It has been a pretty good few weeks for the ACC. First, they land the mega TV deal with ESPN. Also ACC Media Day went well, and all teams were represented in Charlotte, N.C. Here is what I see happening in the ACC this season.
ACC Player of the Year: Deshaun Watson
It is a no-brainer. Deshaun Watson will be the conference player of the year again. After a year like he had last year, he is poised for another one. This year it seems like Watson will have one of his favorite targets back on the field in receiver Mike Williams. He hurt his neck last year early in the season and couldn’t finish the season. Now he is back and the Clemson offense is back to full strength.
It is hard to believe that the offense we saw for most of 2015 was not at full strength. But, behind Watson, are some great talents in the ACC race for ACC Player of the Year. There is FSU’s running back Dalvin Cook, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, and Notre Dame’s quarterback DeShone Kizer. Even with all of that talent in the ACC, Watson just seems to always standout.
ACC Coastal Winner: Miami
Miami should be a very interesting team this year. Their ceiling is one of the highest in the conference. They could definitely play themselves into a 11-1/10-2 season or be as low as 8-5.
Miami has one of the nation’s best signal callers in Brad Kaaya. He threw for 3238 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions. One of his favorite targets Stacy Coley returned for another year of football at UM. Miami also returns Joseph Yearby, who ran for 1002 yards.
And with all of this talent returning on the offensive side, they mix it with a new coach in Mark Richt. Richt made the move from UGA to Miami after last season and he inherited a very good offense. But, on the defensive side, they are changing to a 4-3 defense and may have to start two true freshmen in Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pickeney.
I really think Miami is in their own class when it comes to the ACC Coastal Division. I can’t really see too many other teams taking too much of the first place votes from Miami. The only other team could be Virginia Tech, but the Hokies are working with possibly a new transfer quarterback Jerod Evans and a new coach.
ACC Atlantic Winner: Clemson
In the ACC Atlantic, there are only two real choices when it comes to a winner. It is either Clemson or Florida State. And I think it is Clemson.
They return most of their important players on offense from a year ago. Deshaun Watson, Wayne Galloman, Hunter Renfroe, and they also get receiver Mike Williams back from his neck injury early in the year.
On defense, the Tigers are anchored in the middle by senior linebacker Ben Boulaware and in the secondary with senior cornerback Cordrea Tankersley.
And in the Atlantic the most important game year and year out is the annual Florida State-Clemson game. This year it is back in Tallahasse, a place the Tigers and Dabo have trouble winning at from time-to-time. Coming into the game, Clemson will bring a great offense, but the Seminoles have their own workhorse in Dalvin Cook.
Cook is FSU’s everything. He is able to be useful in the running and passing game. On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles will highlight sophomore cornerback Derwin James and defensive end Josh Sweat. It should be a good game when Clemson travels to Tallahassee on October 29th.
Another interesting team in the Atlantic is Louisville. They might get some first place Coastal division votes from the media this week. Returning is true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson and 16 others from a year ago. Also they have linebacker Devonte Fields returning for his second season with the Cardinals, after transferring from TCU before the 2015 season. But after these three teams, i can’t see any other teams competing for first place votes in Charlotte this week.
Clemson is the new kid on the college football block. It will be interesting to see how Dabo gets his team ready for the season ahead.
ACC Champions: Clemson
The championship game will most likely not be decided in Charlotte in early December. It will be decided on October 29th, when Clemson and Florida State play in Tallahassee. That is just how the ACC is nowadays. Just like how in the SEC it used to be between LSU and Alabama every year. Miami should be a good team from the Coastal but they are no match for either Clemson or Florida State. I think Clemson will make it back to Charlotte to try and capture the National Championship that slipped out of their grasp in 2015.
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