ACC faculty soccer preview: Breaking down the convention’s greatest gamers, video games and extra
The ACC didn’t precisely have a banner marketing campaign in 2021, lacking the Faculty Soccer Playoff for the primary time whereas failing to complete with a workforce ranked within the prime 10 after Clemson posted its most losses since 2014.
All eyes shall be on the Tigers as soon as once more to see whether or not they regroup to hold the flag for the convention. However past Clemson, this needs to be a a lot stronger convention prime to backside than in years previous. Ten of 14 groups return their beginning quarterbacks — though Wake Forest, the defending Atlantic Division champion, was dealt a troublesome blow when it introduced Sam Hartman shall be out indefinitely with a non-football-related medical concern. Within the Coastal Division, optimism is excessive at Miami beneath first-year coach Mario Cristobal, who returned residence to the Hurricanes to revitalize a program that has by no means received an ACC championship.
It doesn’t matter what occurs, this shall be a 12 months for the report books — as the ultimate season of the convention having divisions.
Storylines to observe
1. Does Clemson return to type?
Regardless of lacking the playoff final season, Clemson nonetheless received 10 video games for the eleventh straight 12 months — solely the third program in historical past to perform such a feat. Whereas that’s an unimaginable achievement, the bar has been raised in Clemson after six straight playoff appearances. However greater than that, the bar for offensive efficiency has been raised, and what occurred in 2021 merely failed to satisfy expectations. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was not constant sufficient, and neither had been the receivers or the offensive line. Uiagalelei returns because the beginning QB — and the biggest focus each on the Tigers and within the convention needs to be on him and whether or not he can fulfill his potential. If he would not, what needs to be the most effective defenses within the nation won’t be sufficient to get Clemson again into the playoff.
2. What does Miami do in Yr 1 beneath Cristobal?
There’s one storyline that’s undefeated 12 months after 12 months within the ACC: Is that this the 12 months Miami will compete for a championship? Media voters appear to suppose so, as they chose the Hurricanes because the preseason option to win the Coastal Division and advance to the ACC championship recreation. After all, that is the sixth time Miami has been the preseason alternative; the Hurricanes have one division title of their historical past. This 12 months, the expectations are excessive due to Cristobal and the return of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who emerged final season after going by camp competing for the backup job. Cristobal has employed himself an elite employees, including to the expectation stage exterior this system. However Cristobal needs nothing to do with the place individuals suppose his program needs to be proper now. He simply needs his gamers targeted on getting higher.
3. Who emerges as the highest quarterback within the league?
You need to return to 2016 to discover a quarterback group as deep, proficient and skilled because the one within the ACC. Palms down, that is one of the best collective group of expertise within the nation, though shedding Hartman from the combo proper from the beginning is hard. He completed second in ACC preseason participant of the 12 months voting to NC State quarterback Devin Leary, the best choice after throwing for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2021. Brennan Armstrong at Virginia ranked No. 2 within the nation in whole offense (4,700 whole yards), Hartman ranked No. 9 (4,591) and Louisville‘s Malik Cunningham ranked No. 14 (3,971). Then there are Uiagalelei, Van Dyke, Phil Jurkovec at Boston College and Jordan Travis at Florida State to keep watch over, as effectively. Regardless of who finally ends up as the highest quarterback, this group goes to make it enjoyable to observe.
The 2021 season represented a seismic shift in energy within the ACC, with Pitt and Wake Forest enjoying for the league’s title — simply the third ACC championship recreation in league historical past that did not embrace Clemson, Florida State or Virginia Tech and the primary since 2006. So, does that imply an official altering of the guard for our 2022 Energy Rankings? Ah, not so quick. Clemson stays probably the most proficient workforce within the convention, however what’s clear from final season is that the Tigers have some actual query marks, and the remainder of the league has some real threats too.
5 must-see video games
West Virginia at Pitt, Sept. 1
It has been greater than a decade for the reason that Yard Brawl was final performed — again when Pitt and West Virginia had been members of the Massive East. The rivalry will get renewed on a Thursday night time to kick off the 2022 season, and all of the vitriol that is been build up since 2011 can lastly be unleashed on the sphere. Pitt holds the all-time lead within the sequence 61-40-3, however West Virginia received the previous three, together with a 21-20 thriller in 2011.
Florida State vs. LSU, Sept. 4 (New Orleans)
Florida State has spent the previous 5 seasons in distress, however a win in a high-profile recreation like this might function an official coming-out get together for the Seminoles, saying to the faculty soccer world that they need to be taken significantly once more. The identical may be true for LSU, which will get to play in its yard in New Orleans and provides new coach Brian Kelly his first check. Kelly’s Notre Dame workforce narrowly escaped FSU in time beyond regulation a 12 months in the past.
Miami at Texas A&M, Sept. 17
Is Miami again? An offseason of makeovers — together with a brand new athletic director in Dan Radakovich, a brand new head coach in Mario Cristobal and a brand new dedication to investing in soccer — have Hurricanes followers dreaming huge. Cristobal had some critical renovation work to do upon arrival, however he has a star QB in Tyler Van Dyke, and the Canes did end final season by successful 5 of their final six video games. A win over a probable top-10 Texas A&M could be an enormous assertion — for Miami and the ACC.
NC State at Clemson, Oct. 1
NC State has spent its share of time on the periphery of rivalry within the ACC Atlantic, however this offseason has been crammed with extra hype than any in latest reminiscence. Can coach Dave Doeren, QB Devin Leary & Co. lastly ship amid excessive expectations? There shall be loads of checks alongside the best way however none greater than this October showdown with Clemson, which may mark an official altering of the guard on the prime of the convention.
Clemson at Notre Dame, Nov. 5
Clemson and Notre Dame have performed some epic video games lately, from the Tigers’ heading off a late 2-point strive amid hurricanelike situations in 2015 to Notre Dame’s come-from-behind win in opposition to Uiagalelei & Co. in 2020. This 12 months’s recreation has the makings of one other traditional, with each groups coming into the season with authentic playoff hopes.
Preseason All-ACC workforce
For our all-conference workforce, we determined so as to add an additional defensive again, a nod to all of the models enjoying with a nickel most of the time. If solely we may add an additional quarterback or two too, this train would’ve been a lot simpler. Choosing only one QB from the league’s wealth of riches — Tyler Van Dyke, Devin Leary, Brennan Armstrong and Sam Hartman amongst them — was an inconceivable job. Fortunately, we get a full season to take pleasure in the whole thing of them in 2022.
QB Malik Cunningham, Louisville
RB Will Shipley, Clemson
RB Sean Tucker, Syracuse
WR Josh Downs, UNC
WR A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
WR Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia
TE Marshon Ford, Louisville
OT Zion Nelson, Miami
OG Caleb Chandler, Louisville
C Grant Gibson, NC State
OG Dillan Gibbons, FSU
OT Jordan McFadden, Clemson
DL Bryan Bresee, Clemson
DL Calijah Kancey, Pitt
DL Myles Murphy, Clemson
LB Yasir Abdullah, Louisville
LB Payton Wilson, NC State
LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson
LB Mikel Jones, Syracuse
S Andrew Mukuba, Clemson
S Jammie Robinson, FSU
CB Josh DeBerry, BC
CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami
CB Shyheim Battle, NC State
Championship recreation prediction
Clemson over Miami.