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Ranking the ACC's Offensive Triplets for 2015

James Conner

James Conner

The ACC is losing some offensive star power with the departure of Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Miami’s Duke Johnson to the NFL. But there’s a talented group of young players ready to step up this season, starting with Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. The sophomore takes control of the Tigers’ high-powered attack and should keep coach Dabo Swinney’s team in the mix to win the ACC. Pittsburgh running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd are two of the best in the nation and will continue to carry the Panthers’ offense in 2015.

To help pick the top offensive triplets in each of the Power 5 leagues, we devised a simple formula. We ranked the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers and assigned a 14 to the No. 1 player, with the point total decreasing to just one point to the No. 14 ranked player at each position. Only one player from each team was ranked per position.

Ranking the ACC’s Offensive Triplets for 2015

1. Clemson

Total Points: 36

QB: Deshaun Watson (1)

RB: Wayne Gallman (6)

WR: Artavis Scott (2)

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Chad Morris will be missed as Clemson’s play-caller, but the Tigers should still have one of the ACC’s top offenses. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the nation’s rising stars and will be at full strength from a torn ACL by this fall. Scott and Gallman showed promise as freshmen last season and depth is plentiful at running back and receiver.

Related: No. 14 Clemson Tigers 2015 Preview and Prediction

2. Pittsburgh

Total Points: 36

QB: Chad Voytik (7)

RB: James Conner (1)

WR: Tyler Boyd (1)

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Pat Narduzzi is known for his defensive acumen, but the first-year coach inherits some of the ACC’s top offensive talent. James Conner (RB) and Tyler Boyd (WR) are two of the nation’s top playmakers at their respective positions. Quarterback Chad Voytik played better in the second half of 2014 by tossing only one interception in his final six games.

Related: Pittsburgh's James Conner Ranks as the ACC's No. 1 RB

3. Florida State

Total Points: 34

QB: Everett Golson (6)

RB: Dalvin Cook (2)

WR: Travis Rudolph (3)

Jameis Winston leaves big shoes to fill, but coach Jimbo Fisher is one of the nation’s best quarterback coaches. Sean Maguire started one game last season (Clemson) and finished 2014 with 339 passing yards on 25 completions. However, Everett Golson is transferring to Florida State and is considered by many to be the favorite to take the first snap of 2015. Cook averaged 141.3 rushing yards over the final three games of 2014, while Rudolph caught 38 passes as a true freshman.

Related: Florida State's Jimbo Fisher Ranks as the ACC's No. 1 Coach

4. Miami

Total Points: 30

QB: Brad Kaaya (2)

RB: Joseph Yearby (4)

WR: Stacy Coley (9)

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After an impressive freshman season, Kaaya returns as one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in 2015. Kaaya led the ACC with a 145.9 quarterback rating last year and tossed 26 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. With Duke Johnson off to the NFL, the Hurricanes need a few skill players to emerge to help Kaaya. Joseph Yearby will share time with Gus Edwards at running back, but Yearby is likely to be the starter after averaging 5.9 yards per carry last year. Miami needs Stacy Coley to regain his freshman form after averaging only eight yards per catch in 2014.

Related: Miami Hurricanes 2015 Schedule and Analysis

5. North Carolina

Total Points: 27

QB: Marquise Williams (4)

RB: T.J. Logan (10)

WR: Ryan Switzer (4)

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Under Larry Fedora’s watch, scoring points hasn’t been a problem for North Carolina. The Tar Heels have averaged at least 30 points per game in three consecutive seasons and should easily hit that mark in 2015. Marquise Williams ranked second in the ACC last year by averaging 296.6 total yards per game. Logan averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2014, while Switzer led the team with 61 receptions.

Related: Can Gene Chizik Save the North Carolina Defense?

6. NC State

Total Points: 23

QB: Jacoby Brissett (5)

RB: Shadrach Thornton (5)

WR: Bra’Lon Cherry (12)

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Jacoby Brissett shined in his first season at NC State, throwing for 2,606 yards and 23 scores. The senior should be better in his second year and will push for All-ACC honors. The Wolfpack has to develop a few targets at receiver after Bo Hines decided to transfer after the 2014 season. Shadrach Thornton headlines one of the ACC’s deepest backfields.

7. Louisville

Total Points: 23

QB: Reggie Bonnafon (8)

RB: Brandon Radcliff (8)

WR: James Quick (6)

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If Bonnafon settles into the starting job, Louisville’s offense could improve off last year’s scoring average (31.2). Bonnafon finished spring ahead of Kyle Bolin, Will Gardner and Tyler Ferguson, and the sophomore’s mobility is a huge asset with uncertainty on the offensive line. Radcliff will share carries with Jeremy Smith and L.J. Scott, and Quick is slated to move into the No. 1 receiver role after the departure of DeVante Parker.

8. Virginia Tech

Total Points: 22

QB: Michael Brewer (9)

RB: J.C. Coleman (9)

WR: Isaiah Ford (5)

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It’s no secret the strength of Virginia Tech is its defense. But the Hokies should show some improvement on this side of the ball after averaging only 19.4 points per game in ACC contests in 2014. Michael Brewer tossed 15 interceptions last season and cutting that number in half would help the offense take a step forward. Isaiah Ford is primed for a breakout season after catching 56 passes in 2014, while J.C. Coleman headlines the ground attack after recording at least 95 yards in each of his final four games.

9. Boston College

Total Points: 20

QB: Darius Wade (14)

RB: Jon Hilliman (3)

WR: Sherman Alston (8)

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The Eagles could climb this list by a few spots if Darius Wade quickly settles in at quarterback. Wade completed 3 of 8 passes for 23 yards and rushed for 12 yards as a freshman last year. The receiving corps doesn’t have a plethora of proven options, but Alston is an all-purpose threat. Hilliman rushed for 860 yards as a true freshman last season.

10. Virginia

Total Points: 19

QB: Matt Johns (12)

RB: Taquan Mizzell (7)

WR: Caanan Severin (7)

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With Greyson Lambert transferring out of Charlottesville, Johns has a firm grip on the starting quarterback job. Getting more production out of the quarterback spot is a priority for coach Mike London this season, and Johns won’t have to look over his shoulder with Lambert out of the mix. Mizzell is a breakout candidate, and Severin returns after leading the team with 42 catches in 2014.

11. Georgia Tech

Total Points: 16

QB: Justin Thomas (3)

RB: Broderick Snoddy (12)

WR: Ricky Jeune (14)

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Uncertainty remains for the Yellow Jackets’ offense at running back and receiver. Quarterback Justin Thomas should be among the ACC’s top playmakers this season, but the junior needs help from the supporting cast. Snoddy averaged 10.1 yards per carry in 2014 and is expected to be at full strength after missing the final four games of last year with a leg injury. Jeune is a promising 6-foot-3 target looking for his first career catch in 2015.

Related: No. 18 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2015 Preview and Prediction

12. Duke

Total Points: 14

QB: Thomas Sirk (10)

RB: Shaquille Powell (11)

WR: Max McCaffrey (10)

Knowing coach David Cutcliffe’s track record at Duke, ranking the Blue Devils at No. 12 here is probably too low. Thomas Sirk showed promise in limited action last season, rushing for 238 yards and eight scores and completing 10 of 14 passes for 67 yards. Powell is expected to lead the team in rushing yardage, but he will have help from Shaun Wilson and Jela Duncan. McCaffrey should see more catches with the departure of Jamison Crowder to the NFL.

Related: Duke's David Cutcliffe Ranks No. 3 Among ACC Coaches for 2015

13. Syracuse

Total Points: 10

QB: Terrel Hunt (11)

RB: Devante McFarlane (13)

WR: Steve Ishmael (11)

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Having a healthy (and full) year from Terrel Hunt should help Syracuse’s offense find a spark after scoring only 17.1 points per game in 2014. McFarlane slides into the No. 1 role in the backfield after averaging six yards per carry on 28 attempts last season. Ishmael is a promising receiver for coordinator Tim Lester after he grabbed 27 receptions for 415 yards and three touchdowns in 2014.

14. Wake Forest

Total Points: 5

QB: John Wolford (13)

RB: Dezmond Wortham (14)

WR: Jared Crump (13)

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The biggest question mark on Wake Forest’s roster isn’t any of the three positions listed above. Rather, it’s an offensive line that allowed 48 sacks in 2014 and enters 2015 with plenty of question marks. If that group improves, so should the production from Wolford, Wortham and Crump. Wolford completed 214 of 367 passes for 2,037 yards and 12 scores as a true freshman last year.