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August 30, 2007

ACC Breakdown: Some QBs getting a fresh start

MORE WEEK 1 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

Megargee's ACC picks
Saturday's Games:
Virginia Tech 27, East Carolina 7
Miami 28, Marshall 3
Connecticut 28, Duke 13
Virginia 21, Wyoming 10
Notre Dame 21, Georgia Tech 20
Boston College 23, Wake Forest 17
Maryland 34, Villanova 3
North Carolina 28, James Madison 6
NC State 21, Central Florida 17
Monday's Games:
Florida State 23, Clemson 21

Best matchup: Clemson RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller vs. Florida State DT Andre Fluellen: Davis and Spiller helped give Clemson the nation's fifth-ranked rushing offense last year, but they didn't run the ball particularly well in a 27-20 victory over Florida State last season. Only a 47-yard run by Davis in the final minute - on a quick snap - allowed Clemson's dynamic duo to finish the game with 83 yards on 21 carries. Spiller only carried the ball twice in last year's game and should have a much bigger role this time. Clemson isn't the only team that has struggled to run the ball against Florida State, which has ranked 25th or better in run defense each of the last four years. Andre Fluellen is the heart of Florida State's front four and could become the third Seminole defensive tackle in the last four years to get drafted in the first round.

The pressure is on: Virginia coach Al Groh: Virginia's problems in nonconference games cost the Cavaliers a bowl bid and may have put Groh on the hot seat. Virginia lost to Pittsburgh, East Carolina and Western Michigan last year. The Cavaliers open the 2007 season at Wyoming, which took Virginia to overtime last year before falling 13-12. Virginia's defense should be good enough this year to produce a bowl bid, but the Cavaliers can't afford multiple losses in a weak non-conference schedule that also includes games with Pittsburgh, Middle Tennessee State and Connecticut.

Newcomer who could have an impact: North Carolina QB T.J. Yates: This former two-star prospect beat out sophomore Cam Sexton and highly touted freshman Mike Paulus to start the Tar Heels' season opener Saturday against James Madison. North Carolina's hopes of improving upon last year's 3-9 mark in Butch Davis' first season could depend on whether this redshirt freshman finally gives the Tar Heels stability at the quarterback position. Sexton and Joe Dailey combined to throw 18 interceptions with only 11 touchdown passes last year. Dailey has since moved to wide receiver.

Key stat: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his last seven games. Choice is 14 yards away from the 2,000-yard mark for his career.

They said it: "I'm overwhelmed. This is everything I've worked for. I'll be honest, I'm really excited. Now it's time to play ball."
-- Miami quarterback Kirby Freeman to CaneSport.com after learning he had beaten out Kyle Wright for the opportunity to start the Hurricanes' season opener Saturday against Marshall.

Injury update: Boston College LB Robert Francois has an ankle injury and isn't listed on the Eagles' two-deep lineup for the Wake Forest game. Mark Herzlich probably will start in his place. Boston College RB L.V. Whitworth has been struggling with a hamstring injury for much of the preseason, but the Eagles expect him to play Saturday. Duke OT Fred Roland's status for the Connecticut game is uncertain as he recovers from back surgery. True freshman Bryan Morgan could start at right tackle if Roland can't play. Florida State FB Joe Surratt is out indefinitely with a fractured right fibula. Florida State OL Dumaka Atkins will miss the Clemson game with an injured left knee. Miami LB Glenn Cook will miss at least three games with a foot injury. Spencer Adkins is replacing Cook in the starting lineup. North Carolina State DT DeMario Pressley has a sprained elbow that leaves his status for this weekend uncertain. North Carolina State TE Anthony Hill will miss the entire season with a knee injury. Former quarterback Marcus Stone is replacing Hill in the lineup. Virginia Tech OT Ed Wang will probably miss at least the first four games of the season with a fractured fibula in his right leg. Nick Marshman has moved over from guard to replace Wang in the lineup. After missing most of the 2006 season with a knee injury, Wake Forest RB Micah Andrews has recovered well enough to start Saturday's season opener at Boston College.

Worth noting: You won't find Miami's Francesco Zampogna or North Carolina State's Steven Hauschka in their respective schools' media guides, but you'll find both kickers atop their teams' depth charts this week. The NCAA granted Zampogna a sixth year of eligibility because he missed the entire 2002 and 2003 seasons with back and wrist injuries. Zampogna was named the Hurricanes' starting kicker Tuesday even though he hasn't kicked a field goal since high school. The NCAA ruling didn't come until after the media guide was completed. Hauschka arrived from Middlebury College in Vermont this summer under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule after the Wolfpack's media guide went to press. Hauschka is a former soccer player who didn't start playing football until his sophomore year at Middlebury. He has been nicknamed "The Polish Rifle" by Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien, even though the neuroscience major isn't Polish. Miami WR Sam Shields has been suspended for the Marshall game because of an unspecified violation of team rules. Khalil Jones will start in Shields' place. North Carolina reserve DB Cooter Arnold has been suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. ACC teams in all sports this year will wear a black patch on their uniforms to honor the victims of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech. Virginia is returning 19 starters, more than any other ACC school. Virginia Tech has led the nation in total defense each of the last two years.

MORE WEEK 1 BREAKDOWNS: Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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