College Football Preview – ACC Defenses

May 30, 2008

David Funk, a good friend and writer of the Fantasy Sports Network blog, put together a ranking of the ACC college football defenses.  He was kind enough allow me to post his breakdown on my site to pass the great information on to you.  This is very useful info as you gear up for the college football season, especially if you play the Sporting News College Football Salary Cap game.

Continuing on from yesterday, we now take a look at the ACC Team Defensive Rankings…..”

ACC Team Defensive Rankings:
1. Florida State(Starters returning: 8
They’ll miss players in the first three games due to suspension, but the first two games are very favorable. When they return, this unit will be rock solid. The defense will get a boost from junior college National Player of the Year Markus White and they’re hoping he can give them a pass-rush that was lacking last year. The secondary could be the team’s strength.

2. Clemson(Starters returning: 8
Clemson has the best secondary in the ACC, and good defensive front. They have inexperience at linebacker though. The talented secondary returns all starters, and the defensive line returns three. The linebacking corps is talented, but the outside spots will be taken up by two new starters. They get one neutral game to start the year, then the next five of six at home with the lone road game at Wake Forest.

3. Wake Forest(Starters returning: 9
A very strong and experienced defense, but depth is an issue on the defensive line and in the secondary. The entire back seven returns as does two starters on the defensive line. The defensive end spots sees the return of Matt Robinson, but depth behind them could be a problem especially if he’s ineffective. They have one of the best corner tandems in Alphonso Smith and Brandon Ghee.

4. Miami(Starters returning: 5
They have question marks on the defensive line, but experience in the back seven. Eric Moncur is the only returning lineman and if he doesn’t provide a consistent pass-rush, the defense could be in for another long year. Colin McCarthy is a good linebacker, and they have depth with this unit. The secondary is experienced, but they’re far from outstanding.

5. Boston College(Starters returning: 4
They do get two more former starters back after they missed last season. They need to improve on stopping the pass. The two returning after missing 2007 are outside linebacker Brian Toal and defensive tackle B.J. Raji. They appear to have a solid defensive line and linebacking corps. But the secondary returns only one starter(safety Paul Anderson) and they will miss hard-hitting All-American safety Jamie Silva.

6. Virginia Tech(Starters returning: 4
Defense will fall off a bit in 2008 with little experience returning, and the play of the front seven will tell us far they go. Only two starters return for the front seven on a team that was one of the top defenses in the nation a year ago. The secondary is shuffling, but there is depth at both cornerback and safety. They’ll have to replace Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi quickly in the linebacking corps.

7. Virginia(Starters returning: 5
Great group of linebackers return, but questions need to be answered on the defensive line and in the secondary. The entire defensive line will see three new starters in their 3-4 scheme. The linebacking corps is one of the nation’s best, and they return three of their starters. They get three tough non-conference games with USC, Connecticut, and East Carolina, too.

8. North Carolina(Starters returning: 5
They have a solid secondary, and if they get consistent play from an inexperienced front seven, they’ll be tough on that side of the ball. They only return one starting defensive lineman and no one at linebacker. The secondary is one of the best in the ACC, but getting a consistent pass rush from an inexperienced front could be very problematic this year.

9. Maryland(Starters returning: 5
They still have a solid linebacker group, but they have question marks on the defensive line and in the secondary. They’re moving Jeremy Navarre to defensive tackle, and Trey Covington is expected to help provide a pass-rush on the outside. Dave Philistin is the team’s top linebacker, and that corps is deep. Kevin Barnes is returning an cornerback, and he’s big, speedy playmaker.

10. Georgia Tech(Starters returning: 4
The unit should be good upfront, but inexperience is a problem in the secondary and at linebacker. The team has two solid defensive tackles in Vance Walker and Darryl Richard. They do have promising ends in Michael Johnson and Derrick Morgan. Only linebacker Shane Bowen and cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels return in the back seven, and they have a brutal road schedule this year.

11. Duke(Starters returning: 9
The good news: experience. The bad news: they ranked last in the ACC in scoring defense and total defense in 2007. They return everyone in the front seven except one player and are led by middle linebacker Michael Tauiliili. But as you can see by the numbers of last year, they have plenty of room for improvement in the ACC. They’ve got a favorable schedule this year to improve, too.

12. NC State(Starters returning: 4
Very little experience and a brutal schedule won’t help this unit much in 2008. They play South Carolina, South Florida, and East Carolina in non-conference games. Plus they play at Clemson in the third week, so it could be a tough start for them as they have no returning starters at linebacker. Depth is also an issue and should a toll of injuries take place, it could get very ugly for this unit.

Stud defenses: Florida State, Clemson
Rising defense: Boston College
Falling defense: Virginia Tech

Overall analysis: Outside of Florida State and Clemson, issues arise for other teams with either inexperience or depth. Wake Forest will be strong if they stay healthy, and Miami will be if the defensive line comes along more quickly than expected. If Boston College improves the pass defense in the secondary, they’ll be better in 2008. The other teams are inexperienced(minus Duke) and they should be given time to gel as well as indications of what they can accomplish on that side of the ball early in the year

Great info.  Be sure to check all of David’s posts at the Fantasy Sports Network (

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