The numbers are the CFN pre-preseason national rankings.
Virginia Tech 2006 Record: 10-3
Why to get excited: Almost everyone is back from the 10-3 team
that roared over the second half of the season until the Chick-fil-A
Bowl loss to Georgia. The defense was first in the nation allowing just
219 yards and 11 points per game, and now it gets back eight starters
including the nation's best linebacking pair, Vince Hall and Xavier
Adibi. Offensively, there's talent in the receiving corps and a boatload
of experience with eight starters coming back, however ...
Why to be grouchy: ... the O has to actually produce. Even when
the team was humming, the offense was hurt by the inconsistent
play of QB Sean Glennon. If RB Branden Ore wasn't on, the offense went
into the tank. This will be a good enough team to be in the national
title hunt, but it won't be close if the attack isn't better.
The number one thing to work on is: Doing something to assure
there won't be an inexplicable meltdown. Few teams go into the tank
quicker when adversity strikes, and that needs to stop with all the
maturity and experience on the 2007 version. The D will be fantastic,
the O will come around, and now the mindset has to be more even keel to
get through the rough patches when the team doesn't have its A game.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Brandon Frye
Biggest defensive loss: DE Noland Burchette
State 2006 Record: 7-6
Why to get excited: Four words: No more Jeff Bowden. Two more
words: Jimbo Fisher. The change in offensive coordinators should do
wonders. The team started to pick it up at the end of the year giving
eventual national champion Florida a major push and beating UCLA in the
Emerald Bowl. More of the key players on both sides of the ball return
with enough speed and talent at receiver to get the passing game
Why to be grouchy: Hasn't Florida State been on the verge of
being back to its past glory for several years now? The ACC is a far
different, far better conference now than when the Noles were rolling at
will. Fisher's arrival came too late; Lorenzo Booker is now off to the
The number one thing to work on is: Find a running game.
Finishing dead last in the ACC in rushing is inexcusable for a program
like FSU. The offense has to be crisper, more balanced, and far more
consistent considering this is the third year quarterbacks Drew
Weatherford and Xavier Lee have been the main men.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Chris Davis
Biggest defensive loss: LBs Buster Davis and Lawrence Timmons
Boston College 2006 Record:
Why to get excited: There's a ton of talent returning led by QB
Matt Ryan and the running back combination of L.V. Whitworth and Andre
Callender. The attack should be even more potent with Jeff Jagodzinski,
an offensive coach by nature, stepping in for Tom O'Brien, so expect
even more out of Ryan. The entire defensive front seven returns.
Why to be grouchy: Jagodzinski should be fine, but O'Brien was
special. On the field, the secondary wasn't exactly a rock last year,
and now it loses CB Larry Anam and SS Ryan Glasper. Go-to receiver Tony
Gonzalez is also gone, as is all-star guard Josh Beekman and tackle
The number one thing to work on is: Getting the ground game
going. The offense was way too reliant on Ryan and didn't get nearly
enough out of Whitworth and Callender. BC has too much overall
talent to be averaging a mere 113 rushing yards per game.
Biggest offensive loss: OG Josh Beekman
Biggest defensive loss: CB Larry Anam
2006 Record: 9-5
Why to get excited: The team might be even better than when it
went to the ACC title game. Oh sure, everyone will jump off the
bandwagon now that Calvin Johnson is gone to the NFL, but the team is
loaded with nine starters returning to a solid defense and RB Tashard
Choice leading a good offense. Taylor Bennett showed in the Gator Bowl
that he might be the quarterback Tech fans have been waiting for after
four years of Reggie Ball and could add more diversity to the offense.
Durant Brooks might be one of the nation's best punters.
Why to be grouchy: You only have one number-one-pick-in-the-draft
caliber receiver in a generation. Ball was part of the problem, but the
Tech passing game finished 91st in the nation with C.J. If James Johnson
isn't a number one receiver right away, the offense could fall flat in
the season opener at Notre Dame.
The number one thing to work on is: Returns. Tech was tenth in
the ACC in punt returns and 11th in kickoff returns. The team should do
just about everything else well, so a little more pop from Andrew Smith,
Jamaal Evans and Pat Clark might mean the difference between a good year
and something special.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Calvin Johnson
Biggest defensive loss: DT Joe Anoai
Miami 2006 Record: 7-6
Why to get excited: Well, you wanted Larry Coker gone, and Randy
Shannon at least brings a change. Even though Miami wasn't Miami
last year, the defense was tremendous finishing seventh in the nation
and fourth against the run. Expect the production to continue with seven
starters returning led by soon-to-be All-Everything 6-8, 265-pound end
Calais Campbell and corner Randy Phillips.
Why to be grouchy: Ken Dorsey, where are you? The same cast of
characters returns to the offense that did next to nothing all last
year. The attack went over 27 points just twice, against Florida A&M and
FIU. Last year all the ire of Canes fans was directed towards Coker. Now
it'll turn to the Kirby Freeman/Kyle Wright show if the passing game
doesn't start cranking out more points.
The number one thing to work on is: Offense and the return game.
313 yards and 19.6 points per game? Miami? The D can only do so much.
With such a questionable offense. the Canes need to average more than
7.21 yards per punt return and 19.94 yards on kickoffs. Devin Hester,
where are you?
Biggest offensive loss: TE Greg Olson
Biggest defensive loss: LB Jon Beason
2006 Record: 9-4
Why to get excited: The Terps were able to win nine games despite
not doing much of anything all that well. Now they have a boatload of
experience returning with Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore in the backfield
and exciting receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Isaiah Williams to work
with. The defense only loses four starters.
Why to be grouchy: Sam Hollenbach wasn't a thrill-a-minute, but
he was a steady, efficient passer. Jordan Steffy has to be consistent to
take the heat off the running game. The special teams were a strength,
and now PK Dan Ennis and P Adam Podlesh are gone.
The number one thing to work on is: Getting more from the
defensive front seven. The defense gave up too many yards and didn't get
nearly enough push into the backfield. The ends, Jeremy Navarre and Trey
Covington, have to develop into better pass rushers, while the entire
front has to be tougher after allowing 163 rushing yards a game.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Sam Hollenbach
Biggest defensive loss: CB Josh Wilson
Why to get excited: If the defense could succeed with all the
injuries last year, it should be special this year after finishing 13th
in the nation despite losing both corners. While there might not be a
Gaines Adams-like pass rusher, Ricky Sapp is a speed rusher who should
make some noise. Running on this group, with its solid, unnoticed
linebacking corps, will be tough.
Why to be grouchy: James Davis and C.J. Spiller might be special
backs, but they'll need to carry even more of the workload early on
behind a patched up offensive line that loses three starters. Jad Dean
was a special kicker and Cole Chason was a way above-average punter.
The number one thing to work on is: Getting more from the
quarterback. Even though the Tigers finished second in the ACC in
passing efficiency, there wasn't enough of a threat to make anyone
forget about the run. Cullen Harper and top recruit Willy Korn will
battle it out to try to give the air attack more pop.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Chansi Stuckey
Biggest defensive loss: DE Gaines Adams
Virginia 2006 Record: 5-7
Why to get excited: Just about everyone comes back. The
experience should turn into far more overall production from a team that
made a slew of rookie mistakes on both sides of the ball throughout last
year and still finished a respectable 5-7. The defense gave up a mere
290 yards per game and gets nine starters back. QB Jameel Sewell is one
of the league's bright young stars, and he should have more time to
operate with all five starters returning to the line. However ...
Why to be grouchy: ... the line has to be night-and-day better
after giving up way too many sacks and not getting nearly enough push
for the ground game. Leading rusher Jason Snelling is gone taking away
the team's offensive safety valve, and there isn't exactly a lot of
home-run hitting potential among the receiving corps.
The number one thing to work on is: Moving the ball. Last year
wasn't a banner year for offenses in the ACC, and Virginia still
finished at the bottom averaging a pathetic 257 yards per game. The
attack needs to find one thing it can do well and can go to over and
over again. It doesn't have that now.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Jason Snelling
Biggest defensive loss: CB Marcus Hamilton
2006 Record: 11-3
Why to get excited: The ACC champions get enough talent back to
make a run for a bowl game, and even gets some key players back to
battle for starting jobs when QB Ben Mauk and RB DeAngelo Bryant return
from injury. PK/P Sam Swank should assure the special teams will remain
solid, while there are too many good running backs to keep everyone
happy on offense. However ...
Why to be grouchy: ... this isn't a team that can avoid key
personnel losses, and it's going to dip after losing receivers Nate
Morton and Willie Idlette along with heart-and-soul players like OT
Steve Vallos and LB Jon Abbate. Three starters need replacing in the
The number one thing to work on is: Making sure the formula
continues to work. Run the ball well, throw effectively when needed,
don't turn the ball over, win the special teams battles, and capitalize
on every mistake. In other words, the team has to make sure it does all
the little things well.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Steve Vallos
Biggest defensive loss: LB Jon Abbate
62. NC State 2006 Record: 3-9
Why to get excited: If nothing else, there should be game-to-game
consistency under new head coach Tom O'Brien. Daniel Evans is an
exciting quarterback to build around, while the running backs might be
the best and deepest in the ACC. The Pack might have lost its final
seven games of last year, but six of them were by eight points or fewer.
Why to be grouchy: There are just enough personnel losses to
hurt. The offensive line takes the biggest hit, especially at tackle,
while DT Tank Tyler and linebackers Pat Lowery and Reggie Davis were
playmakers. O'Brien's BC teams were steady, but rarely explosive. State
has a long way to go to get the offense out of the doldrums.
The number one thing to work on is: Passing efficiency. Evans,
and before him, Marcus Stone, killed drive after drive with misfires.
State was 102nd in the nation in third down conversion percentage,
successful on just 32.4% of their tries. Being 112th in turnover margin,
tying for the bottom in takeaways with 12, didn't help the overall
Biggest offensive loss: OG Leroy Harris
Biggest defensive loss: DT Tank Tyler
69. North Carolina
2006 Record: 3-9
Why to get excited: Butch Davis, Butch Davis, Butch Davis. Tar
Heel football isn't going to challenge the hoops program for school
supremacy, but Davis is a great salesman; UNC was ridiculously lucky to
get him. Enough experience returns on both sides of the ball to expect
an immediate improvement. If nothing else, the defense will be better.
It can't be worse.
Why to be grouchy: The talent level isn't near what it needs to
be. The lines have to be more productive, the skill players are mediocre
by ACC standards, and the quarterback situation is a question mark.
While the team might be better, it's going to take at least two years to
make a significant change.
The number one thing to work on is: Scoring. Take away the 45
points against Duke and the 45 against Furman and UNC averaged just
11.45 points per game. The offense was balanced. Bad, but balanced, and
now there needs to be more overall pop. Upping the turnover margin,
after finishing 112th in the nation, and getting in the backfield more,
after cranking out just 44 tackles for loss are musts.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Ronnie McGill
Biggest defensive loss: LB Larry Edwards
Duke 2006 Record: 0-12
Why to get excited: Everyone comes back on offense, while six
starters return on D. Fine, so the attack only averaged 14.9 points and
283 yards per game, but that's what happens when everyone is so young.
Thaddeus Lewis is an interesting quarterback prospect and he should be
more efficient this year. The defensive line could be tremendous led by
Vince Oghobaase and Ayango Okpokawuruk.
Why to be grouchy: You don't lose 20 in a row without having a
major overall talent deficiency. There simply aren't enough ACC-caliber
players across the overall two-deep to pull off a Wake Forest and be the
surprise of the year. The team has to improve in just about every area.
The number one thing to work on is: Getting better play from the
lines. The raw talent is there on the defensive front, but it has to
start to make more plays against the run and get into the backfield on a
more regular basis. The offensive line was awful last season doing next
to nothing in every phase. The skill players need more time and more
room to work.
Biggest offensive loss: No one. The entire two-deep returns.
Biggest defensive loss: CB John Talley