2009 Spring Preview - How Good Is The ACC?
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Posted Mar 5, 2009

Ready to get fired up for the 2009 season that's still six months away? As spring ball kicks in, here's part four of the 20 big off-season questions. Just how good is the ACC? What are the pre-spring team rankings? What players need to have the best spring sessions? This and more in the ACC pre-spring overview.

Spring Preview 2009

The 20 Big Questions ... No. 17

By Pete Fiutak 

2009 ACC Spring Preview

Spring Preview 2009
20 Big Questions

- No. 18 - Are we any closer to a playoff?

- No, 19 - Potential BCS Busters

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50
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 The ACC?

Solid, and getting better.

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.

While the 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 conference.

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 and Cal

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 basis.

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 Spring
1. Jacory Harris, QB Miami
2. Willy Korn, QB Clemson
3. Dominique Davis, QB Boston College
4. Derrick Morgan, DE Georgia Tech
5. Greg Little, WR North Carolina

The Top 5 Position Concerns/Battles
1. Virginia Tech linebacker
2. Virginia quarterback
3. Boston College defensive tackle
4. Miami defensive back
5. Wake Forest linebacker

The 5 Biggest ACC Spring Storylines
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 NC State.
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
3. Clemson
4. Virginia Tech
5. Miami
6. Boston College
7. Florida State
8. NC State
9. Virginia
10. Wake Forest
11. Maryland
12. Duke

The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of The Year
1. Jonathan Dwyer, RB Georgia Tech
2. Mark Herzlich, LB Boston College
3. Tyrod Taylor, QB Virginia Tech
4. C.J. Spiller, RB Clemson
5. Alex Wujciak, LB Maryland