ACC at a look: Who can hang with Florida State,

  • Andrea Adelson Close Andrea Adelson ESPN Senior Citizen Writer ACC reporter. Joined in 2010

    . Graduate of the University of Florida.David Hale Close David


    ESPN Personnel Writer

    • ACC reporter.Joined ESPN in 2012. Graduate of the University of Delaware.Aug 21, 2023, 07:00 AM ET While unpredictability rules the ACC’s long-lasting future, the outlook on the field this season seems relatively clear: Florida State and Clemson appear like the class of the conference.Of course, things hardly ever play out as anticipated, and there’s plenty of intrigue with the

      Seminoles, Tigers and beyond. Can FSU measure up to the best expectations it has faced in recent memory? Will Dabo Swinney construct on the momentum acquired toward completion of last season? And which teams will emerge among the second-tier contenders– Pitt, North Carolina, NC State, Louisville or Miami?ESPN press reporters Andrea Adelson and David Hale look at the league’s top newcomers, biggest early season games,

      coaches on the hot seat and MVP and championship game choices.

      Three transfers to know

      How they’ll complete: ACC ADELSON HALE 1. Clemson

      1. Clemson 2. Florida State 2. Florida State 3. North Carolina 3

      . Pitt 4. Pitt 4. NC State 5. NC State 5. North Carolina 6. Louisville 6. Louisville 7. Miami 7. Miami 8. Duke 8. Duke 9. Wake Forest 9. Wake Forest 10. Boston College 10. Syracuse 11. Syracuse 11. Boston College

      12. Virginia Tech 12. Georgia Tech 13. Georgia Tech 13. Virginia Tech 14. Virginia 14. Virginia

      North Carolina receivers Tez Walker (perhaps) and Nate McCollum (absolutely): Changing the production lost by departing stars Josh Downs and Antoine Green is no simple task for the Heels, however they landed two proven players in the portal this offseason. McCollum blossomed late for Georgia Tech in 2015 and ought to fill Downs’ slot position nicely, while Walker was among the best outdoors receivers in the Group of 5 last year, capturing 58 balls for 921 lawns and 11 ratings at Kent State. The only issue is the NCAA rejected Walker’s demand to play right away after transferring a second time in his profession (his very first followed NC Central canceled its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic), and the Tar Heels are still awaiting an answer on an appeal of the choice.– David M. Hale

      Louisville QB Jack Plummer: A large part of the Cardinals’roster could have a case for being on this list, as first-year head coach Jeff Brohm revamped it through the website this offseason, however let’s start with the quarterback. Plummer spent three years with Brohm at Purdue prior to moving to Cal in 2022, so he’s familiar with the system and has been influential in bringing the remainder of the offending players along. He had solid numbers on a dull Cal team in 2015. He could be a star in 2023.– Hale

      Florida State DT Braden Fiske: Nobody has actually steered the transfer website much better than FSU coach Mike Norvell over the past three years, and he has a host of fantastic additions once again– from receiver Keon Coleman to corner Fentrell Cypress to tight end Jaheim Bell. However Fiske, who gets here from Western Michigan, may have the greatest effect for a Seminoles defense that typically resisted the run last year. Partnered with a healthy Fabian Lovett, Fiske must have the inside of the D-line appearing like one of the Noles’ most significant locations of improvement in 2023.– Hale

      3 key positions to fill

      Payton Wilson returns, but the rest of NC State’s linebacker corps will be brand-new. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File Pitt’s protective front: The Panthers are delighted about who returns for 2023, led by edge rush Dayon Hayes and linebacker Bangally Kamara, however the shoes they’ll need to fill are huge ones. Calijah Kancey was a first-round NFL draft choice and amongst the most impactful interior linemen in the country in 2015, and SirVocea Dennis was the body and soul of an exceptional Pitt defense. A number of unverified players will need to emerge to match that production.– Hale

      Wake Forest QB: Nobody at Wake appears fretted about the most essential position on the field, with coach Dave Clawson revealing extreme self-confidence in Mitch Griffis to take the job. But it’s difficult to overstate the effect previous quarterback Sam Hartman– now with Notre Dame– had on the program over the past five years, and Griffis has his work eliminated matching that production.– Hale

      NC State Pound: Payton Wilson returns for another season helping the Wolfpack’s linebacking corps, however his partners for the previous 2 years– Drake Thomas and Isaiah Moore– are both gone. For a defense that is built around vibrant linebackers, the job of filling that void, particularly versus the run, is a huge one.– Hale

      3 effect freshmen

      Clemson DT Peter Woods: If the name sounds familiar, it should. We have invested the whole offseason promoting Woods, who registered early and made raves from coach Dabo Swinney in the spring. Throughout the spring game broadcast, Swinney explained Woods, “like a Halley’s comet. Every once in a while, you get a guy that physically and psychologically and maturity and all the intangibles, he’s just all set.” Clemson has constantly produced extraordinary linemen. Woods appears to be next in line.– Andrea Adelson

      Connelly’s CFB previews

      Costs Connelly breaks down every department in college football as just he can, with forecasts and burning concerns for each team in addition to his preferred players.

      Connelly’s CFB previews Miami OL Francis Mauigoa: Miami coach Mario Cristobal knew he needed to improve the offensive line and went and signed two of the best linemen in the class of 2023– first-class potential customers Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola. Though we are highlighting Mauigoa, make note of Okunlola, too, because both will be considerable contributors to the Miami line and are pushing to be starters this season.– Adelson

      NC State TE/WR Javonte Vereen: The Wolfpack have a set of freshmen who can be difference-makers in their brand-new offense under Robert Anae: Vereen and Kevin Concepcion, who were both enrolled in the spring and showed capacity. Consider what Anae did last season with TE/WR hybrid Oronde Gadsden at Syracuse. Gadsden was not a true freshman, but he did have a breakout season with 969 lawns and 6 goals. Vereen has similar size, so do not be amazed if Anae uses him in a comparable way.– Adelson

      Three must-see September games

      Florida State vs. LSU, Sept. 3: All of us understand the stakes in this one. Florida State beat LSU in 2015 in New Orleans, altering the whole narrative for its season. But now, both groups are ranked in the preseason leading 10 with championship aspirations. Safe to state there are early CFP implications in this one too.– Adelson

      Texas A&M at Miami, Sept. 9: Both programs had tougher years than expected last season, but they have much higher hopes for 2023. For Miami, this is a vital nonconference game to truly reveal it is headed in the best instructions. For the ACC, this is an important nonconference game to help improve the perception of the conference.– Adelson

      Florida State at Clemson, Sept. 23: The ACC strategically placed the matchup of its two greatest ranked groups in September to not only optimize interest, however likewise keep alive the possibility that there might be a rematch in December in the ACC championship game because the league no longer has divisions. Clemson has won seven directly in the series, and the last time it lost to the Seminoles in your home was 2013– when Florida State won the national championship.–

      Adelson MVP pick MVP candidate Jordan Travis of Florida State threw for 24 touchdowns and ran for 7 a season earlier. Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

      Adelson: UNC QB Drake Maye While I love what Jordan Travis has actually done throughout his profession at Florida State, it is hard to break Maye, who tossed for 4,321 backyards, 38 goals and 7 interceptions and ran for 698 backyards and seven scores. You could probably state no player means more to his group than Maye thinking about where the Tar Heels defense was a year earlier. There is no chance UNC makes it to the ACC national championship in 2015 without him. In a straw poll of a handful of ACC coaches, Maye got approval too.

      Hale: Florida State QB Jordan Travis Is Travis the very best QB in the ACC? Maye uses a good counterpoint. However it’s hard to see Florida State’s rapid growth over the previous 2 seasons without valuing how huge a part of that increase Travis has actually been. No player suggests more to his group than Travis, and offered the sky-high expectations at FSU, he warrants remaining in this discussion.On the hot seat Dino Babers took Syracuse to a bowl game in 2015, but is it enough? Rich Barnes/USA TODAY

      Adelson: Dino Babers, Syracuse; Jeff Hafley, Boston College I am not attempting to prevent addressing the concern, however there are just 2 coaches who fit the requirements and I am not sure they are always on the hot seat. If Babers does not make a bowl, then yes. However as of now, no. The exact same goes for Hafley. He is not on the spot now, however a second straight losing season and the calculus may alter.

      Hale: Babers A year ago, the talk seemed to be bowl-or-bust for Babers and the Orange, however a 7-6 season and a Pinstripe Bowl berth didn’t peaceful the critics. Blame it on the raised expectations of a 6-0 start. A more balanced performance– and another championship game– need to suffice in 2023, however if the Orange regress, the pressure will mount.Sleeper team

      Adelson: Louisville

      Hale makes the case for Pitt as a sleeper listed below: ACC champ in 2021 and 20 wins over the past 2 seasons do not make a team a sleeper. My option is Louisville, although I think you might argue that an eight-win team should not actually qualify as a sleeper, either. The schedule establishes well for the Cards (avoid Florida State/Clemson) and I expect the offense will be enhanced with Jack Plummer at quarterback. Another team to watch is Boston College. I do not know if the Eagles will play for a conference championship, but after winning 3 games last year, I fully anticipate this team to make a turn-around in 2023.

      Hale: Pitt Is it reasonable to call Pitt a sleeper? The Panthers have won 20 games in the previous 2 seasons, including one ACC title. However they also lose a lots of star power from in 2015’s team and were chosen 6th (tied with Duke) in the league’s preseason media survey. We got a taste of this year’s Pitt team in an excellent bowl win over UCLA due to a lot of opt-outs, and new quarterback Phil Jurkovec feels like the best fit for this offense. Pitt’s floor is most likely 6 or 7 wins, however the ceiling might be a good bit higher.Conference title game

      Adelson: Clemson 35, Florida State 31

      I was this close to picking Florida State but I opted for Clemson. Until Florida State proves it can do it, picking versus Clemson is tough.

      Hale: Clemson 31, Florida State 30

      There’s clearly 2 top groups in the ACC entering the season, and while it’s a coin toss regarding which is better, I’m leaning simply hardly toward the Tigers since they have actually done it previously.

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