Predicting The All-ACC Team: Quarterbacks

This is the second in a series on the 2011 All-ACC team.  First, we profiled the players returning from the 2010 All-ACC team.  Today, we'll discuss the quarterbacks.

No quarterback who received a vote for the 2010 All-ACC team returns, so the conference will begin anew.  

Other than having a great season while playing on an excellent team, what can a QB do to get on the All-ACC team?  

The QB can either have a great reputation, have a good statistical season for a good team, or an amazing statistical season on a bad team.  Got that?  Good.  Let's profile the candidates.

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The Returning Starters

Danny O'Brien of the Maryland Terrapins, a sophomore, has the best ACC QB rating of any returning starter at 129, with a line of 156-278 for 1928 with a 16/6 TD/INT ratio.  With a new offensive coordinator and a major downgrade of the receiving corps, a repeat performance could be tough.  And while they will probably make a bowl, Maryland is not expected to have the type of season that would allow for O'Brien to make the team if he has a repeat statistical performance.  The counter to that, however, is that he will be throwing the ball more.  

Chase Rettig of the Boston College Eagles, a sophomore showed remarkable poise while being subjected to some awful coaching, compiling a rating of 115 on 132 attempts.   A new offensive coordinator and most of his weapons return, including WR Colin Larmond, Jr. (missed most of last season).  But the offensive line looks like it will take a big step back, and the Eagles don't throw often enough for Rettig to make a serious run at the team.

Duke's Sean Renfree, a junior, may fit the "big numbers on a bad team" category. He'll get the attempts, but will have to massively reduce the interceptions after amassing a QB rating of 111 on 328 attempts.

Tanner Price, a sophomore for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, was the worst starting quarterback in the ACC, with a QB rating of 105 on 149 attempts.  Even if he was at a point physically where he could be considered, Wake doesn't throw the ball enough for him to be seriously considered on a team that is quite unlikely to make a bowl game, much less a run at the division.

Jacory Harris of the Miami Hurricanes earned national hype for torching two defenses in 2009 that nobody realized (at the time) were awful.  His next 19 games against D1 teams was were really poor.  Coach Al Golden is determined to take the ball out of the hands of the QB, no matter who ends up with the starting job.  With a strong line and excellent backs, expect fewer throws in Coral Gables this year.  That will make it hard for Harris (or whoever starts for Miami) to make the All-ACC team.

Inside, find the breakdown of the remaining seven quarterbacks and see who I predict will be on the pre and post-season All-ACC teams!

Partial Starters

Florida State's EJ Manuel put up an impressive 151 QB rating in 57 ACC throws.  The redshirt junior from Virginia has progressed each season and his combination of arm and feet are unmatched in the ACC, with the exception of Logan Thomas (see below).  Manuel, however, has started games for Florida State in each of the last two seasons (see diagram at left).  All of his major targets return.  Manuel has the advantage of playing on the overwhelming division favorite.  As discussed above, that likely means he won't need to put up amazing numbers to make the All-ACC team.  A good statistical season and a bunch of wins has proven impressive to the voters in the past.

Tevin Washington's passing numbers (QB rating of 128 on 30 ACC passes) indicate that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' redshirt junior should be in the "new starters" category.  But the Yellow Jackets run the option, and Washington started the last four games for GT.  He'd need to replicate Joshua Nesbitt's 2009 season to get consideration for an All-Conference slot.  It's possible, as Nesbitt has the exact same passer rating, but Washington is going to need to step up the passing a good bit as he is not the runner that Nesbitt was.  Questions about the talent around him remain as well.

New Starters

Logan Thomas of the Virginia Tech Hokies is being hyped as the next Cam Newton.  At 6'6" and 240 pounds with tremendous athleticism and a big arm, it's easy to see why.  But he's not as quick as Newton, rather, he takes time to build up his speed.  His ability to play the position is unknown, but he has excellent skill guys to work with.  Tech has the easiest schedule in the entire conference and there is no reason the Hokies should be any worse than 10-2.  Take a record like that, throw in some highlights, and writers will vote him in regardless of whether his play merits the honor.

Before last season, North Carolina Tar Heel fans wanted to bench T.J. Yates.  I said this was a mistake and that his sub-par 2009 was on his receivers and not him.  The receivers improved, Yates lit it up, got drafted, and I was proven right.  This year, however, it will be time for the man Tar Heel fans wanted to see start at the beginning of last season, redshirt sophomore Bryn Renner.  The 6'3" 200 pound Renner is talented and UNC people are very excited about him.  Playing behind a quality offensive line and throwing to an excellent receiving corps, it's not out of the question to project Renner to throw for close to 2000 yards and double-digit TDs in just eight conference games.  UNC could vie for the division title, and if they do, don't be surprised to see Renner on the list.

Mike Glennon of the N.C. State Wolfpack is a talented player at 6'6" and 230 pounds with a big arm.  But the redshirt junior doesn't have a great shot here for several reasons.  First, like O'Brien above, he lost an enormous amount of receivers.  And two, N.C. State wants to run the ball much more this year.  Reduced reps + massive decrease in surrounding skill talent make it hard to see Glennon, who is very talented, on the All-ACC team.

The Clemson Tigers' redshirt sophomore Tahj Boyd has a big arm and some athleticism.  Clemson has a good offensive line, excellent young skill talent, and a very good new staff (except its head coach, Dabo Swinney).  Can Boyd be consistent?  Will CU throw often enough?  And if not, will he run the ball often enough to merit consideration for the team?  Boyd is a major wildcard here.

The Virginia Cavaliers have not determined who will be the starter.  They are considering four players and none are expected to be any good.

Here are my projections:

Pre-Season Post-Season
1st Team Danny O'Brien EJ Manuel
2nd Team EJ Manuel Logan Thomas
Hon Mention Logan Thomas Bryn Renner

-I expect a close vote between O'Brien and Manuel to open the season.

- While non-conference game should not count when determining an all-conference team, I expect the writers will be too lazy to separate Thomas' numbers against Virginia Tech's joke of a non-conference slate (four mid-majors).  Writers love winners, and Virginia Tech's wins will make it easy to put Thomas on the team.

-I expect Renner to have better numbers and play on a better team with a better record than O'Brien, and thus expect him to narrowly edge out O'Brien.  

- O'Brien is a good player, but even in the unlikely event that he replicates 2010's statistics (unlikely because his receiving corps is decimated), he'd still get left off if Maryland goes 6-6 or 7-5, which seems likely.  

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