2. Q: Where are the quarterbacks?
Duke’s Daniel Jones is off getting booed by New York Giant fans, NC State’s Ryan Finley is a Cincinnati Bengal, and Florida State’s Deondre Francois is now a looking for another college team to play for – probably in the FCS.
There are your top three ACC passers last season in yards per game.
Syracuse’s Eric Dungey is done, North Carolina’s Nathan Elliott is a grad assistant at Arkansas State, and it would’ve been a wonderful luxury if Kelly Bryant or Hunter Johnson were backing up Trevor Lawrence instead of being long, long gone to Missouri and Northwestern, respectively.
Go back to just two years ago, and the ACC was loaded with NFL quarterback talent with Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Mitchell Trubisky, Daniel Jones, Finley, and don’t scoff, Nathan Peterman. That doesn’t include Francois, Dungey, and Brady Kaaya, who was fifth in the ACC in passing in 2016.
This year? If you’re looking for the difference between the ACC’s stars and the also-rans, it might be as easy as the respective quarterback situations.
Clemson is obviously more than Lawrence, but it doesn’t hurt to have the guy who’d have been the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft – if he could’ve left early.
Virginia has several terrific parts on both sides of the ball, too, but it’s going to be right there in the mix for the Coastal title partly because of the fabulous Bryce Perkins under center.
No one else in the ACC has a truly awful quarterback situation, and some teams like Pitt (Kenny Pickett), Boston College (Anthony Brown), Sam Hartman (Wake Forest) and Virginia Tech (Ryan Willis) have good veterans, but the league’s overall star power is missing – at least at the moment.
Of course, that could quickly change, but there are a whole slew of question marks going into the season.
How quickly can the quarterback play improve at Miami, Florida State and Louisville? How will Georgia Tech adjust with the new style? How quickly will Tommy DeVito (Syracuse), Sam Howell (North Carolina), and Matt McKay (NC State) get up to speed?
In a league with so many strong teams and so much parity, name the teams that will get the top quarterback play – again, outside of Clemson and Virginia, and go ahead and throw Virginia Tech in there – and you probably have the contenders.