By now I hope you’ve read @HokieGuru’s pre-season ACC panel interviews with our ACC friends from twitter. There are lots of great takes on the ACC and its players. Also I hope you’ve read my top 5 ACC players by position. Now it’s time for some predicted finishes, starting with the ACC Coastal Division.
1) Virginia Tech 10-2 (6-2)
At this point there isn’t any reason to think Virginia Tech won’t have another 10 win season. The non-conference schedule of Austin Peay, at Pittsburgh, Bowling and Cincinnati is manageable and the rest of the coastal is really not that strong. UNC and Miami are in NCAA limbo. Virginia and Georgia Tech don’t have enough talent to go the through the ACC with only one or two losses.
With QB Logan Thomas returning the Coastal is there for the taking by Virginia Tech. I don’t like the road game at Clemson, and while I do think the Hokies can beat FSU in Blacksburg, I’m not sure they won’t get tripped up on the road road game at Miami or UNC.
2) Georgia Tech 8-4 (5-3)
The Yellow Jackets got a terrible draw having to open the season at Virginia Tech. Other than that, Georgia Tech is a tough to team to figure. I can see them winning as many 10 games or as few as 6. Tevin Washington is a good QB, but he has to be a leader and playmaker this season. He just can’t manage the offense. The Jackets don’t have enough talent for that.
My biggest concern is the defensive line. This unit will be inexperienced and just simply hasn’t been very good the last couple of years. T.J Barnes is a 6-7 NoseTackle that’s going to need to play big. I don’t like the road slate of games. Virginia Tech, Clemson, and UGA road games are going to be extremely difficult.
3) Virginia 8-4 (5-3)
Mike London’s rebuilding project at Virginia continues. I’m not sure this is a breakthrough year though. I’m looking at 2013 for that when Alabama transfer Phillip Sims takes over fulltime at QB.
Junior Michael Rocco is an adequate QB, but he’s not Sims in terms of raw talent. The OOC schedule is one of the ACC’s toughest with games against Penn State and at TCU. If the Cavaliers can get out of their first 4 games 3-1 after playing Richmond, Penn State, at Georgia Tech, and at TCU, they have a great shot at being 7-1 heading to NC State.
4) North Carolina 7-5 (4-4)
Even though UNC is not eligible for the ACC Title game, the Heels have more than enough talent to still make some real noise. They possess a quality quarterback in Bryn Renner and arguably the ACC’s best running Giovani Bernard. UNC avoids Florida State and Clemson from the Atlantic Division, but it’s probably going to need to figure out what arch rival NC State has over them. North Carolina hasn’t beat NC State since 2006. Larry Fedora is bringing a new hurry offense up to Chapel Hill.
5) Miami 6-6 (4-4)
Oh Miami… will you ever retain your former glory? Al Golden is recruiting well, but this team lost more than 10 starters off last year’s team. Gone are the starting QB Jacory Harris and leading RB’s Lamar Miller and WR Tommy Streeter.
The schedule is daunting to the say the least. There are non-conference games at Kansas State, a virtual roadgame Notre Dame (Chicago, IL) and South Florida. The Canes would be very happy to go 2-1 in those 3. An inexperienced team and a tough schedule, that’s not a good combination. If Al Golden could get Miami to 9-3 he should be the ACC’s coach of the year.
6) Duke 3-9 (1-7)
I like Duke’s David Cutcliffe. I really do. He can really coach offensive football, but I just don’t see many wins on the schedule no matter how I look at it. Are they going to beat Clemson, win at Florida State, at Virginia Tech, or at Georgia Tech? They also have to play at Stanford.
If the Blue Devils are going to get to a bowl they have to go 3-1 in the non-conference, and then they’ll need to pull off a host of ACC upsets.