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2011 ACC Preview - Unit Rankings
Duke WR Conner Vernon
Duke WR Conner Vernon
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 26, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 ACC Preview - Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

ACC Unit Rankings


ATLANTIC
- 2011 Boston College Preview | 2011 Clemson Preview
- 2011 Florida State Preview | 2011 Maryland Preview
- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2011 Duke Preview | 2011 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2011 Miami Preview | 2011 North Carolina Preview 
- 2011 Virginia Preview | 2011 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2011 ACC Preview | 2011 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Schedules & Picks | 2011 ACC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 ACC Preview

ACC Atlantic Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. Boston College
4. Maryland
5. NC State
6. Wake Forest

ACC Coastal Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. Miami
2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina
4. Georgia Tech
5. Virginia
6. Duke

Offenses

1. Florida State
Is E.J. Manuel ready to be the field general of the Florida State offense? No other question carries more significance around Tallahassee heading into the 2011 season. Although he has all of the physical tools for success, replacing Christian Ponder is no small chore. Fortunately, the junior will have an able support staff as he attempts to guide the ‘Noles to their third straight year averaging 30 points a game. The skill positions are flush with depth, with speedy Chris Thompson and Bert Reed leading the backs and receivers, respectively. Plus, the line figures to hold up in pass protection, especially with the returns of starting tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders. Manuel’s biggest challenges will be to light a spark beneath the passing attack, manage the game like a veteran, and trade a few more field goal attempts for touchdowns.

2. Virginia Tech
3. Clemson
4. Miami
5. Georgia Tech
6. Boston College
7. North Carolina
8. Maryland
9. Wake Forest
10. NC State
11. Virginia
12. Duke

Quarterbacks

1. Florida State
The graduation of Christian Ponder marks the beginning of a new era behind center in Tallahassee. The first round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings leaves behind a legacy of veteran leadership and accurate passing. However, he also suffered from nagging injuries that created an air of uncertainty at times on offense. The Seminoles are keeping their fingers crossed that health isn’t a factor in 2011 since experience off the bench is non-existent. Fortunately, E.J. Manuel is a big-time talent with the potential to become the ACC's signature star.

2. Maryland
3. NC State
4. Miami
5. Clemson
6. Georgia Tech
7. Virginia Tech
8. Duke
9. North Carolina
10. Wake Forest
11. Boston College
12. Virginia

Running Backs

1. Florida State
From tailback to fullback, the Seminoles return intact from last season and bring back their top three ground-gainers. The backfield will boast a nice mix of veteran talent, placing the pressure on the coaching staff to use each weapon wisely and keep everyone happy. None of the trio averaged less than 5.7 yards a carry, fueling the ACC’s fourth-ranked running game. Figure there to be some kind of a committee approach with Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas, and Ty Jones, with at least one of the promising rookies sitting out as a redshirt. The ‘Noles are likely to go with the hot hand, making it unlikely one back will be in the starting lineup from wire-to-wire.

2. Virginia Tech
3. Clemson
4. Georgia Tech
5. Boston College
6. Miami
7. Wake Forest
8. Maryland
9. Virginia
10. North Carolina
11. NC State
12. Duke

Receivers

1. Duke
Duke is well-fortified at wide receiver and tight end, bringing back all but one of last season’s top six receivers. Even better, everyone has now had ample time to develop chemistry with QB Sean Renfree, which is going to make the entire unit more efficient this fall. If the Devils are going to create matchup problems this fall, it’ll come from this group. The receivers are experienced, talented, and much closer to being on the same page as Renfree. As long as the staff isn’t forced to look down the bench too often, Conner Vernon, Donovan Varner, and company will be the catalysts of one of the ACC’s most consistent corps of pass-catchers.

2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. Florida State
5. Clemson
6. North Carolina
7. Boston College
8. Maryland
9. NC State
10. Virginia
11. Wake Forest
12. Georgia Tech

Offensive Lines

1. Florida State
While you don’t get better by losing OG Rodney Hudson and C Ryan McMahon, Florida State retains enough key parts to put together a strong front five. The margin for error, however, is considerably smaller than it was last fall. The keys will be staying healthy and getting Jacob Fahrenkrug assimilated as fast as possible. If those two hurdles can be cleared, the ‘Noles will again boast one of the ACC’s better blocking units. The tackles are seniors, with NFL ceilings, and the interior linemen do a nice job of sealing off the pass rush. Add in the athletic ability of new QB E.J. Manuel, and there shouldn't be too many sacks allowed.

2. Miami
3. Virginia Tech
4. Clemson
5. North Carolina
6. Georgia Tech
7. Boston College
8. Wake Forest
9. Virginia
10. NC State
11. Maryland
12. Duke

Defenses

1. North Carolina
The swath of suspensions on defense was a body blow to the 2010 team ... and a boon to the 2011 squad. Carolina had no choice but to move on without the likes DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, and CB Kendric Burney, who were shut down for all or part of the year. The result was the flowering of new stars who emerged from the wreckage. DE Quinton Coples went on to become an All-American, DE Donte Paige-Moss laid the foundation for a breakout junior year, and LB Kevin Reddick led the team in tackles. All are back, along with promising defensive backs Tre Boston and Jabari Price, who were thrust into the mix before their time. There’s a growing sense that as long as Butch Davis is in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heel D is going to be salty. The front seven will once again be outstanding, leaving a suspect secondary to rebuild and begin doing a better job of pulling its weight.

2. Florida State
3. Miami
4. Virginia Tech
5. Boston College
6. Clemson
7. Maryland
8. Virginia
9. NC State
10. Georgia Tech
11. Wake Forest
12. Duke

 Defensive Lines

1. North Carolina
Forced to move on without suspended all-stars Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin in 2010, the upcoming team will be the beneficiaries of their absences. The Tar Heels were just fine up front a year ago, developing a whole new set of stars who’ll continue their quest to play someday at the next level. Carolina is loaded with talent up front, making life much easier for the back seven. Butch Davis and his staff have officially turned Chapel Hill into an NFL pipeline for defensive linemen. Carolina is once again loaded with pro-caliber talent in the trenches, boasting an All-American in Quinton Coples and a terrific supporting cast. It’ll once again dominate the line of scrimmage, gumming up running lanes and keeping passers from setting their feet in the pocket.

2. Miami
3. Florida State
4. Clemson
5. Virginia Tech
6. Boston College
7. NC State
8. Virginia
9. Georgia Tech
10. Maryland
11. Wake Forest
12. Duke

Linebackers

1. Boston College
Even with the losses of a couple of inspirational leaders, Mark Herzlich and Mike Morrissey, Boston College figures to be just fine at linebacker this year. Five of last year’s lettermen return, including one of the best at the position in America. As long as Luke Kuechly is on the field, the Eagles will be above average at linebacker. Just how far above will depend on how much support he gets from the outside guys. Kevin Pierre-Louis has already put down the ground floor of a terrific, meaning strongside holds the key to the group’s ultimate grade.

2. Florida State
3. Miami
4. Virginia Tech
5. North Carolina
6. NC State
7. Maryland
8. Georgia Tech
9. Clemson
10. Maryland
11. Virginia
12. Duke

Secondaries

1. Florida State
Having recruited well for the defensive backfield in recent years, Florida State is about to start reaping all of the benefits of those efforts. The ‘Noles have pieced together an exciting collection of young athletes who are going to drive opposing quarterbacks nuts. This group has the closing speed and tenacity to compensate with a ton of turnovers and deflected balls this fall. The trio of corners Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid along with safety Terrance Parks forms an electrifying blend of speed, burst, and tenacity that’s needed to get a hand on the ball. The fact that the defensive backfield is littered with great athletes means quarterbacks won’t be able to avoid one side of the field.

2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. North Carolina
5. Clemson
6. Boston College
7. Virginia
8. Maryland
9. NC State
10. Georgia Tech
11. Wake Forest
12. Duke

Special Teams

1. Florida State
It’s going to be difficult to find much fault in the Florida State special teams, one of the sneaky-good units on this squad in 2011. From a group that performed well last fall, the Seminoles welcome back their punter, placekicker, and top return man. Although none of the individuals comprising the ensemble will garner as much attention as, say QB E.J. Manuel or DE Brandon Jenkins, they’re still to have an underrated impact on the program’s overall success. There will be at least two wins solely on its special teams superiority. PK Dustin Hopkins, P Shauwn Powell, and KR/PR Greg Reid are all difference-makers, providing a boost by doing the little things well. By the end of the year, the ‘Noles will be able to stake claim to one of the top five or six units in America.

2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina
4. Miami
5. Clemson
6. Virginia
7. Boston College
8. Wake Forest
9. Maryland
10. Duke
11. Georgia Tech
12. NC State
 
ATLANTIC
- 2011 Boston College Preview | 2011 Clemson Preview
- 2011 Florida State Preview | 2011 Maryland Preview
- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2011 Duke Preview | 2011 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2011 Miami Preview | 2011 North Carolina Preview 
- 2011 Virginia Preview | 2011 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2011 ACC Preview | 2011 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Schedules & Picks | 2011 ACC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 ACC Preview