Chat with Heather Dinich
Dinich covered ACC and Big Ten football for five seasons before joining ESPN.com in November 2007. She's an Indiana grad but somehow her favorite day of the week is Saturday.
Send your questions now and join Dinich in The Show at 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday!
Heather Dinich (2:30 PM)
Hey guys. I'm here, let's get started.
Rick: (Chapel Hill, NC)
Is Russell Wilson the best quarterback in the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:31 PM)
It's a toss-up between him and Thaddeus Lewis at Duke. (Seriously). If Thad was at any other school, people would know his name.
Enos; St. Louis
Does NC State finally have a solid, healthy QB and if so or not, what are the expectations for next year?
Heather Dinich (2:32 PM)
Speaking of NC State quarterbacks ... the rest of the coaches in the league are hoping Wilson is what they call a china doll ... you know, breakable. Last I talked to him, he wasn't 100 percent. At least this year, though, he's got Mike Glennon as an option at backup.
Brian Bain: Bradenton Florida
The Seminoles are flying under the radar early being ranked #21 in ESPNS pre season poll.Do you think they can make some noise with Christian Ponder, Jermaine Thomas, and a group of young talented yet troublesome recievers?(speaking of Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling)
Heather Dinich (2:33 PM)
If Bert Reed goes to class this year, sure. (I'm being serious).
Heather, you recently said that starting Jacory Harris would improve team chemistry. Is it simply b/c the players believe in Jacory or b/c they didn't believe in Marve? Thanks!
Heather Dinich (2:34 PM)
I don't think it's necessarily that they didn't believe in Marve, it's more that Marve appeared to be looking out for his best interests -- not the team's -- in the long run. There was too much drama and distraction.
Jimmy, Hendo, NC
How do you fare the Hokies and Tyrod Taylor will do next year? And how would you rate there recruiting?
Heather Dinich (2:36 PM)
If Taylor stays healthy, I think they've got the potential to be a top 10 team. That Georgia Tech game is going to be tough, though. Give this recruiting class some time before we judge it, but Frank Beamer and his staff are very good at evaluating talent regardless of what others think about it.
Heather, How much longer do you think Mickey Andrews will stay with FSU? I'd hate to lose him...
Heather Dinich (2:36 PM)
Considering there was some speculation that 2008 might have been his last season, I'd be surprised if he stuck around after 2009, but that's just a guess.
Isn't the assumption that Paul Johnson's offense is going to be less effective this year because the novelty has worn off, there's no more element of surprise, stupid? He's had sustained success wherever he's been.
Heather Dinich (2:38 PM)
Definitely not ... his offense will always be effective because every year the ACC coaches have to prepare a new group of players to defend it. It's not the NFL, where the same defensive guys stick around and get used to teams. So no matter how well a coach understands how to beat it, he's still got to teach it to his players in a week.
Is there a nastier backfield duo anywhere than Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen at Georgia Tech? A lot of people probably don't remember Allen, but he was a very physical inside runner at Louisville.
Heather Dinich (2:38 PM)
Check the blog later today or tomorrow for more on Allen -- he's calling at 3:30 today for an interview. But I think Virginia Tech's backfield could challenge the Jackets for that right. We'll see how Ryan Williams does.
Michael (Charlotte, NC)
Will the NC State/Florida State game in Tallahassee be the Atlantic Division Championship
Heather Dinich (2:39 PM)
Ooh, great pick.
Jeff (San Francisco, CA)
Heather, you had Boston College as 11th in your early ACC rankings. Do you think of them as a 4-4 or 3-5 team in a conference that is as competitive as it was last year or something more dismal?
Heather Dinich (2:40 PM)
Dismal is the wrong word. I'd say "transition." I really like BC's offensive line and their returning linebackers, and I talked to Alex Albright yesterday. There are a lot of upsides, but you never know how long it will take the players to adjust to a new staff.
HD, do you think Coach Shannon is the long term solution as the U's head coach? He's obviously in the top ten with it comes to recruiting, but I'm not sold on his head coaching abilities.
Heather Dinich (2:41 PM)
I'll think we'll find out the answer to that question this season. With so much turnover at the coordinator positions, he's got his work cut out for him. That said, I think the Canes will contend for the Coastal.
in his second year in franklins offense can Chris turner take the next step to consistancy? And why is everyone over looking UMD again. THey seem to always be in the hunt going into the last few weeks.
Heather Dinich (2:42 PM)
Yeah, but they also tend to blow it in the last few weeks, too. Expectations are lower for the Terps because they graduated 30 seniors. Turner should be more consistent this year, yes. He's also got some talented young receivers to throw to.
You forgot the GT backfield also has Josh Nesbitt, Roddy Jones, and Lucas Cox...
Heather Dinich (2:43 PM)
No doubt, they're loaded.
Carter, Chatham VA
I know its a little early but what is your potential ACC championship matchup for 2009?
Heather Dinich (2:44 PM)
It IS a little early -- and I promise you I will change this prediction at least seven times before the final one in fall -- but today I'm going to go with Florida State and Georgia Tech.
Kenny- Blacksburg, VA
If all goes well in the offseason for the Hokies and they get WR Brandon Dilliard back from injury, do you think the hokies offense could be the most explosive in the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:45 PM)
When is the last time anyone called the Hokies' offense explosive? (Again, I'm being serious). ... Anyone?
Allan (Fairfax, Va)
I always post my questions early but you never get to them. You always post the ones that come while you're chatting. What gives?
Heather Dinich (2:46 PM)
Shoot, sorry, I'll try and shift through to the earlier ones here ...
Dan, Woodbridge, VA
Honestly. Who do you think will win the Big 10 / ACC powerhouse match up between Indiana and UVA and why? I'm going with UVA because I'm blinded by bias and optimism.
Heather Dinich (2:47 PM)
You were the sixth question in here, Dan, and I'm going with you on that one ... Virginia. Don't forget I'm betting against my alma mater on that one. ...
where did portis transfer to? was he overrated or were the terps just not the team for his skills?
Heather Dinich (2:48 PM)
He went to Cal (Pa.) ... I'm not sure he picked up the offense like the staff wanted him to. No doubt he was fast and athletic. Definitely a perplexing career.
Ben (Carrollton, GA)
Is any ACC team's fortunes tied as much to 1 player's health as Virginia Tech's is to Tyrod Taylor? Seems if he goes down, the Hokies will be in a world of hurt.
Heather Dinich (2:49 PM)
Literally, right? But no, Virginia Tech is hardly the only team in this precarious situation. Look at Maryland, Miami, even NC State ... there are a lot of teams lacking experienced depth at the position.
Bruce (Columbus, GA)
Heather: Wasn't the VA Tech explosive in the Michael Vick era? He might not have had the greatest surrounding talent but by himself he made the offense explosive in my opinion.
Heather Dinich (2:50 PM)
Chauncey from Baltimore
HD, Pour me a cup of your thoughts on Young Dabo at Clemson. Clearly the expectations in Clemson are not what they were in 2008. How upset do you think Steve Spurrier was when he lost to a WR coach this year?
Heather Dinich (2:52 PM)
Haha ... I think that WR coach took a major step in proving himself as a head coach by getting the Tigers to a bowl game. Swinney is an excellent recruiter, and he made some interesting hires. Those guys might surprise some people.
Alan (Richmond, Va)
Forget what the VT staff says, where do YOU think Logan Thomas should play for Tech next year (and will he start as a true freshman?)?
Heather Dinich (2:53 PM)
Ha ... do I get a coaches' salary with this answer? Beamer seems to want him at WR. Considering the lack of depth at QB, I'd put him there, but then again, I haven't seen what Exum (did I spell that right?) can do.
With BC losing some key players on defense? How do you see them finishing this year? You see them going bowling??
Heather Dinich (2:56 PM)
I think it's a very good possibility, but they have to find some consistency at quarterback. I'm eager to see what Justin Tuggle can do and why the previous staff was so high on him. Defensively, if they plug the holes up front they should be OK.
Chad (Las Vegas)
Aren't there only 2 conferences, SEC and Big-12, plus 1 team, USC, that really matter?
Heather Dinich (2:57 PM)
Heck no, or I'm out of a job!
HD, Do you think that Arthur Brown will start for Miami this fall?
Heather Dinich (2:57 PM)
I asked about that yesterday, actually, and he's definitely got a shot. It just seemed like he took a little longer to catch on than some of the other freshmen. Nothing wrong with that.
Trevor (Fishersville, Va)
We want BOONE at QB :]
Heather Dinich (2:58 PM)
Haha ... He claims he can throw it 80 yards every time, and Ryan Williams backs it up.
Jeff (Destin, FL)
Do you think Mickey Andrew will be able to put together another lean and mean defense FSU is used too despite having to fill so many holes?
Heather Dinich (2:59 PM)
If he can figure out who goes where in the secondary, the Noles will be OK. Obviously losing Everette Brown was huge, but they've got experience returning up there.
Adam (Douglas, GA)
Is there any expectation of another QB battle at FSU this year between Christian Ponder and E.J.? Give us the goods Heather!
Heather Dinich (3:01 PM)
There are a ton of questions like this in here today (along with the Miami/FSU Labor Day thing, which I have no answer for). But yes, I think there will be competition there. E.J. was Jimbo's first hand-picked quarterback, and that means something. That said, It should be Ponder's job to lose.
Billy (Ada, OK)
What are the chances Miami beats Oklahoma next season?
Heather Dinich (3:03 PM)
Are we talking about the same Oklahoma that just played for the NC? That one? And the same Miami that lost its bowl game? Hmm, I'm gonna go with the Sooners on that one. Miami's secondary is going to have improve marginally for that game.
The Virginia schools scheduled some tough non-conference games - Nebraska, TCU, Bama, So Miss - while the Carolina teams scheduled cupcakes. why is that? does the ACC step in at all since it affects conference power rankings?
Heather Dinich (3:05 PM)
No, no, no. ... None of the ACC teams wanted to schedule more than one FCS school. It's all about the Benjamins. There are a lot of reasons behind it,
Brian (Vienna, VA)
Will Al Groh beable to run the spread offense this year? Virginia might need a couple of years to recruit the right players for the new offense.
Heather Dinich (3:06 PM)
Well, it depends on 1. who the quarterback is (likely Jameel Sewell), and 2. what receivers are going to step in for Kevin Ogletree and ... Maurice Covington.
Brett (Boca Raton, FL)
Where do you thing Bryce Brown is headed? I can't take the suspense anymore!
Heather Dinich (3:07 PM)
And I can't take that question anymore! Who knows? He's got his web site, his people, the whole bit ... it's getting tired, no?
Who has the best shot at winning the national title besides the current favorite, Florida?
Heather Dinich (3:08 PM)
Texas. All four linemen are back! And that McCoy guy! They lose the whole d-line, but who needs defense in the Big 12!
Scott (San Pedro, CA)
Alabama's key newbies are not going to be in season on Sept 5, neither is tech's D. The only shot i see is if the hokies can shutdown the tide O and then just put like 7 points on the board. What are the chances??
Heather Dinich (3:09 PM)
Bama's D should be Tech's main concern. They're loaded. Their weakness early will be on the offensive line. Should be a great game.
Brendan (College Park)
HD, What receivers do you see stepping up in place of Heyward-Bey next season? Any Chance Kenny Tate switches back to receiver?
Heather Dinich (3:11 PM)
Ronnie Tyler, Torrey Smith, Emani Lee-Odai (another spelling) ... Not sure about Tate. They've also got to replace TE Dan Gronkowski, but Lansford Watson could help there.
Where do you think you are going to rank FSU's Oline this year????
Heather Dinich (3:12 PM)
Probably one of the top two. Right along with BC.
JB (Lake Worth, FL)
Heather, As a concerned Cane fan, Doesn't it seem like Butch Davis is building a monster in Chapel Hill?
Heather Dinich (3:13 PM)
Yes, he is, quietly. Some very promising talent is being recruited into Chapel Hill, but I don't know if we'll see them take the next step this year because of the loss of so many receivers and some questions in special teams.
Brendan (College Park)
HD, no Adrian Cannon on that list?
Heather Dinich (3:13 PM)
I knew I'd forget one.
Frank B. (Blacksburg)
HD, thanks for picking against the Hokies in the ACC Championship. We like flying under the radar!
Heather Dinich (3:14 PM)
Haha you guys aren't going to be under the radar. Should be top 10 in just about every preseason poll. And, if you check my latest power ranking, you guys are at the top.
Ashwin (Fairfax, Va)
HD, Do you have any unit rankings? How good will each teams components be? As you mentioned earlier, I think VT will have the best Backfield (QB included) in the ACC.
Heather Dinich (3:15 PM)
Yeah, but I'll save those for after spring, closer to summer camp when we know more after a few practices.
What are the terps chances to go into Cal stadium & pull the W out?
Heather Dinich (3:16 PM)
I was actually at MD last week for the Franklin thing and just chillin' a bit with Turner for a while. He said he was gonna have at least 40 or so people at that game because he's from Cali. I think he'll play well and they've got a good chance, considering they beat them last year.
Peter (Paramus, NJ)
Do you think Coach Whipple will be able to take advantage of the monster freshman receiving class Miami pulled in last year? There is a ton of talent there with the Johnsons, Boyd, Benjamin, and others, but Nix, in my opinion, did not use them to their full potential.
Heather Dinich (3:18 PM)
I have heard nothing but good things about Mark Whipple, and in listening to him during that press conference, he clearly knows what he's talking about. Good hire, the question is how long it will take the players to execute what he's teaching them. They're still a very young group.
Brad (Greensboro NC)
Why is UNC getting no love? It's either VT, GT, or Miami in their division, yet people forget that UNC was 10 points from being 12-1 last year.
Heather Dinich (3:20 PM)
Yeah, that bowl game was soooo close. You reiterate a point I've been trying to make this week on the blog, though -- the ACC is going to be better from top to bottom, which is going to make it hard for a team like, say, VT, to run away with anything.
Do you see Christian Ponder improving?
Heather Dinich (3:20 PM)
Yeah ... I think the competition with E.J. will force him to. Where he seemed to struggle last year was in the passes over about 12 yards.
Chris (Arlington, VA)
If you have FSU and GT in the ACC Championship, why is VT #1 in your power rankings?
Heather Dinich (3:22 PM)
Because the power rankings are based on who has what, not potential upsets in games that haven't been played yet. :)
Do you think Georgia Tech will have enough improvement on their offensive line in order for the offense to keep improving. Also will the defensive line really be Tech's weakest area next year when that has been one of Tech's strongest recruiting areas the past year and this year?
Heather Dinich (3:23 PM)
Yes ... I want to say they brought in about five offensive line recruits, and they redshirted a few guys who are supposed to be pretty good. You're right about the d-line. It's not like they don't have any experience returning. And frankly, Derrick Morgan might have been the best of the bunch.
Jeff (Destin, FL)
Have you done any serious apologizing to FSU's offensive line after completely underestimating them this past season? You should buy them dinner, i hear they like to eat.
Heather Dinich (3:24 PM)
HA ... No, but last time I was in Tallahassee, I was kindly introduced to all of them after practice. Rodney Hudson looked like he wanted to eat ME for dinner.
Brian Weirton, WV
Is it fair to be so critical of Randy Shannon in just his second season as Head Coach or should people just give him time to get the program that was spiraling out of control back on top?
Heather Dinich (3:25 PM)
I do think he deserves some time. Everyone gets pretty hung up on the "third year" mark as the do or die season, and for a lot of coaches it is. But considering how much clean up he had to do in his first season, and the fact that he had nothing to do with Bill Young's departure, I'd say this should be more like his second season.
Stephen (Knoxville, TN)
Heather, how many wins do you think Duke will get this year?
Heather Dinich (3:27 PM)
They're going to have to win seven to get to a bowl game because they've got two FCS schools, and I think that's pushing it. That said, I say they win at least four.
Justin (Atlanta, GA)
Heather, Do you think this is Bowden's last year?
Heather Dinich (3:28 PM)
No, I don't, unless for some strange reason they tank, which I don't expect. He wants to win 400 games. I believe at last count he needed two more 9-win seasons to do that.
Jacob (Blacksburg, VA)
Heather, do you think that the loss of Macho Harris will hurt VT's defense enough to take them outside of the top 10 defensively?
Heather Dinich (3:29 PM)
No, I don't think so. I just spoke with Barquell Rivers before this chat, and he told me the entire unit is ready to keep the blue-collar, lunch pail tradition alive. Bud Foster gets the most out of those guys because they want to play for him.
Rob (Charleston, SC)
HD, what is it going to take for the ACC as a whole to get better QB play? Seems like there aren't any standout passers of the same ilk as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, etc.
Heather Dinich (3:30 PM)
There aren't. The ACC needs to recruit them, but don't forget, a lot of coaches in the ACC don't necessarily have offenses that fit that type of philosophy/quarterback.
Heather Dinich (3:31 PM)
OK I'm out. Thanks for joining me today. Back to bloggin' ...