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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ACC Atlantic Preview - Whither Goest Clemson?

The ACC is an interesting conference defined in large part by a cultural preference that developed hundreds of years ago. The East Coast is marked by a unique respect for private institutions of higher learning.
Private universities, by definition, are attended by snotty-nosed pansies who think they're athletic if they can row a boat (I'm kidding, mostly; I went to a private college myself). This is a hindrance on the conference and would be more of a hindrance if the East Coast produced as much football talent as the South (including Florida and Texas) or California. Private schools are generally smaller and cannot deploy the fans or resources requisite to build a quality football program (and, consequently, are good at basketball instead)-and that is why most of the ACC sucks at football.

Clemson has been the focal point of most of the hype this year in the ACC, in part because there isn't too much else going on in the ACC Atlantic. Wake Forest established themselves last year as a good program but not one that is going to consistently make BCS bowl appearances, a Ryan-less BC will be about as exciting as Olympic pommel horse, and Florida St. is still a couple years from re-arriving.

Here are my questions for the ACC Atlantic this season:

1) Is this the year for Clemson to finally claim its birth right as ACC champs?

2) Is it geographically possible to differentiate the Atlantic and Coastal regions?
(I'm not really going to try to answer this question, it just gives me a headache)

1) Clemson fans (and everyone else) should know exactly what to expect from this Clemson team after week three. Clemson hosts the mighty Wolfpack of NC State. The Tigers will win this game, but if they do not run for more than 100 yards, trouble awaits them - and here's why.
The ACC is a relatively weak conference except at one position, defensive line. Even the crappy teams in the ACC have monster D-lines. Clemson has a monster D-line, as will NC State. NC State has produced some front fours that the Packers would have been happy to trade for straight up, and this year they will field another whopper. Clemson, though, does not have a good O-line; they lost three starters from a unit that underperformed last year. That's a big problem if you want to be successful in the ACC.

Clemson folks has a couple of things going for them. One, barring linebacker and offensive line, they are better or as good as every other team in the conference at every other position. Two, they do not have to play projected Coastal frontrunners VT, Miami, and North Carolina. Unless NC State holds Clemson under 50 yards rushing and wins that game, these two advantages should be enough to get Clemson into the ACC championship game (even after they lose to Florida St.).

When they do finally have to play Virginia Tech to claim their first conference title since my birth (figuratively, not literally), that's when they'll hit the wall. VT, like NC State before them, should be able to play in the Clemson backfield, set up camp, start a fire, roast some marshmallows, make smores, sing camp songs, tell ghost stories, rip off CJ Spiller's head while tries to dance in the backfield, and take home the conference hardware. But if Clemson's O-line learns to block this year, expect good things from this Tiger streak.

1 comment:

  1. PaparalphJune 12, 2010

    there are only three private schools in the ACC--BC, Wake Forest and Duke.

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