2007 CFN ACC Preview
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Georgia Tech |
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2007 CFN ACC Preview
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Prediction: Virginia Tech over Maryland
Conf. record: 6-2
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Soph.
Erin Henderson, Jr.
all there for the Terps to be steady, explosive and very, very
productive as long as everyone plays as well as they should. This will
be one of the four best offenses in the league as long as injuries don't
strike up front. The line is full of veterans and should be a rock, but
there's no depth. The receiving corps might be the fastest in the ACC
and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore form a tremendous 1-2 rushing punch.
It's all there for a big season, but that's what everyone said last year
and the Terps were merely average.
Defense: The defense didn't exactly work last season, but it didn't
seem to matter. No one stopped the run, the secondary was average, there
weren't enough takeaways, and the 3-4 that was supposed to generate a
serious pass rush wasn't even close. The Terps still won nine games
helped be the defense coming through when it absolutely had to. This
year's group won't be so fortunate and has to be better. The defensive
line should be better with end Jeremy Navarre and tackle Dre Moore good
enough to hope for All-ACC honors. Erin Henderson leads an athletic
linebacking corps that needs experience, but should be good in time. The
secondary is a concern, especially the corners hoping for Isaiah Gardner
to become a shut-down defender after returning from a shoulder injury.
Conf. record: 5-3
Matt Ryan, Sr.
DeJuan Tribble, Sr.
Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching
staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on
quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system.
The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends
are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in
the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be
tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC
last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start
giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in
2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator
Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters
returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is
back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron
Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps
will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the
league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety.
The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is
a question mark.
Conf. record: 5-3
Nick Watkins, Sr.
had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough
from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of
James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while
the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up
front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has
potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce.
Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy
Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's
under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the
Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the
nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be
amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of
tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay
(family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and
make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's
best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and
DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be
decent, at worst.
Conf. record: 5-3
WR Greg Carr, Jr.
SS Myron Rolle,
dreadful two seasons, the offense is under new leadership with new
offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coming in to breathe life into the
nation's 70th ranked attack. Step one is to find some semblance of a
running game, and that starts with talented junior Antone Smith getting
more carries. The offensive line, problem one over the last few years,
gets a big upgrade with the addition of line coach Rick Trickett from
West Virginia. He's immediately pushed everyone to get into better shape
and to get a lot tougher. The passing game won't be forgotten about,
with Fisher wanting to bomb away down the field to Greg Carr and DeCody
Fagg. Now a steady quarterback has to emerge between Drew Weatherford
and Xavier Lee.
The defense came up with a better year than it got credit for, but it
gave up too many points. Now the potential is there for this to be a
Florida State defense again with tremendous speed and talent in the
secondary and a good enough front seven to come up with a big year.
There are question marks. Everette Brown is a good-looking pass rushing
end, but he needs help from the other side. The linebacking corps will
be special as long as Derek Nicholson and Marcus Ball can quickly return
from torn ACLs, otherwise it'll be an undersized group with no depth. As
always, there's a slew of NFL talent to work around, highlighted by
tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Myron Rolle.
Conf. record: 3-5
Steve Justice, Sr.
Alphonso Smith, Jr.
Forest will never come out and outbomb anyone, but it'll run effectively
behind a veteran offensive line, get the timely passes when needed, and
won't screw up. The attack only averaged 21.6 points per game and was
96th in the nation in offense, but there were only 15 giveaways. QB
Riley Skinner is back after helping the offense lead the ACC in passing
efficiency, but everything will revolve around the ground game with
several good runners and four starters returning up front. The receiving
corps will be an issue needing to move 2006's leading rusher, Kenneth
Moore, back to his natural receiver position.
Defense: The D could be even better than last year when it was
solid at bending but rarely breaking finishing 12th in the nation in
scoring defense. There's not a Jon Abbate to rely on, and a few key
defensive backs need to be replaced, but there's plenty of experience
everywhere and lots of speed and athleticism in the secondary. There
needs to be more pass rush from the defensive front and there could
stand to be fewer big plays allowed against the pass, but the overall
production should be solid.
Conf. record: 2-6
Darrell Blackman, Sr.
Demario Pressley, Sr.
won't be a bombs away attack under Dana Bible, but it could be with a
big, fast, experienced receiving corps that should be able to spread the
field. The trio of running backs, Toney Baker, Andre Brown and Jamelle
Eugene, should be a major plus, but the line has to be far better and
needs to replace the starting tackles. It'll be a three-man race for the
starting quarterback job between Daniel Evans, Nebraska transfer
Harrison Beck, and Justin Burke, with the one of them needing to be able
to move the offense consistently, something that wasn't done this
spring. This will be a running offense that will eventually grow into a
Defense: This will be a solid defense, but it won't be
spectacular. It could be fantastic in 2008 when all the promising young
prospects are ready to shine, but for now, this will be a good, sound D
that should be far more consistent than last year. Demario Pressley and
Martrel Brown lead a strong line that should be the strength, while
three senior linebackers will keep the mistakes to a minimum. The
secondary has to come up with more big plays after helping the Pack pick
off just seven passes.
Conf. record: 7-1
Vince Hall, Sr.
win a national title with a mediocre offense? It was 99th in the nation
in total offense, but it did a great job of taking advantage of all the
breaks generated by the defense. Eight starters return, led by ACC
Player of the Year candidate Branden Ore at running back, but he needs
the line to be healthy for a full season, and better. The passing game
has good pieces, but it has to be far more consistent considering there
are four talented senior receivers returning. Quarterback Sean Glennon
had a good off-season, and now it has to translate into better
Defense: For two years in a row, Tech has led the nation in total
defense, and last season, was number one in scoring defense allowing 11
points per game. There's no reason the D can't be even better with eight
starters returning led by the 1-2 linebacking punch of Vince Hall and
Xavier Adibi. Corner Brandon Flowers is emerging as one of the best in
the nation, "Macho" Harris is a good defender on the other side, and the
line is loaded with size, quickness, depth and experience. As good as
things were, and will be, it's not like the D played a who's who of
offensive machines, so the overall numbers might be a tad bit overrated,
but make no mistake about it; this is a special defense.
Conf. record: 6-2
Philip Wheeler, Sr.
possible an offense can lose the offensive coordinator, a sure-fire NFL
superstar and a four-year starting quarterback and be better?
Absolutely. Calvin Johnson's departure will sting, but the passing game
should be even better with Taylor Bennett (or any one of a slew of
terrific prospects) taking over for Reggie Ball. Patrick Nix left to
take over the Miami offense, but John Bond is a veteran who did a good
job with the Northern Illinois program for the last three years. James
Johnson will be a decent number one target, and now someone else has to
quickly emerge to take the heat off and give Bennett more options.
Tashard Choice is an All-ACC caliber back leading a deep and talented
group of runners working behind a fantastic line loaded with experience
defense had two lousy games against Clemson and West Virginia
and was solid against everyone else. With just about everyone
returning, expect another great year holding almost everyone to
under 300 yards and around 20 points. The defensive line will be
one of the team's strengths with one of the best groups of ends
in America. MLB Philip Wheeler deserves All-America attention
while the safety tandem of Jamal Lewis and Djay Jones will be
one of the ACC's best. The corners are a bit suspect and the
proven linebacker depth is a bit thin, but those aren't glaring
Conf. record: 5-3
Javarris James, Soph.
Kenny Phillips, Jr.
a miserably inconsistent year finishing 87th in the nation in both total
and scoring offense, the attack needs to play up to its talent level.
The backfield will be amazing with Javarris James and true freshman
Graig Cooper each good enough star for just about anyone in the country.
The line has potential with two good tackles in Jason Fox and Reggie
Youngblood to work around, and now the passing game has to be far
better. The Kyle Wright vs. Kirby Freeman quarterback battle will be an
ongoing debate, and the receiving corps has to step up and be better.
Lance Leggett emerging as a true number one target would be a start.
Defense: The defense finished seventh in the nation last year
despite not getting any help from the offense. The starting 11 should be
good enough to shut everyone down, but there will be early concerns with
the depth on the defensive line and the secondary. Safety Kenny Phillips
and end Calais Campbell might be the two best defensive players in the
nation, and everything will revolve around them; they must stay
healthy. The linebacking corps might not have name stars, but it'll be a
rock against the run with a good rotation of talents.
Conf. record: 3-5
Jameel Sewell, Soph.
Chris Long, Sr.
receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with
mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and
Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends
are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it
lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up
to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone
around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific
year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It
should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen
Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four
starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a
whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense,
but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.
Conf. record: 1-7
Durell Mapp, Sr
offense only cranked out 293 yards and 18 points per game with fits of
wild inconsistency. Expect a bit more of the same with a young team
still trying to figure out who the starters are going to be, but the
overall production should be better. Step one is to determine who the
quarterback will be to handle the passing game that'll run three and
four wide sets. T.J. Yates was the star of spring ball, but he'll have
to hold off star freshman Mike Paulus. There are plenty of good,
inexperienced running backs to work with, and Hakeem Nicks is a
potential star number one receiver. However, there aren't any
certainties in the depth chart quite yet. The line will be serviceable,
but nothing special.
Defense: It might take a year to turn things around after a
disastrous 2006, but the young talent is there to get really, really
excited. The defensive line has a slew of great prospects to work with,
while the back seven has athleticism and quickness by design with a
smallish linebacking corps. The return of Trimaine Goddard at safety
will be a big help for the secondary, while the hopeful emergence of
more pass rushing help for end Hilee Taylor should help the coaching
staff implement it's attacking, aggressive style.
Conf. record: 0-8
Thaddeus Lewis, Soph.
Vince Oghobaase, Soph.
starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a
youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive
coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make
quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause
even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next
to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee
with several different options to see carries, while the overall
strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking
targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's
promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects
Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line,
while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better
pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but
the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and
Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at