2008 ACC Football Review

 

It should be really easy to project this fall’s college football results. All we have to do is:
- Assess what went right/wrong in 2008.
- Subtract contributions from “graduating” players.
- Add in contributions that we will see from new players.
- Subtract lost contributions due to injuries.

That should leave us with a clear picture of the upcoming season. [/sarcasm]

Hopefully, that little opening explains why I put so little faith in pre-season projections. Rather than focus on predictions, I prefer to look at these articles to gather information on teams…especially on the ACC teams that I don’t have time to study as closely as we look at State’s team.

For instance, when I find a preview pointing out that WF only has four returning starters on defense…then this preview provides some value. This one piece of information doesn’t necessarily mean that WF will struggle defensively next year…but it does point out that possibility. So when I watch a WF game this fall, one of the things that I will take a close look at is their defense.

Now let’s suppose that WF’s defense is as good as last year’s (or even nearly as good). Does that mean that our little piece of info was worthless? OF COURSE NOT. Long time readers will probably remember that I never throw information away. If WF is able to replace seven starters on defense and still maintain a high-level of play, then that result says a whole lot about Jim Grobe, his staff, and his recruiting.

So I’ll climb down off my soap box about the value of pre-season projections and try to provide some data that will hopefully prove useful as the football season kicks off in 2 ½ months.

    2008 IN REVIEW

You could say the ACC’s early [2008] season performance wasn’t anything to write home about, but that would be missing the point.

The ACC’s players didn’t even have to write home to inform friends and family members about their struggles. No college football fan on the East Coast could turn on a TV or radio this fall without hearing skeptics bemoan the conference’s lack of an elite team.

“My mom said whenever we had away games, they were bashing our conference on TV,” North Carolina free safety Deunta Williams said….

If the ACC can go 6-4 or better in its bowls, it would lend credence to the notion that this league’s extraordinary depth made up for its lack of national title contenders. But if the league goes 4-6 or worse, skeptics will point out that those 10 bowl bids simply rewarded the ACC’s mediocrity.

When this piece came out last Christmas, I started to do what I generally despise others doing….make some predictions of my own. My projection would have been much gloomier than this article. I saw no chance for the ACC to do well in the bowl games, where this author said that a good showing was at least a possibility. So let’s take a look at why I was so down on the ACC last year:

    DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS???

One of the most damning pieces of evidence against the ACC football turns out to be NC State’s record last year. To illustrate what I mean, here are the national defensive rankings for the ACC teams last year.

2008-acc-fb-defenses

As you can hopefully see, NC State ranked dead last in the ACC in three of four defensive categories last year (even worse than 2003). In 2003, State had one of the top offenses in the country to offset a bad defense. So how did State win in 2008 with such a bad defense?

    THE TALLEST MIDGET CONTEST

That question is rather easily answered. When you play in a conference with no offensive punch, then it doesn’t really take that much defense to be in a position to win games.

2008-acc-fb-offenses

Hopefully, everyone can appreciate the fact that when 10 of 12 offensives rank in the bottom half of Div 1 that this is not a good thing. What makes this even worse is that the pathetic offensive performance across the entire conference is not new. We saw the same thing last year.

For a little historical perspective, here is a comparison between 2003 and 2008.

03-08-offense-comparison

Anyone that is confused about whether the ACC had terrible offenses or outstanding defenses must not have watched much ACC FB last year. This confused person must have especially skipped the bowl games; where the ACC had a losing record for the second straight year. The bottom line is that the ACC won’t be significant on a national level until it produces some well-rounded teams with something resembling a coherent, productive offense.

From time to time, someone tries to make a big deal over turnover margin. While no one denies that giving the ball away is “bad” and getting it handed to you is “good”, this single stat doesn’t necessarily tell you anything. Need proof? WF was 5th in the nation (top in the ACC) in turnover margin. But their scoring average is virtually the same as their total offense…which says that their offense didn’t convert those “extra possessions” into points. Turnovers matter….but points for/against matter more.

The only semi-bright spot for ACC offenses is the relative youth across the conference at the QB and RB position. As State fans should remember, you can not count on dramatic improvements as QB’s gain experience….but there is always that hope. Here are the leaders in total offense and the top rushers from the ACC for 2008:

2008-top-qb-rb

OPINIONS VARY

Not everyone on the internets will agree with my assessment of 2008 ACC FB. Tomahawk Nation draws a different conclusion and does a really nice job of explaining their view (even if I don’t agree with their method or conclusions.) However, this article is still worth while reading because they do an absolutely fabulous job of previewing the NCSU/SC game that will open the season for both teams this fall.

RETURNING STARTERS

We all love to pick on Heather at ESPN, but her post-spring wrap-ups on each ACC team included a brief line on returning starters. (Let’s hope her math is better than some of the other things we’ve read from her.) I’ve highlighted the instances where over half of the offensive or defensive squad will have new starters.

2009-returning-starters

Unfortunately, this table doesn’t tell us all that we would like to know. If you are replacing a graduating starter with a RS-JR that has played a significant amount of time on the two-deep, then you may not be as concerned. But then again, no one on the two-deep is going to make up for losing an NFL first-rounder (cue concerns about WF’s defense again.)

So while this table isn’t perfect, it does provide basis for an interesting observation. Those fans expecting their team to “move up” in the conference based solely on the number of returning starters may end up disappointed because nearly every team has a significant number of starters returning.

This would appear to be a good time to dissect one of the lines frequently used by sports fans…._______ will be better this year. Sometimes they are talking about a particular player and sometimes about a specific unit. It is important to note that “improvement” in anything other than the W/L record is more likely hot air than anything real.

With the whole ACC bunched together in nearly every category AND the fact that nearly everyone that matters returns a significant number of starters on both sides of the ball…”improvement” may not be enough. The weak areas on a given team need to improve MORE than those on other teams if your favorite team is going to take a step forward.

SO NOW WHAT?

We’ve already had several FB entries (and a poll) that should have let everyone vent a little of the pre-season enthusiasm that always hits this time of year (even when there is little to justify the optimism). I am also going to do an more in-depth review of State’s 2008 season as a springboard to some NC State specific talk. So I would like to focus the comments to this article on observations about the other teams in the ACC…or links to any INTERESTING preseason reports that you might have run across.

A lot of State fans will know more about some ACC teams than others. If we pool our insights into the other ACC teams, then we should be able to build up a collection of things to look for in the new season. So I’ll start with a few thoughts about several teams:

Virginia Tech

With 17 returning starters, the reigning ACC champion will most likely be the consensus pre-season pick for a repeat championship…and why not? Until proven otherwise, I am going to assume that Bud Foster’s defense will be more than enough to handle the anemic offenses in the ACC. Defense alone might be enough (and might have to be enough) to get VT back in the ACC championship game.

The offense is the obvious weak link in the VT armor…with Tyrod Taylor single-handedly keeping both teams in the ball game…7 TDs vs 10 INT while also being the 9th leading rusher in the league. Some of the passing problems last year might be attributed to losing their four best WRs from 2007 (3 to graduation and one to a pre-season injury). We’ll have to see if Taylor and the WRs can improve their 111th ranked passing attack from 2008.

VT returns one of the best RBs in the ACC in sophomore Darren Evans. VT fans (and those that actually pay attention) understand that a key portion of Beamer Ball includes a mostly conservative offense (along with strong defense and special teams). The VT offense isn’t quite as boring as Big-10 football…but that’s probably because VT’s offensive line usually ranges from poor to mediocre/average. That story may change this year because VT has one of the most experienced returning offensive lines in the country.

Some preseason projections are running far ahead of anything that I hear from my co-workers (VT alums). If VT can develop something resembling a passing attack, then they could be very dangerous team. If not, then we might get to see how their experienced offensive line does against a steady diet of eight-man fronts. VT opens the season against Alabama…which might easily be VT’s toughest game this year.

State will travel to B’burg this year for the first time since Mario Williams and company planted Byron Randall 10 times in a defensive struggle in 2004. As I stood with my son to watch the final VT FG attempt that year, I was reminded of standing with my wife in 1986 to watch a VT FG attempt at the end of the Peach Bowl. It doesn’t seem possible that one game was played before the current undergraduates were in college….or that the other game was played before they were born.

VT’s other cross-divisional games are against BC and UMD. We’ll have to wait and see how things shake out before determining how hard VT’s schedule is compared to the other Coastal teams….but it seems unlikely right now that VT will end up with the toughest schedule in the Coastal.

Virginia

I don’t know any big Wahoo boosters, but I have to believe that Al Groh’s seat is really hot. And I know that his seat is really hot among fans in Central Virginia over Vic Hall. For those that don’t know, Vic Hall was the QB at a small high school in Gretna VA (about halfway between Danville and Lynchburg). Hall led Gretna to back-to-back state championships and was the first QB in VA to gain 4000 yards of total offense in a single season.

At 5 ft 9 inches with 4.4 speed, Hall was quickly relegated to corner back after red-shirting his first year. Now this all seems rather sensible for everyone involved until Hall starts at QB for the last game of the year….against the Hoo’s biggest rival, VT. Hall rushed for over 100 yards, with two TDs…but only attempted one pass. For a fan base that already had concerns about Groh’s coaching ability, this just added fuel to the fire. It’s very possible that UVA’s best QB wasn’t even playing offense for the last two/three years.

Three QBs played during UVA’s spring game….Jamie Sewell (2007 starter) returning from a one-year suspension; Marc Verica (2008 starter); and Vic Hall. There’s an old cliché that when you have two QBs, you really have none. So what do you have when you have 3 “starting” QBs?

Most reports that I’ve read have Hall as the starter with a new offensive coordinator that was brought in to run a spread offense. Last week, I saw a TV commercial for UVA season tickets that focused on Hall and “how it felt good to have the ball back in my hands on offense”. Doesn’t that suggest that Groh has made his QB decision?

Those that like to watch train wrecks should keep an eye on C’ville. It might turn ugly this year.

Georgia Tech

State will be playing in Atlanta in 2010, so I plan on watching GT play as much as possible this year. It’s hard to label Paul Johnson’s first season at GT as anything other than an unqualified success. But here are some longer term questions I have about PJ and GT:

- We’ve all seen that a dominating defensive line can shut down the WF rushing attack. Will the same thing hold true for PJ’s offense?

- With Jon Tenuta at DC, GT was always known for strong, attacking defenses. Will PJ be able to maintain those defenses?

- Will PJ expand his offense beyond the “run-only” version we saw in 2008? (4th nationally in rushing; 116th in passing)

GT looks to have a tough schedule this year with Clemson, WF, and FSU as their cross-divisional games. I would guess that most people will pick the Coastal as coming down to either GT or VT.

UNC

As much as I enjoyed last year’s game, I’m not convinced that anything that we saw that day will carry over to this year’s game. I won’t complain if we see another blow-out this year, but I’m not counting on it.

I found an interesting analysis of UNC’s 2008 season here:

What kind of team manages to go 8-5 while being outgained by 64 yards per game? For some context on that number, UNC played 10 teams last year that finished with winning records. All but one of them, Maryland, averaged more yards per game than it allowed, and the Terps’ deficit (14 yards per game) was nowhere near the Tar Heels’. The only two teams in the ACC that missed bowl games, Duke and Virginia, both stacked up better than UNC in terms of yards gained vs. yards allowed. Minus-64 yards per game is the mark of a bad team.

The 2008 UNC team overcame their offensive woes by having a great turnover ratio. The linked article also shows that UNC lost every game where they had a negative turnover ratio. We’ll have to see if UNC can improve their offense at the same time that they have to replace two quality WRs.

I saw one report that projected a much-improved UNC defense this year. Since that report didn’t provide any justification for that conclusion, I really can’t say If it was based on something real or if they were caught up in the pine trees like Heather at ESPN.

Wake Forest

I only saw one WF game last year….their win against FSU. So it’s obvious that the team that I watched that day didn’t make many (any more?) appearances last year. So does anyone have any idea what happened last year after the FSU game? You can’t blame the entire season on losing Sam Swank, can you?

If any one follows WF closely, then I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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That’s all I have folks….time for you to fill in the blanks that I’ve left across the ACC. Save your NCSU specific comments for my next entry.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

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29 Responses to 2008 ACC Football Review

  1. howlie 06/16/2009 at 9:07 PM #

    Wonderful overview VAwolf. It is a bit much to take in at one reading–like a holiday feast with enough leftovers to snack on for the weekend…

    ‘Just wondering, now that you’ve done this immense and intricate summary–what’s YOUR PREDICTION on how things will unfold for the pack this year?

    Thanks…

  2. blpack 06/16/2009 at 9:33 PM #

    Oh my goodness! 79 days, it can’t get here fast enough. Great comments on the teams so far. I like GT’s team as their running game is hard to prepare for. Barring VT, no one else in that division is good, imho. Waiting to see what happens with FSU and the NCAA. I’d like to say it is our divison to lose, but I’ve seen us play too many times and it is impossible to know what to expect. We may see Duke and UMd in the ACCT. Ok, maybe not. : )

  3. Daily Update 06/16/2009 at 9:58 PM #

    Wake lost a 1st team all-ACC WR off of an anemic offense. DJ Boldin caught 81 passes for 848 yards and 3 TDs. Wake’s next four best returning WRs only caught 86 passes combined. They also lose another SR. who caught 22 passes.

    Wake loses a total of 7 guys who were either drafted or signed FA contracts in the NFL – Boldin, Swank, A. Curry, S. Arnoux, A. Smith, C. Vaughn, and one other guy IIRC (looked this up a week or so ago).

    The lose their top 5 tacklers and that doesn’t include their all-american CB Alphonso Smith. Curry, A. Smith, S. Arnoux and C. Vaughn were all drafted in the 1st 4 rounds of the NFL draft.

    Wake had 18 interceptions last year. 15 of those interceptions graduated and three players with a single interception return to this year’s defense. It does look like their DL should again be good, but they will have a lot of inexperience everywhere else except at CB with Brandon Ghee.

    Wake has been winning because of big plays on defense, a strong kicker, and an offense that doesn’t make mistakes that also can make big plays. Last year, the offense didn’t make big plays and Swank got hurt. The offense doesn’t look to be any more dangerous this year. The big loss for Wake is obviously on D in the form of guys who have been making HUGE defensive plays.

    You are going to have to be a great recruiter to have replace four NFL draft picks on Wake’s D considering Grobe has generally only been signing 2-3 players. Not impossible, but I just don’t see any way their defense will be good enough to carry them like it did the last 3 years.

  4. Daily Update 06/16/2009 at 10:01 PM #

    Tough off-season for BC:

    -BC fired Coach Jags and hired Frank Spanziani

    -LB Mike McLaughlin, BC’s 2nd leading tackler, tore his Achilles tendon and his status for the fall is in doubt.

    McLaughlin had 89 tackles last year, four sacks, one interception, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He was instrumental in BC’s climb to No. 5 in the nation in total defense and No. 17 in the nation in scoring defense.

    McLaughlin’s return for the fall remains in question.

    -A few weeks ago, it was announced that BC linebacker Mark Herzlich, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. No decision as far as returning to BC has been made as obviously there are more important things to consider right now. Statefansnation obviously wishes Mark and his family the best for his treatment and his recovery.

    “Playing again is a goal,” said Herzlich, who would have been a consensus preseason All-America selection and a top prospect for the 2010 NFL draft. “But from what the doctors say, it isn’t very likely. Once they do the surgery to remove the tumor, it will be pretty damaging to my leg.

    –In the last two weeks, it was announced that redshirt sophmore Dominique Davis will be transferring. Davis was the projected starting quarterback and the only quarterback on BC’s roster with game experience.

    This leaves BC with redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle, JUCO transfer Codi Boek (sophmore) who played fullback last year, and true freshman Michael Marscovetra to battle for the starting position. They just added a Chris Weinke type last week as well.

    BC’s success last year was mostly due to its conference leading defense and some gutsy play calling on offense and special teams that generated points with trick plays. I don’t think there is any doubt that BC’s offense will struggle next season. On defense, BC will have lost its two starting defensive tackles (a 1st and a 2nd round NFL draft pick), two backups on the defensive line, potentially all three starting linebackers (McLaughlin and/or Herzlich could still return with McLaughling being the most likely) and a starting safety.

  5. Sw0rdf1sh 06/16/2009 at 10:11 PM #

    It really all depends on which side of the fence you are leaning on when you discuss the ACC this fall.

    Some people talk big on us, but meanwhile…once again….UNC is getting the love due to gushing on recruiting (*cough* turnover) and conference puffering in the coastal in the media. I wish sometimes I wasn’t an ESPN insider, because once again, even past the errors that the diehard UNC fans are pointing out….it pushes UNC into a “Clemson like” false hope that they are going to roxxors~!

    I am very anxious about this years season as it has potential to go either way. VT has been in the upper ranks for so long…winning games that matter and losing to teams like ECU along the way that damage their end result.

    If the Pack plays it right….they could have something special going into Blacksburg. But of course, this will come to the shock of the media.

  6. choppack1 06/16/2009 at 10:23 PM #

    I don’t think you compare Wake and GaTech. I see Wake as being more like VaTech. PJ wants to build a quick striking offense – even though they’ll run it 80% of the time. I think he’s probably the only coach in the conference who goes into games thinking he’s going to put 40 points on you.

    I’d like to watch them as much as possible to see how they do when the conference has more and more film of them.

    Just going w/ the %s – you have to go w/ VaTech. They have everything but a consistent QB – and Beamer’s system doesn’t require a great one to be successful. If Taylor (or Glennon) becomes a good one, VaTech could be a factor nationally – if not, they’ll probably still win their division.

    Regarding UNC – I think they lose more than both the Techs in Tate and Nicks. Davis is doing a good job securing talent, but statistically, you haven’t seen evidence that the talent has turned the corner. OTOH, the record would certainly indicate that they did. Still, w/ games at home vs. UVa and Duke – you’ve probably got to pencil them in for at least 4 conference wins.

    The “U” – I’m not sold on the Randy Shannon experiment. They have good talent, but still lack discipline and seem to run high school offenses and Defenses. At this point, there is zero evidence that he’s turning the Canes back into a threat to win the conference, much less a national power.

    UVa – Watch out for them. Groh’s teams have always been as impressive looking (on the sidelines) as any that I see at the Carter. They should stink but I could see them rumbling and stumbling to 4-4.

    Duke – do we even need to comment?

    BC – I didn’t know they had that many starters returning. However, I think their biggest loss will be Logan. They’ve had some bad breaks in the offseason – the wheels should stat to come off.

    Wake – If you haven’t noticed the returns have started diminishing. Last year, w/ a great defense, some good wideouts and Skinner all returning – they couldn’t match the results of the last 2 years. Regarding their game vs. FSU last year – remember the Noles were playing w/out several starters that game due to suspension. Grobe’s teams will still be dangerous – and if teams don’t care of the football vs. them they’ll probably lose. However, the rest of the conference is getting less and less cooperative when playing the Deacs.

    FSU – Much like Miami – there is zero evidence that the problems that have plagued them the last 3 years are going away. They are a shell of their former selves and it’s almost sad what’s happened to them over the years.

    UMd – Who knows? They lost a lot didn’t they? Heck, they’ll probably go 4-4 or 5-3 and go to a decent bowl game. They’ll beat some team they shouldn’t and lay an egg against a mediocre team.

    Clemson – No clue. They’ve got some talent coming back. Will they put it all together?

  7. Dr. BadgerPack 06/16/2009 at 11:44 PM #

    Gee… I couldn’t get past “tallest midget”… :)

    Busting your chops there, VaWolf.

    Excellent work. I REALLY wish I had time on my hands to do that, since I still owe a baseball analysis here.

    I may have missed it, but how is “starter” defined? Recall, South Carolina had 12 defensive starters return last year due to injuries, etc. Are starters based on majority, or some other criterion?

    You’ll have to ask Heather about the definition of a “starter”. I just complied her numbers from her post-spring wrap-up of each team. The main point that I wanted to get across is that nearly everyone returns alot of experienced players this fall
    VaWolf82

  8. Cardiff Giant 06/17/2009 at 7:57 AM #

    What a fantastic, fantastic column, VAWolf. Well done.

    As for South Carolina, their fans are in full-blown delusion mode on their Scout site. It’s worth a look just for the chuckles. They really think they are going to blow the Wolfpack off the field.

  9. StateFans 06/17/2009 at 8:15 AM #

    This entry is FANTASTIC! We NEVER do this – but, I just wanted to encourage the community to fan out and link to this entry from different places on the web (both NC State and other ACC schools sites). This is so good that it would be great to bring some new readers to the site. I am down at the beach and getting ready to take a flight for a business trip so won’t be around. Thanks

  10. whitefang 06/17/2009 at 8:15 AM #

    uSC fans are always in delusional mode. That being said I hope we don’t have another slow start as I will be spending that following weekend down in eastern SC in a dove field, and I want them to be nice and quiet.
    Not in anyway a Clempson fan, but I had the great pleasure of being down there quail hunting last year when Spurrier got his Tiger spanking. The delusion wore off and reality set in that day.

    Great work VAW!

  11. VaWolf82 06/17/2009 at 8:39 AM #

    At FSU, this will be year 3 of the heir-apparent’s (Jimbo Fisher) reign on the offense. Two years ago, the RB (Antoine Smith) could out-lift his entire offensive line…..and that just can’t be good. Last year rushing attack was much improved, with the QB (Ponder) also running the ball well.

    Along with Fisher, Bowden brought in the OL coach from WVU three years ago. We’ll have to watch FSU’s offense this year to see if the improvement continues with Ponder returning while Antoine Smith has graduated.

    My FSU contact (former sports reporter from FL panhandle) thinks that the replacement RBs will do fine. That may be true, but the backup RBs didn’t play that much last year.

  12. Alpha Wolf 06/17/2009 at 9:16 AM #

    As always, if you want to predict a team, look at their front seven on either side of the ball. If it is solid, they will be solid. If it is inexperienced or weak, that side of the ball will struggle. Say a team has a great D front, but a less-than-average offensive line. They might end being a mediocre team at best. If both sides are bad, well, it is going to be a disappointing year.

    That’s why I take predictions of 10 or more wins for NC State with a grain of salt until I see how the O line does against SoCar. If they can move the Gamecock D front backwards enough to get the RB’s holes to run through, State wins and then they can fine tune in the two laughers that follow.

    If they allow SoCar’s D to penetrate and they only need to have LBs providing run support, it’s going to be a long night with a lot of questions afterward.

    Normally, I do not take a great deal from spring games, but that is one area that I thought that there may be major problems. Let’s hope they are cured by 9/3.

  13. Daily Update 06/17/2009 at 10:17 AM #

    Alphawolf: Without a guy like Russell Wilson as QB, then I would agree with you. But even with a mediocre offensive line, we should be OK with Wilson’s ability to create big plays out of sure losses with both his feet and arm.

    The OL did not look good this Spring…I totally agree there. Also, our OL played very well last season in the winning streak at the end of the year and was a key to our success. But, even if we struggle up front, then there is hope because of RW.

    Also, hopefully the OL’s struggles means that we have a very good DL…

  14. VaWolf82 06/17/2009 at 10:38 AM #

    Here’s a link that I wish that I had found earlier….2009 ACC FB Prospectus from the ACC office.

    http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/acc/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/09prospectus.pdf

    Does anyone have a link to the master ACC schedule done with the helmets?

  15. Alpha Wolf 06/17/2009 at 10:39 AM #

    DU, and if when Wilson gets hurt? That’s what will happen if Wilson is the only reliable offensive weapon.

    Yes, he’s a game changer, but as we saw in last year’s Pizza Bowl, we also need to have a solid running game to balance the attack. And that takes a solid line.

  16. Daily Update 06/17/2009 at 11:05 AM #

    AW: Or at least a good backup QB.

    There isn’t a team in the league (except for teams without a clear cut #1 option) that won’t struggle if their starting QB goes down.

    Based on our depth chart, there is no reason we should not at least be middle of the road at least on the OL.

  17. whitefang 06/17/2009 at 12:54 PM #

    Its obvious I guess, but you are right on on the OL. IMO opinion that is where our season rests. I too was a little nervous with the reports on the OL from the spring game. Still the OL in today’s game is the ultimate combination of teamwork, technique, timing, strength and brains and I hope they just did not have it all put together yet. I think they will, but I wish the SC game was the 2nd or 3rd game of the season. If we are shaky up front early, the dogs will be loose on RW and that won’t be good.

  18. packalum44 06/17/2009 at 1:32 PM #

    Very good write up, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I won’t pretend to know much about the other 11 schools in the ACC. What I do believe with a strong conviction, is that in a conference with as much parity as the ACC, most games will be decided by the QB and head coach. I call this a simplifying assumption.

    Both are important. Need I remind anyone of Ohio State during P. River era – 2 and goal on 5 yard line…QB sneak. Twice. 4th and goal…handoff. Best QB in ACC history. Think Belicheck would allow these calls with Tom Brady under center? I digress. My thoughts on the Atlantic Division according to my simplified assumption.

    Clemson:
    Will likely start Kyle Parker, redshirt freshman, dual-threat, dual-sport, baseball star with good athleticism and decent speed. Sound familiar? He might be good. However there has only been one All ACC freshman QB in ACC history. Unlikely to repeat in the next 20 years, much less next year. Plus they have Dabo. Enough said. The won’t win the Atlantic.

    Florida State:
    Will start Ponder with EJ Manuel backing him up. For those who don’t know, EJ Manuel is a dual threat QB from VA who was ranked higher than Mike Glennon out of high school. They both played in the same All Star game where Glennon outperformed everyone, including Manuel and Kyle Parker. However, EJ is talented and Tyrod Taylor fast with a better arm. Ponder is solid and improved throughout 2008. With Jimbo calling the shots and perennially ubiquitous talent, FL State will be the favorite to win the Atlantic and rightfully so.

    Wake Forest:
    Skinner is pretty good and Grobe is super. They will contend but unlikely they win Atlantic. Sure they lost defensive starters but surely Grobe has some well-coached redshirted 21 and 22 year olds to step in and contribute. However well-coached, they still have a talent deficiency. Plus, Skinner was over-rated and un-impressive last season. They won’t win the Atlantic.

    Maryland:
    Chris Turner is the QB with the Ralph Friedgen still huffing and puffing on the sidelines. Average QB who reminds me of Chris Crane. Average coach. Simple call – they won’t win.

    Boston College:
    Enough has been said about this team. No QB and 1st year coach.

    NC State:
    Great coach and great QB. Ding ding ding. According to my simplifying assumption NC State should be the favorite to win the Atlantic. I just can’t do it though. Not enough depth. One season removed from having around 50 out of 85 healthy scholarship players. I give a slight edge to FL State but truly think it is between us and them.

  19. VaWolf82 06/17/2009 at 2:51 PM #
  20. Alpha Wolf 06/17/2009 at 3:06 PM #

    “Need I remind anyone of Ohio State during P. River era – 2 and goal on 5 yard line…QB sneak. Twice. 4th and goal…handoff. Best QB in ACC history.”

    That’s because the great TA McClendon was “too tired” to go back into the game and there weren’t any other options. I doubt another State player has made me that mad because of his play (or lack of in this case) in my entire life of watching sports. You DO NOT get too tired to go into the game and beat Ohio State at the Shoe. You just don’t!

    I can fault Amato for a lot of things, but that’s not one of them. I put that 100% on TA.

  21. phillypacker 06/17/2009 at 4:34 PM #

    I know we already have a lovefest going with TOB, but I really enjoyed his comments during the 6/1 live chat

    http://www.gopack.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=9200&ATCLID=3741450

    He’s on the fans about being in their seats 20 minutes before game time and 5 minutes before the 3rd quarter. How great is that? His discussion about academics and character as well as athletics really bode well for the future. He not only enjoys his work, he lives and breathes it.

  22. ryebread 06/17/2009 at 9:03 PM #

    Personally, I think the three most important elements to building a successful football team are as follows:
    1) OL
    2) QB
    3) DL

    While DL is important, ultimately the best defense is a fresh defense. If the offense can generate long, time consuming drives, then even a mediocre DL can be effective. The key to those long drives though are the OL (need holes for the running game and need QB protection) and the QB (needs to make smart decisions and manage the game well).

    That’s what frustrated me to no end about Amato’s recruiting. I’m not trying to rehash a well documented trend, but consistently failing to recruit an OL is ultimately what did him in (even more so than the QBs that didn’t pan out). I knew when our plan was to convert DL that we were going to really struggle to have any kind of consistency on offense.

    We’ll go this season as the OL goes. If we can protect Wilson and open some holes, then the sky is the limit. If we’re shaky, then it will be on Wilson’s shoulders to make things happen. While he’s a very special player, exposing him puts him at considerable risk. Having already had one concussion, he’s another hard hit away from potentially being done with football forever.

  23. highstick 06/17/2009 at 10:01 PM #

    Alpha, TA had some issues in Chapel Hill when we got screwed by the referee that night also. Too gutless to play and spent most of the night injured. I saw something that night that I never forgave him for.

  24. VaWolf82 06/17/2009 at 11:01 PM #

    Here’s a list of questions for everyone in the ACC:

    http://collegefootball.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=948818

  25. statered 06/18/2009 at 2:15 PM #

    I really don’t think our offensive line played that good in the winning streak last year – certainly they were marginally better than earlier in the year – rather it was Wilson’s improved play that made them look much better. An elusive QB can make an oline look much better than they actually are.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2008 ACC Football Review | College Football Rankings - 06/17/2009

    hUfrFL I am so grateful for your blog.Much thanks again.

  2. Looking Back At Football Before Going Forward at 850 & 620 THE BLOG - 06/17/2009

    [...] StateFansNation looked back at last season’s results to draw possible conclusions for 2009. One thing is clear — the offense was terrible last year and it doesn’t appear there is light at the end tunnel. Oh sure, the ACC spun they best they could by saying the league had stout defensive numbers. As StateFansNation correctly points out, the ACC won’t be a national player until the offenses get productive. [...]

  3. Around the Interwebs | CollegeGameBalls: College Football at its Finest - 06/17/2009

    [...] you are looking at is pure embarrassment and not a coordinated beer-trip. And speaking of the ACC here’s the most comprehensive review of the 2008 season we’ve seen [...]

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