What we learned in the ACC this spring

May, 8, 2012
5/08/12
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Here are the five things we learned in the ACC this spring.

1. We've been saying this for the last couple of seasons, but it might finally ring true in 2012: Florida State has enough talent to return to the upper echelon of college football. The Seminoles are going to be as talented as any defense in the country. Quarterback EJ Manuel returns for his senior season, and the Seminoles did a good job rebuilding their offensive line this spring. FSU is going to have to stay healthy and run the ball more effectively to play in a BCS bowl game.

2. Don't sleep on Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets return what many believe might be the best offensive line in coach Paul Johnson's tenure at Tech. Quarterback Tevin Washington doesn't do anything spectacularly, but he avoids mistakes and operates Johnson's triple-option spread offense well. If Tech can find a nose guard to run defensive coordinator Al Groh's 3-4 defense, it will be a tough out in the ACC.

3. Clemson might have the best receiver tandem in the country. We knew sophomore Sammy Watkins was a superstar and one of the best playmakers in the country. But DeAndre Hopkins would be the No. 1 receiver on any other team in the conference -- and maybe the country. Quarterback Tajh Boyd has two receivers who will give ACC defensive coordinators some sleepless nights.

4. North Carolina is going to play really, really fast under new coach Larry Fedora. The Tar Heels won't be eligible to play in a bowl game this coming season because of NCAA probation, but it might end up being a blessing for Fedora. The Tar Heels will learn Fedora's no-huddle spread offense without much pressure or expectations.

5. Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games in eight consecutive seasons, the longest such streak in the country. We're used to the Hokies simply reloading every season under coach Frank Beamer. It might not be as easy this season, though. Virginia Tech must replace four offensive linemen, tailback David Wilson and top receivers Danny Coale and Jarrett Boykin. The Hokies will probably be slow out of the gates.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball

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