Atlantic Division Next Year

It should be interesting.   I know a lot about UMD and not much about other teams.

Based on Phil Steele's magazine preseason projected starting lineups I got FSU with 16 returning  starters on offense and defense and both kickers.

The returning starters are 

1.  Jermaine Thomas

2.   Jarmon Fortson

3.  Bert Reed

4.  Beau Reliford

5.   David Spurlock

6.  Taiwan Easterling

7.  Zebrie Snaders

8.  Andrew Datko

9.  Everett Dawkins

10.  Moses McCray

11.  Jacobbi McDaniel

12.  Jeff Luc

13.  Nigel Bradham

14.  Greg Reid

15.  Nick Moody

16.  Jajuan Harley

Thats 8 starters back on both offense and defense.  However the losses on offense are all significant in Ponder, McMahon, and Hudson as all three were multiple year starters who were pretty good.  The O-lineman will hurt, but Ponder may hurt even more as when healthy he was very good.  By contrast the loses on defense are not guys who seem as signficant, though looking at a preseason magazine I don't know how they played in 2010.  Overall it seems you guys should improve a lot on D and could improve on offense, but that is less clear as the three leaving on offense are hard to replace, whereas for example FSU gets back all three receivers, but they were pretty average this year. 

The fans on this site know FSU far far better than I, so they can tell me what they think.


I am not sure about the other Atlantic teams, on paper the Terps return the most they have returned since 2003.  They return 7 starters on O and D each (sort of as due to injuries who is tough to figure out who is a returning starter.  For example we lost opening day starter Justin Gilbert in the third game of the season for the season, I am not counting him as a starter, but him counting Bennett Fulper a starter who started 7 games this year at C, but was not the opening day starter).  In otherwords counting the number of starters back takes a little bit of judgment.

1.  Danny O'Brien (ACC Rookie of the Year)

2.  RJ Dill

3.  Bennett Fulper

4.  Andrew Gonnella

5.  Justin Lewis

6.  Ronnie Tyler

7.  Matt Furstenburg

8.  Justin Anderson

9.  Joe Vellano  (Second team All ACC)

10.  AJ Francis

11. Demetrius Hartsfield

12.  Cameron Chism

13.  Kenny Tate (First team All ACC)

14.  Trenton Hughes

Terps are similar to FSU in that like FSU they return the same amount of guys on both sides of the ball but one unit loses a lot more than the other unit, except its the opposite for the Terps.  They lose a lot of D in including First team All ACC LB Alex Wujciak.  Two of the other three loses are very significant on D.  Adrian Moten and Antwine Perez were very good for the Terps this year.  The fourth loss on D Drew Gloster isn't that significant, he was okay, but a first year starter at DE and got one sack on the season.  Its possible, but not necessarily like, that we could actually get an upgrade there next year.  On offense, its the opposite, we lose one star in First Team All ACC player Torrey Smith and three guys who can be replaced.  RB Da'rel Scott was a 1000 yard rusher in 2008, but only 500 yards in 2009 and 700 yards in 2010.  He split carries with Davin Meggett and though the starter in that he had the first series every game, Meggett had more carries and yards on the season, so despite leading the starter at that position, UMD actually gets back their leading rusher.   The other two loses on offense are Adrian Cannon the number 2 WR, a 4.6 forty guy who lacked speed but a solid possession receiver.  Kevin Dorsey his replacement may end up being a slightly quicker version of the guy he is replacing.   The fourth loss was Paul Pinegar a former walk on O-Lineman that ended up being a two year starter and started at four of the five O-line positions during his two years as a starter including LT, RT, RG, and C.  He was solid, but far from dominant and while a good utility guy is ultimately replaceable.


As I understand the other teams BC loses a lot on the O-Line (3 out of 5 starters), but gets back their QB, RB, and WR's minus Momah at WR.  Whether they are better or worse on O next year should depend how good the replacements are on the O-Line.  My guess is BC is actually better on offense next year.  On D they lose a lot especially in the front seven where they lose 5 of 7.  Some of the replacements are good like Max Holloway at DE, but overal they lose too much.  Kuechly is the best LB in the ACC though and he'll be back.  They should not be as good though on D next year.

Clemson had a good D this year, but loses its top two players in Bowers and McDaniels.  Even with Bowers leaving they return 5 out of 7 of their front seven, but lose a lot in the secondary.  They return 6 out of 11 on D which generally means they could be better or worse, but given that they are losing their best players Bowers, McDaniel and Jenkins on D that would indicate they will be worse.    

Clemson's O was awful this year, but I think they only had one senior starter.  They will lose Kyle Parker too, but he had a bad year.  He made bad decisions and had happy feet in the pocket, thus I don't see that as a big loss.  If they get even average QB play out of Boyd they may have one of the most improved ACC offenses.  So look for Clemson to improve significantly on O, but have a slightly decline on D.

NC State's offense depends a lot on whether Russell Wilson returns.  Either way they return a lot on O, either 7 or 8 guys.  However, with Wilson back and a total of 8 starters back they should be better on O.  However, if Wilson leaves early they return 7 out of 11 on O, but all four losses are large, their star QB, their best O-Lineman, and top two WR's who were both above average.   So they could get back 7 on offense and be worse if Wilson leaves.  They should return 7 out of 11 on D.  They lose Nate Irving, but overall I think they will be improved.  The weakness they had was pass defense and they had no starting JRs and Seniors last year in the secondary which explains that weakness.  With all the starters back there, I think you see a large improvement on D for Wake.

Wake was pretty atrocious.  Wake probably has the least amount of talent of the teams in the Atlantic so they can't afford for things to go wrong and they did.   Wake was probably the most injured team in the ACC this year, though I can't confirm that until I see Phil Steele starters game lost stat next season.  I think of Wake as a team of fifth year senior starters, but by the time they played UMD I think Wake had five TRUE freshman starters--and it showed.  One of the true frshman starters was their QB.    Not sure how many starters Wake gets back, but they averages say they suffer less injuries this year  and their young guys go experience a year early, so I see them being much more competitive.  Whether they go 1-7 or 4-4 depends probably a bit on luck, but they should be improved a lot.

Ranking the teams and assuming Russell Wilson does NOT return I'd rank them

1.  FSU  (5-3 -- 8-0)

2.  UMD (3-5 - 7-1)

3.  NC State  (3-5 -- 7-1)

4.  Clemson  (2-6 -- 7-1)

5.  Boston College (3-5 -- 6-2)

6.  Wake.  (1-7 -- 4-4)

How good do I feel about those rankings.  Not very, I feel it would be easier to give a realistic range of what each team could do in conference because a lot of the teams are close and luck and stuff will play a large factor in the final standing.  Thus I feel a lot better about the range of conference record than actually ranking the teams.  For example you can see the only team I feel confident in saying Wake won't finish ahead of is FSU, every other team I give Wake a best case scenario better than that team's worse case scenario.  Likewise, while I have FSU as the best team in Atlantic, I give 5 teams a shot to win it next year.

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