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Quarterbacks in the ACC Should be Improved in 2010
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #432, May 14, 2010
In the past, quarterback and offensive line play has been lacking in the ACC. Things began to take a turn for the better last season at both positions, and as a result the conference improved a bit. Some good quarterbacks are returning yet again in 2010, and hopefully the conference can take another step forward.
In football, there's nothing quite like having an experienced player under center. Nine ACC teams are fortunate to be bringing back full-time starters.
T.J. Yates: Yates was very good as a freshman and a sophomore, but his numbers dropped as a junior. That's because his offensive line was bad, there was not much threat of a running game, and the wide receivers were young and inexperienced. With his receivers gaining some valuable experience last year and with another spring under their belt, look for Yates to have a good senior season.
Tyrod Taylor: Taylor improved by leaps and bounds as a junior. It was the first time in his career that he's been in complete command of the offense while having some experienced receivers on the field. Things started out somewhat slow, but the Tech offense was looking like a well-oiled machine by the end of the season. Expect Taylor to have an outstanding senior season.
Joshua Nesbitt: Nesbitt has now been running Paul Johnson's offense for two full seasons. He is the perfect fit for the triple option, or spread option, or whatever you want to call it. He's certainly not a passer, and he'll have no proven threats in the passing game with Demaryius Thomas off to the NFL. However, he'll be able to execute Johnson's offense at maximum efficiency thanks to his efficiency and skill set.
Russell Wilson: Wilson has enjoyed a lot of success in his first two years at NC State. He's also a good baseball player, and with Mike Glennon waiting in the wings, it's easy to wonder if Wilson might pursue a career on the diamond rather than on the football field. Assuming he plays football this year, there's nothing to indicate that he'll have anything less than an excellent year.
Christian Ponder: Ponder could be the ACC's best NFL prospect at quarterback. He is a tall guy who can stand in the pocket and throw, but he's also a very good athlete who can make plays with his feet. Ponder enjoyed a lot of success last year, and with Jimbo Fisher fully in charge of the program, he's expected to have a great senior season.
Jacory Harris: Harris is a very talented quarterback who makes a lot of plays through the air. As a true sophomore last season, he also threw a lot of interceptions. That will improve as his career progresses, probably as early as this season. If Harris limits his turnovers, with 10 defensive starters returning, the Canes will be major contenders in the Coastal Division.
Kyle Parker: Parker had a pretty good year for the Tigers as a r-freshman last year. However, he's contemplating giving up football and concentrating solely on baseball. He is expected to be a high draft pick whenever he decides to go pro. If he decides to play only baseball, former Tech recruiting target Tajh Boyd will be the frontrunner to take over the starting position at Clemson.
Dave Shinskie: Shinksie had an up and down year as a 25-year old true freshman last season. By the end of the year, he was playing pretty well. After going through a spring practice, he'll have a greater command of the offense this season, and he'll also have some experience under his belt. A very good running game with Montel Harris, and a strong defense to fall back on will help Shinskie's development.
Marc Verica: Verica was a full-time starter for UVA during the 2008 season. He has talent, though he was a raw player back in 2008. The big questions are: who is going to protect him, who is he going to throw it to, and who he is going to hand it off to? Despite the fact that Verica is still relatively inexperienced, he's still less of a question mark than other positions on the UVA offense.
Jamarr Robinson: Robinson played in a couple of games for Maryland last year, and he even ran for 100 yards against Virginia Tech. Opposing defensive coordinators have had the offseason to study tape of Robinson, and he'll have to be able to use his arm more in 2010. He's got some ability, but he remains a question mark in the passing game. The last thing Ralph Friedgen needs is bad quarterback play, so Robinson will have a lot of weight on his shoulders this year.
Sean Renfree: Renfree didn't start any games last year, but he split time with Thad Lewis early in the season as a true freshman. He was impressive during his limited action. He's only a rising true sophomore, but he has good natural passing ability. However, he'll still have his ups and downs as a first time starter.
Skylar Jones: Jones emerged from spring practice as Wake Forest's quarterback. Expect the Demon Deacons to rely a lot more on the running game this year. Jones is a good athlete, and he can run the football, but he's probably not Riley Skinner in the passing game.
Not all of those guys have their starting positions 100% locked down, but that's how things would look if the season started tomorrow. Look for this year's ACC Champion to have a very experienced quarterback at the helm. It's no coincidence that the top favorites in the ACC this year are Virginia Tech, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina. The quarterbacks of those teams have a lot of experience under center, and we can look forward to great competition for the ACC Championship from all of them.
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