Early ACC Projected Standings
By Matthew Osborne
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Clemson and Florida State again look to be the most talented teams in the ACC next season.
It’s never too early to look ahead to the upcoming college football season.
As we are getting revved up for the start of spring practice, let’s take a look at the projected standings in the ACC for the 2013 season.
* Note: This is not a power ranking. This is a projection of where the teams will finish in conference play next season, taking both talent and schedule into consideration.
The Tigers lose Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins, but there will still be a ton of firepower on offense in Death Valley next season. With an improved defense, Clemson will be the team to beat in the conference.
2. Florida State
Florida State returns the fewest starters of any ACC team (10), but the Seminoles should have little trouble finding talented layers to fill the void. If the Noles get solid quarterback play, they can challenge Clemson in the division.
The Orange may struggle to score points with the losses of Ryan Nassib and Alec Lemon, but the defense should be very good. Syracuse finished 2012 with a ton of momentum, which should carry over to this season.
4. Wake Forest
Set to return eight starters on both sides of the ball, the Demon Deacons should be much improved in 2013. Tanner Price and Michael Campanaro should combine to make Wake Forest more explosive on offense this fall.
The Terrapins will severely miss defensive stars Joe Vellano, Kenny Tate and Demetrius Hartsfield, but the good news is that the offense has nowhere to go but up. If Maryland can keep a quarterback healthy this year, they will fight for bowl eligibility.
6. NC State
NC State returns only 11 starters from 2012, and the Wolfpack will have a difficult time replacing Mike Glennon under center. Tom O’Brien was never a great recruiter in Raleigh, which means we will see a drop off in talent level.
7. Boston College
The Eagles do return seven starters on both sides of the ball, but the talent discrepancy between Boston College and the top teams in the league is expansive. Facing North Carolina and Virginia Tech out of the Coastal, it will be a long year for Steve Addazio.
Amazingly, the Hurricanes are set to return 19 starters from 2012. The offense will be explosive, led by signal caller Stephen Morris, while the defense should be greatly improved with another year of experience.
2. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets played some of their best football down the stretch last season and they should keep that momentum going in 2013 with 16 returning starters. Quarterback Vad Lee is a star in the making, and Ted Roof should improve a sub-par Georgia Tech defense.
The Tar Heels have to replace some key players on offense, but Larry Fedora has proven to be an outstanding offensive coach. The defense returns nine starters, and quarterback Bryn Renner will provide the team with veteran leadership.
4. Virginia Tech
The Hokies return only four starters on offense, but Frank Beamer is hoping that new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will help develop Logan Thomas under center. The conference schedule is manageable, and the defense could be the best in the conference.
The Panthers will lose a lot on offense, but it could be addition by subtraction with some of their losses to graduation. On defense, Pittsburgh returns nine starters from a defense that was very good last season.
The Blue Devils lose Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon, but the running game should continue to improve this fall. Duke’s defense was awful last season, but should get better with the return of seven starters.
Phillip Sims is the unquestioned starter at quarterback, which will provide much-needed stability for the offense. The talent level is still not where it needs to be for the Cavaliers to compete consistently in the Coastal.