ACC Preview

By on August 8, 2010
ATLANTIC

Clemson Tigers

The Tigers are the defending Atlantic Division champs and have no intention of letting go of the reigns.  Talented two-sport athlete, Sophomore QB, Kyle Parker, leads a team that has the basic building blocks to challenge the top teams in the country.  Clemson has loads of talent on the offensive and defensive lines, and a duo of RBs in Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper that can provide the balance coach Dabo Swinney is searching for. Senior SS, DeAndre McDaniel, looks to cap off a great college career by leading the Tigers in tackles once again.

Florida St. Seminoles

Heisman hopeful, QB Christian Ponder, looks to lead a skilled, yet slightly raw, Seminole team to the promised land of an ACC Championship and BCS bowl berth.


Boston College Golden Eagles

Senior LB, Mark Herzlich, lead the Eagles in total tackles with 110 in 2008 on the way to ACC Defensive POY, and First Team All-American.  In 2009, however, he had to take the year off to fight a rare form of cancer, but hopes to step right back in where he left off – not only as the emotional, but also the physical leader of the defense.  After an eight win season last year, BC is aiming for a berth in the ACC Championship game this year, under the tutelage of 2nd year head coach, Frank Spaziani.  With the ACC’s leading rusher, Junior RB Montel Harris returning, the Eagles should have every opportunity to do just that.

NC St. Wolfpack

For the Wolfpack to improve upon a miserable 2009 season, the defense has to take a big step forward, and it all begins with the return of Senior LB, Nate Irving, from injuries sustained in a bad car accident. Irving has the ability to singlehandedly improve NC States D dramatically – not enough to make them contenders, but markedly nonetheless. Another ACC multi-sport QB, Russell Wilson, is fending off calls from the MLB to return to taking snaps from behind a shoddy offensive line (for some reason). Other than Irving and Wilson, there’s not a whole lot for coach Tom O’Brien to look forward to this season. Six wins would be worth celebrating with this crew.

Wake Forest Decons

This season will be a success for the Demon Deacons, if only they make it to a bowl game.  Youth and inexperience is aplenty on both sides of the ball, and it appears that coach Jim Grobe will install a triple option offense after QB Riley Skinner graduated.  They will be running the ball plenty and need the young tackles on the O-line to immediately start opening holes for RBs, Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass.  The play of the defensive line will be key to any hope for a decent bowl bid.

Maryland Terrapins

Losing PG Greivis Vazquez is a crushing blow for the Terrapins. Wait… what?  They have a football team?!?!  After finishing last year with the worst record in school history, Maryland has a lot of work to do and not enough talent with which to do it.  They have a Junior WR in Torrey Smith that can make some plays, and QB Jamarr Robinson is athletic enough for coach Ralph Friedgren to introduce his option package.  Other than that, this is an underwhelming team that will be fortunate to pull off four victories.

COASTAL

Va Tech Hokies

Senior QB, Tyrod Taylor, is coming back for the Hokies, hoping to build off of a productive end to last year.  He really started to step it up in the passing game and that’s exactly what his team needs, as the defense took a hit, losing eight starters.  But with RBs, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans in the backfield, some of the pressure on Taylor should be alleviated.  If D Coordinator, Bud Foster’s new defensive ends, Steven Friday and Chris Drager can create consistent pressure on the opposing QB, then these Hokies will be talking BCS Bowls… not Chick-Fil-A .

North Carolina Tar Heels

Even if your defense doesn’t give up points, you still have to score some to win.  That was the case last year with the Tar Heels.  They had the 6th best total defense in ’09, but were 108th in total offense.  This year, TJ Yates has to find a rhythm early on because UNC’s early season schedule is where they will show their true mettle.  They face LSU (neutral site), Georgia Tech (home), and then Rutgers (road) in their first three games; they still have to later travel to Florida State AND Miami – two, very tough divisional road games.  S Deunta Williams, LB Quan Sturdivant, DE Robert Quinn, CB Kendric Burney, and DT Marvin Austin, did NOT forego the NFL Draft to worry about the schedule.  They came back with every intention to play in a bowl game in 2011.

Miami Hurricanes

Coach Randy Shannon has the 2010 Hurricanes fired up and thinking national Championship. And really, you can’t blame them.  They have electrifying Junior QB, Jacory Harris, and Senior RB, Damien Berry, returning, and a good defense that will only improve with the addition of Sophomore Safeties, Vaughn Telemaque and Ray-Ray Armstrong.  The only thing keeping them from winning the Coastal division is their harrowing schedule (they play Ohio State, Pitt, Clemson, Virginia, and Georgia Tech – all on the road).

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Last year, expectations were low for the Yellow Jackets, and they exceeded them brilliantly.  This year, however, the expectations are quite higher and I’m not sure they are up to the task.  Having lost several key players to the NFL, Tech is in dire need of some playmakers to step up, especially on defense.  They lost two very talented players to the draft in Safety, Morgan Burnett and DE, Derrick Morgan, yet still underachieved.  The offensive line is wholly intact from last year, so 300 yds per game rushing again, will not be a terribly tall request.

Duke Blue Devils

Progress: that’s the key word when thinking of the job the Blue Devils’ coach, David Cutcliffe has done.  He has led this team to more victories in the last two years than they had in all the previous years since the Bronze Age. (Ok, I exaggerated a bit).  This year, though, is going to be a bit more challenging for the Devils. They lost a few key pieces on both sides of the ball.  Five wins will be tough to achieve this year, but if anyone can get more out of his players than he should, Coach Cutcliffe can.  Wide Receivers, Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, and Safety, Matt Daniels, are the players to watch this year.

Virginia Cavaliers

Somehow they beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill last year, but otherwise, the ’09 Cavaliers had a very forgettable season.  This year should prove to be no different, as new head coach, Mike London, is playing with former coach, Al Groh’s, recruits.  They are inefficient on offense and defense, and play in the tougher of the two ACC divisions.  Four wins at the most, they might be one of the worst teams in the nation this year.

Atlantic Winner: Clemson

Coastal Winner: Virgina Tech

ACC Champs: Virginia Tech

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