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2011 ACC Preview - CFN Thoughts on the ACC
Virginia Tech RB David Wilson
Virginia Tech RB David Wilson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 26, 2011


Preview 2011 - Thoughts from the CFNers on the 2011 ACC season


Preview 2011

Thoughts on the ACC


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

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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- I keep pulling the lever on the ACC slot machine and the payoff isn't coming. I keep hoping the conference will turn the corner into something special, but it's just not. I've tried over the last several offseasons to argue that the league is about to rock, and it doesn't happen. However, a reasonable argument could be made that it's the among the most entertaining leagues year-in-and-year-out.

- Think about this for a moment. Since the ACC rudely ripped away the top teams from the Big East, the Big East has been close to playing for the national title - West Virginia in 2007 and Cincinnati in 2009 - and the ACC hasn't.

- It's this simple: when you're supposed power teams aren't powerful, the perception is that your league stinks. Virginia Tech has held up its end of the bargain, but Miami has been a stunning flop and Florida State is just starting to get its mojo back. If the league is ever going to make a push forward, these three programs have to be giants at the same time, just like the ACC powers-that-be envisioned.

- The eventual champion losing a home game to Boise State to start the season, and it was a home game, didn't help the cause.

- And gacking against James Madison at home wasn't a plus.

- And getting obliterated by Stanford in the Orange Bowl was a disaster.

- The only way the ACC will ever start to get more love is if it starts winning the big non-conference games on a regular basis. Big, splashy, everyone-is-watching big games.

- It's hard to get anyone interested when Boston College goes 1-2 in the really big non-conference games of the 2011 season (games against the BCS teams and the bowls), Clemson goes 0-3, Duke goes 0-1, Florida State goes 2-1, Georgia Tech goes 0-3, Maryland goes 1-1, Miami goes 1-3, North Carolina goes 2-1, NC State goes 2-0, Virginia goes 0-1, Virginia Tech goes 0-2, and Wake Forest goes 1-1. Against the big-league teams and in bowls, the ACC combined to go 10-19.

- What's the biggest indictment of where the conference is at? Russell Wilson might've been the Preseason ACC Player of the Year, and now he might not be one of the top three quarterbacks in the Big Ten. 

- But that will soon change in the ACC. Next year the storyline will be about how great the quarterbacks are.

- Miami can't and won't be MIAMI again, and why? Watch The U. It's a new time and a new era, and for the good, the culture of the athletic department and the football program has changed.

- I don't know how Butch Davis is still the head coach at North Carolina, and I have no idea how the program will avoid being blown out of the water by the NCAA, but as a selfish college football fan I'm still mad that we didn't get to see what the 2010 Tar Heels could've done with all the stars in place.

- My one big prediction for the ACC season: Florida State, despite being the most talented team in the league, will lose to Clemson and Boston College on the road and won't win the Atlantic. 

- A crazy, glass-is-half-full side to the Georgia Tech controversy; it showed that Paul Johnson has players good enough to have agents interested in them. Don't scoff; the big question mark after Johnson was hired was whether or not his offense would keep the NFL talents away.

- Find me a more crazy/interesting storyline than Clemson. Here's a program with enough talent to win the ACC title, and has the chops to beat a rebuilding Auburn and could make a lot of national noise, but on the flip side, everything is just this close to being blown up if there are any problems whatsoever. Everyone likes to talk about how close Florida State was from having a truly special season, but remember, Clemson was deep in the fight in six of the seven losses - the South Carolina game the only blowout - and it had Auburn in big, big, big trouble.

- Clemson, I want you to take a deep breath. I need you here. You're not focusing; I need you here. The idea of Rich Rodriguez as your coach ... just walk away. He really is a great head football coach and he'll be terrific when he gets another shot, but he needs the right program, and Clemson, you're not it. The last thing you need is a coach who brings drama in any form.

- At Temple, Al Golden was 7-13 after Halloween over his five years. Three of the wins were against Kent State, two were against Akron, one was against an Eastern Michigan team that went 3-9, and one was against a Miami University team that went 1-11.

- Miami's November schedule: Duke, at Florida State, at South Florida, Boston College

- Randy Edsall will do a great job at Maryland ... next year. The Terps are probably closer to being the 2-10 version of 2009 than the 9-4 squad of last year, but the team will be better than the final record. He's going to generate a buzz.

- Duke is going to bomb its way to a big upset somewhere along the way. It'll have to have to catch someone napping, but the passing game will be good enough to light up someone who'll be looking ahead. A home game against Georgia Tech stands out - it's sandwiched for the Yellow Jackets between home games against Virginia Tech and Georgia. It's not going to happen, but Miami has to face Duke the week before going to Florida State.

- My big call: the ACC will lose two of four big games - Boston College at UCF, North Carolina at East Carolina, Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Southern Miss at Virginia - against Conference USA teams.

- Once again, the ACC will send one team to the BCS.

By Richard Cirminiello

Now that Bobby Bowden and Randy Shannon are no longer coaching Florida State and Miami, respectively, the ACC has a legitimate shot of upping its reputation nationally. The league needs the ‘Noles and ‘Canes to fulfill their potential, which can happen now that Jimbo Fisher is the guy in Tallahassee and Al Golden is calling the shots in Coral Gables.

No conference in America has a better collection of young quarterbacks than the ACC. None. The league, not known for its ace hurlers, is about to pull back the curtain on a half-dozen really good former four and five-star recruits.

Florida State QB E.J. Manuel is one of the four or five most important players of the 2011 season. If he’s prepared to become the leader of the offense, the Seminoles must be considered a darkhorse threat to win a national championship.

Seminole ball hawks Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes will force opposing teams to employ plenty of screen passes and short throws to the tight ends. Throwing into the heart of this athletic secondary ought to come with a warning label.

Virginia Tech RB David Wilson will be this year’s breakout star in the league. An explosive runner, who went for 619 yards and scored nine times as the third option, he became the go-to guy when Ryan Williams and Darren Evans left school early.

Rich Rodriguez is one out-of-work coach who’ll be monitoring Clemson very intently this season. He could be coaching the holdover Tigers in 2012 if Dabo Swinney can’t right the ship in 2011.

As long as the NCAA doesn’t change the configuration of the two-deep this summer, North Carolina could boast the ACC’s premier D. DE Quinton Coples headlines a sensational front line, and Kevin Reddick and Zach Brown have as much range as any linebacker tandem in the league.

Shifting Kenny Tate from safety to linebacker will be the first of many wise moves from Randy Edsall as the Maryland head coach. The 6-4, 220-pound All-ACC performer is too much of a playmaker to begin each play so far from the line of scrimmage.

No team needs improvement from its quarterbacks more than Boston College. The Eagles have few qualms about the Luke Kuechly-led defense, leaving the maturation of Chase Rettig as the make-or-break variable of the 2011 season.

The under/over on the number of times NC State QB Mike Glennon gets compared to current Atlanta Falcons star Matt Ryan should be set at about 500. Tom O’Brien has coached both players, and loves the trajectory and makeup of his junior successor to Russell Wilson.

Sophomore tackle Morgan Moses is a really good reason to watch Virginia this fall. One of the game’s elite young offensive linemen, the 6-6, 250-pound behemoth already looks as if he’ll be using Charlottesville as a launching pad to the NFL in a couple of years.

David Cutcliffe would have to go winless at Duke in order to be in any jeopardy. The Blue Devils simply aren’t going to do any better by trying to fill one of the toughest jobs in the AQ conferences.

By Matt Zemek


- Al Golden is a gifted head coach, but even the better practitioners in his profession don’t figure out riddles in opening acts. Maybe Miami will learn the lessons needed to become a factor in 2012, but the Hurricanes should not be taken very seriously in the chase for 2011 divisional hardware.

- The ACC Atlantic, minus Florida State, looks like one steaming pile of plain-jane oatmeal – no spice, no flavor, no wow factor. If one team might push the Seminoles just a little bit, it’s Maryland. The Terps come armed with a coach who will be enjoying a change of scenery and the personal refreshment which often accompanies a 90-degree career turn. Maryland also has the tools in the passing game that can complement Randy Edsall’s attention to defense. Call the Terps the odds-on choice for second place in the Atlantic. Maryland can be likened to Jason Day, who finished second behind Rory McIlroy in the 2011 U.S. Open golf tournament.

- Clemson should have hired Rich Rodriguez. Enough said.

- Virginia Tech just wins ACC Coastal championships. It’s what the Hokies do.

- Last year, Tyrod Taylor made the kinds of plays that no other ACC quarterback could regularly make. This year, E.J. Manuel will become that man, and he’ll be that man in the ACC Championship Game against Taylor’s former team, the very same Virginia Tech Hokies. Florida State will return to the Bowl Championship Series by toppling Tech on the first weekend of December.

Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

- While the rest of the college football world wants to welcome the Florida State Seminoles back to the national championship picture, don't sleep on Virginia Tech. The Hokies have a big, physical quarterback in Logan Thomas; and have the schedule to make it to, and through, the ACC Championship Game and back to New Orleans. Don't be surprised if unblemished Tech is in a debate with undefeated Boise State and a one-loss SEC Champion for the second spot in the BCS Championship Game.

- Yes Tom O'Brien, you will regret letting Russell Wilson leave N.C. State.

- Clemson is known as "Auburn with a lake," and is doing its best to bring that moniker to the football field with the addition of Chad Morris - a Gus Malzahn disciple - as the offensive coordinator. That just may be enough to keep Dabo Swinney employed.

- But on second thought, it's Clemson, and the Tigers will always disappoint.

- Paul Johnson is not doing himself any favors at Georgia Tech. The program is on probation, and seems to be going downhill after its vacated ACC Championship season of 2009. Johnson hasn't made many friends in the local media, in a market in which his program is on the same visibility level with the recently-departed Atlanta Thrashers (which left for Winnipeg....WINNIPEG).

- Unless Miami figures out its quarterback situation - which, at this point, is a long shot - the Hurricanes aren't going to contend.

By Russ Mitchell

1. Which of the current ACC teams would fit best into the SEC when the latter expands to 16? In order: (i) FSU, (ii) Miami, (iii) Clemson.

2. Yes, Mike Glennon will likely be a good quarterback for NC State, maybe even a great one at some point. But you're less certain about that then the bird you had in the hand: Russell Wilson. Who are you kidding O'Brien? Russell Wilson was the first frosh in ACC history to make first team all-conference QB. Yes, with him off playing baseball in the spring, there would have been less consistency, but you traded a fourth year, amazing athlete for a rookie - what kind of consistency is that. NC State's first game of the season is Liberty - not exactly a barn burner. You could have used fall practice and the Liberty game to get Wilson back into fighting shape. Besides, it's not like he hadn't been running the offense for three straight years. And what about the unnecessary pressure you just saddled Glennon with? Way to put ego ahead of team, coach.

3. When is a second team going to step up in this conference so we can take it seriously again. I mean really care about it. I'm talking to you, Miami. Boston College? Virginia Tech can't do this by itself. Clemson? Georgia Tech on, then off. Sure, FSU appears set to return to the land of the living, but we need to see three straight years of consistent performance before we'll be converts. Until then, it's Virginia Tech, et al.

4. Wasn't it just a few years ago that Wake Forest was turning heads? I blinked, and - POOF - they're showing me Chris Paul highlights.

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