2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Unit Rankings

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Clemson is the popular pick to win the ACC this year, and they do have a lot
of talent. However, when you rank each team at each position in the ACC, how do
the Tigers stack up with everyone else? Despite losing so many quality players
to the NFL, the Hokies are still near the top.

First, let’s take a look at the offenses. The ACC is not known for its
offensive ability, and the league lost its top quarterback (Matt Ryan) to the
NFL. Clemson returns a ton of players at the skill positions, and there should
be better overall quarterback play in the league this year, despite the loss of Ryan. However, will the offensive lines be able to hold up?

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

Clemson
1 1 1 10 3.25

Virginia Tech
4 7 8 1 5

North Carolina
6 9 4 3 5.5

Florida State
2 8 2 11 5.75

Wake Forest
3 4 10 8 6.25

Boston College
8 11 3 4 6.5

Virginia
9 5 6 7 6.75

Maryland
12 10 5 2 7.25

Miami
11 2 7 9 7.25

Georgia Tech
7 6 12 5 7.5

NC State
10 3 11 6 7.5

Duke
5 12 9 12 9.5

Tech at #2 overall looks pretty silly, doesn’t it? It also shows that each and
every team in the ACC has a major weakness on offense. The Hokies look like
they have a very good offensive line this year, and their quarterback play
should be good. The running back by committee approach should be effective this
year as well. They’ll be held back by an inexperienced group of wide receivers.

I would have given Tech’s WR/TE group a lower rating, if not for the tight
ends. The Hokies have the best group of tight ends in the ACC, in my opinion,
and it looks like they’ll be used quite a bit this year. Greg Boone in
particular is going to become quite a weapon.

Even though Tech’s receivers are young, does anyone actually see Duke, NC
State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest having better wideouts as a group? I don’t.
Duke really only has one major threat at wideout, and Georgia Tech and Wake
don’t have much on the outside at all. So even though I feel like Tech’s ranking
at WR/TE is too high, I can’t bring myself to rank any of those other teams
ahead of them.

Clemson easily out-paces the other teams in the conference on the offensive
side of the ball. The Tigers rank #1 at quarterback, running back and WR/TE. The
only thing holding them back is an offensive line that ranks near the bottom of
the conference.

Also keep in mind that a “1” at some positions is better than the
same ranking at other positions. For example, having the #1 OL isn’t as
impressive as having the #1 QB. I rate Tech’s offensive line as the best in the
conference, but UNC and Boston College are also near the top. Both UNC and BC
look like solid pass blocking units, but there are no true road graders up front
for either team. They are kind of soft.

As usual, the ACC should have some very good defenses this season.

ACC
Defensive Unit Rankings
Team DL LB DB Average

Florida State
2 1 3 2

Virginia Tech
5 3 1 3

Wake Forest
8 2 2 4

Clemson
1 9 4 4.67

Boston College
3 4 11 6

Miami
7 7 5 6.33

North Carolina
6 8 6 6.67

Virginia
10 5 8 7.67

Georgia Tech
4 10 10 8

Maryland
12 6 7 8.33

NC State
11 11 9 10.33

Duke
9 12 12 11

I don’t think a lot of people would pick Virginia Tech’s secondary #1 in the
conference after losing Brandon Flowers. However, they haven’t seen Kam
Chancellor at free safety, not to mention Stephan Virgil and Davon Morgan. Those
guys are capable of playing at a very high level. In Macho Harris and
Chancellor, the Hokies have two possible first round draft picks in the
secondary this year.

The linebacker depth in this conference is pretty impressive. I went into the
article expecting to rank Virginia in the top three at linebacker. Their #5
ranking surprised me. Arguably they should be higher, but the fact that they are
even considered for as low a ranking as #5 shows how many good linebackers are
in this conference.

The defensive lines in the ACC should be pretty good as well. Ultimately what
held the Hokies back was defensive tackle depth. I like the defensive ends quite
a bit, but there will be a dropoff at defensive tackle. Graves and Thompson will
be good, but not dominant like Powell and Booker. Not to mention there isn’t a
lot of depth behind them.

There are two ways to do the final averages. First, let’s average the final
offensive ranking with the final defensive ranking.

Overall
ACC Rankings, Offense and Defense
Team Offense Defense Average

Virginia Tech
2 2 2

Clemson
1 4 2.5

Florida State
4 1 2.5

Wake Forest
5 3 4

North Carolina
3 7 5

Boston College
6 5 5.5

Virginia
7 8 7.5

Miami
9 6 7.5

Maryland
8 10 9

Georgia Tech
10 9 9.5

NC State
11 11 11

Duke
12 12 12

Virginia Tech has the best offensive and defensive balance in the ACC,
according to my rankings at least. The Hokies aren’t #1 in either, but they do
rank #2 in both categories. Clemson and Florida State are very close behind
them, with Wake Forest a somewhat distant fourth.

The other way to rank the teams overall is to average all the positions
together. Here is how that looks.

Overall
Average
Team Average

Clemson
3.86

Florida State
4.14

Virginia Tech
4.14

Wake Forest
5.29

North Carolina
6

Boston College
6.29

Miami
6.86

Virginia
7.14

Maryland
7.71

Georgia Tech
7.71

NC State
8.71

Duke
10.14

All of those #1 rankings that Clemson racked up paid off this time. Their
overall average is tops in the ACC, followed closely by Florida State and
Virginia Tech, with Wake Forest in fourth.

If those unit rankings are close to being accurate, then it looks like a
3-team race for the ACC Championship this year, with Wake Forest possibly making
a run as well. Only time will tell.

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