Good evening from all of us at All Sports Discussion. Good evening from all of us at All Sports Discussion. We’re happy to have @ztevans, @DukeBlogMKline, @vtechfanblog, and @FearTheStache give their thoughts on the upcoming 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football season. Please see their bios below:
@ztevans: Zach Evans is from Princeton, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina in December 2012.
@FearTheStache: Bryan Mack was one of the co-founders of the Fighting Wannstaches, followed by a year-long stint as a writer with the Pitt Script Blog, and now a writer for Cardiac Hill. He could be considered the Todd Graham of Pitt blogs.
Now that we’ve introduced you to our blogger panelists, let’s get started with some of their thoughts in our third annual ACC Coastal Division preseason panel!!!
Which team will win the ACC Coastal Division?
@ztevans: The Coastal is going to be very competitive this year, so there’s not an overwhelming amount of conviction behind this pick. However, I like Miami’s chances to take the division. The Hurricanes tied for the best record in the Coastal last season and return 18 starters from that squad.
@DukeBlogMKline: I think every year I’ve done a prediction I’ve always predicted that Virginia Tech would win the Coastal. This is the first year I will diverge from that pick. I have to give a slight edge to Miami. They return a good number of starters, and possibly the best player in running back Duke Johnson. The program has survived crushing penalties and look like they are well on the road to re-establishing themselves a the team to beat in the ACC.
@vtechfanblog: The easy pick here would be to take either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech since they’ve dominated this division since 2005. However, I think this is finally the year where neither the Hokies nor the Yellow Jackets make it back to Charlotte. I’m going with UNC just because of their schedule. While VT and Miami has a tough 2nd half lined up, the Tar Heels have a legitimate chance to finish out the latter part of October and November at 6-0.
@FearTheStache: I may be new to the ACC, but I would imagine general football principles still apply. The team with arguably the best offensive line and running back will do fairly well, and that team is the Miami Hurricanes. Also, closing out the schedule with Virginia, Duke, and Pitt will certainly help their cause.
Who is the best player in the ACC Coastal Division?
@ztevans: Duke Johnson of Miami fell just shy of 1,000 yards as a freshman last year, scoring 10 touchdowns for the Miami offense. That’s not including his two kickoff return touchdowns. Forget the Coastal Division, Johnson may be one of the best running backs in the nation this year.
@DukeBlogMKline: Not sure I’ve I can elaborate on what most are thinking, but Duke Johnson appears to be the best player and it might not be close. He lit the world on fire as a freshman, and should only be better, with a year under his belt.
@vtechfanblog: Running back Duke Johnson at Miami and it’s not even close. I can make a decent effort at why Logan Thomas might deserve that honor but after his performance last season (which wasn’t all his fault) and his performance this spring, I don’t have much of a leg to stand on. Johnson burst onto the scene as a freshman and if he can stay healthy, he may be looking at a 1500 yard season. Right now, he would be the only true contender from the Coastal division in the ACC Player of the Year race.
@FearTheStache: Duke Johnson of Miami. A year older and wiser, the sophomore will become a more consistent running back. His nearly 7 yards per carry will likely drop in 2013…but without splitting carries, the overall yards will increase significantly. When all is said and done, he will be the best player in the ACC and a Doak Walker finalist.
Who is a dark horse team that could win the ACC Coastal Division?
@ztevans: It’s hard to pick a team that qualifies as a “dark horse” in the division. Virginia Tech is the traditional power, Miami and North Carolina are loaded with talent, and Georgia Tech is the only team not named Virginia Tech to ever win the division. Given the remaining choices, I’ll give a nod to Pittsburgh. Virginia has a difficult schedule, Duke loses Sean Renfree, and Pittsburgh had one of the best defenses in the Big East last year.
@DukeBlogMKline: Thi is a two team race most likely between North Carolina and Georgia Tech. I’d have to give the edge to the Tar Heels, as much as I don’t want to. They are loaded with talent, fast, strong and with a full year under Larry Fedora’s scheme. I think they will win just enough games to possibly win the Coastal for the second straight year. Oh, that’s right they didn’t win it last year, or did they?
@vtechfanblog: It’s funny, I think a lot of people feel Miami and North Carolina are the favorites, which would leave the only two teams that have won the division previously, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech as the two that would the darkhorse candidates. If you want a true darkhorse, I would say Pittsburgh but losing Russel Shell may have ended any chance at them getting to the six win mark likely needed to win it this season.
@FearTheStache: Not to be a homer, but I’m going with Pitt. While only a 6-7 team in 2012, they took Notre Dame to triple overtime and lost to Syracuse by 1…and they did this with Tino Sunseri at quarterback. This team certainly has question marks. Ray Graham and Tino Sunseri graduated and Rushel Shell transferred. Isaac Bennett is a capable running back, but Tom Savage has had to sit out the last 2 seasons since transferring from Rutgers to Arizona and then to Pittsburgh. Fortunately, Paul Chryst has a history of coaching up guys. Not saying this is likely to happen, but the possibility does exist.
Final thoughts on the ACC Coastal Division?
@ztevans: I haven’t been this excited about the Coastal Division entering the season in a long time. Some of the other teams in the division (see: Miami, North Carolina) have caught up to The Two Techs in terms of performance, as seen by last year’s three-way-tie atop the division. 2013 should only be more exciting, with the addition of Pittsburgh, the coaching changes in Blacksburg, and the two sanctioned teams from last year hopefully gaining postseason eligibility this year.
@DukeBlogMKline: I’ve got two things. First I’m going to stick to what I know best about, Duke, the Blue Devils, not Johnson. The Blue Devils are an interesting case study in building a program. Most expect a fall-off, but I can see this team winning as many as 8 games if they stay healthy. They are a bit of a mystery with a lot of new pieces and a new look offense. And for that reason I’m excited about seeing what they can do. I’m also interested in seeing the newest member, Pitt, join the ACC’s Coastal. They had a rough season last year, but are a program rich in tradition and have a solid fan base. So I’m looking forward to seeing them join the conference and hopefully make it stronger.
@vtechfanblog: I think this is shaping up to be an exciting season on both sides of the conference. The coastal division is completely up for grabs with four teams having a legitimate opportunity to win it. The only downside is while there’s a lot of optimism for a lot of teams, I don’t see a team that’s going to be a dominate force in the national picture. I could see the winner of the Coastal sporting an 8-4 record if their losses fall right. That would be a little unfortunate but other than that, I’m excited to see what unfolds in 2013.
@FearTheStache: Despite Miami and North Carolina’s post-season ineligibility last season, there was a considerable amount of parity in the Coastal. If the status quo remains, that could mean an 8 or 9 win team wins the division. It also means that the division could be up for grabs until late in the season. All that said, I’m excited to see Pitt’s first go-round in the division.
Which team will win the ACC?
@ztevans: Ultimately, I believe the ACC champion will come from the Atlantic Division, either Clemson or Florida State. Jameis Winston showed off an impressive arm in both Florida State’s spring game and in right field for the Seminoles’ baseball team this year. However, I’ll give the edge to Clemson based on Tajh Boyd’s experience.
@DukeBlogMKline: At this point, I have to lean toward the Clemson Tigers. They bring back most of their weapons on a team that was already impressive last season. They should be just as good and most likely better. With the most likely challenger in the Atlantic being Florida State, who has to replace their quarterback, I think that Tajh Boyd will help the Tigers hoist the conference trophy on their way to a BCS bowl game.
@vtechfanblog: I would be shocked if Clemson didn’t win the ACC this season and represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl once more. They have more playmakers than several teams combined. Of course, in a Championship game, anything is possible but I just don’t see anybody unseating the Tigers as the King of the ACC just yet.
@FearTheStache: I’m going to have to go with Clemson as the Orange Bowl representative. Florida State comes in a close second, but I have to give the nod to the team returning their quarterback…plus Florida State will probably lose to Wake.
We thank everyone for their participation in this panel!!