Covering the ACC as a whole, Pre-Season RoundTable Discussion

Ah we’ve reached the end of our round table discussion. Thanks to @HokieGuru, for the help organizing this and to all the participants who did a great job providing their insight. I hope everyone enjoyed the series! You can find me at @TalkinACCSports.

Previous ACC Pre-season RoundTables

Coastal RoundTable Pt 1 | Coastal RoundTable Pt 2 | Atlantic RoundTable Pt 1 | Atlantic RoundTable Pt 2

In this last round we ask some overall questions about the ACC. Below is who we have featured in this round.

@ACCBlogger – He is runs own ACC Blog site, titled ACCBlogger.com. He also writes for the OrangeandWhite.com, a Clemson Tiger Site.

@ACCSECBlog – Is the administrator of the site ACCSEC.blogspot.com and you can also find him at ChuckOliver.net.

@HokieAnnual – All things Virginia Tech Football can be at http://www.chriscolston.com where you will find the Hokie Football Annual for anything you need to know about Hokie Football!

Let’s get right to it!

Who will be the surprise team in the ACC this year?

@ACCBlogger: In a conference that looks determined to be devoid of surprise with two clear division-winner candidates – I’m going to stick with UNC, even through the Butch Davis firing. In fact, the interim situation would make it even more of a surprise.They have a stacked receiver corps, strong lineman on both sides and I like Bryn Renner at QB. UNC should be right around where they’ve been the last few seasons with 8ish wins, but could do even better.

@ACCSECBlog: I think the surprise team will be Maryland.  Last year they were not picked very high yet had a pretty good season spoiling NC State’s chance at the ACCCG.  They return their QB which will be big in a coaching transition.  While Randy Edsall isn’t the sexiest he is a pretty solid coach who can with lesser talent than his competition.

@HokieAnnual: Does Miami count? The Hurricanes have that great street cred, but they were just 7-6 last year. Numerous four and five star athletes have taken their talents to South Beach; can new coach Al Golden get the most out of them? 
I can’t say North Carolina, not with a new head coach in place one month before the season. Or Georgia Tech, which loses star QB Joshua Nesbitt. Certainly not Duke or Wake. Virginia is still a year away, at least. And everybody knows Florida State will be good. Boston College and Maryland could surprise, perhaps, but I’m not smart enough to predict that.

Who will be the most disappointing team in the ACC this year?

@ACCBlogger: Maryland. I have them going 6-6, which would be a fall from grace after winning nine games under Ralph Friedgen last season. But it’s natural downturn with the amount of key receivers the Terps are losing – in addition to the amount of turnover on the offensive line and defensively.

@ACCSECBlog:  I think Miami may be disappointing in that I don’t think they finish 2nd in the Coastal (doesn’t it seem they get picked there every year?).  The Hurricanes still have issues at QB  (as in who is going to be and can they not throw interceptions?) and they are running out of players from the base Randy Shannon signed a few years ago.   In his first season Al Golden must play Ohio State and Kansas State (who won’t be a pushover by any means) in addition to USF out of conference. Miami has to go to FSU and to Virginia Tech.

@HokieAnnual: Clemson is the Atlantic Division version of the Canes; tons of talent but lousy (6-7 last year) results. Can new QB Tajh Boyd save coach Dabo Swinney’s job?

 Who is the one ACC player you’d build a team around?

@ACCBlogger: If I had to build around one player for a season, give me a fully healthy BC RB Montel Harris. He’s a workhorse that I know I could give the ball to 20+ carries a game and get the yards I need.

@ACCSECBlog: I would build around Boston College LB Luke Kuechly.  Dude is a tackling machine.  Kuechly is at times a one man show in Chesnut Hill who teams are looking to double nearly every play.  No one else really jumps out which shows that the league is lacking elite individual talents it has had in years past.

@HokieAnnual: Well, that’s tough. This isn’t the NFL, where you can actually build a team around a player. In college, you’re lucky if you get two great years out of a kid before he turns pro. But I tell you what: I certainly like what Virginia Tech has in 6-6, 254-pound redshirt sophomore Logan Thomas. He’s inexperienced enough at QB to leave a reasonable chance he’ll stay three more years. But wildly talented enough to make those three years exciting.

Who will win the ACC and why?

@ACCBlogger: Florida State – They have strengths across the board, and a schedule conducive to a fairly easy run to Charlotte. Beating Virginia Tech is the trick though. The Hokies had an answer for everything the ‘Noles threw at them last season, but FSU will be improved on both sides of the ball, especially with a more seasoned E.J. Manuel at QB.

@ACCSECBlog: I think Virginia Tech will win the ACC because they have shown they can win before without a dynamite QB (see Sean Glennon). The Hokies have a pretty manageable schedule from the Atlantic getting Clemson and BC at home and traveling to Wake Forest.  The toughest division game is at Georgia Tech but Beamer and company get a bye before hand. I think FSU is still a year away but they could be playing for a BCS Championship next year.

@HokieAnnual: I just think you have to go with Florida State for these reasons: More pure blue-chip talent than Virginia Tech; a more experienced quarterback (E.J. Manuel) than Tech; motivation to gain revenge for the thumping the Hokies gave them in last year’s ACC title game; and simply the odds. I know it SEEMS like Virginia Tech wins the ACC every year, but some other team is due to catch a break. If those two teams meet again–and I’d be shocked if they don’t–it should be a titanic showdown. This is what I really hope: That both teams are rated so high, even the loser gains a BCS bowl berth.

 Final Thoughts on the ACC?

@ACCBlogger: Virginia Tech and Florida State need to be what the pundits (and I) think they’ll be. If both can ride 11-win seasons into Charlotte, the ACC could be a two-bid BCS bowl league for the first time – a major step-up for the conference.

Out of conference, like the Commish Swofford addressed at the ACC Football Kickoff, the conference can’t be embarrassed again. No James Madisons. In a strange climate where every BCS team seems to be rumored to be jumping ship to another conference, the ACC has  to state its case for being a strong (or at least decent) football conference in a season where they have several home matchups with prestigious BCS teams.

The new QBs will be fun to watch – especially FSU’s E.J. Manuel and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas. There’s just not many precedents for championship expectations on teams with new QBs like what’s on Manuel and Thomas. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and BC’s Chase Rettig need to grow up quick in new offenses. NC State’s Mike Glennon doesn’t really catch a break in year one because he’ll be measured all season against former Wolfpack and current Wisconsin Badgers QB Russell Wilson. And Virginia, there’s a long way to go before we even know who will QB the ‘Hoos.

This ACC season should have storylines galore – can’t wait for early September to get here.

@ACCSECBlog: Like I mentioned above, the league seems like to be lacking elite talents that have stocked the NFL Draft in recent years (the league consistently ranks second in draft picks).  I think FSU is getting closer to the BCS Championship level it had back in the 90s but we need more than just a good bowl win against a four loss SEC team to feel comfortable about this.  Now if Miami can significantly raise its level of play then I think you could see the ACC finally get two teams into the BCS.

@HokieAnnual: The national media has pummeled the ACC’s reputation and it’s time to take a stand. The ACC has got to start winning the big out of conference games. Sept. 17 will be a big day. FSU hosts Oklahoma, Miami hosts Ohio State, Clemson hosts Auburn, Maryland hosts West Virginia and Georgia Tech hosts Kansas. FSU, Miami and Clemson gotta win those games. Nov. 26 is another big date, when FSU is at Florida, Clemson is at South Carolina, Georgia Tech hosts Georgia and Wake Forest hosts Vanderbilt. If they can come out of those two weekends with some big wins, it will go a long way to restoring respect in the ACC.


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