It’s only May, and there’s plenty of time to preview ACC football for this season, but there is a train of thought that seems to be gaining some steam. Duke and North Carolina could be this year’s Coastal Division favorites. You know the two schools known more basketball.
Duke was clearly the best Coastal Division team last year. They won the division, won 10 games, and gave Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel everything they could handle in the Chick Fil A bowl. They also finished the year in the top 25. At last check Duke will return 14 starters including QB Anthony Boone, who nearly match Manziel throw for throw in that bowl matchup. There isn’t any reason to think that Duke will suffer any major setbacks, especially under coach David Cutcliffe.
North Carolina had a disastrous 1-5 start to the season, before they went on to 6 of their last 7 games with their only loss being to Coastal Division champ Duke. This included a bowl game win over Cincinnati. I like the Heels because they’ve recruited reasonably well in recent years. There is a good talent base there, and the offense should be ready to take off under head coach Larry Fedora. There’s still some question who will be the starting QB, but I think Marquise Williams will end up with job. He was the QB that led the Heels to all those 2nd half leads.
When I look at the other teams in the Coastal, especially here in May, I just don’t see any other teams as complete as Duke and UNC. Virginia Tech as our friend @HokieSmash told us on twitter the other day has all kinds of issues along the offensive line. I also think there are huge question marks at QB. Long gone are the days of Virginia Tech dominanting this division.
Miami is recruiting well, but they are still a year or two away from being a real contender. They also have games with Louisville and Florida State which I think are 2 ACC losses right off the bat.
Georgia Tech will find a way to be in the mix as they usually do, but their lack of quality talent across the board, gives them a ceiling. I would keep an on their running backs, though. It might be their best group at that position since the 2009 season.
Pittsburgh shouldn’t be forgotten, but losing their best defensive player in Aaron Donald and breaking in a new QB won’t be easy. Virginia is playing for Mike London’s job.
Maybe I’ll change my mind by the time season rolls around, but it sure looks like Duke or UNC this year in the Coastal Division at this point.