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 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) football season.Please see their bios below:
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?
@TheStateoftheU: Of course this will seem like a “homer’ pic but I have to go with the U. Miami returns 20/22 starters, including all 5 members of a terrific offensive line and darkhorse Heisman candidates QB Stephen Morris and RB Duke Johnson. The defense was awful last year, ranking 112th nationally. But with an offense that might be top 5 in the country, the D only needs subtle improvements for the ‘Canes to be the class of the Coastal. Highly touted sophomore DBs Deon Bush and Tracy Howard will help All ACC LB Denzel Perryman do just enough to support the explosive O.
@younglefhander: Historically, this comes down to one of two teams: Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. I think it stays that way this year. Between those two, I have to go with Georgia Tech. It’s become somewhat popular to discount Georgia Tech’s appearance in the ACC title game last year, as if they actually finished in third place in the division, when they finished in a three way tie for first at 5-3. Two of those losses came in overtime, and the other came after surrendering a fourth quarter lead. Given the potency of the offense, the defense needs to make only modest improvement for Tech to convert some of those losses into wins. With a new defensive coordinator in Ted Roof, modest improvement should be the baseline expectation.
@WillsWorldMN: This is a tough one. I think four teams are capable of winning the Coastal this year: Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia Tech. I have big questions about all three. I don’t trust Virginia Tech’s offense, nor do I trust Miami’s defense or Georgia Tech’s passing game, the latter is something we say every year. And how is UNC going to be on offense without Gio Bernard? However, I’m leaning towards Georgia Tech because I think their quarterback play will be a lot better this year with Vad Lee at the helm, and I think the defense will be a lot more improved. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if a 4-4 or 5-3 conference record won this division.
Who is the best player in the ACC Coastal Division?
@TheStateoftheU: Has to be Randy “Duke” Johnson of UM. Johnson rushed for 947 yards and 6.8 a clip while sharing carries with Mike James last season. This year the rock will be primarily his. Duke is a steady receiver out of the backfield as well, and one of the best KRs in the country to boot. He can break a long run on the outside, or get you the tough yards between the tackles. His stiff arm is one of the best I have seen in college football in years. Johnson is the complete package. I’d be shocked if he didn’t score at least 20 TDs this season.
@younglefhander: Duke Johnson. He’s probably not only the best player in the division, but the best player in the conference. He’s a do-it-all back, and excels at pretty much everything. He’s a holy terror to gameplan against.
@WillsWorldMN: I’d probably say Duke Johnson of Miami, simply because he can run a long ways on any given play. His highest rushing game total was 16 last season, and still had four 100 yard games. Let’s not forget too that he took to kickoffs back for touchdowns as well.
Who is a dark horse team that could win the ACC Coastal Division?
@TheStateoftheU: UNC (though technically not a dark horse) would be my second choice behind Miami. Tre Boston is as good a S as there is in conference. Kareem Martin is a fantastic DE. Can they replace the production of departed star tailback Giovanni Bernard? Look for the passing game to amp up behind sensational sophomore WR Quinshad Davis and the steady right arm of QB Bryn Renner.
@younglefhander: In a division where at least three teams have a legitimate shot to win, I guess I’d have to go with UNC. In order to make it to Charlotte, they’ll have to win some games in shootout fashion, and given the loss of Gio Bernard, that could be a tall order. I don’t like their chances as much as Tech, Tech, or Miami, but should those three stumble, the Tar Heels are the next most likely to step up.
@WillsWorldMN: Aside from my Georgia Tech pick, which is a bit of a darkhorse, but look at Duke’s schedule. You could argue they could start the season 5-1 again this year, and the road games are winnable too. Everything depends on how well Anthony Boone can replace Sean Renfree. The defense still needs to be better, but they have a favorable enough schedule to be in the hunt.
Final thoughts on the ACC Coastal Division?
@TheStateoftheU: While the star laden rosters of Clemson and FSU make the Atlantic the more touted division, the Coastal is no slouch. VT had an off year last season, but underestimating Frank Beamer and Co. would be mistake. UNC and Miami are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Duke continues to get better year in and year out. It should be a wild year (as it always is) in the Coastal. However, the ‘Canes finally have the horses to make it to the ACCCG.
@younglefhander: This is one of the most fun divisions in college football. There aren’t multiple national title contenders every year like the SEC West, but the division is competitive top to bottom every year, and it produces a ton of quality football. It’s also exciting to watch. Given some of the defensive shortcomings from some of the teams in the division, the scoreboard is likely to light up every Saturday, and if nothing else, you’ll be entertained.
@WillsWorldMN: The lights and glamour are going to be in the Atlantic Divison this year. But the Coastal race will be interesting to watch. As I said earlier, I could see four teams that have a shot of winning it. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a tie for the conference title. I think Virginia Tech will win a lot of 20-10 type games, while Miami could win a lot of 45-35 type of games, and they could lose them by the same score as well. Georgia Tech can score a lot too, but if they get behind, they’re in trouble. Bryn Renner is sort of forgotten given the talented quarterbacks in the conference, but UNC will be in another bowl this year. Duke could be a bowl team with the way their schedule plays out. Virginia must have upset the scheduling gods, because their schedule is torturous this year. Despite that, a bowl isn’t out of the question. Pitt might be in for a tough year in their inaugural ACC season.
Which team will win the ACC?
@TheStateoftheU: The ‘Canes will join the hoops team with their first ever ACC Championship.
@younglefhander: Well, if I think Georgia Tech can win the Coastal, then I have to believe they can win the title game as well. So Paul Johnson wins his second ACC title.
@WillsWorldMN: I love Clemson this year. Even with Andre Ellington and Nuk Hopkins gone, they’re going to be a well oiled offensive machine this year. If Sammy Watkins can stay on the field, he might have a shot at ACC POY this year.