If you took the Eastern division of the SEC, strung it out on hookers and crack, and then put it in rehab, you’d have the Coastal division of the ACC. One really good team (Va. Tech), three former powers trying to recapture their glory (Miami, Ga Tech, and North Carolina), and two teams that won’t compete (Virginia and Duke).
On offense–Surprisingly, Duke may have the best QB in the ACC in fourth year starter Thaddeus Lewis. Other than that though, there’s not much to like. Their running back averaged 3 yards a carry last year, the best receiver in program history graduated, and their offensive line is being rebuilt. Thaddeus Lewis is a good player, but without protection or anyone else to make plays, expect Cutcliffe’s boring ass offense to not be very good this year.
On defense–Almost all of Duke’s best players are on defense. Vince Oghobasse, Vincent Rey, Wesley Oglesby, and Catron Gainey are all pretty solid players. With all of that talent, and with departed senior Michael Tauiliili, how the hell did they finish 9th in the conference in defense last year? They can’t stop the pass, they can’t stop the run, they suck. Because they’re Duke.
Prediction: 3-9, 1-7 ACC
Key player: Secondary. Year after year, the secondary is the worst in the ACC. They need to get some production.
Band comparison–Limp Bizkit. They always sucked, but they put out an album that was slightly better than decent and you noticed. But they still suck.
On offense–Virginia was dead last in the league last year in scoring and total offense. So what does it say about their team that two of their top 5 best players are quarterbacks? It says Virginia is going to suck, that’s what it says.
On defense–Virginia has a pretty good secondary, led by Ras-I Dowling at corner. Chris Cook, Rodney McLeod, and Corey Mosley help him out. The defense, though, must replace all three of their top tacklers from last year, all linebackers, and they’re rebuilding their defensive line.
Al Groh is the Tommy West of the ACC…a pretty big name coach who has kept his job despite a pretty mediocre record. Expect a change at the end of this year in Charlottesville, because Virginia is going to be awful.
Prediction: 3-9, 1-7 ACC
Key player: whoever plays LT–it’s supposed to be Landon Bradley. They’re replacing first round draft pick Eugene Monroe, who was one of the only good players on last year’s Va team.
Band Comparison–Lynyrd Skynyrd. Once pretty good, they have lost everything that made them so good, and now just tour around being mediocre.
On offense: New OC Mark Whipple is installing a pro-style offense that will emphasize more balance. Memphis product Craig Cooper is poised to have another really good year, and receiver Aldarius Johnson could be the latest bad-ass Miami wideout. Jacory Harris, their second year QB, is key. He has the potential to be really good. There’s no depth there at all though, so Harris better stay healthy.
On defense: The Canes couldn’t stop the run last year, giving up 310 yds against FSU, 472 yds against Ga Tech, and 219 yds against NC State. Despite having great players at defensive tackle with Allen Bailey and Marcus Forston, they couldn’t stop the run. Their secondary isn’t very good.
The problem for Miami is their schedule. They start off the season with games @FSU, home against Ga. Tech, who ran all over them last year, @Va. Tech, and home against Oklahoma. It doesn’t get too much easier, either, with trips to North Carolina and South Florida.
Prediction: 6-6, 4-4 ACC
Key player: Jacory Harris. If he can put it together, it will make it really difficult for defenses to stop them.
Band Comparison: Whitney Houston. Was the biggest star in the world at one point, but were undone by her own mistakes….now she’s back on the scene, but everyone is very reluctant to believe.
3. North Carolina:
On offense: If TJ Yates had stayed healthy last year, they may have won the ACC Coastal. Instead, Mike Paulus came in and blew the Va. Tech game, and Cam Sexton came in last year with four NFL receivers and underwhelmed. This year, Yates is back with Shaun Draughn at running back and an average offensive line. Mike Paulus, who’s now the backup, hasn’t proven crap yet, so Yates must stay healthy. they have no experience whatsoever at receiver, so they need former 5 star recruit Dwight Jones to step up.
On defense: There are NFL players all over this defense…especially at defensive line. Marvin Austin is a stud, Cam Thomas is massive, and young player Quinton Coples. At linebacker, Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter are studs, but losing Mark Paschal is going to hurt. At secondary, they return all their starters except one, Trimaine goddard, who was a stud. With all of this talent, they need to be better statistically than they were last season, when they finished 11th in the ACC in defense.
Prediction: 8-4, 4-4 ACC
Key player: TJ Yates. Needs to step up, stay healthy, and become a leader.
Band comparison: The Kings of Leon. A young band that has had some success, but you feel as though their best days are ahead.
2. Georgia Tech
On offense: They can clearly run the football. Jonathan Dwyer may thrust himself into the Heisman race, They do need to have some sort of passing threat to keep defenses honest, but this will be a vintage Paul Johnson attack. We’re running, try to stop us.
On defense–The defensive line was absolutely gutted by graduation…three players on first or second all ACC need to be replaced. The interior of their defensive line could be a gaping hole. They’ve got good linebackers and a pretty good secondary, led by junior Morgan Burnett.
Prediction: 9-3, 6-2 ACC
Key players: the defensive tackles, Jason Peters and Ben Anderson. this could be a massive hole for the Jackets if these two don’t step up.
Band comparison: Bob Marley. Every song sounds pretty much the same, but it’s oddly effective and sounds awesome.
1. Virginia Tech
Clearly, the class of the Coastal.
On offense–Conservative. Tyrod Taylor is a runner, the running backs are excellent, led by Darren Evans…their receivers aren’t that great, and neither is their offensive line, but the running backs and Tyrod Taylor are going to control the ball and let the defense dominate.
On defense–Really, really good. Jason Worilds is a great pass rusher, Cody Grimm and Jake Johnson are excellent at linebacker, and the secondary is always strong. If VA Tech has a great season, it will largely be because of the defense.
Unlike Miami, VA Tech’s schedule really works in their favor. After that opening game in Atlanta against Bama, They get most of their tough ACC games at home, the only tough road games coming at GA Tech.
Prediction: 11-1, 8-0 ACC
Key players: VA Tech should be the class of the ACC again, but if they are to have Natl Title aspirations, Tyrod Taylor has to become two-dimensional.
Band comparison: Justin Timberlake. His talent wasn’t able to shine when he was with the d-bags in NSync, but now that he’s dominating better competition on his own, you see how good he is.
Makes you want to go, “Eeeeh.”.
On offense–For an offensive genius, Ralph Friedgen sure doesn’t have good offenses. Despite having Darrius Heyward-Bey and an All ACC performer in RB Da’Rel Scott, they finished 68th in the country in offense. It all depends on Chris Turner, who hasn’t developed into a good player yet. The offensive line isn’t particularly great either, so Turner is going to have to be good for this unit to perform.
Of defense–The defense returns just four starters from last year’s team, but hired an attacking coordinator in Don Brown. The team will have to be more consistent this year, but LB Alex Wujciak should be really good again–he had 133 tackles last year.
Prediction–4-8, 2-6 ACC
Key player–Chris Turner…to be good on offense, Turner has to be better.
Band comparison–Traveling Wilburys…Assembled a ton of talent, but for some reason, never really did anything memorable.
5. Wake Forest:
On offense–BOOORING. Riley Skinner is back for his 37th year of eligibility. Expect Wake Forest to be ultra-conservative again, with Skinner hitting low risk passes and Josh Adams trying to run the ball to provide balance. With an offense like this, they should be in the big 10.
On defense–They have to replace possibly the best player in the NFL Draft, Aaron Curry, and a second rounder in Alphonso Smith. Boo Robinson will be great in the middle of the d-line, but their pass rush is lacking. In addition to losing Curry, they also lost two other starters at LB as well.
Prediction: 4-8, 3-5 ACC
Key player: The O-Line. Last year’s line was terrible…it must be better this year.
Band comparison: Snow Patrol. Pretty good, but really boring. They were reasonably popular for a short period of time, and then faded away.
4. Boston College
On offense–Gaping hole at QB. Codi Boek is a coverted fullback and he is holding the position warm for Justin Tuggle, the son of Jessie Tuggle. Montel Harris is a stud in the backfield, and he’ll have to be…they Eagles do have a very good O-Line though.
On defense–Lost a ton. DT BJ Raji (NFL) and Ron Brace, ACC Def. player of the year Mark Herzlich (cancer). Secondary is excellent though.
Prediction: 6-6, 3-5 ACC
Key Player: Whoever the QB is.
Band comparison: Allman Bros. Through no fault of their own, they have been thrust into a position where they are not nearly as good as they were.
3. NC State
On offense–Soph QB Russell Wilson is the best QB they’ve had since Phillip Rivers. Mike Glennon is right behind him, and he could be a superstar. The big question here is the offensive line, who really struggled run blocking last year. The offense has to be able to play action, and if they can’t run block, could struggle a bit.
On defense–The front seven is pretty good, led by Sr. DE Willie young, DT Alan Michael Cash, and linebackers Nate Irving and Ray Michel. The secondary is the key. They must play better pass defense this year if they hope to be the surprising team everyone thinks they could be.
Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 ACC
Key player: Offensive line. Must provide balance.
Band comparison: MGMT. You expect huge things from them, but you don’t really know. Yet.
2. Florida State
On offense–Need more consistency in passing game. Christian Ponder is the starter and he can run, but he didn’t throw the ball as well last year. Skill position players aren’t that great, but the OL is, led by Rodney Hudson, who’s one of the best O-linemen ever to play at FSU.
On defense–Linebackers are strong, led by Dekoda Watson and Kendall Smith. The problem, though, is that FSU doesn’t know where the pass rush is going to come from. Everette Brown and Neefy Moffette are gone, and the team will have to replace their ability to get pressure.
Prediction: 9-3, 6-2 ACC
Key Player: Christian Ponder. He has to throw the ball.
Band comparison: Bob Dylan. A long period as one of the great teams in history, but as Bowden’s aged, he’s clearly not what he used to be. Although he is prone to brilliance every once in a while.
On offense–With CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford, they have two of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers. Kyle Parker and Willy Korn have a lot of potential at QB, and they have a great RB and Ford to get the ball to. Who will be the #2 receiver? And will the O-line protect the young QBs?
On defense–Really good defense. Da’Quan Bowers is going to be a great DE, the tackles ar egood. Secondary is strong. If there is a question, it’s at linebacker, but this defense should be good.
Prediction: 10-2, 6-2 ACC
Key Player: O-line. Must be able to block for Spiller and give the QBs time.
Band comparison: Genesis. Only after getting rid of someone (Bowden/Peter Gabriel) are they able to realize their full potential.