The summer time is rapidly approaching, and that means fun in the sun for most, but for college football enthusiasts, it’s like entering a bit of a black hole. Summer workouts begin, but until two-a-days begin in August, coaching staffs are not allowed to be directly involved with the player drills and workouts (unless, of course, Rich Rodriguez is at the helm…sorry, we couldn’t resist).
As we enter this dead period, College FootBlog will take a look at each major conference and will provide preliminary power rankings. Our first conference breakdown will be the ACC. We first take a look at the Atlantic Divison, and we will take a peek at the Coastal Division later in this week.
1. Florida State: After several years of underachieving, look for FSU to back it up this season. The Seminoles return all starters on the offensive line, which has two All-American candiates in guard Rodney Hudson and tackle Andrew Datko. The issue that needs to improve is the Seminole defense, who finished last season 108th nationally in total defense. While a revamped coaching staff on that side of the ball will probably not lead to a top 25 defense, there is every reason to believe that they will be much improved this fall. Throw in Heisman Trophy candidate Christian Ponder at QB, and the ‘Noles should have the inside track at representing the Atlantic Division in this year’s ACC Championship Game.
2. Clemson: The loss of the electric running back, CJ Spiller will leave a huge void in the Tigers offense. We will find out in a few weeks whether or not quarterback Kyle Parker will be taking snaps this fall, or if he will pursue a professional baseball career. The question marks on offense are somewhat offset by the playmakers on the defensive line, most notably DE Da’Quan Bowers. The other thing going against Clemson is that they play ACC Atlantic favorite Florida State in Tallahassee this year.
4. NC State: Defensively, the Wolfpack lose seven starters, which includes all four starters on the defensive line. The good news for the ‘Pack is that linebacker Nate Irving, who missed all of last season due to injuries sustained from car accident is back and participated in spring ball this year. His absence last year, however, acutally helps the depth going into this year, as some younger players gained valuable experience filling that void. The strength of NC State should be at quarterback. Head coach Tom O’Brien already knows what he will get from althetic QB Russell Wilson, and because Wilson used this spring to focus on baseball, back up Sean Glennon got valuable reps all spring to help with depth.
5. Wake Forest: As great as head coach Jim Grobe has been at Wake, he has his work cut out for him this season, after the loss of Riley Skinner, who started four years at quarterback in Winston-Salem. The Deacons also have to replace three senior starters on the offensive line and five senior defensive players, including cornerback Brandon Ghee who went in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft. Grobe is a great coach and has added some talented recruiting classes, but this year’s youth and inexperience will be a difficult hill to climb.
6. Maryland: There is a very good possibility the head coach Ralph Friedgen will not make it to see the 2011 season, at least in College Park. Much of Maryland’s issues last season could be attributed to the poor play of their offensive line, which gave up three sacks a game last season. The outlook for this season is pretty bleak, with the loss of Bruce Campbell. The ‘Terps are coming off a miserable 2009 campaign that resulted in a 2-10 record, and unfortuately for Maryland fans, all signs point to another sub-.500 year this fall.
Look for College FootBlog’s breakdown of the ACC Coastal Division later this wee