ACC spring preview: Coastal Division
Plenty of schools are set to start their spring practice this coming Monday, with the latest being April 3. Spring games usually take place in the latter end of April, but there will be some played in March.
That said, I will be releasing pre-spring power rankings for every major conference, while giving a short explanation for my decision.
Here is a spring preview of the Atlantic Coastal Conference: Coastal Division.
1. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4, 5-3 ACC in 2012)
Had they been eligible last year, the Tar Heels would have made a serious case (with Miami) to make an appearance in the ACC Championship Game. Now that UNC is allowed to partake in postseason festivities, it will need to find a new playmaker on offense due to the departure of all-purpose running back Giovani Bernard. The defense looks to be stacked with the entire secondary returning.
2. Miami Hurricanes (7-5, 5-3)
Miami undoubtedly underachieved last season, losing close games to North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia. Had they won those, it would be interesting to see whether the Canes would decline a bowl invite. Now with a large portion of the roster back and pending sanctions, the 2013 season is completely up in the air.
3. Virginia Tech Hokies (7-6, 4-4)
Many thought VTU would breeze through the Coastal on its way to another ACC title game matchup. Many were wrong. Although the defense could have stepped up in a bigger way, it was solid throughout much of the year. However, the offense was abysmal, leading the Hokies to their six-win regular season record. If Logan Thomas’ performance doesn’t take a 180 from 2012, Virginia Tech will have a hard time competing in what looks to be a stiffer division.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-7, 5-3)
Like Paul Johnson told me in our interview, the Jackets “just didn’t finish,” in 2012. They had leads in the fourth quarter against quality opponents and broke down. This is going to be difficult to improve upon this fall, with a lot of seniors graduating and a very young class to replace them.
5. Pittsburgh Panthers (6-7, 3-4 Big East)
Paul Chryst did an unbelievable job recruiting some top-tier prospects this offseason, thus landing Pittsburgh the No. 32 class for 2013 (247Sports). Look for players such as OT Dorian Johnson and WR Tyler Boyd to emerge as candidates for starting roles this spring.
6. Duke Blue Devils (6-7, 3-5)
Duke made a bowl game for the first time since 1994, which was great for the program. Still, the Blue Devils lost five straight games to end the season and ended with a losing record. There are still many things to accomplish with this team, and losing Sean Renfree under center won’t help. He was the catalyst for an offense that got Duke where it was in the first place.
7. Virginia Cavaliers (4-8, 2-6)
The Cavs added a little light to their awful year by beating N.C. State 33-6 and Miami 41-40 in Weeks 10 and 11, but this is still a team that won just four games. The defense should be decent, but there are still glaring questions on the other side of the ball. Virginia has had a QB controversy for the last two years, and that doesn’t look to end in 2013.
Click here to check out the ACC Atlantic spring preview.