AJ's Monday Musings

In this week's Musings, I'd like to bring to the surface yet another, albeit small, example why the ACC is wrongly so disrespected. Also discussed are some of UNC's more recent quarterback battles and a tradition returning to Tallahassee.

Street & Smith's & The ACC

Street & Smith's college football preview magazine doesn't think much of the Atlantic Coast Conference when comparing it to the Pac-10, Southeastern Conference, Big XII and Big Ten. You wouldn't know, however, by looking at its preseason first, second and third team All-America lists.

The SEC and Big Ten each has nine players earning the honors. The ACC has 14, including UNC cornerback Michael Waddell, who made the third team. The Big XII has 15, and the Pac-10 has 16 players on one of the three teams. Considering this might be a "down" year for the ACC, 14 is not a bad number.

This proves once again the ACC doesn't get the national respect in football it deserves. ACC basketball has been overrated the last few years, but its football continues to improve.

With new coaches like Chan Gailey, Al Groh, John Bunting, Ralph Friedgen, Jim Grobe and Chuck Amato patrolling ACC sidelines, the league has never been in better shape. Few conferences can combine that kind of brain trust with its head coaches.

By the way, the Big East had six players – all from Miami - make the teams.

UNC's Quarterback Battles

The great debate will begin in a few weeks. Who should be UNC's starting quarterback? Florida transfer C.J. Stephens or sophomore Darian Durant?

Carolina has had quarterback battles in the past, mostly under former coach Mack Brown, who sometimes drew criticism for how he handled them.

Jason Stanicek and Mike Thomas had very different styles in the early-mid 1990's. Stanicek was extremely efficient running a form of an option offense that combined with pro sets. He was a solid passer, but ran the ball well and made quality decisions. Thomas was a gifted dropback passer with a cannon for an arm. Brown's biggest mistake with Thomas was trying to get him to run option plays. Does anyone remember the Thursday night game at Louisville?

Toward the end of the decade, Chris Keldorf and Oscar Davenport had more similar skills than Stanicek and Thomas. Both were quality pocket passers who usually made sound decisions.

Keldorf exploded on the scene in his first game, a 45-0 season-opening rout of Clemson He then led the Heels to a decisive victory at Syracuse. UNC finished the season ranked in the top ten.

Brown named Davenport the starter in 1997 and although the Heels won their first eight games, they were manhandled by Florida State, 20-3, on "Judgement Day."

The decision to start Davenport over Keldorf may have disrupted the team. Brown went with the better athlete and more polished looking passer instead of the QB who was better at leading his mates and making things happen. No slight to Davenport, but Keldorf should have been the regular QB that fall.

By the way, did anyone watch Texas last season and think, "Hmmm, I sure have seen this before," with respect to how Brown handled Chris Simms and Major Applewhite?

Both Stephens and Durant should be fine quarterbacks. If Stephens has the leadership ability and on-field smarts Durant possesses, he will be a very good signal caller this fall, and Carolina will be in excellent shape behind the center. Durant's skills may be more limited, but he simply gets the job done.

Throwback Goalposts

Florida State's football program is reaching back in time this fall with the return of the old fashioned H-shaped goalposts.

A pair of two-legged, H-shaped goalposts will replace the conventional one-legged, Y-shaped posts in which the two uprights and cross bar were attached to a single, curved pole.

The new posts, which will not differ in distance, height or width from the old posts, are to honor former FSU coach Bill Peterson, who was the Seminoles' winningest coach before Bobby Bowden eclipsed the mark. Peterson was known for having his teams run through the goalposts when entering the field prior to a game.

"Wherever we played, he would always have us go through the goal posts," Bowden, who served as an assistant under Peterson, told the Tallahassee Democrat. "It's a good little tradition to bring back."


This week's question: Who is your favorite all-time UNC quarterback and why?

I will post someone's response in next week's musings.

Last Week's Response

Last week's question was if anyone thought Duke would beat Navy in football, and if not, how long the Blue Devils losing streak would last.

Mark Lindbergh of Virginia wrote: "I honestly don't think Duke is going to beat Navy or anyone else this season. Unfortunately, I think it will cause their football coach, Carl Franks, to be fired with a 35-game losing streak. That would really be sad. And also sad for the players. Those kids work hard and it would be great if they could win some games. But then again, they are Duke. So the heck with them.

Andrew Jones is entering his seventh year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a drive-time radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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