The ACC top players, coaches, surprises and disappointments at the midseason, along with three bold predictions for the second half.
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10 Best ACC Players at the Midseason
1. DE Brian Burns, Jr. Florida State
For all of the issues Florida State has had so far, the defense hasn’t always been among them. The 6-5, 235-pound Burns isn’t the only reason the run D has been a rock, but he’s been amazing with 23 tackles, an ACC-high seven sacks, and 9.5 tackles for loss. He came up with a huge performance against Syracuse, and he camped out behind the line against Miami.
2. QB Ryan Finley, Sr. NC State
How about just making him the MVP of the ACC so far? Take him off the team, and what is it? It’s certainly not unbeaten, even against a mediocre schedule. There’s no ground game to consistently rely on, but Finley has been more than happy to carry the team hitting close to 70% of his throws for 1,621 yards and ten scores with three picks. He’s been over the 300-yard mark
3. RB Travis Etienne, Soph. Clemson
He’s mainly this high for one big game. He goes into the midseason on a run of four straight 100-yard games, he’s averaging over nine yards per carry with 11 touchdowns and 761 yards overall, and he has a touchdown catch. But in a game full of heroic performances to survive and advance, he pulled out a 203-yard, three touchdown day to get by the Trevor Lawrence injury in the thrilling 27-23 win over Syracuse.
4. DE Joe Jackson, Jr. Miami
No argument whatsoever if you want to take at least five other Miami defenders and put them on the list, but it’s Jackson who’s been the all-around game-changer for the front who has done the most to keep the machine humming, The 20 tackles, five sacks, three broken up passes and two forced fumbles are impressive, but the pick six against North Carolina was truly impressive. Best of all, he has picked up his play over the last three games as a pass rusher.
5. DT Christian WIlkins, Sr. Clemson
Of course Dexter Lawrence is the real star of the amazing Tiger defensive front – he’s the one everything works around – but the guy next to him has been pretty good, too. The 6-4, 315-pounder has 20 tackles on the years with two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, shining brightest in the win over Georgia Tech by eating up the ground game.
6. DE Clelin Ferrell, Jr. Clemson
Wilkins and Lawrence do it on the inside – okay, OKAY, Lawrence should be on this list – and it’s Ferrell who’s destroying everyone from the end with six sacks, two broken up passes and eight tackles for loss with 20 stops overall. He came up large against Texas A&M when needed, but it’s his consistency that’s been the key.
7. RB AJ DIllon, Soph. Boston College
The only reason he’s not higher is his bad injury luck – he missed the critical NC State game with an ankle injury. Held in check against Purdue, BC is 4-0 when he runs for 98 yards or more, and 0-2 when he doesn’t. He carried the team to a win over Wake Forest, and pushed through Temple for 161 yards. Even with a missed game, he has 652 yards and six scores in five games.
8. WR Greg Dortch, Soph. Wake Forest
The ACC’s all-purpose yardage leader is averaging almost 40 yards per game more than than everyone else – he’s doing everything for the Demon Deacon offense. Strong as a receiver, he’s helped out Sam Hartman get his feet after taking over the quarterback gig, and he’s also rolling as one of the ACC’s top kick and punt returners.
9. QB Bryce Perkins, Jr. VIrginia
Everything the Virginia offense desperately needed, he’s running the Bronco Mendenhall offense exactly like it’s supposed to work. The former Arizona State transfer is hitting close to 64% of his passes for 1,125 yards and 11 scores with four picks to go along with 341 yards and three scores on the ground.
10. CB Bryce Hall, Jr. Virginia
A pass breakup machine, he’s got an ACC high nine on the year with tremendous performances in the win over Ohio and the losses to Indiana and NC State. After breaking up nine passes last season with a pick, he has already matched that this year, while also showing up as one of the league’s better tackling corners.