Mac Attack 7/9/12: Phil Steele joined the guys to talk about his pre-season predictions this morning. With Florida State as his number-one pick, Steele has hope for the ACC.
Having selected Florida State as number one in the country, Steele said his reasoning starts with the team’s strong defensive depth.
“When you look at Florida State’s defense, it’s a defense that produced 88 sacs the last two years. Last season they only allowed 83 yards per game rushing and 2.3 yards per carry. That entire defensive line is basically back and they are loaded with talent…It is the best defensive line in the country.”
The other side to having a great defense is that it acts as a tool for for building a solid offense. The Florida State offense has a huge opportunity here.
“Everyday in practice, they’re going up against the best defensive line in the country,” Steele said. “When they take the field on Saturdays, they’re taking a step down in level of competition. I think they’ll have the most improved offensive line in the country.”
As far as other teams in the ACC go, Steele does not predict that any of them will be capable of beating Florida State. Clemson may have a better record than last season, but their schedule may act as a disadvantage.
“I don’t really give them much of a chance. I think Clemson is the second best team in the ACC, and I look at this team and I rate them the number 14 team in the country but their problem is they have to play Florida State on the road. “
Steele picked the Tar Heels to win the coastal division of the ACC. Still, they are ineligible to play in the Charlotte title game due to last year’s sanctions.
“I like the talent they have. They come in number 30 in my power poll. While that’s not a dominating team, they take on my number 85 schedule. You look at them offensively, they got my number nine offensive line. You look at the receiving core, there’s no household names there, but these guys are all good size with speed, with hands, and I think the receiving core is really going to emerge this season.”
All else aside, the ACC has something to get excited about this season if Florida State can do what Steele predicts. After an embarrassing record at the national level in the past couple seasons, the ACC could use a national championship to reestablish itself as a conference with talent and legitimacy.
“I think Florida State winning the national championship would put the ACC right back up,” Steele said. “One of the problems they’ve had in recent years is their woeful record in BCS bowl games, and I think everybody around the country points to that record. I think if Florida State can run the table and win the national championship, a lot of folks will start forgetting about that.”
While the SEC has a larger volume of talent compared to the ACC, Steele said these teams will have a difficult road for just that reason. There is a good chance the SEC streak may end this season.
“I think the SEC is just too strong of a conference. It’s going to be impossible to get through the SEC unscathed. Take a look at a team like Alabama. Their defense is not as good as last year, but they still have a top-five defense…They’ve got the best offense in the country, but they do have to play LSU on the road. I think they’re going to slip up there because Alabama is a step below last year’s team. I think LSU is a little stronger than last year’s team.”
-Alex Stegall, CBS Local/Charlotte