With March starting at the end of this week, that means Spring Football and a chance to wet the appetite for college football. The SEC and ACC enter big seasons with change in the landscape either taking place (SEC) or on the horizon (ACC). As we go through spring I will continue to update the progress of many schools but its time for my pre spring burning questions. I will begin today with on each for every team. Later in the week we will look at the SEC and the questions facing its 14 teams.
ACC Questions as we enter the spring
Clemson: The defending champs are looking to improve on defense with Brent Venables putting together a system that must match the high octane offense. Clemson finished 7th in the ACC in third down defense.
FSU; Put together and offensive line that can balance the offensive attack with a solid running game behind EJ Manuel. The Seminoles were 10th in the league in first down rushing averaging just 3.56 yards per carry. This will often put you behind the chains.
North Carolina State: Not only does Tom Obrien have to replace Mike Glennon his senior quarterback but he needs to jump start an offense that finished 11th in the league. Injuries were a big factor for the Wolfpack, but look for the emphasis in spring to be on the offense. North Carolina State was 11th in the league in rushing at 104 yards per game.
Maryland: The Terrapins were a major offensive disappointment after opening the season strong against Miami. The carousel at quarterback was the main issue, so in comes Mike Locksley the former offensive coordinator at Illinois. His spread attack made it to the Rose Bowl and is based on a 200-200 principle with passing and rushing. Maryland was 8th in the league with 23 turnovers and 16 interceptions thrown.
Boston College: The focus again is on the offense where the Eagles were the leagues worst at 18 points per game. Montel Harris will go through the spring as he was granted another season by the NCAA. The key for spring Keep Montel health! The Eagles had only 12 rushing touchdowns last season, Harris had eight by himself in 2010.
Wake Forest: Jim Grobes team was certainly an up and down team in 2011. He is looking for more consistency and the area of emphasis will be 3rd down offense. The Demon Deacons who pride themselves at staying on schedule did not in 2011. Hard to believe but Wake Forest was last in the ACC in third down conversions on offense.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies will look to replace David Wilson who bolted for the NFL. He led the league in rushing with 1709 yards and averaged nearly six yards per carry. He would have been a Heisman candidate if he returned. Frank Beamer always seems to have someone ready and that will be the area to work on this spring.
Virginia: I believe its time for the Cavaliers to up their passing game. Michael Rocco was efficient at times and mostly found big plays in the play action passing game. His touchdown to interception radio was 13-12 and that needs to get to 20-5 if they are going to win the league. I expect the Cavaliers to open it up just a bit in the spring with the focus on the passing game.
Miami: Al Golden has a lot of work on his hands but plenty of young talent to work with. Stephen Morris will have the starting spot at quarterback and if year one is indication of the work that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch can do then he will be fine. The Canes need a more consistent defense. In the six losses the Miami defense gave up an average of 410 yards per game. In their six wins the defense was 100 yards better.
North Carolina: This one is easy, Tempo. Larry Fedora will change the way the Tar Heels practice on both sides of the ball and it will be faster and tougher than they have experienced in the past. The offense will be the focus of many around Chapel Hill, but the new defensive system going in looks to create more turnovers. North Carolina had just 14 interceptions last season and while at Southern Mississippi Fedora had eight returned for touchdowns.
Georgia Tech: It seems like every spring we are talking about the passing game with Georgia Tech and Paul Johnson's offense, but this year they really need to get better on defense. I expect Johnson to tailor spring ball into physical practices that allow the defense to achieve some success which in turn will breed confidence. The Yellow Jackets caused just 21 turnovers which was 64th in the country.
Duke: The Blue Devils are always fun to watch in the spring because they have an excellent passing offense and very little defense. At this point you have to decide what you're willing to give up and I believe David Cutcliffe will experiment with some front that give Duke a better shot at stopping the run. They need to be better in one area and even if they give up a lot through the air they have to be better against the run.
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