Clemson’s Offense Should Edge FSU’s Defense for ACC Crown
After Florida State’s 49-37 win over Clemson last September, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher described the game as “two very good football teams throwing haymakers at each other right from the opening bell.”
The 2013 ACC season promises to come down to Round 2 between the Tigers and Seminoles on Oct. 19 in Death Valley.
The ACC, now at 14 teams with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, is better and deeper than its reputation suggests, but the league figures be a two-team race at the top in the Atlantic Division.
Clemson, which finished 11-2 a year ago, opens as the conference favorite. The Seminoles, ACC champions in 2012, are their top threat.
The Tigers return the best quarterback in the league in senior Tajh Boyd, who combined for 46 touchdowns last season and threw for 3,896 yards in what was the best offense in the ACC … and should be again in 2013.
Receiver Sammy Watkins needs to regain his freshman form, and Clemson’s defense needs to continue to improve, but the Tigers’ offense (ninth in the NCAA in total yards, sixth in scoring) should be able to carry them to a second ACC title in three years.
FSU has to replace an ACC-record 11 draft picks, the most in the country, but still has as much talent in its program as any team in the conference.
The Seminoles lost quarterback EJ Manuel to the first round of the NFL Draft, but have heralded redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, a Hueytown, Ala., native who chose FSU over the Crimson Tide, ready to take over.
The Noles’ defense, which ranked second nationally in total yards a year ago, has to replace seven starters, but remains loaded up front with defensive tackles Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister.
“We always talk about having a good program,” Fisher said. “Good programs, you’re able to replace good guys with other good guys and those guys will work their way through the system.”
Four teams — Miami, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and North Carolina — start the Coastal Division race with relatively equal footing. The Hurricanes, with an experienced group returning from
a 7-5 season, have the best combination of talent, and fewest problems among that group.
Running back Duke Johnson brought some of the old swagger back to “The U” with an explosive freshman season in which he averaged 6.8 yards per carry and accounted for 14 total touchdowns (10 rushing, one receiving, one passing and two on kick returns). Quarterback Stephen Morris (3,345 passing yards) is poised for his best season yet.
Miami, Georgia Tech and North Carolina each finished 5-3 in a three-way tie for first in the division last season. But the Tar Heels were ineligible for the postseason for NCAA violations under former coach Butch Davis, and Miami self-imposed a second straight bowl ban for findings stemming from NCAA issues with booster Nevin Shapiro.
Virginia Tech, which won the division six times in its first eight years in the ACC, will also have a say in the title race after a disappointing 7-6 finish in 2012.
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM||OFFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|QB||Tajh Boyd||Sr.||Clemson||QB||Bryn Renner||Sr.||North Carolina||QB||Stephen Morris||Sr.||Miami|
|RB||Duke Johnson||So.||Miami||RB||Kevin Parks||Jr.||Virginia||RB||Devonta Freeman||Jr.||Florida State|
|RB||Jerome Smith||Sr.||Syracuse||RB||Andre Williams||Sr.||Boston College||RB||Brandon Ross||So.||Maryland|
|WR||Sammy Watkins||Jr.||Clemson||WR||Alex Amidon||Sr.||Boston College||WR||Rashad Greene||Jr.||Florida State|
|WR||Michael Campanaro||Sr.||Wake Forest||WR||Stefon Diggs||So.||Maryland||WR||Devin Street||Sr.||Pitt|
|TE||Eric Ebron||Jr.||North Carolina||TE||Nick O’Leary||Jr.||Florida State||TE||Jake McGee||Jr.||Virginia|
|C||Bryan Stork||Sr.||Florida State||C||Russell Bodine||Jr.||North Carolina||C||Andrew Miller||Sr.||Virginia Tech|
|OL||James Hurst||Sr.||North Carolina||OL||Rob Crisp||Sr.||NC State||OL||Seantrel Henderson||Sr.||Miami|
|OL||Brandon Thomas||Sr.||Clemson||OL||Tyler Shatley||Sr.||Clemson||OL||Ian White||Sr.||Boston College|
|OL||Tre’ Jackson||Jr.||Florida State||OL||Shaquille Mason||Jr.||Georgia Tech||OL||Dave Harding||Sr.||Duke|
|OL||Brandon Linder||Sr.||Miami||OL||Cameron Erving||Jr.||Florida State||OL||Sean Hickey||Sr.||Syracuse|
|AP||Stefon Diggs||So.||Maryland||AP||Brandon Connette||Jr.||Duke||AP||Rashard Smith||Sr.||NC State|
|K||Chandler Catanzaro||Sr.||Clemson||K||Ross Martin||So.||Duke||K||Ross Krautman||Sr.||Syracuse|
|DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM||DEFENSE – SECOND TEAM||DEFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|DE||James Gayle||Sr.||Virginia Tech||DE||Kareem Martin||Sr.||North Carolina||DE||Anthony Chickillo||Jr.||Miami|
|DT||Timmy Jernigan||Jr.||Florida State||DT||Demonte McAllister||Sr.||Florida State||DT||Derrick Hopkins||Sr.||Virginia Tech|
|DT||Aaron Donald||Sr.||Pitt||DT||Nikita Whitlock||Sr.||Wake Forest||DT||T.Y. McGill||Jr.||NC State|
|DE||Jeremiah Attaochu||Sr.||Georgia Tech||DE||Vic Beasley||Jr.||Clemson||DE||Jake Snyder||Sr.||Virginia|
|LB||Denzel Perryman||Jr.||Miami||LB||Kevin Pierre-Louis||Sr.||Boston College||LB||Quayshawn Nealy||Jr.||Georgia Tech|
|LB||Jack Tyler||Sr.||Virginia Tech||LB||Telvin Smith||Sr.||Florida State||LB||Steele Divitto||Sr.||Boston College|
|LB||Christian Jones||Sr.||Florida State||LB||Cole Farrand||Jr.||Maryland||LB||D.J. Green||Sr.||NC State|
|DB||Antone Exum||Sr.||Virginia Tech||DB||Ronald Darby||So.||Florida State||DB||Tim Scott||Jr.||North Carolina|
|DB||Ross Cockrell||Sr.||Duke||DB||Dontae Johnson||Sr.||NC State||DB||Demetrious Nicholson||Jr.||Virginia|
|DB||Lamarcus Joyner||Sr.||Florida State||DB||Deon Bush||So.||Miami||DB||Jemea Thomas||Sr.||Georgia Tech|
|DB||Jason Hendricks||Sr.||Pitt||DB||A.J. Marshall||Jr.||Wake Forest||DB||Kyshoen Jarrett||Jr.||Virginia Tech|
|P||Will Monday||So.||Duke||P||Tommy Hibbard||Jr.||North Carolina||P||Alex Kinal||So.||Wake Forest|