N.C. State took a hit at wide receiver this offseason, as promising freshman Bo Hines, the team’s leading receiver in 2014, transferred to Yale. Also, standout sophomore Marquez Valdes-Scantling is no longer on the team. That leaves the door open for rising junior Bra’Lon Cherry, who caught 27 passes for 354 yards last season, to become the team’s No. 1 wideout.
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Boston College's offensive line
Last season Boston College had one of the top offensive lines in the ACC, as the Eagles ranked 14th in the FBS in rushing yards per game (254.7) and 29th in sacks allowed per contest (1.62). However, BC coach Steve Addazio and new offensive coordinator Todd Fitch enter the spring looking to replace future NFL draft pick center Andy Gallik, and three other starters from that unit. If the Eagles struggle up front, it could be a long season, as they are in the midst of breaking in a replacement for departed dual-threat QB Tyler Murphy.
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Thomas Sirk, quarterback, Duke
There’s plenty of quarterback experience to go around the conference, yet none is making it to the Blue Devils. Last year’s starter, Anthony Boone, has been replaced by Thomas Sirk this spring. Sirk saw some playing time, mostly as a runner, scoring eight times on the ground last season. However, he attempted only 14 passes (three went for touchdowns). Duke does not hesitate to rotate quarterbacks, but Sirk must set himself aside as a clear-cut No. 1 or the team will be set back.
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Tim Lester, offensive coordinator, Syracuse
This spring will be Tim Lester’s first as the Orange’s offensive coordinator, and now he must show what he can do with the unit. Lester, who was promoted to OC midway through the 2014 season, will get to implement his own system and look to improve a Syracuse offense that finished 113th in the nation total offense (329.9 ypg) and 118th in scoring (17.1 ppg).
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY SportsMark Konezny
Florida State's offensive line
This spring, all eyes will be on the Seminoles QB competition as they look to replace former Heisman-winner Jameis Winston, but the most important offensive battles will take place up front, where FSU must find four new starters on the offensive line. With a new QB leading the way, the play of the offensive line takes on added importance, especially in the early portion of the season, as it must protect an inexperienced signal-caller who will be learning on the job.
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The Pittsburgh Panthers
Pitt is not the same program that rose to dominance behind Tony Dorsett in the 1970s, but the Panthers have landed an energizing new head coach in Pat Narduzzi. He aims to turn the team into a real ACC contender, something Paul Chryst wasn’t able to pull off the last two seasons. Armed with a sharp defensive mind and two of the conference’s best offensive playmakers in RB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd, Narduzzi might have the firepower to pull off the transformation.
In 2014, a Vic Beasley-led Clemson defense was arguably the best in the nation as it ranked No. 1 in total defense (260.8 ypg), third in scoring defense (16.7 ppg), sixth in sacks per game (3.46), and perhaps most importantly, led the country in third-down defense (.274). This year, Clemson must replace nine starters from that unit, including Beasley, who is projected to be a top-10 NFL draft pick. If the Tigers want to make a serious run at a spot in the College Football Playoff, it’s imperative they do not sustain a substantial drop off on the defensive side of the ball.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY SportsJoshua S. Kelly
Al Golden, head coach, Miami
The Miami brand — “The U” — isn’t going anywhere, but Al Golden might if he can’t turn his team around quickly. Fans in Coral Gables are unhappy with the team’s recent performance; Miami’s 24-21 loss to South Carolina in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl capped off a dismal 6-7 season last year. The Hurricanes have one of the brightest young quarterbacks in Brad Kaaya and a stellar recruiting class coming in next year, which Golden may never see if the Hurricanes suffer another losing season.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
The ACC as a whole
After the 59-20 shellacking Florida State suffered versus Oregon in the semifinal game of the College Football Playoff, the ACC — as a whole — must prove itself as worthy of a shot at the 2015 National Championship. The conference is sometimes deemed the weakest of the Power 5, but that will change if Virginia Techs continue to beat Ohio States and Georgia Techs continue to beat Georgias, like they did last year. Gaining respect plays an integral part in sending another representative to the CFP.