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2008 ACC Football Preview
by Matt Hoffman, Sports Editor
Head Coach: Frank Beamer
2007 Results: 11-2, 8-1 (ACC Champs)
Virginia Tech is hoping to keep the momentum from their ACC Chmpionship last season Losing every starting back on the offense except for the quarterbacks is going to make staying on top that much more difficult. Frank Beamer was toying with the idea of having a dual-quarterback system with junior Sean Glennon and sophomore Tyrod Taylor, but plans to red shirt Taylor. On the other side of the ball, with only four returning starters and all seven lost starters having double-digit starts last season, experience is lacking in the Hoakie defense.
Head Coach: Paul Johnson
2007 Results: 7-5, 4-4 (3rd in Coastal)
Paul Johnson looks to bring his run-oriented, spread offense to the flats this season in hopes of building a team capable of double-digit wins. Jonathan Dwyer looks to take over the B-back roll after the departure of Tashard Choice. Four starters return on the defensive side of the ball including seniors Darryl Richard and Vance Walker at the tackle position who look to continue last season’s success where Georgia Tech was ranked No. 1 in the nation in sacks. Many questions are still unanswered with 14 underclassmen starting in the first game.
Head Coach: Butch Davis
2007 Results: 4-8, 3-5 (4th in Coastal)
Last season’s record greatly misrepresents the impact Butch Davis’s return had on the ACC. Quarterback T.J. Yates looks to improve in his sophomore season after completing nearly sixty percent of his passes and picking up 14 touchdowns along the way. Along with Yates, 17 starters, only three of which are seniors, return to UNC. But the three losses on defense, which included a player picked in the first round of the draft and the two others which were second team All-ACC picks, will mean the Tar Heels are going to need to fill in big holes.
Head Coach: Randy Shannon
2007 Results: 5-7, 2-6 (5th in Coastal)
Seven players have been suspended for Miami’s season opener against Charleston Southern, including starting quarterback Robert Marve. Along with coming off of Miami’s first losing season in 10 years, this is a big season for the future of the Canes. They have 18 starters returning from last season, including nine from an offense that only averaged just over 30 percent in third down conversions. The defense also struggled on third downs last season with a failure rate of nearly eight-percentage points higher than Miami’s offense.
Head Coach: Al Groh
2007 Results: 9-3, 6-2 (2nd in Coastal)
The Cavaliers had a rough off-season. Three starters were ruled academically ineligible including last season’s starting quarterback Jameel Sewell and defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald. Besides the experience, UVA also lost Sewell’s rushing ability, which added a little over 21 yards per game. Peter Lalich will be taking over the job behind the center, starting with the majority of his college stats coming against Duke last season. Luckily for the Cavs, they will be returning three starting linebackers, all of who started every game last season.
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
2007 Results: 1-11, 0-8 (6th in Coastal)
New Head Coach David Cutliffe looks to bring some sort of spark to Duke football, which has not seen post season play since 1994. In their favor, the Blue Devils return an ACC high 19 starters, 10 of which are on the defensive side of the ball. Cutcliffe, well known for tutoring Payton Manning at Tennessee and his younger Brother Eli at Mississippi, looks to work with junior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who passed for over 2400 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. Senior wide receiver Eron Riley will look to follow up last season’s All-ACC selection.
Head Coach: Jeff Jagodzinski
2007 Results: 10-3, 6-3 (1st in Atlantic)
With the departure of Matt Ryan to the NFL, the Eagles are trying to fill a big hole at the quarterback position with senior Chris Crane. Twelve other starters left Boston College last year including running back Andre Callender who started all 14 games for the Eagles and led the ACC in yards from scrimmage. On the other side of the ball, six starters return to the defense, two of which were out for the 2007 season. Last season Jolonn Dunbar, DeJuan Tribble and Jamie Silva anchored the defense; BC will struggle to fill those positions.
Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
2007 Results: 7-5. 4-4 (4th in Atlantic)
Bobby Bowden begins another year leading the Seminoles, but this year is unlike any other for Bowden as his teams have had two consecutive seasons with six losses. In his first 28 years as head coach, Bowden never had a six-loss season. Penalties devastated FSU last season averaging an ACC worst 66.9 yards per game in penalties. Drew Weatherford returns for his forth year as QB. The defense will look toward its strong secondary throughout the season with three of the four secondary starters being named to the pre-season All-ACC team.
Head Coach: Tommy Bowden
2007 Results: 9-3, 5-3 (2nd in Atlantic)
Cullen Harper, who is on the pre-season list for the Johnny Unitas Award, returns at quarterback for the Tigers. Clemson also returns two top running backs with James Davis, who racked up over 1,000 yards rushing, and C. J. Spiller, who ran for over 750 yards and returned two kick-offs for touchdowns last season. The Tigers did, however, lose both starting offensive guards and both offensive tackles off a line that gave up 100 sacks last season. Ranked No. 9 in the AP Preseason Poll, Clemson comes in as the favorite to win the ACC.
Head Coach: Jim Grobe
2007 Results: 8-4, 5-3 (3rd in Atlantic)
With nine returning starters, the Deacons defense will take the lead in trying to get Wake back into the ACC Championship game. With the secondary combining for 77 totals starts between, including 26 by corner Alphonso Smith, who led the ACC last season with 8 interceptions, and the entire starting linebacker corps returning, the defensive line has the only question marks. If quarterback Riley Skinner can stay healthy, the offense should be strong enough to compliment the Deacon’s defense and lead Wake Forest to their second ACC title in the past three years.
Head Coach: Tom O’Brien
2007 Results: 5-7, 3-5 (6th in Atlantic)
While the Wolf Pack got off to a rocky start last season losing four of their first five games, they rebounded to put together a four game winning streak, only to lose their last two. The Wolf Pack struggled with injuries at the tail back position with Andre Brown and Toney Baker both going down with season ending injuries. Anthony Hill, a second team All-ACC tight end will also be returning to the Wolf Pack. It is more of rebuilding year on the defensive side of the ball with only four returning starters, and only two hitting double-digit starts. This season, Russell Wilson beat out Daniel Evans at quarterback.
Head Coach: Ralph Friedgen
2007 Results: 6-6, 3-5 (5th in Atlantic)
After winning the ACC in his first season as head coach and finishing second the following two seasons, Ralph Friedgen has struggled to keep the momentum going, with only one winning season in the past four years. Last season they were able to upset two top-ten in Rutgers and Boston College. The Terps have nine starters returning on the offense. Defensively, five starters return. Linebackers Dave Philistin and Moise Fokou are expected to anchor the corps, which was part of a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the ACC in third down conversions last season.