Sunday, July 30, 2017

Atlantic Coast Conference 2017 Projections and Players to Watch

The ACC comes into 2017 with the reigning national champ, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Does that make the ACC the best team in FBS football? I am not even certain why that is even a conversation, being that there is never a best of all time, or a current best, but a collection of amazing programs and talent across the nation. What I will say is that the conference is on a run of success, despite, like the SEC, having an entire division that has basically fallen irrelevant in the national conversation. HOw will both sides stack up towards the inevitable clash in the ACC title game this season? Here are my takes:

1. Florida State: The Noles are fully loaded, and a season opener could be a preview of a college football playoff game, win or lose. Look for this team to reestablish themselves on the ACC throne.

2. Louisville: With Lamar Jackson back, the Cardinals seem to be the only team primed to challenge FSU in the conference race. It's really too bad that they are in the same division.

3. Clemson: You cannot lose what the Tigers lost on both sides of the football and win this league again, and chasing another title seems ludicrous. Still, Clemson will refill their losses and will be chasing another league title soon.

4. NC State: If the Wolfpack were in the Coastal Division, I'd peg them as the favorite. This division is brutal, and NC State will be looking to keep pace with Ryan Finley back at QB.

5. Boston College: Steve Addazio has to win this season, or he is gone. The Eagles can play defense with anyone, but the offense anchors them down once again.

6. Syracuse: The Orange are the opposite of BC in the Atlantic. The offense can run with anyone, but can the defense get off the ground?

7. Wake Forest: Another team that relies on defense will be needing to replace several starters, and has a new coordinator. Last season felt like a fluke.

1. Georgia Tech: Division is wide open, but it feels like this could be a solid year for the Yellow Jackets, who would still be a 5th place team in the Atlantic.

2. Miami: The Canes are in need of a QB, but so is just about everyone else in the Coastal in 2017. Mark Richt has a few to choose from on the roster.

3. Virginia Tech: If everyone comes back, the Hokies challenge Florida State for an ACC title. They don't and they don't.

4. North Carolina: Even at 4th in this division, a bowl is no lock. Brandon Harris, formerly of LSU, is the so-called savior at QB. I have a bad feeling about this.

5. Pittsburgh: A rash of suspensions and dismissals have me concerned now. Thought the defense would be strong enough to carry the day, but there are holes everywhere.

6. Duke: Daniel Jones learned a ton as a freshman at QB, but he is still just a sophomore, and Thomas Sirk transferred to East Carolina. It may be another struggle.

7. Virginia: It's year two of the Mendenhall project, and we are nowhere near rebuilt. The Cavaliers, once again, will have to concentrate most weeks to keep their heads above water.

ALL-ACC Pre-Season Team

QB-Lamar Jackson, Louisville
QB-DeAndre Francois, Florida State
RB-Mark Walton, Miami
RB-Jon Hillman, Boston College
RB-Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
WR-Jester Weah, Pittsburgh
WR-Ahmonn Richards, Miami
WR-Cam Phillips, Virginia Tech
WR-Stephen Louis, NC State
TE-Cam Serigne, Wake Forest
TE-Tommy Sweeney, Boston College
OL-Nick Linder, Miami
OL-Tyrone Crowder, Clemson
OL-Mitch Hyatt, Clemson
OL-Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh
OL-Geron Christian, Louisville
OL-Alec Eberle, Florida State
OL-Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
OL-Bentley Spain, North Carolina
OL-Sean Pollard, Clemson
OL-Cam Dillard, North Carolina
PK-Blanton Creque, Louisville

DL-Harold Landry, Boston College
DL-Bradley Chubb, NC State
DL-Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
DL-Christian Wilkins, Clemson
DL-Andrew Brown, Virginia
DL-Clelin Farrell, Clemson
DL-Darian Roseboro, NC State
DL-Joe Jackson, Miami
LB-Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
LB-Airius Moore, NC State
LB-Kendell Joseph, Clemson
LB-Ben Humphreys, Duke
LB-Micah Kaiser, Virginia
LB-Andre Smith, North Carolina
LB-Cole Holcomb, North Carolina
LB-Andrew Motuapuaka, Virginia Tech
DB-Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
DB-Jessie Bates, Wake Forest
DB-Jaire Alexander, Louiville
DB-Lance Austin, Georgia Tech
DB-Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech
DB-Avonte Maddox, Pittsburgh
DB-Quin Blanding, Virginia
DB-Donnie Miles, North Carolina
P-Mason King, Louiville

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