The Daily Nole

The ACC and FSU’s Returning Leader for Every Major Offensive Category

Mitch White/FSU athletics

The ACC and Florida State alike suffered a great deal of attrition on both sides of the ball from 2017. While big things are expected of the Seminoles, FSU is replacing a pair of Consensus All-Americans in running back Dalvin Cook and defensive end DeMarcus Walker.

On the offensive side of the ball in the conference, quarterbacks like Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson were taken in the first round. Elsewhere throughout the conference, stars like Cook, David Njoku and Bucky Hodges have moved on.

The conference however still has a number of talented players returning, including the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. In this piece, we’ll look at the leading returning player in the ACC for each major offensive statistical category and FSU’s leader in each.

The FSU ranking in parentheses will be the player’s rank among returning players and not in the ACC last season.


Completions: Daniel Jones, QB — Duke (270)
Only Watson and Trubisky completed more passes than Duke’s Daniel Jones a season ago. Jones quietly enjoyed a solid freshman campaign with more than 2,800 yards passing to go with 23 total touchdowns and just nine interceptions.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (3rd)
Deondre Francois finished seventh in the ACC with 235 completions a season ago. The only players returning who completed more passes are Jones and N.C. State’s Ryan Finley.

Attempts: Daniel Jones, QB — Duke (430)
Daniel Jones is not only the ACC’s returning leader in completions, but attempts as well.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (5th)
Being ranked higher in completions than attempts is a good thing for a quarterback and that’s where Deondre Francois is. Despite being criticized for his accuracy, Francois is third among returning ACC quarterbacks in completions and just fifth in attempts.

Completion Percentage: Eric Dungey, QB — Syracuse (64.8)
Oft-injured Eric Dungey had a solid year for Syracuse when healthy a season ago. Among ACC quarterbacks, only Watson and Trubisky had a higher completion percentage.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (4th)
As a redshirt freshman in 2016, Deondre Francois posted a 58.8 completion rate. On three separate occasions, he failed to complete half of his pass attempts.

Passing Yards: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (3,543)
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Lamar Jackson, set the world on fire as a sophomore in 2016. Jackson is known for his highlight plays, but is the ACC’s leading returning passer as well.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (2nd)
Only Jackson had more passing yards last season among returning players than FSU’s Deondre Francois. Francois passed for 3,350 yards and went over the 300-yard mark on five different occasions.

Yards Per Pass Attempt: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (8.7)
Lamar Jackson may have not had the greatest completion percentage during his Heisman year, but only Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman averaged more yards per attempt.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (2nd)
Francois averaged a respectable 8.4 yards per attempt last season. Francois ranks only behind Jackson among returning ACC quarterbacks.

Touchdown Passes: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (30)
Lamar Jackson was second in the ACC last season in touchdown passes behind only Deshaun Watson.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (3rd)
Deondre Francois threw 20 touchdown passes last season. Jackson and Virginia’s Kurt Benkert had more among returning quarterbacks.

Quarterback Rating: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (148.8)
Lamar Jackson owns another category. Despite finishing just sixth in the ACC in passer rating last season, the top five passers are off to the NFL.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (2nd)
The FSU signal-caller posted a 142.1 rating last year. Only Jackson has a higher rating among returning ACC passers.


Rushing Yards: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (1,571)
Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is not only the ACC’s top returning passer, but the conference’s top returning rusher as well. Only FSU’s Dalvin Cook rushed for more yards than Jackson last season.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Jacques Patrick, RB (19th)
Jacques Patrick played behind Cook for most of last season, but still finished with 350 yards on the ground.

Carries: Lamar Jackson, QB — Louisville (260)
Like most other offensive categories, Lamar Jackson is the ACC’s returning leader when it comes to carries. Only Dalvin Cook had more a year ago.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (14th)
Although a large portion of Francois’ carries a season ago came on sacks, he did rush for nearly 200 yards on 108 carries.

Yards Per Rush: Marcus Marshall, RB — Georgia Tech (6.5)
Georgia Tech’s Marcus Marshall finished just a fraction of a yard behind Louisville running back Brandon Radcliffe for the ACC lead last season. Marshall returns after carrying the ball 96 times in 2016.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Deondre Francois, QB (16th)
While Jacques Patrick averaged 5.7 yards per carry last season, he didn’t have enough carries to qualify among the ACC leaders. Francois last season, averaged just 1.8 yards per rush. Again, that was largely thanks to sacks.


Catches: Ervin Philips, WR — Syracuse (90)
After finishing fourth a season ago in the ACC behind Clemson’s Mike Williams, North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer and teammate Amba Etta-Tawo, Ervin Philips is the top returning pass-catcher in the ACC.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Nyqwan Murray, WR (23rd)
Although he didn’t get meaningful playing time until the middle of the year, Nyqwan Murray is FSU’s returning leader in receptions. He caught 27 passes last year.

Receiving Yards: Cam Phillips, WR — Virginia Tech (983)
Four ACC receivers finished with 1,000 yards last season, but all are off to the NFL. Cam Phillips finished fifth in the conference in receiving yards last season, but is the top returning player in that category.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Nyqwan Murray, WR (19th)
From seldom-used receiver to leading returning receiver, Nyqwan Murray finished with 441 yards receiving a year ago. Most of that damage was done during the second half of the season.

Yards Per Catch: Jester Weah, WR — Pittsburgh (24.2)
Pittsburgh’s Jester Weah was a big play waiting to happen last season, leading the ACC with a 24.2 yards per catch average. 10 of his 36 catches went for touchdowns.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Auden Tate, WR (8th)
Auden Tate came into his own as a sophomore for FSU last season, finishing with 25 catches for 409 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Tate averaged 16.4 yards per catch.

Touchdown Catches: Jester Weah, WR — Pittsburgh (10)
Jester Weah leads returning ACC receivers in two categories. Weah’s 10 touchdown catches last season ranked behind only Clemson’s Mike Williams and Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo.
FSU Leader and ACC Rank: Auden Tate, WR (5th)
Auden Tate’s six touchdown grabs a season ago ranked second for FSU behind only Travis Rudolph. Among returning ACC receivers, only Weah, Clemson’s Deon Cain, N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels and Olamide Zaccheaus of Virginia had more.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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