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2010 ACC Preview - Team By Team Looks
Clemson QB Kyle Parker
Clemson QB Kyle Parker
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 2, 2010


Preview 2010 - CFN ACC Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish


Preview 2010

ACC Team By Team


ATLANTIC
- Boston College Preview | Clemson Preview | Florida State Preview
- Maryland Preview | NC State Preview | Wake Forest Preview

COASTAL
- Duke Preview | Georgia Tech Preview | Miami Preview
- North Carolina Preview | Virginia Preview | Virginia Tech Preview

- 2010 ACC Preview | 2010 ACC Unit Rankings | 2010 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2010 ACC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish

Predicted ACC Championship: Miami over Florida State

Note: Predictions based on team talent and schedules.

ACC Atlantic Predicted Finish

1. Florida State
Predicted Overall Record: 8-4
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Buckle up, Seminole fans. You might be about to witness the most explosive offense this program has had in years. Florida State finally began to turn the corner in 2009, averaging 30 points a game and ranking in the top 4 of the ACC in rushing and passing. From that group return 10 starters, including the entire offensive line and untapped gem Christian Ponder at quarterback. Ponder is the indisputable key. He was just beginning to hit his stride last fall when he went down with a season-ending shoulder injury. However, he played with a sense of purpose in the spring, and is surrounded by enough playmakers, like RB Jermaine Thomas and receivers Jarmon Fortson and Bert Reed, to end his career with an NFL-attracting bang. Led by All-American Rodney Hudson at left guard, the once-green line has a chance to be among the best in the country.
Defense: With all due respect to the incoming freshman class, there isn’t a more important newcomer in Tallahassee than defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Brought in to clean up the mess on this side of the ball, his job approval rating will go a long way to determining how much Florida State improves in 2010. The Seminoles were historically and uncharacteristically bad a year ago, ranking last in the ACC in rush, pass efficiency, and total D. They looked up at the likes of Duke, Virginia, and NC State, an unimaginable result. Stoops brings a new scheme from Arizona, which employs more zone coverages and blitzes. He inherits the typical supply of speed and former blue-chippers, but there’s plenty of work to be done. From the most basic standpoint, the ‘Noles must tackle and cover much better than last year. If there’s a strength, it’s the linebackers, which house potential all-stars Nigel Bradham and Kendall Smith. At corner, young Greg Reid is a human dynamo, with All-American talent. Progress is a certainty, but a complete turnaround with this group is asking too much.

2. Boston College
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 5-3

Offense: The quarterbacks are a year older. Coordinator Gary Tranquill is with the program for a second season. The Eagle offense ought to be more efficient, right? It should be, but that’s never a certainty in these parts. Boston College has forever struggled offensively, even when Matt Ryan was calling signals. You pretty much know what you’re going to get from this attack, a physical offensive line and a no-nonsense, grind-it-out running game. Playing the role of the feature back will once again be all-star Montel Harris, who has the luxury of running behind a veteran, Anthony Castonzo-led line. The Eagles will run it effectively, but can they achieve the balance that they so desire? It all depends on the quarterbacks. David Shinskie, the 26-year old former Major League Baseball player, is back for his second season, looking to sharpen his game and fend off young Mike Marscovetra. Shinskie has the edge, but his margin for error heading into the summer has shrunk.
Defense: Frank Spaziani relinquished his coordinator duties when he became head coach in 2009. The results on defense, however, remained predictably the same. The Eagles, with defections and holes throughout the front seven, still managed to rank among the top four ACC programs in rushing, scoring, and total defense. Expect more of the same from a school which is quietly among the steadiest, year after year. With Damik Scafe and Alex Albright up front, Luke Kuechly in the middle, and Wes Davis, Donnie Fletcher, and DeLeon Gause in the secondary, Boston College has few glaring holes … except the pass rush. The school was impotent at getting to the quarterback, its single biggest need area. Coordinator Bill McGovern would prefer not to blitz too often, forcing Albright, Brad Newman, and Max Holloway to crank up pressure the old fashioned way. This is a good defense without LB Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. If he’s all the way back from Ewing’s sarcoma, it could be one of the toughest in the country. Stay tuned.

3. Clemson
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 4-4

Offense: More than anything, Clemson strives to be balanced on offense, deftly mixing the run with the pass. Even in a post-C.J. Spiller world, the Tigers will still have plenty of success on the ground. Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper may not be No. 28, but they’re both plenty talented and will be running behind Chris Hairston and one of the league’s top lines. The bigger question mark will be in the passing game, where all eyes are on QB Kyle Parker, who’s deciding between continuing his football career or signing a baseball contract to play for the Colorado Rockies. If he goes pro, the Tajh Boyd era begins at least one year earlier than anyone anticipated. A blue-chipper from a year ago, he has all of the physical gifts, but lacks experience. The quarterbacks might not get a ton of help from the wide receivers, though TE Dwayne Allen is about to enter the spotlight.
Defense: Clemson returns six starters from a solid D that ranked in the Top 25 in scoring and total defense last year. While second-year coordinator Kevin Steele is still surrounded by plenty of playmakers, the pool of talent won’t be quite as deep as it was in 2009. Of greatest concern, he needs to tinker with the back seven, losing four starters and both cornerbacks. In place of Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor, the Tigers are going with a couple of seniors, converted safety Marcus Gilchrist and career reserve Byron Maxwell. Up front, the program is loaded with as much talent and depth as any school in the country. At tackle, it’s time for Jarvis Jenkins to earn the All-ACC recognition that’s somehow escaped him up to this point. At end, it’s time for Da’Quan Bowers to begin parlaying all of his physical ability x1 into more sacks than he’s produced in his first two seasons.

4. Maryland
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6
Predicted Conference Record: 3-5

Offense: If the Terrapins hope to improve on last year’s awful offensive results, they’ll need to maximize the potential of RB Da’Rel Scott and WR Torrey Smith, the team’s two best weapons. Accomplishing that, however, will first require choosing a new quarterback and patching up one of the ACC’s leakiest offensive lines. The heavy favorite to get the ball will be junior Jamarr Robinson, a dual-threat who started two games when Chris Turner was injured last November. His mobility and overall athleticism is the impetus for a tweaked offensive system that’ll give the quarterback more chances to make plays and defenses more looks to defend.
Defense: Second-year coordinator Don Brown is no less determined to create havoc on defense than when he arrived from UMass in 2009. It comes with a price, however. Although he has one of the best sets of linebackers you never heard of, unleashing Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, and Demetrius Hartsfield also means further exposing one of the ACC’s worst pass defenses. Ideally, the Terps can get some pressure the old-fashioned way, from defensive linemen, but there isn’t an end or a tackle on the roster, who had more than one sack a year ago. With obvious holes on the first and last lines of defense, the Terps lean on those linebackers more than ever, especially Wujciak, an All-America candidate.

5. Wake Forest
Predicted Overall Record: 5-7
Predicted Conference Record: 3-5

Offense: The graduation of Riley Skinner has been like a pebble in a pond, whose ripple effects will be felt for some time. Not only has it opened up a hotly-contested quarterback race that’ll trickle into August, but the system will be getting a facelift as well. No longer expecting to employ a pure pocket passer, Jim Grobe plans to install an attack that leans more on misdirection and the triple-option. Oh, he’ll make use of an outstanding corps of receivers, including Devon Brown, Marshall Williams, and Chris Givens, but they’ll be asked to do more than catch passes. Brown, in particular, will run the ball quite a bit on fly sweeps, reverses, and even some direct snaps. If Skylar Jones can maintain his lead at quarterback, he has the blazing speed and athleticism to do a lot of damage outside the pocket after playing wide receiver last season.
Defense: The Wake Forest D has fallen. Coordinator Brad Lambert’s job is to make sure it gets back up in 2010. The Deacons had a predictably difficult time replacing stars Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith a year ago, allowing more points than at any point in the previous four years. The stifling, ball-hawking crew that was the catalyst for the program had been reduced to utter mediocrity. A complete turnaround is unlikely. The Deacons return seven starters, but no star power and not a single all-star. In place of greatness, they harbor a handful of good players, like DE Kyle Wilber, LB Hunter Haynes, and FS Cyhl Quarles. True growth requires the kids to grow up quickly and a leaky run defense to plug the holes without last year’s two best interior linemen. The onus falls on NG Ramon Booi and DT Frank Souza, a pair of unproven underclassmen being asked to guard the middle of the line.

6. NC State
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: Tom O’Brien has always favored an offense built on a power running game. All signs, however, point to the passing attack being the catalyst once again. Most of the Pack’s talent is through the air, with Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon throwing to an underrated receiving corps headed by Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams, and TE George Bryan. The ground game, on the other hand, remains a work-in-progress after finishing 92nd nationally and averaging 3.4 yards a carry. None of the backs have ever started a game and a young and unproven offensive line doesn’t figure to provide much cover. Throw in a defense that pretty much requires shootouts, and Wilson and the receivers will again fatten their stats while the backs get a crash course in pass protection.
Defense: Unable to maintain the momentum from the end of 2008, the NC State defense collapsed last year, allowing at least 27 points in each of the last nine games. Picking up the pieces will not be easy. The Pack must replace seven starters, including the entire defensive line. Couple those departures with the youth and instability that’ll define the secondary, and the defense will once again struggle to stop the pass. The silver lining exists within a corps of linebackers that welcomes back Nate Irving and will enjoy the coming-out party of Audie Cole. The unit is brimming with talent throughout the two-deep, but could be overworked as it attempts to support a secondary that can’t cover and a defensive line hunting for pass rushers.

ACC Coastal Predicted Finish

T1. Miami
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: For a change, Miami hasn’t hired a new coordinator in the offseason, the first sign of progress on this side of the ball. Mark Whipple is back for a second year, with two primary goals, coaching junior QB Jacory Harris to a higher level of play and getting more from the offensive line. Harris looked like an All-American last September before showing his youth and tossing more picks than any other ACC hurler. As he grows, so grows the ‘Cane attack. The front wall is a problem of a different kind, wrought with years of mediocrity and a collection of kids, like RT Jermaine Johnson and LG Brandon Washington, who hope to blossom early in their promising careers. The most promising news surrounds a collection of skill position players, such as RB Damien Berry, WR Leonard Hankerson, and WR LaRon Byrd, that will elevate the play of Harris under center.
Defense: With an all-star at each level and eight returning starters, Miami gets to build on the defensive success it had a year ago. The ‘Canes don’t lose a ton from a group that ranked 29th and 37th nationally in total and scoring defense, respectively. From front to back, DE Allen Bailey, LB Colin McCarthy, and CB Brandon Harris will form the backbone, with a smattering of veterans and underclassmen building on that support. Barring injuries, this is a solid crew. However, elevating to higher ground will require someone, like Adewale Ojomo or Marcus Robinson, to support Bailey in the pass rush, and the defensive backs to parlay more tipped balls into takeways. The Hurricanes were No. 10 in the ACC in sacks and No. 9 in picks, results the team plans to address this fall.

T1. North Carolina
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Coordinator John Shoop has the most important job in Chapel Hill this year—locating a pulse on his Tar Heel offense. A year after finishing 108th nationally and averaging just 22 points against teams not named The Citadel, this unit has become the program’s biggest hurdle to an ACC championship. There is no shortage of objectives over the next few months. Topping the list will be getting more consistent play from QB T.J. Yates, who’s trying to hold off hot-shot redshirt freshman Bryn Renner. Carolina also needs to get a little more pop from the running game, bring along the gifted young receivers, and plug holes in a mediocre offensive line. If Shoop can somehow pull everything together, go ahead and put him on the Broyles Award short list.
Defense: Sometimes a mob mentality isn’t such a bad thing. All six of Carolina’s defensive all-stars put off the NFL Draft for one more season, ensuring that the program will again boast one of the nation’s nastiest and stingiest defenses. The group that allowed 17 points and an ACC-low 269 yards brings back All-America candidates at every level, Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin up front, Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter at linebacker, and Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney in the secondary. From creating turnovers to creating pressure, there’s nothing this veteran unit doesn’t do well, meaning the only offseason objectives are to build more depth and guard against overconfidence.

T1. Virginia Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: Finally. After being a scapegoat for years, coordinator Bryan Stinespring mercifully had something to gush over last season. And the best is yet to come. The Hokies finally cranked up the offense in 2009, scoring at least 36 points in the final four games and relocating the big play. It turns out that last November and December is going to be an omen of what’s to come. Tech brings back improving veteran QB Tyrod Taylor, the last two ACC Newcomers of the year, backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans, and top receiver Jarrett Boykin. It’s as much skill position talent that this program has had in years. If the line can recover from the graduation of the left side and the staff keeps the backs happy, the Hokies will have enough firepower to compensate until the rebuilt D begins to gel.
Defense: It’s a good thing for Hokie fans that coordinator Bud Foster resisted offers to relocate, deciding to remain in Blacksburg for another year. They’re going to need his coaching expertise in order to retool a defense that returns just four starters. Virginia Tech was oppressive in 2009, yielding an ACC-low 15 points and less than 300 yards a game. However, most of the key parts of that unit are gone, leaving behind a new wave of Gobblers with a chance to supercharge their careers. Along with the mainstays, like DT John Graves and CB Rashad Carmichael, are a bunch of talented young players about to get put under the microscope. Although you may not know DT Antoine Hopkins, LB Lydell Gibson, and CB Jayron Hosley today, that could change by October. As usual, Foster has access to plenty of talent. His objective in the summer will be to get all of it on the same page and playing like a cohesive unit.

4. Georgia Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 4-4

Offense: Can the spread-option be a perennial force in the ACC? You bet. His offense cranking on all cylinders and his roster beginning to reflect his vision, Paul Johnson has the Jacket attack buzzing after just two seasons. Georgia Tech really turned it up a notch in 2009, leading the ACC in rushing, scoring, and total offense; only Miami, Georgia, and Iowa kept it under 28 points. While the early departures of RB Jonathan Dwyer and WR Demaryius Thomas, and the rebuilding of the O-line are legitimate concerns, Tech doesn’t plan on going in reverse. First team All-ACC QB Josh Nesbitt is back to pilot the offense, and a new wave of B-backs and A-backs are poised to pad stat sheets. In particular, Anthony Allen, who averaged 9.7 yards a carry is preparing for lift-off. Young Stephen Hill is aiming to become the next big-play receiver on the Flats, while unproven linemen Nick Claytor, Omoregie Uzzi, and Nick McRae could carry the fate of the offense on their pads.
Defense: Georgia Tech needs some answers on defense. Former Virginia head coach Al Groh was brought in to provide them. In one of the best coaching maneuvers of the offseason, Paul Johnson landed a long-time veteran and one of the game’s better defensive minds. For as mediocre as the Cavaliers were for years, the defense was perennially sound. He brings a new look and attitude that’ll include a shift to the 3-4 defense, and an intimate knowledge of the ACC. After wallowing the last two seasons, the Jackets need a fresh voice to ignite the defense. No higher than sixth in the league in any major category, Tech yielded almost 25 points a game and lost its only all-stars, DE Derrick Morgan and S Morgan Burnett, to early entry into the NFL Draft. Helping the unit get over the hump of mediocrity will be LB Brad Jefferson and corners Mario Butler and Jerrard Tarrant.

T5. Duke
Predicted Overall Record: 3-9
Predicted Conference Record: 1-7

Offense: Under David Cutcliffe, Duke has made steady progress offensively, but does that cease now that all-star QB Thaddeus Lewis is gone? The Blue Devils are looking to one of three underclassmen, likely sophomore Sean Renfree, as his successor. Whoever gets the ball will take comfort from an underrated corps of receivers led by Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon, and Austin Kelly. Overall unit improvement, however, will require more support from other areas, such as a ground game that was dead last nationally in 2009. Desmond Scott and Josh Snead are young backs, with exciting futures, but the onus falls on a flimsy front wall to give them the room they’ll need to make plays.
Defense: Now that Mike MacIntyre is the San Jose State head coach, Marion Hobby has taken over as the new defensive coordinator. Expect changes. Hobby’s main priority in the offseason will be to generate a better pass rush, which means more blitzing and lighting a fire beneath underachieving senior ends Patrick Egboh and Wesley Oglesby. If he can’t dial up more pressure, it’ll once again expose a secondary that’s perennially among the most generous in the ACC. While there’s no star power or returning all-stars, there is a veteran presence, especially at linebacker, and S Matt Daniels could be on the verge of losing his anonymity. A couple of imports from the offense, CB Johnny Williams and DE Kenny Anunike, were relocated to make an instant impact.

T5. Virginia
Predicted Overall Record: 3-9
Predicted Conference Record: 1-7

Offense: Over the last four years, no offense in America has been weaker than Virginia’s, which has ranked 100th or lower in each season. In 2009, the Cavaliers slipped to 118th and averaged just 19 points a game. Mike London hired Bill Lazor away from the Seattle Seahawks in order to reverse the trend, though no one expects it to happen quickly. The attack will feature a power running game that mixes in high percentage passes and the occasional play-action shot downfield. It’ll be a conservative approach that doesn’t put too much pressure on the ‘Hoos average talent. Quarterback will continue to be a problem, as shaky veteran Marc Verica works to hold off a wave of freshmen. With proper support from the line, there is hope at the skill positions. Underclassmen, like backs Dominique Wallace and Perry Jones and receivers Tim Smith and Javaris Brown, are the kinds of talents capable of dragging Virginia out of its offensive coma.
Defense: Gone is Al Groh’s 3-4 defense, which relied on elaborate schemes and complex terminology. In its place coordinator Jim Reid’s 4-3, a more simplified approach allowing the Cavalier athletes to use their speed and instincts to make plays all over the field. Reid favors an up-tempo system that ideally generates more pressure and disrupts the rhythm of the other team. Virginia continues to harbor a solid collection of players on this side of the ball, an underrated byproduct of Groh’s tenure. Yeah, they’ll need to digest the new blueprint and do a much better job of defending the run, but there’s a good base to build on. Ras-I Dowling is a next-level corner, LB Steve Greer was the leading tackler as a freshman, and the front wall of Matt Conrath, Zane Parr, Cam Johnson, and Nick Jenkins is going to fly beneath the radar.

ATLANTIC
- Boston College Preview | Clemson Preview | Florida State Preview
- Maryland Preview | NC State Preview | Wake Forest Preview

COASTAL
- Duke Preview | Georgia Tech Preview | Miami Preview
- North Carolina Preview | Virginia Preview | Virginia Tech Preview

- 2010 ACC Preview | 2010 ACC Unit Rankings | 2010 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2010 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players | 2010 ACC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish