A Very Early Look at 2008 ACC Football

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Boston College

Boston College came close to winning the ACC Championship this year, but lost
to Virginia Tech 30-16 in Jacksonville. The Eagles lose many of the key players
that helped them win the Atlantic Division in 2007. Things will get a lot
tougher without Matt Ryan and Andre Callender.

BC’s 2008 ACC schedule also looks pretty tough. The Eagles must travel to
Florida State, UNC, Wake and NC State. They host Virginia Tech, Clemson,
Maryland and Georgia Tech. None of those games are definite wins.

Key Losses: QB Matt Ryan, RB Andre Callender, RB L.V. Whitworth, OT
Gosder Cherilus, WR Kevin Challenger, DE Nick Larkin, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LB
Tyronne Pruitt, FS Jamie Silva, CB Taji Morris, CB DeJuan Tribble

Top Returnees: WR Brandon Robinson, WR Rich Gunnell, TE Ryan Purvis, DT
B.J. Raji, LB Brian Toal, LB Mark Herzlich, SS Paul Anderson


Clemson Tigers

Clemson should be one of the stronger teams in the ACC next year. The one
holdup could be the offensive line. For the second straight year, the Tigers
lose four starters. That’s going to catch up with them. There’s no way around
it.

Clemson’s schedule is manageable. They have road games at Virginia, Florida
State, Boston College and Wake Forest. Their home games are against Maryland, NC
State, Georgia Tech and Duke. The winner of the FSU-Clemson game could end up
winning the Atlantic Division. Both teams return a lot of talent.

Key Losses: LT Barry Richardson, LG Chris McDuffie, RG Brandon Pilgrim,
RT Christian Capote, LB Tramaine Billie, LB Nick Watkins

Key Returnees: QB Cullen Harper, RB James Davis, RB C.J. Spiller, WR
Aaron Kelly, WR Tyler Grisham, DE Philllip Merling, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Cortney
Vincent, CB Crezdon Butler, SS Michael Hamlin, FS Chris Clemons


Duke

Duke fired Ted Roof, and will likely hire someone else who is unable to win
in Durham. That place is almost impossible. It would take very special
circumstances to turn them into a winning program.

The Blue Devils host NC State, Virginia, UNC and Miami next season. They
travel to Clemson, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. They’ll probably
go 0-8 in the ACC again.

Key Losses: WR Jomar Wright, RB Ronnie Drummer, FS Chris Davis, DE
Patrick Bailey, FB Tielor Robinson

Key Returnees: LB Michael Tauiliili, WR Eron Riley, WR Raphael Chestnut,
RB Re’Quan Boyette, LB Tim Ball, SS Adrian Aye-Darko, LB Vincent Rey, QB Thad
Lewis, DT Vince Oghobaase


Florida State

Florida State returns virtually every major contributor on the team. They’ll
be stronger at every position on the field. They’ll also have a senior
quarterback in Drew Weatherford, who looked improved as a junior in 2007. Still,
will the ‘Noles have the star power to get back to the top of the ACC?

FSU travels to Miami, Maryland, Georgia Tech and NC State. They host Virginia
Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest and Clemson. They aren’t going to get through
that group unscathed. The ‘Noles need to make sure they beat Clemson so they own
the tiebreaker, just in case it comes down to that.

Key Losses: WR De’Cody Fagg, RG Jacky Claude, RT Shannon Boatman, PK Gary
Cismesia, DT Andre Fluellen, FS Roger Williams

Key Returnees: QB Drew Weatherford, RB Antone Smith, WR/TB Preston
Parker, WR Greg Carr, LG Rodney Hudson, DE Everette Brown, DT Budd Thacker, DT
Letroy Guion, DE Neefy Moffett, LB Dekota Watson, LB Geno Hayes, CB Tony Carter,
ROV Myron Rolle


Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech will have a new coach in Paul Johnson, so nobody’s job is safe.
That starts with quarterback Taylor Bennett, who is not cut out to run Johnson’s
option attack. We could very well see a new signal caller in Atlanta next
season. It will likely be a tough, transition season for the Yellow Jackets.

GT has four tough road games at Virginia Tech, BC, Clemson and UNC. They host
Florida State, Virginia, Miami and Duke. That’s a pretty tough conference
schedule. They won’t be a contender in the Coastal Division next year. (I
wouldn’t count on it, at least.)

Key Losses: RB Tashard Choice, FB Mike Cox, RG Matt Rhodes, C Kevin
Tuminello, DE Darrell Robertson, DE Adamm Oliver, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Gary
Guyton, CB Avery Roberson, S Jamal Lewis, S Djay Jones

Key Returnees: QB Taylor Bennett, RB Jonathan Dwyer, WR James Johnson, WR
Demaryius Thomas, LT Andrew Gardner, DT Vance Walker, DT Darryl Richard, CB/S
Morgan Burnett, CB Jahi-Word Daniels


Maryland

Maryland isn’t the most talented team in the world, but Ralph Friedgen has
them in a bowl game for the second year in a row. Repeating that feat in 2008
will be difficult, though the Terps do bring back Erin Henderson at linebacker.

Maryland must travel to Virginia Tech, Virginia, Boston College and Clemson.
They host Wake Forest, NC State, Florida State and UNC in College Park. The
Terps are going to have trouble winning a lot of those games. However, never
count out The Fridge. He’s probably the most underrated coach in the conference.
They just need to recruit better.

Key Losses: RB Lance Ball, RB Keon Lattimore, TE Joey Haynos, RG Andrew
Crummey, DT Dre Moore, DT Carlos Feliciano, CB Isaiah Gardner, SS Christian
Varner, FS J.J. Justice

Key Returnees: QB Chris Turner, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, TE Dan Gronkowski,
DE Jeremy Navarre, LEO Trey Covington, LB Erin Henderson, LB Dave Philistin, CB
Kevin Barnes


Miami

Miami doesn’t have a difficult schedule next year. They have serious
questions, such as quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line and defensive
line. However, I expect we’ll see some improvement next season. Maybe not a lot,
but I think the Canes will be in a bowl game.

Miami hosts Wake Forest, Florida State, UNC and Virginia Tech. Those will be
tough games, but the Canes get them all at home. They must travel to NC State,
Virginia, Georgia Tech and Duke. I wouldn’t complain about that ACC schedule at
all. Miami is set up to have some success.

Key Losses: QB Kyle Wright, WR Darnell Jenkins, WR Lance Leggett, LG
Andrew Bain, RG Derrick Morse, DT Teraz McCray, LB Tavares Gooden, CB Glenn
Sharpe, S Kenny Phillips

Key Returnees: RB Javarris James, RB Graig Cooper, WR Sam Shields, LT
Jason Fox, RT Reggie Youngblood, DE Eric Moncur, DE Calais Campbell, LB Colin
McCarthy, LB Darryl Sharpton, CB Bruce Johnson, S Lavon Ponder


North Carolina

North Carolina brings nearly everyone back next year. They should have an
excellent passing game with T.J. Yates and a talented trio of wide receivers.
The defense should be very strong at defensive tackle, and the linebacker and
defensive back play will be improved.

UNC hosts NC State, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. They
travel to Maryland, Virginia, Duke and Miami. That’s a very manageable schedule.
The Tar Heels will be in bowl contention next season, if they play up to their
potential.

Key Losses: C Scott Lenahan, DE Hilee Taylor, DT Kentwan Balmer, LB
Durell Mapp, PK Connor Barth

Key Returnees: QB T.J. Yates, RB/WR Greg Little, WR Hakeem Nicks, WR
Brooks Foster, WR Brandon Tate, DT Aleric Mullins, DT Marvin Austin, DE E.J.
Wilson, LB Quan Sturdivant, LB Bruce Carter, CB Charles Brown, FS Deunta
Williams, SS Trimane Goddard


NC State

Tom O’Brien has to find the right quarterback in the offseason. The Wolfpack
lose some good players, but they are well-coached for a change. They improved as
this season went on, and were one game away from qualifying for a bowl.

The Wolfpack host Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College, and Miami in
Raleigh. They will play on the road at Maryland, Clemson, Duke and UNC. That’s a
very nice schedule. Maryland, Duke and UNC aren’t exactly the most intimidating
road environments in the nation.

Key Losses: WR Darrell Blackman, OL Kalani Heppe, LB Ernest Jones, LB
James Martin, DT DeMario Pressley, LB LeRue Rumph, S Miquel Scott, TE Marcus
Stone, CB Jimme Sutton III

Key Returnees: QB Daniel Evans, QB Harrison Beck, RB Toney Baker, RB
Andre Brown, RB Jamelle Eugene, DT Alan-Michael Cash, DE Willie Young


Virginia

Virginia returns a number of talented players from a team that was just one
game away from winning the ACC Coastal Division. The Cavs are getting a nice
Gator Bowl appearance for their solid efforts in 2007. They can be just as good
in 2008, if not better, although the record may not show it.

Or then again, with this schedule, maybe the record will show it: UVA hosts
Maryland, Clemson, UNC and Miami. They travel to Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Duke
and Virginia Tech. That’s not easy, but it’s not exactly murderers’ row either.
The Hoos should be back in a solid bowl game.

Key Losses: TE Tom Santi, TE Jonathan Stupar, C Jordy Lipsey, RG
Ian-Yates Cunningham, DE Chris Long, NT Allen Billyk, LB Jermaine Dias, S Nate
Lyles, S Jamal Jackson

Key Returnees: QB Jameel Sewell, RB Cedric Peerman, RB Mikell Simpson, LT
Eugene Monroe, LG Branden Albert, TE John Phillips, DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald, LB
Clint Sintim, LB Antonio Appleby, LB Jon Copper, CB Chris Cook, S Byron Glaspy


Virginia Tech

Obviously the Hokies lose a lot of big-time talent. It will be worse if
Brandon Flowers and Macho Harris decide to move on to the NFL. However, parts of
Tech’s team will be improved, such as tailback, quarterback, offensive line and
tight end. The Hokies’ offense will be hard to stop, providing they can get
decent play from the new wide receivers.

The Hokies will travel to Florida State, Miami, UNC, and Boston College.
That’s not an easy road slate. They host Maryland, Georgia Tech, Duke and
Virginia in Blacksburg. Tech will be back in a bowl game in 2008, the only
question is where? They could contend for the ACC Championship, or they could
end up in Orlando or Nashville. Considering the number of elite players they
will lose to the NFL, that wouldn’t be bad at all.

Key Losses: FB Carlton Weatherford, WR Eddie Royal, WR Josh Morgan, WR
Justin Harper, WR Josh Hyman, LT Duane Brown, DE Chris Ellis, DT Carlton Powell,
DT Barry Booker, LB Xavier Adibi, LB Vince Hall, FS D.J. Parker, PK Jud Dunlevy,
CB Brandon Flowers (?), CB Macho Harris (?)

Key Returnees: QB Sean Glennon, QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Branden Ore, TE Sam
Wheeler, LG Nick Marshman, C Ryan Shuman, RG Sergio Render, RT Ed Wang, DE Orion
Martin, LB Cam Martin, ROV Kam Chancellor, CB Brandon Flowers (?), CB Macho
Harris (?)


Wake Forest

Wake Forest loses some good players, but they bring back some very nice
talent as well. They’ll have a good, experienced quarterback, a very good
tailback, a great corps of linebackers, and a good secondary. They also have
arguably the best kicker/punter in the conference in Sam Swank.

The Demon Deacons host Duke, Boston College, Clemson and Virginia. They
travel to Maryland, NC State, Florida State and Miami. They’ll likely be heading
back to a bowl game next season, which would be three bowl bids in a row.

Key Losses: WR Kenneth Moore, TE Zac Selmon, TE John Tereshinski, LT
Louis Frazier, C Steve Justice, OT Matthew Brim, DE Matt Robinson, DE Jeremy
Thompson, DT Zach Stukes, FS Aaron Mason

Key Returnees: QB Riley Skinner, RB Josh Adams, RT Jeff Griffin, DT Boo
Robinson, LB Aaron Curry, LB Stanley Arnoux, LB Chantz McClinic, CB Alphonso
Smith, CB Brandon Ghee, SS Chip Vaughn, PK/P Sam Swank

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