This series looks at one good reason each school in the ACC will win this year, and, just to make sure we cover both sides of the story, one good reason why it won’t. For most schools, the focus is on winning the ACC title. For the programs that missed out on the postseason entirely last year, the focus is on getting back to a bowl game (at least it is here in the blogosphere). We’re going in alphabetical order.
The series continues today with one good reason why …
NC State will win the ACC title. The offensive line. This is one of the most experienced groups in the Atlantic Division, and that’s half the battle -- especially when Florida State, Wake Forest, Maryland and Clemson all have question marks up front entering fall camp. Four of five starters return for NC State in center Camden Wentz, guards Zach Allen and Duran Christophe and tackle R.J. Mattes. That group has combined for 96 starts and the starters weigh an average of 312.2 pounds. Their experience will be invaluable for the protection of quarterback Mike Glennon, who has a strong, accurate arm when given the time to make throws. They’ll also have a talented running back to block for in Mustafa Greene, who has since been cleared after missing all of last season with a foot injury. The pieces are in place for this to be one of the more productive offenses in the ACC, and it all starts up front with several players who should be candidates for all-conference honors.
Why it won’t: FSU and Virginia Tech’s defenses are better. I know, NC State doesn’t play the Hokies during the regular season, but should the Wolfpack actually win the division and play for the title, I’d give the edge to Virginia Tech’s defense. And when NC State hosts Florida State on Oct. 6, the Seminoles will have the better defense. It’s not that NC State’s defense is going to be bad – they’ve got one of the best players in the country in cornerback David Amerson, and the depth on the defensive line has improved. It’s simply that FSU has recruited better, faster players and is even deeper, particularly up front. The linebacker position remains a concern for NC State, as all three starters have to be replaced.