The Nate Question, Plus Other Items

-- After looking back over some things in an attempt to get some sort of grasp on what Nate Irving's absence will mean for the defense, I'm left throwing up my hands and saying who knows?  His and Alan-Michael Cash's injury time overlapped quite a bit, and there are plenty of other factors preventing any sort of conclusion.  Obviously the defense was better off with those guys in the lineup, and the numbers bear that out: in the games in which one or both missed time, opponents were about 1.2 yards/play better than their season averages.  When they played, opponents were a more acceptable 0.4 yards/play better than average.  But I'm sure unit cohesiveness and incremental improvement from inexperienced players in the lineup down the stretch also contributed to that improvement.

From a system standpoint--kids understanding their roles, their teammates' roles, etc.--we should be ahead of where we were this time last season, and we just have to hope that helps ease some of the pain early on.

-- Toney Baker is feeling better and better:

"I feel like I'm getting better each day," Baker said. "Each day I'm out here with the guys, I feel like I'm getting better at something. And every day I can feel myself getting ready for that first game. And it's a great feeling."

I still wouldn't expect a big contribution from him this season, though.

-- Kyle Parker is the starter at Clemson, while it appears that 26-year-old David Shinskie has the upper hand at BC.  Converted cornerback Vic Hall may get the nod over Marc Verica and Jameel Sewell in Charlottesville.

-- College Hoops Net previews NC State.

-- NC State is now offering a two-game "rivalry pack" (Duke, UNC).

-- Greg Paulus has been named Syracuse's starting QB.  Awesome.

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