When it comes to defense, the ACC has earned a reputation as having some of the best in the country on a consistent basis. Last year was no exception, as four teams -- Virginia Tech, UNC, Boston College and Clemson -- were ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, allowing fewer than 21 points per game. Those same four teams were ranked among the top 26 nationally in total defense.
Much of the focus, though, was on what the conference didn't do defensively -- i.e., Florida State, NC State and Georgia Tech. The latter was a middle-of-the-pack defense, hardly horrendous, but it disturbed coach Paul Johnson enough to fire Dave Wommack and hire Al Groh as defensive coordinator.
Here's a statistical look at which teams are in need of the most defensive improvement in 2010, followed by a guess at which programs will show the most progress the fastest:
MOST IN NEED OF A MAKEOVER:
1. Florida State -- The Seminoles ranked 108th in rushing defense, 110th in pass efficiency defense, 108th in total defense, and 94th in scoring defense.
2. Maryland --The best news for Ralph Friedgen last year was that Florida State's defense was worse -- and it stole the show. The 2-10 Terps, though, allowed 31.25 points per game and ranked No. 100 in the nation in scoring defense.
2. NC State -- The Pack had a young secondary and were without their best player in Nate Irving. They finished No. 99 in the country in scoring defense, and No. 106 in pass efficiency defense.
FASTEST ROAD TO RECOVERY:
1. Maryland --The Terps return all of their linebackers and should be more productive in the second season under defensive coordinator Don Brown.
2. Florida State -- The Seminoles have nowhere to go but up, and first-year defensive coordinator Mark Stoops is installing a scheme that better fits the personnel.
3. NC State --The secondary is still young, and all four starters up front must be replaced. The additions of Jon Tenuta and Irving should help.