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Progress of first-year QBs key to ACC race

In an offseason filled with quarterback transitions in the ACC, Florida State first-year starter EJ Manuel has made a seamless transition.

Granted, he's not exactly a rookie, what with that whole Gator Bowl MVP title and Chick-fil-A Bowl win over SEC East champ South Carolina. But in an Atlantic Division race that could very well come down to a faceoff between Manuel and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Manuel has had a more consistent offseason. That's to be expected because Boyd is making a transition into a new offense under a new coordinator in his first season as a starter. Boyd has made progress this spring and his ability to run will add another dimension to Clemson's offense, but there's obviously a bigger learning curve.

Both of them will continue to get better, but following Saturday's scrimmage at Florida State, Manuel told reporters there's a "huge difference" in his game this year, most notably his arm strength and accuracy.

"You never reach a point where you can’t continue to work on something," he said.

The rest of the ACC should be concerned that Manuel has another level to reach.

No quarterback in the Atlantic Division enters this season with more than a year of starting experience -- BC's Chase Rettig, Maryland's Danny O'Brien, and Wake's Tanner Price each made their debuts in 2010. Along with Boyd and Manuel, NC State's Mike Glennon will also be a first-year starter.

In the Coastal Division, defending ACC champ Virginia Tech is trying to speed up the maturation of first-year starter Logan Thomas, while UNC's Bryn Renner is coming off an impressive performance in the Tar Heels' spring game. Might Renner change the outlook of the Coastal Division race?

Tyrod Taylor was the difference for Virginia Tech last year. Odds are a first-year starter will do the same for this year's ACC champ.