2007 ACC Football Season Preview: Unit Rankings

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The ACC was stacked with good defensive units in 2006, and 2007 looks to be
more of the same. Offenses should be better and more experienced. Almost every
team in the conference returns at least half of its starting lineup. We should
see better football in the ACC than we saw last season.

Below is a table which shows where I rank each unit of each team in the ACC.
Returning starters, talent level and experience all factored into my ratings.
You might agree with them, and you might not. I went back and made changes on
more than one occasion, and if I gave myself a chance, I would probably do so
again. At any rate, here’s what I came up with. First, the offensive units.

ACC
Offensive Unit Rankings
Team QB RB WR/TE OL Average

Georgia Tech
3 3 8 1 3.75

Miami
6 4 4 4 4.5

Clemson
5 1 6 7 4.75

Boston College
1 9 7 3 5

Virginia Tech
4 5 3 10 5.5

Florida State
7 7 1 8 5.75

Wake Forest
2 8 12 2 6

Maryland
11 6 2 6 6.25

NC State
10 2 10 9 7.75

Virginia
8 10 11 5 8.5

North Carolina
12 12 5 11 10

Duke
9 11 9 12 10.25

If you average my rankings, Virginia Tech has the fifth best offense in the
conference. The offense is held back by the offensive line ranking. Right now, I
view the offensive line as better than their counterparts at UNC and Duke.
That’s it. If Ed Wang was healthy, and Nick Marshman was playing left guard,
they’d be a few spots higher.

In the quarterback category, you might be thinking that #4 is a bit high. But
I can make an argument that Tech should be ranked as high as #3 on that list.
Just hear me out.

Matt Ryan and Riley Skinner are the only two proven quarterbacks in the
conference. Clemson and Georgia Tech are breaking in new starters, though I
think both will be good. Florida State’s top two quarterbacks, Drew Weatherford
and Xavier Lee, combined to throw 12 straight incompletions to close the ‘Noles
most recent scrimmage. That’s not good. Miami quarterback Kyle Wright is injured
and may lose his starting job to Kirby Freeman.

See what I’m getting at? Although Sean Glennon might not be proven, neither
is anybody else. And Glennon has done more recently (Offensive MVP of spring
practice, and a good performance in the most recent scrimmage) than the other
quarterbacks he most compares to in the ACC (Weatherford, Wright, Sewell, Lee,
Freeman).

While there isn’t much reason to rank Glennon ahead of those guys, there
isn’t much reason to rank him behind them either. And since he’s performed well
recently, and apparently shown more improvement than those other guys in
practices and scrimmages, I gave him the nod.

Now, here are the defensive rankings.

ACC
Defensive Unit Rankings
Team DL LB DB Average

Virginia Tech
2 1 1 1.33

Florida State
1 5 3 3.00

Clemson
7 2 4 4.33

Virginia
3 3 7 4.33

Miami
5 7 2 4.67

Georgia Tech
6 4 5 5.00

Boston College
4 6 8 6.00

NC State
9 10 6 8.33

Wake Forest
10 8 9 9.00

Maryland
11 9 10 10.00

Duke
8 11 12 10.33

North Carolina
12 12 11 11.67

The toughest position to rank was defensive line. There are a lot of very
good defensive lines in the ACC. In the end, I put Florida State at #1. Georgia
Tech was #6, but in my mind, you can make an argument for swapping the Seminoles
and Yellow Jackets in the rankings. In fact, I think you can take my top six
defensive lines and pull their names out of a hat. They are all very good.
Clemson, Duke and NC State should have very solid defensive lines this year as
well.

The only flat-out bad defensive line I see in the ACC this season in North
Carolina. But you never know what a new coaching staff will do until you see the
results on the field. They could be much improved.

Likewise, there are a lot of good linebacker and defensive back units in the
ACC. Not quite as good as the defensive lines in my view, but there is plenty of
talent in the back seven.

If we average the offensive and defensive rankings together, which are the
top teams in the ACC? Find out below. Offenses and defenses are ranked from
1-12, based on the tables above.

Overall
ACC Rankings
Team Offense Defense Average

Clemson
3 3 3

Virginia Tech
5 1 3

Georgia Tech
1 6 3.5

Miami
2 5 3.5

Florida State
6 2 4

Boston College
4 7 5.5

Virginia
10 4 7

Wake Forest
7 9 8

NC State
9 8 8.5

Maryland
8 10 9

Duke
12 11 11.5

North Carolina
11 12 11.5

Three of the top four teams are from the Coastal Division, as expected. But
by these rankings, Georgia Tech and Miami are a lot closer to Virginia Tech than
the preseason polls indicate. And guess what’s holding the Hokies back? The
offensive line.

Tech’s offensive line is ranked #10 in the ACC. Of the other teams in the top
six of the conference, according to my ratings, none of them have a unit
that does not rank in the top 10. You see a couple of eights in there, and one
nine, but no double digits. Out of all the units of each of the six teams that
probably have the best chance to win the ACC, Virginia Tech’s offensive line
could be the weakest link.

All of my rankings are highly debatable. Feel free to share your rankings
with everyone on the message boards.

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