ryan Switzer, North Carolina

ACC Saturday setup: Week 14

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
7:00
AM ET
Here's one final look at what's on tap on the final regular-season weekend in the ACC. All times are ET.

Florida State (11-0) at Florida (4-7), noon, ESPN

What's at stake: A win would move Florida State to 12-0 for the first time since finishing the 1999 national championship season with a 12-0 mark. A loss would ruin any shot at a national championship.

Statistically speaking: Coach Jimbo Fisher is looking to improve his record to 7-1 against in-state rivals Florida and Miami.

Quotable: "What we have to do is worry about playing well this weekend in Gainesville and if we do that, then the outcomes come. When you’re asked about it and you’re 18-22 years old, they can create distractions. It’s how much you believe in the system we have and what’s going on and can you compartmentalize all the other things and the questions that are going on about that. It is very tough. If it wasn’t tough, people would do it all the time." --- Fisher

No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2) at North Carolina (6-5, 4-3), noon, ESPN2

What's at stake: If Duke wins, the Blue Devils clinch a spot in the ACC championship game opposite Florida State, their first 10-win season and their first outright Coastal Division title.

Statistically speaking: Duke and Georgia Tech are the only teams in the nation that have converted 100 percent of their goal-to-go opportunities into touchdowns. The Blue Devils have converted all 22 of their chances, headlined by Brandon Connette’s 13 rushing scores.

Quotable: "You start out 1-5 then every one of them is more important. Each time you’re successful, the game becomes more important and a bigger game. They know where it’s at right now. I can assure you I’m not going to have to do anything to create more motivation for our guys. They’re going to be prepared and they’re going to be excited to play." -- North Carolina coach Larry Fedora

Wake Forest (4-7) at Vanderbilt (7-4), 12:21 p.m., GamePlan

What's at stake: The Deacs are trying to avoid their worst season since going 3-9 in 2010. A win would break a two-game losing streak in the series.

Statistically speaking: Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock has recorded a tackle for loss in 10 of 11 games this season. On the year, he has nine sacks (tied for No. 5 in the ACC) and 17 tackles for loss (third in the ACC). Both totals are team highs.

Quotable: "I think the thing that stands out with most of our seniors is that they've kind of maxed out what they can do. We may see a couple of guys that could have played better or could of had better careers, but most of these guys in the senior class really tried every year to be the best they could be and that's what you feel good about. I think these guys are a pretty close group and they care about each other and they've just tried as much as possible to be the best players they can be in our program." -- Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe

Maryland (6-5, 2-5) at NC State (3-8, 0-7), 12:30 p.m., GamePlan

What's at stake: The Terps surely want to win their final conference game ever, while NC State is hoping to avoid its first winless season in ACC play since 1959.

Statistically speaking: The games in this series are generally close. Of the last 13 contests between them, 11 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Five of those 13 games have been decided by four or less points and 10 by less than 10 points.

Quotable: "As hard as it’s been we’ve grown very close as a team and these guys want to see our seniors finish the season the way they want to finish it. Playing at home, playing an ACC team at home and playing in our last game with these guys is enough of a reason for these guys to want to play well." -- NC State coach Dave Doeren

Georgia (7-4) at Georgia Tech (7-4), 3:30 p.m., ABC

What's at stake: Georgia Tech has an opportunity to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 2008 and just the second time since 2000.

Statistically speaking: Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only teams in the nation to rank in the top 10 nationally in both rushing offense and rushing defense. The Jackets rank fourth in rush offense, 10th in rush defense.

Quotable: "I never had a chance to coach against him, but Herschel Walker. He's a big guy who runs through people and is fast. I mean he's a good player and he's going to be a good player for a long time if he doesn't get hurt. He's not only going to be good at Georgia, he's going to be a heck of an NFL running back too. He's got all the tools that they look for. He's good at running the football and is big and physical. He's a good receiver coming out of the backfield. He can do a lot of things." -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on what player compares to Georgia running back Todd Gurley

Boston College (7-4, 4-3) at Syracuse (5-6, 3-4), 3:30 p.m, GamePlan

What's at stake: The Orange must win out to become bowl eligible for the second straight season. As for BC, running back Andre Williams is now in the Heisman race. Another 200-yard performance will certainly help the cause.

Statistically speaking: The most recent meeting between these teams came at the Carrier Dome in 2010, with Boston College winning 16-7. Williams, then a backup freshman, filled in for injured starter Montel Harris and rushed for 185 yards on a school-record 42 carries to lead the Eagles.

Quotable: “We always knew at Syracuse that we were going to come into this game at the end of the year and it was going to be a really rough, physical, black-and-blue game. We prided ourselves at that time on being a physical team, and I know BC did, and we just knew that it was going to be one of those games at the end where it was going to be a real fistfight. Everyone was jacked about it and everybody couldn’t wait to get to that game. It was targeted, it was red letter game. I learned that when I went to Syracuse my first year as an assistant coach. It was quickly explained to me how important the BC-Syracuse game was, and I never lost that. I have a unique perspective on it obviously and I have a great appreciation for it.” -- Boston College coach Steve Addazio

Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3) at Virginia (2-9, 0-7), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

What's at stake: Virginia Tech should know before this game starts whether it still has a shot at making the ACC championship game. The Hokies need Duke to lose to North Carolina, and then have to go out and beat the Hoos.

Statistically speaking: The Hokies have actually fared better on the road than at home over the last 11 seasons against the Cavaliers. In the five games at Scott Stadium since 2002, the Hokies have averaged 37.2 points per game. In six games at Lane Stadium since 2002, Virginia Tech has averaged just 18.7 points per game.

Quotable: "Well I think both of us compete very, very hard against each other. You try to have success against their program. I don’t think what has happened in the past makes a lot of difference, I think what happens this Saturday makes all the difference. Every year it’s a new year, different teams, different people and what happens this Saturday is what is really important for us." -- Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer

No. 6 Clemson (10-1) at No. 10 South Carolina (9-2), 7 p.m., ESPN2

What's at stake: South Carolina has an opportunity to extend its winning streak in the series to a school-record five games. BCS hopes are on the line for both teams as well.

Statistically speaking: This is the third straight season Clemson and South Carolina have both been ranked in the AP top 20 entering the game. This series is one of just four nationally where that has been the case. The others are LSU-Florida, LSU-Alabama and Oregon-Stanford.

Quotable: "They are what you would expect when you look at a top-10 football team. They are a top-10 football team because they have a bunch of great players. They play hard and play tough and play with a lot of confidence. Our focus is on trying to finish and it has been. We want to have the best finish that we possibly can and, obviously, winning this game is huge part of that." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

Jernigan a monster on FSU's defense

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
1:00
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Timmy Jernigan never left Idaho’s backfield. The ball had been tossed 20 yards downfield, and his teammates scampered to chase down the Vandals’ Richard Montgomery as he rumbled for another 30, but Jernigan stood his ground.

[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFSU DT Timmy Jernigan could stop the run or get after the quarterback. He was simply a dominating presence who will be a first-round NFL draft pick.
He knew he hadn’t gotten beat, and he knew the play was a mirage.

“I saw the ref throw the flag,” Jernigan said. It wasn’t me being lazy or nothing like that. I know I’m a big dude, but I knew it was coming back.”

It’s hard to fault Idaho for the hold. What other choice did the Vandals have? Jernigan was on the field for only about 16 minutes of action Saturday, and he still racked up six tackles, including 4.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks. He tossed around linemen like rag dolls, once pushing his blocker backward onto the ball carrier for a tackle, a neat trick Jernigan bashfully laughed about afterward.

It’s possible Saturday was Jernigan’s final appearance at Doak Campbell Stadium, should the projected first-round pick decide to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft, but that image of the behemoth in the No. 8 jersey, patiently waiting for the proceedings to reconvene around him would make for an appropriate ending.

All season, Jernigan has been the man controlling the action, but rarely has he been the one at center stage. He’s usually the one setting the the pieces in motion for the players around him, and so even within his own conference, Pitt’s Aaron Donald or Wake Forest’s Nikita Whitlock manage to steal the limited spotlight offered to defensive tackles.

But make no mistake, Jernigan is dominating.

“He’s a great player, and he makes two other guys great because he takes the double teams and stuff you have to do to block him and account for him,” Jimbo Fisher said.

For the season, Jernigan has racked up a team-leading 10.5 tackles for loss, in spite of an abridged workload due to Florida State’s litany of blowout wins. He’s been a force up the middle, opening gaps for linebackers and squashing running backs who dare to tread between the tackles. He’s a monster, and and he expects the opposition to be afraid.

“I feel like it’s almost disrespectful if you don’t double team me every play,” Jernigan said. “I feel like that’s saying something if you feel like you don’t have to double team me.”

Jernigan is rarely disrespected. On a defense chock full of athletic playmakers, the man in the middle of Florida State’s defensive line gets top billing in the offensive meeting rooms of teams hoping to find some way to keep the monster at bay.

"He alters the whole process of what an offensive coordinator can call,” linebacker Telvin Smith said.

Jernigan is all energy, a black hole on defense, swallowing up everything around him until the offense disappears. He’s mean, he’s attacking, and he’s unwavering.

The irony of Jernigan’s ferociousness on the field is that, away from it, he’s quiet, thoughtful and unassuming. He speaks in hushed tones, still oozing confidence but almost embarrassed by his success.

Then Saturday arrives, a switch flips, and Jernigan is the monster once again.

“I’m a totally different person on the field, high energy,” Jernigan said. “It just happens. When you walk through that tunnel, if you’re not ready to play, something is wrong.”

And if Jernigan was at his ferocious best against lowly Idaho, this week’s showdown against Florida figures to be a gruesome affair.

Jernigan actually grew up a Gators fan. At Columbia High in Lake City, Fla., he was surrounded by blue and orange, and his own mother was a die-hard Florida supporter. For a while, that’s where Jernigan figured he’d play, too.

But it was actually at a Florida-FSU game in Tallahassee that he realized he belonged in a Seminoles jersey. Now, there’s no love lost between Jernigan and his former favorite team. Instead, he’s expecting a battle.

“I feel like they’ll play us as tough as any offensive line has up front,” Jernigan said of the 4-7 Gators. “I know they’re going to come out and try to run the ball right down our throats.”

Plenty have tried, but few have bested Jernigan in the trenches.

After last week’s game, Fisher marveled at what his defensive tackle could do. The line of scrimmage belonged to Jernigan, not simply because he was bigger and faster and stronger, but also smarter.

“His physicality, man, but he’s become a technician,” Fisher said. “And with his athletic ability, he’s hard to handle.”

As he left the field Saturday, Jernigan took a moment to soak in the atmosphere. Maybe it was his last home game. He’d be lying if he said the thought wasn’t in the back of his mind.

But more than that, he wanted to savor the feeling of another dominant performance, appreciate what was being accomplished even if so much of his work is best appreciated days later when the coaches break down the film.

“We’ve got a real good vibe about us, and we look forward to dominating every week,” Jernigan said. “But we have a big task at hand trying to get to the national championship and trying to beat Florida. So that’s what I’m focused on.”

ACC predictions: Week 10

October, 31, 2013
10/31/13
9:00
AM ET
Week 9 was not kind to your ACC bloggers. We missed the same three games, going 4-3. AA keeps her two-game edge overall on HD at 59-13. Hopefully Week 10 will be kinder to us.

On to the picks!

Virginia Tech (6-2, 3-1) at Boston College (3-4, 1-3), noon ET, ABC/ESPN2. #VTvsBC. Well, this one ought to be fun. Two of the worst offenses in the entire country square off -- No. 110 Virginia Tech vs. No. 108 Boston College. Those offensive struggles cost both teams last week in losses. Logan Thomas threw four interceptions against Duke; Chase Rettig threw for 57 yards against North Carolina -- which has the worst statistical defense in the ACC. If Rettig struggled that badly against the Tar Heels, what will happen against the No. 3 defense in the nation? Nothing has come easily for the Hokies on offense, putting extra stress on the defense to play nearly perfectly to win. AA says bank on the Virginia Tech offense and Thomas to play better. Not like an offensive juggernaut, but efficient enough to win. AA picks: Virginia Tech 21, Boston College 13.

HD picks: Boston College 24, Virginia Tech 21: The Eagles have home-field advantage -- and the edge on the ground. In a game that will feature two embattled quarterbacks, the difference will be the Eagles’ ability to run the ball consistently. BC is averaging 176.6 rushing yards per game; the Hokies are No. 105 in the country in rushing offense at 124.5 yards. Andre Williams leads the ACC and is fifth in the nation in rushing. He’s not going to have a career day, but he’ll have a good enough performance -- and Virginia Tech will make enough mistakes -- for the Eagles to win.

North Carolina (2-5, 1-3) at NC State (3-4, 0-4), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3. #UNCvsNCST. The Wolfpack have taken a bit of a nosedive in the month of October, losing three straight in some pretty disappointing performances. Their previous win? Sept. 28 against Central Michigan. Meanwhile, North Carolina seems reinvigorated after nearly upsetting Miami, then beating Boston College. The Tar Heels pulled out the win over NC State in one of the best ACC games last season. But AA is going with NC State in this one. The Wolfpack are going to be able to gain yards with their running game, and the NC State defensive front will do enough to keep Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams out of rhythm. North Carolina has not won in Raleigh since 2005. AA picks: NC State 30, North Carolina 27.

HD picks: North Carolina 35, NC State 21: The Tar Heels are simply the more talented of the two teams right now, they’ve got an NFL-caliber tight end in Eric Ebron, and they’ve got the edge at quarterback. UNC has started to play better on defense and has made fewer mistakes in each of the past two games. The 10 points allowed against Boston College on Saturday was its fewest allowed against an ACC opponent since a 44-10 win at Virginia on Oct. 16, 2010. North Carolina’s defense allowed just 59 passing yards, the fewest by an opponent since Clemson threw for 37 yards in a UNC win in Death Valley on Nov. 15, 1997. UNC will continue that progress against a Pack offense that is averaging just 23.6 points per game.

Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3) at Syracuse (3-4, 1-2), 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3. #WAKEvsCUSE. The Deacs might have lost last week but they sure did put a scare into the No. 7 Hurricanes, leading for all but a few minutes. Wake is playing much better at this point compared to the beginning of the season, and all eyes once again are going to be on Michael Campanaro, who has double-digit receptions in three straight games. He needs six receptions to move into second place on the ACC's career list. Syracuse has been depleted in the secondary, so Wake Forest gets the edge there. The Orange looked miserable offensively the last time out against Georgia Tech. We don't anticipate a similar performance, but Nikita Whitlock and his teammates up front will do enough to disrupt the run game to get the Deacs closer to bowl eligibility. AA picks: Wake Forest 24, Syracuse 23.

HD picks: Wake Forest 21, Syracuse 17

No. 8 Clemson (7-1, 5-1) at Virginia (2-6, 0-4), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. #CLEMvsUVA. The Tigers have been slow out of the gate in their past three games and have not wowed anybody with their defensive play in the past two. Perhaps that all changes against the worst team in the league. Though Virginia did show signs of life in a loss to Georgia Tech last week, the fact that the Cavaliers scored only once off five Jackets turnovers tells you where this offense -- and this program -- stands. They can make a few plays here and there but for the most part, Virginia has been unable to take advantage of opportunities to win, and killed itself with too many mistakes and penalties. Because of the ACC's unbalanced schedule moving forward, this is the last meeting between the programs until 2020. AA picks: Clemson 38, Virginia 17.

HD picks: Clemson 41, Virginia 27

Pitt (4-3, 2-2) at Georgia Tech (5-3, 4-2), 7 p.m., ESPNU. #PITTvsGT. The Panthers faced a similar offense last week against Navy, so they have some preparation under their belts. But they also lost the game, giving up two scores in the fourth quarter after taking a 21-14 lead. Meanwhile, the offense has struggled since putting up 58 points in a win over Duke in September. In the four games since, the Panthers are averaging 19.8 points a game. In two ACC games, they scored a total of 23 points. Georgia Tech has won two straight, and had three players go over 100 yards rushing last week against Virginia. The Jackets did have some defensive breakdowns and too many turnovers, but the previous time they played at home, they gave a near-flawless effort. AA picks: Georgia Tech 30, Pitt 24.

HD picks: Georgia Tech 31, Pitt 21

No. 7 Miami (7-0, 3-0) at No. 3 Florida State (7-0, 5-0), 8 p.m., ABC. #MIAvsFSU. Nobody is giving Miami a chance to win this game. Indeed, the oddsmakers are treating the Canes as if they are a middle-of-the-pack ACC team, installing them as 22-point underdogs. So does Miami have a shot? Only if the Canes can control the clock, play a power-run game and limit the big plays defensively. Easier said than done. The most concern for Miami has to be on defense, where the Canes lose every single matchup against Florida State. The Seminoles have the stronger offensive line; a talented and deep group of receivers; solid running backs; a Heisman Trophy contender in Jameis Winston; and a terrific tight end in Nick O'Leary. Given how UNC's Eric Ebron torched Miami, slowing down O'Leary has to be a top priority. He has the most red zone touchdown receptions (five) in the ACC. Miami might not be as good as its record indicates, but you can be assured the Canes will be amped for this game and keenly aware that they have been disrespected at every turn. That won't be enough to get them a win, but it will be enough for them to stay closer than everybody believes. AA picks: Florida State 40, Miami 24.

HD’s pick: Florida State 42, Miami 35

FSU-Clemson puts ACC in spotlight

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
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The most anticipated college football game in the ACC will kick off in Death Valley later today, putting the league squarely in the national spotlight.

That is where the league wants to stay.

Either Clemson or Florida State will remain a national championship contender. The loser has a shot at staying in the top 10, and earning an at-large BCS berth should it win out.

"We are the only league out there that's got three undefeated teams, and to have two of them not only match up and play, but be in the same division, I think it's great," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I don't have any doubt that regardless of the outcome of this game, Clemson and Florida State are going to be very much in the picture the rest of the year. This is two really good football teams that are going to do everything they can to win this game."

Indeed, for the second straight year both teams face each other ranked in the top 10, with both national championship and ACC title hopes on the line. The winner of this game has produced the Atlantic Division representative in the ACC championship game in each of the last four years, making Florida State-Clemson a burgeoning rivalry.

The high stakes only add to it.

"You have a rivalry, it's usually when both teams are very competitive and both teams have success and it will decide something, and this has definitely become that in my opinion," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said.

So who has the edge? Boston College coach Steve Addazio, who faced both teams already this year, has been besieged with that question from the media, friends and even family. Even he is undecided.

"They're really both two outstanding teams. I mean, absolutely justified in the rankings that they have," Addazio said. "They could be No. 1. They're that talented. They're each a little different maybe, but at the end of the day, they've got two powerful defenses, two explosive quarterbacks and teams that are loaded with playmakers. So I just think you're going to see one of the truly outstanding football games of the season. I think it's great for the ACC to have the quality of teams that we have in here, and now you have two of these teams on a national stage.

"I can tell you from my years in the SEC and in the Big Ten and different places I've been that I would put these two teams up against anybody."

This game is the headliner, but there are several others on the ACC slate in Week 8 that will have potential bowl ramifications. Here is a quick look at the other matchups.

Syracuse (3-3, 1-1) at Georgia Tech (3-3, 2-2), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. Even though the Jackets have lost three straight, their average of 421.3 yards of total offense ranks as the sixth-highest in school history. Syracuse, meanwhile, is averaging 220.7 yards per game on the ground -- on pace to be the team’s best mark since 1998 (228.4). The Orange have posted back-to-back 300-yard rushing games, the first time that has happened since 2003.

Maryland (5-1, 1-1) at Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. There is no doubt Maryland has to keep an eye on Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro, who has two games this season with double-digit receptions. He needs 11 catches to pass Desmond Clark (1995-98) as the school's career receptions leader. Clark holds the mark with 216. Meanwhile, the Maryland run offense will provide a big challenge for the Deacs. Nikita Whitlock, who has 11.5 tackles for loss, will be a big key.

Duke (4-2, 0-2) at Virginia (2-4, 0-2), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. One team will pick up its first ACC win of the season. One key matchup to watch is Virginia running back Kevin Parks against the Duke run defense. The Blue Devils have shown flashes of defensive improvement but have been wildly inconsistent. They had a great showing last week, but coach David Cutcliffe wants to see that type of performance each week. Parks, meanwhile, had his third 100-yard rushing day last week against Maryland, giving him consecutive 100-yard rushing days.

Old Dominion (4-2) at Pitt (3-2), 7 p.m., ESPN3. The Panthers' run game has come to a screeching halt over the last two weeks, with a combined 31 yards on the ground against Virginia and Virginia Tech. Some of that has to do with the sacks that have lost yardage, but no running back has gone over 31 yards rushing since the win over Duke on Sept. 21. Coach Paul Chryst says there are a few things that can be done schematically to help the Panthers get back on track.

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 23, 2013
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Dolphins 3-0!

ACC weekend rewind: Week 4

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
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Here is one last look back at the week that was in the ACC.

The good: Perhaps Clemson teams of the past would have faltered when adversity struck early Thursday in Raleigh, N.C. But the defensive line stood up, and the offense made plays when it needed to, turning a close contest into a more comfortable 26-14 win, allowing the Tigers to remain the ACC's most likely national title contender.

[+] EnlargeTravis Blanks
Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty ImagesThe Clemson defense played well in the win over North Carolina State.
The bad: Pitt's defense avoids this distinction only because Duke's was worse. The Panthers escaped Durham, N.C., with a 58-55 win Saturday for their first ACC victory. The Blue Devils surrendered 598 yards of offense and did not force a single turnover, while committing four themselves. Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Sunday that he had never been a part of any game like it before.

The ugly: Virginia Tech beat Marshall 29-21 in three overtimes to get to 3-1. The first two overtimes featured no scores. The game had five total turnovers. Marshall committed 11 penalties. Oh, and both kickers combined to go 0-for-5 on field goal attempts, with the Hokies' Ethan Keyserling going 0-for-3 while replacing Cody Journell, who was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The one bright spot was Derrick Hopkins coming oh-so-close to a walk-off fat guy touchdown after a Rakeem Cato fumble in overtime No. 2.

The wake me when it's over: The fourth quarter of Miami's 77-7 win over Savannah State was shortened to 12 minutes, as mutually agreed upon by both coaches. What more needs to be said about this matchup?

The wake me when it's over, Parts 2 and 3: In case one FCS beatdown wasn't enough for you, Virginia beat VMI 49-0 and Florida State beat Bethune-Cookman 54-6. For those keeping count, that's a combined 180-13 margin for the three ACC squads against FCS foes this past weekend.

The rebound: Wake Forest needed a win in the worst way, and the Demon Deacons came through Saturday at Army. Josh Harris had two second-half touchdowns and Nikita Whitlock notched 14 tackles, giving the Deacs a 25-11 win before they prepare to head to Clemson this week.

The statement: Nice little stories don't force six turnovers and beat West Virginia 37-0. They don't hold the Mountaineers to six first downs and 175 total yards of offense. And they don't start 4-0. It may be time to take Maryland seriously after its rout of WVU, as the Terrapins are two wins shy of their previous two-year total under Randy Edsall, who refused to call the win a signature one but is surely pleased with his team's start this season.

The what-could-have-been: Hindsight is 20/20. We don't know how ready Terrel Hunt would have been to start for Syracuse in the season opener. And Wagner and Tulane are not as good as Penn State and Northwestern. That said, the loss to the Nittany Lions was a winnable game. And Hunt's two starts after the Orange's first two losses with Drew Allen under center have been great, as he completed 16 of 21 passes Saturday against the Green Wave for 181 yards and four touchdowns. He added 39 yards and another score on the ground, and he did not turn the ball over. Hunt, as Anish Shroff pointed out, has the highest Total QBR rating in the country, though he has not played enough yet to qualify for the top spot.

The stand: Georgia Tech improved to 2-0 in the conference with a 28-20 home win over North Carolina, and it did it with its defense. The Yellow Jackets trailed by 13 twice in the first half. But they held the Tar Heels without a point over the game's final 39-plus minutes and held UNC to just 319 total yards of offense.
No. 9. Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State

Previous ranking: No. 15

Making the case for Joyner: As one of the top defensive backs in the country, Joyner will be showcasing his versatility this year at corner, where he played during the spring. He spent the past two seasons as the starting strong safety, where he has started 27 straight games, and he is also one of the top kick returners in school history. In a top-10 win over Clemson, Joyner returned five kickoffs for 185 yards, including one for 90 yards. He has played in every game since he arrived at Florida State as a freshman in 2010, and is now the leader of the defense. Joyner has great range because of his speed, which allows him to cover a lot of ground in the secondary. Joyner is on the watch lists this year for the Thorpe Award, Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy, Lott Impact Trophy and Paul Hornung Award.

The countdown
No. 15. Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
FSU
Previous ranking: Not ranked

Making the case for Jernigan: He’s oozing potential, but even after only two starts last fall, he’s played enough that it’s clear Jernigan is one of the nation’s top returning tackles. Jernigan is expected to step into a starting role this fall, and he’s got the experience of 26 career games as a foundation. He’s quick into opponents’ backfields, as he had the most tackles amongst all FSU interior linemen in each of his first two seasons.

This year, Jernigan is a candidate for the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation's top interior lineman, as well as the Lombardi Award, given to the nation's top lineman. He enters 2013 with 76 career tackles and 14 tackles for loss. If he picks up where he left off, Jernigan should have a breakout season. He finished 2012 strong, with 22 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in his final four games. He was also an impact player in the ACC title game win over Georgia Tech, when he had the team’s only sack.

The countdown

 

Ranking FSU's opposing defenders 

June, 5, 2013
6/05/13
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It's Rankings Week at Nole Nation, and each day we'll be counting down the top teams, players and matchups of the 2013 season. Next up, a look at FSU's 10 most dangerous defensive opponents.

Grading the Game: FSU 52, Wake Forest 0 

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
1:40
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Through the first two games, grades had to be scaled down a tad because the opponents weren't very good.

This week? Well, it's tough to say. The final score -- a 52-0 FSU win -- hardly indicates Wake Forest was much of a challenge either. On the other hand, there's a good case to be made that the Demon Deacons are still the fifth-best team FSU will face this year, so how easy could it have been?

In the end, there were a few causes for concern Saturday, mostly in the passing game, but it was such a complete all-around performance, with a dominant day from the running game, the defense and on special teams, that it's easy to understand why so many fans walked out of Doak Campbell believing they'd finally gotten an answer to the question: Is this the year Florida State is back?

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A year ago, Florida State limped off the field against Wake Forest, having lost its third straight game. Chris Thompson was lost, as well, out for the season with a broken back.

A lot has changed in a year.

Thompson racked up 220 yards of offense and broke off two long touchdown runs as Florida State crushed Wake Forest 52-0 to open the season 3-0 for the first time since 2005.

The Seminoles have won 10 of 11 games since last year's loss to Wake Forest, and they look like a much improved team from the one that coughed up five turnovers in that game.

Thompson led an offensive onslaught; Bjoern Werner and the defense held Wake Forest to just 126 yards of offense; and, for the third straight game, the starters were resting comfortably on the sideline by the fourth quarter.

Through three games, Florida State has outscored its opponents 176-3, but the task gets much tougher next week with Clemson coming to Doak Campbell Stadium.

It was over when: Thompson broke his second long touchdown run, an 80-yarder down the sideline, to give Florida State a 28-0 lead. Wake Forest's rush had stunted FSU's passing game, but the Deacons had no answer for Thompson. His first touchdown took the wind out of Wake's sails. The second one effectively ended any hopes it had of recovering.

Game ball goes to: Thompson. The senior tailback didn't need this game to prove he was fully recovered from the injury he suffered a year ago, but he needed to prove something to himself. His 220 yards of offense represented a career high, and he turned in the 10th-best rushing performance in school history despite not taking a single handoff in the second half.

Stat of the game: 197. That's Thompson's rushing total for the game, all coming in the first half. In school history, only Greg Allen's 238-yard second half against Western Carolina in 1981 was a more productive 30 minutes. Thompson's runs of 74 and 80 yards were his fourth and fifth career touchdown runs of at least 70 yards, and the game marked his first 100-yard performance since the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Unsung hero: The Florida State secondary. Xavier Rhodes and Lamarcus Joyner were exceptional against Wake Forest's passing attack. Just a week after Tanner Price won the ACC's quarterback of the week award and Michael Campanaro hauled in 13 catches for 163 yards, the Deacons were utterly helpless trying to find yardage downfield. Price finished the game with 8-of-22 passing for 82 yards, and Campanaro had just two catches for 8 yards.

What we learned: For the third straight week, we might not have learned very much about Florida State. The running game picked up big yardage and the defense was dominant, but the opponent also was completely overmatched and FSU's starters were on the bench by the start of the fourth quarter. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the performance was the offensive line's struggles in pass protection. EJ Manuel was sacked three times and was under pressure for much of the game despite Wake's best defensive lineman, Nikita Whitlock, sitting out with an injury.

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