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ACC Spring Preview - Early Rankings
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 13, 2011


2011 ACC Spring Preview - Early Rankings For All The ACC Teams

2011 Pre-Spring Preview   

Early Rankings - ACC


Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Atlantic Boston Coll | Clemson | Florida St | Maryland | NC St | Wake Forest
Coastal Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami | North Carolina | Virginia | Virginia Tech

2011 ACC Pre-Spring Preview
- ACC Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On
   
Atlantic

1. Florida State

2010 CFN Final Ranking: 15
2010 Record: 10-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 12
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 44
2008 Final Ranking: 20

Are the Noles ready to take the next step up after going to the ACC title game in 2010? If E.J. Manuel can be steady under center, this will be a strong and dangerous team with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball and both specialists back. The secondary should be an absolute killer with all four starters returning, while the defensive front that was full of sophomores last year should be a brick wall. Chris Thompson should be a dangerous back.

2. Boston College

2010 CFN Final Ranking: 66
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 28
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 48
2008 Final Ranking: 25

Will there be any more offense? It should be more of the same with Montel Harris and the running game dominating, but Chase Rettig and the passing attack has to be better. It'll be a shock if the defense isn't among the 20 best in America with Luke Keuchly a mortal lock to win the Butkus. Seven starters return on both sides of the ball.

3. Clemson
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 59
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 33
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 24
2008 Final Ranking: 45

After an extremely disappointing and flat 2010, the Tigers have the potential to be far better even with QB Kyle Parker off to play baseball and RB Jamie Harper jetting early for the NFL. The offense gets eight starters back and the defense returns seven starters, but Da'Quan Bowers will be missed off the D line.  

4. NC State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 20
2010 Record: 9-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 44
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 73
2008 Final Ranking: 54

Star quarterback Russell Wilson didn't turn pro in football, but baseball appears to be beckoning. The Pack is loaded with eight starters back on defense and seven on offense, not including Wilson. The loss of Nate Irving takes the heart away from the D, but the secondary that started four underclassmen last year should be outstanding with a bit more time. Four starters are back on the offensive front.

5. Maryland
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 29
2010 Record: 94
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 59
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 109
2008 Final Ranking: 36

Ralph Friedgen has a beef; the team he put together that's returning is loaded for an honest run at the ACC title with nine starters coming back, even with the loss of WR Torrey Smith to the NFL, while the defense gets six starters back. However, losing linebackers Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten will be devastating for the run defense. The sophomore defensive tackles of last year should be terrific, but the key to the season should be the play of QB Danny O'Brien. Can he produce without Smith?

6. Wake Forest
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 103
2010 Record: 3-9
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 55
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 76
2008 Final Ranking: 32

Wake Forest had injury problems throughout last year, and if the quarterback situation can be settled early on, the potential is there for a bounceback season with eight starters back on offense and nine starters back on D. The only hits taken are at running back with Josh Adams done, and in the linebacking corps with Hunter Haynes and Matt Woodlief gone. The painfully young defensive front four that took its lumps in 2010 should be far better.

Coastal

1. Virginia Tech
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 18
2010 Record: 11-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 9
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 9
2008 Final Ranking: 11

The Hokies can't help but take a step back losing QB Tyrod Taylor and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Even so, seven starters are back on defense, led by a young linebacking corps that should grow into something special. It Logan Thomas ready to take over the attack? The 6-6, 242-pounder is a big departure from Taylor, and he has the entire receiving corps back to work with. David Wilson will be the star of the ground game.

2. Miami
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 45
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 11
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 20
2008 Final Ranking: 53

Can Al Golden step in and take the Canes to an ACC title right away? Step One is figuring out who the quarterback will be, but with seven starters returning on offense and the O line emerging, the potential is there to be far better. The defense loses a few key players including DE Allen Bailey and linebackers Colin McCarthy and Sean Spence, but the tackles will be outstanding the pass rush should continue to be great. Losing punter/placekicker Matt Bosher will be a problem.

3. North Carolina
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 53
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 13
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 31
2008 Final Ranking: 26

This might be the type of team that becomes dangerous as the year goes on. The plus from all the suspensions in 2010 is the experience brought in to 2011, but still, the Tar Heels have to replace five starters on defense and QB T.J. Yates and five starters off the offense. The defensive front seven should be a brick wall by the middle of the season with six young returning starters still jelling.

4. Georgia Tech
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 78
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 40
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 13
2008 Final Ranking: 22

Head coach Paul Johnson should have his guys in place by now, but there should be another year of transition after losing six starters from the defense, including safety Jarrard Tarrant, who left early for the NFL. The offense needs Tevin Washington to be the new option wizard, and most importantly, some new running back stars have to emerge. With OT Nick Claytor leaving early for the NFL, the O line might be a problem.

5. Virginia
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 93
2010 Record: 4-8
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 69
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 3-9
2009 Final Ranking: 107
2008 Final Ranking: 58

It might be a bit much to call Virginia the ACC sleeper, but yeah, Mike London's team might be the surprise team of the 2011 ACC. Eight starters are back from an offense that showed good sparks of life, and with four starters returning up front, the new starting quarterback, either Ross Metheny or Michael Rocco, should get time to work. The defensive front seven will be strong right away, and the losses on the rest of the D aren't irreplaceable.

6. Duke
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 100
2010 Record: 3-9
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 75
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 3-9
2009 Final Ranking: 97
2008 Final Ranking: 79

Will David Cutcliffe be able to make the offense sing with nine starters returning? QB Sean Renfree leads a potentially explosive attack that only loses one starter off the line and Austin Kelly from the receiving corps. The defense is hardly going to be a rock, but the Blue Devils should be fun in shootout after shootout.
 
Click for each team's pre-spring lookback and lookahead
Atlantic Boston Coll | Clemson | Florida St | Maryland | NC St | Wake Forest
Coastal Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami | North Carolina | Virginia | Virginia Tech

2011 ACC Pre-Spring Preview
- ACC Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On