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So far this season, the ACC has looked pretty bad. Virginia lost to Pitt and almost got beat by Wyoming. Florida State barely knocked off Troy. Maryland got destroyed by West Virginia. Wake vs. Duke was ugly, as was Miami vs. Florida State. Clemson has already lost a game, and with their injuries piling up, it looks like they aren't going to meet expectations. The conference has been particularly poor on the offensive side of the ball, while the defenses have been very good.
Exactly how good are the ACC defenses? Let's take a look:
Nine of the 12 ACC teams rank among the top half of college football in total defense. Eight of the teams rank in the top 50. That's part of the reason that the offenses are so bad.
To give an illustration of how deep the ACC's defenses are, take a look at rushing defense. The Hokies are ninth in the conference in rushing defense, despite totally shutting down the UNC running game. The Hokies didn't play as well as they could have against Northeastern, otherwise they would have a better rank, but it's still solid. And yet they are ninth in the ACC. But expect this number to get better for Tech, as Duke is next on the schedule.
At any rate, when you average these five important defensive categories, the Hokies have the best defense in a very deep defensive league. Not bad, especially when you consider the number of players Tech lost to the NFL.
There are other stats that are just as important as offense and defense. Let's take a look at them.
The Hokies rank in the top half of the ACC when you average these rankings together. Kickoff returns are holding Tech back in a big way, but to be fair, they don't get a chance to return very many because the opposing team rarely scores. Also, Jared Develli offsets any advantage the opposition would have in kickoff returns because he puts the majority of his kicks through the end zone.
The amazing thing is that Florida State, with all of their athletes, is ranked dead last in miscellaneous stats. If that keeps up, you will not be seeing them win the ACC.
The ACC doesn't have a lot of highly ranked offensive teams. Take a look at how they rank nationally in five major categories.
As expected, Clemson is on top. They returned their entire offensive line, a great group of running backs and an All-ACC receiver. And even though their quarterback is a first year starter, he is a fifth year senior, meaning he has had a lot of time in the offense. The Tigers should have the best offense in the league, and they should stay on top over the course of the season.
And of course, we have to take some of those offensive numbers with a grain of salt. For example, Tech is 19th in the nation in scoring offense. But we all know that's aided by special teams and defensive scoring, or setting up offensive touchdowns on a short field. So the Hokies really aren't the #2 offense in the league.
But even if you take out the scoring offense category, the Hokies still rank fourth in the ACC if you combine the other major categories. Point being, the offenses in the ACC are horrible this year. Clemson's is good, but their defense is banged up. They also already have an ACC loss, and they must play Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in a span of five days in October.
It looks like the ACC race could come down to, stop me if you've heard this before, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech. And which team's offense develops the most as the season progresses could be the deciding factor.
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