2012 ACC Football Preview: Coastal Division
Unfortunately, neither came out on top as the Tigers were obliterated 70-33 and the Hokies suffered a heart-wrenching overtime loss.
With big-time quarterback names such as Tahj Boyd (Clemson), E.J. Manuel (Florida State), Bryn Renner (North Carolina) and Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) returning to the field, the ACC has a legitimate chance to once again put forth multiple schools into BCS bowls—and win.
Here is a preview and prediction of how the ACC Coastal division will pan out this upcoming season, with the Atlantic coming soon.
Virginia Tech Hokies: 10-2 (6-2)
With plenty of starters returning to a defense that ranked 7th in the nation in points allowed (17.6) last year, the Hokies should undoubtedly control the Atlantic with that aspect alone. Quarterback Logan Thomas could potentially have an incredible year and just may be the best NFL prospect at his position for the class of 2013, but his offensive teammates are still in the midst of transition between departures and may need time to develop. Still, Virginia Tech is the easy favorite to appear in the ACC championship for the third year in a row.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: 8-4 (6-2)
After starting the season 6-0, the Jackets were plagued with the 'inconsistency bug' and dropped their final five of seven games in 2011, including bad-looking losses to Virginia and Miami (Fla.) With the exception of NFL draft selection Stephen Hill at wide receiver, Georgia Tech returns much of last year's starting roster and should become more consistent. Still, the passing game is going to be a problem, and teams will likely stack the defensive line to stop the run.
North Carolina Tar Heels: 7-5 (4-4)
Coach Larry Fedora takes over a program that is searching for a new identity after being slapped with sanctions, including a postseason ban in 2012. But that won't stop a team that return some bona fide playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Bryn Renner is a quality quarterback and he'll be working with arguably the best backfield in the ACC. And after losing Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell and Donte Paige-Moss on the defensive line, it reloads with the three-headed monster of Tim Jackson, Kareem Martin and Sylvester Williams.
Virginia Cavaliers: 7-5 (4-4)
Although Alabama dual-threat quarterback transfer Phillip Sims looks to be an immediate upgrade at the position, the Cavaliers lack offensive potential in key areas and have questions all over the field on defense. Look for them to contend for the Coastal in 2013, but as of right now, they just don't possess the firepower to do so.
Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes: 6-6 (4-4)
The scandal that loomed Al Golden in his first season as coach has yet to be put to rest, the depth chart has been hit hard with injuries and is very thin to begin with, and first-round talent Ray-Ray Armstrong—the team's starting strong safety—was dismissed earlier this week for having contact with an illegal booster. Not exactly what Golden had in mind for his first few years as a Hurricane, but he can still rely on a solid defense and potent receiving corps to carry him to a bowl.
Duke Blue Devils: 2-10 (0-8)
There's no doubt that coach Dave Cutcliffe has improved the Duke football program over the last four years, but it's been nothing significant and he's yet to reach a bowl game. He returns 17 starters (not including a quarterback) that are all still very young and inexperienced, and we still don't know if that's a good thing considering they lose nine games last season. Combine that with a brutal schedule, and the Blue Devils might actually backtrack from a year ago.
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