2012 Pre-Preseason Rankings - ACC Atlantic

Posted Jan 19, 2012

The too early look at how good the ACC Atlantic should be in 2012.

CFN 2012 First Look Rankings

ACC Atlantic

2011 CFN Pre-Preseason First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20  

2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

- CFN 2011 FINAL Rankings


1. Florida State (9-4)

Let's try this again. Florida State was just about everyone's sleeper team to play for the national title last season, but the offense didn't do enough in key situations and the D wasn't special enough in the biggest games. This year, though, it's time to really and truly be as good as projected thanks to a defense that won't allow a thing. This could be the best Seminole defense in a decade only two players off the two deep depth chart done; no one will run on this line.

Offensively, quarterback EJ Manuel as the size and the skill set to go from good to top-ten-overall-draft-pick good, but he could use some help from the receivers. The running game was abysmal last year, but the line gets three starters back and Devonta Freeman is a promising young back to work around. Kicker Dustin Hopkins will be on the Lou Groza short list.

2. NC State (8-5)

After closing out the season winning four of the final five games, the needle is pointing up with enough veterans coming back to expect a possible run at ten wins. The line struggled in pass protection, but four starters are back to pave the way for James Washington and a running game that might be better. QB Mike Glennon started to come into his own, and he needs to be terrific with new starting receivers – led by Tobias Palmer - taking over for T.J. Graham and Jay Smith. The defense that led the ACC in sacks loses Terrell Manning a year early for the NFL and has to replace Audie Cole in the middle, but the entire secondary returns and the ends should be terrific with Darryl Cato-Bishop ready to do more in the rotation.

3. Clemson (10-4)

How fast can the Tigers get over the atomic wedgie applied by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl? The offensive talent is undeniable with the pitch-catch combination of Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins one of the best in college football. However, the offensive line has to undergo an overhaul and tight end Dwayne Allen is about to become a millionaire at the next level. The defensive front has even more issues with tackle Brandon Thompson one of three starters gone, but almost everyone in the back seven returns. The recruiting has been stellar and the athleticism and skill is in place across the board to be in the hunt for the ACC title, but the league is going to be stronger as a whole.

4. Boston College (4-8)

The Eagles came on late winning three of the final five games after a disastrous start, but the only hope of improving and getting back into the ACC title chase is to get more out of an offense that finished 112th in the nation in total yards and scoring. Center Mark Spinney is gone, but ten other offensive starters return. QB Chase Rettig is back, and he gets all his top receivers including Bobby Swigert and Alex Amidon. Rolandan Finch took over the running duties, but Andre Williams is strong enough to carry some of the load. The defense loses end Max Holloway and Butkus winner Luke Kuechly a year early to the NFL, but eight starters return from a group that was a rock against the run. Kevin Pierre-Louis needs to be the new top tackler, and someone has to start getting into the backfield.

5. Maryland (2-10)

Well that didn't exactly work. Randy Edsall needs to have a few answers in Year Two after a complete and utter disaster following the opening day win over Miami. The first job will be to settle on a quarterback, hoping C.J. Brown is the main man. On the plus side, nine starters are back with all five back up front after being one of the few bright spots. RB Davin Meggett is gone, but speedy Justus Pickett should carry more of the load. The defense was the bigger problem with no production against the run. The pass rush was solid, and it should be stronger with Andre Monroe up the middle to go next to Joe Vellone, who might be the nation's best returning tackle. MLB Demetrius Hartsfield was fifth in the nation in tackles, but he needs more help. Ten starters return only losing corner Trenton Hughes.

6. Wake Forest (6-7)

The second half of the season might have been awful, losing five of the final six games, but it was still a bowl season and a nice step forward under Jim Grobe. Tanner Price is a good quarterback to work around, but he loses star receiver Chris Givens a year early to the NFL and RB Brandon Pendergrass will be missed. The big issue is the O line with four starters gone and only center Garrick Williams returning. The defense that didn't get any pass rush, but three starters are back to the line and five starters return to the front seven. Both safeties – Josh Bush and Cyhl Quarles – are done meaning corners Merrill Noel and Kenny Okro needing to do even more. Considering the team has so many question marks on offense, PK Jimmy Newman could become the MVP.