Every ACC team’s biggest question heading into the 2022 season

Every ACC team’s biggest question heading into the 2022 season

With spring games wrapping up we shift our focus to the upcoming 2022 college football season for the ACC.

There are plenty of questions still left to be answered. It was a down year for the Clemson Tigers after they missed out on the conference title game for the first time since 2014 as North Carolina State took on Pitt. Do the Tigers rebound and reclaim the conference crown?

On the topic of NC State and Pitt, do they repeat their seasons or was it more of an aberration? The North Carolina Tar Heels have their own questions starting with the quarterback situation, who takes the reigns after multi-year starter Sam Howell heads to the NFL.

We break down the biggest question for each conference school, kicking it off with Boston College and the ACC Atlantic division.

ACC Atlantic: Boston College Eagles

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How does the offense look under John McNulty?

The Eagles’ offense will be led once again by quarterback Phil Jurkovec in 2022. He heads into year three at Boston College after two seasons with Notre Dame. Jurkovec only played in six games before an injury during the season. The big storyline for BC will revolve around the new playcaller, John McNulty. He spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons as the tight ends coach for Notre Dame and hasn’t called an offense since 2019 with Rutgers. – Patrick Conn, College Wire Regional Editor

ACC Atlantic: Clemson Tigers

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DJ Uiagalelei vs Cade Klubnik

The biggest question mark heading into next season for Clemson football is easily the quarterback situation. While I believe there is no doubt that DJ Uiagalelei will be the starter come week one, there is no telling who will be under center for the Tigers at the end of the season. Mechanics have been the biggest problem for Uiagalelei since he arrived on campus, and from what we gathered this spring, it doesn’t look like much improvement has been made in that department.

For Cade Klubnik, on the other hand, there is still a lot of learning that needs to be done before the highly touted recruit out of Texas will likely look comfortable quarterbacking the Clemson offense. I sense shades of the 2018s quarterback competition where we saw Kelly Bryant lose his starting job to phenom Trevor Lawrence in week 4 of that season. – Alex Turri, Clemson Wire Editor

ACC Atlantic: Florida State Seminoles

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Who is the signal caller?

Florida State’s biggest uncertainty heading into the 2022 season is at the most important position on offense: quarterback. Mike Norvell’s signal-caller room has struggled over his first two years in Tallahassee and there is no stand-out choice under center for this coming campaign either, with incumbent starter Jordan Travis presumably in the lead. He put up perfectly acceptable numbers during his redshirt sophomore season, completing 122 of 194 passes at a 62.9%, clip for 1,539 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions, but struggled mightily at times with missed reads and egregiously bad throws. With nobody behind him really pushing for the position, the Seminoles will likely live and die by his performances, which makes things at FSU as uncertain as ever. – Adam Dubbin, Gators Wire Editor

ACC Atlantic: Louisville Cardinals

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Is Scott Satterfield on hot seat watch?

The decision to replace Bobby Petrino with Scott Satterfield three years ago made a lot of sense at the time. Satterfield found a ton of success at Appalachian State, where he touted a 51-24 record. However, since heading to the Power Five, that success has waned. The Cardinals went 8-5 in 2019 before dipping to 4-7 during a pandemic shortened 2020 season. Satterfield entered last season on a seat that was warming up after he not-so-privately flirted with the opening at South Carolina, and a 6-7 finish in 2021 didn’t do much to build confidence. The Louisville job opening this cycle seems very likely, but can Satterfield make the progress necessary in 2022 to save his job? – Tyler Nettuno, LSU Tigers Wire Editor

ACC Atlantic: North Carolina State Wolfpack

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Who can fill in at RB and take advantage of the depth chart?

The Wolfpack are losing both Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. to the NFL, there’s a spot atop the depth chart. The problem for NC State is that outside of Jordan Houston, there’s not much experience at the position. Houston will likely go into the Summer as the top back on the depth chart but Demie Sumo-Karngbave, Michael Allen, and Delbert Mimms should be in the mix as well and they potentially could go with a running back by committee approach. With Devin Leary breaking out last season and potentially being a legit Heisman candidate, adding a strong run game to help their offense will be key. They just have to find the right solution. – Pearson

ACC Atlantic: Syracuse Orange

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Can Dino Babers get the Orange to a bowl game?

The 2020 campaign was abysmal for the Orange but Syracuse bounced back in 2021 winning a total of five games. However, the offensive rankings are still far below expectations with the No. 92 scoring offense in FBS. If they can improve under Babers, perhaps they can win six games and get to the postseason. Otherwise, we could see the head coach out on the hot seat by the season’s end. – Conn

ACC Atlantic: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Can Wake Forest repeat their 2021 success?

Coming off an 11-3 campaign in 2021 that was arguably the best in school history (and inarguably the best under coach Dave Clawson), it certainly feels like the Demon Deacons are playing with house money. Wake Forest took advantage of a down year from Clemson — in which it still lost to the Tigers despite winning the Atlantic Division — and it’s a bit greedy to bank on Dabo Swinney’s team staying “down” again. Was last year’s success an aberration for Wake? Or does Clawson’s innovative offense paired with a productive returning quarterback in Sam Hartman mean this team is a real competitor in the league? – Nettuno

ACC Coastal: Duke Blue Devils

AP Photo/Chris Seward

Can Mike Elko win an ACC game in year one?

Last season ended on a sour note, the Blue Devils lost eight-straight games in which they were outscored 304-85. It was a double whammy when long-time head coach David Cutcliffe stepped down as head coach. With the new man on campus Mike Elko getting his first stint as a head coach, he will need to figure out a lot in a short amount of time. The big task on his list is finding a way to win an ACC game and building some momentum in the program. – Conn

ACC Coastal: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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Can the new faces bring the Yellow Jackets out of the doldrums?

There is a lot of work to be done within the Georgia Tech football program. The team has to replace the losses such as running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who transferred to Alabama. Not to mention, most of the staff is new as well. The key is how well the new players and staff gel in the 2022 campaign and can they win more than three games this season? – Conn

ACC Coastal: Miami Hurricanes

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Is the U back?

The biggest question facing the Hurricanes this offseason is clear: Is The U actually back this time? The program showed it means business by poaching alumnus Mario Cristobal away from Oregon, and in Cristobal, it lands a proven recruiter with a track record of success as a Power Five head coach. Expecting things to change in Coral Gables overnight seems unfair, but the influx of recruits this team has already seen paired with the fact that Miami may have finally found a quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke means the ‘Canes need to show at least some signs of progress in Year 1. – Nettuno

ACC Coastal: North Carolina Tar Heels

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Who takes the reigns at QB?

With Sam Howell off to the NFL, North Carolina will have a new quarterback as the Week 1 starter for the first time since 2018. This offseason Drake Maye and Jacolby Criswell are battling it out to be the top guy and they have big shoes to fill. Howell left the program breaking multiple records and really saved UNC’s offense from being a total disaster last year.

While there is no “frontrunner” right now, both quarterbacks have performed well in Spring practice and it might just be too close to tell at the moment. Both will also have a big weapon in Josh Downs to help them out plus a revamped offensive line that includes a transfer as well as five-star recruit Zach Rice. It’s tough to make any projections now but it’s clear that UNC’s offense will go only as far as one of the two quarterbacks takes them. No pressure. – Zack Pearson, Tar Heels Wire Editor

ACC Coastal: Pittsburgh Panthers

AP Photo/Philip G. Pavely

Is there a drop-off at quarterback?

Last season the world fell in love with Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who is in line to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft. So who is next? Will there be a drop in play? Not only is there a new quarterback in town, but a new offensive system with Mark Whipple leaving for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Former USC quarterback Kedon Slovis looks to lead the Panthers in 2022. Can he find a way to keep the momentum after Pitt won the ACC last season?

ACC Coastal: Virginia Cavaliers

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Will Brennan Armstong transition well in Tony Elliott’s offense?

Armstrong is one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC after throwing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. How does he look in Elliott’s offense this season will be a major key. They are strong offensively but will they have to overcome a defense that struggles as they did in 2021? – Conn

ACC Coastal: Virginia Tech Hokies

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How do the Hokies perform in year one under Brent Pry?

Long-time James Franklin assistant coach Brent Pry takes over the Hokies program this upcoming season. He replaces Justin Fuente after back-to-back mediocre seasons. Can Pry rekindle some of the magic the Hokies had under legendary coach Frank Beamer? The goal is likely to get bowl eligible in year one after finished 6-7 and 5-6 over the past two seasons. – Conn

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