2013 Operation ACC Football – Atlantic Division Roundtable Part 1

acc_logoGood evening from all of us at All Sports Discussion.  We’re happy to have @SpencerHardison@saintwarrick, and @BloggerSoDear give their thoughts on the upcoming 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football season.  Please see their bios below:

@saintwarrick: Jeff is a Florida State graduate (c/o 2000) who spreads his absurdity via Twitter and airplane banners. He swears he once saw a ring that said FSU won the SEC.

@SpencerHardison:  Spencer Hardison is the editor of The Wolfpack Report. He is also the NC State writer for ACC Sports Nation

@BloggerSoDear:  Jake is a 2009 and 2010 alumnus of Wake Forest University and is currently a CPA in the NC Triad area.  He also manages the Wake Forest athletics blog, Blogger So Dear, Twitter Account.

Now that we’ve introduced you to our blogger panelists, let’s get started with some of their thoughts in our third annual ACC Atlantic Division preseason panel!!!

Which team will win the ACC Atlantic Division?

@saintwarrick: Much like FSU a year ago, the division is Clemson’s to lose this season. The key conference games (FSU and Georgia Tech) are at home, and thanks to N.C. State reloading and Virginia being … well, Virginia, the road ACC slate isn’t too imposing either. Highly unlikely the Tigers will lose two games in league play, unless injuries take their toll (Cole Stoudt anyone?). Clemson shed the inconsistent label a year ago, and if the defense can take another step forward, a date in Charlotte is assured. The only real question for Clemson — how will the lack of a proven running game affect Boyd and the offense.

@SpencerHardison: Clemson. The Tigers have, arguably, the best offensive attack in college football this season. It all starts with Tajh Boyd, who could become the first back-to-back ACC Player of the Year award winner since Charlie Ward was at Florida State in the early 90’s. Of course, Boyd has the most dangerous college football player in the nation, east of De’Anthony Thomas, in Sammy Watkins. Many worry about Watkins’ production, after having a down season a year ago, but there is no doubting his ability. Watkins, along with Charone Peak and Martavis Bryant, give Boyd plenty of options to torture opposing defensive coordinators week in and week out. Sure, Clemson has questions on offense, such as who will fill Andre Ellington’s shoes at running back, but Chad Morris has proven that his offense can adapt, and will beat you no matter what they have to do. The only real question for the Tigers is on defense. Clemson can score points in bunches, but can their defense get the necessary stops? With Brent Venables in his second season as defensive coordinator, and the return of six starters, including potential stars Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony, the Tigers should prove to have one of the more improved defenses in the country. Their success on defense hinges entirely on how well their secondary plays.

@BloggerSoDear:   This is clearly a two horse race between Clemson and FSU and I’m going to go with the Tigers by virtue of an experienced and talented WR/QB combo in Boyd and Watkins as well as the fact that the matchup with FSU is in Death Valley.  Clemson’s ACC road schedule shapes up nicely as well, so they have a chance to do some major damage this year.  We’ll see if Dabo can “pull a Clemson” with this squad’s high expectations.

Who is the best player in the ACC Atlantic Division?

@saintwarrick: Sammy Watkins is the most talented player, but until he completely returns to form after a subpar 2012, I’ll have to go with Tajh Boyd. The Tigers QB should take another step forward after a very good junior season, and a third year in Chad Morris’ offense won’t hurt either. On defense, I’ll go homer and pick Timmy Jernigan, as disruptive in the middle of the line as some FSU defensive tackles of yesteryear.

@SpencerHardison: Tajh Boyd. The reigning ACC Player of the Year will once again be the best player not only in the Atlantic Division, but the ACC as a whole. His production is second to none, and after completing over 67% of his passes a year ago, he’s only getting better. It’s highly possible that we see Boyd break Philip Rivers single season ACC record of 4,600 yards of total offense, and 95 career passing touchdowns, in 2013.

@BloggerSoDear:  Tajh Boyd is the obvious answer here but I’m going to go in a little different direction and say Stefon Diggs.  As a freshman playing with about 38 different QBs (and a LB posing as QB), Diggs was second in the ACC in all-purpose yards as a freshman.  If the Terps can get through the season with a consistent QB, Diggs is going to have a huge year.

Who is a dark horse team that could win the ACC Atlantic Division?

@saintwarrick: If someone not named FSU or Clemson wins the division, something will have gone dramatically wrong. If I had to pick someone to poke their head into the top two, it might be N.C. State, but playing Clemson early and then going to Tallahassee doesn’t cry success.

@SpencerHardison: Florida State. I’m not sure if the defending ACC champions qualify as a “dark horse,” but they are the only team in the Atlantic Division, other than Clemson, that has a shot at playing for the ACC championship in 2013. I would love nothing more than to say my Wolfpack have a dark horse chance, but short of Philip Rivers, Torry Holt, and Mario Williams being granted another year of eligibility, it’s just not happening. Same with the rest of the division. Wake Forest and Boston College simply do not have the type of athletes to compete, and Maryland has been the very definition of a dumpster fire over the past few years.

@BloggerSoDear:  Honestly, there’s not a dark horse.  Clemson and FSU should be really far ahead of the rest of the division this season.  In fact, if someone else wins the Atlantic I will fund Jeff Bzdelik’s contract extension.

Final thoughts on the ACC Atlantic Division?

@saintwarrick: Oct. 19, 2013, Avenue of Champions, Clemson, SC 29634; Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers. Please make sure all tray tables are in their upright and locked position. No open containers allowed inside the stadium. Check TV listings for time and channel.

@SpencerHardison: The Atlantic Division is Clemson’s to lose. Obviously, Florida State is another very good team, and could very well win the division if Clemson does Clemson things, but I firmly believe that Dabo Swinney has the Tigers primed to represent the ACC in a BCS Bowl in 2013. Swinney has built Clemson into one of the better programs in the country, and this is their year. After Clemson and Florida State, the rest of the Atlantic Division is nothing to write home about. NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Maryland all have a long way to go.

@BloggerSoDear:  After Clemson and FSU, the battle for the rest of the pack should be pretty interesting.  There’s not a lot of separation between Maryland, Wake, NC State, BC and Syracuse, so the battle to win 8 games and make a decent bowl will be a toss-up.

Which team will win the ACC?

@saintwarrick: Louisville. What? Really? Ok, well, it’s tough to go against the champion of the Atlantic, which likely will be Clemson. In the Coastal, Miami is the hot pick, but Al Golden never won a MAC division, and the Canes have never won an ACC division, so let’s see before we believe. I’m interested to see what Virginia Tech does after a ho-hum 2012. They can’t possibly have a second consecutive season like that can they? The Hokies are my ACCCG darkhorse.

@SpencerHardison: Clemson. As I have outlined throughout this Q&A, this is the Tiger’s year. Tajh Boyd electing to come back for his senior year, keeping Chad Morris as offensive coordinator, and having a defense in it’s second season under Brent Venables, will prove to be the perfect storm Clemson fans have been longing for. Sure, they’ve been good, with back-to-back 10 win seasons, but Tiger fans want ACC championships and BCS Bowls. There is no reason Clemson fans shouldn’t expect ACC championships, and Dabo Swinney’s 2013 team will give them exactly that.


We thank everyone for their participation in this panel!!

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