While Clemson’s spot atop the college football mountain was replaced by LSU in the Bayou Bengals’ College Football Playoff National Championship Game victory, there’s no questioning its status as the ruling family closer to home in the ACC. The Tigers have won five straight conference championships and continue to push the standard for the entire league, and there’s no doubt that meeting that standard is the focus of the entire ACC throughout the 2020 spring practice season.
Below we’ve sorted some of the important spring practice information for the league along with a few notes to keep in mind as you prepare for spring practice in the ACC. Remember, all practice, spring game times and dates are subject to change.
- Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are back, and the duo gives Clemson arguably the most productive offensive backfield in ACC history. The real questions for the Tigers won’t be specific position battles as much as judging how this team responds after seeing their 29-game winning streak come to an end on the game’s biggest stage. Lawrence, in particular, didn’t have a great game against LSU and things are set up for a revenge tour in 2020.
- Mike Norvell is re-laying the foundation in Tallahassee. The conversation coming out of Florida State’s offseason conditioning program was that of starting over. The Seminoles have struggled to meet expectations on the field the last couple of years, and the disconnect between championship contention and blown fourth-quarter leads did a number on the team’s identity. Norvell — like all new coaches looking to refocus a team well-versed in disappointment — is trying to get Florida State to start back at square one. Don’t look for too many certain answers out of Florida State in spring practice, but know that the less tangible work on establishing a new identity is just as important as any spring scrimmage statistic.
- Norvell isn’t the only new face in the ACC, joined by Boston College coach Jeff Hafley as a newcomer to the conference. The former Ohio State defensive coordinator put together an impressive resume of Power Five and NFL jobs before the age of 40, and he’s chosen to eschew the paranoia we usually associate with college football coaches by opening up the locker room to media and offering extensive availability to assistant coaches. The Eagles have plenty of work ahead to reach Hafley’s stated goal of being a top-25 program, but it seems we’ll get a front-row seat along the way for the journey.
- As Clemson pushes the standard for the entire league, who will be the team to emerge from the cluster that is the ACC Coastal Division? That side of the conference has produced seven different champions across the last seven years, and as many as a handful of teams are heading into 2020 with hopes of finishing the year in Charlotte. Miami is looking for a spark after Manny Diaz changed offensive coordinators and recruited former Houston starting QB D’Eriq King to Coral Gables. North Carolina probably has the second-best quarterback in the ACC in Sam Howell after a successful Year 1 (but also year 11) for Mack Brown and Pitt might be the dark horse of the group with 17 starters returning from an eight-win team. Oh yeah, don’t forget Virginia and Virginia Tech just played for the Coastal Division title in their regular-season finale, Georgia Tech has been recruiting at a high level under Geoff Collins and Duke is adding former Clemson quarterback Chase Brice to the roster. As it stands now, the forecast is looking good for more ACC Coastal chaos headed our way in the fall.