Ask a Blogger – ACC Coastal Division Pre-Season Roundtable – Part 2

Good evening from all of us at All Sports Discussion.  We’re happy to have@Category6UM,  @younglefhander, and@WillsWorldMN give their thoughts on the upcoming 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football season.Please see their bios below:

@Category6UM: Josh/Jerry Writers/Operators of Category6UM. Based in Miami, Florida. Went to University of Miami for Undergrad. Let’s go ‘Canes…

@younglefhander:  Adam Brand is a writer for The Victory Formation. He is an Atlanta native who bleeds white and gold.

@WillsWorldMN:  Will Ojanen is a writer for SCACCHoops. He is based in Eagan, Minnesota and is a huge UVA fan.

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?

@Category6UM: While we certainly feel a very young Miami will surpise a few teams along the way, Virginia Tech has to be the pick here. They have the best QB in the Division in Logan Thomas, as well as the best defensive front 7.

@younglefhander:  I think this comes down to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, yet again.  The Hokies have been slow starters in recent years, but can’t afford to do that this season.  That first game on Labor Day night is critical for both teams as it pertains to the division race, but I think it takes on added importance for Georgia Tech.  A win on opening weekend puts the Jackets in position to potentially win 10 games, while a loss might cap their win total at 8.  My head says Virginia Tech wins on Labor Day and takes the division, while my heart obviously wants to believe otherwise.  Even though I’m picking Virginia Tech, I don’t expect it to be an easy road to Charlotte for them.

@WillsWorldMN:  I don’t know if they are as talented as in years past, but until someone knocks them off the pedestal, I’m picking Virginia Tech.  Granted, they don’t have a lot back on offense, but they return most of the defense, and I think they’ll use that defense to win more games this year. UNC would have a chance, but they’re ineligible.

Who is the best player in the ACC Coastal Division?

@Category6UM: This is a tough one.  QB Thomas of Virginia Tech would be the obvious choice, but we really like the abilities of RB Giovanni Bernard of UNC. He’s got a little Ray Rice to him. We think he will improve on last year’s totals of 1,253 yards rushing (over 1500 all purpose) yards and 14 TDs overall.

@younglefhander:  This is always a question that will garner varied responses, as everyone’s definition of “best” is a bit different.  A Back Orwin Smith led the conference in yards per touch last year, and has the potential to have another stellar season this year.  Logan Thomas will shoulder more of the offensive burden this year, given the talent departures at other positions, so I’d say he’s the most important to his team.  I think Thomas will probably receive more accolades and attention, but Smith is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball.  For that reason, I’m going with Orwin Smith.

@WillsWorldMN I love players who can do a little bit of everything. Perry Jones fits that description. He has to split to work with two other backs at Virginia, but he still found a way to have over 1400 yards between rushing and receiving on about 230 touches. He did return punts too.

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

@Category6UM: Miami. The offensive line looks very stout. Seantrel Henderson is a former #1 overall recruit at tackle. G Brandon Linder and C Shane McDermott were also top tier recruits. QB Stephen Morris should be well protected by this group. Mike James looks to break out as a Senior RB, but 5 star freshman Randy “Duke” Johnson is already impressing many in his first practices as a collegiate. The key for UM will be whether they can stop the run on defense. Massive Darius Smith (down from 360 pounds to 320) is drawing raves at DT. He could make the difference this season with improved conditioning,  the likes we haven’t seen since hoops star Reggie Johnson was a freshman.

@younglefhander:  Since I picked Georgia Tech to battle it out with Virginia Tech for the division, the Jackets probably don’t meet the definition of dark horse.  Mike London and his Virginia Cavaliers had a great season last year, and surprised some folks with their improvement, and that has carried over into this preseason, as the Cavaliers have become the chic team to “look out for”.  While I think things are moving in the right direction in Charlottesville, I think the team that hasn’t gotten much ink that has a real shot at the division is Miami.  The roster is stocked with oodles of talent, and Al Golden has done a great job of keeping his team focused while rumors of NCAA violations have swirled around Coral Gables. If a dark horse is going to win this division, I think it’s Miami.

@WillsWorldMN I look at Georgia Tech. They could easily run the table at home, and if they can sneak a win out on the road, they will be right there in contention.

Final thoughts on the ACC Coastal Division?

@Category6UM: We think it will be wide open. Every team has their strengths and weaknesses. Virginia Tech for instance returns a lot of talent but has huge questions on its offensive line. We don’t see the winner of this division losing less then 2 games. It should be a fun interesting season that comes down to a few big time head to head matchups.

@younglefhander:  I think this continues to be a really solid division, not just in terms of the ACC, but college football in general.  Some out of conference struggles have taken some of the shine off of what is otherwise a good division, top to bottom.  The Atlantic Division will get the lion’s share of the attention this year, with Clemson defending an ACC title, and Florida State being “back” yet again, but I doubt either would trade places with Duke to play a Coastal Division schedule.

@WillsWorldMN The division isn’t as strong as in years past.  A lot of talent left, and there’s a lot of inexperience at a lot of key positions for most of the teams. I think Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Virginia will make bowls this year. I’m on the fence on Miami making a bowl. They have a really tough schedule.

Which team will win the ACC?

@Category6UM: We’re hoping Miami shocks the pundits, but realistically they are a year away. UM’s two biggest ACC Rivals, FSU and Virginia Tech will square off in a very exciting contest.  The Seminoles finally live up to the hype and win the ACC in a tough one.  If FSU lets up, Clemson would be our very next choice.

@younglefhander:  At this point, I think Florida State is the favorite.  Clemson should improve on offense in the second year of Chad Morris’ stint as offensive coordinator, but their conference schedule includes the two toughest teams from the Coastal Division, so a repeat is a tall order.  I don’t think any challenger from the Coastal has enough to best the Seminoles, so they’re my pick.

@WillsWorldMN: I think Florida State has the best chance. That defense is so strong, especially against the run. Their offense won’t be dynamic, but it will get the job done for them. If they falter, then Clemson will be nipping at their heels.

We thank @Category6UM,  @younglefhander, and@WillsWorldMN for their participation in this panel!!

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