ACC's triple threats

July, 1, 2010
7/01/10
4:00
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Last month, Rivals.com took a look at the top “triplets” in college football -- the teams with the best combination of quarterback, running back and wide receiver. ESPN.com’s bloggers have since been taking a closer look at the three-headed monsters in each of our respective conferences. Virginia Tech ranked No. 2 in the Rivals.com ranking and was the only ACC school that made the cut.

After looking into it a little closer, I could see why.

By doing this little experiment, I realized that there are only a few teams in the ACC that are truly threats in all three parts of this equation. While North Carolina has starting experience at all three positions, the Tar Heels didn’t make the cut for their lack of offensive success. Same with Virginia. Several teams came up just short -- like NC State, which doesn’t have starting experience at running back but has a standout quarterback and wide receiver, and Maryland, which is breaking in a new starter at quarterback but also has excellent depth at running back and receiver.

So, upon further review, here’s what I came up with:

Note: I’m only considering teams with players who have at least one year of ACC starting experience and weren’t significantly lacking at one of the positions:

1. Virginia Tech

QB: Tyrod Taylor

RB: Ryan Williams

WR: Jarrett Boykin

Rationale: The Hokies have the ACC’s returning leading rusher in Williams, another 1,000-yard rusher in Darren Evans, the league’s No. 1-ranked quarterback in passing efficiency, and the No. 8 receiver in receiving yards per game. No other team in the conference has three players rated higher.

2. Miami

QB: Jacory Harris

RB: Graig Cooper

WR: Leonard Hankerson

Rationale: Cooper is still rehabbing his knee, but with him in the lineup, the Canes have the No. 5 returning rusher in the league, the No. 4 quarterback in passing efficiency, and the No. 9 receiver in receiving yards per game. Even without Cooper healthy, the Canes have enough depth at both running back and receiver that as long as Harris stays healthy, Miami will remain a triple threat.

3. Florida State

QB: Christian Ponder

RB: Jermaine Thomas

WR: Taiwan Easterling

Rationale: Easterling has the most returning starting experience, but Bert Reed is the team’s leader in returning yardage. Jarmon Fortson is also a returning starter, while Ponder led the ACC in total offense despite missing four games with a shoulder injury. Thomas is the fourth-leading returning rusher in the conference, but there is enough depth that he’ll be pushed for playing time.

4. Georgia Tech

QB: Joshua Nesbitt

RB: Anthony Allen

WR: Tyler Melton

Rationale: This is where it starts to get interesting. Nesbitt is the team’s leading returning rusher, and he doesn’t show up in the ACC passing stats. Nor does Georgia Tech have a receiver ranked among the ACC’s returning leaders. However, it does have a 1,000-yard rusher in Nesbitt, two running backs with starting experience, and Melton started 10 games last year. By the end of the season, the Jackets should have a little more substance in two thirds of this equation.

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