ACC Spotlight: Reviewing the conference’s 2021 season

NC State was strong: I had predicted a final 10-2 record for the Wolfpack thanks to a great offensive line and consistent defense, and that prediction turned out to be pretty spot on as they are 9-3. Ikem Ekwonu turned out to be arguably the best offensive tackle in the country and their balanced attack has led them to a truly impressive season and second place in the Atlantic.

BC’s offensive line was excellent: Even though they lost Phil Jurkovec for a long time during the season, the play of the offensive line has never diminished. Guard Zion Johnson ended up as First Team All-American in nearly every publication, while center Alec Lindstrom was a second team.

Justin Fuente would be fired: He was my No. 2 on the hot seat at the start of the season and finished the season in the unemployment line. Fuente has never clicked at Blacksburg during his four seasons there, and now it’s up to Brent Pry to pick up the pieces.

Clemson does not show up: We knew there would be a regression after losing Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Amari Rodgers and company in the NFL, but no one could have predicted how far the Tigers would fall. Clemson’s attack has been truly atrocious this season. The Tigers failed to block anyone, DJ Uiagalelei’s development stalled and they finished in 95th place in the country in total attack, 78th in scoring and 121th in passing efficiency.

Kenny Pickett in Heisman on the run: In the previous four seasons, Pickett had never pitched more than 3,100 yards, 13 touchdowns, or completed more than 61.6% of his passes. In 2021, he was arguably the best QB in college football, finishing with 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, completing 67.2% of his passes and earning numerous awards.

Wake Forest vs Pittsburgh in title game: The accepted logic before the season was that we would see Clemson and UNC in the match for the title, but both teams fought a lot more than expected. Wake Forest had a dream season, led by his attack in the top five and one of the best WR combos in the country (Jaquarii Roberson and AT Perry), while Pickett and Pitt were right there in scoring. A great season for the underdogs.

Offensive Player of the Year: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Many ACC quarterbacks have had very strong statistical seasons – Brennan Armstrong and Sam Hartman, in particular – but Pickett was above the rest. Pickett finished third in the Heisman vote after leading the conference in terms of completions, completion rate, touchdown on passes, total touchdowns and passing efficiency. He’s the best QB out of Steel City since then And Marine.

Defender of the Year: Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

The transfer of Georgia has been a threat to opposing offensive lines throughout the season, leading the conference in sack and tackling for loss. Despite having a relatively mediocre unit behind him and constantly facing double teams, his mere presence made the rest of the team better.

Relocation of the Year: Charleston Rambo, Miami

This award should probably go to Jermaine Johnson, but I wanted to spread the love and highlight a player who has been outstanding from start to finish of the season. Rambo finished with 79 tricks for 1,172 yards and seven TDs, all numbers in the top 10 of the conference.

Freshman of the Year: Andrew Mukuba, Clemson

While Clemson’s offense struggled, his defense kept the team afloat throughout the season, largely thanks to Mukuba, who became Clemson’s first true defensive freshman to start a rookie season in the history of the game. school. The safety ended the season with 52 tackles and nine interrupted passes. He is definitely the next defender in line to become an All-American for the Tigers.

Coach of the Year: Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

This could have easily gone to Pat Narduzzi, but Clawson deserves the nod because he has once again maximized his roster’s talent en route to an Atlantic Division title. Clawson remains one of the most underrated coaches in the nation, and it’s rather surprising that he hasn’t been scammed by a bigger program.

NFL Draft Stock Up (bout), OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

We knew it was going to be one of the best offensive tackles in the country, but some (not me) have it ahead of Alabama’s Evan Neal as one of the top five picks. This is going on.

Draft NFL Stock Up (Defense), CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

Booth had ups and downs in his early years at Clemson, but he always had five-star potential after high school. This season he put it all together and it could be the second corner off the scoreboard after Derek Stingley Jr.

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