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Five ACC Questions

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Five questions that will help shape the 2015 season in the ACC.

1. Is Florida State Rebuilding?
The Seminoles have lost a ton of talent in recent seasons, having the most players selected in the NFL Draft over any three-year span in history. Florida State's biggest transition will be on offense, where four line starters must be replaced, along with record-setting receiver Rashad Greene, star tight end Nick O'Leary and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Notre Dame-transfer Everett Golson gives the unit a boost under center. Running back Dalvin Cook is also ready to lead. As usual, the 'Noles are extremely talented; a number of young players will have to step up if Florida State is going to contend for a College Football Playoff spot.

2. Can Clemson or Georgia Tech Step Forward Nationally?
Both the Tigers and Yellow Jackets have high expectations for 2015 and have been ranked in the national top 15, at the lowest, in most pre-season polls. Quarterback play will be key for both teams. Clemson boasts young Deshan Watson, who was remarkable in part-time duty as a true freshman. His role now obviously expands. Georgia Tech returns the dynamic Justin Thomas, who helped the Yellow Jackets beat the likes of Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech a year ago. These two rivals will meet in the regular season on October 10th, perhaps a preview of early December's ACC Championship Game. 

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3. How Will the ACC Coastal Play Out?
Projecting the ACC Coastal has been difficult in recent years. Depth should be a division strength. After a torrid finish to last season, Georgia Tech will enter August with great momentum. The Yellow Jackets' game with Virginia Tech, as usual, will be a tone-setter. The Hokies might have the best defense in all of college football. Duke has exceeded expectations consistently under David Cutcliffe. Miami has a terrific quarterback in sophomore Brad Kaaya. North Carolina will be able to score. Pittsburgh has one of the nation's premier players in running back James Conner. Virginia head coach Mike London enters this fall on the hot seat. 

4. Can Louisville or North Carolina State Take the Next Step?
The consensus is that Clemson and Florida State will lead the ACC Atlantic Division, and those programs have earned that benefit of the doubt. The Cardinals and Wolfpack are making strides, however. Louisville has added a couple of high-profile transfers and should be quite strong defensively. The return of quarterback Jacoby Brissett gives NC State a proven leader. A year ago, the Cardinals and Wolfpack combined for 17 wins. Improvement could be on the horizon for both.     

5. Just How Good are These Quarterbacks?
The ACC returns numerous notable quarterbacks, including Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Justin Thomas (Georgia Tech), Brad Kaaya (Miami), Marquise Williams (North Carolina) and Jacoby Brissett (NC State). That group doesn't include Notre Dame-transfer Everett Golson at Florida State, who took the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship Game as a freshman. Nearly every league team returns a signal caller with starting experience. With so many talented quarterbacks, Saturdays this fall should be very competitive.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports