Each ACC Team Must Fix Holes for 2012-13
From the ACC Champion Clemson Tigers to the lowly 2-10 Maryland Terrapins, every team in the conference could improve going into next season.
Whether teams just played poorly in certain areas, or they need to find replacements for graduating seniors and NFL Draft hopefuls, the current coaching staffs will attempt to address the squad's biggest problems and most dire concerns.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Quarterback Efficency
Quarterback Tevin Washington has developed into a potent offensive threat. He was the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' leading rusher with 986 yards and 14 touchdowns on 242 carries.
Washington leads the Yellow Jackets' triple-option attack, and as a runner he does it well. Georgia Tech was atop the ACC in rushing yards, and it ranked second nationally behind Army.
However, Washington isn't nearly as effective when he has to throw the ball. It is tough to judge the young man with so few attempts (he threw only 150 passes all season), but in an option attack, every pass has to count.
Washington completed just 49.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has shown some promise through the air, but in the eight games leading up to the Yellow Jackets' bowl game against Utah, he didn't complete over 50 percent of his passes once and had seven interceptions.
Georgia Tech has other issues to address, particularly on special teams. But if Washington can become a more efficient passer, the Georgia Tech offense will be tough for any defense to stop.
Florida State Seminoles: Offensive Line
Injuries and inexperience on the offensive line really hurt the Florida State Seminoles this season.
After starting four freshmen this season, the offensive line didn't fare well. The team ranked toward the bottom of the barrel in sacks allowed at 110th, and it didn't do much better in tackles for loss allowed (ranked 86th).
A year of experience will help, but the Seminoles are losing their best offensive lineman to the NFL Draft, Zebrie Sanders.
E.J. Manuel needs some help staying upright, and hopefully for Florida State, his offensive line will be able to improve for the 2012-2013 season.
Duke Blue Devils: Everywhere
This might seem like an attempt to humiliate a team with its second straight three win season, but it isn't.
The Duke Blue Devils have a lot of work to do going into next season. The team struggled in all three phases of the game.
Quarterback Sean Renfree put up some yardage (2,891), but he threw just 13 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and wasn't very efficient. The pass-heavy attack hurt the other facets of the Duke offense.
While the running backs had respectable yards per carry averages, the Blue Devils ranked 115th in rushing offense.
The field goal kicking unit was horrible (9-20), and the defense didn't rank higher than 85th in any major category (85th in pass defense).
There were a few bright spots. Duke gave Virginia Tech a run for its money. The offensive line performed admirably, and the punting unit played decently, but there are too many holes to single out just one.
Virginia Cavaliers: Defensive Line
The Virginia Cavaliers saw a resurgence of sorts under second-year head coach Mike London, and the team finished 8-5.
Defensive tackle Matt Conrath, who led the team in tackles for loss, and Cam Johnson, who led the team in sacks, as well as Nick Jenkins will have to hand the reigns over to some youngsters on the defensive line.
But even if the Cavaliers didn't lose a single defensive lineman, they would need to improve their pass rush.
Virginia finished the season 90th in sacks (although the team had a much better run defense), and with such a young defensive line taking over, next season may leave a lot to be desired.
North Carolina State Wolfpack: Wide Receivers
North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon had a pretty impressive season. He threw for over 3,000 yards and had 31 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions.
Unfortunately for Glennon, two of his top three targets at wide receiver won't be around next season, and neither will his tight end.
T.J. Graham and Jay Smith who combined for 86 receptions, 1,148 yards and 11 touchdowns will be graduating.
The team's leading tight end, George Bryan, who caught 33 passes for 331 yards and four touchdown will also be leaving.
That is quite a bit of production to make up for next season, and the team will need to find a group of receivers to do so.
Virginia Tech Hokies: Offensive Line
The Virginia Tech Hokies are losing one of the best running backs in the country, David Wilson, to the NFL Draft, but their biggest worry should be on the offensive line.
With inexperience at running back and the offensive line, the Hokies' running game could suffer (as well as the passing attack).
The team is losing four starters, and new faces on the offensive line are, more often that not, a bad thing. It wouldn't be a surprise if the team experienced some growing pains next season.
The team's only continuity will be at center with Andrew Miller. Ranked 23rd in sacks allowed this season, the new starters will have some big shoes to fill.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Offensive Line
This one was close.
While the Wake Forest Demon Deacon pass rush has been pretty bad, the offensive line has been even worse.
And like Virginia Tech, Wake Forest is graduating four of its starting offensive linemen with only center Garrick Williams remaining on the team.
There is one good thing about getting a whole new line though: it couldn't get much worse.
For the 2011-2012 season, the team ranked 100th in sacks allowed and 114th in tackles for loss allowed.
Combined, if Wake forest was worst in the FBS in both categories, it would only drop 26 spots. For Wake Forest's sake, let's hope it doesn't.
Miami Hurricanes: Wide Receiver/ Passing Game
The Miami Hurricanes will have to replenish a depleted secondary with two starters set to leave. Also, a top NFL Draft prospect in running back Lamar Miller won't be returning. And with Jacoby Harris and the team's top receivers leaving, Miami's passing attack will have to be rebuilt.
The quarterback job will be taken over by Stephen Morris. While Morris has attempted 190 passes, he will be throwing to relatively untested receivers.
Tommy Streeter is declaring for the draft, and Travis Benjamin is also leaving Miami. That leaves Allen Hurns as the only wide receiver left on the roster with more than three catches on the season (31).
The team is losing senior wide receiver Laron Byrd as well who had 11 catches and a touchdown on the year.
Boston College Eagles: Offense
The Boston College Eagles have to improve on both side of the ball (especially after losing one of the nation's top linebackers in Luke Kuechly), but the defense did have some good showings like the 16-14 loss to Notre Dame, holding North Carolina State to 10 points in a win and beating Miami 24-7 in the last game of the Eagles' season.
The offensive didn't have many accomplishments though.
Boston College finished 82nd in rushing offense and 100th in passing offense. The Eagles scored just 18.2 points per game and were 118th in the nation in scoring.
Sophomore quarterback Chase Rettig will need to improve upon his 53.7 completion percent, as well as his 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
The offensive line needs to do a better job in pass protection, and the skilled players will need to pick up their games as well.
Maryland Terrapins: Run Defense
The Maryland Terrapins need to improve in a number of areas. Whoever the starting quarterback is for the team next season, the passing game needs to get better.
The Terrapins also need to improve drastically in their return game, but no area needs more work than the Maryland run defense.
The team had no problem in its pass rush (40th in sacks), and it didn't have trouble getting behind the line of scrimmage (44th in tackles for loss), but Maryland simply couldn't stop the run.
The Terrapin rushing defense was ranked 111th in the nation giving up 219.75 yards per game.
Maryland doesn't have anyone in its starting lineup graduating, but if the starters can't get it done, there might be some new blood on the field next season.
North Carolina Tar Heels: Wide Receiver
North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver, Dwight Jones, is heading to the NFL Draft as one of the top players at his position. Therefore, the team is going to have to find a replacement for the productive wideout.
The Tar Heels do have someone pegged to fill that position named Erik Highsmith.
While Jones caught 85 passes for 1,196 yard and 12 touchdowns, Highsmith had 51 receptions for 726 yards and five touchdowns.
Highsmith will take over Jones' lead receiver role, but behind him, there isn't much experience.
Rising senior, Jheranie Boyd had just 14 receptions on the year (although five were for touchdowns), but he is most likely to be alongside Highsmith. No wide receiver caught more than four passes on the season other than Highsmith, Boyd and Jones. Boyd caught 12 receptions his freshman season and 14 last season (for a combined seven touchdowns and 524 yards).
In the pass-heavy North Carolina offense led by quarterback Bryn Renner, the Tar Heels need to have their receivers game ready.
Clemson Tigers: Defensive Line
The Clemson Tigers had a solid season. They were 10-4 when all was said and done, and they beat Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
The team's offensive line needs to improve, but after the Tigers were walloped by West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl 70-33, the defense really needs to be fixed.
Clemson was poor against the run this season. It was ranked 82nd in rushing defense and 86th in tackles for loss.
With a few players leaving the team and in a conference that often is filled with great rushers, Clemson needs to find a fix for its subpar rushing defense.
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