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2007 CFN ACC Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 22, 2007


Vince Hall's Virginia Tech team should be the class of the ACC, but as last year showed, there are always surprises. With some big new coaching hires throughout the league, and several dangerous teams, like Georgia Tech, Clemson and Boston College, this should be another wide-open year. Check out the predictions, All-ACC team, unit rankings and more in the 2007 CFN ACC preview.

2007 CFN ACC Preview

Team Previews, Offenses, Defenses & Depth Charts
Atlantic
Boston College | Clemson | Florida State | Maryland
NC State | Wake Forest

Coastal Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami
North Carolina | Virginia | Virginia Tech

- CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- ACC Team-by-Team Capsules

-
ACC Unit Rankings

- ACC Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

Wake Forest? Really?!

Yes, the Demon Deacons were good and yes they found ways to win with timely play, a never-say-die attitude, and a fantastic offensive line that stood on its head, but let’s be honest here; if they’re winning the ACC title, the league is down.

When a league’s two power programs (Miami and Florida State) are each mediocre also-rans, most will perceive the conference won’t be quite up to snuff. While that isn’t always the case, it didn’t help last season that Clemson, everyone’s mid-season darling, collapsed, Virginia Tech’s brain went bye-bye in critical back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Boston College, BC lost to NC State on a last season miracle pass and to Wake Forest after dominating the entire game, and the Yellow Jackets, well, they had Reggie Ball at quarterback.

While this won’t be a big bounce-back year, it’ll certainly be interesting with the Hokies getting everyone back from the nation’s number one defense, Georgia Tech as better than it’s been in years, even with Calvin Johnson jetting early to the big league, and Maryland loaded for a good run after winning nine games. Of course, the national perception of the league all depends on how good the two Sunshine State teams are.

Miami and Florida State will always have as much talent and athleticism as anyone in the country, and now the two superpowers hope and upgrade in coaching will be the difference to get them out of the doldrums. The Hurricanes don’t need Randy Shannon to restore “Da U” attitude, they need him to coach the team better than it was in the final years under Larry Coker. The Seminoles finally acknowledged what everyone else already knew; Jeff Bowden was dragging down the offense. New offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is a significant upgrade, to go along with four other new assistants.

Even if the Canes and Noles are close to being national players again, the ACC still might not be back to where conference fans hoped it would be after the Big East raid of a few years ago. However, it’s going to be a terrific, wide-open season with several teams legitimately in the hunt for the title. And yeah, that might even include Wake Forest.

Team That'll Surprise

Maryland – The Terps have the All-Measurables team. Everyone can run, everyone can lift, everyone looks the part of what top football talents should look like. Literally, they’re a living, breathing Under Armor ad. If that potential turns into production, the schedule works out just well enough to pull off the Atlantic title.

Team That'll Disappoint
Wake Forest – Disappoint isn’t exactly the right word. The Demon Deacons won’t be expected to repeat as champions, and they might have a hard time even getting back to a bowl game. They somehow got it done last year with flawless special teams, the league’s most efficient passing game, and most importantly, by always, always, always winning the turnover battle. They won’t finish sixth in the nation in turnover margin again, and that’ll be the difference.

Offensive Player of the Year

QB Matt Ryan, Sr. Boston College – Ryan led the ACC in total offense last season, and now he should shine even brighter under new head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who spent last year with the Green Bay Packers coaching Brett Favre. Ryan isn’t Favre, but he will be the difference maker who makes a good BC team great.

Defensive Player of the Year
LB Vince Hall, Sr. Virginia Tech – You might have to make this a co-Defensive Player of the Year award along with Hall’s running mate, Xavier Adibi. The two stars of the nation’s best defense should dominate once again leading a loaded team that’ll be the favorite to win the ACC title from the start.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. LB Philip Wheeler, Sr. Georgia Tech
2. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Soph. Maryland
3. DT B.J. Raji, Sr. Boston College
4. CB Brandon Flowers, Jr. Virginia Tech
5. C Steve Justice, Sr. Wake Forest

Coach on the Hot Seat
Bobby Bowden, Florida State – While Bowden will never be fired, even if he goes 0-12, but he’s only had one ten-win season since losing the 2000 national championship to Oklahoma. Success has spoiled the fan base, and now they’re hoping for big results, or at least an ACC title, after all the new coaching changes.

5 Non-Conference Games the ACC had better take, very, very seriously
1. Florida State at Colorado, Sept. 15
2. Virginia at Wyoming, Sept. 1
3. North Carolina at East Carolina, Sept. 8
4. Wake Forest at Navy, Oct. 20
5. Central Michigan at Clemson, Oct. 20

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. DE Calais Campbell, Jr. Miami
2. OT Barry Richardson, Sr. Clemson
3. S Kenny Phillips, Jr. Miami
4. DE Andre Fluellen   Florida State
5. WR Greg Carr, Jr. Florida State

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. James Johnson for Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech
2. Joe Birdsong or Jeff Griffin for Steve Vallos, OT Wake Forest
3. Kwam Williams for Gaines Adams, DE Clemson
4. Recardo Wright for Buster Davis, LB Florida State
5. Tom Anevski for Josh Beekman, OG Boston College

5 Bold Predictions
1. Maryland will win the Atlantic. It’ll take a tough win over Georgia Tech from the Coastal Division to help make it happen, but as long it can come up with wins over Clemson and Boston College, it should be able to weather a loss at Florida State.
2. Duke will go winless … again. Even though the young team will be better and will throw a big scare into at least two of the ACC powers, Duke will go without a win. The best chances are against Connecticut and at Navy in the non-conference schedule, and against Wake Forest and at North Carolina in league play.
3. At least one Bowden won’t be the head coach of an ACC program next year at this time. Bobby will never be forced out, but with three road games in the final four at Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida, along with a home game against Maryland, the fans will be grouchy. Tommy has to keep Clemson in the Atlantic race until the end and can’t lose at South Carolina.
4. The most successful first new head coach will be Jeff Jagodzinski. Of the four programs starting a new era, Jagodzinski will keep Boston College among the league’s most consistently successful teams helped by QB Matt Ryan along with a solid defense.
5. Virginia will start hot, but will completely collapse over the second half of the year. Duke, North Carolina, Middle Tennessee and Connecticut will give Cavalier fans a false hope for a hot season. Over the final five games, Virginia plays at Maryland, at NC State, Wake Forest, at Miami, and Virginia Tech. It’ll lose four of the five.

What Will Happen
-
Virginia Tech will beat Maryland in the ACC title game, but it’ll need help to get there after losing to Georgia Tech on November 1st.
- The Terps will win the Atlantic, but will lose to Boston College and Florida State late in the year to make it interesting. October home wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson will save the day.
- Miami will reestablish its dominance at home, but will lose on the road to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Boston College to temper an otherwise good first year for Randy Shannon.
- North Carolina and Duke will be better than their final records. The Tar Heels will be too young to make major strides right away under Butch Davis.
- Virginia will struggle just to get to 6-6. The loss of top receiver Kevin Ogletree to a season-ending knee injury will kill the Cavalier passing game.
- Wake Forest will go from ACC champion to a losing record. Three road games in the final four weeks will be too much to overcome.

  

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