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Aug
04
2011

2011 ACC Coastal Division Predictions

We’ve gone through the ACC’s top players, we’ve commented on the summer happenings, now it’s prediction time starting with the ACC Coastal Division. Frankly I would be stunned if Virginia Tech doesn’t roll through this division. The combination of easy schedule, plus the issues of the rest contenders makes this division the Hokies to lose.

It’s a shame the Tar Heels are in complete disarray because they had a team talented enough to give the Hokies a run. Keep an eye on Virginia. Mike London is doing some positive things and the Cavs could surprise some folks this year.

Atlantic Division Predictions

1) Virginia Tech 10-2 (6-2)

Is there any reason why Virginia Tech won’t contend for yet another ACC Title? The Hokies are by far the most complete team in the Coastal Division. Frank Beamer is still going strong, and as long as he’s there Virginia Tech is a perennial 10 win team.

Will finish 11-1 if: New QB Logan Thomas has improved as much as the coaches say he did in the spring, and if Mike O’Cain can put a spark in the play calling. O’Cain has taken over playing calling duties from Bryan Stinespring who was starting to frustrate the Hokie faithful.

Will finish 9-3 if: The Hokie lose focus in a game or two. James Madison anyone? Virginia Tech’s schedule this season is one of the easiest in the country. I’m not knocking the Hokies for soft scheduling. They’ll play tough OOC games in most years, but not this season. It really is a tailor made schedule. They get Clemson, Miami, and North Carolina at home.

2) Miami Hurricanes 8-4 (5-3)

The Hokies are the Coastal favorites and UNC and Georgia Tech had off-season NCAA issues. UNC’s are still on-going. New coach Al Golden doesn’t have the pressure of being the Coastal Division favorites and didn’t have to deal with a tremendous amount of off the field issues this summer.

Will finish 10-2 if: Miami can finally play up to their potential. Last year the Hurricanes showed flashes of being the U again. There were blowout wins over Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Georgia Tech. There were also blowout losses to Notre Dame, Florida State, and an inexplicable loss at home to South Florida.

Will finish 7-5 if: Jacory Harris continues to be the most frustrating QB in the ACC. If Miami has to start going back and forth between Harris and backup Stephen Morris, then the Canes season is in trouble. The early part of the schedule is brutal. Road ACC games @Maryland, @Virginia Tech, and @North Carolina could start the Canes 0-3 in the ACC.

3) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 7-5 (4-4)

You can tell Paul Johnson is just seething after having to answer questions about Georgia Tech’s NCAA probation following a 6-7 season that had him mad enough. No coach in the ACC wants the season to start sooner.

Will finish 9-3 if: The Yellow Jackets can be more efficient in the red zone. Even after QB Josh Nesbitt went down, Georgia Tech still had no problem moving the ball up and down the field under backup Tevin Washington. Improvement in this one area is worth at least 2 more wins. The early part of the schedule is not daunting; Georgia Tech needs to open the year 4-0.

Will finish 6-6 if: This team lacks proven talent, it’s that simple. Offensive Lineman Omoregie Uzzi is the only pre-season All-ACC player on the team. If some of the players that Tech is counting on (RB Roddy Jones, RB Orwin Smith, LB Jeremiah Attacohu) don’t step up with strong seasons, Paul Johnson could be looking at another 6 win season.

4) North Carolina Tar Heels 7-5 (4-4)

What a disaster the off-season has been. Butch Davis and AD Dick Baddour are gone. Defensive coordinator Everett Withers has taken over as head coach with just a month to prepare a team that will play 2011 in the shadow of a NCAA investigation.

Will finish 8-4 if: Withers can focus the Tar Heels the way Davis did last year. Davis did a remarkable job last season holding the Heels together despite several player suspensions. There’s talent on this team especially defensively. The road schedule is brutal with games at Georgia Tech, Clemson, NC State, and Virginia Tech.

Will finish 6-6 if: QB Bryn Renner struggles. Renner doesn’t have much experience, but if he plays as well as he practices he’ll be fine. The NCAA will be coming to Chapel Hill in October, and this team could get really be in trouble especially if they lose a couple of games early.

5) Virginia Cavaliers 6-6 (3-5)

There’s a sense of optimism around the Cavalier program that hasn’t been in Charlottesville in a number of years. Mike London is quietly recruiting well and is gradually improving a talent base that dropped off in recent years.

Will finish 7-5 if: Virginia can get some consistency at quarterback. At the moment Mike London hasn’t named a starter, and this is a position that’s been shaky for Virginia for a while. The Cavs don’t have enough talent surrounding whoever is QB, to make up for anything less than decent quarterback play.

Will finish 4-8 if: The Cavaliers start the season slowly. Virginia plays 5 of their first 7 game at home, plus a winnable game at Indiana, and a game at UNC. Who knows where the Heels head will be at by the time that game rolls around on September 17?  The final 5 games of the schedule are brutal outside of Duke. If the Cavs are under .500 by the time they play at Miami the last of week of the season, there won’t be a bowl game in 2011.

6) Duke Blue Devils 4-8 (2-6)

David Cutcliffe has done a great job making Duke competitive, but can they get over the hump and get to a bowl game? They will have some of the best offensive talent in the ACC in 2011.

Will finish 6-6 if: Duke can get anything from their defense. Duke just doesn’t have much on that side of the ball. It was a unit that ranked 108th in defense in the nation last season. If the Blue Devils can finish in the top 80, they’ll be able to score an upset or two and sneak into a bowl game. Sean Renfree is the ACC’s most underrated quarterback.

Will finish 2-10 if: The defense doesn’t improve. The Offense is going to be able to score, but if the defense is still giving up 35+ points a game, the Blue Devils will lose a lot of this season.


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