Spring Football: Each ACC Team's No. 1 Priority

A look at the No. 1 priority facing each ACC football team this spring.

Boston College

Who will step up and be the starting quarterback this fall? Sophomore Darius Wade is recovering from an ankle injury, there were three freshman that rotated in, and former Kentucky signal-caller Patrick Towles transferred in during the spring semester, but there is no clear No. 1. - Joe Jacobs, Eagle Insider

Clemson

Clemson's bid for a return trip to the CFP began in earnest with spring practice on Monday, and the top storyline for the Tigers has to be the secondary. DB coach Mike Reed lost three starters to early NFL departures in Mackensie Alexander, All-American Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green. Expected to replace Kearse and Green at safety will be Van Smith and Jadar Johnson, with redshirt freshman Tanner Muse vying for playing time. Despite the losses on defense, Clemson has enough talent to reload. Moreover, the Tigers will likely have the most prolific offense in the nation, which will compensate for many shortcomings on the other side of the ball. - Trevor Groves, CUTigers.com

Duke

Starting quarterback Thomas Sirk's future at Duke remains uncertain after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon on Feb. 9 during team workouts. All eyes will turn to Sirk's backup, Parker Boehme, this spring. David Cutcliffe's Blue Devils strive to keep the good times rolling after winning their first bowl game in 54 years and then compiling the nation's No. 34 recruiting class, a major feat for Duke football.

Georgia Tech

Every spring practice will be valuable to the development of a young Georgia Tech team that is tied with Duke for the fewest returning starters (11) in the ACC. But the spring drills will be critical even fore senior quarterback Justin Thomas, whose career trajectory flattened last spring but still has upward potential.

Florida State

The quarterback battle is the No. 1 storyline for spring and probably beyond. Sean Maguire, who started the final three games of the Seminoles' season, is out for the spring with a broken ankle. That will leave talented freshmen Deondre Francois and Malik Henry with most of the reps. Junior JJ Cosentino will also have his chance. - Wayne McGahee, Nole Digest

Louisville

Louisville has finished in the top 20 among total defenses two years in a row and returns most of its firepower from last season; the Cardinals even got back four players who contemplated jumping into the NFL Draft. How much can the defense improve, how good can the defense get, and who will replace Sheldon Rankins in the middle? He was the key loss for the defense. - Jody Demling, Cardinal Authority

North Carolina

Following the program's best season in two decades, head coach Larry Fedora returns many of his explosive offensive weapons — RB Elijah Hood, WR Mack Hollins and WR/PR Ryan Switzer. This spring he hands the QB reins over to Mitch Trubisky, who was fantastic in limited opportunities. Gene Chizik looks to make more progress in his second year in charge of the Tar Heel defense, where the strength remains in the secondary in CBs Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart. - Ben Sherman, Inside Carolina

Miami

USA TODAY

There's a new sheriff in town at the University of Miami. New head coach Mark Richt — who has everyone excited about the 2016 season — plans to call plays this season and is taking over a very talented offense that returns 10 starters from last season. Leading that offense will be junior quarterback Brad Kaaya, who is expected to have a major breakout season this fall. The defense has loads of talent to become a productive group in new coordinator Manny Diaz's aggressive scheme. - Mike Bakas, Canes Time

NC State

Who will replace Jacoby Brissett? NC State returns plenty of talent on defense and at the skill positions, but they don't have a quarterback on the roster who has taken a meaningful snap. Jalan McClendon, Jakobi Meyers and Dylan Parham are on campus competing for the job. - James Henderson, Pack Pride

Pittsburgh

After five-plus years of apparent instability, Pitt's football program seems to have found it with Pat Narduzzi, who enters the spring fresh off leading the Panthers to their winningest season in five years. Instead of acclimation between new players and coaches, the Panthers are able to simply focus on improvement. That stability moves down to the offense, where starting quarterback Nate Peterman returns, as well as four starters on the line. Pitt's defense also returns 10 starters, including ACC Rookie of the Year Jordan Whitehead. Tyler Boyd's early departure for the NFL leaves a starting receiver job open and marks the only noteworthy position battle on the spring two-deep. Spring ball will be the first chance for players like Elijah Zeise, Zach Challingsworth and Jester Weah to make their case as one of the team's top wideouts alongside Dontez Ford. - Nate Barnes, Panther Digest

Syracuse

The opening of spring drills in early February gave Syracuse fans their first on-field glimpse of new head coach Dino Babers, his high-octane offense and new systems on both sides of the ball. How will Babers move players to different positions? How quickly will the players pick up on the new schemes? These are all things to watch as Syracuse spring drills progress. - Mike McAllister, Cuse Nation

Virginia

It's a brand new era for the Wahoos. Bronco Mendenhall will lead Virginia for the first time this spring, and he is bringing a no-nonsense approach. It will be interesting to see how the team adjusts to his coaching style. Also, for the first time in four years, the question isn't about the quarterback. Matt Johns, last year's starter, is back, but the biggest question is who will he be throwing to? With both Canaan Severin and TJ Thorpe gone, will Olamide Zaccheaus and David Eldridge pick up more of the reps this spring? - Jacquie Franciulli, Hoo Nation

Virginia Tech

For the first time since 1987, spring football drills in Blacksburg won't have Frank Beamer at the helm. New head coach Justin Fuente, a former quarterback and a highly praised mentor to Andy Dalton (at TCU) and Paxton Lynch (at Memphis), will begin to work his coaching magic on 6-6 freshman quarterback Dwayne Lawson in a new, up-tempo offense.

Wake Forest

Can Dave Clawson lift Wake Forest to a winning record in his third season at the helm after consecutive three-win seasons? Spring will see a more mature Deacons team overall, and while the QB position isn't set, Clawson likes his two primary options, junior John Wolford and sophomore Kendall Hinton

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