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Friday, December 2, 2011

Injuries Creating Future Depth for Tech Defense

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Injuries Creating Future Depth for Tech Defense
by Chris Coleman,, December 2, 2011

The postseason All-ACC teams were announced on Monday. It was quite different from the preseason list that came out in late July. Many players whom the media expected to have big seasons didn't turn in the performances that were projected.

On the offensive side of the ball, only two players who were first team on the preseason list made first team on the postseason list.
2011 All-ACC Teams, Offense
Pos. Preseason Postseason
WR Conner Vernon (Duke Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
WR Dwight Jones (UNC) Chris Givens (Wake)
TE George Bryan (NC State) Dwayne Allen (Clemson)
OT Blake DeChristopher (VT) Blake DeChristopher (VT)
OT Andrew Datko (FSU) Zebrie Sanders (FSU)
OG Brandon Washington (Miami) Austin Pasztor (UVA)
OG Omoregie Uzzi (GT) Omoregie Uzzi (GT)
C Tyler Horn (Miami) Dalton Freeman (Clemson)
QB E.J. Manuel (FSU) Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
RB Montel Harris (BC) David Wilson (VT)
RB Andre Ellington (Clemson) Giovani Bernard (UNC)

Blake DeChristopher and Omoregie Uzzi were the two offensive players to stay on the list. It's not a coincidence that they are both offensive linemen, where the media members are more inclined to just go with their preseason picks because the O-line is difficult to watch and evaluate.

Conner Vernon and Dwight Jones both had very good seasons, but true freshman Sammy Watkins exploded on the scene and Wake's Chris Givens came out of nowhere to put up huge numbers. There were several deserving receivers in the ACC, but it's hard to argue with the postseason selection of Watkins and Givens.

In the backfield, E.J. Manuel, Montel Harris and Andre Ellington were the preseason picks. None of those guys made it. In fact, Harris and Manuel didn't even managed to make second team All-ACC. Instead, it was Tajh Boyd, ACC Player of the Year David Wilson, and UNC r-freshman tailback Giovani Bernard. With Watkins and Bernard, there were two freshmen on the preseason first team All-ACC offense.
On the defensive side of the ball four players who were on the list in the preseason were also included on the postseason list.
2011 All-ACC Teams, Defense
Pos. Preseason Postseason
DE Brandon Jenkins (FSU) Andre Branch (Clemson)
DE Quinton Coples (UNC) Quinton Coples (UNC)
DT Tydreke Powell (UNC) Joe Vellano (Maryland)
DT Brandon Thompson (Clemson) Matt Conrath (UVA)
LB Luke Kuechly (BC) Luke Kuechly (BC)
LB Sean Spence (Miami) Sean Spence (Miami)
LB Kenny Tate (Maryland) Zach Brown (UNC)
CB Chase Minnifeld (UVA) Chase Minnifield (UVA)
CB Jayron Hosley (VT) David Amerson (NC State)
S Ray-Ray Armstrong (Miami) Matt Daniels (Duke)
S Eddie Whitley (VT) Josh Bush (Wake)

UNC defensive end Quinton Coples was an easy pick. He's an All-American caliber player, and most likely a top 10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Tydreke Powell and Brandon Thompson were good picks in the preseason, though they haven't been as statistically dominant as expected.

Luke Kuechly, the league's defensive player of the year, was also an easy pick. Miami linebacker Sean Spence and UVA cornerback Chase Minnifield were also on the list at the beginning and the end of the season.

In the secondary, VT cornerback Jayron Hosley didn't come close to matching his 2010 numbers, when he led the nation with nine interceptions. Miami safety Ray-Ray Armstrong was on the preseason team, but if you watched him play any this season, he was often seen trying to catch up with wide receivers after they burned him deep. Exhibit A.

There were also players who had very good seasons who were not included on the first team, second team, or the honorable mention list. From the Virginia Tech perspective, Danny Coale, Jarrett Boykin and Derrick Hopkins all should have gained some sort of recognition, but they didn't. Fans of other teams also have their owns lists of their own players who they believe should have been included.

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