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Jeff Gravley

Sip, don't drink the Kool-Aid

Posted July 26, 2011

Every year at various preseason football media gatherings every team talks improvement, lofty goals, big bowl dreams and how their league is the toughest in the country.

It's a big pitcher of Kool-Aid. You can sip on it but don't drink it. Ingesting too much preseason hype and hope is dangerous to your football psyche.

I have been to about 17 ACC Kickoffs and there have been many years that I gulped the Kool-Aid talk of how great the league is going to be. Many years they were thanks to Florida State. From 1992-2000, the Noles won or shared the ACC championship. But that was boring for the rest of the league. No one could beat them much less pass them in the standings.

But FSU hasn't won an ACC championship since 2005 and the league's pendulum of success tilted toward Virginia Tech. In the last 10 years, the Hokies are 46-10 in the ACC with 4 league championships. The next highest ACC winning percentage is Florida State with a record of 53-27. 

Once again, the Hokies and Seminoles are the picks to win their divisions and play for the ACC title. Who can break up the party?

It depends on which team gets better than expected play from their quarterback. There are only three teams who return quarterbacks that have 10 or more career starts. Duke's Sean Renfree, Maryland's Danny O'Brien and Miami's Jacory Harris (who hasn't been named the starter yet). Florida State's EJ Manuel has 6 career starts but has played significant snaps in relief of Christian Ponder. Manuel is second in the ACC Player of the Year preseason voting. Maryland's Danny O'Brien was fifth. They are the only two quarterbacks out of 9 who received votes. 

So who of the inexperienced signal callers is able to play above their lack of playing time? 

NC State's Mike Glennon has all of the physical tools to be a big-time player. How does he handle the live bullets coming at him as the day-one starter? He may have the most pressure on him of any newcomer in the ACC and Tom O'Brien made one of the toughest calls letting Russell Wilson walk. 

Carolina's Bryn Renner is a "firecracker in the huddle" according to center Jonathan Cooper. Butch Davis said Renner "is like a thorouhbred with nostrils flared ready to go." Sounds like a linebacker playing quarterback. Can he throttle back during critical moments in the game?

Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas is 6-6, 245 pounds with a gun for an arm and good mobility for a guy that size. He has thrown 26 career passes but has the luxury of have David Wilson returning in the backfield.

There are many questions surrounding ACC football this season and if you drink too much of the Kool-Aid, you're thinking national championship game. But just take a sip and hope for a win in the Orange Bowl and possibly having two teams in a BCS bowl which would be a league first. 

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  • VT1994Hokie Jul 30, 2011

    I should have stated There in the 2nd sentence.

  • StunGunn Jul 30, 2011

    After the week the Heels have had, I need something stronger than Kool-Aid:)

  • StunGunn Jul 28, 2011

    As a Heels fan, I haven't even sniffed the Kool-Aid this season, and after this morning's presser, it's a good thing!

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 26, 2011

    Good one Jeff. It was good to talk to you on Sunday. They are other conferences that are just better than the ACC. We need a few teams to be in a national game again. That's the only way. VT, FSU, Miami, State, UNC, Clemson, BC, have some skill people. I just hope Logan Thomas grows up quickly with a win over ASU. This is a must win after last seasons awful start.

    I remember in 06 WF was picked to be in last place. We know the rest of this one. Play it on the field.

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