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The Conference Call: Aug. 27

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The last Wednesday in August can only mean one thing — the Conference Call.

Ah, two hours with 12 ACC coaches and 700 cliches. It gives you a tingle just thinking about it, doesn't it?

Any way, here are some highlights, and of course, a Moment of Al Groh Zen.

Butch Davis, UNC
The Tar Heels have come a long way in a short time under Davis.

Davis inherited a 3-win team but there's already a somewhat realistic chance for the Heels to win the Coastal Division in Davis' second season.

I asked Davis if he was fairly amazed at this phenomena, in terms of even ESPN is hot for the Heels.

"An awful lot of the speculation is extremely premature," Davis said. "Certainly there is an optimism because of the direction of the program."

Since Davis' thought process is more James Joyce than Ernest Hemingway, he quickly qualified the optimism for a team that went 4-8 in 2007.

"There's lots of steps to building this program," Davis said. "There are no quick fixes and this is not a one-year or two-year deal.

"There's still going to be growing pains this year. We'll take some lumps and learn some lessons."

For the record, Davis first two Miami teams went 8-3 and 9-3 but he inherited a lot more talent that he did in Chapel Hill. One constant — he was/is in a lousy conference (the Big East with Miami) and at least the Coastal half of the ACC.

In injury-related news, Davis said freshman receiver Dwight Jones was behind schedule with a "quad contusion" or a leg bruise in layman's terms, and that would explain his absence on the depth chart for the McNeese State game.

Davis said he didn't think Jones would play on Saturday. 

Randy Shannon, Miami
As for Miami's current coach, Shannon has spent a lot of time talking about his quarterbacks — starter Robert Marve is suspended for the opener on Thursday against Charleston Southern, which means freshman Jacory Harris will start — but not a lot about the other half of the Canes' biggest weakness on offense in 2007, the receivers.

Miami ranked 108th in passing offense last season, averaging less than 170 yards per game. 

Certainly the dynamic duo of Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman, who combined for 15 TDs and 20 INTs, have to eat some of that blame, but what about the receivers?

What in the name of Michael Irvin happened to The U's receivers?

Shannon hopes a committee of newcomers can keep defenses off of running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James.

"We have had three scrimmages not one receiver was 'The Guy' every time," Shannon said. "We feel like we have a good group, but they are young."

Shannon said he'll give Travis Benjamin, Laron Byrd, Khalil Jones and Leonard Hankerson between 20 to 25 snaps a game, instead of using two receivers 60 to 70 snaps.

For the record, he didn't mention Aldarius Johnson or Sam Shields.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
Beamer made it public on Tuesday that Sean Glennon would be the starting quarterback and Tyrod Taylor would redshirt. This could mean several things but here's how Beamer explained it:

"There was a lot of things that went into making that decision," Beamer said. "The final thought is if we can make this thing work, it's in the best interest of Virginia Tech football for [Taylor] to have three more years of eligibility."

What does that say about what Beamer thinks of the best interest of Virginia Tech football this season?

By the way, quarterback-then-receiver-now-quarterback Cory Holt will serve as Glennon's backup.

As for running back, Kenny Lewis will start and any number of other backs could get a look against ECU. The departed Branden Ore won't be one of them. Ore landed at West Liberty.

Tom O'Brien, N.C. State
For the time being, Andre Brown is the No. 1 running back with Curtis Underwood as the backup.

Neither Jamelle Eugene (ankle) nor Toney Baker (knee) will play on Thursday at South Carolina.

Brown, who led N.C. State in rushing in 2005, broke his foot against Florida State last season, missing the final six games of the season.

O'Brien's confident Brown's healthy.

"He's ready to go," O'Brien said. "He'll do whatever it takes, whether it's 10 [carries] or 50."

Al Groh, Virginia
Like Charlie Weis, Groh takes the quarterback code of silence very seriously.

He's not saying who'll start against No. 3 USC on Saturday. Trojans coach Pete Carroll is preparing for Peter Lalich.

Since it has been a full year, here's your Moment of Al Groh Zen:

"Quite obviously there are quite a few things we're curious to find out about this team."

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About the blogger

Joe Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997.