Chat with Heather Dinich
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's ACC blogger Heather Dinich stops by talk some college football.
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 Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET!
Heather Dinich (1:00 PM)
I'm here. Expansion is not. At least not yet, anyways. Let's get started ...
Corey (Greenville, SC)
First of all, I want to thank you for your year-round blogs. they were key for me to kep up with my tigers andthe rest of the ACC while deployed overseas. The ACC is loaded with defense this year, what are the chances that the ACC has a defensive player(s) in the heisman race and what players would you pick have the best shot?
Heather Dinich (1:02 PM)
Thanks for reading, Corey. I'd say that if Nebraska's Suh didn't win the Heisman last year, it's going to be extremely hard for somebody in the ACC to this year, but actually being "in the race" isn't impossible. I'd look at Carolina's roster first, where there are plenty of options, and then to Miami's Allen Bailey at DE.
Which ACC team will be the next to compete for a national championship?
Heather Dinich (1:02 PM)
Abiaka (Key West )
Hi, Heather. I've been reflecting a bit on the role Butch Davis played in Miami's return from lean years. Reports say his success in recruiting put the pressure on UT-Knoxville to make changes. How do you assess his chances of getting the Tarheels into the Top 5 in the next few years?
Heather Dinich (1:03 PM)
Before jumping into the top 5, UNC needs to win the Coastal Division. But if Davis keeps recruiting like he has been, there's no reason the Tar Heels can't contend for something bigger.
Nathan (Summerfield, North Carolina)
I'm in school at Raleigh and am not convinced anymore that TOB is the real deal. What are your thoughts on NC State's upcoming season and the head coaching season(assuming another bowless year for the pack)?
Heather Dinich (1:05 PM)
I think it's going to be tough for NC State to get back to a bowl game again and that's because they don't know who their running back is going to be and they have to replace four starters on the d-line and the secondary is still young. That being said, I think TOB is a proven coach who can find more than six wins on that schedule. His job is safe, though.
Sam (Little Egg Harbor, NJ)
HD, hope your little one isn't completely destroying your sleep schedule! Now that tickets have officially gone on sale for the Labor Day primetime matchup between Virginia Tech and Boise State, how do you think the crowd is going to be split? Seems as though outside the ACC nation, the rest of the country would be pro-BSU, which is why I think there might be a sizable minority of folks in blue and orange.
Heather Dinich (1:08 PM)
Sam, sleep has been redefined here. But I'm awake enough to know that it should be a largely pro-Virginia Tech crowd. There are a lot of Hokies in the D.C. market and I expect FedEx Field to be somewhat of a home game for Virginia Tech.
Drew (Chestnut Hill)
Do you think if Montel Harris continues to improve he'll get any Heisman chatter this year?
Heather Dinich (1:08 PM)
I wondered that myself earlier this week when I was writing about he and Ryan Williams, but I don't think he will because I don't think BC will be in the national spotlight enough.
Hey HD, curious as to why you say Miami first to compete for a title vs a team like FSU or VT. Of course you know my *unbiased* opinion is that it will be FSU :). Also, Beamer's got everything but a title, right? It would be great to see him get one before his career's over.
Heather Dinich (1:10 PM)
I remember Bobby Bowden at the ACC football kickoff last summer saying it was only a matter of time before Beamer got his and yes, it would be nice to see his efforts pay off with a title before he retires. But I say Miami because of the talent they have right NOW. Florida State is going through the recruiting boom that Miami went through in Jacory Harris' class it seems like and now it's paying off. The Canes just seem to be one step ahead.
Rusty (New York, NY)
With all the expansion talk, can you seriously see any ACC team leaving the conference and if so who?
Heather Dinich (1:12 PM)
The one team that makes the most sense to me is Florida State. The location, the recruiting, the rivalry with Florida -- it's all in place. Plus, Miami's AD has come out and said they're happy the way they are. I don't see why Clemson would leave if it hasn't won an ACC title since 1991. Georgia Tech makes sense, too, but I'd pick FSU.
Matt (Travelers Rest, SC)
As far as I can tell, the Atlantic Division will come down to Clemson/Florida State. I know BC has an easier schedule than those two, but I just don't think they are talented enough. Your thoughts?
Heather Dinich (1:12 PM)
BC hung with USC in the bowl game. They've got talent. The question is if they've got stability at quarterback. I think Dave Shinskie will be better and I'm definitely not counting the Eagles out of the Atlantic race.
Willy (Sver, FL)
How does FSU's running back stable look this coming year Heather?
Heather Dinich (1:13 PM)
In a word, loaded. The Noles, like several other teams in the conference, now need to figure out how they're going to use all of them.
Why haven't I heard much talk of Alex Wucjack (sp?) from MD more in the conversation as best LB in the conference/country? He's a BEAST!
Heather Dinich (1:14 PM)
He is a tackling machine, but I think Demetrius Hartsfield might actually wind up being even better.
What do you think of the pending Notre Dame- Miami series?
Heather Dinich (1:17 PM)
Well, I agree in part with Shandel Richardson of the both programs have changed so much that it doesn't seem to pack as much punch as it used to, but I'm a sucker for traditional matchups and storied series.
Jamie (Reardon, GA)
Besides Ponder, does FSU have any good options at QB?
Heather Dinich (1:17 PM)
Did you miss E.J. Manuel last year? He's legit.
jander75 (the blogs)
HD, For the TV deal you are not supposed to talk about, is it just football and basketball or all acc sports?
Heather Dinich (1:18 PM)
Lol ... Jander, I just don't have anything official to report. When I do, I'll post it, promise.
Tommy (Larkin, FL)
Who do you honestly think deserves the most carries amongst the two fantastic VT running backs?
Heather Dinich (1:19 PM)
Right now I'd say Ryan Williams does, but that's because what he did last year is in the forefront of my memory, and I'm not sure how Darren Evans looks, though I'm told he didn't miss a beat in the spring game and was plowing guys over. He deserves a shot to get his job back.
Brad (Harris, SC)
Who are the ACC's top 3 running backs going into this season HD?
Heather Dinich (1:21 PM)
I'd say you have to go with Ryan Williams, Montel Harris and Darren Evans, all 1,000-yard rushers. But Da'Rel Scott is back for Maryland and Miami could have a 1,000-yard rusher if somebody gets the bulk of the carries.
What would Paul Johnson have to accomplish in his third season to be ACC coach of the year again?
Heather Dinich (1:23 PM)
Yikes. It depends on what the other coaches do. What if David Cutcliffe gets the Devils to a bowl game, or Randy Shannon has the Canes in the Orange Bowl? I'd say PJ would have to win the Orange Bowl, but he should also get credit for winning an ACCCG considering how much change he's having to adjust to there.
Did UGA expose Tech's offense last year? Seems like good DTs plugging the middle can handle it just fine. That was a bad Georgia team stomping a "great" GT team in their house on Senior Night. Is this the end of GT's little two year run?
Heather Dinich (1:24 PM)
Speaking of Georgia Tech ... no, I think the Jackets are capable of even better things, but you're right -- they're stoppable, and Iowa proved that, too. The key is having disciplined defenders.
Ryan (Columbia, SC)
Do you think that ellington can effectively replace spiller and if Parker is projected to be drafted in the second round of the MLB draft then do you believe that he will stay at Clemson to play football?
Heather Dinich (1:25 PM)
Yes, I think Andre Ellington AND Jamie Harper will fill that void. As for Parker, I'm not hearing second round. I'd be surprised if he wasn't back.
Isn't there more pressure on Mark Stoops than on Jimbo? Jimbo won't be involved with the defense, and the offense is just fine. Getting back to those days of FSU's swarming front sevens in the 90's is the key to their return to prominence.
Heather Dinich (1:26 PM)
Interesting question. Ultimately, the pressure rests on Jimbo. He hired Stoops, and he's responsible for more than just the offense now. He's the CEO.
name the top five colleges that have the best graduation rates
Heather Dinich (1:27 PM)
I know Duke and Miami were among the best in football.
I'm confused. Everyone is saying Virginia Tech will be at least a top 10 team this year, but you are saying that Miami will be the national title contender? If this is the case then why aren't they ranked in front of tech? Rumor around Blacksburg is that Virginia Tech will be even BETTER next year too.
Heather Dinich (1:30 PM)
Two things: 1. Virginia Tech is a proven program under Frank Beamer and not far removed from a handful of ACC titles -- something Randy Shannon hasn't played for in December yet. It's that recent history that gives a lot of people confidence the Hokies will be able to reload on defense. Plus, they're loaded in the backfield and it will be Tyrod Taylor's final season.As for the rankings, Virginia Tech beat Miami last year, but I'm also not opposed to changing the order before the season begins. Still thinking about it. And I haven't deemed the Canes national champs this year just yet. First they have to win the Coastal Division.
By the end of this season, Anthony Allen will be a household name. Agree or disagree?
Heather Dinich (1:31 PM)
HD, As good as Trickett is as a Coach, Am I the only one who see's FSU's Line being a Pass-block only or are they balanced and our Backs haven't been following their assignments? If so do you see any Backs stepping up into a 1,000 yd rusher (Thomas, Pryor, Thompson, Pressley, Etc)
Heather Dinich (1:33 PM)
I think FSU's line has struggled with its blocking some the past two years ... NC State comes to mind ... but I think this season it should be the best in the ACC and any one of those guys could be a 1,000-yard guy. Thompson had the best spring I think.
How bad does LSU beat UNC? 77-6? Does UNC even get on the board with 6?
Heather Dinich (1:34 PM)
If LSU scored anywhere near that many points against the UNC D I'll do up-downs til I puke. LSU's offense wasn't exactly lighting it up last year either.
Since ACC defenses have had a chance to see it, will they "figure out" Mark Whipple's offense? Virginia Tech held Miami to 7 points, has Bud Foster "figured out" Mark Whipple?
Heather Dinich (1:36 PM)
I think opposing defenses started to key in on Miami's weaknesses last year. The bigger question is whether or not Miami fixed them this offseason.
In my non biased opinion, I personally believe GT is the team to beat in the ACC this year. I know that we lost some great players and our defense is going to be different but last year we were rebuilding our defense every week. Just curious why you think otherwise
Heather Dinich (1:37 PM)
I don't doubt Georgia Tech's ability to repeat as ACC champs. But there are enough questions heading into the fall that the Jackets need to answer before I'm convinced they're as good if not better than they were last year. Offensively, I think they will be.
Clement (Seminole, FL)
Where does the ACC rank in terms of quality of coaches in relation to other conferences?
Heather Dinich (1:39 PM)
I think the ACC has some of the best. In fact, the Duke-Alabama game will feature a great coaching matchup. It's the talent on the field at some places that is the disparity.
Can Wake return to the ACC title game in the foreseeable future or has the ACC become too competitive for a smaller school?
Heather Dinich (1:40 PM)
And Wake is a perfect example of that last question ... great coach, small recruiting pool. But yes, I do think the Deacs can get back. The fact that they've won an ACC title and sent guys to the NFL only helped their recruiting.
UGA exposed Tech's defense too. 339 rushing yards from a team that couldn't run on anyone all year has to be a red flag. This is Va Tech's conference this year.
Heather Dinich (1:41 PM)
You never know. Don't forget about what happened last year against North Carolina and ... wasn't it Georgia Tech?
Will Tenutas arrival in Raleigh do anything to help State's defense or is it going to be a long year for the Wolfpack D again?
Heather Dinich (1:42 PM)
Not only that, but the return of Nate Irving should be a huge boost, too. They've got to figure it out up front, though. I expect that group to be better.
Todd (Bedford, va)
Any nickname ideas for Williams - Evans?
Heather Dinich (1:43 PM)
I'll throw that out there to other readers. The Untouchables is taken, sorry.
Isn't the best way to stop GT's offense is to play well and control the ball on offense your self? Miami, UGA, and even Iowa were able to control the ball and keep thier D fresh. Teams that couldn't control the ball seemed to have lots fo trouble.
Heather Dinich (1:44 PM)
Great point. The best defense is keeping GT's offense off the field. That's something Virginia failed miserably to do last year.
I don't think it was whipples play calling that earned the canes those losses. Instead i think it was a weak O line causing J12 to throw up some ducks. Do you think the Miami O line will be better this year?
Heather Dinich (1:45 PM)
I wasn't talking about Whipple's play-calling, I was talking about Jacory Harris struggling to throw it deep with any zip and his inability to make great use of his feet, but yeah, he got jacked up one too many times last year. If they work it out at center, which I think they will, they should be good. Orlando Franklin is ready to be a leader up front.
Austin G (Alexandria, VA)
There is no way Miami wins a national championship with Jacory Harris. The fact you said that is hilarious. 17 interceptions? Most in NCAAF? They'll be lucky to lose in a bowl game against syracuse or something. Hokies to the ship baby
Heather Dinich (1:46 PM)
Actually, Miami coach Randy Shannon was the one who said he'll win a NC with Jacory. I think I just said they'll be the first ACC team to do it, and Shannon's confidence in his team is one reason why. He's been pretty outspoken lately about it.
Christian (Chapel Hill)
First off, great story on Pianalto. Anyway, I've been hearing good things about Greg Little in OTA's. Do you see that translating in to a break out season (a la 2008 Hakeem Nicks)?
Heather Dinich (1:47 PM)
Thanks ... I feel like Little's breakout season was last year, in that he finally took ownership of the position and made defenses respect him. Yeah, he should be even better this year, but Nicks-esque might be pushing it.
Dan (Washington DC)
Can we expect any dynamic Kick/Punt Returners this season, as Spiller was for Clemson last year?
Heather Dinich (1:49 PM)
Oh yeah, Greg Reid at FSU, Torrey Smith at Maryland ... there are still some home run guys out there.
Nathan (Richmond, VA)
Heather, every newspaper article, every blog about UVA that I've read is so quick to say "no way do the Cavs win six games this year." Why is that??? I know they're not winning the ACC this year, but London is not exactly inheriting a bare cupboard. He has an experienced QB that has shown he can make plays when his coaches have confidence in him, a stable of running backs, an offensive line that only lost 1 player, a very good defensive line, and what could be one of the best secondaries in the ACC. Why is it they have "no shot" at winning just 6 games with teams such as Richmond, VMI, and Eastern Michigan on the slate? Thanks Heather...love reading your posts.
Heather Dinich (1:51 PM)
Funny you ask, I actually spoke with Mike London today and he said it's premature to even guess as to whether or not they're a postseason team. They're a "work in progress" he said. For more on the interview with London, check the blog later this week.
When do you think we'll know who BC's quarterback will be? And what's your prediction for who it'll be?
Heather Dinich (1:52 PM)
I think they'll figure it out in summer camp. My guess is Shinskie, to start based on his experience, but their schedule is such that Rettig or somebody else could get an audition in the first two games.
EM (Washington, DC)
After last season and the big questions at QB this year I am nervous that WFU may lose what is left of its Orange Bowl momentum and fall out of the top half of the ACC back into the bottom feeders. How do things look at WFU over the next 2-3 years, not just this season?
Heather Dinich (1:55 PM)
This is a question that keeps coming up from Wake Forest fans, and I'd like to get Jim Grobe on the phone to help me answer it. My take, though, is that Wake is going through a normal transition after losing a talented four-year starting quarterback. They've got talent at the position, it's just a matter of getting game experience there now. I think the Deacs will be back in the Atlantic Division hunt within the next few years.
Justin (Orlando, FL)
What ACC vs. SEC matchups do you think favor the ACC this year? Do you think the conference can make a statement with the games scheduled out of conference?
Heather Dinich (1:57 PM)
UNC vs. LSU, Clemson at home vs. South Carolina, Wake at Vandy. I'll believe it when I see it as far as the conference making it's statement in OOC games.
Is the SEC talking to Florida State?
Heather Dinich (1:58 PM)
Not according to FSU AD Randy Spetman's most recent comments.
Will UVA be able to notch more than three wins this season? Or will we have to settle for beating two FCS schools and Eastern Michigan while being thankful we're not 0-12?
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
I'm not sure beating Richmond is a given. It could be a rough season in Charlottesville, but how about wins over Richhmond, VMI, Eastern Michigan, Maryland at Duke?
Heather Dinich (2:00 PM)
Alright guys, my time is up. See you next week.