ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #2, David Amerson

NC State’s David Amerson is #2 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. 2, David Amerson, QB/NC State

It can be argued that the two best defensive players in college football both played in the ACC last season. While one of them — former Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was selected in the top 10 of the NFL Draft this past April, the other remains in school for at least another season. David Amerson, NC State’s phenomenal cover man and arguably the country’s best ball-hawk, is back for the Wolfpack, after a season in which he recorded a conference-record 13 interceptions. With offenses actively avoiding him this season though, will he be capable of giving us a true encore performance?

I think he can. Of course, there’s a good chance offenses will try to throw away from him, but what are they supposed to do? Completely avoid their top target because Amerson is in the vicinity? His opportunities may decrease, but it’s hard to believe that a player who averaged a pick per game is suddenly going to struggle to get his hand on the ball. Additionally, it’s not as if his fellow defenders are slouches either. The team finished with a FBS-best 27 interceptions in 2011, meaning there’s plenty more chances to go around. Fellow DBs Earl Wolff and C.J. Wilson will also keep offenses honest, after combining for four interceptions last year.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Boston College Eagles

If Boston College Hopes to Win in 2012, QB Chase Rettig and the Offense Will Have to Show Vast Improvement in a New System

Team: Boston College Eagles

2011 W-L: 4-8 (3-5)

Head Coach: Frank Spaziani (20-19; three seasons)

Returning Starters: 17 (10 Offense, 7 Defense)

After 13 years of successful football, rife with postseason berths, Boston College missed a bowl game in 2011. They posted a losing record for the first time since 1997, and experienced their fourth consecutive decline in overall wins from the year before. Of course, for any program, this usually means you’re in a free fall, and it’s time for the coach to be shown the door.

Yet up in Chestnut Hill, athletic director Gene DeFillippo decided that head coach Frank Spaziani and his mustache will get one more go-around to try and right the ship. Even with 17 starters returning this season though, can he do so successfully?

In 2011, the Eagles’ offense was absolutely abysmal. They finished 100th in the country in passing yards, 82nd in rushing yards and a ghastly 112th in scoring, with just 18.2 points put up per game. Quarterback Chase Rettig was largely unimpressive, the receivers were non-factors and the running game just never quite got going without the school’s career rushing leader Montel Harris (lost early in the season to injury). To fix this, Spaziani changed direction on offense, bringing in offensive mastermind Doug Martin. Continue reading

ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #22, Kevin Pierre-Louis

Boston College’s Kevin Pierre-Louis is Number 22 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, 22, Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB/Boston College

It’s unlikely anyone would ever be able to replace all-world former Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly‘s production. But, if BC has to try and replicate one of the country’s best defenders, Kevin Pierre-Louis isn’t a bad substitute. Kuechly’s teammate last year, Pierre-Louis has started the season with plenty of hype and fanfare — considered first-team All-ACC, and named to the Nagurski (best defensive player) and Lombardi (best lineman/linebacker) watch lists, respectively. Without question, he’s the most important cog on this Eagles team, on either side of the ball, and their hopes could rise and fall on whether he can come close to Kuechly’s record-setting tackling output.

In just nine games in 2011, Pierre-Louis managed 74 tackles, recording seven or more in all but two of those games. While he’s a versatile linebacker for sure, with Kuechly acting as a ball-stopper at the point of contact, KPL was free to roam the middle of the field and protect against the pass. As the featured linebacker now, it’ll be interesting to see where his role heads toward; more run- or pass-focused. Since he’s not a big guy at all (6’1″, 218 pounds), we may see his speed employed much more in the flat, especially against west coast offenses, where he’ll thrive. Continue reading

Early 2012 ACC Football Power Rankings (July 17)

New Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables (Right) Believes He Can Fix the Tigers’ Multitude of Problems on That Side of the Ball

I can see kickoff on the horizon! (Almost) But nonetheless, the 2012 college football season is getting closer and closer, meaning more discussions about actual football. As we’ve done this entire offseason, below is a completely arbitrary ranking of all 14 ACC schools, taking into account all random happenings in and around each respective program. These are the final offseason rankings before we dive into our 2012 season preview. Then, once the season starts (!!!) they’ll be updated weekly, just as they were last year.

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Can Florida State finally make good on the lofty preseason expectations that have accompanied them these past few years? The pieces are all there — 10 returning starters on defense, an experienced, veteran QB in E.J. Manuel, and a very manageable schedule. Now it’s up to the ‘Noles to deliver.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Complain about the defense all you want, but I’ve got a great feeling about new coordinator Brent Venables and his ability to make an immediate impact. Plus, how can you honestly bet against the team’s three-headed monster on offense? You saw how they manhandled talented defenses last year. Who’s to say they can’t do so again?

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): There is a boatload of hype surrounding Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas. But the only way he’ll be able to deliver on it is if a) his inexperienced offensive line can adapt quickly, b) the running game can take some of the load off his shoulders (dependent, in part, on the offensive line), and c) his receivers are ready and able to make an impact. Wideout D.J. Coles appears ready to become a bigger part of the offense in 2012. He’ll be called upon often to prove it.

4. NC State Wolfpack (LW: 4): The expectations are growing down in Raleigh, especially with a manageable schedule laid out in front of the Wolfpack. So long as Mike Glennon and David Amerson are healthy, there are very few squads in the ACC that can truly hang with these guys on either side of the ball.

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Too-Early 2012 ACC Football Power Rankings (June 13)

With a New-Look Offensive Line, Virginia Tech’s Title Hopes Will Fall on QB Logan Thomas

With the calendar quickly creeping into the summer months, we also have another installment of our early power rankings for the entirety of the ACC. As you’ll notice, these are no longer “far too early” — a welcome sign that football season is near). Just like always, we take into account what’s happened both on and off the field to compile these completely subjective evaluations. This will be revised monthly throughout the offseason, before returning to our weekly format come September.

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Ten starters return from one of the nation’s top defenses, so it’s only natural to see the Seminoles sitting atop the rest of the conference in preseason. But as touched on before, what takes this team from conference title contender to National Title contender is E.J. Manuel, and how he responds to the implied expectations.

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Some say the Tigers have three Heisman contenders this fall. True or not, it won’t matter a bit if the defense continues its shoddy fundamentals and focus from last year. New defensive coordinator Brent Venables may have his work cut out for him, sure. But from early returns in practice, it already looks like he’s making a huge difference.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): Like the ‘Noles, VPI returns the overwhelming majority of its players from a top-ranked defense. But just like their counterparts at FSU, it’ll come down to quarterback play to determine how far the Hokies can go. Logan Thomas showed tremendous growth in 2011, and he’ll need to do even more of it to cope with an inexperienced O-line in 2012.

4. NC State Wolfpack (LW: 4): For all the talent the Wolfpack have (and they do have a ton of it, they’ll still be battling two big weaknesses that could (fortunately or unfortunately) define their season. The run game and linebacker play are huge areas of concern, and if the team can’t lock down suitable solutions in camp, the year will be off to a very rough start versus Tennessee. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, David Wilson, Andre Branch Among 31 ACC Players Selected

Luke Kuechly Headlines a Long List of ACC Football Players Drafted By NFL Teams This Weekend

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the books, after 253 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 33, if you include the two draftees from Syracuse (for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just the SEC and Big Ten in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full roster of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC. Continue reading

NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, Quinton Coples Among Four ACC First-Rounders

Former UNC Defensive End Quinton Coples Will Now Be Suiting Up for the New York Jets

Of the 32 players selected during Thursday’s first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, four ended up hailing from ACC schools. And while three of them were expected to go in the opening round, another appeared to be a slight reach, though nothing to be surprised about.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-Draft next week, but for now, here are the league’s four first round picks:

No. 9 Overall: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, selected by the Carolina Panthers

We said Kuechly was top-10 the other day, and it ends up we — like many others — were spot-on in that assessment. Carolina gets themselves a fierce competitor and defender who’s likely to play an active role in the struggling defense from early on.

No. 16 Overall: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina, selected by the New York Jets

Something tells me that Coples’ big issue (effort) will become a non-factor once he arrives at Jets camp this summer. Either that, or he’ll get sucked into the Rex Ryan circus. For his sake, let’s hope he can avoid the distractions in New York, and play up to the potential he’s always shown in spurts. Continue reading