- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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When Phil Steele came out with his 2014 combined experience chart earlier this week, it came as little surprise to see Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest and Boston College clustered at the bottom.
They all share one thing in common: They are the only four ACC schools that must replace their leading passer, leading rusher and leading receiver from a year ago. That is the highest number of teams going back to 2010.
So who is actually taking the biggest hit when it comes to returning experience and returning yards?
With Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams, quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Alex Amidon gone, the Eagles lose a whopping 88 percent of their offensive yards from their 7-6 bowl team a year ago. Making matters worse? Boston College is the only team among the four listed above that also loses its leading tackler and top sack-producer. Making matters worse than that? The Eagles actually lose their top TWO leading tacklers.
Easy to see why many have labeled this a big-time rebuilding year for coach Steve Addazio. Hope, however, is not completely lost. The Eagles do have a quarterback with starting experience in Florida transfer Tyler Murphy, who is better equipped to handle the spread offense Addazio wants to run. There are young players at running back, but they all played behind Williams a year ago. Steve Daniels, expected to anchor the BC linebacker group, finished third on the team with 88 tackles a year ago.
Now, let us look at the flip side. Among these four teams, which does not lose nearly as much in returning yardage?
A big reason why it's not too bleak is the return of quarterback Justin Thomas and 10 other players who had at least 100 yards rushing or receiving.
As a small point of historical reference, Pitt was the only team in the ACC in 2013 that went into the season without its leading passer, rusher and receiver from the previous season. The Panthers finished with one more victory and another bowl appearance.
In 2012, Miami went into the season without its leading passer, rusher or receiver and also had one more win (though the Hurricanes were ineligible for a bowl because of a self-imposed postseason ban).
In 2011, NC State and Virginia went into the season without their leading passer, rusher or receiver. The Wolfpack had one fewer win; Virginia made huge gains, going from 4-8 to 8-5. That was the Hoos' last winning season. Incredibly, all 12 ACC schools in 2010 headed into that season without having to replace their top passer, rusher AND receiver.
Here is a closer look at the four teams losing their top passer, rusher and receiver headed into 2014:
Lost: QB Chase Rettig, RB Andre Williams, WR Alex Amidon.
Offensive yards lost: 88 percent.
*-Both leading tackler Steele Divitto and leading sack producer Kasim Edebali are gone.
Lost: QB Tajh Boyd, RB Roderick McDowell, WR Sammy Watkins
Offensive yards lost: 83 percent.
Lost: QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris, WR Michael Campanaro.
Offensive yards lost: 81 percent.
*-Leading tackler Ryan Janvion returns; leading sack producer Nikita Whitlock is gone.
Lost: QB Vad Lee, Backs David Sims, Robert Godhigh.
Offensive yards lost: 66 percent.
*-Leading tackler Jemea Thomas and leading sack producer Jeremiah Attaochu are gone.