ACC spring football overreactions: Clemson’s offense bounces back, Miami gets off to hot start under Cristobal

Spring soccer is the process of starting over with new staff, and at the center of the forward command, there are plenty of changes on the pitch to come in 2022. Clemson’s six-year conference titles are scrapped in 2021, and the league is getting a major boost to new coaches. As such, the conference has a lot of good storylines to follow to enter a new season.

Mario Cristobal replaced Manny Diaz in Miami, Tony Elliott replaced Bronco-Mendenhall in Virginia, Brent Bree replaced Justin Fuente at Virginia Tech, and Mike Elko replaced David Cutcliffe at Duke. As for the distinguished returning faces in the league, many of them are midfielders with high expectations. Sam Hartman of Wake Forest, Devin Leary of NC State, owner Cunningham of Louisville, Phil Gorkovich of Boston College, Tyler Van Dyck of Miami, and Brennan Armstrong of Virginia combine to give the ACC the nation’s strongest crop of proven bystanders.

With Clemson regrouping after a falling year by program standards, one of the quarterbacks above has a chance to do what Kenny Pickett did for Pittsburgh last season and lead their team after the mighty Tigers to the league title.

While the Spring Games are largely vanilla, let’s react anyway to what we can expect from the ACC teams in 2022.

Boston College

QB Phil Jurkovec is the new Sam Howell: Yurkowicz relegated in the first round of the last round 2023 NFL Draft Fake From CBS Fellow Ryan Wilson. He certainly has the tools and the ability to do it, but Boston College is replacing four starters in its offensive line. The spring practice was a reminder that Jorkowicz will be hard-pressed to maintain this noble stock in 2022 due to shifting roster dynamics outside his control. Former ACC quarterback Sam Howell dealt with a similar situation last season, leaving his two top receivers and top two backers after a massive 2020 season with the Tar Heels boot. Howell was still drafted, but in the fifth round instead of the first.


An old crime will bounce back: There is a temptation to report that nothing has improved with Clemson’s attack after his sleepover performance in the spring match. With former offensive coordinator Tony Elliott now head coach at Virginia and the Tigers reeling from a subpar 2021 season, DJ Uiagalelei’s 2 out of 5 passes performance in the spring game could be interpreted as a risky omen. However, with Uiagalelei pushed by junior Cade Klubnik in the QB fight and the Tigers getting reps against one of the best defenses in the country, progress is sure to come on offense. Remember: Clemson ranked eighth nationally in overall defense last season with only Georgia and Wisconsin allowing fewer yards per game. With a poor defensive front featuring the likes of Brian Prey and Miles Murphy, Clemson’s ground as a program remains high. Even if the offense isn’t elite, it needs to be improved enough to bring the Tigers back into the ACC Championship game.


2022 will be hard to bear: Duke ranked last among FBS’ 130 teams last season in overall defense, and making a significant improvement in the first year will be tough for coach Mike Elko. The former defensive coordinator for Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Wake Forest three of the top four returned last season, but depth looks like a serious problem and the lost linebacker Matthew Durant returned to the NFL. Nothing in Duke’s situation seems to be conducive to a quick turnaround.


RB Trey Benson will be an influential player: The Oregon transfer hit 77 yards over seven innings at Florida’s Garnet & Gold and looked capable of being an influential player in 2022. Once considered a potential four-star player in the 2020 class of 247Sports, Benson was continuing in Oregon as a rookie and played moderately for the season. the past. With Jashaun Corbin leaving after leading the Seminoles in rush last season, Benson could become one of the ACC’s top transfers next season. That’s the definition of spring reflex, but Benson provides Seminole fans with something to get excited about.

Georgia Tech

Comprehensive personnel reform will not be enough: With Clemson top on the schedule as a multi-division opponent and no-conference games against Georgia, Ole Miss and UCF on the agenda, overhauling the offensive machine won’t be enough for coach Jeff Collins to gain momentum in his fourth of the season. Taking down Chip has always been somewhat of an offensive coordinator, and new running appearance coach Mike Daniels who brought in Dylan McDuffy a 1,000-yard backstroke from Buffalo should help mitigate Jammer Gibbs’ loss to Alabama. But the chasm between the yellow jackets and pot eligibility is too wide to close on such a difficult schedule.


Owner Cunningham Sleeping Heisman: After collecting nearly 4,000 yards last season, Cunningham is back for the senior season. With plenty of experience up front and some qualified playmakers around him, Cunningham could sneak into the Heisman Trophy conversation. If nothing else, he should be able to help the Cardinal find success and build on the promise they made in 2019 during coach Scott Satterfield’s first season.


Hurricanes Will Win ACC Coastal Crown: Head coach of the year Mario Cristobal has done well enough on the transfer window over the past few months that this team is able to build the 5-3 ACC mark for last season. The Canes, whose budding star Tyler Van Dyke is back in the middle, finished second last season behind Pitt. However, the Panthers are replacing star quarterback Kenny Beckett, and most of their crew is attacking and (potentially) star Jordan Addison. And there’s nothing particularly scary about the other teams in the division.

North Carolina

Josh Downes will make the new QB a star: It doesn’t matter whether Jakolby Cresswell or Drake May win a quarterback job at North Carolina, receiver Josh Downs will make that winner a star in 2022. Downs had 101 passes for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Improving those numbers will be tricky with a new QB, but Downs caught touchdown passes from both in the spring game. And that underscores the point here: the North Carolina quarterback is going to throw in one of the best hand combinations in the sport, and that quarterback will look good as a result.

North Carolina

Fetch Expectations: North Carolina State is loving as a potential top 10 team in some very early polls circulating at this time of year. Those expectations seem pretty high for a program that never finished in the top ten, but did make it! The last time Wolfpack finished in the top 15 was in 2002 when it was Philip Rivers quarterback. Devin Leary is their best QB since, and there’s enough around him for NC State to build a 9-3 season. Leary threw 35 touchdowns compared to five interceptions last season. The sport could use a new face in the CFP conversation, and North Carolina could find itself in the mix if things completely broke down in Clemson on October 1.


future regression: Regardless of whether superstar Jordan Addison makes a comeback after collecting 100 passes and winning the Pelentnikov Award as a sophomore, there is some major regression ahead of Pete. Expect a team closer to seven wins than the 11 total that the ACC Champions published last year. The Panthers are lucky to avoid Clemson, NC State and Wake Forest outside the Atlantic Division, but their no-conference roster is tough with games against West Virginia and Tennessee outside the gate. Then comes a trip to Western Michigan to try to avenge last season’s home loss to the Broncos.


QB’s Justin Lamson should start: Syracuse ranked 122nd in passing offense last season, failing to reach 2,000 total yards in the air during a 5-7 season. If you go back to Syracuse’s 10-win season in 2018, it had a more serviceable aerial attack. If the Orange team want to regain some momentum under Year 7 head coach Dino Papers, they should go with Lamson in their midfield. The rookie red throws back his case by throwing a pair of long touchdowns and finishing 7 of 10 passes for 151 yards in the spring game.

Wake Forest

QB Sam Hartman will improve: Hartmann finished third in the ACC’s Player of the Year vote in 2021, but still had plenty of room for improvement, as was evident in his 6-of-14 assist performance in the spring game. Now in fifth, Hartmann finished second in the league with 39 overs last season…but he also threw in more interceptions than any other ACC midfielder (14) and ranked near the bottom of the league in completion percentage (58.9%). He’s already one of the country’s most prolific midfielders, but you can expect Hartmann to take another step in 2022.


QB Brennan Armstrong is key to Tony Elliott’s state: Elliott received a gift in his first season as Armstrong chose to return for season five. Armstrong threw 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns in just 11 games last season while completing 65.2% of his passes. If Elliott can turn Armstrong into the NFL Draft pick, he would establish the Cavaliers as the QB destination and set the tone for what the former Clemson offensive coordinator would accomplish.

Virginia Tech

The midfielder will remain unsettled in the season: Grant Wells appears to be the favorite to win the quarterback job in coach Brent Brie’s first season, but South Carolina’s Jason Brown transfer is also the best. The bet here is that many midfielders are playing this season. Wells brings two seasons of starting experience into the equation, but has struggled with the objections of the Thunder Flock. Brown is best known for his transition from a GA role to actually playing a QB at Gamecocks last season after a career at the FCS level. He helped guide South Carolina to wins over Florida and Auburn and has the intangibles to challenge Wells for the job.