The 20 Big Questions ... No.
2009 ACC Spring Preview
With spring ball underway, it's time to start diving into the 2009
season ... no, it's not way too early. Here are the 20 Big Questions to
start off the offseason.
17. Just How Good Is
Solid, and getting
While the ACC took a bit of a hit in the bowl season with
Boston College, the league’s runner-up in the title game, losing to
Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech getting stomped by LSU in the Chick-fil-A,
Miami losing a true road game against Cal, and NC State and Clemson also
losing, it was a banner year for a conference that hasn’t been able to
get over the hump and become the superpower envisioned by the league’s
head honchos when it raided the Big East for teams.
league still isn’t the SEC, and probably never will be, and it wasn’t as
good as the Big 12 last year, a good case could be made that it was the
third best conference after a rock-solid group of non-conference wins.
Just go right down the list and everyone had a respectable
non-conference win on the résumé. But there was also a bad loss or two
that kept the league from making a run in the argument of 2008’s best
Boston College – Beat Notre Dame, lost to Vanderbilt
Clemson – Beat South Carolina, lost to Alabama and Nebraska
Duke – Beat Vanderbilt, lost to Northwestern
Florida State – Beat
Colorado and Wisconsin, lost to Florida
Georgia Tech – Beat
Mississippi State and Georgia, lost to LSU
Maryland – Beat Cal,
lost to Middle Tennessee
Miami – Beat Texas A&M, lost to Florida
North Carolina – Beat Rutgers, Connecticut, and Notre
Dame, lost to West Virginia
NC State – Beat East Carolina (who
was unbeaten and the hot team at the time), lost to South Carolina,
South Florida, and Rutgers
Virginia – Beat East Carolina, lost to
USC and Connecticut
Virginia Tech – Beat Nebraska (at Nebraska)
and Cincinnati, lost to East Carolina
Wake Forest – Beat Baylor,
Ole Miss and Navy (in the bowl), lost to Navy (in the regular season)
While that might not seem all that impressive, with every good win
balanced out by an equally decent loss, try doing that with any other
conference. No other league was able to represent itself quite as well
in the grinding, middle-of-the-pack games, but that’s not what the ACC
is looking for. It wants to be among the elite of the elite, at least to
the point to where it can get a second team into the BCS on a regular
The league had the most interesting race in 2008 with
everyone but Duke seemingly the front-runner for the title at some
point. Virginia appeared to be in the driver’s seat for a spot in the
ACC title before losing its final four games to miss out on a bowl. That
the Cavaliers turned out to be one of just two teams to not go bowling
goes to show how even the conference was. And now it should be better.
Boston College is almost certain to take a step back after all the
recent turmoil, but that’s the only team that doesn’t seem to have much
in the way of positive momentum going into the season … and it’s still
going to be good.
Butch Davis has recruited his tail off at
North Carolina, and now the Tar Heels appear to be on the verge of being
special. Miami has undergone a major talent upgrade over the last two
years under Randy Shannon. Georgia Tech showed against Georgia and Miami
late in the year that the Paul Johnson offense does work, even if the
right pieces aren’t in place. NC State is only going to be better under
Tom O’Brien, helped by having a quarterback like Russell Wilson to work
with, Virginia Tech isn’t going anywhere, Clemson should be a bit more
consistent and settled, Florida State might have finally found a
quarterback in Christian Ponder to build around (at least until E.J.
Manuel starts to shine), and even Duke appears to be ready to make a
push to be another Wake Forest in the near future under David Cutcliffe.
In short, this is one of the few leagues that’s improving all across the
board. Just ask the Big Ten if it can make the same claim.
The Top 5 Players Who Need A Big
1. Jacory Harris, QB Miami
2. Willy Korn, QB Clemson
3. Dominique Davis, QB Boston College
4. Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia
5. Greg Little, WR North Carolina
The Top 5 Position
1. Virginia Tech linebacker
3. Boston College defensive tackle
4. Miami defensive
5. Wake Forest linebacker
The 5 Biggest ACC Spring
1. Is Virginia Tech going to find more offensive
firepower now that the defense needs some rebuilding?
2. Is Christian
Ponder the quarterback Florida State can count on for a full season?
3. The emergence of Russell Wilson as more of a leader and playmaker for
4. The Georgia Tech offensive line. Can it overcome a rocky
year to be a positive?
5. Dabo Swinney. Was the end of 2008 a mirage
for Clemson? Was Swinney really the right choice?
The Spring ACC Team Rankings
1. North Carolina
2. Georgia Tech
6. Boston College
7. Florida State
8. NC State
10. Wake Forest
The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of
1. Jonathan Dwyer, RB Georgia Tech
2. Mark Herzlich,
LB Boston College
3. Tyrod Taylor, QB Virginia Tech
Spiller, RB Clemson
5. Alex Wujciak, LB Maryland