2011 College Football Preview: ACC Atlantic

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2011 College Football Preview: ACC Atlantic

 

ACC Atlantic

1. Florida State Seminoles (-300)

This Noles team is fully stacked and even though they are without their QB from last year (Ponder), there is a lot of buzz around EJ Manuel,  who is ready to take over the helm and help improve the 10-4 record from last year. Manuel played in 10 games last year and passed for 861 yards and can be much more of a duel threat for the Noles this year. The run game is up for grabs right now between Senior Ty Jones, Chris Thompson and a true Freshman Devonta Freeman, who is a little small in size but has the ability to steal the job away from the other 2 guys. A couple good wideouts return for the Noles in Bert Reed and Willie Haulsted but with Manuel at QB you can look for a lot of different sets with a mix of wideouts out their. The Noles are going to have to be deep at the WR position because they are going to spread out a lot of teams with the duel threat at QB. The offensive line has some great depth as well as returning 3 out of the 5 starters from last year. Overall there offense is in great shape and even with the loss of Ponder, some Noles fans are going as far as saying Manuel is an upgrade.

On the defensive side of the ball they are looking even better. 8 out of the 11 starters on defense last year are returning and this is going to be the strong side of the ball yet again for FSU fans. 3 starters on the DL are coming back, 1 linebacker and the secondary is absolutely loaded with all 4 starters coming back. It is going to be hard for teams to do much on this defense this year and that is why they are going to come out of the Atlantic in 2011.

2. Maryland Terrapins (+300)

The Terps are coming back in 2011 with who I think is the best QB in the ACC, Danny O’Brien. O’Brien is coming off a season where he threw just 8 picks but added 22 TD’s. The running back position looks to be a nice duo with Megget and Adams who are both forming to be 2 really good college backs. The issue for O’Brien is going to be that there is no starting wide receivers coming back this year so it is going to be important for them to get the timing down and work extra in camp to make sure everything is good for opening day. The O-line is absolutely stacked as 4 out of the 5 starters are coming back with multiple people capable of filling in that LT position. The most interesting thing about Maryland this year is going to be about the new coach. Edsell left UConn where he liked to pound the football and clock management and work on play action. I think that O’Brien is your best player on this offense and he needs to have the ball a lot more in his hands. That is going to be the one thing that will make or break Maryland this year.

The defensive side of the ball looks alright for the Terps. Both DT’s are returning but they will need to find a couple replacements at DE and it looks like they have nice depth ready to fill in. The linebackers are going to be Maryland’s strong suit this year as they are very deep there and very talented. Both MLB are coming back and Kenny Tate is coming off a 100 tackle season and Demetrius Hartsfield was close with 88 tackles. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of these guys get to 100 tackles this year. The secondary is going to be their weak spot. Only 2 starters coming back, both being CB and they both only had a combined 1 interception last year. The Terps will be solid on the run and short passes but the secondary could be the weak point in this defense.

3. Boston College Eagles (+700)

The Eagles are coming off a very tough offensive season last year. Their QB, Chase Rettig played in 9 games as a Freshman last year and threw for 1,238 yards with a 6 TD’s and 9 INT’s. BC is hoping that another year will help this kid grow and understand the offense and read defenses a lot better and I hope they are right. If Rettig can figure out how to not make mistakes the Eagles have the best RB in the ACC this year, Montel Harris. Harris ran for 1,242  last year and 8 scores and like I said, if the QB can not make mistakes and just keep the defense honest with some good play action, this offense and Harris’ numbers will improve in 2011. No returners at WR which isn’t a big deal I don’t think because they are going to be in 2 TE sets a lot and running the football. The wideouts will have to help out sparingly and just not make stupid mistakes. 3 returning OL is good news for Harris and it is the middle of the line. Look for BC to pound in between the guards a lot this year and keep it in the teeth of the defense with some success.

The Eagles had the #13 defense in the nation last year but there are holes everywhere. Only 1 DL is returning, only 2 LB, however one is Luke Kuelchy, who is probably the best defensive player in the nation, and only 1 returner in the secondary. In order for this defense to be anywhere close to where it was last year, Coach Spaz is going to have to put a lot of work in and is going to need a damn near miracle. I think he does an alright job and this defense will be the strong part of the team yet again and they will compete in the ACC this year.

4. Clemson Tigers (+400)

The Tigers are starting over in a bunch of positions, but probably the most important will be the quarterback. Tahj Boyd is going to be taking over at QB for the Tigers and it looks like he has some potential to be a great quarterback for the Tigers for years to come. However, Boyd was not very impressive in the fall last year so I am not sold on this kid yet and I think he is very important to the Tigers success this year. The health of their very good running back, Andre Ellington is going to be another huge factor and how Clemson does this year. Ellington was very impressive last year but was limited to just 9 games and if he doesn’t stay healthy there is no chance that this offense will succeed. The WR and OL are solid as they are both bringing back a handful of starters but it will be interesting to see what new OC, Chad Morris’ new uptempo and spread offense will bring for the Tigers. A lot of question marks on the offensive side of the ball this year.

The defense has some serious holes to fill as well as they return just 3 out of their front 7 from last year. Obviously having to replace stud DE Bowers who is now going to tear up the NFL won’t happen but they need someone to step in and make plays. They only have 2 players in the secondary returning as well which leaves more than half of their defense being “rookies”. It is going to be interesting to see who steps up and makes some plays for the Tigers this year to help them win football games.

5. North Carolina State Wolfpack (+900)

The departure of QB Russell Wilson gives the Wolfpack literally no chance to do anything in the ACC this year. Mike Glennon will have to step up at QB for NC State and there is going to be a ton of pressure on him that no matter what he does, Wilson could have done more. Glennon is in a lose-lose situation this year and it is going to show I think. The leading rusher for the Pack is Greene but he is injured and probably won’t even be ready for the season. Not 1 starter from WR last year is coming back and this offensive line returns 3 starters which is the only good news coming from the O side of the ball. I think you can chalk this up as a rebuilding year for the Pack’s offense and probably the whole season I think.

The defense at least brings some starters back. They got 1 DL and 2 LB in their front 7 coming back so they still have a lot of work to do there. Cole and Manning are coming back at LB and they combined for 161 tackles last year so that is a good core to have up front. The best news comes from the secondary where they got all 4 returning there and will be the strong suit of this team for sure, but overall this team is in trouble and will have a bad year I think.

6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+3500)

Tanner Price was just flat awful last year and I know he was a Freshman but I don’t think he can turn it around this year. The offense finished 108th in the nation and Price threw for just 7 TD’s but 8 INT’s, not good. Josh Harris will be the RB for the Deacons this year and he does have an upside but with a QB as bad as Price I think that teams just start throwing 8 in the box and making Price beat you. Only 1 returning WR which will be even more of a struggle for Price but thankfully he has 4 returning OL. I think that if Price can just not make mistakes and can use the play action and let Harris do his thing then they might be okay, but I see their offense finishing very bad again this year.

It’s back to the 3-4 defense after last years trial didn’t work out too well for Wake. They couldn’t stop the run at all last year, giving up 192.5 yards per game. They do have 7 total starters returning on defense which is a good sign, but can changing back to the 3-4 really help this team that much? I guess time will tell, but I think Wake struggles for another year or 2.

  • NIce work Luke! Who do you think will win the ACC?