ACC Football Positional Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks

Clemson, Led by Tajh Boyd and Cole Stoudt, Have the ACC's Top Quarterback Unit for 2013

Clemson, Led by Tajh Boyd and Cole Stoudt, Have the ACC’s Top Quarterback Unit for 2013

While we’re still over two months away from the season, it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off till July and August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.

This week, we start with the quarterback position. Last year it was a strength — or at least it was supposed to be — and while it could be once again in 2013, that will rely on some new starters stepping up in a big way. Though it may not be as top-heavy as last year’s crop (especially after seeing EJ Manuel, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib and Sean Renfree headed to the NFL), the ACC still possesses a really strong group of passers who all look to either start or end their careers on a positive note.

Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual quarterback is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of passers is. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.

ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Quarterbacks

1. Clemson Tigers: Seeing both Tajh Boyd and offensive coordinator Chad Morris return was a godsend for the Tigers, who get one more year of the potent passing attack led by those two men. In 2012, Boyd broke out for over 4,400 total yards and now he has his eyes set on both a Heisman Trophy and a national title. Beyond Boyd, the team will lean mostly on Cole Stoudt in garbage time, after losing Chad Kelly tore his ACL in the spring. Stoudt, a junior, threw for 212 yards and three scores last season in relief of Boyd.

2. Louisville Cardinals: Teddy Bridgwater has all the hype and expectations anyone could possibly deal with in one season, yet I think he’ll still succeed. The Heisman contender and possible first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is the core of a young Cardinals team that’s aiming to be unbeaten this fall. For when games get out of hand, the ball will likely be handed to Jerry Arlinghaus, the 6’4″ sophomore from nearby Covington, KY with a nice arm.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels: Bryn Renner‘s ability to transition to Larry Fedora’s spread offense has made him a rising star in the ACC, and don’t be surprised to see him put up even more impressive numbers as he closes out his senior season at Chapel Hill. Behind him, Fedora’s also stock-piling players who fit right into his system, with big passers like redshirt freshman Kanler Coker and true freshman Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky was named as “the next Johnny Manziel” by ESPN’s Joe Luginbill back in December, which is quite the name to live up to.

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Maryland Terrapins

Running Back Brandon Ross is One of Many Terps That Can Solidify His Status This Spring

Running Back Brandon Ross is One of Many Terrapins That Can Solidify Their Status This Spring

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Maryland Terrapins

Spring Practice Start Date: March 2

Spring Game Date: April 12

Maryland’s 2012 season was a complete and utter disaster — five quarterbacks (one of whom was a linebacker), a multitude of defensive injuries and a six-game losing streak to close out the year. And unfortunately, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, either. While the offseason’s been abuzz around the Terps’ impending move to the Big Ten and their lawsuit to leave the ACC, things have been progressing equally as slow on the field, as their quarterbacks are still unavailable for contact drills.

Those passers — C.J. Brown (clubhouse favorite to (re-)win the starting job), Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe — have thrown on a limited basis this spring, so it’s unlikely we’ll gain any clarity at the position ’till July. So instead, the first week or so of spring practice has actually worked to muddle the situation a bit. Transfers Dustin Dailey and Ricardo Young are taking more reps and working with the first team; meaning they’re also the ones most likely to have the best rapport with returning star receiver Stefon Diggs (huge advantage). No matter who’s throwing the ball though, it won’t matter all that much without a running game. Despite the team’s limited quarterback situation in 2012, Terrapins halfbacks still only racked up 103 yards per game (115th in the country). Can they expect better this spring, and into the fall? Odds are on Brandon Ross becoming an every-down back, and without Wes Brown taking carries from him over the next month, it’s really his job to lose.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Maryland Terrapins

Injuries Aside, Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense At Least Had Impressive Seasons

Injuries Aside, At Least Stefon Diggs and the Maryland Defense Had Impressive Seasons

Team: Maryland Terrapins

W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Postseason: None

Top Offensive Performer: Stefon Diggs, WR

Top Defensive Performer: Joe Vellano, DL

Before the 2012 season even started, the Terrapins appeared to be cursed last year. Incumbent starting quarterback C.J. Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL in practice, and with his loss, so vanished a promising season for Maryland. But surprisingly, that was not the case — at least initially, anyway. Replacement Perry Hills was learning on the fly, but had still led the Terps to a 4-3 record… until he was injured as well. The Angry Maryland QB-Hating God joke/nightmare grew when Hills’s replacements, Caleb Rowe and Caleb Rowe were also injured, leaving the team to lean on linebacker Shawn Petty for the remainder of the year. So before laughing at the Terrapins’ 123rd-ranked offense or 109th scoring offense in the country, consider the situation. On offense, they were virtually set up to fail from day one, with the only saving grace being standout freshman receiver Stefon Diggs. The receiver and kick returner had 1,896 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns, all while routinely being the fastest player on the field. Playing with a linebacker at quarterback, they still nearly beat North Carolina in the final week of the season — the same UNC team that would’ve taken home the ACC’s Coastal division. So sure, you could call it all bad, but there’s also plenty of foundation for the future.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Nine (UPDATE: With Devin Burns Injury Note)

Can NC State Continue Its Hot Streak Against UNC, Or Will the Wolfpack Finally Cool Off?

The ACC continues to battle perception this weekend, as teams looking to differentiate themselves face tough in-conference tests. While it would be great for Duke’s feel-good story to continue versus FSU, obviously the league would suffer mightily with a Seminoles loss. And while the Heels may be the Coastal division’s best hope to finish with a team above .500, they might just be outmatched by a Wolfpack team gunning for their first division title. At any rate, just another exciting weekend of ACC football…

Game of the Week

NC State Wolfpack (5-2) (2-1) at North Carolina Tar Heels (5-3) (2-2): Opinions differ on whether or not this is an actual rivalry, and given State’s recent 5-0 run, maybe the real mistake is the Heels discounting it. And if their recent cold streak against the Wolfpack wasn’t enough, UNC also has a score to settle after last week’s last-minute loss to Duke; a crushing loss made worse by the Blue Devils clinching a bowl bid with the victory. If they hope to stop NC State, though, the Tar Heels must play better defense than they did last week. Duke came into that game with one of the worst rushing attacks in the country, yet managed over 230 yards on the ground. If State’s similarly terrible running game can have a performance like that, coupled with a serviceable effort from Mike Glennon, UNC has little hope to pull this one out. Prediction: NC State 26, UNC 23

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Clemson Tigers (6-1) (3-1) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3) (2-3): Did Clemson’s defense wake up last weekend, or did the offense shut down? The answer is crucial for the Tigers, as they hope to finish the regular season on a much more positive note than last year. And it all starts tonight. If it weren’t already enough that Wake gets star receiver Michael Campanaro back, both of the Tigers’ starting cornerbacks are inactive tonight. So suddenly, an easy matchup between Clemson’s improving defense and the Deacs’ stagnant offense gets a lot more hairy. It’ll all come down to stopping the pass, but if Wake Forest can get a running game going — not out of the question against a questionable front four for Clemson — it could be a very long night for Dabo Swinney’s team. Prediction: Clemson 31, Wake Forest 27

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ACC Football Power Rankings: Week Nine

Florida State Defeats Miami, Referee Issues and Remains Atop the Power Rankings

Yet another crazy weekend of ACC football, and we still find ourselves no closer to figuring out who’ll be playing in Charlotte for the league championship. The one thing we may be getting a handle on, though? Who is NOT playing in that game. And if eventually that list allows us to fill out the who IS list, then so be it (pray this isn’t what actually happens). Jimbo Fisher’s team deserves to be on top of these rankings, but I’m scared he’d have me suspended if that weren’t the case…

1. Florida State Seminoles (7-1) (4-1) (LW: 1): Never a good thing to hear your best running back is out for the season (again). But when you’re Florida State, you’ve got two more great options ready to go. Referees aside, the ‘Noles looked sloppy for a good portion of their Saturday night matchup with Miami — something that should concern them since the ‘Canes have no defense to speak of. It’s fine if EJ Manuel‘s taking more risks, but he must also keep the rest of the offense focused. Those fumbles were unforgivable, and could cause some real damage against a better team.

2. Clemson Tigers (6-1) (3-1) (LW: 2): The story of the game somehow ended up being the Tigers’ defense, which forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown of its own against Virginia Tech. So was this the turning point Brent Venables seemed to promise when he took over as defensive coordinator? Perhaps, though let’s give it a few more games. The Hokies’ offense has been putrid all season, and Clemson’s had their number these past two seasons. Still, it’s something they can potentially build off of.

3. NC State Wolfpack (5-2) (2-1) (LW: 4): State got very lucky at the end of this weekend’s game, due to a missed field goal — so don’t mistake their one-spot promotion as a ringing endorsement. But nonetheless, this is a Woflpack team that seems to know how to get the job done in crunch time. After their respective rocky starts, both Mike Glennon and David Amerson may have finally turned things around. The biggest issue now is how they’ll get by over the course of the season if they can’t run the ball.

4. Duke Blue Devils (6-2) (3-1) (LW: 7): Make no mistake about it, this Duke team is a legitimate threat to win the down-and-out Coastal division after their big comeback the other night. While there are certainly some kinks still to work out, this is a group that came into its own on that final 87-yard touchdown drive, and now look prepared for anything. That theory will be put to the test immediately against FSU this coming weekend. All eyes will be on Sean Renfree and how he reacts to the constant pressure the ‘Noles bring on D.

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After Losing Perry Hills to Injury, Maryland Forced to Evaluate Other Options

 

With Another QB Lost for the Season, Where Does Maryland Turn Next?

Maryland‘s quarterback is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Again.

Back in August, the only veteran QB on Maryland’s squad, unquestioned starter C.J. Brown, tore his ACL in practice and was lost for the season. After a bit of a QB competition in camp, true freshman Perry Hills became the starter for the Terps. Quarterback-turned-wide receiver Devin Burns returned to his QB role and eventually ended up as the no. 2 QB on the depth chart. The plan had been for the other true freshman QB on the roster, Caleb Rowe, to redshirt for the year.

Last Saturday, Hills threw an interception near the end of the first half. During his attempt to make a tackle, he was blocked in the back, went down and badly twisted his knee, resulting in the second Maryland QB in three months lost for the season because of a torn ACL. Burns played most of the second half, and Rowe burned his redshirt in the last 30 seconds, nearly leading the Terps to a wild victory against NC State (which they would have had if not for a missed field goal).

So what happens now for the Terps?

Obviously, losing their starting QB again is not good. Hills had been the unquestioned starter ever since Brown went down. Now that he is out, the job will fall to either Burns or Rowe. While it is certainly not good for the team to be forced, yet again, to have a new starting QB, all hope is not lost for the season.

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ACC Football 2012 Midseason Recap: Atlantic Division

NC State’s Upset of FSU Steals the Headlines, But There’s Plenty More to Talk About From the ACC’s First Half

At the midway point in the 2012 season, little is decided in the ACC. Neither division has a clear frontrunner, no team is assured a trip to the postseason and no team has clinched a bowl spot either. Nonetheless, it’s been an entertaining season within the conference — something we’ll try to highlight here. Along with evaluations for each team, we’ll be providing additional predictions for the second half as well.

Below is the Atlantic division midseason evaluation. Also be sure to check out the Coastal division recap too, which is now live.

Boston College Eagles (1-5) (0-3): Doug Martin’s ability to revive the Boston College offensive attack is all that saves this team from an utter abyss (and even that statement’s pushing it) in Frank Spaziani’s lame-duck final season at the helm. Despite the leaps and bounds by which Chase Rettig has grown, it just doesn’t matter when your defense plays this terribly as a whole. On the bright side, the Eagles hopefully get one more season of Martin coaching Rettig and breakout receiver Alex Amidon under a different head coach in 2013. It would take a miracle for this squad to win six games at this point.

Clemson Tigers (5-1) (2-1): Clemson’s offense has been a sight to behold this season, putting up 41.3 points per game (11th in the country). Unfortunately, the defense has seen little improvement with Brent Venables’ arrival, allowing over 27 points over six games. Thus far, they’ve had little problem just running opponents off the field, but November dates against NC State and South Carolina loom large as potential stumbling blocks to end the year. With a better, fitter Tajh Boyd on the field, there’s hope they’ll avoid the same late stumbles from last season. The emergence of DeAndre Hopkins also helps, as we’re still unsure how Sammy Watkins will finish out the season. Orange Bowl’s the goal, but short of that, another BCS game wouldn’t be out of the question if they win out.

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