How the ACC Will Fare This Season
Now that college football is (almost) upon us, everyone is projecting what team will do what and how they will do it.
The ACC is full of top talent and now I want to take some time to examine each team and how they fair against each other.
I won’t spend much time on the Seminoles since we already know they’re No. 1 and why they sit there. However, it is necessary to examine some names that aren’t Jameis Winston and…Jameis Winston.
On the extremely loaded offense, the Noles boast running back Karlos Williams, receiver Rashad Greene, and tight end Nick O’Leary. Watch these three. They will be favorites for Winston to utilize this season.
Defense has a little bit to work on since losing some key players to the league, but it isn’t enough to concern me.
This season, the Seminoles’ big games include Oklahoma State, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Can we consider those to be big games? Regardless, FSU is favored to win them all.
The Tigers are ranked at No. 13 in preseason polls and with the loss of quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins, there are some shoes to fill. Luckily, they have this guy named Vic Beasley. I hear he’s really solid on defense…
The Orange celebrated some surprising success last season and they hope that, despite not being ranked in the preseason, they build on that this year. Luckily, they still have running back Terrell Hunt who help lead the offense.
Syracuse has 15 starters returning this season so they have experience on their side, but they still have some things to figure out. Their schedule helps them a little at the beginning since they face Villanova, Central Michigan, and Maryland.
Last year, the Cardinals beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. This year, they’re a part of the ACC and coach Bobby Petrino is hoping to start the season off right.
Teddy Bridgewater is gone and they are forced to replace 7 starters on defense. At the QB spot, Will Gardner steps up to fill some pretty large shoes left by the current Vikings QB. Gardner is a redshirt sophomore with a big arm and quiet personality.
Gardner will be able to use Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer to run the ball, and DeVante Parker will be his easy target at receiver.
The Cards face Miami, Murray State, and Virginia to start things off.
The Eagles have been revitalized by coach Steve Addazio, but last year they lost their bowl game to Arizona. They are bringing back only a few starters from last season. One big question mark to figure out is who will replace Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy, a transfer from Florida, will make his debut as an Eagle this year. He showed coach Addazio in the spring that he’s here to work.
They face UMass, Pittsburgh, and USC to kick off the season.
With a brand new head coach, the Demon Deacons look to re-build and re-focus this season. It will take some patience as they need tons of improvement on both sides of the ball.
Unfortunately, things won’t be very easy for them. Their schedule doesn’t exactly allow the team to take it easy. They start things off a little slow, which could prove to be somewhat helpful.
First, they take on Louisiana-Monroe.
The Wolfpack didn’t celebrate at the end of 2013, with a 3-9 record. They weren’t very lucky as far as injuries are concerned. So, this year, they look to new head coach Dave Doren to help move things forward.
Luckily, they have transfer quarterback Jacoby Brisket from Florida who will step in and try to save the day.
…key word– try.
The Hurricanes didn’t exactly have the best season under coach Al Golden last year. They lost to Louisville in their bowl game and as pointed out by College Football Talk, they still haven’t won an ACC Championship. Even though some say this is the year, I’m not on board that train.
The Canes do have running back Duke Johnson to help the run game and the defense is getting it together. What’s gotten in their way in the past? Inconsistency.
Maybe they’ll pull it together in 2014.
The Panthers won their bowl game last year against Bowling Green but this season, they will not have defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who now plays for the St. Louis Rams.
Luckily, they have some young talent who will step up and get some playing time. Tyler Boyd and James Conner will get the ball a lot this season.
The Panthers should consider themselves lucky because they don’t face tough in-conference opponents like Florida State or Clemson. They kick things off with Delaware, followed by Boston College.
The Hokies return almost 10 starts on offense this year and they introduce a new QB. With a loss to the UCLA in the Sun Bowl last year, they are looking to step things up a bit in 2014.
Michael Brewer is a transfer with some experience, looking to make a difference in the QB role. Now that Brewer is in, they need to figure out how to score more points than they did last year.
They kick off the season with William and Mary first, and then they hit the road for Ohio State.
The Yellow Jackets will enter a season of Deja Vu this year if they continue what they have been under coach Paul Johnson. They will need to pick up the tempo on offense if they want to see any sort of success.
With quarterback Vad Lee out of the picture, sophomore Justin Thomas steps in to take over.
The question marks sit on the defense since they allowed almost 23 points per game last season. Their schedule allows for some practice at the start as they face Wofford first, followed by Tulane.
The Cavaliers lost their biggest threat on offense in tight end Jake McGee, who transferred to Florida. So, they will need to utilize returning players this year.
Coach Mike London will most likely turn to running back Kevin Parks to take the offense on the journey to success.
Virginia will face UCLA, first.
Last year, the Blue Devils lost the Chick-fil-A bowl to Texas A&M but they still had a fantastic season. This year, they look to get into postseason play for a third straight year.
According to Kevin McQuire of College Football Talk, Duke was supposed to return 14 starters but with unforeseen injuries to Kelby Brown and Braxton Deaver, they are searching for answers.
Duke will avoid facing Florida State and Clemson this year, and the kick things off with Elon.