We continue with our ACC Football Q & A sessions by taking a look at some of the teams that could show the most improvement over last season, and which teams may be overrated.
We are once again joined by our panel of ACC football experts, including Brandon Rink of ACC Blogger. We have Chris Colston, the author of the HokieFootball Annual. You can order Chris’ HokieFootball Annual at www.chriscolston.com. It is just $9.99 for the collectible hard copy and $7.99 for the online digital edition. And of course we have The Saturday Edge’s own Jimmy Shivers enlightening us with his ACC football acumen.
Question # 3: Which team do you believe will show the greatest improvement over last season? Which team is overrated (not nearly as good as they are being made out to be)?
Brandon Rink – ACC Blogger: After seeing the success of Chad Morris’ spread scheme at Clemson last season, UNC, armed with eight starters back and four on the o-line with new head coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense, is one to watch to outperform their 7-6 record last season, but of course, it’s only in a spoiler mode with the postseason ban handed down by the NCAA.
FSU is probably too easy a target for overrated, but really, what ACC teams are going to be rated that highly? So, yes, the Seminoles will have the hype and likely be the Atlantic and ACC favorite again (and apparently ranked No. 1 preseason by Phil Steele), and we’ll see if they can live up to it. FSU’s defense should be one of the nation’s best, but we’ll see how far along the offense is.
Chris Colston – The HokieFootball Annual: I think North Carolina could show the most improvement, just because there was so much turmoil last year, and they upgraded at coach with Larry Fedora. Most overrated? Based on how they performed in the Orange Bowl, you’d have to say Clemson.
Jimmy Shivers – The Saturday Edge: It would be pretty difficult to imagine Maryland being any worse than they were last year. They have been hit very hard by attrition this off-season (Danny O’Brien was a poor fit for Gary Crowton’s spread offense, I believe Mike Locksley’s pro-stye offense would have been a better fit) but should have much better chemistry after getting rid of many of the dissenters from last season’s 2-10 campaign.
The defense was porous and only got worse as the season wore on, and the team mailed it in down tharee stretch (41.1 ppg allowed in their last 7 games) but is returning 10 starters and undergoing a philosophical change to a 3-4 defense which dominated in the spring.
If Edsall didn’t have a pretty solid track record as a HC I may be more dubious, but I think this team has a very manageable home slate and should improve markedly on last season’s 1 FBS win, even in an admittedly rebuilding year.
North Carolina should also be better than people expect with a new offense and improved mentality, but without ACC title or bowl eligibility they won’t garner too many headlines.
I actually think Virginia Tech is a little overvalued here at this point; Frank Beamer has built a model of consistency in Blacksburg as he approaches his 26th season (last 8 teams with 10+ wins each year), but some cracks in the armor are beginning to show.
They still have a great defensive coordinator in Bud Foster and return what should be a very strong defensive unit, but their offense is a major question mark for me. Add to that what I think will be a very improved division and a more difficult schedule and you can see why the Hokies Vegas win total of 9.5 games is heavily juiced to the under.
Tomorrow we will find out what our panel thinks of FSU (and maybe even Clemson) possibly leaving the ACC for the Big 12. Let me know who you think will be improved and overrated in the ACC this year by leaving a comment below. Thanks – Pez.