ACC Kickoff Links

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 25, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

If you’re missing ACC Kickoff coverage here, it’s because it’s elsewhere…

Two sorta Clemson-geared ACC notebooks for the guys at OrangeandWhite.com – One, talking Kendall Fuller’s decision between Clemson and Virginia Tech (with Hokie brothers trying to reel him in), what makes Giovani Bernard a threat and Commonwealth QBs. Two, ACC coaches with SEC rivals against the new ACC 9-game schedule, Miami/UNC trying to move on from UNC troubles and FSU already anticipating the week four Clemson matchup.

And at Southern Pigskin today, I did a full extensive Coastal notebook covering all the teams and will have an Atlantic coming too.

Check out ACCSports.com’s coverage out as well, as they always do a bang-up job from this event.

2012 ACC Football Preview Countdown – ACC Champion/Full Rundown

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 22, 2012 under ACC Football | Read the First Comment

The winner of Clemson-FSU has taken the Atlantic three years in a row, and 2012 should be no different. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

It’s almost here.

I’m on the road to Greensboro, NC for the ACC Football Kickoff. Can’t wait to talk ACC pigskin with all 12 coaches and a couple players from each school (and hundreds of media).

We’ve done the countdown for picks for both divisions, and here’s the rundown (preseason All-ACC ballot, week-by-week predictions, bowl projections and bonus thoughts on the 2012 season)…

Projected ACC Standings/Champion (Our ACC previews in the links)

Coastal

1) Virginia Tech – 10-2 (6-2 ACC)
2) UNC – 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
3) Georgia Tech – 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
4) Virginia – 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
5) Miami – 3-9 (2-6)
6) Duke – 4-8 (1-7)

Atlantic

1) FSU – 11-1 (7-1 ACC)
2) Clemson – 10-2 (7-1 ACC)
3) NC State 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
4) Wake Forest 5-7 (2-6 ACC)
5) Boston College 4-8 (2-6 ACC)
6) Maryland 4-8 (1-7 ACC)

ACC Championship Pick: Florida State

Analysis: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is the motto of ACC prognosticators. Virginia Tech-FSU has been the ACC media pick five of seven years in the divisional era, with the Hokies the favorite in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and FSU in 2005 and 2011. They’ve actually met twice, splitting the series (2005 – FSU; 2010 – Virginia Tech).

This is a case of defense wins championships – FSU and Virginia Tech with the top-two defenses in the league. They also each draw their toughest divisional game at home (GT at VT; Clemson at FSU). And the QBs are similar as well, though we haven’t really seen FSU’s E.J. Manuel over a full season.

I like the Seminoles offense to be improved and the defense disruptive to take the ACC for the first time since that ’05 matchup.

Preseason All-ACC Ballot

Offense

QB: Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
RB: Giovani Bernard (UNC)
RB: Andre Ellington (Clemson)
WR: Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
WR: Conner Vernon (Duke)
TE: Matt Furstenburg (Maryland)
OT: Oday Aboushi (Virginia)
OG: Omoregie Uzzi (Georgia Tech)
C: Dalton Freeman (Clemson)
OG: Brandon Linder (Miami)
OT: James Hurst (UNC)
K: Dustin Hopkins (FSU)
Spec.: Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

Defense

DE: Brandon Jenkins (FSU)
DT: Timmy Jernigan (FSU)
DT: Joe Vellano (Maryland)
DE: James Gayle (Virginia Tech)
LB: Kevin Pierre-Louis (Boston College)
LB: Demetrius Hartsfield (Maryland)
LB: Steve Greer (Virginia)
CB: David Amerson (NC State)
S: LaMarcus Joyner (FSU)
S: Earl Wolff (NC State)
CB: Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)
P: Dalton Botts (Miami)

ACC Player of the Year: Sammy Watkins, Clemson. (Correctly picked David Wilson last year)

All-ACC By Team: BC (1), Clemson (5), Duke (1), Florida State (4), Georgia Tech (1), Maryland (2), Miami (2), UNC (2), NC State (2), Virginia (2), Virginia Tech (2), Wake Forest (0).

ACC Blogger writer J.J. Greenstein offers his 2012 ACC picks…

Atlantic Division

Florida State: 11-1 (7-1) You don’t just walk into a Thursday night game at Lane Stadium and get a win, ask any ACC team. That’s the game that could keep Florida State out of a national title game appearance. E.J. Manuel is now a senior and is ready to lead this team to its best finish since the Bowden days. I expect the home game against Clemson and the road match-up with NC State to provide the Seminoles with scares, but I see FSU taking the Atlantic Division.

Clemson: 10-2 (7-1) Clemson is looking to build upon last season’s 10-4 season while moving past a horrendous bowl performance against West Virginia. If they can beat Auburn in Atlanta to start the season (and I think they will), then Tajh Boyd should be able to carry the Tigers to another solid season. I only see the Tigers losing at Florida State, and of course, at home against South Carolina to end the season.

NC State: 10-2 (6-2) Sounds a little crazy, but if the Pack can beat Tennessee in Atlanta to open the season, they should be well on their way to their best season under head coach Tom O’Brien. Mike Glennon has all the tools to be an NFL quarterback and is working with a loaded running back committee. If someone steps up at linebacker for the defense, this could be a very scary team when considering that State probably has the best secondary in the ACC.  If things go right, a home game against Florida State right before the bye week and a road trip to Clemson are the only two games I see the Pack dropping.

Wake Forest: 7-5 (4-4) I like quarterback Tanner Price, he’s accurate and as a junior should have good command of the offense; but the Demon Deacons lose their leading rusher (Brandon Pendergrass) and leading receiver (Chris Givens). I see them retuning to a bowl game with wins over Liberty, North Carolina, Army, Duke, Maryland, Boston College, and Vanderbilt in the finale.

Boston College: 3-9 (1-7) Without running back Montel Harris, who was dismissed from the team, and their best defensive player Luke Kuechly, who went in the first round of the NFL Draft- last year’s 4-8 team is unlikely to improve. I only see one conference win (at home over Maryland) and non-conference wins over Maine and Army.

Maryland: 1-11 (0-8): Could this year’s squad be worse than last year’s 2-10 team? I think so. They don’t return their leading passer after Danny O’Brien transferred or their leading rusher in Davin Maggett so the offense will rely heavily on sophomore quarterback C.J. Brown who had under a 50% completion rate in the ten games he appeared in. Brown can be electric at times but I don’t see it being enough to amount to anything more than one win over William & Mary to open the season.

Coastal Division

Virginia Tech: 11-1 (7-1) Could this team go undefeated on the heels of losing last year’s Sugar Bowl? I think it’s certainly possible, but there are a couple of tests for Logan Thomas and the Hokies if that’s going to happen. I do think they will win a tough one at home against Florida State- with Lane Stadium being the difference. They have to go to Death Valley to play Clemson, who twice beat them easily last season and I see it happening again this season, but I still see the Hokies running away with the Coastal Division.

Virginia: 9-3 (6-2) The Cavaliers return quarterback Michael Rocco and leading rusher Perry Jones from last year’s 8-5 squad. head coach Mike London has a solid team that will be tested early in their non-conference schedule. I see them taking down Penn State at home but falling to a very good TCU team on the road. They have a fairly manageable ACC schedule but I don’t like their chances in road games at NC State and Virginia Tech. However, it should be a very solid year for the Wahoos.

Georgia Tech: 6-6 (4-4) The Yellow Jackets are always a tough team to predict because you never know who will show up and be able to shut down the option attack. Quarterback Tevin Washington returns to lead the offense. A tough schedule faces Tech with non-conference games against BYU and at Georgia; plus they must travel to Clemson as an ACC crossover game. I see wins over Presbyterian, Middle Tennessee, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, and Duke to get to a bowl game again this year.

Miami: 5-7 (4-4) The Hurricanes don’t return their leading passer (Jacory Harris), their leading rusher (Lamar Miller), or their leading receiver (Tommy Streeter) from last year’s 6-6 team. Ouch. Add in a tough non conference schedule, where I only see them winning one of four- this season could be a disaster. There are a few swing games on the schedule, though- North Carolina, NC State, and South Florida would fit into this category that could make or break the Hurricanes’ season. I’ll give them wins over Boston College, Bethune-Cookman, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Duke to end the season.

North Carolina: 5-7 (3-5) The real question will be, how motivated are the Tar Heels knowing there is no post-season this year due to NCAA sanctions? The talent is there but the learning curve for the Tar Heel offence under first-year coach Larry Fedora will be tough for quarterback Bryn Renner- who really isn’t equipped to play in the spread offence. Louisville presents a tough road non-conference test but the Heels got a manageable- but not easy, ACC cross-over schedule (at Wake Forest and NC State, home against Maryland). I see the Heels beating Elon, East Carolina, Idaho, Duke, and Maryland in the season finale.

Duke: 3-9 (0-8) Take out a road trip to Stanford and the Blue Devils have an easy non-conference schedule. Still, they should win three out of four to open the season. However, the ACC did them no favors- giving Duke cross-over games against at Wake Forest and Florida State with a home matchup with Clemson. Honestly, even with senior quarterback Sean Renfree returning I don’t see the Blue Devils winning an ACC game this season- the schedule is just not set up for them. Wins over Florida International, North Carolina Central, and Memphis should generate a buzz in Durham, but I the saga continues for Duke football.

ACC Championship

I expect Florida State to avenge their loss at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game as the Seminoles head to a BCS bowl at 12-1 under Jimbo Fisher.

Brandon’s week by week game picks (Pick in bold)

Week one

Tennessee vs. NC State (Friday, Georgia Dome)
Auburn vs. Clemson (Georgia Dome)
Miami at Boston College
Florida International at Duke
Murray State at Florida State
William & Mary at Maryland
Elon at North Carolina
Richmond at Virginia
Liberty at Wake Forest
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech (Monday)

Week Two

Maine at Boston College
Ball State at Clemson
Duke at Stanford
Savannah State at Florida State
Presbyterian at Georgia Tech
Maryland at Temple
Miami at Kansas State
North Carolina at Wake Forest
NC State at Connecticut
Penn State at Virginia
Austin Peay at Virginia Tech

Week Three

Boston College at Northwestern
Furman at Clemson
North Carolina Central at Duke
Wake Forest at Florida State
Virginia at Georgia Tech
Connecticut at Maryland
Bethune-Cookman at Miami
North Carolina at Louisville
South Alabama at NC State
Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh

Week Four

Memphis at Duke
Clemson at Florida State
Miami at Georgia Tech
Maryland at West Virginia
East Carolina at North Carolina
The Citadel at NC State
Virginia at TCU
Bowling Green at Virginia Tech
Army at Wake Forest

ACC Standing Through Four Weeks

Atlantic

1)      Florida State – 4-0 (2-0)
2)      Boston College – 2-1 (1-0)
3)      NC State – 3-1 (0-0)
4)      Maryland – 3-1 (0-0)
5)      Clemson – 3-1 (0-1)
6)      Wake Forest – 3-1 (0-1)

Coastal

1)      Virginia Tech 4-0 (1-0)
2)      Georgia Tech – 3-1 (1-1)
3)      Duke – 3-1 (0-0)
4)      UNC – 2-2 (0-1)
5)      Virginia – 2-2 (0-1)
6)      Miami – 1-3 (0-2)

Week Five

Clemson at Boston College
Duke at Wake Forest
NC State at Miami
Florida State at South Florida
Middle Tennessee at Georgia Tech
Idaho at North Carolina
Louisiana Tech at Virginia
Virginia Tech at Cincinnati (FedEx Field)

Week Six

Miami at Notre Dame (Soldier Field)
Boston College at Army
Georgia Tech at Clemson
Virginia at Duke
Florida State at NC State
Wake Forest at Maryland
Virginia Tech at North Carolina

Week Seven

Boston College at Florida State
Duke at Virginia Tech
Maryland at Virginia
North Carolina at Miami

Week Eight

Boston College at Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech at Clemson
North Carolina at Duke
Florida State at Miami
NC State at Maryland
Wake Forest at Virginia

ACC Standings Through Week Eight

Atlantic

1)      Florida State – 8-0 (5-0)
2)      Clemson – 6-1 (3-1)
3)      NC State – 5-2 (2-1)
4)      Maryland – 5-3 (1-2)
5)      Boston College – 2-5 (1-3)
6)      Wake Forest – 3-4 (0-4)

Coastal

1)      Virginia – 6-2 (3-1)
T-2) Virginia Tech – 6-2 (2-2)
T-2) UNC – 5-3 (2-2)
T-2) Georgia Tech – 5-2 (2-2)
5)      Duke – 4-4 (1-3)
6)      Miami – 2-6 (1-4)

Week Nine

Clemson at Wake Forest (Thursday)
BYU at Georgia Tech
Maryland at Boston College
Duke at Florida State
NC State at North Carolina

Week 10

Virginia Tech at Miami (Thursday)
Boston College at Wake Forest
Clemson at Duke
Georgia Tech at Maryland
Virginia at NC State

Week 11

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Thursday)
Notre Dame at Boston College
Maryland at Clemson
Georgia Tech at North Carolina
Miami at Virginia
Wake Forest at NC State

Week 12

North Carolina at Virginia (Thursday)
South Florida at Miami
Virginia Tech at Boston College
NC State at Clemson
Duke at Georgia Tech
Florida State at Maryland
Wake Forest at Notre Dame

ACC Standing Through 12 Weeks

Atlantic

1)      Florida State – 10-1 (7-1)
2)      Clemson – 10-1 (7-1)
3)      NC State – 7-4 (4-3)
4)      Wake Forest – 4-7 (2-6)
5)      Boston College – 4-7 (1-6)
6)      Maryand – 4-7 (1-6)

Coastal

1)      Virginia Tech – 10-1 (6-1)
2)      Virginia – 7-4 (5-2)
3)      Georgia Tech – 8-3 (5-3)
4)      UNC – 7-4 (4-3)
5)      Duke – 4-7 (1-6)
6)      Miami – 2-9 (1-6)

Week 13

Boston College at NC State
South Carolina at Clemson
Miami at Duke
Florida at Florida State
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Maryland at North Carolina
Virginia at Virginia Tech
Vanderbilt at Wake Forest

Week 14

Projected ACC Title Game: Florida State vs. Virginia Tech (Bank of America Stadium)

Frank Beamer's Hokies could be playing in Atlanta for a third time in four seasons, if they're not a BCS at-large candidate again. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

Bowl Projections!

Orange: Florida State
Chick-Fil-A: Virginia Tech
Russell Athletic (Orlando): Clemson
Sun Bowl: NC State
Belk: Georgia Tech
Music City: Virginia

Bonus Thoughts…

1) FSU a national championship contender? – Phil Steele thinks so, and both ACC Blogger writers have them going 12-1, with the only loss at Virginia Tech. It really depends on the climate at the top of college football this season. In 2011, the top-four was made up of an undefeated team (LSU) and three one-loss teams (Alabama, Oklahoma State and Stanford, in that order); 2010, three undefeated teams (Oregon, Auburn and TCU – TCU left out of the BCSNCG); 2009, four undefeated teams (Alabama and Texas in the BCSNCG; TCU and Cincinnati left out); 2008, nine teams either with one loss or undefeated (Oklahoma and Florida selected above Texas, USC, Alabama, Penn State, Utah, Texas Tech and Boise State). And 2007, the last time an ACC team was in the mix – two one-loss teams and six two-loss teams in contention (Ohio State, 11-1, and LSU, 11-2 selected – VT left out at 11-2 at third in the BCS standings). Obviously, an undefeated FSU is likely a lock for the title game, but at one-loss, they could be matching not-quite-the-strongest-of-schedules (two FCS opponents) against LSU, Alabama, USC, Oklahoma and whoever else contends this season. It’ll be close, but they’re just outside the top-two.

2) Back-to-back double BCS bids? – Yeah, so it didn’t quite work out last season, but really, the at-large ACC team (Virginia Tech) put on a pretty good show at the Sugar Bowl (23-20 OT loss to Michigan…also, it was a catch). I have three ACC teams in the double-digit win category this season, but the Hokies just slipped in last year because they hit the 11-win mark. I figure that is where an ACC at-large team would have to reside to earn the bid, which the Tigers and Hokies fall short on this season.

3) ACC not hitting its bowl marks, again – Last year, the dual BCS-bids left one spot open and Miami choosing not to bowl the other. Unless the bottom-half of the Atlantic is better than I expect, Shreveport, D.C. and San Francisco will be looking elsewhere for participants. Another factor is UNC’s postseason ban, as they would’ve been a lock in my eyes.

4) Who’s on the hot seat? – Obviously, Randy Edsall and Frank Spaziani – at least from a fan perspective. Both are breaking in new coordinators, which may buy them some time if they actually show improvement. Edsall could be losing the AD who hired him, obviously problematic. Either way, the two won’t turn it around in a season – Edsall and Spaziani just at least need to show the ship headed in the right direction.

5) Oh, Miami and Al Golden needs its own category – Yahoo! Sports really, really seems to not like you, Miami. It’s way too early to pass judgment and Al Golden says “inferences and suggestions…that (his) conduct was anything but ethical are simply false,” but the problem is the ‘Canes are buried in a PR nightmare once again right before the season. Golden will field basically nothing but questions tied to the report at Monday’s ACC Kickoff sessions. True or not, this sets Miami back again, burying Golden and co. in what was already an uphill battle to begin with. But I’d caution for the court of public opinion to drop the hammer on Miami – portions of Yahoo’s initial report turned out have holes in it, and lest we forget, the main source was an egomaniacal, vengeful criminal. We’ll see how it plays out.

Your Turn…

2012 ACC Preview: Who wins the ACC?

  • Clemson (81%, 405 Votes)
  • Miami (8%, 40 Votes)
  • Florida State (4%, 19 Votes)
  • Virginia Tech (3%, 15 Votes)
  • NC State (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Virginia (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Duke (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Maryland (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Georgia Tech (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Wake Forest (0%, 1 Votes)
  • UNC (0%, 0 Votes)
  • BC (-2%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 503

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2012 ACC Preview Countdown: Coastal No. 1 – Virginia Tech

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 20, 2012 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Logan Thomas excelled in year one as Virginia Tech's starting quarterback, but the Hokies will ask even more of him this season (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

2012 ACC Previews

Coastal No. 2: UNC
Coastal No. 3: Georgia Tech
Coastal No. 4: Virginia
Coastal No. 5: Miami
Coastal No. 6: Duke

Atlantic No. 1: FSU
Atlantic No. 2: Clemson
Atlantic No. 3: NC State
Atlantic No. 4: Wake Forest
Atlantic No. 5: Boston College
Atlantic No. 6: Maryland

2011 Record: 11-3 (7-1 ACC)
Returning Starters: 14 (4 on offense, 9 on defense, 1 kicker)
Key to Offensive Success: Finding a reliable option at RB – The Hokies won’t replace David Wilson’s production (1,709 yards), but having a go-to back or a solid rotation is a staple of the Virginia Tech offense.
Defensive Spot to Watch: Secondary – Antone Exum moves to CB to pair with Kyle Fuller, leaving the safety spots to a pair of underclassmen.

2012 Virginia Tech Schedule – Projected Results

Sept. 3   GEORGIA TECH – W
Sept. 8 AUSTIN PEAY – W
Sept. 15 at Pittsburgh – W
Sept. 22 BOWLING GREEN – W
Sept. 29    Cincinnati (FedEx Field) – W
Oct. 6   at UNC – L
Oct. 13 DUKE – W
Oct. 20  at Clemson – L
Oct. 27  Bye
Nov. 1 at Miami (Thursday) – W
Nov. 8 FLORIDA STATE (Thursday) – W
Nov. 17 at Boston College – W
Nov. 24  VIRGINIA – W

Projected Record: 10-2 (6-2 ACC)

Last Two Season Projections: 2011 – 1st in the Coastal/1st. 2010 – 1st in the Coastal/1st.

The next two sections are a part of what I do for OrangeandWhite.com

Virginia Tech Quick Profile

Coach: Frank Beamer (209-98-2 career record, 56-13 in ACC play, 26th year at Virginia Tech).

Offense (2011 ranks): Pro-style (Total offense: 35th/Rush offense: 28th/Pass offense: 66th)

Defense (2011 ranks): 4-3 (Total defense: 35th/Rush defense: 14th/Pass defense: 31st).

2011 Special Team Ranks: Net punting – 108th/Kickoff returns – T-93rd/Punt returns – 30th/Punt return yardage defense – 8th/Kickoff return yardage defense – 44th.

2011 Misc. stats: Turnover margin – 35th/Fewest penalties – 62nd/First downs – 42nd/First downs allowed – 9th/Third down efficiency – 24th/Red zone efficiency – 103rd/Red zone defense – 5th/Time of possession – 3rd.

Outgoing starters: 11.

2012 Starters (2011 stats)

Returning Offense (4)

QB: Logan Thomas (Junior, 3,013 passing yards/59.8% cmp/19 TD-10 INT/469 rushing yards/11 rush TD)

FB: Joey Phillips (Junior, 5-11 214).

WR: Marcus Davis (Senior, 510 rec. yards/5 TD)

O-line: C Andrew Miller (Junior, 6-4 300/14 career starts)

New Projected Starters (7)

RB: Michael Holmes (Redshirt freshman)

WR: D.J. Coles (Senior, 480 rec. yards/3 TD)/Dyrell Roberts (Senior, 45 rec. yards).

TE: Eric Martin (Junior)/Randall Dunn (Senior)/Darius Redman (Redshirt freshman)

O-line: LT Nick Becton (Senior, 6-6 328); LG David Wang (Junior, 6-1 286); RG Brent Benedict (Sophomore, 6-5 311/UGA transfer); RT Vinston Painter (Senior, 6-6 304)

Outlook: The imposing Logan Thomas (6-6 262) was the ACC’s top dual-threat quarterback in his first year as a starter in Blacksburg. The junior passed for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns (10 interceptions) and rushed for 469 yards and 11 more scores.

Gone though is the heart of the Hokies’ 2011 offense, NFL draft first-rounder RB David Wilson, who was one of two ACC tailbacks to average over 100 rushing yards per game (with 11 touchdowns) last season. Taking his spot will likely be tailback without a college carry – led by redshirt freshman Michael Holmes.

Also out the door are Thomas’ top two targets, Danny Coale (904 yards and 3 TD) and Jarrett Boykin (761 yards and 5 TD), and the next in line, Marcus Davis (510 yards and 5 TD), D.J. Coles (480 yards and 3 TD) and Dyrell Roberts – all dealt with injuries this spring and/or last season.

The Hokies go from having one of the most experienced starting o-lines in the ACC (98 career starts last year) to the least (14), but two seniors are expected to man the tackle positions with junior center Andrew Miller anchoring it.

Returning Defense (9)

D-line: DT Antoine Hopkins (Senior, 0.5 TFL/5 starts, knee injury/17 career starts); DT Derrick Hopkins (Sophomore, 3 sacks/5 TFL); DE James Gayle (Junior, 7 sacks/12.5 TFL); DE J.R. Collins (Junior, 6 sacks/9.5 TFL)

LB: MLB Bruce Taylor (Senior, 53 tackles/7 TFL/missed final 5 games with foot injury); Whip/OLB Jeron Gouveia-Winslow (Senior, 9 tackles/missed final 8 games with foot injury, 12 career starts); OLB Tariq Edwards (Junior, 71 tackles/11.5 TFL)

DB: CB Antone Exum (Junior, 89 tackles/10 PBU/1 INT)/CB Kyle Fuller (Junior, 65 tackles/2 INT/7 PBU)

New Projected Starters (2)

DB: ROV Detrick Bonner (Sophomore, 27 tackles/3.5 TFL/4 PBU/1 INT); FS Kyshoen Jarrett (Sophomore)

Outlook: Virginia Tech returns its two-deep on the depth chart, including a starter back from a knee injury in senior defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins. Book-ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins both ranked in the top-8 in the ACC in sacks last season.

At linebacker, everybody’s back as well, including two back from foot injuries in senior MLB Bruce Taylor and WHIP Jeron Gouveia-Winslow. Tariq Edwards finished second among ACC linebackers in tackles for loss (11.5).

Antone Exum makes the move from rover to corner to pair with fellow junior Kyle Fuller to keep the Hokies a “Cornerback U,” leaving the safety spots with some inexperience.

Returning Kicker/Punter (2)

PK: Cody Journell (Junior, 14-of-17, long of 42)*

P: Michael Branthover (Sophomore, 36.6 yards per punt/7 inside the 20)

*Pending suspension ruling

Outlook: The Hokies had an open competition for the kicker spot this spring, but they might get Cody Journell back after all after a “breaking and entering” charge (felony) was knocked down to trespassing (misdemeanor) this offseason. Virginia Tech’s punters struggled last season, with former wide receiver Danny Coale even getting some playing time, but sophomore Michael Branthover is the favorite to take hold of the job in 2012.

Notable Backups (2011 stats)

RB: J.C. Coleman (True freshman)/Martin Scales (Senior)

LB: Chase Williams (Sophomore)

PK: Conor Goulding (Sophomore)

The Why…

Why First?: 1) Best defense in the Coastal – Bud Foster already seems to squeeze every bit out of his defense (10th nationally in total D last year) and he returns nine starters and his entire two-deep on the defensive line. That especially helps them in the all-important opener with Georgia Tech.

2) Most important ACC game at home with all offseason to prepare for the GT spread option – It’s been one Tech or the other atop the Coastal since the ACC’s move to 12 teams (and the Hokies won the ACC the year before that). I’d expect Paul Johnson will have a few things up his sleeve come Labor Day, but a win here for the Hokies sets up another Coastal cakewalk.

3) Another year of development for Logan Thomas – Just in year one as a starter, Thomas was the ACC’s top dual-threat quarterback (30 total touchdowns), dragging defenders in his wake on “QB-sneaks” that went five yards at a time, and hitting his marks in the passing game (3,013 passing yards). His top two targets moved on to the NFL and the next in line have had some injury issues, but we’ll see how he adapts because the Hokies a good one here.

Could be lower if…: Lose one or both tough home games to Georgia Tech and Florida State, and also drop one or both of trips to UNC and Clemson and lose-out in two or three-team tiebreakers.

2012 ACC Preview: Where does Virginia Tech finish?

  • 1st (39%, 12 Votes)
  • 2nd (26%, 8 Votes)
  • 3rd (19%, 6 Votes)
  • 6th (13%, 4 Votes)
  • 4th (3%, 1 Votes)
  • 5th (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

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