2013 ACC Spring Preview - Atlantic
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Posted Mar 5, 2013

ACC Spring Preview - Atlantic Division. Why to be excited, grouchy and what needs working on.

2013 Pre-Spring Preview   

ACC Atlantic

2013 ACC Spring Preview 
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Boston College

Why To Get Excited … after hitting rock bottom by going 2-10 a year ago, the only way is up for the Eagles. And leading the charge will be the excitable Steve Addazio, a major upgrade on Frank Spaziani. Addazio's first BC team has a veteran hint, including senior QB Chase Rettig and a pair of backs who had 100-yard games in 2012.

Why To Be Grouchy … Boston College is still a very long way from competing in the ACC. The offense was inconsistent a year ago, and the D is sorely lacking playmakers after LB Kevin Pierre-Louis. After losing 22 games over the last three seasons, Eagles' fans will still need to remain patient through at least the 2013 campaign.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … the pass rush. If you can't get after the passer, it's almost impossible to play defense with any consistency these days. As hard as it is to imagine, BC got to the quarterback just six times in 2012, and not once in the final four games. There's an APB out on the Heights for anyone who can beat a tackle and disrupt the timing of a quarterback.


Why To Get Excited … Once Heisman-contending QB Tajh Boyd announced he was returning to school, the Tigers were instantly stamped the favorite to win the ACC. Clemson is coming off its fourth 11-win season ever and a stirring defeat of LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Head coach Dabo Swinney has the program chugging in the right direction.

Why To Be Grouchy … the D made strides in Brent Venables' first year as coordinator, but more progress is needed in 2013. The staff is particularly concerned about a secondary that gave up too many long balls last fall, and now must insert three new starters into the lineup. Rookies, such as recent blue-chip recruit Mackensie Alexander could be forced to play right away.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … protecting the quarterback. Boyd will be Boyd, but only if he has time to locate open receivers. The Tigers were 85th nationally in sacks allowed a year ago, and the anchor of the line, C Dalton Freeman, has used up all of his eligibility.

Florida State

Why To Get Excited … the Seminoles are trending north for head coach Jimbo Fisher, winning the ACC for the first time since 2005, and reeling in another top-flight recruiting class. It's taken a while to get back to this point, but Florida State is once again looking down on the rest of the conference, with its sights now set on entering the national championship picture.

Why To Be Grouchy … turnover is inevitable, but FSU has endured more than the usual departures since December. Not only have EJ Manuel and a handful of other standouts taken off for the NFL, but Fisher has also dealt with the exits of six assistants, including defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to Kentucky. This program will have a very different look than it did in 2012.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … grooming a new starter behind center. The Seminoles will audition three candidates to be Manuel's heir apparent, Clint Trickett, Jameis Winston and Jacob Coker. Trickett is by far the most seasoned veteran, but Coker and Winston have high ceilings that they'll attempt to reach beginning in the spring.


Why To Get Excited … the passing game has no choice but to be more potent in 2013. Injuries forced the Terps to employ a fifth-string quarterback last season, but everyone is on the mend, including likely starter C.J. Brown. Brown will delight in forming a bond with an up-and-coming receiving corps that includes Freshman All-American Stefon Diggs and JUCO All-American Deon Long.

Why To Be Grouchy … line play will cause many sleepless nights for Randy Edsall and the coaching staff. The O-line got routinely abused last season, while the D-line will be busy trying to replace standout ends Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis. If Maryland can't perform a turnaround in the trenches, the end result in the standings might look eerily similar to last year.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … remaining off the trainer's table. Maryland really never had a chance last season, succumbing to a spate of injuries, especially at quarterback. A healthy Terrapins team won't be required to stretch its depth or rip the redshirt off players who aren't quite ready to excel at this level. Spring will be a success if the injury report is flush with white space.

NC State

Why To Get Excited … new head coach Dave Doeren inherits a defense that figures to be rather feisty and quick to the ball in the front seven. Only one full-timer has graduated, good news for a last line of defense that's getting a facelift. DE Darryl Cato-Bishop and LB Rickey Dowdy will be the ringleaders of a group that figures to do an excellent job of pressuring the pocket.

Why To Be Grouchy … new staff plus new quarterback equals a rocky transition for most universities. The Pack upgraded by trading in an older model—Tom O'Brien—for hotshot Doeren. However, QB Mike Glennon is gone, leaving last year's backup, Manny Stocker, to duke it out with Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas. State also needs more quality athletes to execute the staff's spread attack.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … protecting the ball. The Wolfpack finished a game above .500, including an upset of Florida State, despite ranking 113th nationally in giveaways. The 2012 edition was maddeningly inconsistent, throwing too many picks and coughing the ball up often. Even if the offense lacks explosiveness, it'll make progress simply by getting a better grip on the ball.


Why To Get Excited … for a change, the Orange will be carrying a head of steam into a new campaign. It won the final four games of 2012, highlighted by a 38-14 Pinstripe Bowl rout of former rival West Virginia. The one-two punch of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley on the ground will provide ample cover for the new quarterback.

Why To Be Grouchy … the program will endure a lot of turnover this fall, both on the depth chart and on the sidelines. Its two primary leaders a year ago, head coach Doug Marrone and QB Ryan Nassib have moved on to the NFL. So, too, for that matter have all five of last season's All-Big East performers.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … developing a new quarterback between now and the opener with Penn State. Nassib was Syracuse's best passer since Donovan McNabb was still an amateur. Of the cadre of unproven passers hoping to replace No. 12, none has ever started a game at this level or thrown a scoring strike for that matter.

Wake Forest

Why To Get Excited … the Demon Deacons have the numbers to be vastly improved after missing the postseason in 2012. Just about everyone is back from a team that stumbled to the finish line to just miss a bowl game. Included among the returners are Wake Forest's best offensive and defensive players, WR Michael Campanaro and NG Nikita Whitlock, respectively, and three-year starting QB Tanner Price.

Why To Be Grouchy … after finishing last season 117th nationally in total offense and 88th in total defense, a similar starting lineup guarantees nothing. The Deacons will have to make adjustments and improvements on both sides of the ball in order to reach .500 and make a return to the postseason. The offensive line, in particular, still has a long way to go before becoming ACC-caliber.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … cranking up the ground game. Wake Forest, like most teams, is far more effective when it can pound the ball consistently between the tackles. The 2012 Deacons averaged just three yards a carry, which drastically reduced the effectiveness of Price and Campanaro. Wake needs to find a way to unlock the running potential of senior Josh Harris and sophomore Deandre Martin.

2013 ACC Spring Preview 
- CFN 2013 ACC Spring Preview - Coastal 
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Atlantic Rankings
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Coastal Rankings