The ACC surprised fans this season, mainly because Clemson did not make the ACC championship and was irrelevant for most of the season. Kenny Pickett led Pitt to their first ACC championship in program history with a win over Wake Forest. NC State also had a strong season and will be one of the favorites to win the ACC in 2022. Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Duke replaced their head coaches and will be rebuilding. Other programs such as Louisville, Syracuse and Florida State will enter the season with their coach on hot seat. The ACC may lack top end talent but the conference should be competitive next season.
Can Clemson Return to Championship Form? – The Clemson Tigers finished the season with a 10-3 record but rarely did their play match their record. The Tigers had once again had one of the best defenses in the country but their offense was one of the worst. DJ Uiagalelei finished the season with only nine passing touchdowns. Uiagalelei was benched during the season because of his poor decision making. The former five star quarterback will be challenged by incoming five star quarterback, Cade Klubnik. The Tigers biggest loss may have been Brent Venables. Venables accepted the head coaching job at Oklahoma after leading the Clemson defense for the past decade. In order for Clemson to maintain a championship caliber team, the defense will need to remain one of the best in the country.
What Impact Will Mario Cristobal Have in Year One with Miami? – The Miami Hurricanes let Manny Diaz go after going 21-15 in three seasons. The Hurricanes quickly hired Mario Cristobal from Oregon. Cristobal played at Miami and won two national titles back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Cristobal went 35-13 at Oregon while winning two Pac-12 Titles. The Hurricanes have a chance to find instant success under Cristobal because of Tyler Van Dyke. He was one of the best young quarterbacks in college football last season. Van Dyke finished the 2021 season with 25 passing touchdowns and only six interceptions. The Miami quarterback finished the season with the 11th highest quarterback rating in college football. The Hurricanes will need to find suitable options at wide receiver as Charleston Rambo will head to the NFL after leading the team in receiving yards. If Miami is going to make a comeback, Cristobal feels like the right guy for the job.
Will the ACC Have Another Darkhorse in 2022? – Pitt and Wake Forest surprised the ACC by making the championship game. Clemson was expected to win the ACC again but fell short. Could the ACC have a new team enter the race? NC State will be a trendy pick for 2022 because Devin Leary returns at quarterback. Leary threw 35 touchdowns to only five interceptions this past season. My early prediction for breakout team in the ACC would be the Boston College Eagles. I believe Jeff Hafley is going to be an excellent college football coach and 2022 might be his chance to burst onto the scene. Boston College quarterback, Phil Jurkovec, was injured for most of the past season but will return next year fully healthy. The Eagles have a tough schedule in 2022 with trips to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Florida State, NC State, and Wake Forest. The Eagles return a strong core of players lead by wide receiver Zay Flowers. Look for the Eagles to have a strong season and finish towards the top of the ACC.
How Does Pitt Fare with Kedon Slovis? – Pitt was one of the most surprising teams of the 2021 season. Kenny Pickett used his Covid season to boost his draft stock and become a future first round pick. Former USC quarterback, Kedon Slovis, saw Pickett’s success and decided to take a shot on the Panthers. Slovis was one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 over the past three seasons. Slovis threw for 58 touchdowns and 24 interceptions during his time at USC. One major factor in the success for Slovis will be Jordan Addison. Addison is the reigning Biletnikoff winner, the trophy given to the nation’s best wide receiver. He makes the job easier for Slovis because of his play making ability. One question for the offense will be the offensive coordinator. Mark Whipple left Pitt to become the offensive coordinator for Scott Frost at Nebraska. Overall, Slovis should be an efficient quarterback and one of the best in the ACC but he is unlikely to be a Heisman candidate.
How Many Wins Does Mike Norvell Need to Keep His Job? – Mike Norvell will need the program to take a turn for the positive or he may be looking for a new job after the 2022 season. Norvell is 8-13 in his first two seasons at Florida State. He has been active in the transfer portal to bring an influx of talent into the program. Mycah Pittman (Oregon), Johnny Wilson (Arizona State), and Jared Verse (Albany) have been a few of the big name transfers. Verse was one of the most sought after transfers with more than 30 FBS offers. Norvell will also lean upon veteran quarterback Jordan Travis to once again lead the Seminoles. Florida State has one of the tougher schedules in college football next season with non conference games against at LSU, against Florida, and against Louisiana. In conference, the Seminoles have most of their tough opponents at home. They do travel to Miami and NC State but Clemson, Boston College, and Wake Forest are at home. If we are being realistic, Norvell needs to win eight games to keep his job. Seven wins would be progress, but will the administration continue to accept small improvements?