Today is the Coastal Division. Blah, blah, blah, just get to it. Okay.
1 (3) Virginia Tech 10-2 (6-2)
Why they will end up here: I hate to give them credit, but they are reloaded on defense this year and Logan Thomas could run the ball himself all game and move the chains. Throw in all the wide receivers on this team and the offense should give them more than enough points to plow through anyone in the Coastal Division
Why they won’t end up here: The Hokies will need Thomas to do everything this year, especially early when they are breaking in new running backs. If their offensive line can't move opposing defenses or VT just can’t run the ball, defensive secondaries can sit back and key on the receivers. Tech has a tough time against really good teams and with Clemson and FSU on the schedule, that could be two losses right there. If they can’t take care of Georgia Tech in Week 1, that could mean a possibility of a 5-3 ACC season, and in the mix with several teams in the division.
Verdict: Yawn. Another year, another pick of Virginia Tech. If the defense is as stacked as they say it is, they could win 10 games walking away. But, it is Tech, and must go to Clemson, go to Miami, then host FSU. Tough to see them escape all of that without 2 losses. But another ACC Championship Appearance should be in the cards, unless. . .
2 (4) Georgia Tech 9-3 (6-2)
Why they will end up here: The triple option is a double edge sword for the Jackets. When it clicks, they have the ball all game long and keep opposing offenses off the field. They don’t have a daunting schedule outside of the opening VT game and even if they lose that one, GT should pace most of the Coastal
Why they won’t end up here: Again, if they beat Tech in week one in Blacksburg, that could be enough to win the division even with one or two losses down the road. But defense has alway been an issue and if they can string together first downs on offense, they might lose the possession game, and keep teams around longer than needed. Plus they have to travel to UNC, which could prove harder late in the season as Fedora should have his system well installed by then.
Verdict: This is the only team that could make a run at the Coastal Division besides the other Tech. They open the season at the Hokies and if they can pull of the upset, they will have a leg up all year long. If GT can pull it together on defense, it could be a great year for the Jackets.
3 (6) Virginia 7-5 (5-3)
Why they will end up here: It is hard to say how the offense will be this year. Based on the known commodity of Rocco, the Hoos should move the ball slightly better this year, especially if they can get the tight ends into the mix. Defensively, there will be a few changes, but the front seven should be more aggressive. They are still young and will probably lose some tough ones this year, but with Miami and UNC and home, should have a great shot at ending up 3rd in the Coastal.
Why they won’t end up here: If, and this is a pretty big if, Sims comes in and lives up to the hype, this could turn into a very dynamic offense and pull off some wins they shouldn’t, like at NC State or at Georgia Tech. But the biggest issue is with the secondary, who are still very young and green. Games like at Duke could swing to the ‘L’ column and let Miami and UNC leap them
Verdict: It will be a very interesting year for the Hoos. Richmond won’t show the Hoos too much and who knows what team they will field. Finally, every year the Hoos win one they shouldn’t and lose one they shouldn’t. Throw it all together and ending up slightly north of .500 is about where we should be.
4 (7) Miami 7-5 (5-3)
Why they will end up here: Just when you think they would turn a corner, they take another step back, mainly in the dismissal of Armstrong and the new allegations that came to light last week. But they still have 2 good quarterbacks, and a speedy running back. If they can utilize the talent in Coral Gables, they can surprise a few teams.
Why they won’t end up here: They are still unproven on defense and along the offensive line. Golden is still working with the past admins players and could lose a couple of those swing games against UNC and even at Duke.
Verdict: With all that said they still have plenty of talent to be competitive, but tough road games KSU, GT, and even UVa could prove difficult. They should be bowl bound unless they take another post season ban for the second year in a row.
5 (8) UNC 7-5 (3-5)
Why they will end up here: It’s a new regime in Chapel Hill and they should turn it around in a very short time. But with a whole new offense scheme, you need the players to fill it, and it might not evolve enough this season, or at least early on in the season. The middle of the division will be crowded and they have to travel to both Miami and UVa, so if they lose both of those, they could lose out on a tiebreaker.
Why they won’t end up here: As much as it pains me to say it, Fedora was a great hire. With Highsmith and Bernard at the skill slots, they could win a lot of games, including a late home tilt with Georgia Tech. Four teams in this division could end up 4-4 and one win could separate 2nd from 5th.
Verdict: Luckily, UNC has a very, very easy NC schedule and won’t face Clemson or FSU this year, but still might have problems with the ACC teams in 2012. If they can get rolling early this year, they could shoot up the rankings, but we are playing it a bit conservative right now.
6 (12) Duke 2-10 (0-8)
Why they will end up here: They are Duke. Every year, someone says ‘this is their year’. It never is and there is no indication that this won’t be the case again this year.
Why they won’t end up here: It seems Renfree has been there for 7 years, and with a target like Conner Vernon, they should wreak havoc on secondaries all year. They will need to get into slugfests to pull off wins this year, but at least they could be competitive with some of the mid-dawgs in the ACC.
Verdict: Duke’s defense is and has already been problems for the Blue Devils, and their schedule includes all the ACC heavyweights plus FIU and a trip to Stanford. Hopefully, they can score enough to make some games out of it, but it should be another typical year in Durham.