The Atlantic Coast Conference is recharged for another great season of fun and exciting football. I have taken the liberty of devising a team by team breakdown of what I think will be the best three teams in the conference and an interesting team to watch.
Top 3 Teams in the conference:
Remember last year? Well guess what? Not much has changed except for the few losses due to graduation. But with 24 returning starters from last year’s young roster and filling in some of the slots from their red-shirts and a top 10 recruiting class, means it should be another year for domination. Time will tell, however they do have a schedule with two SEC games, South Carolina and Auburn, but that is buoyed with games against Troy ( a team that won 4 games in the Sun Belt) and South Carolina State (who went 7-4 in the MEAC).
What to expect: Deshaun Watson will be a Heisman candidate, but he will unfortunately have to compete against fantastic RB’s this year in order to obtain the most desired trophy in the NCAAF. Further expect Clemson to be solid on both sides of the field.
What to look out for: The schedule? I have Clemson tied for first due to scheduling this year, although it is an ACC schedule there are some extreme challenges presented for Clemson.
Auburn: Clemson is playing Auburn. Yeah they went 7-6 last year but that was in the SEC. Also, they will have a solid defense and a beast for a RB.
Florida State: Last year they had FSU at home, now they have to enter Doak Campbell Stadium without the home field advantage, it may cause some serious issues.
- Tied for first, as it was too hard to pick a number one.
When we look back at last year’s season we think of a few major things. First, the vacuum of leadership on the offense without Jameis Winston. Second, the dropped catches by Rudolph and Wilson. And lastly, superb play by Jalen Ramsey. Well it was a severely disappointing year…and the team still finished 9th or 14th depending at which rankings you look at.
The Noles fan’s hope: Sean McGuire gets replaced by one of the two fantastic QBs lining up for the starting position:
Deondre Francois who was a redshirt last year and looked fantastic in the spring game and Malik Henry who looked awesome but his frame is too small for the spotlight. At just 175-185 lbs he needs to eat his Wheaties and hit the gym for a year to be prime-time.
Other weapons in the FSU arsenal include: Dalvin Cook (Remember him? The guy who had the best ground game last year but didn’t get the hype). He should be tearing up the field next year and he could be accompanied by the other RB phenom Jacques Patrick. This is a totally stacked RB core that will decimate weak D-lines.
More WR’s More Problems?!?!
Last year FSU fans were promised a competent WR core with Rudolph and Bobo, but the opposite transpired. This year they will still be on the team with an addition like Auden Tate. Will this equate to more of the same? Only time will tell however in the Spring Game, Tate was fantastic, and at 6-5 and 220 lbs the guy can reach for the stars.
Oh and if they rely more on Kermit Whitfield, maybe the offense will be more productive…
FSU Fans look out for these three dangerous games: Ole Miss @ home (Orlando), Clemson @ home, and UF @ home and don’t look past USF away.
Call me crazy, call me a risk taker or just plain stupid; but crazier things have happened.
I think with UM the best thing for them has already happened. They finally hired a real coach. Mark Richt is the best thing that has happened to the city of Miami in over a decade. With a new coaching philosophy, university support, and excellent recruiting UM can finally make inroads into the soft underbelly of the ACC. Miami has a top 25 recruiting class to compliment their returning roster (19 solid players) and new HC.
What to look out for: BRAD KAAYA. He will be one of the three best in-conference QB’s this year and will propel himself to legend status at U of M. I expect this year to be his best year. I suspect he will utilize Coley, Brady and Lewis effectively to put some major points on the board.
Will they fix the problem?
Last year, throughout the season they gave up more points than they scored (PF 361 – PA 366). That is an embarrassing stat, you can blame that on the offense. However the defense needs to tighten up as well. 366 PA was 2nd worst in the Coastal and 3rd worst in the ACC. This year will be different and a drastic improvement will be seen, not quite winning the ACC Championship but competing for one is a huge leap forward.
A Fun Team to Watch:
Interesting Aspect: The Frank Beamer era has ended, and with it a potentially new era has begun with Justin Fuente. If you don’t know of Justin Fuente you probably have been living under a rock for a few years. Last year, Justin Fuente was the coach at Memphis. Memphis was undefeated and ranked in the top 15 for the first eight games of the season. The team ended up 9-4 on the season and was a tough team to play, oh and they beat Ole Miss, remember that?!?
Downside is that last year’s recruiting was subpar coming in only the top 40’s of recruiting by team. Thankfully, the Beams recruiting the two years prior was pretty solid and those players will be hitting the field full steam this year. I am sure the transition from a legend coach will be a tough one but I think Justin Fuente is up to the challenge and in a few years the team will be stronger than ever.
Who do you think will dominate the ACC? Who do you think will be interesting team to follow this year?