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ACC Starting QBs: Evaluating Job Security

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Quarterback Stephen Morris is Miami's starter unless he gets hurt, while the situation under center for some other ACC teams is less stable. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.
Quarterback Stephen Morris is Miami's starter unless he gets hurt, while the situation under center for some other ACC teams is less stable. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images.

With the season here (finally!), you would think every team has decided on who will be under center for opening day. While most teams have their starting quarterback selected, there are some with a tenuous hold on the position. Let’s have a look at each starting quarterback situation in the ACC and see how secure their hold on the job is. We will rank in five categories: very high, high, medium, low and very low.

Atlantic Division

Clemson

Starter: Tajh Boyd (Senior)

Backup: Cole Stoudt (Junior)

Security Level: Very High

More: Boyd is a Heisman hopeful and has the Tigers primed for a big season. Stoudt has been the backup for two seasons already and has appeared in mop-up duty situations. Will be the starter in 2014.

Florida State

Starter: Jameis Winston (Freshman)

Backup: Jacob Coker (Sophomore)

Security Level: Medium

More: There was a wide open competition for the starting gig once EJ Manuel left for the NFL and Winston wrestled away the job after an excellent offseason.  Head coach Jimbo Fisher made the decision to go with Coker just six days ago, meaning Winston’s hold on the job isn’t permanent. Florida State has a plethora of weapons on offense and if Winston struggles early Coker could find himself getting meaningful snaps.

North Carolina State

Starter: Brandon Mitchell (Senior)

Backup: Pete Thomas (Junior)

Security Level: Very Low

More: The Wolfpack’s quarterback scenario has been a complete mess since the end of last season. Former Florida QB Jacoby Brissett transferred in January and will be in the mix for 2014. Another SEC transfer arrived (Mitchell) and stole the show. Mitchell appears more suited for the spread offense but a starter has not been named yet and it will likely go down to opening night.

Maryland

Starter: C.J. Brown (Senior)

Backup: Caleb Rowe (Sophomore)

Security Level: High

More: Brown has battled serious injury problems since arriving on campus, but those appear to be behind him now. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility and could be primed for a huge season in a read-option offense. He had three 100-yard rushing efforts in 2011. Rowe is also coming of an ACL tear and is in a neck-and-neck battle with Ricardo Young for the backup job.

Syracuse

Starter: Drew Allen (Senior)

Backup: Terrell Hunt (Sophomore)

Security Level: Very Low

More: Just like North Carolina State, the Orange has yet to name their official starter. Allen has got more of the first-team reps in practice and appears to have a narrow lead. Allen, a transfer from Oklahoma, has the size (6-foot-5), but he has only thrown 30 passes in his college career and is largely unproven. The fact that he has not been able to distance himself from Hunt must remain a huge cause for concern.

Wake Forest

Starter: Tanner Price (Senior)

Backup: Patrick Thompson (Junior)

Security Level: Very High

More: Price has gotten most of the snaps in two-and-a-half seasons since earning the starting job and that won’t change in the fall. He is on the verge of breaking most of the school's passing records and has done an admirable job given the lack of talent around him. Price has completed 58 percent of his throws for 6,666 (creepy) yards and 39 touchdowns to 21 interceptions in his career. Brendan Cross was going to be the backup but he decided sitting on the bench at UCLA was a better idea than riding the pine in Winston Salem. This was done for academic reasons.

Boston College

Starter: Chase Rettig (Senior)

Backup: Josh Bordner (Junior)

Security Level: High

More: Rettig is fully entrenched as the starter despite not establishing himself as a consistent quarterback in the conference. He did throw for more than 3,000 yards last season, but averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt. Bordner is battling a knee injury, but should be a go for the season. Senior mike Marscovetra will be in the mix if anything lingers.

Coastal

Miami

Starter: Stephen Morris (Senior)

Backup: Ryan Williams (Senior)

Security Level: Very High

More: Morris is a dark-horse candidate for a huge season and is no danger of giving up snaps any time soon. Williams, a transfer from Memphis, saw action when Morris missed a game last season and his limitations were on hand. Morris threw just seven interceptions in 421 pass attempts last year; keeping that ratio low will be difficult to duplicate, but may be necessary for the Hurricanes to have a big year.

Virginia Tech

Starter: Logan Thomas (Senior)

Backup: Mark Leal (Junior)

Security Level: Very High

More: Nobody saw Thomas’ struggles coming last season, so his status as starter was never threatened. All of the pressure will be squarely on his shoulders as a senior and it would take a catastrophe for him to lose the starting gig. He finished the season in an even worse fashion than he started, completing less than 50 percent of his throws in each game against less than stellar teams (Boston College, Virginia, Rutgers). Leal doesn’t have a track record but is performing well during workouts. He is in position to become the starter in 2014.

North Carolina

Starter: Bryn Renner (Senior)

Backup: Mitch Trubisky (Freshman)

Security Level: Very High

More: Renner went from unknown to potential first-round pick; such is the life of the 24-hour sports cycle. But in this case, it is well deserved. Renner is a polished quarterback who has thrown for more than 6,300 yards the last two seasons. He has a lot riding on his senior season; a strong performance against a top-quality SEC defense against South Carolina opening night will do wonders for his draft stock. Trubisky enrolled in January and has quickly risen up the depth chart to claim the backup role.

Georgia Tech

Starter: Vad Lee (Sophomore)

Backup: Justin Thomas (Freshman)

Security Level: High

More: Lee got plenty of experience as a freshman, carrying the ball 96 times for 544 yards while splitting time with Tevin Washington toward the back half of the year. He played most of the Yellow Jackets' eye-popping 68-50 win over North Carolina near the end of the season.  Lee has 4.4 speed and should be an upgrade over Washington as the Yellow Jackets will look to make it two straight division titles. Thomas has excellent potential as a freshman and will get plenty of looks during Georgia Tech’s blowout wins.

Pittsburgh

Starter: Tom Savage (Senior)

Backup: Chad Voytik (Freshman)

Security Level: High

More: Savage has not taken a college snap since midway through his sophomore season in 2010. Two transfers later, Savage was named the starter Aug. 14. It’s hard to predict how Savage will perform after such a long layoff, but his hold over the starting job seems pretty secure.  He was inconsistent during his early days at Rutgers and Voytik performed well enough in the spring to at least force coach Paul Chryst to take a long time to decide who the starter would be. Voytik redshirted last year and has the pedigree to be a solid starter at the college level.

Virginia

Starter: David Watford (Sophomore)

Backup: Greyson Lambert (Freshman)

Security Level: High

More: Virginia found out last season how bad the two-quarterback system can falter, especially if you have two bad quarterbacks. Michael Rocco and Phillip Sims took turns portraying ineptitude and it ultimately derailed the season. Watford, a dual-threat quarterback with excellent mobility, was redshirted last year after appearing in a limited fashion in 2011. Lambert has a strong arm and also redshirted in 2012.

Duke

Starter: Anthony Boone (Junior)

Backup: Brandon Cornette (Junior)

Security Level: Very High

More: Boone has big shoes to fill as Sean Renfree completed 65 percent of his throws for nearly 9,550 yards during four years as starting quarterback. With Boone under center, Duke figures to run a lot more spread and zone read to capitalize on his abilities. Boone, who has an excellent mentor in head coach and quarterback guru David Cutcliffe, has done enough to distance himself from the crowd and should be the starter for the entire season. Cornette is a Denard Robinson type that can line up anywhere on the field and make plays.