by Dave Miller
June 24, 02013
With spring practice in the books and preseason camp battles not too far away, let's take a look at some power rankings for each FBS conference.
Today, we'll take a look at the ACC after looking at the SEC last Monday, the Big Ten on Tuesday, the Pac-12 on Wednesday, the Big 12 on Thursday and the Big East/American Athletic Conference on Friday.
1. Florida State: Playmakers abound on offense, and the defense should still be strong despite losing coordinator Mark Stoops to Kentucky and some top talent to the next level. But will the 'Noles trip up along the way against an inferior opponent as has been the case in recent years? Quarterback Jameis Winston had a very strong spring, but too much should not be put on his plate. Depth at running back behind a good offensive line should be the offense's calling card.
US PRESSWIRETajh Boyd and the Tigers will once again have a prolific offense.
2. Clemson: Dual-threat quarterback Tajh Boyd is the envy of many NFL scouts, and receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to bounce back from an up-and-down 2012. But all eyes will be on Brent Venables as he tries to get continued improvement from the Tigers defense. The front seven should be better, but will the secondary be too much of a weak spot?
3. North Carolina: The Tar Heels turned some heads at times last fall in Larry Fedora's first season in Chapel Hill. UNC showed that it could score points, and the Heels should do so again this fall behind quarterback Bryn Renner, receiver Quinshad Davis and tailbacks Romar Morris and A.J. Blue. The question is whether UNC will be strong enough along both lines. But this is a dangerous squad.
4. Virginia Tech: There's no doubt that the offense was a major disappointment in the spring game, and the performance did nothing to squash concerns about Logan Thomas and Co. But I still believe that Scot Loeffler will be able to get Thomas back to his 2011 form. However, he needs help from his line and surrounding playmakers. Defensively, this is a group that is ready to resemble the typical Bud Foster unit that we did not see last fall.
5. Miami (FL): Veteran quarterback Stephen Morris could be primed for a huge year, yet he seems to go under the radar when it comes to 2014 NFL Draft discussion. Running back/returner Duke Johnson is a star playmaker as well. The major concern is the defense, though. A ton of starters return, but it was a unit that gave up a lot of big plays in 2012.
6. Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson has to choose between Vad Lee and Justin Thomas at quarterback, but whoever is the starter will have help in a deep backfield. Meanwhile, the offense should actually get help from its defense this year. New coordinator Ted Roof made quite the impression this spring.
7. Syracuse: The Orange have to replace quarterback Ryan Nassib, who in many ways was the heart and soul of the team in 2012. But Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen has reportedly been very impressive since his arrival on campus. However, will he have enough playmakers around him with receivers Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales gone? Meanwhile, linebackers Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis lead a defense that should be solid for first-year head coach Scott Shafer.
8. Maryland: Quarterback C.J. Brown should be 100 percent after tearing his ACL last year, and Stefon Diggs and Deon Long will provide quality options at receiver. Brandon Ross had a very good spring and should give the Terps a solid option at running back, but can the defense play well enough to help get the Terps to the postseason?
9. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons have a lot of veteran talent, and the hope is that they can put their injury-riddled 2012 season behind them. There are nice pieces on offense with Michael Campanaro and Orville Reynolds at receiver, but will the offensive line hold up? Tanner Price must be better protected this fall. Defensively, the line is deep and the linebackers should be the strength of the unit.
US PRESSWIREWill Rushel Shell land once again at Pitt?
10. Pitt: The Panthers debut in the ACC this fall after coming over from the Big East. News broke Sunday that Rushel Shell does not want to attend UCLA after all and may want to stay at Pitt. He would be the Panthers' leading returning rusher for Paul Chryst, and he has the skill set to carry an offense at times. Meanwhile, Tom Savage and Chad Voytik continue to battle for the starting job under center.
11. Duke: Fans of the Blue Devils should be excited about quarterback Anthony Boone, who takes over the offense. He is primed to excel under David Cutcliffe. The offense has plenty of talent, but can Duke's defense improve enough to take the program to another postseason game?
12. NC State: First-year head coach Dave Doeren and his staff will win sooner rather than later in Raleigh. But it may take some time before the up-tempo offense catches on no matter whether Pete Thomas or Manny Stocker wins the starting quarterback job. Twelve starters need to be replaced from 2012, so plenty of position battles will take place in preseason camp.
13. Virginia: The Cavaliers are down to David Watford and Greyson Lambert battling for the starting quarterback job, and the running game remains a concern. This is a program that feels a bit unstable after it appeared that Mike London had it trending upward in 2011.
14. Boston College: Steve Addazio has taken over in Chestnut Hill, and he has a lot of work to do to get the Eagles out of the ACC cellar. Quarterback Chase Rettig does return, and former Eagles wide receiver coach Ryan Day is now the offensive coordinator. But the run game is a major concern.