2009 ACC football season preview

A look at how Tech stacks up against its divisional rivals.

Head Coach: Frank Beamer (23rd)

2008 Record: 10-4 (5-3) – ACC Champion

The defending ACC champs have 15 returning starters and all the tools necessary to defend their conference title. Dual-threat quarterback Tyrod Taylor must improve as a passer and top rusher Darren Evans will miss the season with a torn ACL, but Taylor and the other running backs should provide a formidable rushing attack. The defense has few significant weaknesses and more than enough talent to fill vacated positions in the linebacking corps and the secondary.

Head Coach: Paul Johnson (2nd)

2008 Record: 9-4 (5-3) – T-1st in Coastal

With all 11 starters returning on offense, the Jackets’ option attack should improve in year two under Paul Johnson. ACC Offensive Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer heads a deep and talented backfield, and Johnson plans to incorporate more pass plays this season. The big concern on defense is the loss of three starting linemen, but there is talent at every level of the defense, and the shift to a 4-2-5 scheme will take advantage of Tech’s strong secondary.

Head Coach: Butch Davis (3rd)

2008 Record: 8-5 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

The Tar Heels are emerging as a legitimate contender in the Coastal Division and a recruiting power under Head Coach Butch Davis. They will need to replace four departed receivers and two offensive linemen, but they have talent at both positions and are set at quarterback and running back. A deep and experienced defensive line will be the strength of a defense that specializes in causing turnovers, but the Tar Heels must improve their pass coverage to contend.

Head Coach: Al Groh (9th)

2008 Record: 5-7 (3-5) – 5th in Coastal

Virginia will turn to a spread offense in 2009. There are a variety of options at quarterback, but departed running back Cedric Peerman and left tackle Eugene Monroe leave big holes to fill. The team’s 3-4 defensive front will likely struggle after losing three linebackers, but the secondary should be a strength even if corner Vic Hall shifts to offense permanently. Still, Virginia is not expected to be a major ACC contender.

Head Coach: Randy Shannon (3rd)

2008 Record: 7-6 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

The 2009 Hurricanes are all about potential. Miami’s running backs are strong and experienced, and quarterback Jacory Harris and top receiver Aldarius Johnson are raw players with very high ceilings. The front seven on defense has a massive amount of talent and could be among the best in the conference. Matt Bosher displayed both power and accuracy while handling kicking and punting duties last season.

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe (2nd)

2008 Record: 4-8 (1-7) – 6th in Coastal

The Blue Devils are rebuilding and could be contenders in a few years, but the short-term outlook is dim. This season, the largely inexperienced offense will rally behind a pair of seniors in quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and running back Re’Quan Boyette. Defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase will be a strong run defender, but only three other defensive starters return and the Blue Devils have little depth.

Head Coach: Frank Spaziani (1st)

2008 Record: 9-5 (5-3) – Atlantic Div. Title

The going will be tough for the Eagles as they attempt to repeat as Atlantic Division champs. New coach Frank Spaziani must find a starting quarterback, BC’s third in three years, and hope that the defense holds up despite losing three stars—defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, who moved on to the NFL, and linebacker Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who was diagnosed with cancer in May and will miss the season.

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (2nd)

2008 Record: 7-6 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

Newly christened starting quarterback Kyle Parker has no prior game experience and could struggle. However, the ground game will be the focal point of the offense thanks to the return of explosive running back C.J. Spiller and four starting offensive linemen. Defensively, Clemson’s front seven should be among the best in the conference, and the unit as a whole should make great strides under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Head Coach: Bobby Bowden (34th)

2008 Record: 9-4 (5-3) – T-1st in Coastal

Off the field, the Seminoles’ offseason has been marred by arrests, suspensions and allegations of major academic violations. On the field, mobile quarterback Christian Ponder and a stellar offensive line should power a potent offense. Only five starters return on defense and All-American kicker/punter Graham Gano is gone, but the Seminoles are loaded with talent at practically every position and will contend for the ACC title in 2009.

Head Coach: Jim Grobe (9th)

2008 Record: 8-5 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

Ten starters return on offense for the Demon Deacons, led by reliable senior quarterback Riley Skinner, but the team’s offensive line must improve greatly from last season for the offense to remain strong. The defense faces plenty of challenges: Between the linebackers and secondary, corner Brandon Ghee is the only returning starter, and replacing top NFL draft picks Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith will not be an easy task.

Head Coach: Tom O’Brien (3rd)

2008 Record: 6-7 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

Versatile quarterback Russell Wilson, who earned first team All-ACC honors as a freshman in 2008, is expected to make the Wolfpack contenders in the Atlantic Division this season. Wilson has plenty of weapons around him, but the offensive line must protect him better. The defensive line will be a strength, but the linebacking corps will miss injured star Nate Irving and the secondary will need to step up.

Head Coach: Ralph Friedgen (9th)

2008 Record: 8-5 (4-4) – T-3rd in Coastal

The Terrapins have a star running back in junior Da’Rel Scott and a steady hand at quarterback in senior Chris Turner, but the team has to replace most of its offensive line and inexperience could be a problem for the offense. Only four starters return on defense, but the hope is that new coordinator Don Brown’s blitz-heavy approach will allow the unit to remain strong in 2009 despite losses throughout the unit.