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Hard hit by offseason injuries and losses, how will ACC teams cope?

Jeffrey Fann@TalkinACCSportsAnalyst IAugust 18, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13: Mark Herzlich #94 of the Boston College Eagles moves on the field during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on October 13, 2007 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Boston College defeated Notre Dame 27-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Starting with LB Mark Herzlich of Boston College and his cancer diagnosis , the ACC has been beset with quite a few high profile injuries this offseason.

NC State had their top linebacker Nate Irving injured in a car accident, and he is now out for the season.

RB Darren Evans of Virginia Tech tears an ACL in practice and is out for the season.

Backup QB Jaybo Shaw of Georgia Tech suffers a broken collarbone, and may miss six weeks or more.

How will these injuries affect each of their respective teams?

Boston College Eagles:

Mark Herzlich was the reigning defensive player of the year in the ACC. A likely All-American and the heart and soul of the BC's team, Herzlich's loss is a massive loss to the Boston College defense. It even looms larger as the Eagles lost athletic senior LB Mike Mclaughlin to a torn ACL in the spring and is still questionable heading into the season. Sophomore LB Will Thompson played well in the spring. Sophomore Dominick Legrande listed at 6-2, 200 pounds and a part-time safety last year will try to fill these shoes. RS Freshman Nick Clancy and Alexander DiSanzo will also play big roles. DiSanzo may turn out to be the best of the bunch.

Final Thought:

If Mclaughlin can't return, Herzlich is just too big a loss for the Eagles to not have a severe dropoff at LB. The young linebackers will be tested early and often.

NC State Wolfpack:

Nate Irving isn't quite the loss Herzlich is, but it's close. Irving was just about a sure-fire All-ACC Linebacker this season. It doesn't help the Wolfpack defense that sophomore CB Dominique Ellis left the program. The Wolfpack are in a little better shape at linebacker than the Eagles, though. Senior Ray Michel returns at middle linebacker. Michel has been a solid player at NC State his whole career. Terrell Manning is a highly recruited RS Freshman that if he plays to his potential, could really help overcome the loss of Irving. Sophomore Audie Cole has impressed NC State coaches. Sophomore Dwayne Maddox played a good bit as a freshman and will play a key role for the Wolfpack.

Final Thought:

With Irving in the lineup, the Wolfpack would have put together a very strong linebacking crew. There is young talent available, and Michel is a steadying force. The Irving loss hurts, but if the young talent matures quickly the Pack defense shouldn't slip too much.

Virginia Tech Hokies:

Darren Evans set a Virginia Tech freshman rushing record with 1,265 yards last year. With Evans the Hokies had one of the best backfields in the ACC. Evans' injury provides an opportunity for highly regarded RS freshman Ryan Williams. Williams may even have more raw talent than Evans. He is an explosive back with game breaking speed. Williams does lack experience and needs to improve his blocking. The Hokies also hope to get back former starter Kenny Lewis Jr. from injury, sometime in the first month of the season. Top 2009 RB signee David Wilson will also be a factor. He should play a significant role in the backfield. If Williams is the speed back, sophomore RB Josh Oglesby has the ability to run between the tackles, and will get an opportunity as well.

Final Thought:

On paper the Evans appears devastating, and it's a big loss, but the Hokies have enough depth to overcome it. Williams, Lewis, Qglesby and Wilson are all quality RB's. It's may be too much to expect the Hokies to beat Alabama in the opening game, but they'll remain a contender for the ACC title.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:

For about 2/3 of last season, Jaybo Shaw was the best option quarterback at Georgia Tech. He led Georgia Tech to a 27-0 win over Duke, and played most of a 38-7 win over Mississippi State. He also had spot duty in several games after that, to give starter Josh Nesbitt a breather. Nesbitt is the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Yellow Jackets, but Shaw was a capable backup who had the ability to throw the ball with some accuracy. Tevin Washington becomes the likely backup. Washington can run the ball, but he doesn't have Shaw's experience. Freshman David Sims is another QB candidate. Sims has some athleticism, but is short on experience as well too.

Final Thought:

It's debatable whether an option QB is more likely to get injured than a traditional quarterback, but Nesbitt did get hurt some last year. Shaw filled in quite nicely. This is a pretty big blow to the Jackets QB unit. As the Gardner Webb game showed last year, if you get QB not suited for or too inexperienced to run the triple option the offense is going to stall even with a Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones to hand it off to. Until Washington or Sims prove himself, it's a concern for Georgia Tech.

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