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ACC football preview: Atlantic Division team outlooks

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Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2014 6:00 am | Updated: 9:33 am, Sun Aug 17, 2014.

BOSTON COLLEGE

Coach: Steve Addazio

2013 record: 7-6, 4-4 ACC

Returning starters: 3 offense, 6 defense

Players to watch: QB Tyler Murphy (1,216 yards, six TDs, five INTs, 61 percent complete); RB Myles Willis (60 carries, 346 yards, two TDs); LB Steven Daniels (88 tackles, 6.5 for loss, three sacks, forced fumble, interception)

Season outlook: While David Cutcliffe got deserving headlines for the remarkable 10 wins he guided Duke to, the 2013 ACC season featured another head coach who steered an impressive turnaround. Steve Addazio, who took over a program that went a combined 6-18 in its two previous years, got the Eagles back to a bowl game, winning seven contests and even getting some national spotlight time with the play of their Heisman candidate running back. But 2014 offers a considerable challenge as Andre Williams, a 2,000-yard rusher, is now with the New York Giants and BC will be breaking in Florida transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy.

Schedule

Aug. 30   at Massachusetts

Sept. 5    Pittsburgh 

Sept. 13  USC

Sept. 20  Maine

Sept. 27  Colorado State

Oct. 11    at N.C. State

Oct. 18    Clemson

Oct. 25    at Wake Forest

Nov. 1     at Virginia Tech

Nov. 8     Louisville 

Nov. 22    at Florida State

Nov. 29    Syracuse

CLEMSON

Coach: Dabo Swinney

2013 record: 11-2, 7-1 ACC

Returning starters: 5 offense, 6 defense

Players to watch: QB Cole Stoudt (415 yards, five TDs, no INTs, 80 percent complete); DE Vic Beasley (41 tackles, 23 for loss, 13 sacks, four forced fumbles); LB Stephone Anthony (131 tackles, 13.5 for loss, four sacks, interception, fumble recovery)

Season outlook: Clemson 2014 is about replacement and familiar opportunity. Gone is the lethal QB-WR combination of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. Candidates to fill the roles are senior signal caller Cole Stoudt (plus freshman DeShaun Watson?) and sophomore wideout Mike Williams. Should the Tigers not skip a beat with their new offensive faces, they’ll likely win 10 games for a fourth straight season. But beyond that? Again, it depends if Dabo Swinney and company can finally take down Florida State and South Carolina. Tigers are 0-4 against their powerhouse rivals the last two years.

Schedule

Aug. 30   at Georgia

Sept. 6    South Carolina State

Sept. 20  at Florida State

Sept. 27  North Carolina

Oct. 4      N.C. State

Oct. 11    Louisville

Oct. 18    at Boston College

Oct. 25    Syracuse

Nov. 6     at Wake Forest

Nov. 15    at Georgia Tech

Nov. 22    Georgia State

Nov. 29    South Carolina

FLORIDA STATE

Coach: Jimbo Fisher

2013 record: 14-0, 8-0 ACC

Returning starters: 7 offense, 6 defense

Players to watch: QB Jameis Winston (4,057 yards, 40 TDs, 10 INTs, 67 percent complete); WR Rashad Greene (76 catches, 1,128 yards, nine TDs);  DE Mario Edwards (28 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks)

Season outlook: The nation’s No. 1 team has a great shot to become the first repeat national champion in ACC history. A certain Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback returns as well as two of his favorite targets in receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. So what could potentially stand in FSU’s way? The Seminoles’ defense has to replace five of their top six tacklers and then there’s the new College Football Playoff. But with Clemson and Florida coming to Doak Campbell Stadium and the ACC’s Coastal Division not posing much of a threat for the overall league crown, Florida State should coast to the sport’s grandest stage.

Schedule

Aug. 30   Oklahoma State*

Sept. 6    The Citadel 

Sept. 20   Clemson  

Sept. 27   at N.C. State  

Oct. 4       Wake Forest

Oct. 11      at Syracuse    

Oct. 18      Notre Dame  

Oct. 30      at Louisville  

Nov. 8       Virginia

Nov. 15     at Miami  

Nov. 22     Boston College   

Nov. 29     Florida

*Game played in Arlington, Texas 

LOUISVILLE

Coach: Bobby Petrino

2013 record: 12-1, 7-1 AAC

Returning starters: 7 offense, 4 defense

Players to watch: QB Will Gardner (112 yards, two TDs, 67 percent complete); WR DeVante Parker (55 catches, 885 yards, 12 TDs); DE Lorenzo Mauldin (40 tackles, 12 for loss, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles)

Season outlook: The Bobby Petrino era restarts in Louisville and Cardinal fans are hopeful his high-powered offense comes with it. As coach of the Cards from 2003-06, Petrino was the mastermind behind an O that averaged over 41 points per game. In its first season in the ACC, U of L will be adjusting to life post-Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals’ former decorated quarterback is with the Minnesota Vikings, meaning Will Gardner gets his shot. The sophomore apparently likes Petrino’s system, tossing for over 540 yards in the spring game.

Schedule

Sept. 1   Miami

Sept. 6   Murray State

Sept. 13  at Virginia 

Sept. 20  at Florida International 

Sept. 27  Wake Forest

Oct. 3      at Syracuse  

Oct. 11    at Clemson  

Oct. 18    N.C. State 

Oct. 30    Florida State 

Nov. 8     at Boston College 

Nov. 22    at Notre Dame

Nov. 29    Kentucky

N.C. STATE

Coach: Dave Doeren

2013 record: 3-9, 0-8 ACC

Returning starters: 6 offense, 6 defense

Players to watch: QB Jacoby Brissett (249 yards, TD, no interceptions, 66 percent complete in 2012); WR Bryan Underwood (32 catches, 382 yards, TD); RB Shadrach Thornton (165 carries, 768 yards, four TDs)

Season outlook: Including the 2013 Orange Bowl, Dave Doeren has had something to do with a team that has lost nine straight ACC games. The former Northern Illinois head coach had a rough first go in his new league, finishing winless and losing games by an average score of 34-17. But Year No. 2 brings hope with a new quarterback. Jacoby Brissett is a former four-star recruit who started three games for Florida until transferring to the Wolfpack after the 2012 season. Brissett was selected as N.C. State’s Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year last season as he sat out and watched the Pack offense finish 97th in the country in scoring (22.8 points per game).

Schedule

Aug. 30   Georgia Southern

Sept. 6    Old Dominion

Sept. 13   at South Florida

Sept. 20   Presbyterian

Sept. 27   Florida State

Oct. 4      at Clemson

Oct. 11    Boston College

Oct. 18    at Louisville

Nov. 1     at Syracuse

Nov. 8     Georgia Tech

Nov. 15   Wake Forest

Nov. 29   at North Carolina

SYRACUSE

Coach: Scott Shafer

2013 record: 7-6, 4-4 ACC

Returning starters: 6 offense, 7 defense

Players to watch: QB Terrel Hunt (1,638 yards, 10 TDs, eight INTs, 61 percent complete); S Durell Eskridge (78 tackles, four for loss, four interceptions); WR Ashton Broyld (52 catches, 452 yards)

Season outlook: Feasting on the ACC Atlantic’s “other teams” — N.C. State, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College — the Orange picked up four league wins in 2013, good enough to take it to the Texas Bowl, where it beat Minnesota. With 13 starters back, Syracuse is certainly primed for a similar season. Behind Florida State, Clemson and Louisville, the race for fourth place in the Atlantic is truly anybody’s game. The Orange, backed by a defense that pitched a pair of shutouts last season, could be in best position to earn the slot.

Schedule

Aug. 29    Villanova

Sept. 13   at Central Michigan

Sept. 20   Maryland

Sept. 27   Notre Dame

Oct. 3       Louisville

Oct. 11     Florida State

Oct. 18     at Wake Forest

Oct. 25     at Clemson

Nov. 1      N.C. State

Nov. 8      Duke

Nov. 22    at Pittsburgh

Nov. 29    at Boston College

WAKE FOREST

Coach: Dave Clawson

2013 record: 4-8, 2-6 ACC

Returning starters: 3 offense, 5 defense

Players to watch: QB John Wolford (3,317 yards, 38 TDs, seven INTs as senior in HS); S Ryan Janvion (95 tackles, 2.5 for loss, interception); CB Kevin Johnson (58 tackles, forced fumble, interception)

Season outlook: For the first time since 2000, Wake Forest will have a head coach not named Jim Grobe. Grobe resigned after 13 seasons last December, giving way to Dave Clawson, a 14-year veteran of the head coaching business. Clawson has a sure project in Year 1, having to replace the Deacs’ top offensive weapon (receiver Michael Campanaro) and defensive weapon (tackle Nikita Whitlock). Oh by the way, Wake hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. In 2014, it will give it a try with a true freshman quarterback. Obviously building for the future, Clawson has already handed the keys to John Wolford, a three-star recruit who set several Florida high school records.

Schedule

Aug. 28   at UL Monroe

Sept. 6    Gardner-Webb

Sept. 13   at Utah State

Sept. 20   Army

Sept. 27   at Louisville

Oct. 4      at Florida State

Oct. 18    Syracuse

Oct. 25    Boston College

Nov. 6     Clemson

Nov. 15   at N.C. State

Nov. 22   Virginia Tech

Nov. 29   at Duke

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