ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week Two

If Clemson’s Andre Ellington Continues Running the Way He Did on Saturday, the Tigers Could Win the ACC Once Again

After months of arbitrary offseason shuffling, we finally have some actual games to base these rankings off of. All 14 ACC squads were in action last week, and while many performed admirably, several manged to disappoint as well. Check out the list below, and weigh in down in the comments if you disagree.

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): The Seminoles did a commendable job pummeling Murray State on Saturday. And that defense — just as impressive as they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, however, the big win came with a steep price. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins injured his foot, and is now out for the remainder of the season. We won’t know how much the loss affects FSU this week, but once the real slate starts, it’ll be all too apparent.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Everything about Saturday’s win over Auburn was exceptional. Andre Ellington‘s ground game. Tajh Boyd‘s ability to make plays work through the air and on the ground. The offensive line’s maturity right in front of our eyes. And of course, the defense quickly showing they’d learned a thing or two from new coordinator Brent Venables.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 6): Everyone worried about how Giovani Bernard would fit into Larry Fedora’s offense. After the 62-0 drubbing they handed Elon, I think he’ll fit in just fine. Three TDs on just 12 touches will do that sort of thing. Obviously there’s more difficult opponents out there, but the big win appears to be an appetizer for what’s in store for this offense.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): Another slow start for the Hokies, though this year, they manage to win the opener. If Virginia Tech gave the game ball to anyone on Monday night, it should’ve been handed right over to their opponent’s QB. Aside from their late drive for the game-tying field goal, the offense appeared listless and the O-line issues are real.

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ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #7, Brandon Jenkins

Florida State’s Brandon Jenkins is #7 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 25 Players for 2012

As part of our 2012 season preview, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC for this season, from 25 to one. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective, so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

No. 7,  Brandon Jenkins, DE/Florida State

Should Florida State regain the might it possessed from 1987 through 2003, it’ll likely be accomplished through the defense. In 2012, it’s a senior unit occupied by nine returning starters — stunning for a group that only allowed 15.1 points per game last season. The centerpiece of the defense is its line, and specifically, our featured player today, senior DE Brandon Jenkins.

An active pass-rusher (all part of the FSU scheme), Jenkins collected eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss last season. And even though those figures were among the best in the ACC, they still ended up amounting to a “disappointing” year for Jenkins (coming off a breakout 2010). For the senior, who lacks the size and strength of many NFL-caliber ends, he excels on speed and aggression. His 4.59 40-yard dash time may not scream “elite,” but his nice burst off the line is still a huge advantage. Repeating their strong effort from last year, the ‘Noles defensive front traces directly back to Jenkins success. Even if he fails to get the ball-carrier, his ability attracts attention away from teammates and opens up easy lanes for tackles. Continue reading

Video: ESPN Inside the Program: Florida State Seminoles

Whenever possible, we’ve been putting up videos previewing the season in ACC football, etc., in order to give everyone a more visual look at what to watch out for this year. Today, we’ve got an ESPN “Inside the Program” segment focusing in on Florida State.

Take a look below as FSU defensive ends Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins explain to the network’s David Pollack how to rush the passer and some of their favorite aspects of playing the position. While there’s plenty of criticism on Pollack overall, I do believe that he and Jesse Palmer have some good chemistry while covering college football, and sine Pollack’s a young guy, he’s great to plug in for spots like this.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Florida State Seminoles

If Florida State Wants to Win the ACC in 2012, They’ll Need the Offense, Led by E.J. Manuel, to Produce

Team: Florida State Seminoles

2011 W-L: 9-4 (5-3)

Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (19-8; two seasons)

Returning Starters: 17 (9 Offense, 8 Defense)

After what had appeared like ages to ‘Noles fans, 2011 was supposed to be the “return to glory” for a team that at one point finished in the top five for 14 straight seasons. But a 2-3 start derailed it all in a hurry, and once again, we entered wait-and-see mode, a common occurrence over the past decade in Tallahassee. By most standards, the Seminoles were successful in how they rebounded to win seven of their final eight games, en route to a 9-4 overall record last year. However, Florida State doesn’t operate by “most standards.”

Florida State’s overall offensive production (30.9 points per game) may look impressive, but then you see that they only put up 22.7 per game in seven contests against bowl-bound teams. Peering even further into the schedule, you’ll also find that FSU beat just five FBS teams with winning records — the first such win not appearing until October 29 against NC State. But of course, that was last year’s team.

This year’s team faces an even more manageable schedule, and thus, promises to put up even more impressive point totals. The group is also more talented, however, though they’ll be counting on senior QB E.J. Manuel in order to harness all that talent. While he struggled for efficiency at times last year, he still managed to progress into a competent, confident passer; one that threw for 2,666 yards and 18 scores with a 65-percent completion rate. With another year under his belt, and an experienced offensive line in front of him, you’d only figure he’d improve in 2012. But he’ll also need to see more from his receivers. Despite the nice stat sheet for Manuel, he still doesn’t have a true number-one target and instead deals with an inconsistent group of experienced receivers. Sophomore Rashad Greene will likely enter the season as the top receiver, though nothing’s carved in stone. His fellow wide receivers Rodney Smith and Cristian Green are equally likely to push for minutes and catches, making it anything but a clear-cut decision.

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Phil Steele’s Preseason All-ACC Team

 

Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas Headlines Phil Steele’s First-Team All-ACC Preseason Picks

Phil Steele‘s released this his preseason all-conference picks for 2012, and we wanted to give a quick breakdown of some of the selections. Obviously, any critiques we may have of Phil’s selections are in no way personal, but rather, just a matter of opinion. You can view Phil Steele’s full preseason All-ACC selections here. And for information on Syracuse and Pittsburgh‘s selections, visit the All-Big East page.

Highlights from Phil Steele’s First-Team All ACC Picks

QB: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

RB: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB: Andre Ellington, Clemson

WR: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

WR: Conner Vernon, Duke

DE: Brandon Jenkins, Florida State

DT: Joe Vellano, Maryland

CB: David Amerson, NC State

Overall, Clemson led the way on the first team, with six selections total. Florida State and North Carolina each had five, though all of FSU’s were on either defense or special teams. Additionally, Steele’s ranking also brings up the hot topic of deciding who’s the better quarterback: VPI’s Logan Thomas (Steele’s selection) or Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (our selection). While arguments can surely be made for both, the gap is not all the wide. Boyd proved himself last season, and has better offensive weapons at his disposal. Thomas, while potentially possessing better decision-making skills, also has little help coming back on offense in 2012. It will be interesting to see how he adapts and if he can replicate or improve upon last year’s stats. Continue reading