ACC – Returning Starters in the Matrix – 2012

Quick Links to other 2012 Returning Starter Articles
2012 Returning Starters chart – All AQ and non-AQ Teams
National Overview of Returning Starter Stats and Importance

ACC Returning Starters Stats over the last 4 years

Readers!  Keep this in mind when absorbing the returning starters odds/metrics in the article.

  • In the last 4 yr,s only 2 of 19 ACC  teams coming off 8+ wins had more Ws the next season.  In 2012 those are Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

QBs and Kickers

Wow!  If you have a preconceived notion, thought or assumption that your team, if in the ACC, has a better shot at a better record in 2012 if you return your starting QB versus not, please take  moment to cast it aside.  The last 4 years of ACC football and returning QB starters is the most bassackward metric I could image.

  • 30 times in the last 4 years, ACC football teams have returned their starting QB for another season.  Only 15 (50%) of those teams has as good or better record the following year.  And combined those 30 teams were 11 games UNDER the win total of the previous season.
  • 17 times in the last 4 years, an ACC team has lost their starting QB and in 11 of those 17 (72%) that team had as many or more wins the following season.  Those 17 teams were +10 games above the previous seasons total wins.  The 6 teams that dropped in total wins, 5 were only -1 or -2 games.  Only the 2008 Virginia team lost its starting QB and went -4 the next year in total wins.  The teams that dropped had an average FARR of #50, those that went up averaged #33.  Talent still wins games even in the ACC.
  • Losing both starting kickers has happened 9 times in the last 4 years in the ACC.  Only 4 of 9 posted a record as good or better than the previous season and the 9 teams had total win count of -9 games.
  • Returning only one starting kicker is a wash.  50% of the 16 teams that returned just one kicker had a better season the next year and the win total increased only 3 games between those 16 teams.
  • Getting both stating kickers back showed a positive but not overwhelming trend.  13 of the 22 teams (58%) posted as many or more wins the next season but overall posted just a +5 game increase to the total number of wins.
  • Conclusion:  Is this the anti-AQ conference?  I double checked the numbers for returning QBs because they are so far off the national numbers and what most fans would deem common sense. The problem in 2012 is that only 2 teams are no returning their starting QB from 2011 (Terps and Miami).  Kickers are showing some impact but no enough to make an educated guess for 2012 and beyond.  Certainly having both kickers back on the field is a positive and 7 in the ACC do so in 2012.


  • Teams returning 6 starters or less on offense in the ACC in the last 4 years showed a net in total games won of -14 by 18 teams.  Of those 18, just 7 posted a win total at or above the previous season level (38%).
  • Of the 29 teams that returned 7 or more, 19 posted a win total at or above the previous year (65.5%) but only for a total win increase of +13 games (less than .5 game per team).  There was very little difference in 7, 8 or 9 returning starters on offense.
  • Conclusion:  While there is a clear difference between 7+ or 6 or less back on offense, it is difficult to make odds or pin returning starters back on offense on future success.  What I can state is that Wake Forest and Miami are much more behind the eight ball going into 2012 due to talent and lost starters (Grobe is much better than Golden).  The other 9 return at least 7 starters an their QB.  It is hard to pinpoint the best 65% to excel. That will be looked at in team profiles and predictions in May.


    • Teams coming off 8+ wins and returning 8 or more on Defense are -9 total wins under the previous season total and only 1 of the 8 had more wins the next season.
    • ACC teams (6) coming off seasons with 7 or fewer wins in the last 4 years and returning 8 or more starters on defense were +16 total wins above the previous season and only one of the six didn’t post an increase in total wins.  2012 those teams are Maryland and Wake.
    • Only 2 teams out of 9 returning 7 starters on D got back to the previous season win total or did better the next season.
    • 0 for 8.  8 times an ACC team returned 6 starters on defense and none of them posted a better record the next season since 2007.
    • 8+ wins and returning 7 or less on defense happened 11 times in the ACC since 2007, none posted more wins the next year and only 2 repeated their record the previous season.
    • Returning less than 7 on defense and coming off 7 or fewer wins in the ACC still nets a 64% odds of a season as good or better the next year.  Only Miami was ranked in the top 25 of the CFBMatrix FARR ranks that dropped in win total.
    • Conclusion:  Returning starters on defense by itself is largely a useless number in the ACC.  64% of teams getting 8+ back on defense is a small key.  Less than 8 and it is nearly 50/50 (16 of 33 dropped total wins).  Most like risers in total wins in 2012 from defense is Maryland and Wake.  Those likely to fall in total wins include Virginia, Clemson and Florida State.

Total Returning Starters

  • Teams returning 11 or fewer starters were -5 total wins and of the 6 all but two did worse.  2012 poster child for no one coming back to start, Miami
  • Those that returned 12 to 15 starters are in that 50/50 territory.  The numbers show nothing as those 23 teams were just +3 total wins above the previous season totals and only 12 of 23 (52%) did as good or better than the previous season.
  • Returning 16 or more starters in the ACC the last 4 years has been somewhat beneficial.  Those 18 teams only posted a total win increase of +5 games but only 6 of 18 dropped in total wins.  Odds of equal or better year for FSU, Georgia Tech and Maryland off this metric.
  • Conclusion:  The conference, outside of Virginia Tech, lacks consistency and good coaching at the upper levels.  The returning starter numbers are largely useless when teams lack the consistency to maintain winning levels.  Florida State, Miami and North Carolina have all contributed to the volatility in the ACC over the last 4+ years.  Using returning starters numbers to even try and predict conference win totals is a coin flip at best. 

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