Commentary

Can't wait to see these things this fall

Originally Published: May 14, 2008
By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The ACC
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
Aaron Kelly 1. Show me Clemson All-ACC wide receiver Aaron Kelly the first time the game is on the line with two minutes remaining. Kelly represents the talent and the frustration of the Tigers. He has proved he can make a play. He also dropped a pass on Boston College's 1-yard line in the final minute of the game that decided the Atlantic Division race. Clemson is better than it has showed. This should be the Tigers' year. Kelly and his teammates have to overcome the most talented team in the league: themselves.

2. Last season, Maryland showed the dual personality that inexperience and injuries can force upon a team. The Terrapins might have finished 6-7, but they went 2-1 against top-10 teams. They know how to win, and with 46 of 62 lettermen returning, they know how to play. We'll find out soon enough. Maryland's first two conference games are at Clemson and at Virginia in consecutive weeks.

3. It took half the season for North Carolina State's engine to rev up under new coach Tom O'Brien. The Wolfpack won four of their last six and quietly found a star in junior tailback Jamelle Eugene. He rushed for 100 yards in three games down the stretch. O'Brien always develops a good offensive line. Let's see how NC State survives early road games at South Carolina and Clemson. If the Wolfpack show any proficiency on the ground, watch out.
1. Virginia Tech relied heavily on its defense last season while its quarterbacks cut their teeth. But with star players like cornerback Brandon Flowers, end Chris Ellis and linebackers Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall no longer in Blacksburg, the Hokies will have to get more from their offense. It won't be easy after losing tailback Branden Ore, who was kicked off the team, and a slew of departed receivers. The Hokies must get big contributions from both their quarterbacks: Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor.

2. It seems every preseason we hear about how Clemson is ready to contend for an ACC title under coach Tommy Bowden. This season, the Tigers' big expectations might not be so hollow. They will have one of the league's most explosive offenses, led by tailbacks James Davis and C.J. Spiller and underrated quarterback Cullen Harper. But can Clemson rebuild its offensive line to give Harper enough time to throw and the tailbacks enough room to run?

David Cutcliffe3. There's no way to sugar coat it: Duke has been the worst program in the country over the past decade. The Blue Devils haven't had a winning season since 1994, and they are 20-125 since then, including four winless seasons. They also bring a 25-game losing streak against ACC foes into the season (their last league win came in 2004). But things might soon get better. As dreadful as Duke's record was under former coach Ted Roof, he was able to persaude the school to redshirt more players. New coach David Cutcliffe might reap the rewards of Roof's efforts with a more competitive team in his first season.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball

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