It’s that time of year!! We are only weeks away from August 30th. Not only this Ninja’s birthday, but the kickoff of the greatest sport in the land.. College Football! Over the next couple of weeks ninjasports.net will be bringing you the major conference previews for the 2013 season. Be sure to check back often and see where this Ninja thinks your team will finish the season!
The Eagles enter year one with new HC Steve Addazio. Returning on offense is QB Chase Rettig and stud WR Alex Amidon who is definitely one to keep an eye on this year as he is coming off a tremendous 2012 campaign in which he set school records for receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,210). Clearly he will be Chase Rettig’s favorite target in 2013. On the other side of the ball, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis is coming off a solid year in which he recorded 85 tackles (51 solo) while playing in only nine games. The schedule doesn’t exactly favor BC who will have a tough 5 of 6 game stretch: 9/14 @ USC, 9/28 FSU, 10/5 Army (chalk up a W), 10/12 @ Clemson, 10/26 @ NC, and 11/2 Va Tech.
The Tigers WILL win the Atlantic. They return the greatest QB in school history and potential Heisman winner Tajh Boyd, as well as the always dangerous WR Sammy Watkins. While many defenses will focus on Watkins, they may not be prepared for the unknown Martavis Bryant. He shows impressive speed (clocked at a 4.4 second 40) for being 6’5 200lbs. He could be the X-Factor for the Tigers this year. Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris could be entering his final season as a member of the coaching staff as he is one of, if not THE most sought after assistant coach in the country. TE Stanton Seckinger could be one to keep an eye on as well as fellow TE Jordan Leggett. Coach Dabo Swinney praised Leggett’s ability this spring, and with the role TE’s play in Morris’ offense, you can count on seeing Leggett often. As if the Tigers needed any more motivation, the iconic Howard’s Rock was vandalized by who many suspect are rival fans. The schedule doesn’t help the Tigers in the National Title scene as they open with Georgia then must end the season against rival South Carolina, whom Boyd has yet to beat in his time at Clemson. If their bowl game against LSU last season was any indication of things to come, though, the Tigers could be holding up the trophy in Pasadena.
This is the year for Florida State! Sound familiar? It’s not like we don’t hear that every year from the Seminoles’ faithful. Calm down guys. R-Fr QB Jameis Winston looks to be the guy taking over for the departed EJ Manuel, though Head Coach Jimbo Fischer has yet to name his 2013 starter. He is a freak of an athlete, and I mean absolute freak. He possesses lightning speed and twice the arm Manuel has. Did I mention he’s a R-Fr? The lack of experience will cost the Noles a couple of games this season, and most likely a shot at the conference title. Having to go TO Clemson with an inexperienced QB isn’t a pretty thought. The Noles have the pieces to have an outstanding season and reach an at-large bid for a BCS game. Look for the offense to lean on RB James Wilder Jr (pending he doesn’t end up in jail, again), RB Devontae Freeman, and WR Rashad Greene. Defensively, the loss of All-World DE Bjoern Werner will be massive. DB Lamarcus Joyner is one the best safeties in the country and will need a huge year to keep the Noles in the ACC title hunt. Keep an ear out for the name Mario Edwards Jr. Though only a sophomore, he will end up being one of the best D-Ends that FSU has ever had by the end of his career.
Head Coach Randy Edsall (6-18 during his tenure) is one of the coaches on the hottest hot seat this season, which happens to be the Terps final one in the conference. After coming over from UConn he has achieved close to nothing. Well, don’t expect 2013 to be any different. The Terps had a mess of a QB situation due to injuries that led to a scout team LB switching positions to take the snaps. It was a freak of occurrences as three different QB’s went down with torn ACL’s. C.J. Brown is slated as the 2013 starter and has one of the best playmakers in the country to get the ball to in Stefon Diggs. The defense only returns two of their starting front seven from 2012, NT Darius Kilgo and LB Cole Farrand. At least they’ll have pretty badass looking uniforms then they don’t wear the ugly yellow, red, and black helmets.
New coach Dave Doeren (with Northern Illinois last season) takes over at NCSU. The loss of QB Mike Glennon is going to be huge as the Wolfpack nation can expect 2013 to be somewhat of a rebuilding season. Replacing Glennon is likely to be Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas. Those who are familiar with Doeren know he likes to have a mobile QB, like he had with Jordan Lynch, to lead a speedy, up-tempo offense. Don’t expect Thomas (6’6 234lbs) to tuck it and run too often though, but rather Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell who will likely have different situational packages that he will fit in with. Not only can Mitchell line up under center, but expect to see him at WR as well. Doeren will be searching for four new starters up front, leaving the o-line in question for RB Shadrach Thornton. Defensively, new coordinator Dave Huxtable will look for three new LB’s and three new guys in the secondary. Sr Dontae Johnson, who has the ability to line up at safety as well as corner, will be the team’s defensive playmaker thanks to the early exit of DB David Amerson.
If given a chance, George Morris III could prove to be the RB the Orange rely on for the next few seasons
First and foremost, welcome to the ACC. It’s a shame you couldn’t bring QB Ryan Nassib and WR’s Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales with you. Losing the left side of the offensive line doesn’t help, either. The big question for the Orange is who will replace Ryan Nassib? As if it wasn’t the biggest question after the season, the competition became crazier as Oklahoma senior Drew Allen decided to transfer for his final year. As far as offensive production, the ground game will be the strength with RB’s Jerome Smith (1,171 yards in 2012) and Prince-Tyson Gulley (1,112 rushing and receiving yards in 2012) will serve as the two-headed monster. There is a third back many may not know now, but if given a chance R-Fr George Morris III could make a huge impact for the Orange’s production. Even with a solid ground game, the defense will be the strength of the team led by fourth-year starting LB Marquis Spruill. FS Jeremi Wilkes will lead the secondary and help the defense rise to the occasion as the offense looks like it will regress from 2012.
QB Tanner Price returns and with a similar scenario to 2012. No downfield weapons, shaky offensive line giving little to no time to get passes off. New year, same story. Look for RB Joshua Wilhite to push the tandem of Josh Harris and Deandre Martin for playing time in the backfield. The Deacons defense last season had a ton of trouble up front. Nikita Whitlock anchors a line of seniors up front, and LB Justin Jackson shows the potential to be an All-ACC performer.
New Duke QB Anthony Boone will keep defenses honest with his rushing ability
David Cutcliffe’s troops may not have the explosive season like they did in 2012, but QB Anthony Boone will shock a lot of fans. Much more mobile than his predecessor Sean Renfree, and from what some teammates say, a stronger arm as well. The offense will be truly balanced as a RB rotation consisting of Jela Duncan, Josh Snead, and Juwan Thompson will be the focus. Unlike last season, teams will have to account for the RB’s, as well as Boone on the ground. The defensive line will consist of three seniors and a fourth-year junior, hoping to stop opponents on the ground in ’13 which was a common issue for the Blue Devil’s in 2012. Junior LB Kelby Brown was a Freshman All-American in 2010 but suffered two injuries to his right ACL. If he is back at full strength, as he is expected to be, the Blue Devils could have quite a defense.
QB Vad Lee brings a new dimension to the triple option offense
Head Coach Paul Johnson has to be drooling at the possibilities of his triple option offense with new QB Vad Lee taking over for the departed Tevin Washington. Lee possesses one trait that Johnson’s first two QB’s at GT did not have; an accurate arm. As he showed last season, Lee has the speed to lead the option attack, which is a bitch to prepare for, just ask any coach. The downside to the passing attack is the lack of WRs. RB’s David Sims and Robert Godhigh are both returning starters that have dynamic ability out of the complex offense. The defense is still in question as 2012 defensive coordinator Al Groh was fired halfway through the season after giving up 40+ points in three straight games. Converting from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 is never an easy task to achieve in one season, but Ted Roof is taking the challenge in stride. The Jackets have eight starters returning, including promising NFL CB prospects Jemea Thomas and Louis Young.
RB Duke Johnson could be the most dynamic player in the ACC
It is a waiting game for the Hurricanes as to what the additional punishments may be, if any, for the Nevin Shapiro scandal. The Canes are a sleeper on the national scene no doubt. The U returns all five starting offensive lineman, potential Heisman candidates QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson, and a group of WR’s that rank among the tops in the NCAA including Allen Hurns, Malcolm Lewis, Phillip Dorsett, Rashawn Scott, and Herb Waters who is the lesser known of the bunch but will shock the country. Many people that follow CFB think this could be one of the best offenses the Canes have ever had, including the 2001 squad with Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, and Andre Johnson. New offensive coordinator, lured away from FSU, James Coley has all the weapons he needs it is just a matter of using them correctly. The defense is where the questions lie as the unit ranked 118th out of 120. One would think, including myself, that last year’s experience helped the young squad grow and is poised for a breakout season. The loss of CB Brandon McGee will be big, but look for S Deon Bush and S Rayshawn Jenkins to become nationally recognized names. The Canes face their biggest test in week two as the Gators travel down to Miami in a game that could jumpstart the Canes to a big, big year.
QB Bryn Renner looks to lead a record-setting offense
Larry Fedora knows how to coach his offense. Don’t think so? Just look at what was accomplished last season in his first year with the Tar Heels. They set almost 40 school records. 40. Third-year starting QB Bryn Renner returns as the team’s signal caller, but he will be without the dynamic do-it-all back Gio Bernard. The duo of RB’s A.J. Blue and Romar Morris will make an impact, but it is tough to replace a back like Bernard. Along with the loss of Bernard is three-fifths of the offensive line. The defensive outlook isn’t great. The Heels lost their only two stars to the NFL, Kevin Reddick and Sylvester Williams. Giving up big plays through the air was the norm for UNC last season, and the jury is out on whether that problem will be fixed. If the Tar Heels want a chance at a Coastal Division title, they must rely on outscoring their opponents because the defensive stops will be few and far between.
WR Devin Street returns and looks to be the main target for the Pitt offense
Like Syracuse, let’s start off with a “Welcome to the ACC.” I’m sorry it has to start off with a loss to Florida State on September 2nd. Replacing your starting QB AND RB is never a task a coach likes to face. Rutgers transfer Tom Savage looks to be the one taking over for departed QB Tino Sunseri. If Savage struggles, R-Fr Chad Voytik could be the guy to lead the Panthers’ offense. Unlike Savage, Voytik is threat with his feet, as well as his arm. RB Rushel Shell looked to be the one to take over for the programs number 2 all-time leading rusher Ray Graham, until he said he wanted to transfer to UCLA this past spring. Shell never enrolled at UCLA. He wanted to return to Pitt but Paul Chryst pulled a “Lee Corso” and said “not so fast my friend!” The teams’ two top RB’s, Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett have yet to be tested on the battle field so there is still a question mark in the backfield. WR Devin Street (73 catches 975 yards in 2012) returns and will have a monster year if the Panthers find a guy to get him the ball and if one of the inexperienced wide outs can step up and emerge on the other side of the field. The defense, ranked 17th in 2012, returns eight starters that will be the key to this year’s team. Look for Ohio State transfer and converted FB David Durham to be a force on the outside and increase the team’s sack production from 2012. Returning starter, S Jason Hendricks, ranked sixth nationally in INTs per game and looks to have another big year in 2013.
The Cavaliers are scratching their heads when it comes to possibilities for 2013. Last year’s QB Michael Rocco transferred to Richmond. His back-up whom he split time with, Phil Sims, was ruled academically ineligible in May leaving David Watford and Greyson Lambert as the possible signal callers for the 2013 season. Neither of which should have any worries about targets to throw to. In fact, the strength of the offense this season will be the WR’s and TE’s. The returners, Darius Jennings, Tim Smith, Dominique Terrell, EJ Scott, and Jake McGee, combine for 163 receptions for 2,212 yards with 17 TDs in 2012. New Defensive Coordinator Jon Tenuta is known for aggressively blitzing the opposition causing frantic confusion. His scheme, though, leaves the DB’s one on one with WR’s quite often which could end up biting the Cavs in the ass quite a bit this coming season.
Opening the year against the defending National Champion Crimson Tide isn’t how you would like to start the year. 2012 wasn’t kind to the Hokies, and neither was QB Logan Thomas who many thought was destined for a Heisman-like season after such a dominant sophomore year. Protecting Thomas could be an issue as the Hokies look to replace both tackles. The running game, aside from Thomas, will consist of J.C. Coleman and R-Fr Trey Edmunds. Last season, Coleman led all Hokies RB’s with a subpar 492 yards. VT loses their top three WR’s from 2012 and will heavily rely on senior D.J. Coles who is coming off of a knee injury causing him to miss last season. Bud Foster ALWAYS puts a stout defense together and returning nine starters from last season is always a plus. DE James Gayle will star on the line yet again after having two consecutive second-team All-ACC seasons. The team’s leading tackler LB Jack Tyler (119 tackles) returns and is accompanied by senior Tariq Edwards who looks to make up for lost time after missing a lot of 2012 with a leg injury. All-ACC CB Antone Exum tore his ACL this past January in a pick-up basketball game which could keep him sidelined until mid-October. Depth is definitely a strength in the VT secondary as Kyle Fuller, Detrick Bonner, and Kyshoen Jarrett come back as starters. Look for Fuller’s younger brother, Kendall, to get lots of playing time as well. If Logan Thomas returns to his 2011 form, VT could make a serious run for the ACC title.
ACC Football Final Standings:
|Florida State||Virginia Tech|
|NC State||Georgia Tech|
ACC Football Championship:
Clemson v Miami (FL)
ACC Football Games to Watch:
Sept. 28: Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech
Oct. 5: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech
Oct. 19: Florida State @ Clemson
Oct. 19: Miami (FL) @ North Carolina
Oct. 26: Duke @ Virginia Tech
Nov. 2: Miami (FL) @ Florida State
Nov. 9: Virginia Tech @ Miami (FL)
Nov. 16: Georgia Tech @ Clemson
Nov. 30: Duke @ North Carolina
Ninja Sports Preseason All ACC Football Team 2013
|WR Stefon Diggs, MD||DE Vic Beasley, Clemson||K Chandler Catanzaro, CLEM|
|WR Sammy Watkins, CLEM||DE Jeremiah Attaochu, GT||P Tommy Hibbard, NC|
|TE Asa Watson, NCSU||DT Nikita Whitlock, WF||KR Duke Johnson, MIA|
|T Seantrel Henderson, MIA||DT Timmy Jernigan, FSU|
|T Morgan Moses, UVA||LB Jack Tyler, VT|
|G Brandon Linder, MIA||LB Denzel Perryman, MIA|
|G Laken Tomlinson, Duke||LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, BC|
|C Andrew Miller, VT||CB Ross Cockrell, Duke|
|QB Tajh Boyd, CLEM||CB Kyle Fuller, VT|
|RB Duke Johnson, MIA||S Isaiah Johnson, GT|
|RB Devontae Freeman, FSU||S Lamarcus Joyner, FSU|
ACC Football Offensive Player of the Year: Tajh Boyd, QB Clemson
ACC Football Defensive Player of the Year: Jack Tyler, LB Virginia Tech