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ACC Returns Quality Tailbacks
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #435 June 4, 2010
Last month we went over the returning quarterbacks in the ACC, noting that there will be a lot of experience returning. Today we'll take a look at the tailbacks, and except for a few schools, the running games did not exactly flourish last season.
Ryan Williams, Montel Harris and C.J. Spiller were the running stars. Spiller is off to the NFL, and it's up to Williams and Harris to keep things going. There are other talented runners in the league, and if offensive line play can improve this year, we should see improved rushing numbers.
You might not have heard of Jermaine Thomas at Florida State, simply because the Noles are known as a passing team. However, with their recently revamped offensive line, Florida State is now capable of running the football. Thomas should be one of the top backs in the league this year. He's deceptively strong and very fast.
Some teams will have running backs by committee. In Virginia Tech's case, it's a very talented committee. Besides Ryan Williams, the Hokies return Darren Evans, who ran for over 1,200 yards as a r-freshman in 2008. If they don't choose to redshirt David Wilson, they will also have the talented sophomore as an option.
UNC will play Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn. Houston is a big, physical back, while Draughn is a bit more explosive. Miami returns Graig Cooper, but their best back might be Damien Berry. Wake Forest will use a couple of experienced runners in Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, while Clemson's Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper should form a solid duo. Maryland's backfield is also solid with Da'Rel Scott and David Meggett.
Look for NC State and UVA to form a committee approach as well. With no proven running backs on either team, it's likely that multiple players will get a chance, particularly early in the season.
Here are my preseason All-ACC running back selections.
Darren Evans had a great year in 2008, but he's a question mark because it's not certain that he'll get a lot of carries in 2010. He probably won't put up huge numbers, simply because Ryan Williams is on the team. However, he's still one of the most talented running backs in the ACC.
With nine full-time starters returning at quarterback, as well as a number of talented tailbacks throughout the league, the one missing piece is offensive line play. If offensive lines throughout the league improve, then the ACC offenses should have the advantage over ACC defenses this season. That would be the first time in a long time that has happened.
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