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ACC made history on the ground in '08; poised to repeat in '09

4/7/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

So the ACC doesn't have any McCoys or Bradfords.

It's got Dwyers and Evans and Scotts instead.

We've talked before about how potent some of the ACC backfields have the potential to be this season - namely at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech -- but check out this tiny tidbit:

In 2008, for the first time in ACC history, three underclassmen surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark -- Georgia Tech sophomore Jonathan Dwyer, Maryland sophomore Da'Rel Scott, and Virginia Tech freshman Darren Evans.

In fact, all three of those players topped 1,100 yards.

Considering how young many of the ACC's top backs were, it's not entirely unreasonable to think the conference can develop a running reputation akin to what the Big 12 did last year in the passing game. (With the improvement expected at quarterback, though, odds are offenses will be a little more balanced -- especially in Winston-Salem. And of course, a successful running game tends to open things up for the quarterbacks).

In addition to those three 1,000-yard rushers, don't forget about C.J. Spiller at Clemson, Montel Harris at Boston College, Roddy Jones at Georgia Tech, Graig Cooper at Miami, Jamelle Eugene and Toney Baker at NC State, Mikell Simpson at Virginia, Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston at UNC, Kevin Harris, Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass at Wake Forest, Re'Quan Boyette at Duke ... it seems like every school has a legitimate threat in the ground game.

Florida State should have one of the better offensive lines in the ACC making life easier on whoever steps up to replace leading rusher Antone Smith. Jermaine Thomas averaged seven yards as a reserve last year, so the cupboard isn't empty there, either.

Dwyer, Evans and Scott set the bar high last year, and should only be better this fall. And odds are, they're not the only ones.