VT’s Taylor beats out State’s Wilson for ACC Player of the Year

ACC RELEASE – Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who has led the No. 12 Hokies to 10 consecutive victories and his third berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game following an 0-2 start, is the ACC Player of the Year for 2010.

Taylor, a senior, was the choice of 27 of the 57 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) that voted. Russell Wilson of NC State was second with 19 votes.

Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers won ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Taylor, also the offensive player of the year and the league’s first-team All-ACC quarterback, has played for four years, and set himself up for a big finish this summer.

“I think I put in the work this offseason and previous years to come out and have a big season and I think it just paid off,” Taylor said of his All-ACC selection.

The Hokies will play No. 20 Florida State for the championship on Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C., with the winner earning the conference’s berth in the Orange Bowl.

Taylor said he will approach this game like any other – with high expectations.

“I challenge myself every week to be the best player on the field,” he said. “That’s my mindset going into the week and when I step onto the field, I want to let it be known that I was the best player on the field in that game.”

Taylor was the MVP of the 2008 ACC Football Championship Game against Boston College. He is the first Hokies player to win the ACC Player of the Year honor since quarterback Bryan Randall in 2004.

Taylor leads the ACC in passing efficiency, having completed better than 60 percent of his attempts while throwing for 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He also is the Hokies’ second-leading rusher with 613 yards, and has two runs of more than 70 yards.

Bowers, who led the nation with 15½ sacks, received 36 of 55 votes to finish ahead of Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, the nation’s leading tackler, who had 14 votes.

Voting for the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year awards, as voted on by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA)

UNC’s turnovers and Barnes’ shooting are quickly becoming problems

North Carolina basketball has committed 73 turnovers in the last four games, including 18 turnovers in a 79-67 loss at Illinois Tuesday night.

Also troubling is the free throw shooting. UNC missed nine of 17 foul shots.

Harrison Barnes, the heralded rookie, was taunted by Illinois fan as being “overrated.” He hit only two of nine shots. UNC coach Roy Williams said Barnes hasn’t found his niche yet, isn’t playing smoothly and needs to move better without the ball.

Williams said the Tar Heels need to do a better job of getting the ball to Barnes while guard Kendall Marshall said that the Tar Heels are getting the ball to Barnes too far away from the basket.

Carolina is now 4-3 on the season – that’s already a third of the number of losses that Barnes had in four years of high school ball.

For more on the game itself, please click here.

Tech’s Taylor beats out NCSU’s Wilson for All-ACC quarterback

Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor got the nod as the first-team All-ACC quarterback in voting released Monday by the ACC. N.C. State’s Russell Wilson was second team.

Overall, the four North Carolina schools had only three players on the first team. Tight end George Bryan and linebacker Nate Irving of N.C. State joined UNC defensive tackle Quinton Coples on the first team.

QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech (77)
RB Montel Harris, Boston College (122)
RB Anthony Allen, Georgia Tech (108)
WR Leonard Hankerson, Miami (118)
WR Torrey Smith, Maryland (96)
TE George Bryan, NC State (92)
OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (79)
OT Chris Hairston, Clemson (69)
OG Rodney Hudson, Florida State (116)
OG Brandon Washington, Miami (50)
C Sean Bedford, Georgia Tech (91)
K Chris Hazley, Virginia Tech (100)
Spc. Tony Logan, Maryland (69)
DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson (120)
DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State (101)
DT Quinton Coples, North Carolina (101)
DT Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson (63)
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (112)
LB Nate Irving, N.C. State (105)
LB Alex Wujciak, Maryland (78)
CB Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech (112)
CB Chase Minnifield, Virginia (57)
S DeAndre McDaniel, Clemson (99)
S Kenny Tate, Maryland (78)
P Matt Bosher, Miami
QB Russell Wilson, NC State (75)
RB Damien Berry, Miami (37)
RB Keith Payne, Virginia (30)
WR Conner Vernon, Duke (70)
WR Owen Spencer, NC State (41)
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson (31)
OT Orlando Franklin, Miami (65)
OT Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech (39)
OG Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech (41)
OG Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (35)
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (35)
C Ryan McMahon, Florida State (47)
K Will Snyderwine, Duke (38)
Spc. David Wilson, Virginia Tech (61)
DE Allen Bailey, Miami (51)
DE Steven Friday, Virginia Tech (42)
DT John Graves, Virginia Tech (46)
DT Joe Vellano, Maryland (33)
LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina (43)
LB Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (41)
LB Sean Spence, Miami (37)
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (49)
CB Brandon Harris, Miami (45)
S Davon Morgan, Virginia Tech (48)
S Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami (25)
P Brian Saunders, Virginia Tech (48)
Honorable mention
WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina (20)
OT Jake Vermiglio, NC State (34); Paul Pinegar, Maryland (27).
OG Thomas Claiborne, Boston College (34).
C Beau Warren, Virginia Tech (22).
TE Cooper Helfet, Duke (24); Andre Smith, Virginia Tech (23)
RB Johnny White, North Carolina (22).
QB T.J. Yates, North Carolina (21).
PK Casey Barth, North Carolina (20).
SP Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson (24).
DT J.R. Sweezy, NC State (26).
LB Colin McCarthy, Miami (34); Abraham Kromah, Duke (30).
CB Greg Reid, Florida State (20).

Defense still lacking with this UNC basketball team

North Carolina’s basketball team will go as far as its defense takes it, and this season, that may not be far. The Tar Heels are sorely missing some players they had last year – Ed Davis, the Wear twins, Will Graves – and what is left does not look like an upper-tier ACC team.

Fans know this, too. You can’t fool ACC basketball fans, and the light crowds in the Smith Center the last two games knew they weren’t watching one of Carolina’s best teams.

Harrison Barnes is very good, and may someday be great, but the preseason prediction of him making first-team All-America was a stretch. He may not make first-team All-ACC – you can expect Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Malcolm Delaney to take three spots, and the next two are likely Jordan Williams of Maryland and Chris Singleton of Florida State.

Many thought the arrival of Barnes and the other freshmen would overcome the problems that led to last year’s disappointing effort. It was easy to point to Carolina’s problems last year. You could just name any facet of the game, point to that as an issue, and you were probably right. It was a strange year and one coach Roy Williams surely figured he would not repeat.

This team is not that team, but some issues are continuing. The obvious ones are shooting and ball-handling, but perhaps what is more surprising is there seems to be a recurring lack of desire on defense. You could see that against UNC-Asheville Tuesday night and you could see it again Sunday. The fact that UNC slowed College of Charleston scorer Andrew Goudelock in the second half garnered headlines, but the way Carolina played without intensity on defense in the first half – and much of the second – was jarring. It wasn’t until the Heels buckled down on defense with around seven minutes to go that the game changed.

Two factors may be at play here. One is Carolina lacks lock-down defenders. Against UNC-Asheville, the player who hustled the most on defense was Justin Watts, the junior from Durham Jordan. Of course, Carolina does have two shot-blockers in Tyler Zeller and John Henson, but there is no heir to the Marcus Ginyard-Jackie Manuel role. Reggie Bullock might have the talent and strength to do it, but injuries have slowed him down.

The other is more collective. Carolina doesn’t seem to have the tenacity of a great defensive team. Reaching any real conclusions is unfair – it’s a young team, and a young season. But right now, we do know this – Carolina is good, but not great. The Heels lack overwhelming offense, and the key to this season will be how well this team comes together on the defensive end.

Carolina basketball overcomes Goudelock this time

While North Carolina had to overcome the College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock – something the Heels couldn’t do last year – to win 74-69 at home tonight, Goudelock only hit 11 of 27 points and he went 10 minutes without a point. Dexter Strickland mainly had the responsibility in covering Goudelock.

During the two minutes in which Goudelock hit 13 points, including three threes, he really had no open shots. He just hit very, very long or tightly-covered shots en route to a game-high 28 ponts.

Carolina got into the more uptempo, fast-breaking style in the second half and tired the Cougars. John Henson led the way with 19 points. With a little better free throw shooting and without those wild threes from Goudelock, it would have been a comfortable margin.

But it wasn’t.

“I loved our poise,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “They go up five and Goudelock’s making some unbelievable shots, and we kept playing. I don’t want to call a timeout and have the kids panic. I think you get stronger through the course of your program if the kids can figure it out themselves.”

Even though Williams seems to be trying to inject confidence in his young team for the way they persevered, it’s going to be tough for the Heels to win at Illinois Tuesday.

Click here for a game story and click here for a photo gallery.

Pass defense lets N.C. State down in tough loss at Maryland

Well, let’s be honest – there’s no way Maryland really gained that critical first down with 48 seconds left in its 38-31 win over N.C. State in College Park, Md.

But State was lucky the game even got to that. After all, the Wolfpack’s inability to defend the pass finally crushed it Saturday in a bitter loss at Byrd Stadium.

The Wolfpack came into this season with a young secondary, but a creative defense that featured different blitzes masked that much of the season. That wasn’t the case Saturday as Maryland receiver Torrey Smith destroyed State throughout the contest.

State deserved credit for getting so much out of this team. Tom O’Brien and his coaching staff coaxed maximum effort from this team. Russell Wilson is the ACC’s best quarterback, and the offensive line and receivers are two units that a first-rate. The defense has a superb set of linebackers, but is otherwise unremarkable.

The  secondary just wasn’t up to snuff Saturday, which perhaps was no surprise. State came into the game tied for last in the ACC in interceptions (eight) and ninth in touchdown passes allowed (16). The Pack was also in the bottom of the league in completion percentage allowed, total passing yards allowed … well, you get the drift.

Basically, State’s pass defense just hasn’t been great.

And it was terrible Saturday. Maryland quarterback Dan O’Brien made some great throws, especially on the one where he rolled left and threaded a touchdown past two defenders. His target – Smith, of course. Smith had 14 catches for 224 yards and four scores, about as amazing a performance as any receiver has had against the Wolfpack.

“They just ran ‘take-offs,'” coach Tom O’Brien said in his postgame interview. “It was one on one. He ran by us.”

State now drops to 8-4 overall and 5-3 and is still in line for a nice bowl. Atlanta’s Chick-Fil-A has the No. 2 pick among ACC teams, and the Champs Sports is No. 3. Not bad, but not the Orange – and after a tough day at Maryland, State’s dreams of a big season are over.

No wonder coach Tom O’Brien said of the mood in the locker room, “They’re really crushed. I don’t think they fully comprehend what a great year they’ve really had, when you look at eight wins, the history of our school and how many times it’s been done.”

Football is the king of television

In the weekly broadcast TV ratings, three of the top 10 shows, including the No. 1 show for the week, were National Football League related. In the weekly cable TV ratings, ESPN, on the strength of pro and college football, was the top-ranked network.

Glee, at No. 3, is the top-ranked broadcast show not related to sports. The top five cable networks for the week, in order, are ESPN, USA, Disney, TBS and FoxNews. The NFL Network, which is not available in all markets, was still the 24th highest rated network. FoxNews was the only news channel represented in the top 25. Hey, football is the news this time of year.

Clearing but cold for tonight’s high school football games

Should be clearing but cold for tonight’s high school football playoffs. I went 5-1 in predictions for last week’s games and 12-1 the week before for a 17-2 mark which is close to 90 percent. In bold below are the predicted winners for tonight’s games. Games tonight are at 7:30 p.m. My record of predicting games in the regular season was 97-23, which is an 81 percent accuracy.

Panther Creek at Seventy-First

East Bladen at Carrboro

Cedar Ridge at Northwood

Northern Guilford at Cardinal Gibbons

Lee County at Hillside

Southeast Raleigh at New Bern

Garner at Wake Forest-Rolesville

Check the scores in our Sports Roundup on the left navigation bar. Good luck to Cardinal Gibbons – I hope I’m wrong… again.