ACC spring preview: Atlantic Division
Plenty of schools are set to start their spring practice this coming Monday, with the latest being April 3. Spring games usually take place in the latter end of April, but there will be some played in March.
That said, I will be releasing pre-spring power rankings for every major conference, while giving a short explanation for my decision.
Here is a spring preview of the Atlantic Coastal Conference – Atlantic Division.
1. Clemson Tigers (11-2, 7-1 ACC in 2012)
Despite losing explosive WR DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins and RB Andre Ellington to the NFL, the Clemson offense will continue to light up the scoreboard with the return of Heisman hopeful QB Tajh Boyd. The Tigers are hoping some key additions to the defense can help them reach the next level.
2. Florida State Seminoles (12-2, 7-1)
Florida State is coming off one of its most successful campaigns in a long time. To repeat or improve on 12 wins and a BCS bowl will be very difficult, especially with the departure of E.J. Manuel – one of the best QBs in school history – and nearly the entire defensive front seven. The Noles will still have a lot of talent, however, and the running game should be one the most potent in the country.
3. North Carolina State Wolf Pack (7-6, 4-4)
It was a very disappointing output in many different areas for the Wolf Pack in 2012, which sums up why Tom O’Brien was let go. New coach Dave Doeren brings a different vibe to Raleigh and should make them contenders, but it will take some time for the players to learn his system.
4. Maryland Terrapins (4-8, 2-6)
This year could be Randy Edsall’s final chance to show athletic director Kevin Anderson that he’s capable of leading Maryland to success – in fact, he may have to think of it as an application to coach the team when it moves to the Big Ten in 2014. I don’t think we’ve seen the real Terps since Edsall has taken over – we must remember that this is the same team that had to start a freshman linebacker at QB the final few weeks because of a horrendous plague of injuries.
5. Syracuse Orange (8-5, 5-2 Big East)
Ch-ch-ch-changes! Syracuse is facing changes in conference, head coach and quarterback this upcoming season. There is a lot to look for with this team in spring. Position battles now could determine how things play out for the Orange in their first season as a member of the ACC.
6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-7, 3-5)
Mid-season suspensions killed any hopes of a bowl game for Wake Forest last year, although it didn’t have the firepower to hang with much of anyone. Jim Grobe’s seat is on fire to start 2013.
7. Boston College Eagles (2-10, 1-7)
Hiring Steve Addazio this offseason was a big step in the right direction for Boston College. But there are going to be many steps needed to close this mile-long gap between the Eagles and postseason contention – or a winning record, even. One huge focus this spring needs to be with the offensive line and the running game, which finished 119th overall last year (90.5 yards per game).