Five burning questions about the ACC Atlantic


Five burning questions as preseason practice begins in the ACC Atlantic:


1. Can C.J. Spiller be the main man in Clemson’s offense? Clemson has launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for running back/return specialist C.J. Spiller. Spiller, the senior from Lake Butler, Fla., led the ACC in all-purpose yards (1,770) last season and is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.  He carried the ball 116 times last season behind James Davis, who had 171 carries. How does Spiller react to being the main man in the Clemson offense? There are other weapons. WR Jacoby Ford can be a big play machine if he stays healthy.  Sophomore RB Jamie Harper of Jacksonville was thought to be one of the nation’s  best running backs coming out of high school. But this is Spiller’s team. Can he handle it?


2. Is this the year that Florida State’s offensive line finally grows up? The Florida State offense has had had all kinds of issues since Mark Richt left as OC before the 2001 season. But one of the most baffling things to watch has been how Florida State’s offensive line, which for so long was a strength, became a serious weakness. When Jimbo Fisher was hired as offensive coordinator he in turn hired Rick Tricett as his line coach. The highest compliment I can pay Trickett is that Marine Drill Instructors come to him for discipline lessons. He has ridden this group of players for a couple of years and it looks like this preseason is when it is finally going to start paying off. All five starters return and are led by junior guard Rodney Hudson. If Hudson is not on your All-America team, then you need to take another look at your ballott. In 24 career starts and over 1,400 plays, Steve Ellis of the Tallahassee Democrat tells us, Hudson has missed only 13 assignments. With this offensive line look for Florida State to have more of a power running game, the kind Fisher had when he was OC at LSU.

3. What is N.C. State going to do with QB Mike Glennon? Last season Russell Wilson became the first freshman in league history to be named the first-team All-ACC quarterback. You would think that would not leave a lot of snaps for the No. 2 quarterback, whoever he is. But the No. 2 quarterback at N.C. State is redshirt freshman Mike Glennon, one of the nation’s top prospects coming out Centreville, Va. Glennon is 6-6 and can make all the throws. “Glennon is going to play,” coach Tom O’Brien told me last week. “Our job is to figure out the best way to use him.” Wilson, who is also an outstanding baseball player, ran a little too much last season and so he had a tendency to get dinged up. It will be interesting to see how Glennon fares in the first couple of N.C. State scrimmages.


4. Why isn’t anybody talking about Wake Forest? You would think people would learn. Wake Forest, with the smallest enrollment among the BCS schools (about 4,400),  won the ACC championship in 2006, was 9-4 in 2007, and 8-5 last season. That three-year record of 28-12 is by far the best three-year stretch in the history of the school. Wake Forest has been to three straight bowl games and should be headed to a fourth.  Wake Forest was the only team outside of the SEC to beat Ole Miss (30-28 in Winston-Salem) last season. The Deacons begin preseason practice with nine starters returning on offense, including senior quarterback Riley Skinner, who has completed 67.3 percent of his career passes. But few people are giving the Deacons a serious chance to win the ACC Atlantic. That’s a mistake.  “We’ve got to replace some really good players on defense but we feel pretty good about where we are,” head coach Jim Grobe said. “You really can’t replace guys like (LB) Aaron Curry (the No. 4 NFL Draft choice) but we’ve got some good players who have earned the right to play.” File this little stat away: On Nov. 14 Wake Forest will host Florida State and will be going for its fourth straight win over the Seminoles. Only two, Jimmy Johnson of Miami (1985-88), and Urban Meyer of Florida (2005-08) have beaten Bowden four straight times. Grobe of Wake Forest could become the third overall and the first in the ACC to do it.


5. Can Ralph Friedgen make Maryland a contender again? The former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator took the ACC by storm when he finally became a head coach. The Terps won 31 games in Friedgen’s first three years (2001-03), including the 2001 ACC  championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl.  Since then Friedgen is 33-28 with three losing seasons (2004, 2005, 2007). “There is no question that I am not happy with our lack of consistency,” Friedgen said. “I believe we’ve addressed that.” Friedgen began the improvement with himself, as he enters this preseason having lost about 100 pounds. He also looked at his defense, which gave up 100 points in Maryland’s last three games. Friedgen hired Don Brown, former head coach at UMass, to bring some creativity to the job and give opposing coaches something to think about. “Our guys on offense struggled at times against what he was doing and our kids on defense love it,” said Friedgen. “That’s a good sign.” The new defense will be tested early as Maryland opens the season at California, who has the nation’s leading returning rusher in Jahvid Best.  This is a big year for Friedgen who has already named his successor in offensive coordinator James Franklin. The division appears to be wide open.

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99 comments Add your comment

Don Ho

August 5th, 2009
9:03 am

Great point about the Deacs Tony. Grobe is a heck of a coach and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if WF wins the ACCC.


August 5th, 2009
9:04 am

Number 6.. Will the ACC Championship Game (Yawn) draw more than 20,000 fans?

Reality Check GT

August 5th, 2009
9:12 am

Number 7. Will the ACC ever be a legitimate conference?

Saint Simons

August 5th, 2009
9:13 am

45 -42 !!!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahahahaha


August 5th, 2009
9:14 am

Spike – not from the marginally retarded crowd you hail from. Vanderbilt is 98% of the SEC’s grade point average.

Fightin Gobbler

August 5th, 2009
9:16 am

Number 7.. Will another SEC homer use an article re: the ACC to take a childish shot at the league (Yawn) vs. posting something that’s actually worth reading?


August 5th, 2009
9:17 am

Tony got a tip for you today when you are on Coach Matthews show today in Nashville ask coach why
boy blunder did not let Dan Williams go to his grandmom’s funeral. I heard from from the big drunk UT
fan Roy Adams from Memphis. He helped Fulmer with information about Bama buying players in Memphis AKA Albert Means case. Just a story how Kiffin really is?

Earl Schlobodowicz

August 5th, 2009
9:18 am

Grobe will be the FOURTH coach. Urban Meyer has beaten FSU the last four years.

Red Stick

August 5th, 2009
9:18 am

1. Spiller should have went to UF.

2. As long as Bobby Bowden is still looking for his drool-cup on the FSU sidelines, the Seminoles will not be any better than 7-5 or 8-4.

3. Simple answer: red-shirt.

4. Nobody ever talks about Wake…..and it sometimes comes back to bite them in the a$$……right, Bobby Bowden?

5. The bigger question is this: Will Friedgen have a coronary on the sideline?

Who cares what happens in the All Cupcake Conference? (((38-3))) HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Suck on it, St Simons!!


August 5th, 2009
9:21 am

Gobbler The truth does indeed hurt, doesn’t it?

Atlanta Gator

August 5th, 2009
9:22 am

Comments in response to Tony —-

(1) C.J. Spiller is a good all-purpose back, but the likelihood that any player will break through the hype surrounding the Big Three Quarterbacks (Bradford, McCoy, Tebow) in the Heisman race is very slim. The real questions for Clemson: Can Dabo Swinney survive as a head coach? Can Swinney avoid the fast start and late season choke that have plagued the Tigers for the last decade?

(2) A well-coached line is the key to any great offense. FSU has suffered from inconsistent offensive line play in recent seasons. If they want to contend for the ACC and become competitive with Florida again, the Seminoles need to turn the corner. The Noles have talent; what they appear to lack is a cohesive master plan and a fully engaged head coach.

(3) I don’t know enough to comment.

(4) Jim Grobe and Wake Forest do more with less, but the program seems to have peaked after its once-in-a-generation ACC championship in 2006 and its Orange Bowl appearance. It’s tough to see how a co-ed school of 4,000 undergraduates can be competitive in the top tier of Division I / FBS football.

(5) Whatever happened to the “Fridge?” Well, his Maryland teams have made bowl appearances 6 of 8 seasons, but after consecutive seasons of 10-2, 11-3, and 10-3 in 2001-2003, the Terps just have not looked like a top-25 team over the last 5 years. The biggest problem appears to be the 30 to 40 percent drop in offensive production since 2003.

Give 'em He11 Pell

August 5th, 2009
9:27 am

TB, Charley Pell didn’t actually coach the ‘84 team that beat the Noles. He was fired early in the season and Galen Hall had taken over by then. Also, Urban Meyer has beat the Noles 4 straight years.


August 5th, 2009
9:30 am

Urban Meyer has beaten Bowden 4 in a row and counting.


August 5th, 2009
9:35 am

The thing about the ACC and Bobby Bowden is he could go 8-4 and still win the ACC.

Fleischman in Chattanooga

August 5th, 2009
9:42 am

Bring back Nachos.

Tony Barnhart

August 5th, 2009
9:43 am

You guys have shown again why you are the smartest college football audience in the country. Florida’s Charley Pell beat Bobby Bowden three straight years (1981-83) but resigned three games into the 1984 season. Galen Hall was head coach beat and Bowden in 1984 and 1985.

Urban Meyer has beaten Bowden four straight times. Sometimes things are so close you overlook them. Dumb oversight on my part. Thanks for catching it.

The point is still the same. Jim Grobe of Wake Forest could become the first ACC coach to beat Bowden four straight times.

You guys are the best.

Mike Dawg

August 5th, 2009
9:45 am

Let’s all thank God we have Coach Richt. Check out what Kiffin has pulled out of his hat here…

What an embarrassment to UT.

No. 5

August 5th, 2009
9:48 am

The story of the Deacs’ touching and triumphant 2006 season is coming to the silver screen!


August 5th, 2009
9:49 am

Otto – in 2002, FSU went 9-4 overall, but because they were 7-1 in the ACC they got to play the Dawgs in the Sugar Bowl. A 9-4 team went to a BCS Bowl. They lost that year at Lousville, at Miami, home against Notre Dame, and at NC State, before losing to UGA in ‘Nawlins. That said, I still find it hard to respect the ACC as a whole. I mean, just a couple of years ago the Championship game was Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech. And this is when Tech wasn’t all that good.

Dawgaholic idiot

August 5th, 2009
10:12 am

Tammy Bowden out! Dado in Clemson wins the acc atlantic.

jeffrey d

August 5th, 2009
10:16 am

Was that guy on the Sports page Ralph Friedgen? My goodness, what is the buffet like for Maryland’s coaching staff?


August 5th, 2009
10:26 am

Hey Atlanta Gator,
Regarding Wake’s enrollment… the game is still 11 on 11, isn’t it? Go Deacs!

Gen Neyland

August 5th, 2009
10:38 am

Mike Dawg : And you think you’ve hit on something..? The players looked to be enjoying themselves. Shootfire, they even had their own cameras rolling. Guess they could have been swimming…

Bamafan : I take it your point is major infractions at Alabama are always somebody else’s fault Alabama gets caught..?


August 5th, 2009
10:38 am

Will we be back to talking about football tomorrow?


August 5th, 2009
10:42 am

Fla St O line will be very good as you said. Problem I see is that their RB’s are very young but with talent. They have no wide receivers. And if 1 linebacker gets hurt that D could be in trouble.


August 5th, 2009
10:43 am

Dawgfan you for the most point spelled out the point I made with some sarcasm. As usual the ACC is up for grabs with many good but no great teams.

I think FSU will be the team to beat in the ACC if the OL stays healthy and FSU manages not to have the entire WR corp suspended or some other NCAA disaster. As we all know that has been a problem for the Noles. If Bowden wins the ACC, he retires at the end of the year.

Wake has a good team. Grobe can not contend year in and year out. He depends on red shirting players and building them in the program. As a result he will have years where the talent is not on the field. I do not know where the cycle is at this point but saying Wake has peaked is a little unrealistic.

It is interesting that Grobe may be the first ACC coach and team from outside of the state of Florida to beat Bowden’s Noles 4 times in a row.

college ball fan

August 5th, 2009
10:50 am

Clemson needs to get Jacoby Ford the ball more in the red zone.
He is the best football player they have.


August 5th, 2009
10:54 am

Good job saint simons…this blog has nothing to do with Tech or UGA.
You are such a tool.

Atlanta Gator

August 5th, 2009
10:55 am

Mike—-Smaller can certainly be better when we’re talking about undergraduate academics, and there are many excellent liberal arts colleges in America whose total undergraduate population is in the 4,000 to 8,000 range, including such schools as Princeton and Yale. However, it is very difficult for smaller schools to sustain the cost of a Division I football program (85 football scholarships cost Wake over $3 million yearly, plus actual operating costs), it has a smaller alumni base which means less gate revenue and fewer opportunities for licensed products marketing, hinders its ability to get at-large bowl bids, and reduces its potential for “booster” support. Nobody said life is fair, but Big State U. has certain advantages in these matters.

You already know this, and yes, I know that you can only put 11 men on the field at a time. But that’s why they play the games, and that’s why most fans cheer for over-achieving underdogs like Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.


August 5th, 2009
10:57 am

Bigger question, can Ralph Friedgen turn his own fat @ss around?


August 5th, 2009
11:04 am

Spiller will be a work horse this year but with new Coaches–Tigers will struggle this year. The “Fridge” will make a comeback this year as will Wake.


August 5th, 2009
11:08 am

i can’t believe a bigger, more prestigious program hasn’t lured grobe away from wake yet


August 5th, 2009
11:10 am

I don’t really care other than the first game of the season.


Of all the ACC teams, NCSU has to be at the top of the Dawgs list of “others to root for:

1.) They wear red
2.) The mascot is a relative of a dog
3.) They don’t like Tech
4.) They open up 2009 against spurrier and will start his final season at the chicken coop with a big L

The Realist

August 5th, 2009
11:12 am

Does anyone care about the answers to any of these questions about this PATHETIC conference. Please go back to the SEC Tony. This is sooooooo boring. I’d rather read your overtly biased commentary about Tebow and the Gay-tors.


Deacon Jones

August 5th, 2009
11:18 am

Atlanta Gator, you make many fine points about Big State U.’s advantages. Whatever category you choose, basically across the board, it works against a small school like Wake. But that only increases our pride and satisfaction from Grobe’s great gridiron run! For the many flaws we had last year, the Deacs were still perhaps an unlucky defensive deflection vs. BC away from playing in its second ACCCG in three years. Incredible.

One bone to pick though, AG: please hold off on the Vandy comparisons until the ‘Dores win in three straight postseasons (’06-’08) and/or win 4 of 5 bowl games in the last decade (’99, ‘02, ‘07 and ‘08).


August 5th, 2009
11:20 am

1. Spiller can’t do it all on his own. If the Clemson offense becomes one-dimensional, it then becomes very easy to stop. They’ve got to find an offensive line, and decide upon a quarterback.

2. Discipline is the key for Florida State, and has been forever. If they can play smart, level-headed football, they have the talent to beat anyone.

3. The dual-quarterback system in my opinion is never a good idea. A team needs consistency, and constantly alternating the quarterback disables the team’s ability to gain a rythym.

4. Wake Forest superceeds expectations annually, but I just don’t see them ever being prominent or a favorite with such a small student body.

5. Ralph Friedgen has definitely plateaued after a booming first three years. They’ve gone through some quarterback issues, and have truly lacked a bonafide leader; a player that can take the team and put them on his back to finish the drill. Almost every great team has a superstar (Florida – Tebow, Oklahoma – Bradford, etc.) and I firmly believe that until Maryland has one of those players, they will cease to resurface as a legitimate contender in the ACC.

And SEC fans, I reallize that the ACC is not quite on the level of the SEC, but how deep is the SEC, honestly? I can understand Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, and maybe Alabama. But then what? Georgia? With both an unproven quarterback who enjoys exposing himself to Sporting News magazine, and a runningback who was a five star recruit and has less yards in his career than Dwyer has carries? South Carolina? What have you done for me lately? Tennessee? Sorry Lane Kiffin, but this year may identically resemble your stint with the Raiders last year. Arkansas? Worst team in the SEC last year. Only so much improvement can be made in one year. I mean, the SEC is pretty weak this year, all things considered, top to bottom, east to west. So don’t throw stones in a glass house SEC faithful.

Lou Snobbs

August 5th, 2009
11:24 am

The Realist, are you 13 years old? I read your post and immediately pictured a kid with fingers in both ears stomping around and screaming so as not to hear reality/his parents.

Phil McCrotch

August 5th, 2009
11:37 am

realist, but you took time to post. Irony or stupidity?

Saint Simons

August 5th, 2009
11:38 am

What not one burning questions about mighty GT football?

Atlanta Gator

August 5th, 2009
11:47 am

Deacon Jones—-Your comment reminded me of the old one-liner about the Gators, to the effect of “They have the arrogance of Notre Dame, and the tradition of Wake Forest.” In light of your schadenfreude, we may have to re-evaluate. LOL

In all seriousness though, Vanderbilt has a deeper hole out of which to climb in the SEC than Wake Forest does in the ACC. For better or worse, the SEC is still the stronger football conference, and its tough to climb out of the cellar. The ACC has been wide-open with the relative decline of FSU and the addition of Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech, and that’s provided an opportunity for Jim Grobe’s Deacons. Question is, can he sustain that success?

Among the several universities I have attended, one was a prominent academically-inclined ACC member. I can tell you that a football win over another ACC member meant as much to that school’s students and alumni as any Florida win over FSU or UGA means to the Gator faithful, and, in some ways, maybe more.

Bill' Sass

August 5th, 2009
11:58 am

Atl Gator- Vanderbilt always gives us (Florida) heart burn every year the last two years being the exception. It always seems like we have to beat them in the second half. I don’t know if it is the early kickoff or what but for some reason I always hate playing Vandy.

Atlanta Gator

August 5th, 2009
12:12 pm

Bill Sass—-That’s because they’re smart, they’re well coached, many of their players were 2 and 3-star recruits that have chips on their shoulders, and the Gators can’t take them seriously enough. In the last five years, they have picked off Auburn, Boston College, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, South Carolina and the Evil Genius, and Tennessee. They have played Florida within 7 points twice, and the only thing that has probably saved the Gators from an upset is the grotesque talent differential. BTW, the Commodores usually give Alabama fits, too.

third quarter fan

August 5th, 2009
12:16 pm

Mister B…thanks for the news about the Always Competitive Conference instead of that silly one team conference (one rock and a bunch of pebbles).


August 5th, 2009
12:19 pm

I find it hilarious that Georgia fans love to make fun of the 2006 ACC Championship game between Tech and Wake when it reality if they had played Wake that year they would have gotten beaten, probably by 2 touchdowns.


August 5th, 2009
12:21 pm

I am an SEC fan at heart but the ACC race can be fun to watch. ANYONE can win that conference. It could be a traditional powerhouse like Miami or Florida, a new style and system on offense like Tech’s, or it could be a small school like Wake. Throw in VaTech, Clemson, Maryland and Virginia and the ACC is a crapshoot (no pun intended SEC fans). I think the ACC race will be one of the best things to watch this whole season, regardless of how the talent compares to other conferences.

Saint Simons

August 5th, 2009
12:21 pm

(((((45-42))))hahaha and we had a great Tickle Pile!!!!


August 5th, 2009
12:21 pm

Btw, outside of the Florida schools, which team features the most kids on their team from the state of Florida?

Answer: The Wake Forest Demon Deacons

third quarter fan

August 5th, 2009
12:23 pm

EW…how will the sec unfold? LOL


August 5th, 2009
12:24 pm

Ramblinwreck1378, I seriously believe the SEC this year will be stronger than last. UF, Bama, Ole Miss are all obvious contenders. Arkansas improved last year and a good QB should put them in the bowl race. Auburn has a unified coaching staff something they have not had the past few years. UGA will have a more productive offense due to a better OL and a QB that can sustain long clock killing drives. Kentucky and Vandy have the best coaching staffs they have had in decades. Remember as a whole FBS is sliding thanks to scholarship limits so I doubt you will see as many dominant teams but the SEC is still winning their bowl matchups.

third quarter fan

August 5th, 2009
12:28 pm

Otto, Cox has displayed that in his one start?