Keys to the 2005 ACC Championship, Part 3

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Part
three of our look at the Keys to the ACC Championship in 2005 covers the top
three title contenders in Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech. The general
consensus is that Florida State will win the Atlantic Division, while Virginia
Tech and Miami will battle it out for the Coastal Division. Although it’s
possible that some underrated team will come out of nowhere, such as Virginia
Tech did last year, it’s very unlikely to happen two years in a row.


Florida State (9 returning starters)

With the trouble the Seminoles have run into in the offseason, I wondered for
a split second if I shouldn’t have included them in the second article of this
series and concentrated on VT and Miami as the heavyweight contenders. Then I
remembered that FSU plays in the weakest ACC division, and Bobby Bowden has
owned Frank Beamer in the past.

But the Noles do have their backs against the wall. Starting quarterback
Wyatt Sexton is out for the year with Lyme disease, leaving two r-freshmen
(Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford) to battle it out for the starting spot.
All-American cornerback Antonio Cromartie recently tore his ACL and will miss
the season, leaving young and inexperienced backups behind him. Not to mention
starting defensive tackle Clifton Dickson, who was declared academically
ineligible.

Strength

Outstanding linebackers A.J. Nicholson and Ernie Sims have been in some
trouble with the law, but Bowden said during ACC Kickoff that both will play,
and he will handle the discipline off the field. So I’m going to pick FSU’s linebacker
corps
as the strength of their team. Sims and Nicholson, along with fellow
starter Buster Davis, are outstanding. They will anchor a defense that, despite
injuries and other issues, should still be good.

Weakness

Until one of Bobby Bowden’s youngsters proves himself on the field, quarterback
has to be the weak spot for Florida State this year. Honestly, I probably would
have listed this as the weak spot even if Wyatt Sexton were coming back. Sexton
struggled last season, playing well in only the UVa game. The fact that he was...