2013 College Football Preview

ACC 2013 college football preview

 

mnavarro@miamiherald.com

Clemson, gunning for its 15th league title and second in three years, was the preseason choice to win the Atlantic Division and beat the Miami Hurricanes in the ninth annual Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game according to a poll of media members. It’s only the second time since 1991 the Tigers have been picked to win the conference. Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd was the overwhelming choice to repeat as ACC Player of the Year. He broke his own ACC single-season marks for touchdown passes (36) and enters the 2013 season with 8,053 passing yards and 73 touchdown passes in his career. Miami’s Duke Johnson, last year’s ACC Rookie of the Year, was the runner up in the voting.

ACC ATLANTIC | 2013 CHAMPION: FLORIDA STATE

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES

Coach: Steve Addazio (1st year).

Players to watch: LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB Steele Divitto, K Nate Frese, WR Alex Amidon, DT Kaleb Ramsey, RB Andrew Williams.

Overview: Addazio, Florida’s former offensive coordinator, comes over from Temple and takes over a program that has gone from 11 wins in 2007 backwards each year (9 wins in 2008, 8 in 2009, 7 in 2010, 4 in 2011 and 2 in 2012). Amidon (5-11, 186) was a first-team All-ACC pick last year after hauling in 78 passes for 1,210 yards and seven TDs. DiVitto (6-3, 238) and Pierre-Louis (6-1, 215) are two worthy NFL prospects.

Key games: at USC (Sept. 14); vs. FSU (Sept. 28); at Clemson (Oct. 12)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
2-10 (1-7 ACC)1-40-3Rettig 3,060 yardsWilliams 584 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Amidon 1,210 yards45th (258.9)115th (90.9)109th (19.8)76th (29.7)

CLEMSON TIGERS

Coach: Dabo Swinney (6th year, 40-21).

Players to watch: WR Sammy Watkins, QB Tajh Boyd, K Chandler Catanzaro, OT Brandon Thomas, OG Tyler Shatley, S Travis Blanks.

Overview: The schedule sets up nicely for the Tigers, with Florida State and Georgia Tech having to visit them and Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech nowhere to be found in divisional crossover games. Boyd (6-1, 225), a Heisman candidate, is one of 13 starters back in all.

Key games: vs. Georgia (Aug. 31); vs. FSU (Oct. 19); at South Carolina (Nov. 30)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
11-2 (7-1 ACC)4-11-2Boyd 3,896 yardsEllington 1,081 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Hopkins 1,405 yards13th (321.6)36th (191.1)6th (41.0)48th (24.9)

FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES

Coach: Jimbo Fisher (4th year, 31-10).

Players to watch: OG Tre’ Jackson, C Bryan Stork, RB James Wilder, DT Timmy Jernigan, LB Christian Jones, CB Lamarcus Joyner, DE Mario Edwards.

Overview: FSU had 11 players taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, more than any school in the nation, but the talent pool remains strong in Tallahassee. The Seminoles could potentially have a third consecutive quarterback go in the first round of the NFL draft if redshirt freshman Jameis Winston develops as expected. Four starters return on the offensive line, the strength of the team.

Key games: at Clemson (Oct. 19); vs. Miami (Nov. 2); at Florida (Nov. 30)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
12-2 (7-1 ACC)4-12-1Manuel 3,392 yards Thompson 687 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Green 741 yards 40th (264.9)24th (205.9) 10th (39.3)6th (14.7)

MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Coach: Randy Edsall (3rd year, 6-18).

Players to watch: WR Stefon Diggs, CB Dexter McDougle, LB Cole Farrand, CB Jeremiah Johnson, NT Darius Kilgo.

Overview: The Terps enter their final season in the ACC before moving to the Big Ten on a six-game losing skid. Injuries forced five different quarterbacks under center last year, but a healthy CJ Brown is expected to provide stability. Five starters are back on defense that finished 21st in yards allowed.

Key games: vs. West Virginia (Sept. 21); at FSU (Oct. 5), vs. Clemson (Oct. 26)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
4-8 (2-6 ACC)1-4 0-3Hills 1,336 yards Ross 390 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Diggs 848 yards. 104th (181.8)115th (103.0)109th (20.1)56th (27.2)

NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLFPACK

Coach: Dave Doeren (1st year).

Players to Watch: DE Darryl Cato-Bishop, OT Rob Crisp, OLB DJ Green, CB Dontae Johnson, WR Quintin Payton, TE Asa Watson.

Overview: Doeren comes over from Norther Illinois after going 23-4 in two seasons. Redshirt junior Pete Thomas, a transfer from Colorado State, replaces Bucs’ third-round pick Mike Glennon as the starting quarterback. Although four starters are back on the defensive line, there are questions in the secondary.

Key games: vs. Clemson (Sept. 19); at Florida State (Oct. 26), vs. North Carolina (Nov. 2).

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
7-6 (4-4 ACC)4-11-1Glennon 4,031 yards Thornton 694 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Payton 798 yards 18th (310.1)111th (111.1)71st (28.1)52nd (25.6)

SYRACUSE ORANGE

Coach: Scott Shafer (1st year).

Players to watch: RB Jerome Smith, C Mack MacPherson, K Ross Krautman, DT Jay Bromley, CB Keon Lyn, LB Marquis Sprull, LB Dyshawn Davis, FB Ashton Broyld.

Overview: Shafer, the team’s defensive coordinator the past four years, takes over in the Orange’s first season in the ACC for Doug Marrone, who left to coach the Buffalo Bills. Transitions abound as the Orange also have new coordinators and new starters in key places including quarterback, receiver and offensive line with first round pick Justin Pugh gone. Linebacker and secondary should be a strength.

Key games: vs. Penn State (Aug. 31); at Northwestern (Sept. 7); vs. Clemson (Oct. 5)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
8-5 (5-2 Big East)NA1-2Nassib 3,749 yards Smith 1,171 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Lemon 1,070 yards29th (289.0)40th (186.7)56th (30.0)46th (24.8)

WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS

Coach: Jim Grobe (13th year, 73-74).

Players to watch: WR Michael Campanaro, LB Justin Jackson, FS A.J. Marshall, NT Nikita Whitlock, CB Kevin Johnson, CB Merrill Noel.

Overview: The Demon Deacons return 16 starters from a year ago — including one of the ACC’s top receivers in Campanaro. But the goal, Grobe has said, is to become more of a run-oriented team in 2013 that keeps opposing offenses off the field.

Key games: vs. at Clemson (Sept. 28); at Miami (Oct. 26); vs. FSU (Nov. 9)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Atlantic Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
5-7 (3-5 ACC)1-40-3Price 1,200 yardsHarris 608 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Campanaro 763 yards93rd (200.8)116th (100.5)116th (18.5)93rd (31.8)

ACC COASTAL | 2013 CHAMPION: NORTH CAROLINA

DUKE BLUE DEVILS

Coach: David Cutcliffe (6th year, 21-40).

Players to watch: CB Ross Cockrell, , WR Jamison Crowder, TE Braxton Deaver, K Ross Martin, P Will Monday, DE Kenny Anunike, OT Perry Simmons.

Overview: Seven starters return on each side for the Blue Devils, who clinched their first bowl appearance since 1994 last season. The plan is to move from a pass-heavy system to a zone-read offense that is more balanced this season. Cockrell (6-0, 185) had five INTs and 13 pass breakups last season and is expected to be taken in the NFL Draft.

Key games: at Virginia Tech (Oct. 26); vs. Miami (Nov. 16); at North Carolina (Nov. 30)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
6-7 (3-5 ACC)2-30-3Renfree 3,113 yardsDuncan 553 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Crowder 1,074 yards31st (283.9)100th (125.2)44th (31.5)110th (36.0)

GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS

Coach: Paul Johnson (6th year, 41-26).

Players to watch: DE Jeremiah Attaouch, SS Isaiah Johnson, CB Jemea Thomas LB Brandon Watts, CB Louis Young, LB Jabari Hunt-Days, OG Will Jackson, C Jay Finch.

Overview: The Yellow Jackets, who return 15 starters, have run for 20,362 yards — the equivalent of 11.57 miles since Johnson took over in 2008. Former Duke coach Ted Roof is the team’s new defensive coordinator and he’s replacing the 3-4 with the 4-3, which should benefit Attaouch (69 tackles, 10 sacks in 2012). Georgia Tech faces a beast of a schedule — including a three-week stretch Sept. 21 to Oct. 5 in which it faces North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami. It should find out quickly where it stands in the division.

Key games: at BYU (Oct. 12), at Clemson (Nov. 14) vs. Georgia (Nov. 30)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
7-7 (5-3 ACC)3-20-4Washington 1,222 yardsLaskey 697 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Smith 288 yards119th (129.9)4th (311.2) 34th (33.6)65th (28.3)

MIAMI HURRICANES

Coach: Al Golden (3rd year, 13-11).

Players to watch: QB Stephen Morris, RB Duke Johnson, OG Brandon Linder, WR Phillip Dorsett, LB Denzel Perryman, DE Anthony Chickillo, DE Shayon Green, OT Seantrel Henderson.

Overview: A total of 19 starters return for the Hurricanes in what is expected to be their best season in some time. New offensive coordinator James Coley inherits a loaded team that should put up big numbers. What ultimately will make or break Miami’s season is what they do on defense — a unit which put up some of the worst numbers in the program’s history in 2012.

Key games: vs. Florida (Sept. 7); at North Carolina (Oct. 17); at Florida State (Nov. 2)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
7-5 (5-3 ACC)3-20-3Morris 3,345 yards Johnson 947 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Dorsett 842 yards 25th (295.4)83rd (144.8)49th (31.4)84th (30.5)

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

Coach: Larry Fedora (2nd year, 8-4).

Players to watch: TE Eric Ebron, OT James Hurst, DE Kareem Martin, S Tre Boston, QB Bryn Renner, CB Jabari Price, C Russell Bodine.

Overview: A total of 13 starters return for the Heels, who should once again be able to throw the ball effectively with Renner under center. Defense is where the concern is. In UNC’s four losses, it allowed 35.3 points per game last year — including a whopping 68 to Georgia Tech.

Key games: at South Carolina (Aug. 29); at Georgia Tech (Sept. 21); vs. Miami (Oct. 17)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
8-4 (5-3 ACC)3-20-1Renner 3,356 yardsBernard 1,228 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Davis 776 yards26th (291.8)33rd (193.8)8th (40.6)53rd (25.7)

PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

Coach: Paul Chryst (2nd year, 6-7).

Players to watch: DT Aaron Donald, NT Tyrone Ezell, FS Jason Hendricks, OL Cory King, WR Devin Street, CB Lafayette Pitts.

Overview: A three-year starter, Donald (6-0, 280) has racked up 18.5 sacks in his career and is a potential first-day draft choice. While the defense has plenty of playmakers, offensively there will be a new quarterback, tailback and three new starters on the offensive line. Street (6-4, 195) had 73 catches for 975 yards and 5 TDs last season and is a dangerous weapon.

Key games: vs. Florida State (Sept. 2); vs. Notre Dame (Nov. 9), vs. Miami (Nov. 29)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
6-7 (3-4 ACC)NA2-2Sunseri 3,288 yards Graham 1,042 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Shanahan 983 yards46th (257.0)94th (133.1)76th (26.6)23rd (21.1)

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS

Coach: Mike London (4th year, 16-21).

Players to watch: OT Morgan Moses, DT Brent Urban, DE Eli Harold, C Jackson Matteo, TE Jake McGee, CB Demetrious Nicholson, FS Brandon Phelps, RB Kevin Parks.

Overview: London brought in three former head coaches as assistants with 101 years combined experience: Tom O’Brien (assistant head coach/tight ends), Steve Fairchild (offensive coordinator) and Jon Tenuta (defensive coordinator). Seven starters return on each side of the ball with Parks (5-8, 205) serving as the primary weapon on offense as the Cavs look to replace their starting quarterback.

Key games: vs. Oregon (Sept. 7); vs. Clemson (Nov. 2); at Miami (Nov. 23)

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
4-8 (2-6 ACC)1-40-1Rocco 1,917 yardsParks 734 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Jennings 568 yards37th (268.0)97th (128.5)95th (22.8)71st (28.9)

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES

Coach: Frank Beamer 28th year (216-104-2).

Players to watch: QB Logan Thomas, WR D.J. Coles, CB Antone Exum, CB Kyle Fuller, DE James Gayle, DT Derrick Hopkins, C Andrew Miller, LB Jack Tyler.

Overview: Beamer’s worst season in nearly two decades snapped a string of eight consecutive 10-win seasons in Blacksburg. Thomas is back under center with a new offensive coordinator, but the backfield has been hit hard by injury. Exum (48 tackles, 5 INTs in 2012) is one of nine returning starters on a top-notch defense.

Key games: vs. Alabama (Aug. 31); vs. North Carolina (Oct. 5); at Miami (Nov. 9).

BY THE NUMBERS

2012 Vs. Coastal Vs. Top 25 Passing leader Rushing leader
7-6 (4-4 ACC)3-20-2Thomas 2,976 yards Thomas 524 yards

Receiving Yards Passing Rank Rushing rank Points For Points Against
Davis 953 yards 65th (230.9)81st (145.8)83rd (25.1)32nd (22.8)

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