|In a league packed with explosive quarterbacks, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has been the most consistent. (US Presswire)|
Ten ACC teams returned their starting quarterbacks this season, and the experience has helped teams put up points at a record pace. The average ACC game has had a combined 64 points scored this season, a 12.5-point increase over last season.
Here’s a look at the ACC’s best players at midseason of a record-breaking year for offense:
Offensive Player of the Year: Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Boyd leads the ACC in total offense and is in the top three in passing yards and efficiency. He’s also been the most consistent quarterback in the conference.
Defensive Player of the Year: Bjoern Werner, Florida State. The Seminoles lost Brandon Jenkins in the second quarter of their opening game, but Werner has more than filled the gap. His 10 tackles for loss lead the ACC, and his 6.5 sacks are a half-sack behind teammate Tank Carradine for the lead.
Coach of the Year: David Cutcliffe, Duke. He’s got the Blue Devils one win away from bowl eligibility, and, before a second-half meltdown against Tech" data-canon="Virginia Cavaliers" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0">, Duke was tied for the best record in the ACC. The schedule gets tougher in the second half of the season, but it wasn’t supposed to look that easy in the first half.
Most surprising player: RB Chris Thompson, Florida State. After breaking a bone in his back last season, just making it back to the field would have been impressive, but Thompson is second in the ACC in rushing and has been a big-play threat.
Most disappointing player: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson. When he’s been on the field, he’s been impressive, but Watkins was voted preseason player of the year at ACC media day, and he’s been only the second-best receiver on his team.
Most surprising team: Maryland. The defensive turnaround is remarkable, and with most of the skill positions manned by freshmen, the offense has produced at a higher level than coach Randy Edsall could have expected.
Most disappointing team: Georgia Tech. This is a hotly contested category in the ACC this season. Virginia Tech’s 3-3 start and Virginia’s five-game losing streak deserved consideration, but the Yellow Jackets were blown out by Middle Tennessee State and gave up 40 points in three straight weeks, leading to the dismissal of their defensive coordinator.
Best game so far: Sept. 22: Florida State 49, Clemson 37. The ACC’s top two teams played on a national stage and exceeded expectations. The teams traded big plays and combined for nearly 1,100 yards of offense. The Seminoles rallied in the second half with four straight touchdowns against a tiring Tiger defense to pull away.
Most overrated team: Virginia Tech was expected to contend with Florida State for a BCS berth. Instead, the Hokies lost to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and gave up 48 points to North Carolina.
Most underrated team: Maryland.
Conference championship game pick: Florida State over Miami.
Midseason All-Conference Team
QB: Tajh Boyd, Clemson
RB: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
RB: Andre Ellington, Clemson
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
WR: Conner Vernon, Duke
WR: Alex Amidon, Boston College
TE: Brandon Ford, Clemson
OT: James Hurst, North Carolina
OT: Oday Aboushi, Virginia
OG: Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
OG: Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech
C: Dalton Freeman, Clemson
DE: Bjoern Werner, Florida State
DE: Cornellius , Florida State
DT: Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
DT: Joe Vellano, Maryland
LB: Demetrius Hartsfield, Maryland
LB: Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
LB: Eddie Johnson, Miami
CB: Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
CB: Ross Cockrell, Duke
S: Rashard Hall, Clemson
S: Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State.
P: Will Monday, Duke
K: Chandler Catanzaro , Clemson
KR: Duke Johnson, Miami
PR: Rashad Greene, Florida State
All-Purpose: Stefon Diggs, Maryland
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.