Florida State's E.J. Manual takes the reigns for Christian Ponder under center in 2011. The Seminoles return eight offensive starters and should be considered a favorite to win the conference next season. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, Phil Steele took a look at the current list of returning starters in 2011, broken down by offense, defense and special teams (kicker / punter). As of today, BC returns 8 starting players on offense, including QB Chase Rettig, seven starters on defense, and both specialists (Nate Freese and Ryan Quigley). BC's 17 returning starters make the 2011 Eagles one of the top 25 most experienced teams in the nation.
Here is a look at BC's ten Division I-A opponents in terms of returning starters:
|9||Florida St. Seminoles||8||8||2||18|
|12||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||8||*||8||2||18|
|15||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||8||*||8||2||18|
|37||N.C. State Wolfpack||8||*||8||0||16|
|50||Duke Blue Devils||7||*||6||2||15|
|102||Virginia Tech Hokies||6||7||0||13|
|111||Central Florida Knights||7||*||4||1||12|
Florida State, Notre Dame and Wake Forest lead the way with 18 returning starters in 2011. (Don't pay much attention to Steele's overall rank as I think ties were simply broken by alphabetical order). Florida State will likely be considered the favorite to repeat as Atlantic Division Champ, and probably the favorite to win the entire conference in 2011. And of course, combined with its SUPER DUPER, AWESOME, FABULOUS recruiting class, the Seminoles will be crowned 2011 ACC Champions next Wednesday.
I don't think there's any question that Notre Dame is on an upward trajectory under coach Brian Kelly, and the Irish return eight starters on both sides of the ball (including QB) and both specialists. BC's late November road trip to South Bend will prove to be a tough out.
Wake Forest was terrible this year, but the Deacons showed signs of live in BC's 23-13 win this season down in Winston-Salem.
On the other end of the returning starter spectrum are the Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Tech Hokies and UCF Knights. Miami coach Al Golden inherits just 13 starters (6 offense, 7 defense, 0 specialists), though both Jacory Haris and Stephen Morris return at QB for the 'Canes. The Hokies obviously lose a pair of running backs to the NFL Draft and will have to find a replacement for Tyrod Taylor (finally!) under center. Finally, the Conference USA champion Central Florida Knights will look very different next season, especially on defense, where they return just four starters. The UCF defense is also a unit that saw its defensive coordinator bolt in the offseason to become the linebackers coach at Wisconsin.