- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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No Power 5 conference had more stability at quarterback than the ACC in 2014. Nine of the 14 teams had its quarterback start every game last season, most among Power 5 conferences.
While the ACC returns an abundance of talent and experience at the position in 2015, there’s no telling whether many of the league’s top quarterbacks will make it through an entire season unscathed again. Injuries are hard to predict, and the nature of the position often leaves quarterbacks in vulnerable situations.
Last season, Ohio State was the exception rather than the rule. Few teams can sustain an injury to a starting quarterback and still achieve preseason goals.
Here’s a look at the backup situation for each ACC team and whether it would be able to weather the storm if the starter went down.
If Wade suffers an injury, the Eagles will quickly find out whether Flutie Magic is genetic. Troy is the nephew of legendary BC quarterback Doug Flutie, who is immortalized on campus. Not much is known about the second-year player Troy, who hasn’t played a down. He does possess dual-threat ability though.
The Tigers have playoff aspirations, and they rest on the shoulders (and rehabilitated knee) of Watson. Schuessler is a former walk-on, but he received most of the first-team snaps in spring as Watson rehabs a torn ACL. However, the Tigers’ championship hopes likely would end if Watson misses any significant time.
Florida State: Sean Maguire (Everett Golson)
Maguire hasn’t lost the job to Golson, but that’s how most envision this QB battle going. The good news for FSU is Maguire has starting experience, coming in on short notice to beat Clemson last season. Maguire would fill in well if called upon because of injury or ineffectiveness.
Louisville: Pick ’em (Reggie Bonnafon)
Bonnafon should be the Week 1 starter, but it’s a toss-up as to who will back him up. The good news is Kyle Bolin and Will Gardner have starting experience, and Tyler Ferguson was a highly touted junior college recruit. The Cardinals have great depth.
McClendon redshirted last season, but the NC State staff is high on the freshman. The Wolfpack are dark horses in the Atlantic, however, and are counting on Brissett. Based on NC State’s review of McClendon, it could probably get by for a game or two with him.
Syracuse: Austin Wilson/AJ Long (Terrell Hunt)
Long and Wilson gained experience last season when Hunt went down early, but the Orange’s bowl hopes reside with Hunt. An injury to him would make for another long season.
With Wake’s offensive line issues, the true freshman Hinton could see the field. Hinton is already enrolled and played well in the spring game, so he might overtake Wolford at some point anyway.
Cutcliffe has utilized multiple quarterbacks at Duke, so Boehme might work in with Sirk. Boehme doesn’t have much experience though, having thrown only two career passes.
The Yellow Jackets might be the ACC’s best team, and it’s because of Thomas. Without Thomas, Georgia Tech’s playoff chances likely would come to an end. Byerly, a redshirt senior, has a fair amount of experience though.
After starting every game last season as a true freshman, Kaaya has control of this team. The Canes need him healthy. Rosier impressed offensive coordinator James Coley in the spring game, and he’s put baseball aside for football.
Trubisky was in a heated competition with Williams last preseason, and now he provides solid depth. He came up big in spots when called upon last season, and UNC is very comfortable with Trubisky at QB.
Voytik quietly had a great second half of the season, and Pitt, with its holes on defense, needs Voytik to take the next step with RB James Conner and Tyler Boyd. Bertke hasn’t taken a snap, but at least he’d have Conner and Boyd to help ease him in.
The Cavaliers’ quarterback situation is a mess, and an injury to Johns could send Virginia spiraling. Cutler was prepared to leave the program last month before changing his mind. Cutler redshirted as a freshman in 2014.
Motley lost out to Brewer last preseason, partially because of an injury, and the redshirt junior took only 23 snaps last season. Motley has some mobility, having rushed for 646 yards as a senior in high school. Motley did get a number of first-team reps this spring, and Virginia Tech could turn to him this season if the inconsistent Brewer is ineffective this fall.