Last mailblog of February, whew ...
Doug Powell in Cullowhee, N.C. writes: Who do you think is going to win the NC State running back job come fall? and do you think Russell Wilson will be back?
HD: Shoot, am I supposed to have the answers to these questions? I don't even think Tom O'Brien knows those answers yet, but both are worth watching. If there's anyone close to a frontrunner at running back, you might say Curtis Underwood, who redshirted last year so he could play a season out of the shadow of Toney Baker and Jamelle Eugene. James Washington saw some time early last year. Brandon Barnes is another talented player who has been in the system, and Mustafa Greene is a true freshman worth getting excited about, but he won't be on campus until the fall. And yes, I think Wilson will be back. Just a guess.
LucasHokie in Reidsville, NC writes: Do you think this could be the year the ACC beats up on other conferences? I think if Miami can start out like last year, GT can find their November stride in September, and FSU starts playing like FSU we could do it. I think this is the year VT will shake off the Top 5 winning drought against Boise. We have the offense, and more importantly, our offense is built perfect for grinding out the clock. Keep the ball away from Keenum. If not this year, at least it looks like Miami and FSU are finding their A game again. I may not like Miami (as a Hokie), but I would rather any ACC team win over another conference.
HD: I like your positive outlook, man, but this conference has a habit of getting fans' hopes up. There are plenty of reasons for optimism. After speaking with Bud Foster this week, he's confident in the talent he has and says the "cupboard is not bare." Miami and FSU should take significant steps forward, and I like UNC's defense in that matchup against LSU's offense. But when it comes to winning the big nonconference games, I'm now in believe-it-when-I-see-it mode.
Duce in Tampa,Fla. writes: HD, i appreciate the job you do in the off season. You keep FSU fans (lol), as myself, hyped for next season. I have two questions. What are the chances of FSU winning the conference this year and who do you think they would do battle with in the title game.
HD: Well, I like this FSU team and the direction it's headed. I've got them as my frontrunner in the Atlantic right now, but that's where I had them last year, and we all saw how well that turned out. Jimbo Fisher has already raised the expectations there, but there's no denying the Noles have a lot of work to do, starting on defense. I think the Coastal will have some shakeups this year. Looking for UNC or Miami to make a move, but VT is the team to beat. Hokies have less questions than defending champs Jackets.
Jeff in Huntington, N.Y. writes: Hey Heather,Maryland seems to have enough talent at the skill positions on offense but it seems as though the o-line will hold them back again. Is there any hope that they will perform well this year?
HD: Yes, Jeff, there is. Losing Phil Costa might have actually hurt them more than losing Campbell, considering his injuries. Justin Gilbert, a redshirt sophomore, could inherit Campbell’s job. And there’s always Paul Pinegar, who, after this season might have literally played every position up front. You're right, though, this is one area Maryland needs to improve if it's going to get back to the postseason.
Ryan in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: Hey Heather! It seems about everyday that FSU is getting a new top caliber recruit to commit for the 2011 class. And this is all coming off an ESPN #6 ranked 2010 recruiting class. This coaching staff seems to be be relentless! What is your impression on what Jimbo and Co. have been able to do on the recruiting trail without even have played one game! Thanks!
HD: Very impressed. This staff has a game plan for recruiting and seems to be much more organized, enthusiastic and aggressive. Once you start getting a few of the top players to commit, it gets easier to convince others. Looks like it's starting to snowball in Tally, which is exactly what they need.
Andrew in Towson, Md., writes: HD --- Love the blog..... I could not imagine sitting through class without it! There is all this talk about the QB battle in Miami this spring, but it is focused mainly on Highsmith and Morris. I understand that they are the big recruits, but besides the article you posted today (2/24) there has been no coverage on Whipple. I would think that with his father being the coach and coming from a program with a similar offense would give him an advantage? And I say his father being the coach meaning he is with him a lot more to discuss the offense (off-season, inbetween semester, family vacations lol, etc).
HD: Glad to help with your education, man. You're right, Whipple is a true student of the game. He loves it, and he wants to be a coach. I love food, but that doesn't mean I'm a good cook. Not to say Whipple Jr. isn't a good quarterback, I'm just saying that book smarts don't always translate to street smarts. He'll have to prove himself just like the other guys, and I think he's got the same chance they do. What impresses me about Whipple is how willing he is to help the other quarterbacks. He seems like a really good kid.