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   Welcome to TSLMail #313 - Friday, January 18, 2008    
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   Tech Sports News

Projecting 2008 ACC Quarterback Play 
by Chris Coleman,

Part of the reason the ACC has struggled on the gridiron the last couple of years is there aren't many good offenses in the conference. Part of the reason there aren't many good offenses is there aren't many good quarterbacks. The ACC has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for quarterback play, and although things got better in 2007, there is still plenty of room to improve.

UVA's loss of Jameel Sewell to academics yesterday inspired this TSLMail. How will the Hoos do without their rising r-junior quarterback? Will true sophomore Peter Lalich be ready? If he's not, the Hoos could slip back down in the standings due to quarterback play. More on that later.

Let's take a look at each ACC team and see what their quarterback situation looks like heading into 2008. After each team, we'll indicate whether we think their quarterback play will be up or down this coming season.

Boston College obviously lost the heart and soul of their team, All-American quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan was the premier player in the ACC this year, and he is simply not replaceable after throwing for 4,507 yards with 31 touchdowns. He had four 400+ yard passing games. BC's quarterback in 2008 looks to be Chris Crane, a r-senior who has never played significant snaps.
BC's 2008 QB Play: Down

Clemson returns the talented and efficient Cullen Harper at quarterback. He will be a r-senior in his second year as the starter. All Harper did in 2007 was throw for 2,991 yards, with 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions. That's an amazing touchdown-to-interception ration. However, it's a little questionable whether or not Harper can improve on those numbers in 2008. RB James Davis and WR Aaron Kelly are off to the NFL, and the Tigers lose four starters on the offensive line.
Clemson's 2008 QB Play: No Change

Duke quarterback Thad Lewis put up some impressive numbers in 2007, throwing for 2,430 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He completed 55.3% of his passes. Imagine what he would have done if he had some good players around him. Duke's wide receivers were solid, but the offensive line is bad and there is no threat of a running game. Lewis, who will be a true junior in 2008, will have to learn new coach David Cutcliffe's system. Cutcliffe is a genius with quarterbacks. Lewis might slip a little this year as he gets used to a new offense, but he should be ready to roll as a senior in 2009.
Duke's 2008 QB Play: Slightly Down

Xavier Lee recently left Florida State after he was asked to move to tight end, so at least Drew Weatherford doesn't have to look over his shoulder anymore. Weatherford doesn't get as much credit as he deserves. He threw for over 2,000 yards this year, with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. The offense bogged down at times, but that was mainly because of offensive line struggles. With what should be a better offensive line in front of him next year, Weatherford should be poised to have a very good senior season. He has a chance to take the Seminoles back to the top of the Atlantic Division.
FSU's 2008 QB Play: Up

Taylor Bennett likely played in his last football for Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl. Bennett is not a fit to run new coach Paul Johnson's option attack. Rising true sophomore Josh Nesbitt ran for 339 yards in 2007, but he wasn't asked to throw the ball much. Nesbitt was just 5-of-13 for 93 yards, with one touchdown and two interception. He is the likely starter next year. Even though GT won't have the same starter, quarterback play won't get any worse. Bennett threw nine interceptions and just seven touchdowns on the season, completing less than 50% of his passes.
GT's 2008 QB Play: Up

The Maryland Terrapins began the season with Jordan Steffy at quarterback, and ended it with Chris Turner lining up under center. Turner wasn't spectacular, but he was better than Steffy. He threw seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he had a very good 63.5% completion percentage, and threw for just under 2,000 yards despite starting just eight games. Turner began the season as the third string quarterback, but the rising junior should have the job locked down heading into next season.
Maryland's 2008 QB Play: Up

Miami lost senior quarterback Kyle Wright to graduation, and junior quarterback Kirby Freeman elected to not return for his senior season. That means Miami will have a quarterback who has never taken a college snap for the 2008 season. The likely starter is r-freshman Robert Marve. Marve was a 4-star recruit in the class of 2007 who redshirted last season. Even with a new starter, it's hard to imagine Miami's quarterback production getting worse. Wright and Freeman combined for 15 touchdowns and a whopping 20 interceptions. An average year from Marve would be an improvement.
Miami's 2008 QB Play: Up

North Carolina had a very young but very talented football team in 2007. The quarterback position was no exception. T.J. Yates had a good year as a r-freshman, completing 59.7% of his passes for 2,655 yards and 14 touchdowns. He threw 18 interceptions, but that number will improve with time. Yates also has the benefit of having a very good group of wide receivers, led by Hakeem Nicks. Nicks is probably the best wide receiver in the ACC. The passing game for the Tar Heels will continue to get better.
UNC's 2008 QB Play: Up

NC State used two quarterbacks in 2007, and the result was a lot of turnovers. Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck combined for 14 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Beck alone threw just two touchdowns and nine interceptions. Both should be better with another year under Tom O'Brien, but what's their ceiling? Whatever it is, it can't be worse than 14 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
NC State's 2008 QB Play: Up

Virginia starting quarterback Jameel Sewell is not enrolled in classes this semester, and sources indicate that he will not be back for the 2008 season due to academic issues. Sewell threw for 2,176 yards, with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a sophomore. He was poised to have a very good year in 2008, which would have been his third year as a starter. Now it appears true sophomore Peter Lalich will be the starter. Lalich played sparingly as a true freshman, but wasn't quite ready. He'll probably do okay in 2008, but the loss of Sewell is tough, and now there is absolutely no depth behind Lalich. If he's injured, UVA will be in trouble.
UVA's 2008 QB Play: Down

Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor combined to throw for over 2,700 yards in 2007, with 17 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Taylor also added 429 yards on the ground. Both quarterbacks played exceptionally well down the stretch, leading the Hokies to their second ACC Championship in their first four years in the league. The only question is whether we will see a two-quarterback system again, or will we see Frank Beamer pick a starter and go with him all season? Either way, Virginia Tech is going to have good quarterback play in 2008. The one thing that will hold Tech's quarterback play back is the loss of four senior wide receivers. Because of that, I can't see them being any more productive than last year.
VT's 2008 QB Play: No Change

Wake Forest's Riley Skinner is a very efficient quarterback, completing 72% of his passes for 2,204 yards. He did throw 13 interceptions compared to just 12 touchdowns, but he was only a sophomore. He'll get better in that regard. There's not much else you can say about Skinner. He's got a great shot to lead the Demon Deacons to their third straight bowl game.
Wake's 2008 QB Play: Up

A Look at 2008 ACC QB Play
All 2008 Starters are Projected
Team 2007 QB 2008 QB Up/Down
BC Matt Ryan Chris Crane Down
Clemson Cullen Harper Cullen Harper No Change
Duke Thad Lewis Thad Lewis Slightly Down
FSU Drew Weatherford Drew Weatherford Up
GT Taylor Bennett Josh Nesbitt Up
Maryland Chris Turner Chris Turner Up
Miami Kyle Wright Robert Marve Up
UNC T.J. Yates T.J. Yates Up
NC State Daniel Evans/Harrison Beck Evans/Beck Up
UVa Jameel Sewell Peter Lalich Down
VT Sean Glennon/Tyrod Taylor Glennon/Taylor No Change
Wake Riley Skinner Riley Skinner Up

There you have it. Seven ACC teams are projected to get better quarterback play in 2008, and two teams that got very good quarterback play in 2007 are not projected to get any worse. Quarterback play is so important in college football. Could the ACC be back on it's way up in 2008? We'll find out this fall. Pass - Your Ultimate Ticket to Hokie Sports!

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For more info on TechSideline Pass, and to subscribe, click here. Updates From the Past Week

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

January 18, 2008
Virginia Tech will look to extend their ACC winning streak to three games when they travel to Atlanta to take on a struggling Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets are 7-9 overall and 0-3 in the ACC, and they'll be hungry for their first conference victory of the season.

Massie De-Commits from Virginia Tech
January 18, 2008
Liberty Christian Academy (Lynchburg, VA) offensive tackle/defensive tackle Bobby Massie has de-committed from Virginia Tech. The 6-7, 325-pound prospect, one of the top 2008 class recruits in the state of Virginia, informed the Tech coaches of his decision earlier this week.

An Early Look at the 2008 Defense
January 17, 2008
The exodus of defensive talent from Blacksburg this year is alarming. The Hokies lose three starting defensive linemen, two starting linebackers, the starting free safety and a starting cornerback. It's very similar to the defensive losses suffered by Tech following the 1999 season, when a number of seniors used up their eligibility, and their top junior cornerback declared for the NFL Draft.

Ore to Return for Senior Season
January 17, 2008
Virginia Tech's athletics department announced today in a brief press release that running back Branden Ore will return for his redshirt senior year, the 2008 football season. Ore is currently enrolled at Virginia Tech and has withdrawn his name for consideration in the 2008 NFL Draft.

TSL Audio: The Len Martez Show, 1/16/08
January 17, 2008
On yesterday evening's show, Len and Chris Coleman previewed the Tech-UVa basketball game (a fun listen, now that we know what happened). On the football side of the equation, they talked about the return of Macho Harris and Branden Ore's situation (WMA format, compatible with Windows Media Player and MP3 players, 3.3 MB, 14:07).

Buzzer-Beater Gets Hokie Nation's Attention
January 17, 2008
For most of the day Wednesday, it was business as usual on TSL, which is to say, football ruled the roost. A basketball showdown in Charlottesville was looming last night, but as of 6:00 p.m., posts on the football board outnumbered posts on the basketball board 670 to 196, a ratio of 3.4 to 1.

Dunn Lands New Offer, Shakes Up List
January 17, 2008
Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, VA) wide receiver Randall Dunn finalized his official visit to Virginia Tech and will head to Blacksburg this weekend, but that was not the only big news from yesterday. The 6-3, 215-pound senior also received another scholarship offer, one that seems to have shaken up his list of schools.

Jones Changes Plans
January 17, 2008
Green Run (Virginia Beach, VA) defensive end Joe Jones has had a change of plans and will make an official visit to Virginia Tech this coming weekend. After speaking with coaches from the University of Tennessee, the 6-3, 245-pound first-team all-Tidewater selection decided to postpone the previously planned official visit to Knoxville and moved up the trip to Virginia Tech by a week.

Washington Lifts Hokies over Hoos in Overtime
January 17, 2008
On January 6, 1968, Virginia Tech beat UVA in Charlottesville in men's basketball. Since that day, man has landed on the moon, the Soviet Union collapsed, and numerous other events have taken place. However, Virginia Tech never won another game in Charlottesville until Wednesday night, when Deron Washington's game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded gave the Hokies a 70-69 overtime win over their in-state rivals.

Class of '09: Lillard Emerging as a Top Prospect
January 16, 2008
After losing its first two games of the 2007 season, Liberty (Bealeton, VA) captured seven of the next eight games to finish with a 7-3 record. Liberty head coach Tommy Buzzo was proud of his team's effort in rebounding from an 0-2 start, but at the same time he is looking for better results out of next year's squad...a team that will be led by talented defensive back/running back Corey Lillard.

Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at Virginia
January 16, 2008
Virginia Tech will look to make it two ACC wins in a row when they travel to John Paul Jones Arena to take on Virginia on Wednesday night. A win will be tough. The Cavs will be looking for their first ACC win of the season, and the Hokies haven't won a basketball game in Charlottesville since January 6, 1968.

An Early Look at the 2008 Offense
January 15, 2008
It's never too early to take a look at possible depth charts for the upcoming football season. Even though it's still January, it's time to get an early glimpse of some of the players you could see on the field for the Hokies this fall. Today we'll take a look at the offense, and on Thursday we'll go over the defense.

Prince, Tweedy Enroll; Bowman and Welsh Leaving Football Program
January 15, 2008
Two new players joined Virginia Tech's football team yesterday for the start of the spring semester. 2007 signees Courtney Prince and Alonzo Tweedy are officially Hokies. They are enrolled in classes, they will participate in offseason workouts, and they'll be eligible for spring practice. In other news, OL Matt Welsh and LB Andrew Bowman are not slated to return to the football team.

Hokie Hotline Notes for 1/14/08
January 15, 2008
Presented by Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech: During last night's show, head basketball coach Seth Greenberg talked about the Maryland win and previewed Wednesday's game against Virginia. Coach talked about VT's effort against Maryland and gave his thoughts on how Tech's players are doing.

Clayton Set for Official Visit to VT
January 15, 2008
A month after receiving an official scholarship offer from Virginia Tech, Hermitage (Richmond, VA) quarterback Joseph "Ju-Ju" Clayton will make his official visit to Blacksburg this weekend. The 6-2, 205-pound signal caller, selected as the Richmond metro offensive player of the year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is looking forward to the trip.

Harris Reverses Course; Ore to File Papers for Draft
January 14, 2008
Kyle Tucker of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot broke two stories Monday concerning possible Hokie entries into the NFL. Tucker reported that cornerback Victor "Macho" Harris has reversed course and decided to stay for his senior season, while running back Branden Ore will file papers with the NFL to make himself draft eligible. Ore may not be wanted back by the Virginia Tech coaches, according to his high school coach.

Around the ACC: January 14th, 2008
January 14, 2008
"Around the ACC" returns for the 2007-08 basketball season, with weekly Monday updates. Every ACC team has played at least one conference game, and although it's still early, we can begin to get a feel for which teams have a chance to make some noise this year. Here's an early hint: the ACC is down this year.

Jones Visits GT; TN Visit in Question
January 14, 2008
Green Run (Virginia Beach, VA) star Joe Jones did make an official visit this past weekend, but it wasn't to any of the programs previously involved in his recruitment. Georgia Tech, which seriously entered this race about a week ago, hosted the 6-3, 245-pound standout defensive end. How did the experience go?

Macho Harris Going Pro
January 13, 2008
Virginia Tech has lost both of their starting junior cornerbacks to the NFL. Six days after Brandon Flowers said he was going pro early, fellow junior Victor "Macho" Harris has also declared for the NFL Draft. The announcement was made by the Virginia Tech Athletic Department Saturday.
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