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Pre-season ACC Blogger Roundtable

Last year, the ACC Bloggers initiated their first blogger roundtable. This year, 11 of the 12 teams (Duke excluded) will be participating in the roundtable.  The blogs and their respective teams are:

Florida State (Tomahawk Nation)

Virginia Tech (Gobbler Country)

Virginia Tech (College Gameballs)

Boston College (BC Interruption)

Miami (The 7th Floor)

Maryland (Testudo Times)

Clemson (Block-C)

Virginia (From Old Virginia)

Wake Forest (Blogger So Dear)

North Carolina (Tar Heel Mania)

NCSU (Yet Another NC State Blog)

ACC in General (On the B.Rink)

Every week or so, a new blog will host the Roundtable.  After 2-3 days, the host blog will write up it's summary round-up.  Tomahawk Nation, who is also the fearless ACC leader on SBNation, is hosting the pre-season discussion and posed the following questions. Our responses are included:

Will your team be better than last year, why or why not?  Will it show
in the record, why or why not?

Our team will definitely be better in all aspects offensively - QB play, running backs, wide receivers, and line play.  Historically, Paul Johnson's teams always increase their production in both the passing and the running game during his second year as head coach.  Our defense will have a gaping hole on the defensive line (except for standout end Derrick Morgan) but it will be greatly strengthened by a strong corps of linebackers and a veteran secondary.

Despite improvements in all positions minus the D-line, the ACC makes for a helluva conference slate alongside three SEC OOC games.  It's possible that GT's record may not improve on last year's 9 wins but the team will improve by leaps and bounds.  However, anything short of 9 wins would be a big disappointment for a majority of the optimistic Yellow Jacket faithful.

The ACC has been racked hard by injuries in the off-season, which guys
did your team lose and how will you replace them if you can? On the
flip side, who are the newcomers expected to step up, if any?

First off, a majority of our injuries were minor and not season-threatening. The major set back was obviously Jaybo Shaw, our competent backup to Josh Nesbitt.  He'll be succeeded by a lot of raw redshirt and true freshmen if CPJ decides to put a medical redshirt on Shaw. Roddy Jones' wrist injury set him back as far as contact drills go but it shouldn't limit his playing time and overall effectiveness.  And hopefully all of our LB's will be good as gold come Jacksonville State though Kyle Jackson continues to have problems with his foot.

The best newcomer is definitely going to be Jerrard Tarrant.  He had his assault charges dropped against him in February that kept him off the 2008 squad.  Tarrant brings speed to the secondary and competency at punt returns - a HUGE PROBLEM for GT since Gailey's tenure.  Look for Tarrant to play a key role on defense and in the field position battle.

Which existing player (or group of players) must step their game up in order for your team to over-achieve.

With Jaybo Shaw out, Tevin Washington and David Sims must prove themselves as comparable backups. This will be trial by fire as they will certainly be used in games.  The kicking game, though minor in Paul Johnson's system, must stay strong. Scott Blair will probably be limited to only PAT's which will keep his leg from dying half way through the season. Various questions also surround our defensive line as we lost multiple players to the NFL.

Also, on the injuries question, include academic casualties.

Georgia Tech football players also excel in the classroom. There have been no significant academic casualties.