Author: Contributing Writer @HokieGuru
ACC Pre-season RoundTable Series
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Roundtable Two
We’re happy to have @younglefhander, @TKWSports, and @willsworldmn give their thoughts on the upcoming 2011 ACC football season in part 2 of Coastal Division Preview. @hokieguru is the moderator here today at @TalkinACCSports for this great panel.
First up is @younglefhander. I am a native Atlantan, and one of a handful of males from my family that did not attend the Georgia Institute of Technology. I actually attended Georgia State (hey we have a football team now!), but my family has had season tickets to Georgia Tech football for as long as I can remember. I write regularly for TheVictoryFormation, where I’m primarily responsible for ACC football coverage. He hates everything associated with the University of Georgia.
Next up is @TKWSports. He is multimedia journalist from southwest Virginia who maintains The Back Porch blog, the home of all sports-related deep thoughts on shallow subjects, as well as his slightly more professional site, TKWSports.com. @TKWSports is on the verge of completing a Masters degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University, while also working as a Sports Editorial Assistant at The Roanoke Times.
Third is @willsworldmn. He is originally from Virginia, and currently lives in Minnesota. Writer for scacchoops.com.
Which team will win the ACC Coastal Division?
@younglefhander: I think the Coastal is Virginia Tech’s to lose. Even given that they’re breaking in a new QB, they’re better positioned than any other team in the division. Miami has a new head coach, UNC is still dealing with the firing of Butch Davis at an absurdly late hour, and Georgia Tech is unsettled at the QB position themselves, so that leaves the Hokies as the most solid team.
@TKWSports: Maybe it’s the homer in me or maybe it’s the obvious answer, but it really seems the only team that can keep Virginia Tech from winning the Coastal is Virginia Tech. Their toughest tests will be at home, Miami on October 8th likely being the toughest and UNC visiting on a Thursday night (November 17) coming in second.
The only real thing that scares me is the possibly of the Hokies getting too comfortable before they are really tested. Virginia Tech teams peak when they have a chip on their shoulder and between the preseason hype and soft early schedule, I’m guessing their shoulders will be fairly weightless entering ACC play.
That said, if anyone knows how to dominate the Coastal it’s Frank Beamer and that factor alone should propel the Hokies to another December trip to Charlotte.
@willsworldmn: It’s hard to go against Virginia Tech. They always have a lot of talent on the field. Not only that, but their schedule really works in their favor. All of their tougher games are in Blacksburg.
Who is the best player in the ACC Coastal Division?
@younglefhander: David Wilson is probably the most talented player in the division. Jacory Harris has been highly touted, and it seems that he should be better than he’s been, but I have no faith in his ability to be an impact player. The most under the radar player in the division is Orwin Smith, who has been electric with the ball in his hands, when he’s gotten playing time. Unfortunately for Smith (and Georgia Tech fans), he’s not been consistent enough when he doesn’t have the ball to supplant other players ahead of him on the depth chart.
@TKWSports: I really tried to go somewhere else with this, but I really can’t go against Virgina Tech’s David Wilson here. Not only has the guy caught a rabbit and gone Spider Man on Cassell Coliseum, he will be the feature back in a Virginia Tech offense that is primed and ready for him. Last season the Hokies benefited from having two very talented backs in Darren Evans and Ryan Williams who split the major of carriers, but with both backs going pro there should now be a ton of touches for Wilson’s taking.
Along with the best player, I’d like to nominate the Hokies’ Blake DeChristopher as most likely to have a folk tale written about him before season’s end. Just look at this dude and tell me you wouldn’t believe he lassoed and rode a tornado to practice while fending off a herd of mountain lions.
@willsworldmn: I may be going out there a little bit, but I think Jayron Hosley of Virginia Tech is the best. I hate to speculate on players that haven’t played much, but I’ve see Hosley play. This guy is a beast at cornerback. He had nine interceptions last year. If any quarterback tries to throw his way, it usually doesn’t end up well for the quarterback.
Who is a dark horse team that could win the ACC Coastal Division?
@younglefhander: The best way to look at this question is from the bottom up. Virginia and Duke don’t have what it takes to get to the ACC title game. They can possibly steal a game here or there, and aid another team in their effort, but on their own, they come up short. There’s too much upheaval in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels to make it to Charlotte, and when you add in the fact that they’ve been perennial underachievers, I have to eliminate them. I think Miami or Georgia Tech could both win 8 games, if things go the right way, and if Virginia Tech stumbles in one or both games against the Hurricanes or Jackets, that opens the door for either of these teams. While Miami has a significantly talented roster, I don’t know that they can adapt to Al Golden’s new system quickly enough to win the Coastal. Georgia Tech enters its 4th season under Paul Johnson, and while talent abounds at certain skill positions, WR and QB remain question marks. Stephen Hill has yet to deliver as the heir apparent to Demaryius Thomas, and while Tevin Washington is the presumptive starter at QB, he’s been less of a dynamic player than his predecessor Joshua Nesbitt, and is not as good of an athlete as Synjyn Days or highly touted freshman Vad Lee. If Georgia Tech can knock off the Hokies in Atlanta (and that’s a big if), the division opens up. Miami would have to run the table in the division to get to Charlotte, as would Georgia Tech. Both dark horse teams have a tall task ahead of them if they want to play for the conference crown.
@TKWSports: Maybe I’m a sucker for a good Denzel Washington-esque plotline, but I think UNC fits this role perfectly. So far Everett Withers seems like the perfect guy for this gig. The Charlotte native knows he has the deck stacked against him and is going with the “let’s just have fun approach,” but let’s not forget much of the team was around last year when they went through similar adversity.
They return 13 starters and don’t have an awful schedule. They get Miami at home and, outside of a trip to Blacksburg, don’t have any extreme road tests.
@willsworldmn: If they rally around the new coach, North Carolina can still be heard from. They still have a good amount of talent back, and like Virginia Tech, has a schedule that really works in their favor. The only game they will have trouble in is at Virginia Tech at the end of the year.
Final thoughts on the ACC Coastal Division?
@younglefhander: This is an in between year for most teams in the division. Miami has a new head coach, UNC has to chart a new path for the future going forward, and Virginia Tech is breaking in a new QB. Georgia Tech has to evaluate whether Tevin Washington can be the solution at QB (he probably is not the answer), and Virginia and Duke continue to be Virginia and Duke. All of that said, the games between the top 4 teams in the division should be compelling match-ups, and we should see plenty of entertaining football from the teams in this division. Talent matters, and there’s plenty of it on each roster in Coral Gables, Chapel Hill, Atlanta, and Blacksburg.
@TKWSports: Virginia Tech is again the Joseph of the Coastal Division, already being handed the preseason technicolor dreamcoat. While I obviously don’t disagree with the pick, I do know how things went early on for Joseph and I fully expect every team facing the Hokies to bring their best efforts in an attempt to toss them in a well.
Also, don’t downplay the offseason coaching moves in Blacksburg. Quarterback coach Mike O’Cain will hold the play calling duties this season, much to the liking of the many Bryan Stinespring haters. Though I’ve long thought Stinespring’s glaring weakness was his in-game calling ability, Virginia Tech was very successful under his reign, leaving the new caller with a high mark to live up to.
@willsworldmn: After Virginia Tech, things will get interesting. I don’t trust Miami nearly as much as everyone else does. They have a new coach, and still don’t have a quarterback. They may luck in to second place. Georgia Tech is breaking in a new quarterback and running back trio, and could have a down year. Virginia could make a bowl game provided they figure out their quarterback situation, and Duke will likely be Duke and be around the four-win mark.
Which team will win the ACC?
@younglefhander: The conference is Florida State’s to lose. Jimbo Fisher enters his second year as head coach with an ACC title game appearance under his belt, and E.J. Manuel should be a more dynamic player than Christian Ponder. Clemson is the biggest obstacle for the Noles in the Atlantic division, but they’re learning a new offensive system, and have to replace Kyle Parker at QB. I expect a rematch of last year’s ACC Championship Game, Virginia Tech vs. Florida State, but the outcome will be reversed.
@TKWSports: Everyone is loving some Florida State right now, but everyone was buying their stock last year as well. I just don’t know if I’m sold on the E.J. Manuel ascent-from-heaven story just yet and I think that is where the Seminoles will rise or fall.
I think FSU and Virginia Tech meet again in Charlotte and I think Santa comes early for Hokie fans for the second straight year.
@willsworldmn: Virginia Tech. Like I said before, the schedule definitely works in their favor. They will win double digit games, and there’s a chance they could go to the ACC title game 12-0.
Thanks to the panelists for providing their insight on the ACC’s Coastal Division!!