ACC Preseason Top 50 Players of 2013: #34, Senorise Perry

Louisville’s Senorise Perry is #34 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

Louisville’s Senorise Perry is #34 on Our Countdown of the ACC’s Top 50 Players for 2013

We’re less than 40 days from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.

Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 34, Senorise Perry, RB/Lousiville (Last Season: NR)

Senorise Perry was primed for a monster season last year as a junior. But reduced carries and a torn ACL derailed him, capping his rushing yardage at just 705 on the year. For 2013 though, he’s the main option for Louisville at running back, and appears to have returned at full health. The speedster (4.46 40-yard dash) has shown himself to be a dominant force both running with and catching the ball. Now, with a full season in front of him and a relatively easy American Athletic Conference schedule, it looks like very little can stop the Cardinals top back.

Right away, you’ll notice that Perry had some absolutely fantastic games in 2012, and some less-than-stellar ones, too. Against Kentucky and Southern Miss, he showed off the stuff that made Louisville think he was a feature back to begin with: a combined 226 yards on 38 carries, plus three TDs. In October against Pittsburgh, however, he really stood out as a potential homerun threat and a real game-changer. On just 12 carries, he tallied 101 yards and four scores in what ended up being a shootout win against the Panthers. His season would slide from there, but it didn’t stop anyone from seeing the possibilities with Perry as the main ball carrier. With that speed and his adequate size (6’0″ and 187 pounds), he possesses all the ingredients to necessary for a great mix of power running and a finesse-based approach all in one.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

First-Year Head Coach Larry Fedora Has Lofty Goals for His High-Octane Attack at North Carolina This Year

Team: North Carolina Tar Heels

2011 W-L: 7-6 (3-5)

Head Coach: Larry Fedora (first season)

Returning Starters: 13 (8 Offense, 5 Defense)

While the narrative for UNC’s 2012 football season will ultimately be the postseason ban they must serve, new head coach Larry Fedora will probably play a close second. The former Southern Mississippi coach, known for a high-octane attack on both sides of the ball, has brought the same energy to Chapel Hill with the promise of a new era in Tar Heels football. Between the talent already on the team, and his dedicated work on the recruiting front, Fedora could be building one of the country’s most entertaining squads to watch.

Last year, Clemson‘s pace blew away much of the rest of the ACC, as they utilized superior speed on offense to simply run other opponents right off the field. With a similar group of athletes at his disposal at UNC, Fedora is attempting to recreate it for himself. The first step is getting QB Bryn Renner on board with the high-octane spread — something he’s already driven headlong into in order to master. If Renner is fully up to the transition from Butch Davis’s pro-style set to this spread, then that’s half the battle. Second, the team will also lean significantly on the agility of sophomore back Giovani Bernard. The speedy rusher was one of the big surprises of the conference last season, and it’s a necessity for him to be effective in order to properly set up the pass. Bernard, who also caught 45 balls for 362 yards last year, can also expect even more involvement in the passing game this year, putting 60 receptions well within reach. And he’ll desperately need to get there if the receiving corps remain as muddled as they’ve been. Senior Erik Highsmith is obviously the star of the group, but beyond him, there’s a lot of uncertainty. With T.J. Thorpe out of the year, Jheranie Boyd becomes the only other experienced option out there; not the best scenario for Renner at all.

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ACC Preseason Top 25 Players of 2012: #11, Kevin Reddick

North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick is #11 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. 11, Kevin Reddick, LB/North Carolina

After sanctions were handed down to North Carolina’s football program, Kevin Reddick had the opportunity to spend his senior season somewhere else, where he’d actually be able to play in a bowl game. Instead, he stuck it out, seeing what the new 4-2-5 defensive scheme opens up for him, and there’s a pretty good shot he’ll be greatly rewarded.

When you observe the 2011 Southern Miss defense under Larry Fedora, you see an unorthodox set relying heavily on strong linebacker play. While that group was talented, and impressively finished in the top 30 in scoring D overall, the players at UNC are obviously a grade above. By abandoning the traditional 4-3, and embracing a set built for its best defensive player (Reddick), there will be a marked difference, that obviously starts right in the middle of the field.

Last year, again in the 4-3, Reddick recorded just 71 stops in a scheme that heavily emphasized the team’s strong D-line and secondary play. And it was obvious he was a better player than he’d been the year before, running a fairly quick 4.57 40-yard dash at 240 pounds. Taken out of plays by the design of the defense, however, he still managed to insert himself into the action, and make those 71 hard-fought tackles. He’s quick to express his own personal frustrations last year, and quick to point out his desire to rectify it. As he told ESPN:

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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

Big East Expansion: Navy-Finally-Says-Yes Edition

The Big East Makes Another Addition: And This Time, It's Navy

After a strung-out courtship that apparently lasted 10 years according to Navy Athletic Director Chuck Gladchuck, the Midshipmen are finally part of the Big East (/Country/Continent/Least, etc.)… in 2015. While I’m always one to applaud the tradition of our service academies as major college football programs, it’s still difficult to see what this addition truly gives the “country’s first national football conference” (source: John Marinatto, who also believes Syracuse, Pitt, TCU and West Virginia were wrong in leaving). While Navy surely adds more tradition than most of the current conference schools, what it lacks is success to go along with it. Yes, the Midshipmen have been to eight bowl games in the last nine years, but just nine bowl games during the previous 125 years of play. And if for some reason, their triple-option attack just can’t measure up anymore (we saw glimpses of this during 2011), Navy could end up as an annual bottom-dweller.

So now what? For the conference to truly be a “national,” coast-to-coast league, the final addition almost HAS to be west of the Mississippi. Remember, the Big East will likely have 13 teams in 2013, but then drop down to 10 in 2014 with the departures of SU, Pitt and WVU. Navy bumps them back up to 11, but with seven teams in the Eastern time zone, two in the Central, one in the Mountain and one in the Pacific, any “Western” division likely needs another team in the western part of the country. Still, we’ll dissect some quick odds on the remaining candidates, taking an open look at the country: Continue reading

Atlantic Coast Convos Top 25 (Final for 2011 Season)

Alabama is the Nation's Top Team After Winning the BCS Title Game

Now that the bowls are over, we’ll take our final shot at ranking the best 25 college football teams in the nation. Like every other publication, we’ll probably have differing opinions from yours. But please, feel free to share any discrepancies below.

Atlantic Coast Convos Top 25 (Final for 2011 Season)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) (LW: 3)

2. LSU Tigers (13-1) (LW: 1)

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-1) (LW: 2)

4. Oregon Ducks (12-2) (LW: 5)

5. USC Trojans (10-2) (LW: 6)

6. Arkansas Razorbacks (11-2) (LW: 8)

7. Stanford Cardinal (11-2) (LW: 4)

8. Boise State Broncos (12-1) (LW: 7)

9. South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2) (LW: 11)

10. Wisconsin Badgers (11-3) (LW: 9) Continue reading

Belk Bowl Preview: NC State vs. Louisville

This Year's Belk Bowl Matches NC State Against Big East Co-Champ Louisville

ACC bowl season rolls right along this week, with the conference’s second game in as many days. The featured matchup for this preview? Another too-close-to-call contest, this time between the NC State Wolfpack and the Big East‘s Louisville Cardinals in the Belk Bowl.

Bowl Game: Belk Bowl

Location: Charlotte, NC

First Year: 2002 (as Continental Tire Bowl)

2011 Participants: North Carolina State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Louisville Cardinals (7-5)

Last Meeting: 2007, a 29-10 road win by Louisville

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North Carolina State (previous bowl game: 23-7 win over West Virginia in 2010 Champs Sports Bowl)

As most observers know by now, NC State truly struggled to get here — needing seven wins this season in order to qualify for the postseason after playing two FCS squads. Somehow, they won three of their last four (including a tremendous 27-point comeback versus Maryland and a huge upset of Clemson) and qualified in the very last week. So at least we know they can compete when called upon. However, what of the Woflpack’s overall performance? Both the defense and offense were merely average this season, while the running game was ranked among the 15-worst in the country. The saving grace? Quarterback Mike Glennon, who led the team’s ferocious come-from-behind victory versus the Terps. His 28 passing scores on the season also don’t tell the full story, however they give a hint as to where this team’s motor lies. Four of the Pack’s losses came in games where Glennon threw two touchdowns or less — an ominous sign coming up against a good pass-rush.

Louisville Cardinals (previous bowl game: 31-28 win over Southern Miss in 2010 Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl)

Like NC State, Louisville started off slow, before catching fire in the second half of the year. At just 2-4, the team looked listless and uninspired, with an offense averaging around 15 points per game. Then suddenly, something clicked. Freshman Teddy Bridgewater stepped in at quarterback, the team started actually scoring points and moving the ball, and a previously disappointing campaign almost resulted in a BCS bid for the Cardinals. And while Bridgewater surely deserves some of the credit here, the real props should be awarded to Louisville’s defense. Ranked 14th overall in points allowed (19.2 per game), they were a force defending both run and pass schemes, and only allowed one team to top 30 points in a game all year. Though the total season numbers won’t give this away, Louisville was probably one of the scariest opponents on teams’ schedules come the last five weeks of the season.

Verdict

As mentioned earlier, NC State’s biggest problem is its inability to run the ball — something that is sure to crush the Wolfpack in this matchup. Though the Cardinals can’t score points themselves, consider the following: Three Louisville defenders recorded 80 or more tackles in 2011. Four players had four or more sacks. The team defended 42 passes, intercepted nine, forced 11 fumbles and even blocked four kicks. As well-regarded as Glennon is on this site, if he’s the only weapon in the State arsenal to go up against what I’ve described above it’s tough to see them winning this game. Sure, he could go all-world like he did in the Maryland game, or the Clemson game. But can the team count on that? Unfortunately, they’ll have to if they want a win here. Prediction: Louisville 28, NC State 21