August 2, 2006

The Breakdown: ACC

How they'll finish
Atlantic Division Coastal Division
1. Florida State 1. Miami
2. Clemson 2. Virginia Tech
3. Boston College 3. Georgia Tech
4. Maryland 4. North Carolina
5. N.C. State 5. Virginia
6. Wake Forest 6. Duke
Championship: Miami over Florida State
An inside look at what to expect in the ACC this season:

Best offensive player: Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson: He's the one guy feared the most by defensive coordinators throughout the conference. Who knows what Johnson can accomplish if Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball ever develops into a consistent passer?

Best defensive player: Clemson DE Gaines Adams: His decision to return for his senior year made the Tigers instant contenders to unseat Florida State as the conference champion.

Best player you don't know yet: Florida State LB Lawrence Timmons: His two-sack performance in last season's ACC championship game was a sign of things to come for this first-year starter.

Impact newcomer: North Carolina QBs Joe Dailey and Cam Sexton. One of these newcomers is going to open the season as the Tar Heels' starting quarterback. Dailey gained starting experience at Nebraska two years ago before transferring, while Sexton is a redshirt freshman who sat out last year with a broken ankle.

Sleeper recruit: Clemson WR Jacoby Ford: Five-star RB C.J. Spiller was considered the jewel of Clemson's recruiting class, but Ford could make just as much of an impact this fall. The four-star receiver's blazing speed he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.18 seconds at Clemson's indoor track facility in June could make him an immediate factor in the receiving corps and on special teams.

Assistant coach on the rise: Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Miami has led the nation in pass efficiency defense three of Shannon's five years as defensive coordinator. Why isn't he a head coach yet?

Assistant coach on the hot seat: Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden. The end of the Seminoles' run of 14 consecutive top-five finishes in the Associated Press poll coincided with Bowden's arrival as offensive coordinator.

The ACC's best ...
Quarterbacks: Miami
Running backs: Clemson
Wide receivers: Florida State
Tight ends: Miami
Offensive line: Clemson
Defensive line: Miami
Linebackers: Virginia Tech
Defensive backs: Miami
Kickers/punters: Virginia Tech
Special teams: Virginia Tech
Best offensive coordinator: Boston College's Dana Bible.

Best defensive coordinator: Florida State's Mickey Andrews.

Etc.: Clemson has seven first-team all-conference picks and Florida State has only one. So why are the Seminoles picked to win the Atlantic Division? We believe the Seminoles' superior depth will help them produce several top players who simply haven't emerged yet. This time last year, who knew Kamerion Wimbley and Brodrick Bunkley would become first-round draft picks? The conference newcomer who may make the biggest impact is Miami offensive coordinator Rich Olson, who will try to energize a team that scored only 20 points in its three losses last year. The biggest preseason position battle is at Virginia Tech, where Rich Glennon, Ike Whitaker or Cory Holt will succeed Marcus Vick at quarterback. Wake Forest might not take much of a hit despite losing ACC Player of the Year Chris Barclay. Micah Andrews rushed for 321 yards while filling in for Barclay the first two games of last season. The ACC defensive player with the toughest job may be North Carolina State defensive tackle DeMario Pressley, the only returning starter from a front four that had three players drafted in the first round.

ACC Season Preview | Preseason All-ACC Team

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