Spring Snapshot- The ACC

Now that the ND spring game is in the books I’ll check out a few other conferences that I have yet to really comment on this spring. This summer I’ll be moving Team Whiskey back East after a long stint in Pac-10 country. The down side is that the early game will no longer kick off at 9:00am which I love. I’m going to miss switching from coffee to beer somewhere around half time of that first contest of the day. I guess I’ll have to spend those first few hours of the morning putting my one year old little boy through Oklahoma drills or something. With the East Coast move pending I figure I might as well get back into these other conferences by taking a look at what is going on in the ACC. If you happen to be interested in my spring outlook on the SEC and Big XII after you read this one please scroll down. I still don’t get the Atlantic/ Coastal Division split the ACC came up with. It seems to me a North and South would make more sense here. I'm sure it came down to some geek running numbers on projected TV profits or something. Anyway, here it goes.

Atlantic
Clemson- Florida State and Miami are the only two teams in the ACC sitting on a better stockpile of raw talent than Dabo Swinney is at Death Valley. Despite this the Tigers are one of those teams that seem unable to ever live up to any expectations. Swinney is attempting to buck that trend and spent some time this spring taking his staff on a field trip to visit Mack Brown and Texas to learn how they do it. C.J. Spiller is the real deal but I still don’t anticipate these guys are going to suddenly get it together and make a run at the ACC title.

Florida State- You know how at the end of a horror movie right after the killer is finally "dead" and all the good guys are relieved, then he suddenly springs back to life for one last scare prior to really dying. I’m wondering if old man Bowden has one or two of those left in him like his hero Joe Pa proved to last year. Program health at FSU is in the tank but they really do have a scary group of athletes. Who knows they may rally for one last gasp under Bowden just yet. In the mean time they’ll be avoiding on line classes and bulking up.

BC- Outside of the drama around replacing Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski with DC Frank Spaziani the Eagles haven’t been up to much this off season other than signing a pretty atrocious recruiting class. Spaz is currently trying to whittle down his QB candidates heading into the Eagle spring game. As for 2009 I’m thinking they’ll have a standard BC 7-8 win season with an unspectacular December bowl win. Despite this I’ll still be nervous as hell when they visit South Bend. BC is the jinx.

NC State- Tom O’Brien took over a pretty decimated roster last year and has a long way to go before he can potentially be competitive. In the mean time former VT QB Sean Glennon’s little brother had a nice Spring Game. If this kid is anything like his brother O’Brien needs to think twice about starting him.

Wake Forest- Jim Grobe does more with less and I’m sure that will continue in 2009 with Riley Skinner at QB leading a bunch of kids you have never heard of. The Deacons lost 7 starters on Defense but are looking to regroup.

Maryland- The Terps graduated 30 players from an 8-5 team that won the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in a thriller over Nevada in 2008. Really, it was thrilling. I’m thinking the best thing going for The Fridge and the Terps heading into 2009 is that Under Armor deal. Based on this wrap up following a scrimmage on Saturday The Fridge doesn’t sound real inspired about the Turtles chances in 2009.

Coastal
VT- Frank Beamer has won the ACC Title three times in the five years since the Hokies defected from the Big East with the same simple formula. Beamer and his assistants take relatively unspectacular kids and coach them up to play great defense and outstanding special teams. OC Bryan Stinespring could probably stand a lesson in play calling from any 12 year old that plays NCAA Football on his PS3 or XBox but who am I to argue with the Hokies overall formula for success. It works for them. Beamer spent the spring hashing out his backup QB situation and it looks like Ju Ju will back up Tyrod. No I didn’t make that up. Regardless just having Sean Glennon out of the QB rotation has to be good for a few extra points per game in 2009. The Hokies lost very little to graduation and I expect another outstanding Bud Foster Defense and some "Beamer Ball" to keep them in the thick of the ACC title race in 2009. That will definitely be the case if Tyrod Taylor finally comes into his own a little bit and shows some of those Mike Vick/ Bryan Randall type skills the Hokies recruited him for.

North Carolina- Butch Davis is still plodding along in Chapel Hill quietly putting together a pretty decent football team. Davis is like a poor man’s Nick Saban. He’s not as flashy but at the end of the day he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty over signing kids and coaching up a collection of suspects. How strange is it going to be if UNC gets to where they have a really good team? It probably won’t happen in 2009 but Butch is working on it.

Miami- Then there’s "The U". The Canes are truly on the fringe of blowing up under Randy Shannon. These guys have a ton of young elite talent and will be a serious factor again in short order. Luther Campbell is already ordering cases of champagne to fill his hot tub with for the after parties. Obstacles for the 2009 reunion tour include breaking in new offensive and defensive coordinators as well as a brutal early schedule that includes Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. That’s rough. Luke may have to tell the 2 Live Crew to stand by until 2010, but the Canes are definitely on the way back.

GT- The Paul Johnson offense is effective at Navy with Service Academy talent. At Georgia Tech with athletes a shade bigger, stronger and faster it is a regal pain in the ass to try and stop. I find it pretty fascinating that in the age of the Spread that Johnson’s throwback option offense might be the most devastating offensive "system" of all. The Birddog breaks this system down better than anybody so I’ll leave that to him. Expect the Jackets to continue to wreak havoc on the rest of the ACC in 2009 and don’t be surprised if you see them winning the conference and maybe even a BCS game in the near future.

Duke- Cutcliffe is a great QB coach. Duke cannot be saved.

UVA- Groh’s Cavs are a train wreck. He even fired his own son this off season. I'm sure everyone is looking forward to Christmas at the Groh house now! Don’t expect any kick saves in any time soon. I’ll be surprised if Groh can hang onto his job beyond 2009.

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