All of us are allowed to call an audible from time to time and I called one last night.
I was going through my preseason magazines and breaking down the ACC and SEC predictions as promised. Then I realized it would make sense to go ahead and get my own predictions out there now so that you could compare them to the magazines and then offer up your own. Obviously, we’ll be revisiting all of this stuff after practice starts.
So here is the new lineup:
Today: ACC Atlantic
Friday: ACC Coastal
Monday: SEC East
Tuesday: SEC West
For those of you who give me a hard time for not putting enough ACC football on this blog, well, here is your shot. Step up and show me the level of your interest because the next two days are going to be devoted to ACC football.
To the SEC boys and girls: Be patient and be nice. Your time is coming on Monday and Tuesday.
Okay, here we go. Here is how the five magazines I use for reference picked the order of finish in the ACC Atlantic:
Athlon: Florida State, N.C. State, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, Maryland
Lindy’s: Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, N.C. State, Boston College, Maryland
Phil Steele: Clemson, Florida State, Boston College (tie 3rd), N.C. State (tie 3rd), Wake Forest, Maryland
Sporting News: Florida State, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Maryland, Boston College
The Kickoff: N.C. State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Boston College
What we learned: Phil Steele has a pretty good track record of picking teams that are ready for a breakout season. That is why his pick of Clemson is so interesting. The other interesting pick is N.C. State in The Kickoff. Their ACC preview was written by Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem newspaper who, in my opinion, is one of the most knowledgeable writers who covers the ACC. He likes N.C. State because it is the third year under coach Tom O’Brien and because the Wolfpack has Russell Wilson, who was the All-ACC quarterback as a true freshman. Dan also spends a lot of time at Wake Forest, and likes the Deacons at No. 2 in the Atlantic despite losing seven players on defense who combined for 260 career starts. One of those, LB Aaron Curry, was a first-round draft choice. CB Alphonso Smith, the all-time leader in ACC interceptions with 21, is also gone. Despite losing six starters on the defense, Florida State was picked to win the division by three of the magazines.
Florida State: There are so many intangibles with Florida State that it’s hard to know where to start. I just think the offensive line is going to be dramatically better in the third year under OL coach Rick Trickett. I like Christian Ponder at quarterback and he’ll get some help from redshirt freshman E.J. Manuel, who missed most of the spring with a broken finger. Despite the losses on defense, I believe there are finally enough good athletes in the program for DC Mickey Andrews to put together a good unit.
Clemson: Part of me wants to move Clemson into the No. 1 hole because of RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, and a defense that returns eight starters and will be playing with more of an attitude under new coordinator Kevin Steele. I also like the energy that new coach Dabo Swinney has brought to the program. But Clemson has to prove to me that it knows how to win the big game. The Tigers won’t have to wait long because they go to Georgia Tech on Sept. 10.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack has Wilson and a stable of good running backs. But there are still questions on the offensive line. O’Brien is a helluva coach and if those issues up front can be ironed out, the Wolfpack just may surprise South Carolina on Sept. 3 in Raleigh.
Wake Forest: Does anybody do a better job of coaching up talent than Jim Grobe? The Deacons, once the doormat of the ACC, have now won 28 games in the past three seasons, including the 2006 ACC championship. The Deacons also have QB Riley Skinner, who is the most accurate passer in ACC history (67.3 percent).
Boston College: The Eagles have lost their starting quarterback (Dominique Davis) to academics which means Justin Tuggle, son of Jessie, has to step up. BC lost its best overall player (LB Mark Herzlich), who will sit out this season as he battles cancer. The Eagles have a new head coach in veteran DC Frank Spaziani.
Maryland: The Terps have their offense back on track with James Franklin calling the plays for QB Chris Turner and RB Da’Rel Scott (1,133 yards in 2008). But the issues last season were on defense and veteran Don Brown has been called in to fix it. He’ll have to work some magic, which includes replacing seven starters, in order to keep the Terps out of the cellar.
Okay. You’ve read the magazines’ pick. You’re read my picks. Now what are yours?
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