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Football NCAAF

2019 ACC Football Preview

This was a close game last year in College Station and Texas A&M will come in with a great QB against a young defense.

2018 Standings & Bowl Results

Atlantic Division

  1. Clemson – 15-0 (8-0): Won Cotton Bowl 30-3 over Notre Dame; Won National Championship Game 44-16 over Alabama
  2. Syracuse – 10-3 (6-2): Won Camping World Bowl 34-18 over West Virginia
  3. NC State – 9-4 (5-3): Lost Gator Bowl to Texas A&M 52-13
  4. Boston College – 7-5 (4-4): First Responder Bowl canceled vs Boise State
  5. Wake Forest – 7-6 (3-5): Won Birmingham Bowl 37-34 over Memphis
  6. Florida State – 5-7 (3-5)
  7. Louisville – 2-10 (0-8)

Coastal Division

  1. Pittsburgh – 7-7 (6-2): Lost Sun Bowl 17-13 to Stanford
  2. Georgia Tech – 7-6 (5-3): Lost Quick Lane Bowl 34-10 to Minnesota
  3. Miami – 7-6 (4-4): Lost Pinstripe Bowl 35-3 to Wisconsin
  4. Virginia – 8-5 (4-4): Won Belk Bowl 28-0 over South Carolina
  5. Virginia Tech – 6-7 (4-4): Lost Military Bowl 35-31 to Cincinnati
  6. Duke – 8-5 (2-5): Won Independence Bowl 56-27 over Temple
  7. North Carolina – 2-9 (1-7)

Anytime a team from your conference wins the National Championship it was a good year for you. Clemson showed they were clearly the best team in the nation after beating Notre Dame by 27 and then putting an absolute beat down on Alabama in the Championship Game. During the year though, Clemson did have a scare against Syracuse (well get to that 2019 match-up later) but other than that Clemson’s seasons was never in doubt. Besides Clemson though, the ACC had a rough year. Syracuse was the only other team ranked in the top 25 at the end of the year, even with the ACC going 6-5 in bowl games. The Coastal division was trash, Pittsburgh somehow came out on top by winning 6 games in conference, while powerhouses Miami and Virginia Tech had bad years. Virginia Tech and N.C. State rescheduled games to play on December 1st that were originally cancelled because of a hurricane. That win on December 1st got VT into a bowl game and many thought it was the only reason they decided to play it. The ACC also went just 4-14 during the regular season against Power 5 opponents, so pretty poor overall. The Pac 12 may have gotten less exposure, but the ACC was the worst Power 5 conference in college football last year, and will be in 2019.

Questions for the ACC

  1. Who the hell wins the Coastal to get smoked by Clemson in the ACC Championship?
    • The Coastal isn’t as convoluted at the Big Ten West but there are three teams here that can compete for the crown: Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Miami. Of those three Virginia and Miami are the most popular picks in part because of how good their defenses are. Virginia boasts the QB in the ACC outside of Trevor Lawrence in Bryce Perkins but they don’t have much offense of that. Miami has talent all over but they failed miserably last year after at great 2017. Virginia Tech meanwhile had a disappointing 2017 season and are looking to bounce back. But even if one of these teams wins lets say 10 games during the regular season, do any of them have enough to even sniff Clemson?
  2. Can anybody scare Clemson during the year?
    • This goes off of the first question but Clemson is currently favored by at least 17 in every game this year. Will it be Texas A&M on September 7th or at Syracuse the following week? Those seem like the two best shots because after that the Clemson schedule is cake. Their road games at pathetic after that, at UNC, at Louisville, at NC State, and at South Carolina. There’s not much competition after Weeks 2 and 3.
  3. Can anyone else in the ACC crack the top 15 in the CFP Rankings?
    • After Clemson this conference has almost nothing. Currently Syracuse is the only other ACC team ranked in the AP Poll and they are at 22. For some reason last year teams like Virginia and NC State were ranked in the CFP top 25 even though it was clear they weren’t top 25 teams. Getting a team to 15 will at least give some respect to a conference that is looked at like a joke outside of Clemson. To be honest here, I am not sure the ACC will reach that mark unless the Big 10 and SEC cannibalize themselves during the regular season. I just don’t see another top 15 team in the country in the ACC other than Clemson.
  4. Can Florida St. bounce back after an awful 2018?
    • Willie Taggart came in last year after Jimbo Fisher left and Florida St. fell apart in a bad way. They went 5-7 and had one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in the turnover backpack. What? The Noles were awful on offense where they averaged just 22 points and failed to score 14 points or more in five games. The offensive line was awful, the QB play was awful and both those things need to improve. Florida St. will rely on James Blackman at QB who does have some experience, but they also have former Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook to come in. Florida St. has the talent and schedule to be a surprising team and win 9 or 10 games. If the Noles fail miserably again in 2019, I’m afraid for Willie Taggart his time in Tallahassee is going to be short lived.

Off Season Moves

  1. Mac Brown is hired back to UNC
    • Brown is most famous for his team at Texas but before Texas he was the head coach at North Carolina from 1988-1997. Brown returns to Chapel Hill after being in the ESPN booth for multiple years and is looking to turn around a team that went 2-9 in 2017. Brown brings in a good DC in Jay Bateman for Army that led them to some very good defensive rankings, and brings in Phil Longo from Ole Miss to spread things out. UNC could move the ball in 2018, they just couldn’t score at all. I think UNC will be more competitive in 2019 but I’m not sure Mack Brown has enough talent to get to 6 wins a bowl in 2019, he’s still a year or two away.
  2. Manny Diaz is hired to coach Miami
    • Manny Diaz was on his was to Temple before he got lured back to Miami to lead this team. The former DC at Miami on Mark Richt doesn’t need to fix that side of the ball, he needs to fix this offense. Diaz brought in Dan Enos who was Alabama’s QB coach to run this offense and fix whats been holding Miami back. Redshirt Freshman Jarren Williams won the job over former start N’Kosi Perry and highly touted Tate Martell. We’ve already seen one game and it was very sloppy on Williams part and the offense as a whole but there was some good signs. DeeJay Dallas had some very nice runs and Brevin Jordan at TE had a good game with 88 YDs and 1 TD. The offense was still sloppy as whole and had three fumbles while losing one of them. If Miami wants to win the coastal, the offense is going to need play much better.
  3. Clemson loses a TON off of their defense to the NFL
    • Clemson is like Alabama where they just reload but if there is going to an are where you can attack this team, maybe its at DL where they lost Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins. Clemson obviously has all the talent in the world to replace those guys but talent doesn’t always mean results. Clemson will have a tough test early on with Texas A&M and there’s no doubt in my mind that Jimbo Fischer is going to test that DL some early September.
  4. Louisville moves on from Bobby Petrino and hires Scott Satterfield from Appalachian St.
    • Louisville was AWFUL last year and Bobby fucking Petrino is finally gone. Bring in Scott Satterfield who helped make Appalachian State a very succesfull program in the Sun Belt. Satterfield has little to work with taking over a team that had the worse ranked defense in the ACC, problems at QB, OL, and RB. Louisville just needed to move on from Bobby Petrino who is just an awful human being. Satterfield at App St. used a running QB a lot so look for Louisville to go that route and try to extend and slow down games so Louisville isn’t constantly getting blown out. He gets a great match-up in Week 1: at home vs Notre Dame. This is going to be a multiple year turn around for Satterfield at Louisville.

Conference Notes & Tid Bits

Schedules

  • Toughest in ACC Coastal: Georgia Tech
    • GT opens the year at home against Clemson while they are trying to put in a brand new offense. They also take on Georgia at the end of the year. In ACC play they have to travel to Duke, Miami, and Virginia.
    • Runner-Up: Duke
  • Toughest in ACC Atlantic: Louisville Cardinals
    • Louisville has a first year head coach and only got two wins last year. Their reward? Well not only are they in the same division as Clemson but they also have to play vs Notre Dame Week 1 and play at Kentucky in the final game of the year. From the Coastal they get to play at Miami and at home against Virginia, the top two picks to win that division this year.
    • Runner-Up: Clemson

Offensive Player of the Year

  • QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), RB Travis Etienne (Clemson), WR Tee Higgins (Clemson), RB AJ Dillon (Boston College)
    • Darkhorse: QB Bryce Perkins (Virginia), RB Cam Akers (Florida St.)

Defensive Player of the Year

  • LB Shaq Quaterman (Miami), CB Bryce Hall (Virginia), DL Xavier Thomas (Clemson)
    • Darkhorse: DL Alton Robinson (Syracuse), DL Nyles Pinckney (Clemson)

Best Offensive Units

  • QBs: Clemson (Trevor Lawrence, Chase Brice)
    • There’s nothing really to say here, Trevor Lawrence is the best player in the country and could sit the next two years and he’d probably still be the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. The only other team here to think about was Bryce Perkins and Virginia but Perkins is LEAGUES and LEAGUES behind Lawrence as a QB.
    • Runner-Up: Virginia, Florida St.
  • RBs: Clemson (Travis Etienne, Lyn Dixon, Darien Rencher)
    • Etienne is a dark-horse Heisman candidate who had 1,658 YDS last year while Lyn Dixon had 547 YDS.
    • Runner-Up: Boston College, Florida St.
  • WRs: Clemson (Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, Diondre Overton, Cornell Powerll, T.J. Chase, FRESHMEN)
    • Higgins and Ross both could be on the first team All-ACC come the end of 2019 at WR. Higgins had 936 YDS receiving and 12 TDs last year with Ross had 1,000 yards and 9 TDs. Obviously Clemson has a ton of young talent behind these guys but Higgins and Ross are enough.
    • Runner-Up: Syracuse, Florida St.
  • TEs: Miami (Brevin Jordan)
    • Jordan played as a true freshman last year and had 32 catches for 287 Yards. He earned second team All-ACC and was a top 5 TE recruit coming out of high school. Jordan should only improve in his sophomore year and is a future NFL pick.
    • Runner-Up: Wake Forest, Virginia Tech
  • OL: Clemson (Jackson Carman, Sean Pollard, Gage Cervenka, Tremayne Anchrum, John Simpson)
    • Simpson, Pollard, and Anchrum were All-ACC picks last year. Clemson loses their LT and Center but replace the LT with 5 star recruit Jackson Carman. Clemson only allowed 17 sacks last year and helped Etienne and Dixon run for over 8 YPC in 2018. Expect much of the same in 2019.
    • Runner-Up: Virginia Tech, Syracuse

Best Defensive Units

  • DL: Syracuse (Alton Robinson, Kendall Coleman, Kingsley Jonathan)
    • Robinson and Coleman who are both seniors will both be drafted in the NFL and both guys had 10 sacks last year. Syracuse averaged 3.31 sacks per game last year which was 6th in the country and there’s no reason to think they can’t do those number again, especially given the lack of offense in the ACC. went with Syracuse over Clemson based solely on experience coming back. Clemson’s DL will have more talent but at the start of the year I think Syracuse is the best in the conference.
    • Runner-Up: Clemson, Miami
  • LBs: Miami (Shaq Quaterman, Michael Pinckney, Zach McCloud, Romeo Finley)
    • Quaterman is up for the defensive player of the year award, all these guys have a ton of experience together and Finley who is a backup is a senior. Miami has had good defenses the past few years and they are led by this LB crew.
    • Runner-Up: Clemson, Virginia
  • DBs: Clemson (A.J. Terrell, K’Von Wallace, Tanner Muse, Derion Kendrick, Nolan Turner)
    • 3 of 4 starters return from last year and Clemson obviously recruits very well. Terrell is the next Clemson DB to be picked int he first round and b ea hopeful lock-down corner in the NFL. He’ll be able to shut down who ever he’s guarding in 2019.
    • Runner-Up: Virginia, Miami

Best Special Teams

  • Kickers: Andre Szmyt (Syracuse), Christopher Dunn (NC State), Nick Sciba (Wake Forest)
  • Punters: Sterling Hofrichet (Syracuse), Logan Tyler (Florida St.)
  • Returners: Maurice Ffrench (Pittsburgh), Sean Riley (Syracuse), Joe Reed (Virginia)

Conference Game of The Year

  • Clemson @ Syracuse (Sept. 14th)
    • Syracuse has played Clemson very tough in the past and this game comes the week after Clemson plays Texas A&M, plus Clemson has to travel to Syracuse. Last time Clemson traveled to Syracuse in 2017, they lost 27-24. Like the A&M game, this is best chance for a conference game to be close for Clemson.
    • Runner-Up: Virginia Tech @ Virginia (Nov. 29th)

Non-Conference Game of the Year

  • Texas A&M @ Clemson (Sept. 7th)
    • This was a close game last year in College Station and Texas A&M will come in with a great QB against a young defense. Kellen Mond played well against Clemsons dominate defense last year so this game could be much closer than people expect. However, Clemsons offense is going to be ridiculous behind Trevor Lawrence and I’m not sure Texas A&M can hang for four quarters against this Clemson team. This could be Clemsons closest game of the year.
      • Runner-Up: Virginia @ Notre Dame (Sept. 28th)

Picks

ACC Coastal

  1. Virginia Tech
  2. Virginia
  3. Miami
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Duke
  6. North Carolina
  7. Georgia Tech

ACC Atlantic

  1. Clemson
  2. Syracuse
  3. Florida State
  4. NC State
  5. Boston College
  6. Wake Forest
  7. Louisville

CFP Contenders: Clemson

NY6 Contenders: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia

Bowl Participants: Clemson, Boston College, Florida State, Syracuse, NC State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Miami, Duke, Pittsburgh

Trevor Lawrence via Chris Carlson/Associated Press
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