By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
We are going to take a look at the ACC Atlantic division and predict how the teams will do this season.
#7 Syracuse: Dino Babers has had one winning season out of six at Syracuse. That includes 15 conference wins out of 50 ACC games.
The Orange return one of the nation’s top running backs in Sean Tucker (1,496 yards) but big progress in the passing game is needed under new play-caller Robert Anae.
Quarterback Garrett Shrader (781 rushing yards & 14 TDs) threw for less than 100 yards in three of his last four starts.
#6 Louisville: Quarterback Malik Cunningham was one of the best dual-threat players in the country last year and he’s back in 2022.
He was a 62% passer a year ago, throwing for 2,734 yards and 18 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions, while also rushing for over 1,000 yards and 20 additional touchdowns, both top 10 numbers nationally.
He lost a few receivers that transferred but the Cardinals also had some talented players transfer into the program. Wide receivers Tyler Hudson (Central Arkansas) and Dee Wiggins (Miami) should be good playmakers on the outside.
Tight end Marshon Ford (49 receptions) has a chance to be an All-ACC first-team pick.
They also return four starters on the offensive line.
#5 Boston College: The Eagles started 4-0 last season before the wheels fell off and they lost four consecutive games.
They finished at 6-6 and won just one ACC game at Chestnut Hill.
Quarterback Phil Jurkovec went down in Week 2 and he didn’t return until November. He’ll be back this season with running back Pat Garwo III and receiver Zay Flowers. They only return one starter on the offensive line so that is a big concern.
They return 7 starters on defense and they only gave up 22.2 points a game last fall.
#4 Florida State: The Seminoles made progress in head coach Mike Norvell’s second year in ’21, finishing 5-7. I don’t expect them to compete for the conference title, but they win total should increase.
Quarterback Jordan Travis passed for 2,074 yards, 15 touchdowns and 6 picks.
The season opener is in New Orleans against LSU. The Tigers are coming off of a disappointing season with a new head coach so FSU can win that game and set the tone for the season.
#3 Wake Forest: QB Sam Hartman returns after leading the offense to 41 points per game last year.
The Demon Deacons have talented receivers like A.T. Perry, Taylor Morin and Donavan Greene. They also return four O line starters.
Defense is where they struggled the most in 2021 and it’s still a big question mark.
#2 NC State: The Wolfpack return 17 starters, which is the most of any team in the ACC from a squad that went 9-3 last fall.
That includes quarterback Devin Leary (35 TDs, 5 INTs) and one of the nation’s top linebacker units anchored by Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas.
They must replace its top two rushers (Bam Knight and Ricky Person) and elite left tackle Ikem Ekwonu. They averaged a league low 3.3 yards per rush in 2021.
#1 Clemson: The Tigers had their streak of consecutive ACC titles snapped at six and failed to make the CFB Playoff for the first time since ’14 last season.
Offense was a problem last year and five-star QB DJ Uiagalelei completed 55.6% of his passes for 9 TDs and 10 picks. In theory he can’t get any worse and if he plays better Clemson will be back in the Top 10.
By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Let’s take a look at the ACC Atlantic division and predict how the teams will finish this season.
Clemson: The last time we saw the Tigers they manhandled Alabama in the national championship.
They finished the year 15-0 and I expect 2019 to be more of the same. Clemson is by far the most talented team in the conference and it’s not even close. They remind me of Florida State in the 90’s when they ran through the ACC.
They have one tough game at home Week 2 against Texas A&M. That was a close game last season but it was on the road in a hostile environment. Trevor Lawrence is a Heisman frontrunner and he should win it. They will go undefeated again.
Syracuse: The Orange went 10-3 in 2018, which was a big surprise. We will see if they can sustain that success in 2019. They have 7 starters returning on defense and quarterback Tommy DeVito is a rising star. They play Clemson at home September 14th and that will be the biggest ACC game of the year.
They have had some success against Clemson recently, so I think that will be a close game. The ‘Cuse should win 9 games.
Florida State: The Seminoles are the gold standard for a dynasty in the modern ACC era.
Former head coach Jimbo Fisher had a ton of success but they did not play well in his final 2017 season. He was replaced with Willie Taggart and so far, it looks like a bad hire.
In his lone season in Oregon, the Ducks were 7-5. After he left, they were 9-4. FSU was 7-6 in 2017 and they slipped to 5-7 under Taggart.
The ‘Gulf Coast’ offense he brought to Tallahassee was terrible. Tailback Cam Akers is really the only bright spot for the team and he’s hoping to have a bounce back year. He rushed for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2017 but last year only had 706 yards. I think they can win 7 games.
NC State: The good news is the Wolfpack have 8 starters returning on defense. The bad news is on the other side of the ball.
Offensive coordinator and QB coach Eli Drinkwitz left to become the head coach at Appalachian State. They also lost three starters from a standout offensive line, two 1,000-yard receivers and quarterback Ryan Finley. All of those weapons led them to a 9-4 record and they were 6-2 in the ACC.
I expect them to take a step back because they have so much to replace on offense. They should win 7 games.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were 7-6 last year, which is very good for this program.
An interesting fact is they have two players from the show QB 1 Beyond the Lights, Tayvon Bowers and Sam Hartman.
Hartman played well as a true freshman, throwing for 1,984 yards and 16 touchdowns in 9 games. They have the opportunity to go to their fourth consecutive bowl game and that should happen. They will win 6 games.
Boston College: The Eagles were 7-5 in 2018. They relied heavily on quarterback Anthony Brown and running back AJ Dillon. Both of them return this season so expect more of the same. They are good enough to win at least 6 games.
Louisville: The Cardinals were terrible last year, which got Bobby Petrino fired.
He was replaced by Scott Satterfield who had the same position at Appalachian State.
This is the worst team in the conference so I think they will win 3 or 4 games.
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
With the regular season winding down and various conference tournaments beginning across the country, the NCAA Tournament is just on the horizon.
Originally, I was going to comment on what it would take for all the possibly eligible SEC teams to make it to Phoenix this year, but I would’ve finished almost as quickly as I started. So, since it seems the ACC will likely have a much larger number of participants, I’ll go with them.
These are all the ACC teams that are currently thought to be in the field of 68, or one of the first four out, according to SI.com.
Wake Forest: Hope they don’t play anyone ranked in the Top 50. The Demon Deacons are something like 1-348,962 against Top 50 opponents since the invention of the telephone. That request is probably a realistic expectation if they were to make the tournament, right?
Georgia Tech: Make sure they score over 65 points. Their winning percentage is .866 when they hit this benchmark. It’s .30 when they don’t.
Syracuse: Have John Gillon dedicate ‘Cuses entire tournament run to Rasheed Sulaimon. I have the upmost respect for Gillon trying to have his buddy’s back after hitting the game winning shot against Duke. The only problem is the ‘15 team that dismissed ‘Sheed won the title. When comparing anything Sulaimon accomplishes in his basketball life to that Duke team, he loses. End of story.
Virginia Tech: Ummm…..Huh??? I figured the Hokies just stopped playing basketball once they got rid of Seth Greenberg.
Miami: Show Bruce Brown tapes of Doug McDermott, similar to that of A Clockwork Orange. Brown has scored more than 20 points in only two games this season, against UNC and Duke. Those just happen to be the ‘Canes two most impressive wins of the year.
Virginia: Hold their opponents to under 40 points. I know I sound facetious, but Virginia has scored 55 or less in three of the last five games. In the two games they eclipsed that number, one was in double overtime and the other was against NC State, where they’re allergic to defense.
Notre Dame: Avoid teams that play any semblance of defense. Mike Brey’s team always seem to be near the top in offensive efficiency which helps negate other teams that like to get out and push the ball. Play someone where that efficiency takes a dip and they will struggle.
Florida State: Convince the NCAA committee to play the tournament in Tallahassee. FSU hasn’t lost on their home court since November, but has really struggled on the road. Next to North Carolina, Florida State is the second most complete team in the ACC.
Louisville: Hit outside shots. If they do this they have a chance. If not, they don’t. Pretty simple.
North Carolina: Don’t be in a bracket with a more talented team. I know it sounds obvious, but the tournament has made its name on upsets- unless you’re Carolina. Since 2006 the lowest seed UNC has lost to was a 4 seed Kentucky team. When it comes to the tournament, the Heels win the games they’re supposed to. Unfortunately for their fans, the same logic applies for the games they should lose.
Duke: Invent a time machine to travel back to October and undo whatever voodoo took place before the season started. On paper, this is the most talented team in the nation. On the court, it has been completely different. Plenty of legitimate excuses to go around, but bottom line is this sum is not equal to all of its parts.