ACC: North Carolina Tar Heels

Rival ACC coaches compare six-packs

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
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On Monday, the college football social media world was equally amazed and impressed by a shirtless picture of North Carolina Tar Heels football coach Larry Fedora, who at 51 years old is still sporting a six-pack and looks like he could suit up as a UNC linebacker at any given moment.
 
Not to be outdone, Fedora's two rival coaches in the North Carolina Triangle -- NC State's Dave Doeren and Duke's David Cutcliffe -- went to a gas station Tuesday to show off their own six-packs.
 

The Belk Bowl unfolded quickly as North Carolina jumped out to an early lead over Cincinnati and never looked back Saturday, running away with a 39-17 win. Here's how it all happened:

It was over when: Can a game be over almost as soon as it begins? North Carolina started off as strong as conceivably possible, scoring the game's first touchdown on a 2-yard run from Romar Morris with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Just three minutes later, the Tar Heels delivered what proved to be a debilitating series of jabs as Kareem Martin got the sack-safety and T.J. Logan followed that up by taking the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a score, resulting in a 9-point swing. Cincinnati showed some life in the second half, but the 16-point deficit was ultimately too much to overcome.

Game ball goes to: Even without Blake Anderson calling plays, North Carolina didn't miss a beat. Marquise Williams executed the offense in perfect tandem with head coach Larry Fedora, who subbed in while his former offensive coordinator was off starting his own head-coaching career at Arkansas State. Williams, a talented sophomore, spread the ball around in the air, completing passes to seven different receivers while rushing for 46 yards. He finished the game with 171 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on 19-of-33 passing.

Unsung hero: Make no mistake, North Carolina won the Belk Bowl in the trenches. A tip of the cap should go to both the offensive and defensive lines. The Tar Heels wouldn't have jumped out to such a big lead without the defense providing four sacks and three three-and-outs in the first half. Cincinnati's line entered the game having allowed 12 sacks all season, but UNC wound up with five on the day. UNC's offensive line, meanwhile, allowed for a balanced offensive attack, with 171 yards through the air and 174 yards on the ground.

Stat of the game: North Carolina got the monkey off its back by finally not rejecting some good old-fashioned home cooking. The Tar Heels won a bowl game in their home state for the first time after losing the three previous bowl games they played in Charlotte. Ryan Switzer, meanwhile, managed to tie an NCAA record by returning his fifth punt for a touchdown this season. Where many would have called for a fair catch in the third quarter against the Bearcats, Switzer hung in, caught the ball with a number of defenders in the vicinity and weaved upfield 85 yards for the score.

What North Carolina learned: Fedora taught his Tar Heels that it's not how you start but how you finish. Ending the season with six wins in seven games was impressive. Getting above .500 after starting off the year 1-5 was incredible. The hope for North Carolina is that the momentum coming out of the Belk Bowl will carry over into next season and such a furious surge won't be necessary to reach the postseason again. With Williams, freshman tailback Logan, freshman receiver Switzer and sophomore receivers T.J. Thorpe and Quinshad Davis all returning to Chapel Hill, the future is bright.

What Cincinnati learned: The Bearcats, on the other hand, end the season on a sour note. The momentum of winning six straight games late in the year was almost entirely wiped out after losing in overtime against Louisville on Dec. 5 and then getting blown out by North Carolina on Saturday. Next season will be tough for head coach Tommy Tuberville, as he will be without senior quarterback Brendon Kay and the quarterback of the defense in senior linebacker Greg Blair. But with the much-traveled redshirt freshman transfer quarterback Gunner Kiel entering the fold, there's reason for optimism. The former No. 3-ranked quarterback in the 2012 class has all the tools to do well in the Bearcats' spread offense.

To watch the trophy presentation of the Belk Bowl, click here.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
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It's time for a fresh set of power rankings with another week in the books. The top four teams remain the same from last week, but there was some shuffling the rest of the way down.

1. Clemson (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 1): The Tigers did what we all expected in a 52-13 win over South Carolina State. They also ended up moving up one spot in the AP poll to No. 3. Their big win over Georgia in Week 1 remains the crown jewel in the ACC crown after two weeks.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 2): The Seminoles were off this past week after beating Pittsburgh in the opener. Let's see what Game 2 has in store for Jameis Winston this weekend against Nevada.

3. Miami (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 3): The Hurricanes had the most impressive win in Week 2, over No. 12 Florida, which vaults them to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But that win does nothing to change their standing in the ACC. There remains a clear gap between Clemson, Florida State and the rest of the league. Miami looks like it is starting to close the gap, but the Canes still have a long way to go -- especially after their offense struggled for most of the day against the Gators.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0 0-0 ACC; last week: 4): The Jackets were also off in Week 2, so all we have to judge them on is a blowout win over FCS Elon. The next five weeks will tell us what we need to know about this team, as the Jackets prepare to play at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Miami and at BYU. That is one of the most brutal stretches any ACC team has to play this season.

5. North Carolina (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 7): The truth is, you could flip flop the Tar Heels and Virginia Tech at this point. Despite their victories over the weekend, both have problems that must be addressed. For starters, North Carolina has to get the coin toss figured out. The defense was once again up and down. They need a more consistent, better effort out of that group.

6. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 5): North Carolina gets the nod ahead of Virginia Tech for this week based on the quality of opponent it just played. The Tar Heels beat an FBS team, Virginia Tech an FCS team. I think we can all agree the Hokies have a formidable defense -- better than North Carolina's -- but the offense still has a ways to go to be respectable. Logan Thomas now has one touchdown pass and three interceptions on the season.

7. Virginia (1-1, 0-0 ACC; last week: 6): No. 2 Oregon boatraced the Hoos on Saturday, but the truth is, nobody really expected them to win the game. They stay in the top half of the rankings this week based on their win over BYU in the opener. That win looks a lot better today after BYU clobbered No. 15 Texas. Virginia enters a five-game stretch now with winnable games. If the Hoos can take advantage, they will be looking good for a bowl spot.

8. Maryland (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 8): The Terps have beaten their first two opponents by a combined 90-20 and have not faced much of a test. The opponents' strength has been really weak, hence their spot here. Still, this is a team that has showed off its talent on offense in the first two weeks. C.J. Brown, in his return from a knee injury, ranks No. 3 in the nation in total QBR to lead all ACC quarterbacks. Chew on that one for a while.

9. Duke (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 10): Give the Blue Devils credit for pulling out a road win in Memphis with backup quarterback Brandon Connette this past Saturday. You can write the win off by saying it was "only Memphis," but the Tigers are a rapidly improving team and Duke was on the ropes. Any road win is a good win for a team that won only once away from home last season.

10. NC State (2-0, 0-0 ACC; last week: 9): The Wolfpack get downgraded slightly for struggling to beat Richmond. While it is true the Spiders have caused FBS opponents fits, the Wolfpack nearly handed the game away with their own miscues. NC State had four turnovers, including three inside Richmond territory. Quarterback Pete Thomas struggled, throwing two interceptions. While he did lead the team into field goal range for the game winner, he has some work to do to improve.

11. Boston College (2-0, 1-0 ACC; last week: 14): The Eagles climb out of the cellar for the first time in a long time after their 24-10 win over Wake Forest. You can already see the difference new coach Steve Addazio has made in the program. His team is playing a lot more physically and with a lot more energy. That is best illustrated in Andre Williams, who is now averaging 5.5 yards per carry -- one full yard better than last season. The BC run game has gone from awful to respectable in a matter of weeks. The Eagles have now matched their win total from 2012.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 12): The Panthers were off last week, so they stay put here. The good news is they will not have to play a team as strong as Florida State the rest of the way in the ACC. They get New Mexico this week.

13. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-1 ACC; last week: 11): The Deacs were supposed to be better this season with so many veterans returning, but they looked completely lost against BC. The defense got gashed on the ground. The offense could not run, nor could it execute the option effectively. Not sure why coaches insisted on sticking with it when it was not working. Their inability to run the ball was a bugaboo last season, and it looks to be the same this season.

14. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 ACC; last week: 13): The Orange have been the biggest disappointment in the ACC so far based on the first two games. No doubt they played a tough schedule to start against two Big Ten teams, but they were not even competitive in a loss to Northwestern this past weekend in which Drew Allen got benched after throwing four interceptions and the defense gave up 581 yards of total offense. Scott Shafer has some serious questions to answer before the season gets away from him.

Irish to host 3 ACC teams in 2014

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
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Notre Dame will host Louisville, North Carolina and Wake Forest in its first year of a partial ACC schedule in 2014, ESPN's Brett McMurphy reports.
As part of Notre Dame's move to the ACC as a full member in all sports but football, the Fighting Irish will annually play five games against ACC opponents starting in 2014.

In 2014, the Fighting Irish will also visit Florida State and play a road game against Syracuse [at] MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., sources said.


Read the rest of McMurphy's story here.

Said ACC Commissioner John Swofford in a news release on Friday: “The football partnership between the ACC and Notre Dame will not only enhance our league’s already ambitious football schedules but also will provide terrific fan excitement. One of the benefits, moving forward, is that almost all of our student-athletes will have an opportunity to play against Notre Dame during their ACC careers which is extremely special.”

In 2015, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Virginia will play host to the Irish, with Notre Dame hosting Boston College and Georgia Tech.

In 2016, the Irish will play host to Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech and will have road contests with NC State and Syracuse.

Notre Dame’s games with Syracuse in 2014, Pittsburgh and Boston College in 2015, and Miami and Syracuse in 2016, already had been tentatively listed on future Irish schedules.

Andrea Adelson talks about one position group in the spotlight this spring at North Carolina -- the offensive line.
Jonas GrayMatt Quinnan/Icon SMIJonas Gray and the Fighting Irish will get a taste of ACC action the next three weekends.
Before Notre Dame can get to its regular-season finale at Stanford, it has to get through the ACC.

The Irish's next three games are against Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College. Two of the three are away from South Bend, but two of the three serve as Irish home games. (Confusing, we know.)

With the Irish 5-3 and set for confere ... er, ACC, play, Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna and ACC blogger Heather Dinich preview this week's matchup in Winston-Salem, along with the other two contests.

Matt Fortuna: Heather, first off, what do you make of this Wake Forest team? It is tough to judge from the Midwest -- it beats FSU, gets rocked by UNC and Virginia Tech. Also, the decision to make this a night game struck me as interesting. Are the folks down there treating this one like their biggest home game of the season?

Heather Dinich: Matt, there’s no question the Deacs are taking this one seriously, especially after such a poor performance against North Carolina. What to make of Wake Forest? This is a much, much better team than the one that finished 3-9 a year ago. They’re one win away from bowl eligibility and would like nothing more than to wrap that up this weekend against the Irish. Heading into this game, I thought Wake was overmatched, but now I think they’ll make it an interesting game. With both teams at 5-3, are they more alike than many thought they’d be? It’s hard to tell with such different schedules, but I think Notre Dame has the better win over Michigan State. Turnovers were a huge factor last week for the Deacs. Wake had turned it over just five times all season and then against UNC it had five turnovers. It was an uncharacteristic performance, to say the least. If the Deacs can take care of the ball and get the passing game going, they stand a chance. The bigger question to me is, are the next three weeks a foreshadowing of what’s to come with Notre Dame and the ACC? What are you hearing out of South Bend?

MF: Five turnovers in one game? No kidding, they really are alike. As for your question, Notre Dame will strive to remain independent in football at all costs. Right now I think the Irish are content to watch the dominoes fall in front of them until they are forced to make a move. If that time does come, however, I do think the ACC would be its best bet. For one, Notre Dame would be marginalized in the Big Ten, serving as just another regional power along with Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State. In the ACC it can still expand its recruiting bases from as South as Florida to as North as New York and Boston. Mike Brey, the men's basketball coach, has stated his preference is to remain somewhere East if Notre Dame is forced to move. Also, it is pretty funny that, in addition to this slate of games, the Irish have already traveled to future ACC member Pitt this season, and they currently seem bound for the Champs Sports Bowl, where they would face another ACC school. That would be five out of 13 games this season against current or future ACC schools, for those keeping count at home. While we're at it, Heather, who do you think looks like Notre Dame's likely bowl opponent should it find itself in Orlando?

HD: Right now I’ve got Florida State heading to the Champs Sports Bowl, Matt, and it seems like the most likely scenario. That would be a great matchup of two traditional programs, but let’s stick with the ones we know right now. Heading into this season, I predicted the ACC would strike out against the Irish with an 0-3 record. I still don’t see BC winning at Notre Dame on Nov. 19, considering what a dreadful season it’s been for the Eagles, and if BC isn’t going to get the W, there’s no reason to think Maryland can, even though that game is a virtual home game for the Terps in FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Maryland can’t even fill its own stadium, though, let alone a pro venue, and the Terps just lost at home to Boston College. It’s been a rough first season for Randy Edsall. So, it looks like the Deacs are the ACC’s best hope at picking up a W against Notre Dame, at least from my perspective. What are you predicting the Irish do against the ACC in three games?

MF: I'm with you, Heather. I just cannot see Maryland or Boston College beating Notre Dame, making Wake the favorite among the ACC teams to do so. Even then, the Deacs are clearly overmatched and will have a tough time keeping up with the Irish on both sides of the ball. I circled this one as a potential upset when making second-half predictions a little more than three weeks ago, but Wake has done little since (its only win was over Duke ... by 1) to convince me it can pull off the victory. Who do you got?

HD: I’m sticking with my preseason prediction, Matt, and going with the Irish. I’ll leave the score for tomorrow’s predictions post, but I just don’t see Wake Forest beating Notre Dame’s offensive line or slowing down that running game. Notre Dame’s offense line averages 305.6 pounds. Wake Forest’s undersized D-line checks in at an average of 247.5. No wonder Jonas Gray is averaging 8 yards per carry, and the Irish didn’t allow one sack in October. And of course, they’ve got one of the top linebackers in the country in Manti Te’o. Wake Forest will correct a lot of the mistakes it made last week against North Carolina, but it will come up short in a close game. Since you’re the visitor to ACC country, though, I’ll give you the final word.

MF: Not sure if that qualifies as southern hospitality, but it is appreciated nonetheless. I expect Gray to have a huge game as well. He's a guy who had zero career touchdowns until Week 4 at Pitt. He has had eight since, including three this past Saturday. Brian Kelly's teams are built for November and December, as evidenced by his 21-6 mark in the regular season's final two months. I think Wake Forest has a chance to keep it close early, but it lacks the depth and size to hang with the Irish throughout the night.

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 3, 2011
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Filling in for Heather today. Let's see what's happening in ACC country.

ACC afternoon links

May, 20, 2011
5/20/11
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Here's what's happening around ACC country.
It's no secret North Carolina's defense was good last fall. Just look at the numbers: sixth in total defense (270 yards per game) and 13th in scoring defense (17 ppg).

And those numbers were piled up with a terrible offense that kept giving the ball away.

Not surprisingly, with nine starters back on defense, the 2010 hype machine is starting to roll.

Not only does ESPN draft guru Todd McShay rank two Tar Heels among his top-10 defensive prospects Insider for the 2011 NFL draft -- tackle Marvin Austin at No. 5 and end Robert Quinn at No. 6 -- he has this to say at the end of Quinn's blurb: "Don't be surprised if Quinn emerges as the top prospect on a Tar Heels defense that will draw comparisons to the USC Trojans group from 2008."

The 2008 Trojans yielded 222 yards and nine points per game. They surrendered just six touchdown passes all season. That squad finished 12-1 and ranked third in the nation (No. 2 in the final USA Today poll).

That defense featured eight picks in the 2009 draft, four of whom went in the first two rounds.

It was a pretty fancy crew.

But McShay makes a completely reasonable comparison.

This list of the top-32 2011 NFL draft prospects includes four Tar Heels defenders: Austin, Quinn -- at Nos. 3 and 7 overall -- as well as safety Deunta Williams and linebacker Bruce Carter, at Nos. 28 and 31. What about linebacker Quan Sturdivant? He made the list of "just missed" prospects.

Moreover, UNC's 2009 numbers look a lot like USC's 2007 numbers: The Trojans gave up 273 yards and 16 points per game -- with a much better offense than the Heels in 2009.

On the ACC spring conference call last week, coach Butch Davis said the emphasis this spring was building depth at linebacker and in the secondary. But you want to know what could cause the UNC defense to really put up stunning numbers?

The offense cutting its turnovers in half and consistently moving the ball, which is why the quarterback competition between maligned senior T.J. Yates and strong-armed freshman Bryn Renner figures to be one of the hottest items of the ACC preseason.

Eight ACC players on Butkus Award watch list

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich While this list is flattering, it's also a reminder of who won't be playing for the ACC this year. NC State linebacker Nate Irving is one of the players on the Butkus Award watch list, as is BC linebacker Mike McLaughlin, whose return from a torn Achilles is still uncertain. Can the ACC repeat Butkus Award winners? Wake's Aaron Curry won it last year. The Butkus Award is presented annually to the nation's top linebacker, and the ACC certainly has a few of those worth looking at. Here are the other conference players who were recognized: Bruce Carter, UNC Kavell Conner, Clemson Daryl Sharpton, Miami Sean Spence, Miami Quan Sturdivant, UNC Dekoda Watson, FSU

On tap this weekend in the ACC

August, 21, 2009
8/21/09
4:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Just because it's not September doesn't mean there's not football being played on Saturdays. Here's a look at what's on tap this weekend in the ACC:

BOSTON COLLEGE: Third scrimmage on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Closed to the public.
Storyline: After two scrimmages, the Eagles' picture at quarterback is still as clear as mud. Dave Shinskie is in the lead but has yet to lock up the job. The defense has played well, though, and that's sure to be a trademark of Frank Spaziani-coached teams.

DUKE: Scrimmage at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Open to public.
Storyline: David Cutcliffe is still looking for consistency after Swine flu-like symptoms swept through the team and knocked out anywhere from two to five players for each practice. They're close to having everybody back now, so the Blue Devils should be able to develop some continuity.

FLORIDA STATE: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed to media and public.
Storyline: Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is still looking for more of everything -- including toughness -- from a young group that has at least a dozen freshmen or sophomores.

MARYLAND: Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Not open to general public.
Storyline: The Terps are still looking for improvement on the offensive line, and hope to see more from the running game. They'll try to solidify the first and second teamers and set the depth chart so they can break into scout teams soon and give the offense some different defensive looks.

MIAMI: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed to the public.
Storyline: The Canes are still trying to build depth across the board and will take a close look at their second- and third-string players, particularly at backup quarterback, where freshman A.J. Highsmith has kept the competition interesting.

NORTH CAROLINA: Scrimmage on Saturday. No stats.
Storyline: Same as it's been all summer -- the Tar Heels are still looking for improvement from their receivers and trying to rebuild their offensive line. Because of the lack of bodies on the offensive line, the Heels have been so limited this will be their first scrimmage.

NC STATE: Situational scrimmage on Sunday. No stats. Closed to the public and media.
Storyline: The Pack is trying to replace four players in the secondary, and while frontrunners have emerged, it's still a group loaded with youth and inexperience. This will be more of a dress-rehearsal with an emphasis on situations like third downs and two-minute drills.

VIRGINIA: Scrimmage on Saturday. Closed. No stats.
Storyline: This will be the scrimmage that will help coach Al Groh and his staff really start to decide the starting lineup, as they'll review the film on Sunday and try to make some decisions.

VIRGINIA TECH: Scrimmage on Saturday. Practice will be from 2-4:15 in Lane Stadium (scrimmage will probably start around 2:30). Fans can sit on the west side only and aren't allowed to video tape.
Storyline: First, the Hokies need to keep the rest of their running backs healthy after injuries to Darren Evans and Josh Oglesby. The Hokies still aren't set on their starting receivers, and probably won't know until after next Wednesday, but this is another good audition.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 21, 2009
8/21/09
12:31
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

TGIF, ACC fans. Here we go.

  • It's been 16 years since the ACC has had a team with two 1,000-yard rushers. Can Georgia Tech do it this year with Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones? It's definitely a possibility, considering the numbers they put up last year.
  • Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe has yet to name his workhorse running back, and he might not until the Baylor game, but Kevin Harris certainly hasn't done anything to lose the job.
  • Maryland's Drew Gloster has a new number, a new position, and a new outlook on football and academics after missing last season.
  • Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is still looking for replacements in the secondary.
  • Virginia Tech receiver Zach Luckett, who has been given a second chance by Frank Beamer to rejoin the team after being suspended last year, has been charged with driving while his license was revoked.
  • Charges have been dropped -- not surprisingly -- after a scuffle between two UNC teammates.
  • Virginia right guard B.J. Cabbell will need to be better this fall, and his teammates say he's come a long way.
  • BC has bigger problems that naming a starting quarterback. The Eagles need to find some leaders.

Video: Previewing the ACC

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
4:00
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Ivan Maisel and Heather Dinich preview the 2009 ACC season.

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
12:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Mmm. Links.

Miami defensive end Adewale Ojomo had surgery Tuesday morning for a broken jaw and could miss the season opener. Was he sucker punched? There seem to be conflicting reports.

Tim Tebow? Pshh. He ain't got nothin' on Charlie Ward.

There's an overall attitude change at Florida State, and the players' are the ones calling the meeting for it.

Steven Friday is a guy who will come in handy on Saturdays for the Hokies this year.

Georgia Tech safety Cooper Taylor's versatility makes him the perfect wolf.

When UNC coach Butch Davis talks about turnovers, the team listens. It's a proven formula for winning.

BC freshman defensive tackle Dillon Quinn is learning as fast as he can, so he can help the Eagles at one of the spots they need it most -- up front. The ideal situation would be to redshirt Quinn, but the staff might not have that luxury.

NC State will be without third-string tight end Mario Carter for at least the season opener after knee surgery. The Pack is about mid-way through its summer camp, and still looking for answers at a few positions.

Virginia has one important rule for its receivers: If you don't block, you don't play. Lesson learned for Raynard Horne.

Wake Forest joined the ACC injury club on Tuesday when receiver Terence Davis went down with a torn ACL. That could provide a way to get Skylar Jones on the field.

Aside from Jacoby Ford, Clemson's receivers have been an inconsistent group.

Five things to watch in the ACC

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
9:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are five things that will play a role in the ACC's conference race this fall:

1. Virginia Tech's backfield. How the Hokies recover from the season-ending injury to star tailback Darren Evans will go a long way in determining their fate on the national stage, and it starts in the season opener against Alabama. They've got reasons for hope in Josh Oglesby, David Wilson and Ryan Williams, but for the most part, their talent is unproven. Until Tyrod Taylor and the receivers show the passing game is a dependable option, it's going to be up to the young backs to make the difference.

2. Health of starting quarterbacks. Tyrod Taylor. Josh Nesbitt. Chris Turner. Jacory Harris. Christian Ponder. Russell Wilson. Riley Skinner. They're all backed up by players who have yet to take a collegiate snap. NC State's situation should improve with Mike Glennon, and expectations are high for E.J. Manuel at FSU, but some teams -- like Maryland and Wake Forest -- would experience a significant drop-off if their starter went down.

3. Georgia Tech's defensive line. It's the biggest question the Jackets are facing this fall, as they have to replace three of their four starters up front who combined for 87 career starts. Those within the program seem confident the previous backup experience of the new starters will help make for a smooth transition. With a league-high 19 starters returning, it's the only unknown for these Coastal Division contenders.

4. Coach/coordinator changes. The entire package at Clemson is worth watching, as Dabo Swinney was promoted from wide receivers coach and Billy Napier, at 30 years old, is now the offensive coordinator. At Boston College, first-year coach Frank Spaziani has his hands full, and introduced first-year offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill to a team that lacks a starting quarterback. At Maryland, Don Brown's defense is sure to throw several ACC offenses off-kilter, and there's a buzz around Miami's offense that has been lacking now that Mark Whipple has arrived. And the Canes will have their third defensive coordinator in as many seasons with John Lovett. Virginia will unveil a spread offense under first-year coordinator Gregg Brandon.

5. New faces at receiver. The ACC has something it's been missing, and that's quarterbacks with experience. Problem is, many of them don't know who they're going to be throwing to. Virginia lost all of its top receivers, and so did NC State. Maryland said farewell to Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Clemson to Aaron Kelly. Duke lost Eron Riley and Wake lost D.J. Boldin. The list goes on. Beyond Clemson's Jacoby Ford and Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas, the ACC is lacking many proven receivers. Several schools -- like Miami -- have a long list to choose from, but who will separate himself?

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