ACC mailblog

A TV deal has not been solidified, and expansion remains all speculation. The end.

Wait, there are more questions?

Sean in Columbia, S.C., writes: With the well deserved hype the North Carolina D is getting, what ACC team could push for second or maybe surpass them at seasons end. Clemson maybe??? They do return a very talented D-Line and have a better LB core this year.

HD: Good question, Sean. You're right, Clemson should be one of the better defenses this year. I would say Clemson, Miami and Boston College have the most pieces in place to push for second, but aside from North Carolina, which returns a league-high nine starters on defense, Georgia Tech and Miami return the most starters on defense with eight each. Boston College, Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech -- in that order -- led the ACC in scoring defense last year behind Virginia Tech and UNC.

Will in New York writes: How can you say the best case scenario for BC is winning the same amount of games as last year when the schedule is easier and the team should be better this year?

HD: Well, in part because the quarterback situation is still iffy, and the Eagles have a road trip to what should be a much improved Florida State team, and because Clemson held that offense to 54 total yards a year ago. Virginia Tech is still Virginia Tech. BC should be better this year, but it's got its issues, too.

Andrew in Freehold, N.J. writes: What will it take for Clemson to crack the top 25 rankings this season?

HD: I think the key is a strong start. Once voters see that C.J. Spiller's production can be compensated for in the passing, return and running games, confidence in Clemson will rise. In order to prove that, though, the Tigers have to start fast. Back-to-back wins over Auburn and Miami should do that.

Rob in Alexandria, Va., writes: Is it more important to the league, for image and dollars, to get *any* team into a football national championship game again, or is it specifically to get FSU or Miami in?For example, if VT beats Boise and is undefeated going to Miami in November, but the Canes have a loss to Ohio State, which outcome puts a bigger grin on Swofford's face in the commish's box? (not saying they would root for a team or another, just happier after the outcome)Finally, how does the possible expansion dance factor into this, if at all?Thanks

HD: Considering how unimpressive the ACC has been in the postseason since the BCS era began, the league would benefit from any team playing for the national title. If Virginia Tech is undefeated in November, that would be a tremendous lift for the conference. The ACC would be getting the national respect it has been craving. As much as many fans don't want to hear it, though, the biggest boost would come from Florida State's and Miami's success. They're marquee, brand-name, historically significant programs with past national titles to prove it. As for how possible expansion would play into that, it would just be an overwhelming loss to lose Florida State or Miami to the SEC. In fact, it would probably be bigger to lose one of those programs than for one of them to win a national title again, as the impact would last longer and be felt harder.

Micah writes: As an NCSU fan what should be my biggest concern? The lack of experience at running back, the kicking game, or the defense (especially the secondary)?

HD: The secondary shouldn't be as much of a concern this year, even though those guys are still young. There should be a more solidified lineup there, and that alone should help. NC State fans should be most concerned about the situation up front on both sides. The Pack has to replace all four starters on the defensive line, and offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio, the Pack's best offensive lineman who is entering his third season as a starter, was one of the four players cited for misdemeanor charges. Defensive tackles Markus Kuhn and J.R. Sweezy, both potential starters, were also charged.