2011 ACC Football Burning Questions: Atlantic Division

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 9, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

These two guys, Tajh Boyd (10) and Andre Ellington (23), pretty much hold the key to any Clemson success this season. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

It’s football season, more or less.

Most ACC teams have started their fall camps by now – here are a few questions I’m pondering in the Atlantic…

1) Is Tajh Boyd ready to lead Clemson in an offensive turnaround right away?

Since ACCBlogger.com’s world headquarters are in Upstate SC, I’ve been in Clemson the last couple days for the opening of their fall practice.

Friday, I got to see about 45 minutes of the Tigers in action on the practice field, and over the weekend, heard what Dabo Swinney, new OC Chad Morris and the players had to say about the new offense and picking it up.

And make no mistake, Morris thinks redshirt sophomore QB Tajh Boyd is learning his scheme just fine. Monday, Morris continued to rave about Boyd’s progress, but admitted they aren’t all the way there.

Swinney, Morris and Tajh’s teammates have repeatedly talked up Boyd’s living in the tape room, and when not there, getting in condition to run the fast-paced spread scheme of Morris.

They’re confident in Boyd, and from what I’ve seen from him so far, they have no reason not to be.

But he’ll have to grow up fast because week four holds the key to any shot at the Atlantic with FSU coming to town. The Clemson players have said over and over this offseason – they’re ready to shake off last season’s disappointment and get back atop the Atlantic, and they’re confident they can get there even with a new scheme.

2) What can we reasonably expect from BC’s Chase Rettig in his second season at QB?

As a true freshman, Chase Rettig got his first start against Notre Dame in 2010, but was knocked out by the end of the first half. After missing the NC State game, Rettig got back in the saddle for the FSU roadie, where they lost a close one – 24-19.

After losing the Maryland the next week, Rettig’s Eagles pulled off five-straight wins – by the end of his first campaign, BC was a modest 5-4 in his starts.

His best performance by far was at Duke, where he was 12-for-24 with 230 passing yards and two passing TDs. Rettig finished with 1,238 passing yards – completing passes at a 51.3 percent clip with nine interceptions and six touchdowns. Not bad for a freshman, but not great either.

With a new offensive coordinator in Kevin Rogers, you figure he can only go up.

BC Interruption laid out the case for his upside versus 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O’Brien of Maryland recently, and a pretty good one at that.

Rettig has tools around him this season with his top four receivers and three rushers back to do some damage in season two.

But the gauntlet of three road three road trips in October to Clemson, Virginia Tech and Maryland – and hosting FSU on short rest on a Thursday will be tough on the sophomore. Add to that, the Eagles have a couple more road trips to Notre Dame and Miami to close out the season.

I say all that to say this – Rettig seems to have the weapons to have a better year this season with every start (health-willing), but it probably won’t show up in the overall Eagles’ record.

3) While we’re talking QB, anything happen at that position at NC State this offseason?

I touched on this briefly in a Southern Pigskin column recently, but how many Russell Wilson v. Mike Glennon stats comparisons will we see this season?

It’s completely not fair to Glennon – to Tom O’Brien, a bit – either way, it’s going to happen.

Can’t have a lock for preseason All-ACC QB move on to a BCS contender and it not.

So, the bar is already pretty high for junior Mike Glennon, and he has less experience than sophomore QBs in his division like Danny O’Brien (MD), Chase Rettig (BC) and Tanner Price (WF).

His coach is really high on him though, but much like Tajh Boyd in Clemson, we really don’t know what we’ll see this season at QB in Raliegh.

4) FSU defense key to the expected ACC title run?

The ‘Noles made the jump in total defense from 92nd in 2009 to 42nd in 2010 in Mark Stoops’ first season as defensive coordinator.

And with a majority of the starters back, including a beast of a defensive line (ranked best in the nation by Rivals) – look for that total D no. to only improve.

With all eyes on E.J. Manuel in his first year in charge of the FSU offense, this defense comes in a tad underrated. They could really be the key to any success the Seminoles have this season.

5) Who is Danny O’Brien going to throw to (and does it matter as much this season)?

Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon made up 103 of Danny O’Brien’s 192 completions last season.

They’re gone.

The most catches any single returning receiver has from last season is 16 with senior Quintin McCree.

That’s not going to be easy to replace.

Randy Edsall is well aware of this, and has called on senior RB Davin Meggett to be a workhorse this season – something that Maryland didn’t do much of under Ralph Friedgen.

It’s the smart move with a young QB feeling out who he has for targets. And I think Meggett can be a workhorse at his size.

6) Will anything Wake Forest does this season matter?

Sounds kinda harsh of a question, doesn’t it?

But it’s valid. Towards the end of the Riley Skinner era to now, Wake Forest has taken a turn for the worst when it comes to football.

Whether it’s the 68-24 loss at Stanford, or even the 28-27 heartbreaking loss to Navy at home – 2010 was one to forget.

With a young team grownup (slightly) – having as many returning starters as any team in the league, they should be better, but like BC, it probably won’t show in the final record.

But to answer the question, QB Tanner Price and RB Josh Harris improving will make this season matter for the future of Wake Forest football. With four senior starters on the o-line, getting reps for the next in line will be crucial if Jim Grobe’s Deacs hope to sniff a bowl in the next couple seasons (an easier conference schedule from the ACC would give them hope as well).

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