ACC Kickoff Notebook: Tigers Draw Praise

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Much as they do with the Atlanta Braves, every year it seems many fans and media constantly look for any little reason not to pick Florida State to repeat as champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Last season, nearly a third of 92 voters picked someone other than the Seminoles to win the Atlantic Division. In 2004, 39 of the 88 voters went against Florida State, while in 2003, 49 out of 84 voters said the Seminoles wouldn't finish first.

Yet, through it all, Florida State has been crowned champ of the ACC 12 out of the 14 years it's been in the league. The two seasons the Seminoles didn't win it all, they finished second.

And while the official results won't be revealed until Monday, many members once again went against the Seminoles and have selected Clemson to win the Atlantic Division.

Such things aren't so surprising, according to Florida State star running back Lorenzo Booker.

"Last year they said that Virginia Tech was going to kill us in the ACC Championship," he said. "We were the ones in the Orange Bowl, not them. I was there and I didn't see any Virginia Tech players. Were they in Miami? I was in Miami.

"People are always going to say what they want to say, especially if you're in a program like ours. The minute we lose a game, it's like, oh, Florida State is this and that. But, we're still the face of the ACC and until somebody does what we did, it's never going to change.

"We're the face of the ACC. When you think ACC, you think Florida State."

Clemson receiver Chansi Stuckey agrees with Booker's assessment.

"They're a great team and they've been at the top for a long time," Stuckey said. "They deserve the attention. They're the powerhouse of the ACC. They've been doing for so long. They've been winning and they won the championship last year and that's who everybody's going after."

Real deal or hype?
One of the best cover cornerbacks in the ACC said he understands why people may question the actual playing abilities of the players at Byrnes High School, including prized Clemson recruit and quarterback Willy Korn.

Duke's John Talley, who will be playing in the NFL very soon, said the unmatched success at Byrnes is due to the system employed by Bobby Bentley as well as the quality of the players.

"I think that's the case because over and over we have good quarterbacks year in and year out," he said of the fact that Byrnes was winning before Korn. "I guess you could say it's the system or you could say it's the players. … You start learning before you get to high school, so that helps a lot, too."

However, he believes Korn is worthy of all the attention.

"I think that he deserves all the hype that he gets, because he's work hard to get to the point that he's at," he said. "I think he deserves it."

Thursday with the Hokies
In late October, Clemson has the daunting task of playing at Virginia Tech on a Thursday night. The Hokies have been practically unbeatable when playing on Thursday at home.

Until last year, Thursday games have been disaster for the Tigers. So, why exactly does Virginia Tech excel on weekday games? "I guess (the difference) is the amount of time for tailgating and the mixture of Wild Turkey," said Hokies center Danny McGrath. "That's the only thing I can say. The fans make it tough on every team that comes there."

Quick Hits
Virginia Tech cornerback Aaron Rouse stunned those who heard him say that Duke would win the Big 12 if it didn't play in the ACC. … Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson said he doesn't care if his name is mentioned for the Heisman Trophy or not. Of course, if quarterback Reggie Ball doesn't improve, Johnson's thoughts are irrelevant. …

Even though Wake Forest is usually near the bottom of the league, teams like Clemson and N.C. State dread playing the Demon Deacons. Said Wake Forest offensive tackle Steve Vallos, "I think everyone is always going to hate to play us because we're unique. We have different style of players. I don't think we're ever going to be the team people like to play." …

Another remark that threw reporters for a loop came from Florida State linebacker Buster Davis when asked about the ACC not being a very good offensive league.

"This league is known for great quarterbacks. There was (N.C. State's) Phillip Rivers, who threw for 10,000 yards and then you've got Charlie Whitehurst, who is one of the greatest quarterbacks to every play a game in college," he said. Um … no comment.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Duke's Zack Asack was recently kicked off the team for plagiarism. But Blue Devils defensive tackle Eli Nichols said the team will rebound from Asack's sudden departure.

"Everyone's disappointed and it's unfortunate," Nichols said. "With it so close to the season, it's an unfortunate situation that we've got to overcome. Everybody makes mistakes and he's not taking it lightly." …

The two coaches that seem to be on the hotseat this year are Miami's Larry Coker and N.C. State's Chuck Amato. And oddly enough, players from the two teams understand why that is.

"You come to the University of Miami to win a national championship," Hurricanes quarterback Kyle Wright said. "People are going to remember you for your last game. They don't remember (the two national championship games). It's just the way it is. Is it unfair? Of course it is. But fans are used to Miami winning."

Added Wolfpack center Leroy Harris on his coach: "He's handled it really good. You couldn't really tell he was on the hotseat (last year). He knows what we have and he knows what we're doing here and he's coaching the same as when we had all those All-Americans."

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