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It's time to get some answers at ACC football kickoff event

College SportsCollege FootballAtlantic Coast ConferenceFootballFlorida State UniversityMaryland Terrapins

With less than six weeks left before they tee it up for the first time and get the college football season under way, it's time for the annual media pilgrimage to the Atlantic Coast Conference “kickoff” event, where everything you wanted to know about the new-look ACC football landscape should be answered.

Here are some of the hot topics that will be bounced around Sunday and Monday among writers, TV and radio folks, coaches and players in Greensboro, N.C.:

SAVE SOMETHING FOR THE ACTUAL SEASON, GUYS

After a historic offseason of grand ACC plans realized, including the renewal and general upgrade of bowl agreements, inclusion of new family members Pittsburgh, Syracuse, soon-to-arrive Louisville and partial brethren Notre Dame, and the critical grant-of-rights development to ensure it all gets held together, one has to wonder how this season can top it.

WHO'S RUNNING THE SHOW?

Well, we know the quarterback in Charlottesville isn't going to be Phillip Sims, who was dismissed from the team in May because of academic shortcomings. So, is it Hampton High graduate David Watford's turn to step under center in a starting role? Is he ready? Can strong-armed redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert show he's learned enough to snatch the job away? A question we won't get answered in Greensboro — is Michael Rocco kicking himself for bolting for Richmond after the season?

STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT THEY'RE LOOKING FOR?

One of new Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler's most repeated lines during the spring was anything pertaining to the phrase “establish the run” … and for good reason. In the 2011 season, Tech produced 85 plays of 10 or more yards on the ground, with David Wilson leading the way. Last season, Tech had just 58 such runs while averaging 145.9 rushing yards per game (81st in the nation). Michael Holmes is gone, J.C. Coleman is back and Trey Edmunds is ready to debut. Is that enough to get it done?

FAREWELL TO THE TERPS

With Maryland embroiled in a lawsuit with the ACC over whether or not the Terrapins should have to pay a $53-million exit fee to bolt to the Big Ten, this season could mark a contentious conclusion to the Terps' 60-year relationship with the ACC.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB?

There's talent, especially in the form of Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald (5 1/2 sacks last season) and Syracuse running back Jerome Smith (1,176 yards last season), but how daunting is the transition for programs that will be strangers in strange lands on the road?

IS ACC NETWORK DREAM OR REALITY?

Is this still a thing, or is it all just rumors and bluster? ACC commissioner John Swofford will be asked to address the situation. Where does long-standing ACC TV partner Raycom fit into this equation? Or does it fit in at all? The ACC's reach now extends to 10 states, but is there enough demand for this kind of network to warrant it?

CLEMSON AND FSU ARE POTENTIALLY ELITE … ANYBODY ELSE?

It's sure to be a love-fest for both the stacked Tigers and Seminoles, but is there a legitimate darkhorse that can challenge the generally accepted favorites for the conference title?

Fans in Blacksburg would like to think last season's 7-6 mark was a mere one-year blip. Does Miami have enough to get over the hump in the Coastal Division? Is North Carolina back after a one-year postseason ban?

WHO'S THE STUD RUNNING BACK?

In three of the last four National Football League drafts, an ACC running back has either been taken in the first round or was the first back selected. Can the ACC continue that run of success?

Miami's Duke Johnson has the goods in the backfield (947 yards last season), but he's a sophomore and won't be draft-eligible until 2015. Perhaps Syracuse's Smith, FSU's Devonta Freeman or the Seminoles' James Wilder, all of whom are juniors, are prepared to improve their stock.

TIME TO GET DEFENSIVE

More than a third of the conference (five of 14 schools) features programs with new defensive coordinators, including Jon Tenuta at U.Va., former Alabama assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt at FSU and Ted Roof at Georgia Tech.

Last season, five programs now in the ACC rated among the nation's top 30 in the nation in total defense (No. 2 FSU, No. 17 Pittsburgh, No. 18 Virginia Tech, No. 21 Maryland and No. 28 U.Va.). Can the ACC repeat or improve upon those national rankings?

HEISMAN CHIT-CHAT

Trying to find a candidate in the ACC? Look no further than Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a Phoebus High alum.

Maryland won't win enough for do-everything wide receiver/return man Stefon Diggs to be a serious factor in the Heisman race. Can Miami's Johnson, UNC quarterback Bryn Renner or Clemson's elusive Sammy Watkins sneak into this conversation?

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