2013 Pre-Preseason ACC Atlantic Rankings
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Posted Jan 27, 2013

The too early look at how good the ACC Atlantic teams should be in 2013.

CFN 2013 First Look Rankings

ACC Atlantic

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19

FINAL 2012 Rankings By Conference
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

- 2013 Pre-Preseason ACC Coastal Rankings

1. Florida State (12-2)

Yeah, 2012 was a tremendous success with an ACC title and an Orange Bowl win, but it still felt a bit empty. Gagging against NC State and losing at home to Florida put a damper on things, and getting Northern Illinois in the Orange was a bit of a disappointment. However, there's enough talent returning to hope for even more, even though a second straight conference title and another BCS bowl win would be a success.

Can Clint Trickett be the man? The junior-to-be has a little success, but he has some huge quarterback shoes to fill with E.J. Manuel gone. Fortunately, he's surrounded by weapons with eight starters coming back to the nation's 19th best offense. The loss of top running back Chris Thompson to a torn ACL allowed Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. to get plenty of action to be ready to roll behind a line that returns four starters, but loses right tackle Menelik Watson early to the NFL. Receiver Rashad Greene is a rising star leading a corps that gets everyone back.

The defense that finished second in the nation and first in pass efficiency defense take a huge hit losing end Bjoern Werner and corner Xavier Rhodes early to the NFL. All four starters are gone up front, and superstar Brandon Jenkins, who missed the year hurt, chose to not take a medical redshirt and is gone to the next level. Also gone are linebackers Vince Williams and Nick Moody, meaning Christian Jones Telvin Smith have to shine. Kicker Dustin Hopkins was a weapon; he'll be missed.

2. Clemson (11-2)

Can the Tigers build off of their phenomenal comeback bowl win over LSU? Clemson might not have won the ACC title like it did in 2011, but in some ways it turned out to be a more successful season to set the tone what should be a whale of a 2013.

The decision of quarterback Tajh Boyd to return for his senior season instantly jacked up the expectations, Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins is gone early to the NFL, but Sammy Watkins returns following a disappointing sophomore year. If he returns to freshman form, the Tiger passing attack should be devastating. Top back Andre Ellington is gone, but four starters return up front to pave the way for Roderick McDowell and D.J. Howard.

Six starters return on defense, but leading tackler Jonathan Willard is gone along with safety Rashard Hall and corner Xavier Brewer. The hope for Vic Beasley to take on a bigger role up front after leading the team in sacks, while the tackles are set with Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson and DeShawun Williams forming a great young trio to work around. Linebackers Spencer Shuey and Quandon Christian are solid. Chandler Catanzaro will be among the nation's top kickers.

3. NC State (7-6)

2012 was when everything was supposed to come together for the Wolfpack, but that didn't happen, Tom O'Brien is gone, and Dave Doeren is in. Does the former Northern Illinois head man have the pieces in place to do what he'd like? It's going to be a bit of a rebuilding season, but the defense should be a plus from the start.

The Wolfpack finished second in the ACC in tackles for loss and fourth in sacks led by end Darryl Cato-Bishop. He's back along with interior playmaking tackle T.Y. McGill. In all, three starters return on the defensive front to go along with both outside linebackers. Ball-hawking corner David Amerson is gone early to the NFL and leading tacklers Earl Wolff and Brandon Bishop are done.

With bombing quarterback Mike Glennon in the pros, the running game has to start carrying more of the weight. Shadrach Thornton will be the main back to go along with solid backup Tony Creecy, but who'll take over for Glennon? Manny Stocker is a good-looking passer, but Doeren is going to want to open up the competition. Quintin Payton goes from being a solid target to the No. 1 man with Tobias Palmer gone.

4. Wake Forest (5-7)

The Demon Deacons had an inconsistent first nine games, but all they had to do was win one game in the final three to go bowling, and they couldn't. With 17 starters back, the team needs to at least get a 13th game, but can Jim Grobe get the offense going?

Last in the ACC and 114th in the nation in scoring, and 117th in total offense, getting points was like pulling teeth. Wake scored more than 16 points just twice over the final eight games, and while the defense didn't always help the cause, the problems were on the O. Four starters are back up front, only losing center Garrick Williams, and all the skill players of note are back thanks to the return of receiver Michael Capanaro, quarterback Tanner Price and running back Josh Harris.

The defense was awful against the pass and struggled against the run, but three starters return to the secondary and leading tackler Mike Olson is back at middle linebacker. Top pass rushers Zach Thompson and Justin Jackson are also back on the front seven, but tackle Hasan Hazime and end Joey Ehrmann are done.

5. Syracuse (8-5)

New head coach, new league. With Doug Marrone off to Buffalo, Scott Schafer gets the job of leading the Orange into the ACC after the team closed out 2012 winning six of the final seven games including a stomping of West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. There aren't that many huge changes to be made, but the losses are big.

Step One, besides working on the miserable special teams, will be replacing quarterback Ryan Nassib, who bombed away for the nation's 17th-ranked offense. Also gone is backup Charley Loeb, making it a fight this offseason for the starting job. Making matters worse is the loss of top targets Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. So what will Schafer do? Hand the ball off time and again to bowl stars Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley to run behind a line with three starters back. However, one of the losses is left tackle Justin Pugh, who'll start on some NFL team's line next year.

The defense doesn't have as many problems, but top pass rusher Brandon Sharpe is done along with leading tacklers Shamarko Thomas and Siriki Diabate. Dyshawn Davis and Cameron Lynch are playmaking linebackers who should do more, and end Markus Price-Brewster and linebacker Marquis Spruill are active.

6. Maryland (4-8)

2013 was cruel. Just when it seemed like Randy Edsall had a decent team in place with a 4-2 start, the quarterbacks started going down and they started going down hard. With linebacker Shawn Petty at the helm, the Terps ended up losing six straight games to see a promising season go into the tank.

Eight starters are back on the nation's worst offense, but will there be a quarterback ready to go? Perry Hills tore his ACL early enough in the season potentially take his starting job back, but it'll be a fight for the No. 1 gig. The concern is up front with two starters gone, but that's about it. Super-soph Stefon Diggs is back to do a little of everything, while Brandon Ross, Justus Pickett and Albert Reid should do more for the running game.

The defense has to go on without Joe Vellano wreaking havoc up front, and not having end A.J. Francis around won't help. Outside linebackers Kenneth Tate and Darin Drakeford are gone, as is Demetrius Hartsfield and safety Eric Franklin, but there's plenty of young talent to play around with. However, it's going to be a work in progress, especially against the run.

7. Boston College (2-10)

The Steve Addazio era will get started by trying to fix the defense while hoping the offense starts to quickly come around. Experience needs to translate into production for a team that won just one game against an FBS team – Maryland by three – and struggled way too much to stop anyone with an offense.

The BC attack didn't have a running game, but Andre Williams is back after missing the final three games hurt. The offensive line that didn't generate a push gets back the entire interior, but loses tackles Emmett Cleary and John Wetzel on the outside to protect Chase Rettig, a decent passer who could do far more with a little bit of time to work. Tight end Chris Pantale is gone, but all the key receivers return.

The defense was dead last in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss needs more out of the sophomores-turned-juniors. Three starters are back up front, but there isn't a sure-thing pass rusher, and now they all have to do even more with top tackler Nick Clancy gone at middle linebacker. Kevin Pierre-Louis is a strong undersized tackler on the outside, and Steele Divitto is a good one to work around on the other. All four starters in the secondary – underclassmen last year – are back, as is Spiffy Evans, who helped BC lead the nation in punt returns.

- 2013 Pre-Preseason ACC Coastal Rankings