- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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There is no Johnny Football.
Instead, there is a talented group of veteran quarterbacks who are a bunch of nice guys, great representatives of their programs and the conference, and are playing their way through yet another season in the shadow of other quarterbacks throughout the country. With West Virginia’s abysmal offensive performance in a 55-14 loss to Kansas State this past weekend, K-State’s Klein became the flavor of the week front-runner for the Heisman, but the door is still open. None of the ACC’s quarterbacks, though, have done enough in the national spotlight to garner much serious consideration.
While it’s still a position of strength for the conference, none of this year’s quarterbacks have truly emerged as the face of the ACC. It’s a rather humble season for a league that for the first time in its history returned six quarterbacks who had thrown for 3,000 yards in a season. No other conference in the country was able to claim that.
No other conference in the country seemed to need it.
The best performance by a quarterback so far this season on the national stage was EJ Manuel against Clemson. It was the one true Heisman moment the ACC has had this year. With the nation watching against No. 10 Clemson, Manuel completed 27 of 35 passes for 380 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-37 win. The performance catapulted Manuel into the Heisman conversation immediately.
And then he went to Raleigh.
NC State quarterback Mike Glennon was the one who made the clutch throws on fourth down in the fourth quarter of a 17-16 win over then-No. 3 Florida State.
Manuel is still No. 6 in the country in passing efficiency. But even with only four interceptions, he has still thrown as many as Alabama’s AJ McCarron (zero), K-State’s Klein (2), and West Virginia’s Smith (2) combined.
No quarterback in the ACC, though, has taken more heat than Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas. He finished second in the voting for the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year, but he’s No. 68 in the country and No. 8 in the ACC in passing efficiency. He has made some ill-advised throws and decisions this year, yet his supporting cast hasn’t helped much, either. The same can be said for Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price, who lost his top target -- receiver Michael Campanaro -- who broke his hand Sept. 29 against Duke. The Deacs also lost one of their top offensive linemen to injury in Antonio Ford, who suffered a season-ending injury in the loss at Maryland.
And then there’s Virginia.
The Cavaliers have fallen into the old when-you-have-two-quarterbacks-you-don’t-have-one scenario. Former Alabama transfer Phillip Sims hasn’t exactly been McCarron. Michael Rocco has thrown seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Maryland has gone through about as many injured quarterbacks as Rocco has thrown picks.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has arguably been the most consistent and productive, but Florida State’s defense made him uncomfortable in the second half, and he was sacked five times last week in a 38-17 win against Virginia Tech.
This was supposed to be a year in which the strength of the position could help elevate the league’s profile. So far, though, it’s the quarterbacks who need their profiles raised.
It’s a talented group. It just hasn’t had one quarterback who has truly risen above the rest.
At least not yet.