ACC Coastal Division Preview – Tale of Two Divisions [ACC Football]
The ACC is split up in a weird way, Coastal and Atlantic. If you were just an average fan you couldn’t figure out which division has which teams. I know the BIG-10’s Legends and Leaders are even worse but that is beside the point. Last year the ACC did a much better job getting on national TV through Thursday and Friday night games, which makes me a pseudo-expert on the conference and not just college football as a whole.
1. Virginia Tech
There are three things that are certain in this world: death, taxes, and Virginia Tech getting ten wins under Frank Beamer. The last time Virginia Tech got less than ten wins was in 2003 when the Hokies went a measly 8-5.
Quarterback Logan Thomas got obvious comparisons to Cam Newton as they are both agile, tall, African-American quarterbacks, but Thomas doesn’t have the speed Newton does. That still didn’t stop him from rushing for 469 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also threw for 3013 yards and 19 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. Michael Holmes is expected to start in the backfield for Virginia Tech and with only receivers 3 and 4 from last year Thomas may need some help on the ground to make things easier through the air. The biggest concern is the offensive line, which only has 17 starts between the projected starting unit. The Hokies start off with Georgia Tech on a Monday and then play again 5 days later, so that will be tricky for the Hokies.
Frank Beamer’s defenses have always been top notch and most of what he does you can find across the country a year or two later. Only in 2010 did opposing teams average more than 18 points a game. With 9 returning starters on defense the unit will be even better. The other biggest concerns this season is that they play at North Carolina, at Clemson, at Miami, and at Boston College.
2. North Carolina
It appears that North Carolina is a very hard school to get in to, but easy once you’re there, especially if you’re an athlete. (I kid, I kid) The Tar Heels have Larry Fedora for a full preseason this time without Butch Davis getting cut two weeks before the first game. North Carolina actually outgained opponents last season by almost 20 yards, which shows they should improve upon their schedule from last year as well as having 13 returning starters.
On offense Giovani Bernard was a playmaker last year rushing for 1253 yards and 13 touchdowns, good enough for a 5.2 yards per carry average. Bryn Renner who was the quarterback last year is also back after recording an amazing 68.3% completion rate for 3086 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Tar Heels will be without receiving star Dwight Jones but have 8 of their top 10 back on the offensive line.
On defense they have 6 returning starters made up of two ends, two linebackers, and two defensive backs. The defense has their 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th returning tackler back from last year. While the Tar Heels travel to Miami they get NC State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech at home and miss Florida State and Clemson.
3. Georgia Tech
“The triple option can’t work in BCS conferences. It’s a gimmick and you can just play disciplined defense to beat it.” In actuality, the Yellow Jackets have already made a BCS bowl game. Last year the Jackets went 8-5 and have 13 starters back this year.
Tevin Washington was the leading rusher last year with 986 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground as well as 1652 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. David Sims, one of the blocking backs had 698 yards rushing and Orwing Smith had 615 yards while averaging over 10 yards a carry.
The schedule gets the Yellow Jackets home games against Virginia, Miami, and Boston College. They do travel to North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.
4. Miami (FL)
If anything, it is pretty clear that no athlete will have more than playing football at Miami. All the stories of awesome parties on South Beach were too much. I’m surprised their recruiting isn’t going better after that.
Golden, although already linked to an extra benefits case already, the tie wearing coach led Miami to 6-6 and now the Hurricanes are off their post-season ban. The last couple years the Hurricanes have been a negative in the turnover column, which would lead me to believe that they may benefit from turnovers this year. With only ten returning starters the Hurricanes may be looking at a rebuilding year. Stephen Morris may be an upgrade on Jacory Harris who was incredibly inconsistent and was a big play guy, he either threw a touchdown or got picked.
The ‘Canes get NC State, North Carolina, Florida State, and Virginia Tech at home, which is great for competing in the conference with toss-up games on the road.
Under Mike London’s first year as head coach the Virginia Cavaliers got 8 wins. Even more impressive is they did it being -7 in the turnover category. The Cavaliers get 12 returning starters back.
On offense the line has three starters coming back as well as running back Perry Jones who ran for 915 yards. The other monster in the dual-back system is Kevin Parks who rain for 709 yards and 9 touchdowns. On defense Virginia only has 1 starter back on the defensive line, 4 of the top 6 linebackers, but have a new set of safeties. All the tough conference games except for Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are at home, which bodes well for a team that had four close wins last year.
Another reason why Spurrier should make the college football hall of fame as a coach is because he got Duke to a bowl game. If you ever see a Duke football game on espn3 it has the feeling of a neutral site. No one is really in the stands and they are making no noise.
The Blue Devils could shock some people with 17 starters coming back including 7 of the top 9 on the offensive line and have plenty of young experience on the defensive line. Also of note, the Blue Devils have gone 3-9 against the spread the last two years.