The Best Offense in the ACC

The votes are in! Recently we broke down each offensive position in the ACC. Now we take a look at which school will have the best offense in 2004. Can the Tigers keep pace in the new and improved ACC? Drum roll please.

1. Florida State (QB-6, RB-1, WR-2, OL-1) – It's no secret that Florida State is loaded this year on the offensive side of the ball. The Noles have so many weapons; even Chris Rix shouldn't be able to slow this machine down. Bobby Bowden has the ACC's top running backs and offensive line at his disposal. Look for running back Lorenzo Booker and wide receiver Chris Davis to have breakout seasons. The offensive line should give the running backs big holes to run through and Rix more time to make his decisions.

Question Marks: 1) Can Craphonzo Thorpe recover from his broken leg to return to 2003 form? 2) Chris Rix. If players could wear symbols instead of numbers, you could just go ahead and stick a question mark on his back. The Seminoles' offense will be only as good as Rix allows them to be.

2. Clemson (QB-1, RB-6, WR-4, OL-5) – Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning showed us in 2003 that an elite quarterback can elevate his offense to the top even though the parts around him might not be as good. Rivers, for example, lead the top ACC offense even without a proven running back and an oft-injured offensive line.

Whitehurst is the best quarterback on the east coast. His excellent decision making and pin-point accuracy will make catching passes easier, running lanes larger and linemen will not have to hold blocks quite as long. With depth at running back and playmakers at wide receiver, the Tigers should have no trouble moving the chains in 2004.

Question Marks: 1) Offensive tackle. Clemson is a little more depth at offensive tackle away from closing the gap between them and the Noles on the offensive side of the ball. 2) Depth and inexperience at the wide receiver position. Stuckey and Grant are talented, but have yet to prove themselves on the big stage.

3. Miami: (QB-4, RB-4, WR-1, OL-3) Miami will be returning only 5 starters in 2004. The talent is good enough to be the ACC's best unit. The receivers are the fastest group in the ACC. The offensive line will be able to open up holes for a talented group of running backs.

Question Marks: 1) Can Brock Berlin guide this offense to their potential? He threw 17 interceptions to only 12 touchdowns last year. Maybe the better question is how long will it take for Kyle Wright to take the starting position. With a solid quarterback this unit will be great. 2) Running backs. Will Gore be healthy after two knee surgeries? Will Moss or Hill be ready to step up into a starting role?

4. Virginia: (QB-5, RB-2, WR-6, OL-2): The quarterback position is less of a concern at Virginia because of the great talent around Marquees Hagans and the fact that he has produced there in the past. It should not be too hard to hand the ball off to the Cavs' stud running backs or find All American Heath Miller over the middle. The Cavs have arguably the best offensive line in the ACC and that should also help Hagans make an easy transition back from the wide receiver position.

Question Marks: 1) Will the Cavs have a legitimate threat at wide receiver? The Cavs never had a receiver step up and make plays last season. This year Michael McGrew returns after a major injury he suffered before the 2003 season.

5. North Carolina State: (QB-11, RB-3, WR-3, OL-4): TA McClendon is one of the few that will be able to challenge Whitehurst for ACC player of the year. If McClendon is healthy, I predict him to score over 20 touchdowns! Nobody is better than McClendon in short yardage and red zone situations. McClendon is so effective that he can turn field goals into touchdowns when his team gets near the goal line.

As far as the rest of the team goes, the Pack has a solid offensive line and plenty of playmakers at the wide receiver position.

Question Marks: 1)Will the Pack find a quarterback to get the ball to its playmakers? Look for Chuck Amato to use both of his young quarterbacks early in order to see who has the hot hand. If either Davis of Stone settles nicely into the position, this group could be very explosive in 2003.

6. North Carolina: (QB-2, RB-10, WR-5, OL-9)- Although inconsistent at times in 2003, this unit showed the potential to be a great in 2004. Darian Durant is a great quarterback and raises the level of play of the whole offense. Ronnie McGill is solid and the receiving corp returns in tact.

Question Marks: 1) Can the offensive line be more consistent? They have looked good at times and just lousy at others.

7. Wake Forest: (QB-8, RB-5, WR-7, OL-10): The Demon Deacons return their top quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in 2004. Barclay is explosive and Jason Anderson is legitimately one of the ACC's best wide receivers.

Question Marks: 1) How good will the offensive line be? The Demon Deacons have to replace 3 starters from a group that was very important to Wake's success in controlling the ball in Jim Grobe's misdirection offense.

8. Maryland: (QB-9, RB-7, WR-8, OL-6): Maryland has a solid running back in Josh Allen and a playmaker in Steve Suter. The offensive line should be good but the Terps found out how bad they can be when 2003 starter Scott McBrien went down with an injury against Georgia Tech.

Ralph Friedgen is an offensive genius, but I just can't see him getting this unit going with what he's got in new starter Josh Stratham. Of course I thought the same thing when McBrien was named the starter back in 2002.

Question Marks: 1) Quarterback: It could be a tough year for the Terps if they don't find a consistent signal caller.

9. Virginia Tech: (QB-3, RB-9, WR-10, OL-7): Virginia Tech returns 4 starters and last week lost their top playmaker in Markus Vick. In Beamer we trust. The only reason the Hokies are not in the tenth spot is that I have to believe that Frank Beamer will find some way to move the football.

Question Marks: 1) Who will replace Kevin Jones? For the first time in years the Hokies do not have a back with experience in their starting backfield and starter Cedric Humes missed the spring with a broken fibula.

10. Georgia Tech: (QB-9, RB-8, WR-9, OL-8): I truly believe the Jackets will struggle this year offensively. Reggie Ball is more of a playmaker than a great quarterback. The Jackets do intrigue me in how they are able to get so much production from their running backs year after year.

Question Marks: 1) Who will Ball throw the ball to? Jonathan Smith graduated and was the only legitimate threat when the Jackets went to the air in 2003. 2) Will the offensive line be able to create space for 2003 leading rusher PJ Daniels? Nat Dorsey and Hugh Reilly leave big holes in the offensive front.

11. Duke: (QB-10, RB-11, WR-11, OL-11): Duke has to replace 4 offensive linemen and their all-time leading rusher.

Question Marks: 1) Where will Duke get offense from? 2) When does basketball start? Top Stories