Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012-13 ACC Football According To Mike Huguenin

The order of finish:

Atlantic Division: 1. Florida State; 2. Clemson; 3. North Carolina State; 4. Wake Forest; 5. Boston College; 6. Maryland

Coastal Division: 1. Virginia Tech; 2. Georgia Tech; 3. North Carolina; 4. Miami; 5. Virginia; 6. Duke

THE PLAYERS
Best offensive player: Clemson WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins was a five-star recruit who lived up the hype last season. He had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards (14.9 yards per catch) and 12 TDs. He also was effective on wide receiver sweeps and as a kick returner (25.0 yards per return, with a TD). Watkins had 17 touches that covered at least 30 yards and seven that covered at least 50 yards.

Best defensive player: North Carolina State CB David Amerson. Only the most ardent Wolfpack fan knew Amerson before the start of the 2011 season. Now, every college fan should know about him. Amerson had one of the best seasons in NCAA history in '11: He had 13 interceptions (one off the single-season record), more than 77 teams. He took two of those picks back for scores. Amerson also had 55 tackles and five pass breakups.

Offensive player on the spot: Florida State QB E.J. Manuel. If FSU is to break through and become nationally prominent again, Manuel needs to lead the way. Job One will be staying healthy. He has started 17 games but missed seven in the past two seasons. He is a good runner and possesses a strong arm. He threw for 2,666 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. But he has just 24 TDs and 18 picks in his career, and is looking for a strong senior campaign.

Defensive player on the spot: Florida State CB Xavier Rhodes. Though he is coming off a disappointing 2011 season, Rhodes remains a favorite of NFL scouts. He was a freshman All-America selection in 2010 but lost his starting job last season. He had 43 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups last season; he had four picks and 12 breakups in 2010. With fellow starting CB Greg Reid recently dismissed from the team, Rhodes needs to play to the level he attained in 2011 or the back end of FSU's defense could suffer.

Breakout offensive star: North Carolina WR Erik Highsmith. Highsmith, a senior, set career-highs with 51 catches and five TDs last fall. That's when he was the Heels' No. 2 option behind the since-departed Dwight Jones. Highsmith has to make the jump from complementary receiver to go-to guy. He should be a 70-catch, 10-TD guy this fall. One issue, though, is that no other returning UNC wide receiver caught more than 14 passes last season, so Highsmith will be the focal point of opposing defenses. He should thrive anyway.

Breakout defensive star: Virginia Tech FS Detrick Bonner. Bonner started four times at cornerback as a redshirt freshman last season, including in the Sugar Bowl against Michigan, and made the move to free safety this spring. He is physical and athletic (38-inch vertical jump) and has good instincts, and his coverage abilities from his time at corner should translate well to his new position.

Best offensive newcomer: Miami RB Randy "Duke" Johnson. UM needs playmakers, and Johnson, a touted true freshman who led Miami Norland to a state title last fall, should provide just that. He rushed for 1,957 yards and 29 touchdowns last season, and Lamar Miller's decision to enter the NFL draft after his sophomore season means the Hurricanes are looking for a new starting tailback. Miami's top returning rusher is Mike James, who ran for only 275 yards last season. Johnson has more speed and more big-play potential.

Best defensive newcomer: Miami CB LaDarius Gunter. Gunter is a junior college transfer who enrolled in January and went through spring practice, leading the Hurricanes with seven tackles in the spring game. He has excellent size (6 feet 2/196 pounds) for a corner and possesses both a physical nature and the tools to be a solid man-to-man defender. Also keep an eye on UM true freshman Tracy Howard, a five-star recruit who could end up starting opposite Gunter at corner.

THE COACHES 
Coach on the hottest seat: Boston College's Frank Spaziani. In his three seasons, BCS has gone from eight wins in 2009 to seven in 2010 to four last season. The Eagles have had pitiful offenses under Spaziani, and the passing attack has been an embarrassment. The Eagles have continued to have good defenses, but when you can't score, you don't win. The offense looks iffy again this season.

Best coaching staff: Virginia Tech. Coach Frank Beamer has done a masterful job of making the Hokies into a national power, and staff continuity has helped the Hokies rank eighth in the nation in winning percentage this century. Virginia Tech annually contends for the league title using the same basic plan: strong rushing attack, tough defense, good special teams.

Best offensive coordinator: Clemson's Chad Morris. He worked his magic with the Tigers last season, helping them lead the league in pass offense and rank second in total offense and scoring offense. His version of the spread appeals to recruits. This will be just his third season as a college assistant; he was successful high school coach in Texas when he was named Tulsa's OC in 2010, and moved on to Clemson after that season.

Best defensive coordinator: Virginia Tech's Bud Foster. He is entering his 18th season as the Hokies' coordinator. His defenses annually rank among the nation's best, especially against the run. Tech has ranked outside the top 12 nationally in total defense only once in the past eight seasons.

(Editor’s Note: Who the f*** is Mike Hugguenin? Here are the predictions from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association…)

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