ACC ready to run in '09

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I made a small mistake during my recent interview with Georgia Tech running back Anthony Allen, who also happens to have a black belt in taekwondo. I confessed I was having a hard time deciding who would have the best backfield in the ACC this fall -- Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech.


"You say what?!" he asked, incredulously.

"It's a toss-up."

"A toss-up? How are you gonna talk to me on the phone and say it's a toss-up?"

"Well, gimme a reason."

"I'll give you one reason for one player," he said. "We have the ACC Player of the Year right now. Then we have a guy who holds records at another Division I college."

(Allen set the single-game rushing record when he was at Louisville, and ACC Player of the Year Jonathan Dwyer led the ACC with 107.3 rushing yards per game last year).

Fair enough.

Allen and Dwyer, not to mention Lucas Cox, Roddy Jones, Josh Nesbitt and Richard Watson make six good reasons why Georgia Tech will have the best backfield in the ACC next season. Virginia Tech will make a strong case with the return of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Darren Evans and rookie Ryan Williams. Despite much of the hype, though, Williams is still unproven, and there is a lot of experience returning elsewhere in the ACC.

In fact, eight of the top 10 rushers from 2008 return. Four of them, though, are Dwyer, Nesbitt, Taylor and Evans. The two seniors were Virginia's Cedric Peerman, and Antone Smith at FSU.

With so much experience returning, the running game appears to be an early strength of the ACC -- Duke included. As of right now, though, it's hard to argue against Allen -- Georgia Tech looks the strongest.