Ask a Blogger – ACC Coastal Division Pre-Season Roundtable – Part 1

Good evening from all of us at All Sports Discussion.  We’re happy to have@ztevans,  @DukeBlogMKline, and@vtechfanblog give their thoughts on the upcoming 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football season.Please see their bios below:

@ztevans:  Evans is from Princeton, NC and currently attends the University of North Carolina, graduating in December 2012. He is a staffer on The Daily Tar Heel’s Multimedia desk by day, tweeting too much about sports by night.. NOTE: He is not a sportswriter; he merely tweet/talk about sports from the perspective of a lifelong ACC fan “for fun.” The opinions presented are his alone and do not reflect the views of management or staff at The Daily Tar Heel.

@DukeBlogMKline:  Mike Kline is the Writer/operator of Duke Sports Blog. Fan of all things Duke, including football, yes I said football.

@vtechfanblog: Justin Clark is a Radford University graduate.  He is an avid Hokie fan and blogger that has been writing for Virginia Tech Fan since December of 2009.

Now that we’ve introduced you to our blogger panelists, let’s get started with some of their thoughts in our second annual ACC Coastal Division preseason panel!!!

Which team will win the ACC Coastal Division?

@ztevans: The Coastal Division is Virginia Tech’s personal playground.  Five out of seven years, the Hokies have represented the division in the ACC Championship Game, and I see no reason to think they will not make it six-of-eight in 2012.

@DukeBlogMKline: Until someone proves they can beat Virginia Tech with any regularity, it is the Hokies division to lose.

@vtechfanblog: Honestly, it’s going to come down to the winner of the Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech game like it does every year.  Whoever wins that game will win the Coastal Division. I like Virginia Tech’s chances here especially if Georgia Tech is going to be without a few defensive starters.

Who is the best player in the ACC Coastal Division?

@ztevans: Logan Thomas passed for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore last season, and added on 11 rushing touchdowns to boot.  The Hokies will need him to be both an excellent player and a leader this season, with a lot of turnover on the offensive side of the ball. I think he can live up to it, though.

@DukeBlogMKline: If I wanted to be a total homer I’d choose Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon and I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about it. The kid is on the verge of breaking a few Duke records, is a preseason All-ACC selection, and on the Biletnikoff Award watch list. So Vernon isn’t too shabby but for the sake of impartiality I’ll go with Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas who is pretty good in his own right and on the best team in the Coastal Division.

@vtechfanblog: I think you have to go with Logan Thomas here, even though I did ponder every other possibility before writing this response.  There’s just nobody else in the Coastal Division that’s being projected as a potential top five NFL draft pick in next April’s NFL draft.

Who is a dark horse team that could win the ACC Coastal Division?

@ztevans: I just think it would be hilarious to see North Carolina win the Coastal, simply because NCAA sanctions would prevent them from participating in the ACC Championship or in a bowl game this season. That would be lots of fun to talk about.  In more seriousness, though, you always have to keep an eye on Georgia Tech.  Yes, they were voted second in the Coastal by the ACC media, but the Yellow Jackets are easy to forget about because of their option offense.  At least, they are easy to forget about until your favorite team’s defense is trying to stop it, and usually failing.

@DukeBlogMKline: The trendy pick I’m sure will be North Carolina, but I’m not entirely convinced that Larry “The Hat” Fedora can make that kind of impact in his first year. North Carolina has talent for sure but how will they respond if things go bad, especially early? They have no post season to play for and if they lose a few games will they even care? So, with that being said, I’d have to lean toward Virginia as a true dark horse to keep an eye on. They have a lot of things to figure out but in Mike London the Cavaliers believe and last year may have been the beginning of seeing the Wahoos making some noise again in the ACC coastal Division.

@vtechfanblog: I really don’t think there is a true dark horse with UNC being barred from postseason play.  The Tar Heels could easily win nine or ten games with their schedule this year but you have to wonder just how hard those guys are going to play without a bowl game to look forward to.  So, by default I think you have to take a look at Virginia, especially since the Penn State game became a lot more winnable.  I think UVA may sneak its way to a 2nd place finish in the Coastal Division this year if everything goes right.

Final thoughts on the ACC Coastal Division?

@ztevans: Quite simply, I am ready for some football. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

@DukeBlogMKline: This could be a really competitive division or one that is completely lopsided. Duke is poised to take a shot at getting out of the No. 6 spot and of course the story out of at UNC is worth watching especially if they pull things out and create a scenario where the two best ACC teams don’t meet in the ACC Championship. Keep an eye on Georgia Tech. If they don’t have a bounce back season could Paul Johnson’s seat be getting hot. Will Virginia be able to build off of last season? Will Miami start to show glimpses of what they haven’t been in a long time? Lots of questions we won’t have answers to until they start playing the games.

@vtechfanblog: With the “Techmo Bowl” moving to Labor Day night here in 2012, this division may be decided in week one.  Obviously, the Hokies could lose twice this season, especially if FSU and Clemson live up to their billings.  Same could be said with Georgia Tech if they find a way to beat the Hokies on September 3rd.  But, I do think whoever wins that week one matchup will win the Coastal Division.

Which team will win the ACC?

@ztevans: Like last year, the dominant talk is that Florida State is ready to return to ACC glory.  I shared my skepticism in last year’s preseason roundtable, but I am much more optimistic for them this season.  As much as I want to stick with “Ol’ Faithful” in Virginia Tech, I have to go with the Seminoles this season.

@DukeBlogMKline: This could finally be the year order is restored and a school from Florida actually wins the ACC. A lot of stock is being placed in Florida State and they even got a vote for first place in a national preseason poll, though I’d bet that came from a Florida voter. Still the Seminoles have talent but can they be consistent enough to get back to the team that dominated the 1990s? In short I don’t think so but I think they’ll be good enough to be the ACC Champs at least.

@vtechfanblog:  I’m going to go a little outside the box here and pick Clemson.  Yea, I know… a giant leap.  But, I think the Tigers made a bold SEC-esque move this offseason hiring Oklahoma Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables.  That was a power move that should improve Clemson’s defensive scheme.  With their offense being the east-coast version of Oregon; if the Tigers can match that intensity on defense, they could go undefeated this year.

We thank @ztevans,  @DukeBlogMKline, and@vtechfanblog for their participation in this panel!!

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