SI's ACC Championship Pick: Virginia Tech over Boston
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Players To Watch
Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
Punter :: Georgia Tech
A second-team All-America a year ago, the senior ranked second in the country in net punting (40.7 yards per kick), was fourth overall (45.5 yards) and dropped 35 punts inside the 20.
Defensive End :: Miami
The 6' 8", 282-pound junior is one of the best defensive ends in the nation, the type of player who can disrupt an offense. In 2006 he had 101/2 sacks and was an All-ACC selection.
Guard :: Maryland
The 6' 5", 301-pound senior, a two-year starter, leads one of the better lines in the conference. He'll clear the way for the Terps' tandem of physical tailbacks, Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore.
Center :: Wake Forest
The 6' 4", 284-pound senior started 25 games over the last two seasons. An Outland Trophy candidate, he'll have to steady a line that lost standout tackle Steve Vallos to the NFL.
Quarterback :: Boston College
As a junior the 6' 5" 218-pounder was the premier quarterback in the ACC last season, completing nearly 62% of his passes and throwing for 15 touchdowns and 245.2 yards per game.
Best Offensive Player
Branden Ore :: RB :: Virginia Tech
This bruising back rushed for 1,137 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Best Defensive Player
Vince Hall :: LB :: Virginia Tech
The heartbeat of one of the country's best linebacking units led the Hokies in tackles the last two seasons.
True Freshman to Watch
Graig Cooper :: RB :: Miami
A January enrollee, he jumped to the top of the depth chart in the spring.
Coach on the Rise
Butch Davis :: North Carolina
Optimism is high for the first time in a decade, thanks to a bumper crop of recruits.
Coach on the Hot Seat
Tommy Bowden :: Clemson Tigers
Fans won't soon forget last year's 1–4 finish, and Bowden's underachieving 60–37 blurb doesn't help.
With a soft conference schedule and 19 starters back from a 5–7 team, the Cavaliers could be the most improved team in the ACC.
The first order of business for new Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is to boost a running game that ranked 109th and 103rd in 2005 and '06, respectively. Fisher, who arrived from LSU, is reducing the number of four-receiver sets and counting on a line that got a crash course in tough, physical play from new assistant Rick Trickett, who coached at West Virginia.... Micah Andrews was to be the featured back at Wake Forest last season until he tore his left ACL in the third game. The son of former Falcons All-Pro running back Williams Andrews, Micah is healthy again, and his return means that Kenneth Moore will be back at wideout.... At Clemson, sophomore defensive end Ricky Sapp has the unenviable task of replacing ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Gaines Adams. The 6' 4", 220-pound Sapp is a bit smaller than Adams, but he's fast and, on a line that returns three starters, has a chance for a breakout season.