2014 ACC Conference Preview and Predictions
Last Year: 7-6
Reason: BC has an easy schedule to begin the season with UMASS, Pitt, and Maine, as 3 out of the 4 games in the first month of the season. BC does not have a locked starter at quarterback, due to Chase Rettig graduating, but that is the least of their problems. Andre Williams has left for the NFL, and left the team with relatively weak and inexperienced running back corps. With star WR Alex Amidon graduating, the team is very young. Myles Willis and the other replacements can be the factor that makes or breaks the teams record. Due to all of the losses on both Offense and Defense the team could either stay at the 7-6 record line or they could plummet even lower.
Last Year: 11-2
Clemson is going to switch from a quick run and chug offense that they had with Tajh Boyd, to a slow-paced offense with Cole Stoudt. Clemson plays a grudge-match against UGA in week 1 of the season, and this game could set the tone of their season. Clemson has 5 offensive starters and 6 defensive starters returning. Clemson lost star offensive playmakers like, Tajh Boyd, Roderick McDowell and Sammy Watkins this past offseason, and this will show as their biggest losses this season. Replacement offensive playmakers will need to show up for the team or their record will show it. However they have one of the best linebackers in the nation in Vic Beasley. Beasley recorded 13 sacks last season. Clemson has a very difficult first game against Georgia, if the Tigers do not leave victorious it is very possible that the team will end with a lackluster 2014 campaign.
Last Year: 10-4
In 2013 Duke was a huge surprise in the college football scene. The team went from constant losing seasons and being a laughingstock to the ACC, to a 10-4 record and visiting the ACC championship. Anthony Boone is an amazing option passer that is perfect for the Duke playbook. The reason that I believe that they will have less wins this coming season is because the linemen on either side of the ball may give up big plays, because of lack of experience on the line. Carlos Wray and Jamal Bruce are on the defensive line and total 47 tackles between them last season. They are a force but it has been shown that they tend to need a lot of rest during games and can not play all four quarters so some linemen need to step up.
Last Year: 14-0
FSU obviously the predicted ACC champion. FSU has 7 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters returning. FSU has not lost its major playmaker, Jameis Winston, the heisman trophy winner last year, but still lost talent to the draft like Kelvin Benjamin and LaMarcus Joyner. FSU is still going to be a powerhouse but they will not be undefeated, they play three potentially very difficult teams in Clemson, Miami and Louisville. It very well might be a season where the National Champion loses 2 games throughout the season, it just depends on how the season goes. FSU was lucky enough to be the last BCS Championship winner and not have to play the extra game that is the new playoff system, in order to qualify for the Championship.
Last Year: 7-6
Georgia Tech has a very interesting offensive system, in the 2013 campaign they averaged 299.3 yards per game and ranked 6th in CFB in overall rushing per game. The most compelling fact about Georgia Tech to me is that they do not have a tight end position , but recruit tight ends in order to have an quick and limber offensive line. The worst thing about the Georgia Tech offense is that it is very predictable, but its hard for defenses to stop it without the right amount of speed and football IQ. The bad news is that most of the teams they play this year are fast enough to stop the option. In my personal opinion I think Paul Johnson needs to incorporate more passing out of the option, and some trick plays that gives FBs or RBs the option to pass to the WR in the open field for a big play. If the team doesn’t have the ability to win many games might as well make the games fun for everyone involved.
The biggest hit to the Louisville football team is the loss of Teddy Bridgewater. It is obvious that leader and head of the team was Teddy Bridgwater, and that he got them out of jams that the defense but the team into. This year there will be no star QB with the ability to do everything on offense so the team will take a hit. The Cards have not released who the starting QB will be for the team. The most probable guess is Sophomore Will Gardener. The offense has 8 starters returning, thats a positive, but the defense has only 4 starters returning. Lorenzo Mauldin and Charles Gaines are the leaders of the defense. I don’t think that Louisville will qualify for a bowl game this year, they don’t have enough experienced players on the defensive side.
Last Year: 9-4
Stephen Morris, the quarterback graduated and went to the NFL, so thats one of their worries, but the main worries of the team is that they haven’t won a conference championship since 2003, but in the Big East. The great news is that Miami no longer has the NCAA looking over their shoulder for the violations they broke in the early 2000’s. The Miami defense is not strong enough to stop the forceful teams they play. In my opinion the only bright spot on the Miami team will be Duke Johnson the Junior running back, if he can stay healthy he can be a force that will lead them the team to a winning record.
Last Year: 7-6
North Carolina is pre-ranked #21 which makes one believe they will have a mediocre–>decent season. Marquise Williams will be a phenomenal replacement to Bryn Renner, he has already played in multiple games, he threw for 1700 yards and 15 TDs last season. North Carolina started the season last year 1-5 and worked to even it out at 7-6. The North Carolina defensive is going to improve drastically with the new players and the recruits.
NC State has been on a plunge since the 2012 season. North Carolina State is still currently in a period of transition from the old regime of Tom O’Brien’s to that of second year head coach Dave Doeren. Since the departure of O’Brien, the main problem for the Wolfpack has been a lack of depth after the old regime’s stars, such as QB Mike Glennon. In 2013 the defensive backfield was the only strong suit of the team. I believe it would take 2-3 seasons to be back at Tom O’Brien’s record.
With the loss of Tom Savage, the Pitt team may-be either remain at the same record to drop. Isaac Bennett (RB) is thought to be a breakout player in 2014, he went for 797 yards and 7 TDs in 2013 while splitting carries with James Connor. On the defensive side of the ball the big man Aaron Donald is gone, the defense is going to miss him, and the holes will be seen in the defense. The Panthers need to improve the defense or at least recruit new players to help in the future.
Last Year: 7-6
Syracuse could have a very fun offense this year, they have the ability to have a run first quick paced offense. With the loss of Jerome Smith, George Morris will shine and I predict more than 1000 yards out of him. Terrel Hunt has shown massive maturity and knowledge in the Syracuse system. The pass rush on the defense is decent but that is where the team shows holes and where it can be defeated. The Orangemen are not the fastest team in the ACC (Georgia Tech), but they are much more efficient so I can not wait to see that take affect this fall.
Last Year: 2-10
Virginia has all the pieces to leading their team to success, but Head Coach, Mike London, can not find a way to string the pieces together and create a highly efficient offensive and defensive teams. Virginia has multiple former 4-5 star recruits on the team to step in the spotlight this season. Running back (Taquan Mizzell), receiver (Darius Jennings, Dominique Terrell, Canaan Severin, Jamil Kamara), offensive line (Steven Moss), defensive line (Eli Harold, Mike Moore, Kwontie Moore, Andrew Brown), and, more than anywhere else, defensive back (Brandon Phelps, Tim Harris, Demetrious Nicholson, Kirk Garner, Quin Blanding) were all four or five star recruits out of highschool. The Virginia Cavaliers will definitely improve this year but it depends by how much.
Virginia Tech has many major questions that need answering. The most important question that needs to be answered is whether or not Mark Leal is the correct answer at QB for the Hokies this season, and if Frank Beamer is still able to make decisions for the team. The Hokie defensive line has many holes that need filling, Luther Maddy is the only affective defensive lineman that has not graduated or left for the NFL Draft. Last but definitely not least, VT needs to find a leader for the defense. The major leaders from the defense last year, Kyle Fuller and Antone Exum, left for the NFL Draft, which means that Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster needs to find a replacement and quick.
The lone bright spot on the Wake Forest team is the defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock, he made incredible play both in the backfield and in the running game despite his lack of size. The rest of the defense was very banged up, the secondary only had 2 starters that played every game. The Demon Deacons’ record over the last couple seasons have shown a slight and gradual decline in record, since 2006 the team has not won more than 9 games in a season. One of the bigger questions for the team is who will play QB, not many of the options are strong so the team will show a big weakness.
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