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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

The ACC- Atlantic Division

Preview of the ACC


The ACC is enjoying the fact that Florida State won the National Championship in 2013, breaking the SEC domination (barely), and ending the question, at least for now, does the ACC matter in Football? For 2014, their fans can point to the Seminole nation and say, “Yes, we matter!” The truth is, the ACC is still a far cry from consistently measuring up with the big boys of the SEC, or the PAC-12, but they’re improving.

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State is the favorite to repeat as champions of the ACC. They ran the table last year and finished off the BCS with close call victory over Auburn. This year they have Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, returning as QB. As a freshman lat year, he only directed FSU to an undefeated season and a National Championship. So what’s he going to do for an encore?

As for the rest of the offense, the Seminoles have four seniors returning on the line, and that’s got to allow Winston and the Running Backs to 212have peaceful sleep. I say running backs because right now, no one is sure who’s going to be the featured back. Two of the tailbacks moved one and that leaves Karlos Williams, who used to be a defensive safety, as recently as last year. So, either Williams becomes a go-to tailback, and he did pretty well in ’13, or one or two others step up and help carry the load.

Receivers might need some help, Rashad Greene comes back and then there is wrecking ball, Nick O’Leary, at tight end, but that’s it from last year’s team. With a green group of ball catchers, Winston is going to have to develop more as a leader and know whom he needs to trust. Quick Question: Since Winston’s on-field exploits are rivaled only by his off-field encounters with the law, does anyone think Winston would still be the starting QB, or even on the team,  if Charlie Strong was the Head Coach? I know, I know, just asking.

Defense: There are some nice big question marks on this side of the ball. This is where the Noles will be vulnerable. First, they have a new Defensive Coordinator, and, secondly, they lost some key players on their line, at linebacker, and on the corners. Jimbo Fisher has been recruiting well, and, hopefully, they’ll just reload instead of rebuild. He has great Offensive potential, might be a little lacking on Defense.

Even with the loss of five key players on defense and a new defensive coordinator Florida State should have no problem winning a weak ACC. But the Seminoles will not be able to sustain a loss or any kind;- if they do they don’t have a tough enough schedule to make it into the final four.


Toughest games on Seminoles Schedule:

Aug. 30th – Oklahoma State (Arlington, TX)-  if FSU is not ready for this game, and I mean really, really ready, they could easily lose.

Oct. 30th – Louisville- this game will be dependent on how well Bobby Petrino has positioned the Cardinals or if he’s still the head coach. Who knows!

2. For the last two seasons Clemson has been obsessed with the number 2. They’ve only lost 2 games in 2 years, and they finished 2nd in the Atlantic division. Last year the Tigers were poised for glory, destined to win the ACC. They had a close game with Georgia, but won. Two weeks later, Florida State came into town and absolutely destroyed the Tigers. Now, they have to replace Taj Boyd at quarterback and Sammy Watson Clemsonat receiver. So far, they’re having a bit of trouble finding a starting QB. There was a three-way competition going on, but Kelly mouthed off at the coaches and found himself unenrolled at the University of Clemson, Deshaun Watson went down with a broken collarbone, leaving Cole Stoudit standing alone. Was he the best? Hope so. Who’s going to be the starter at running back was another question that went unanswered in the spring, along with who’s going to step up and fill the receiver roles? Clemson has a stable offensive line, with four returning starters.

Defensively, the Tigers’ line is solid as well, with four seniors returning to anchor the defense. The linebackers as set as well and appear ready for a good year. The Secondary, however, looks weak, which isn’t good at all. Last year the Tigers also had a weak secondary.

If Clemson was in the Coastal Division of the ACC, they would be ranked third, but they’re not, so they are going to spend 2014 season stuck at, you guessed it, number 2.

Toughest Games:

Aug. 30th – Georgia, if anyone thinks the Bulldogs are not looking for revenge, they’re nuts! Clemson better have their chinstraps buckled up nice and tight.

Sept. 20-Florida State. Clemson would like nothing better than to extract some revenge, but this might to wait another year.

Nov. 29- South Carolina. The Tigers need to win this game for two reasons;- 1) it’s an intrastate rivalry that they haven’t won in five years! 2) the longer they go without a win, the longer Gamecock Coach Spurrier will get under Clemson’s skin. Trust me, he’s going to avail himself of every opportunity to needle the Tigers.

3. Louisville is third because this is Bobby Petrino’s first season back with the Cardinals and everyone’s holding their breath to see how this reunion goes. The man can coach, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, and he’ll produce a good solid football team. If he can work his magic in his first year, the Cardinals will leap-frog Clemson. The second reason Louisville’s third is because they enter the ACC, which, let’s be honest, is a tougher conference than the AAC, or Conference USA. Moving from a weaker to a stringer conference usually requires an adjustment period. West Virginia, TCU, Utah, just to name a few schools, have gone through this in the last couple of years. But this is Louisville, and the ACC, and they should fare well.

Offensively, the Cards must replace Bridgewater at QB, and they need a fifth receiver. Other than that, the O side of the ball is looking pretty Louisvillesolid. With Bobby Petrino, his system needs a good trigger man at QB. If the current crop struggles with his new system, then the Cardinals of Kentucky might have more trouble than expected.

Defense, this has got to be the ACC because every team has to improve on Defense. Louisville is no exception. Not only do they need to improve, but they have a new Defensive Coordinator who is installing a 3-4 package, plus they have to replace 6 starters from last year. Let’s be honest here men, no sports writer last year wrote about the dominance of UL’s defense. Actually this team had more than just a few close games. They won, all but one, but now they’re in the big leagues. Defenses are a must, not a nice-to-have, not a defense that just slows the other team down. Louisville must have a Defense that stops people, and stops them cold. Heck, if they do that, they’ll win the ACC! But this’ll take a couple of years.

Toughest Games:

Oct. 11th – Clemson- if they’re able to beat the Tigers they can jump into second place.

Oct. 30th– Florida State-Louisville has upset some major conference teams in the past few years, but this is regular season and the other team is not coming off a heart breaking loss.

4. Syracuse;-  this could easily be Boston College  but since Syracuse beat the Eagles last year, CigarSmokinFootball is going with the Orange. SyracuseThe Cuse had to transition into the ACC last year and they did better than expected. They went 7-6 and topping it off with a victory over Minnesota down in Texas. Everything looks in place for them to build off that successful year. Most of the offense returns and George McDonald, the OC, has stated that he wants to use the hurry-up offense more this season. Not sure if the Orange have the personnel for that type of play, but, if they do, they could still be a solid fourth. It’s going to take a lot more than a hurry-up O to get to the top of the ACC Atlantic Division. Don’t lose heart, fans of upper New York. This is only Scott Shafer’s second year. The defense will be the real key to Syracuse moving up through the ranks. Should they stop some teams and get good field position, their improvement could be significant. But if they have to start deep in their own territory most of the time, a hurry-up offense will be sore pressed to bail them out.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 27th – Notre Dame- this will be the first major test, if they’re able to beat the Irish or even take then to the wire, it’ll be a good indication that this will be a big year.

Oct. 11th– Florida State- Even though they won’t win this game, they’ve got to make it closer than the blow-out they suffered last year.

5. Boston College;- could easily be 4th. This is the second year for Steve Addazio. Considering where BC was when he took over, he’s already made great strides in improvement. Taking a team from 2-10 to 7-6 is a big leap. CSF doesn’t expect that big of a jump again this year. It would nice, but probably unrealistic. Coach Addazio has done some recruiting way down South, in Florida, as in, Florida Gators. Joining three returning starters on the offensive line will be UF transfer Ian Silberman, who had good playing time as a Gator. He’ll be blocking for fellow Gainesville transplant, QB Tyler Murphy. He, too, had significant playing time as a Gator. BC has three backs to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams. None will be the feature back, it’ll be more back-by-committee. The defense has a goodly set of returners and projections are that they’ll be solid, not great, but dependable. If the Eagles end up going to another bowl game, the season will qualify as a success.

Toughest Games:
Sept. 13th – USC- BC has the Trojans at home but this may offer scant solace.

Nov. 22nd – Florida State- They hung, hanged, with FSU for a good while last year. The Eagles need to make it closer.

6. Tom O’Brien was always going to have NC State hovering around 8-5 and bowl eligible, but that wasn’t deemed good enough by NC State, so, off with O’Brien and in with Dave Doeren, and down the tubes goes the 2013 Wolfpack, winding up at 3-9. Not exactly what was in the plan. Doeren is a better coach than this, and NC State has much better athletes than to turn in this type performance. Ok, first year coach, need time for the system to set in. Actually what Doeren needs is a QB that can run his style of offense. Along comes Jacoby Brissett, right out of Gainesville, Florida, a transfer from the Gator squad. What the heck is going on with all these Florida transfers? Two to BC, one to NC State;- any more floating around out there? Back to Brissett, he seems cut from the same cloth as Doeren’s signal-callers in Northern Illinois. Should this be the case, CSF believes the Wolfpack will be much better than 6th place and might even make it to a bowl game, if, and that’s a big IF, the defense can get it together. After last year, any improvement will be greatly appreciate. At the end of the season the D-unit seemed to just phone it in, as they gave up at least 38 points in each of their last four games. The offense is loaded, but there’s not enough in the six shooter to overcome a lackluster defense. Maybe next year. Where have I heard that before?

Toughest Games: Let’s just say Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian don’t look too tough. Everyone else….will be tough.

7.  Wake Forest hasn’t ended the year with a winning record in the last five years. In 2011 they did make it to a bowl game at 6-6, but they lost, so they ended up 6-7. To top it all, there’s been a great exodus from off Winston-Salem. Coach Jim Grobe, recievers, running backs, the quarterback, and nose guard. New coach Dave Clawson did a great job previously at Bowling Green, now he arrives at WF and he’s got to start over again. Wake is going to have a bad year, if they can win three or four games, this season will be a success, of sorts. Coach Clawson will need time to recruit, but, be of good cheer, he’s already proven that he can recruit at private intuitions and that he can win. CSF believes he’ll do it again, but, … not this year.

Toughest Games:

All of them.

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