The final day of the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte saw four of Syracuse’s 2023 opponents speak as well as the new home of its former OC Robert Anae. As has been the case throughout the event, each team has had a unique perspective of the conference and the season ahead.
Head Coach Mack Brown was an open book when he spoke today. He talked about the dangers surrounding NIL in addition to the opportunities it provides, while expressing his dismay that the Atlantic/Coastal division format is no more. Most of the talk surrounding the 3-5-5 scheduling format has been positive, but Brown was an exception. Meanwhile, all the preseason hype surrounding the Tar Heels revolves around potential ACC Player of the Year Drake Maye. The quarterback’s main thoughts were bouncing back from last season’s poor finish. UNC started 9-1 and finished 9-5, a loss to Clemson in the conference title game was mixed in there. Despite that rough ending, Chapel Hill has plenty to be excited about in 2023. It won’t be an easy matchup for SU the first weekend of October.
The Tigers are, and always will be, the big dawg of the ACC. That being said, Clemson has missed the College Football Playoff in consecutive seasons. The Tigers’ entire traveling party acknowledged that that is the ultimate goal, but it’s a case of one step at a time. They all marveled at the depth of this year’s ACC- whether it be presumed primary competitor Florida State or some teams that aren’t necessarily getting as much love. It’s going to be an interesting year for Clemson- highly-touted QB Cade Klubnik will enter the season as the starter for the first time as Dabo Swinney and company aim to return to college football’s holy grail.
The main talk surrounding the Demon Deacons this offseason has been the players they’ve lost. Head Coach Dave Clawson mentioned a pair of super seniors on the offensive line and QB Sam Hartman. Not mentioned is wide receiver A.T. Perry, and you just heard SU fans breathe a collective sigh of relief. The now-New Orleans Saint torched the Orange for three touchdowns not once, but twice over the last two seasons. Despite those losses, Clawson hasn’t done a ton of losing on the field. A stat was mentioned in his presser today- Wake Forest has won exactly 15 games over each two-year stretch of his career. A model of consistency. If Syracuse enters its regular season finale 5-6 needing a win to clinch bowl eligibility, the Demon Deacons will make them earn it.
Disappointment would be an appropriate term to describe the Eagles last season. In large part due to a decimated unit in the trenches, BC stumbled to a 3-9 record after six straight seasons of bowl eligibility. However, many have pegged Boston College’s offensive line as a candidate for most improved in all of college football, something Head Coach Jeff Hafley addressed when he spoke. Last season was very disappointing, but this is not a group that should be overlooked. That’s especially true for the Orange- remember the flag-planting incident last November? Eagles QB Emmett Morehead acknowledged that his locker room might enter this November’s matchup a little more juiced because of it. It should be an electric atmosphere on that Friday night in the Dome.
SU won’t see the Wolfpack unless they meet in the conference title game, but the big story here is Anae. Head Coach Dave Doeren mentioned his difficulties coaching against the former Orange offensive coordinator, and how he’s heard nothing but good things about him from his colleagues. Anae’s decision to leave reunites him with Brennan Armstrong, whom he helped set several single-season records at Virginia. When the quarterback took the podium, he talked about how it was a little strange but very comforting to see a familiar face after transferring. Armstrong had a major down year in 2022- joining forces with Anae again could get him back on track and keep NC State near the top of the ACC.
Welcome to the waiting game. Now that the ACC Kickoff has come and gone, the next big thing to look forward to is game action. The first game involving an ACC team falls on August 31, and Syracuse’s is two days after that. The Orange, along with all of their conference foes, appear ready for some football.