Blog Entry

Picking the ACC

Posted on: June 26, 2009 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:00 am

It has been easy to take shots at the ACC since expansion.

The whole Florida State/Miami axis-of-excellence thing hasn't panned out. But there have been some stories worth reading. Wake Forest competes favorably representing one of the smallest schools in I-A. Everybody is waiting for North Carolina to break out under Butch Davis. Georgia Tech's option game has baffled opponents, at least in Paul Johnson's first season.

Virginia Tech has remained the only constant. The Hokies have won consecutive ACC titles and never seems to drop far off the grid. Frank Beamer could be anywhere. He has chosen to remain in Blacksburg and built an unlikely powerhouse.

The Hokies are prohibitive favorites to make it three in a row.


1. North Carolina State -- Invest in Tom O'Brien. The Wolfpack's coach is as solid commodity as there is on Wall Street these days. Actually better, considering the state of Wall Street. For 10 years, he overachieved at Boston College. Now with more resources he is ready to deliver in Raleigh. When in doubt, I always go with a solid returning quarterback. Russell Wilson might have the most upside of any in the league. He enters the season with 249 passes without an interception, 22 short of Drew Weatherford's ACC record. During an injury-filled season Wilson still threw 17 touchdowns and only one interception. O'Brien will hit it big in his third season coming in with a four-game winning streak to end '08.

UPDATE: Linebacker Nate Irving was injured in a car accident on Sunday (6/28). Irving, when healthy, was one of the best linebackers I saw last season. If he isn't able to go this season, the certainly impacts the Pack's chances.

2. Florida State -- The bandwagon is not full. I'm intrigued why the Seminoles are most people's choice in this division. Bobby Bowden is back to having an established quarterback (Christian Ponder) for the first time in eight seasons. The offensive line is reflecting line coach Rick Trickett's toughness (left tackle Andrew Datko was a freshman All-American). But there aren't the dynamic athletes we're used to seeing. And there always seems to be some drama around the program. People have talked more about the loss of 14 victories in the offseason more than Ponder having some reliable receivers. Try to envision a nine-win season with road trips to BYU, North Carolina, Clemson, Wake and Florida. I can't. FSU could win the division and probably eight games but it will take a step back from '08 when it won nine. 

3. Wake Forest -- The Deacons have won 11, 9 and 8 games the last three seasons. It would be logical to assume the decline is going to continue. Most of the returning players are back on offense, which struggled. The defense loses eight starters. Four players were taken in the first four rounds of the draft. That's amazing but also troubling for this season. Wake will have to get those new defensive starters ready to contribute right away for it to be a factor in the division.
4. Clemson
-- The Dabo Swinney era goes into its first full season. A 4-2 finish by the former receivers coach was enough to raise hopes after the end of Tommy Bowden's 9 1/2-year reign. There is always the fear that Clemson is still Clemson. Since 1999, it has never won less than six or more than nine. The Tigers have had the talent to win the ACC each of the last three seasons but they always seem to disappoint. Kevin Steele was a huge get as defensive coordinator coming from Alabama. Tailback C.J. spillers is less than 1,000 yards away from becoming the ACC's career leader in all-purpose yards. Swinney will be reminded at every turn that the last ACC title was in 1991. 

5. Maryland -- We can see the end of the Ralph Friedgen era in College Park. Offensive coordinator James Franklin is the coach in waiting. The Terps should take a major dip after going 8-5. Twelve starters have departed including receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Friedgen loves Torrey Smith and redshirt freshman Kevin Dorsey as emerging talents at receiver. Franklin has done a good job shaping senior quarterback Chris Turner. 

6. Boston College -- Gene DeFilippo is my hero. Look, I liked Jeff Jagodzinski but I admire BC's AD for calling the former coach's bluff when Jags interviewed with the Jets. I admire DeFilippo more for replacing Jags with the guy who most deserved it. Frank Spaziani was d-coordinator for 10 years and had earned his shot. There is enough left over from the nation's No. 5 five defense to compete (linebacker Mark Herzlich was ACC defensive player of the year). You wonder, though, if the Eagles will be able to throw when they need to. Junior Codi Boek arrived as a quarterback, then was converted to fullback. He is now is back at quarterback. He is competing with freshman Justin Tuggle.


1. Virginia Tech -- Beamer doesn't get enough credit. The Hokies have become the dominant program in a league that was formed showcase Miami and Florida State. In the last five seasons he has won 52 games and three ACC titles, including the last two in a row. Virginia Tech should go to a third consecutive BCS bowl. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor gets the job to himself after injuries and Sean Glennon blocked his way the past two seasons. Taylor's game resembles a certain legend whose name rhymes with "quick." Sophomore tailback Darren Evans rushed for most of his 1,265 yards in the second half of the season.  Coordinator Bud Foster might have his best defense ever. It is quick and mean. If the Hokies get past Alabama in the opener, they could be in the national championship hunt.

2. Georgia Tech -- You've got to love Paul Johnson's, um, confidence. When folks questioned whether his triple option could work in the big time he went out and won nine while beating Georgia in his first season with the Jackets. Things should be better this season Heisman candidate Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC's leading rusher, is complemented nicely by Roddy Jones in the same backfield. The defense finished in the top 25 nationally and held five teams to 20 points or less. The secondary is loaded with the addition of corner Jerrard Tarrant who was suspended for all of '08 fighting a rape accusation. The charges were dropped. The toughest stretch will be three weeks in October when the Jackets play at Mississippi State, at Florida State and Virginia Tech at home.

3. North Carolina -- Davis continues to recruit. The Tar Heels should continue to win. In Davis' second year the Heels jumped from four to eight wins. Often-injured quarterback T.J. Yates lost his two most reliable targets (Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate) to the NFL. Fortunately, the defense is loaded. If the Heels can win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 26 don't be surprised if they start 6-0.
4. Miami -- I don't care who is responsible. In fact, I don't want to know. The schedule, though, is a joke. Poor Randy Shannon is looking at 0-4 with the toughest first four games in the country -- at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Shannon lost a quarterback (Robert Mavre) and had to change both coordinators. Mark Whipple came from the NFL to take over the offense. First-year d-coordinator John Lovett came from North Carolina. The defense is stout, but let's be honest. This is Miami and if they don't win big with flair, it will be a disappointment.  The progress of quarterback Jacory Harris will be on one of the major stories in the conference.

5. Virginia -- It has been a weird circle of life in Charlottesville. Al Groh's son Mike became offensive coordinator in 2006 after Ron Prince left to become Kansas State's head coach. Prince is back (as special teams coach) after being fired at K-State. Mike Groh was, um, let go after producing the sixth-worst offense in Division I-A last season. Gregg Brandon has installed a spread offense for quarterback Jameel Sewell. They should be thankful to work together. Brandon landed at Virginia after being fired at Bowling Green. Sewell missed '08 because he was academically ineligible.

6. Duke -- There won't be a more upbeat last-place team in the country. David Cutcliffe squeezed out four victories in his first season as coach. That ties for the most in Krzyzewskiville since 1994. Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis gets one last season to work under the guy who tutored Peyton and Eli. Last season's defense held three opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since 1976. Only four starters return including potential All-ACC defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase.



Since: Jul 11, 2009
Posted on: July 11, 2009 8:15 am

Dodd's Info....

Shouldn't Dodd know that Herzlich likely isn't coming back this can you miss a story like that?  And no mention of the Davis transfer? 

Good Luck Mark!

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 9:30 pm

Picking the ACC

Oh, I looked at your profile and you are a Tarhole fan, what a rich tradition you have. UNC is at least a year away, and if Clemson wets the bed then judging from the head to head with them Unc must be the mattress. 52-7

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 9:26 pm

Picking the ACC

On that last post, what are your predictions? It takes no talent to criticize someone else's opinion. If you do have one, make it based on facts or some reasonable personnel avaliable or potential.

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2009 8:41 pm

Picking the ACC

NCSU is stockpiling talent??? News to me. They have Russell Wilson. They also have two or three good players on offense and three or four on defense, and this is a stockpile? Granted, it is better than previous years but get real.

BC is no constant... They had their glory when Matt Ryan played. So if 4 years is enough to be a constant, then you're right. The ACC title game has come down to who has lost the least. The Atlantic division is weak and BC has squeaked into the Championship game. That is all. If FSU ever gets going, State "stockpiles" some more, and Clemson doesn't wet the bed every year, all of a sudden, BC is a bottom dweller.

As far as GT goes, I think that they have little defense and teams with no defenses don't win games ESPECIALLY while running an option attack.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2009 3:39 pm

Picking the ACC

Virginia Tech OOC a joke? You kidding? Alabama, Nebraska, ECU, and Marshall is not even close to a joke. Look at UVa then you can see what a joke OOC schedule is. He meant it was a joke playing that many good teams early and being in a HUGE hole possibly. Not that its a cubcake start.

Since: Dec 29, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 10:09 am

Picking the ACC

You don't know what you are saying.  Seriously.  Watch the Orange Bowl again and tell me he isn't the reason they win.  I'm surprised this is coming from a WVU fan.  You had White.  You should know the value of an athletic QB.  Except here, the difference is that Taylor will be starting his first year without looking over his shoulder.  His passing skills are great.  The problem last year is that the coaching didn't want him passing, and our recievers were flat out aweful.  We had to play raw freshman as one kid was kicked off the team, and another ruptured his achilles.  The ONLY reason VT won that many games last year was because of Taylor.  Look at his record as a starter.  You really don't know football and can't really tell when you see talent.  Being from WVU though, you are probably just instigating.  You know the truth.

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2009 9:37 am

Picking the ACC - do a little research

it's tough to take these picks seriously when you make the following comment:


"There is enough left over from the nation's No. 5 five defense to compete (linebacker Mark Herzlich was ACC defensive player of the year)."


It does not take much digging to find out that Herzlich is currently battling cancer and will most certainly not be playing for BC this year. That being said, I think BC can surprise some people this year. In addition to being inspired and motivated by Herzlich's battle, they also have some talent coming back, particularly at the RB position. They won the division last year without much in the way of QB play, so don't be surprised if they make things interesting again this year.

Since: Apr 9, 2009
Posted on: July 7, 2009 5:29 am

Picking the ACC

You're an idiot. Maybe they do get beat and maybe they do get beat bad. But they're showing balls. They got the balls to schedule some horses on the front end. Let's just see what happens. One year more mature, they'll put a scare in someone.

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 2:04 am

Picking the ACC

O'Brien has been redshirting and stockpiling young talent, ala Jim Grobe (though not to that extent).  This is the first year that NC State will have depth...   at QB (Glennon looking great!) and on both the D line and O line.  LB too - the loss of Irving hurts, but there is a wealth of young talent at LB.  Only depth problem is in the defensive secondary.

Lot's of solid talent TOB type linemen on the OL side, but they are young.  If the OL develops, NC State WILL win the Atlantic, if not the ACC outright.  If they do not, they finish 5-3 or 6-2

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: July 7, 2009 2:03 am

Picking the ACC

Ssshhh...  your ignorance is showing...   there's a little more involved than simply looking at last years' record.

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