Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com ACC blogger Heather Dinich stops by to chat the day after the 2009 college football season kicked off. Dinich was at the South Carolina-NC State game Thursday night.
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 Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
Hey guys, I'm here (and still in Raleigh). Before I make my way to Winston-Salem, let's chat.
So, want to change your pick on best QB in the ACC? Looks like Wilson will have to pick either baseball or football after last night's performance...
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
First of all, if you go back and look at my preseason all-conference team I picked Riley Skinner. Second, Wilson looked a step slow, but NC State got beat on the line of scrimmage all night. He never had time to set his feet and was running around too much. And he got sacked six times. I'm sure we'll see more from Russell this fall.
Drew (Columbia, SC)
With Clemson looking for a rebound season from last year, do you think it is a long shot to picture them in the ACC title game?
Heather Dinich (2:01 PM)
Definitely not. They've got the talent to do it, but they'll have to fare better on the sidelines in coaching than they did their bowl game.
Hey Heather! Who's got the advatage in the trenches for the miami-fsu game?
Heather Dinich (2:02 PM)
Great question. FSU wins up front with its offensive line, and Miami has suffered some injuries up front on its defensive line. The Noles' d-line has some questions, though, especially at the end position where they'll miss Everette Brown.
I couldn't catch the early part of NCSU-SC, but it looks like Glennon only played 1 series. Any indication that this is gonna be the norm? I think Wilson played fine, but his teammates let him down. I hope a QB controversy isn't going to start brewing after a 133 yard offensive performance at home. Who takes more of the blame - O'Brien or Bible?
Heather Dinich (2:04 PM)
Yeah, I think Glennon only threw like two passes. That certainly doesn't constitute a quarterback controversy, but as for blame, you might want to point that at South Carolina's defense.
Jodan (Atlanta, GA)
How fast did the SEC Bulldogs look running after Dwyer and Jones last year?
Heather Dinich (2:05 PM)
Ooh, everyone got real touchy about the "SEC speed" comment, didn't they? Look, South Carolina had some blazin' athletes on that defense, and it made a difference. Ask any coach who watched that game - including Steve Spurrier.
Andrew (New York)
Heather,Gettin' ready for my Terps tomorrow night vs. Cal. I got a bad feeling about this one. A bad feeling. This is based on the fact that MD has an unproven line on both sides of the ball and annually gets beatdown on nationally televised night games. Allay my fears: What do you think needs to happen for the Terps to win?
Heather Dinich (2:05 PM)
I would if I could, but you hit the nail on the head with that team, moreso on the offensive line. And Cal has about eight starters I think back on the defense. In order for Maryland to win, Bruce Campbell is going to have to take charge up front.
Heather, how can you explain that the ACC had more wins over the SEC last year when obviously the SEC obviously has a bajillion times more talent?
Heather Dinich (2:06 PM)
Actually, the ACC was 6-6 against the SEC last year, and a win over Vandy is included in that group. Face it, there's a gap.
Zach (Bluefield, Va)
Okay, give me the three things Tech HAS to do, to have a chance tommorow night. oh and a revised game prediction.... :) haha.
Heather Dinich (2:07 PM)
Hmm ... 1. Run the football.2. Slow Julio Jones.3. Win the kicking game.
Colin (Durham, NC)
Convince me that Wake's O-line will be much improved this year. That is the key to this team reaching 7-9 wins. The defense will be better than people expect.
Heather Dinich (2:08 PM)
I agree with you that the defense will be better than people expect, but coach Jim Grobe has said all summer he likes what he sees out of the o-line. Plus, he called 'em soft last year. That had to fire them up. Really, though, the return of Chris DeGeare will make a huge difference.
Canes404 (Atlanta, GA)
HD - Watching that game last night, I kept asking myself how NC State was picked as a sleeper to possibly sneak up on the ACC and QB Russell Wilson is supposed to be a top ACC QB... Is the ACC THAT BAD again this year? Or, were all the "experts" just plain wrong about NC State and Wilson? Please tell me that they are just that bad, and not an indication of things to come this year for the conference. Thanks!
Heather Dinich (2:10 PM)
No, the ACC isn't that bad. And no, let's not jump to conclusions after one game. I still think NC State is a very good football team that will contend for the Atlantic Division, but it has to be able to run the ball better.
How big is the drop off at the QB position "UNC", if Yates goes down?
Heather Dinich (2:11 PM)
Well, considering there was an OR after Paulus' name on the depth chart, that's not exactly a vote of confidence in him. Yates told me this summer that Paulus got better and is more confident, but the depth chart doesn't necessarily reflect a confidence in him. You saw what happened last year. He still has something to prove.
Hi Heather. There's been a lot of hype about FSU's offensive line, and it seemed the Canes' defensive line was going to match up well with them. However, after injuries to Eric Moncur and Adewale Ojomo, how do you see the Miami defensive line doing against the Seminole's O-line on Monday night? Thanks.
Heather Dinich (2:13 PM)
Well, Randy Shannon told me this week on the ACC teleconference that he was confident in that group, but I think the Noles should have the edge there and will be able to run the ball effectively. Shannon knows they have to get better at stopping the run, though, so this will be a good early test as to how much better they really are.
Will Jermaine Thomas run for more than 100 yards Monday night?
Heather Dinich (2:15 PM)
Speaking of stopping the run ... hmm. I'm going to say no. I'm thinking Ty Jones will get some carries, but who knows.
Since GT plays Clemson 5 days after the Jacksonville St game, will Coach Johnson do anything differently in order to keep his starters fresh and ready to go?
Heather Dinich (2:17 PM)
I think the score will dictate that. Obviously there's no reason to keep Dwyer in there for every snap if the game is clearly won.
Jarem (CP, MD)
I actually feel good about the terps...yes they lost a bunch of seniors on the lines...but last years seniors underperformed terribly. This is a team full of speed and talent (and led by a senior QB who is known to be a giant killer). The D is also led by (what I have been hearing) one of the top D coordinator minds. They are always talented in the skill positoins. Do you think there is a chance the Terps are the dark horse of the ACC?
Heather Dinich (2:19 PM)
I think Wake Forest is a better candidate for ACC darkhorse because they've got more answers on offense, and while there are questions on defense, there are still veteran players who know the system.
Marshall (Hampton, Va)
Do you think that the loss of Darren Evans becomes a motvating factor for the Virginia Tech running backs to step up their game in the Georgia Dome tommorow night?
Heather Dinich (2:20 PM)
Definitely. And not just the running backs - even the defensive guys have been talking this week about stepping up their games because of it.
aj (Long Island)
Heather, I say forget about all the intangibles of the VT- Bama game. The quarterbacks are the TWO most important factors. And VT has the edge with Taylor. Your thoughts?
Heather Dinich (2:21 PM)
Great point, and he said this week he thinks they've got the athletes for an "explosive offense" this year, but I'm in wait-and-see mode on that one.
Is Jacory Harris all he's cracked up to be? I know Florida State's secondary is questionable, and the game will probably be more offensive than defensive, but does Harris really have what it takes to keep it close?
Heather Dinich (2:22 PM)
Well, we'll find out on Monday, but everyone in the program I've talked to have raved about how he's taken ownership of the offense and that he and Whipple really hit it off fast. And don't underestimate FSU's secondary. There is still a lot of talent back there. Besides, isn't Miami the one that had four picks last year?
Andrew (New York)
Have you had a chance to see Kenny Tate this year in practice? Is he gonna that much of a beast this year? I've never heard Friedgen talk about any player, that I can remember, as well as he talks about Tate.
Heather Dinich (2:25 PM)
I haven't seen him practice, but I've spoken with him in person on several occasions, and he's an impressive looking athlete. And you're right, Friedgen hasn't raved about a guy like this that I can remember. Tate will be all over the field.
Casey (Knoxville, TN)
Is North Carolina worthy of its pre-season ranking?
Heather Dinich (2:26 PM)
I think we'll find that out once they play Georgia Tech. By that time, their receivers should have come along, as with the o-line. The defense is no doubt a top 25 defense.
Heather, what is your opinion on the inexperience of BC's linebacking situation? Do you think there youngsters will be able to step up enough for them to make it back to a bowl game this year?
Heather Dinich (2:28 PM)
Man, if Frank Spaziani is concerned, there's reason to be concerned. However, I'll tell you this. I spoke with Luke (I'll butcher his last name if I try) and Alexander DiSanzo - again, apologies on sp. my roster isn't with me, but both of them talked about how influential McLaughlin has still been from the sidlines. Losing DiSanzo hurt. It's as much of a problem as QB is.
Heather, I thought you picked the Hurricanes to win monday night, the way your answering these questions you'd think otherwise. Anyways, I want your take on miamis coordinators. People have been saying it will be a disadvantage, but i tihnk it is an advantage. FSU has no idea what to expect in my opinion, thoughts?
Heather Dinich (2:30 PM)
Well, you're right, and I've gone back and forth on that game all summer, but yes, I do think the unknown factor with Miami's coordinators could work to their advantage, though Jimbo Fisher has some history with John Lovett.
Scott (Washington, DC)
Heather, I know it's probably impossible for my "Poor, little Wake Forest" to pull of a four-peat, but what do you think are the chances that this year's senior class graduates having never lost to the mighty Seminoles?
Heather Dinich (2:32 PM)
Ha ... I think that will be one of the key games in the Atlantic, and considering the Deacs have done it three times there's no reason they can't do it again. Still, this should be one of the better Florida State teams Wake has seen recently.
Many analysts think that Miami can go 2-2 on the first four games. Who do you think we can upset? why or why not?
Heather Dinich (2:33 PM)
I think Georgia Tech is the best bet. Miami has something to prove against them. It's at home. And Lane Stadium is so hard to win at. But then again, if Miami starts off 2-0, momentum can be an amazing thing.
Do you think Tyrod Taylor will finish this game?
Heather Dinich (2:34 PM)
He better or they're in big T.
Chris (Clemson, SC)
Hey Miss Dinich, assuming that you've met Dabo Swinney and Tommy Bowden, which one do you think represents more of what Clemson football wants and needs?
Heather Dinich (2:35 PM)
Yes, I have met both of them, and Swinney is doing and saying all the things Clemson fans wants to hear. He's selling the program. He's a recruiter, and he's recruited the fan base back. But that doesn't win football games. And in the end, that's all Clemson fans want and need.
Kevin (Jacksonville, FL)
Heather, you said that "Wake is going to see one of the better Florida State teams they have seen recently". What makes this Florida State team better than recent years past? (other than Ponder) I don't see a whole lot of standout talent at that program like they used to have when they were a perinial Nat'l powerhouse.
Heather Dinich (2:38 PM)
Well, I'm not saying they're back to being a powerhouse quite yet, but they've got the potential to get there. You look at that offensive line - all coming back next year. So is Ponder. And the running backs. And the receivers are better than people think. And defensively, it's only a matter of time before they come together.
Dru (Denver, CO)
What receiver do you think will have the biggest affect on the Bama-VT game?
Heather Dinich (2:39 PM)
GTLAXMan (Dunwoody, GA)
If there were a huge talent gap between the SEC and ACC, then why has the ACC consistently been top amongst all leagues in the NFL Draft? You would think the draft would indicate where the talent is...
Heather Dinich (2:40 PM)
I agree, but how many of those players getting drafted are quarterbacks, receivers, running backs? I see a lot of linemen, but the draft does reflect the ACC's strength - defense.
Andrew (New York)
Heather, Will you admit that you have no idea who's gonna win the ACC this year? To me, it seems just like last year with a whole bunch of teams jumbled up with no team sticking out. FSU is good, not great. I don't think VT is any better than GT. Seems like about 8 different teams could win it this year.
Heather Dinich (2:41 PM)
Of course! I've been trying to tell you guys that! Georgia Tech can do it. Clemson can. FSU can. NC State can. The list goes on. I agree with Frank Beamer - at least 10 teams will be better this year. It's going to be fun to watch, but I still think that VT/GT game will tell us a lot.
Heather Dinich (2:43 PM)
Alright guys I've gotta get on the road here and make my way to Wake Forest. Thanks for joining the chat, and enjoy Week 1!