Attrition – The Quarterback Dilemma

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Will Ojanen @WillsWorldMN

In 2018 the ACC boasted some of the best and most experienced quarterback talent in all of football. But, that narrative is completely different in 2019. Through various forms of attrition few quarterbacks are returning under center this season.

Trevor Lawrence, Bryce Perkins, Ryan Willis, Kenny Pickett, Ian Book (since we count Notre Dame as part of the ACC here) and Anthony Brown are the only quarterbacks who will go into summer practice with the starting job locked down.

What does that mean for the rest of the teams in the conference? A lot of question marks.

Duke lost Daniel Jones to the NFL and his replacement, Quentin Harris, is a career 50% passer. He also has very little experience around him as the top four receivers from last year for the Blue Devils are gone.

Florida State booted Deondre’ Francois from the team. The quarterback competition for the Seminoles is up in the air. James Blackman is back but former Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook is also there. While they only lose one receiver the question will continue to be whether or not either quarterback will have time to throw.

Louisville brings both Jawon Pass and Malik Cunningham back but neither is guaranteed to be the starter. The Cardinals have some solid young receivers to throw the ball to but can either one of quarterbacks get the ball to them.


Ryan Finley graduated and has moved on to the NFL. That leaves NC State with a quarterback who has eight career passing attempts. The two top receivers from last season are also gone but there is some talent waiting in the wings for the Wolfpack.

Georgia Tech is implementing a completely new offense for 2019. The entire offense will be one big question mark until we get deeper into the season. In part, because of the way the previous offense was run a Yellow Jackets tight end has not caught a pass in over a decade.

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North Carolina lost Nathan Elliott to graduation and Mack Brown has three quarterbacks vying for the job. It’s a new day at Chapel Hill and attrition may be the last thing on Brown’s mind. Though the Tar Heels lost their top receiver there are plenty of offensive weapons returning.

Surrounded By Talent

Miami returns N’Kosi Perry. He was mediocre at best last season. Also competing for the starting position are Tate Martell and Jarren Williams. The good news for the Hurricanes is that their top five receivers return so there will be plenty of experience and depth at that position.

Eric Dungey set all kinds of records at Syracuse and now it’s up to Tommy DeVito. While Dungey struggles to lock down a spot with the New York Giants DeVito, who’s been inconsistent in his career to this point will struggle with improving his 50% passer stats. The top receiver from last season is gone but there’s still plenty of talent available in Dino Babers’ toolbox.

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Sam Hartman did well for Wake Forest last year before suffering a season ending injury. Jamie Newman did well in his absence picking up three wins out of the Demon Deacons last four games. Hartman and Newman will battle it out for the starting position this summer. When it comes to offensive weapons there’s no doubt Wake Forest will miss Greg Dortch.

Who Will Emerge?

Who do I think can emerge this season? It’s going to be difficult for me to trust a lot of these situations.

I think that whoever emerges at Wake Forest will be fine. Both Hartman and Newman have proven they are capable quarterbacks. For Dave Clawson, attrition may not be an issue. Even though they’ll miss the talents of Dortch the team did find a solid weapon in the second half of the season in Sage Surratt.

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I also think that whoever emerges at North Carolina will have some success. Despite the loss of Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Dazz Newsome proved to be a very reliable weapon for the offense. The question there is how will the new coaching staff use him.

As for Florida State, if they can clean up the offensive line the Seminoles have plenty of experience and should be fine.

Will Ojanen is a Columnist and the Co-Host of ACC Nation Podcast. He is a member of ACSMA (Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association). He and his wife, Sami explore the world of craft beer and write about their adventures at WillandSamisBeerBlog. You can follow Will on Twitter @WillsWorldMN.

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