ACC Preview

new_acc_logo_2014

Atlantic

1. Florida State

2. Clemson

3. Louisville

4. Syracuse

5. Boston College

6. North Carolina State

7. Wake Forest

Coastal

1. North Carolina

2. Virginia Tech

3. Miami

4. Pitt

5. Duke

6. Virginia

7. Georgia Tech

ACC Championship Game

Florida State over North Carolina

Florida State

All evidence points to Florida State having every opportunity to not only repeat as ACC champions, but also defend their national championship. Heisman winner Jameis Winston returns along with second leading rusher Karlos Williams, leading receiver Rashard Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. All-American LT Cameron Erving will anchor the line. They also have ball boy extraordinaire Red Lightning. The defense has some big shoes to fill, but plenty of talent to fill it. Law of probability states they won’t go undefeated, and potential losses include a neutral site season opener against Oklahoma State, Thursday night game against Louisville, and home contests against Florida, Clemson, and Notre Dame.

Record Prediction: 11-1

Jameis-winston-red-lightning-heisman-trophy

Clemson

Clemson loses a ton of talent on offense, namely the QB-WR duo of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, but they have plenty of talent and arguably the best offensive coordinator in the country, Chad Morris. Defensively they return everyone from a stellar defensive line, including stud DE Vic Beasley. They lose both outside linebackers and cornerbacks, but have highly talented guys like Tony Steward and Mackensie Alexander waiting to take their place. They do face a tough schedule and have been owned by South Carolina and Florida State in recent years.

Record Prediction: 10-2

Louisville

Louisville could face some growing pains in a new conference, and breaking in a new quarterback under a new coach. However, Bobby Petrino is an offensive guru who has been successful, on the field at least, at every college-coaching stop he’s made. Whoever takes over at QB will be aided by running backs Michael Dyer and Dominique Brown, WR DeVante Parker, and 4 returning starters on offensive line. The defense has a fair amount of turnover, but returns two outstanding corners in Terell Floyd and Charles Gaines, who combined for nine picks last season.

Record Prediction: 9-3

Syracuse

Youth and inconsistency plagued the Orange last season, but maturity of some of that youth, plus having a year of being in the ACC and Scott Shafer’s system should help. Terrel Hunt returns at QB along with 4 of their 5 leading receivers and offensive linemen. The defense was mediocre last year, but with seven returning starters there is reason to hope for improvement.

Record Prediction: 6-6

Boston College

The Eagles offense was average last season even with a Heisman finalist candidate and 2,000 yard rusher in Andre Williams. They also lose their starting quarterback, leading receiver and starting tackles from last season. The front seven was the strength of the BC defense last season, but both ends and two linebackers are gone, including combine stud Kevin Pierre-Louis. Most of the secondary returns, but that may not be so much of a good thing considering they were 113th in passing yards allowed last season.

Record Prediction 5-7

andre-big.r

N.C. State

North Carolina State was bad last season (3-9), but maybe not quite as bad as their record indicated. They did have significant injury problems, but they also lost their last 8 games (7 by double digits). Leading rusher Shad Thornton returns and most of the defensive line along with Jarvis Byrd, who should be the star of the defense after missing six games last season.

Record Prediction 5-7

Wake Forest

New coach Dave Clawson is known for starting slow at programs before rebuilding them to well above their previous level of success. They replace their quarterback, leading rusher, receiver, and most of their offensive line. If there is any reason for optimism it is a wealth of depth and experience at linebacker and defensive back.

Record Prediction: 3-9

North Carolina

The Tar Heels have been on the verge of a breakthrough for a few years under coach Larry Fedora. The only went 7-6 last season, but got better after Marquise Williams took over at quarterback for the injured Bryn Renner. Williams accounted for 21 total touchdowns and was the team’s leading rusher. Second leading rusher RB T.J. Logan is back, also. North Carolina did lose first round pick TE Eric Ebron, but return two star receivers in Quinshad Davis and Ryan Switzer. The defense was susceptible to the run last year, but could improve with the whole linebacking corps returning. The secondary will need to replace star safety Tre Boston if they want to be up to snuff in 2014.

Record Prediction: 10-2

Ryan-Switzer-POTW

Virginia Tech

Offensively, Virginia Tech was poor last season. Most of that offense is back, which could be a blessing or a curse. They will either mesh after a year of experience and a new QB, or continue to be abysmal. Speaking of QB, I expect Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer to win the open QB competition over Mark Leal and Brendan Motley. The defense was stellar last season, but has a lot to replace in the front seven to return to that level of play. Most of a fantastic secondary returns, with the only notable loss being CB Kyle Fuller. His younger brother, Kendall Fuller, should lead a Hokie secondary that will end up among the best in the nation.

Record Prediction: 9-3

Miami

The return of Duke Johnson should be a huge help for Al Golden’s Miami Hurricanes. They were good offensively last season, but look to replace QB Stephen Morris and WR Allen Hurns this season. They were bad at defending the run last season and most of that front seven has moved on. A young, talented secondary wasn’t great last season, but with a year of experience and almost everyone returning, they could have breakout potential.

Record Prediction: 7-5

DukeJohnson

Pitt

An above average offense returns seven players in 2014. Tom Savage has moved on, but a pair of almost 800-yard rushers returns. The Offensive Line needs to improve, and should do so. However, the defense might regress in 2014 after losing stud DT Aaron Donald and a lack of depth at secondary.

Record Prediction: 7-5

Duke

Coming off of the best season in Duke history since Wallace Wade was the coach probably, expect a slight regression in 2014. Anthony Boone returns as the starting quarterback, but the other member of a two-quarterback system is gone. Brandon Connette accounted for 27 touchdowns last season (13 passing and 14 rushing). Star receiver Jamison Crowder returns as Boone’s top passing target. Most of the front 4 is gone, but the whole linebacking corps and most of the secondary returns.

Record Prediction: 7-5

Virginia

The Wahoos should be the most improved team in the ACC in 2014, which isn’t saying that much considering they only won two games last season. The offense was atrocious last season, but with seven returning starters and several returning contributors off the bench they should improve. They return ten players on defense and add a pair of 5-star freshman in DT Andrew Brown and S Quin Blanding to a defense that was already good in 2014. The improvements on both sides of the ball mean that Virginia could and should upset some teams this season.

Record Prediction: 6-6

6_1201314

Georgia Tech

A big regression is in store for Georgia Tech in 2014. Starting quarterback Vad Lee transferred, because the triple option “isn’t his thing.” Including Lee, the Yellow Jackets lose three players who rushed for over 500 yards last season, and return none. They also lose three offensive linemen, but return All-Conference guard Shaquille Mason. The back seven returns plenty, but only one defensive lineman with double digit tackles last season returns. Getting pushed around on the line on both sides of the ball will lead to a poor season for Paul Johnson’s team.

Record Prediction: 4-8

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: