Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 ACC Coastal Division Preview

The college football season is just around the corner, and it could not get here any quicker if you ask this sports blogger. Baseball is nice, and the whole "Decision" from LeBron James was a complete disaster. Now it's time to focus on the good things, and there's no better American tradition than college football.

We will be begin our preview of the 2010 college football season right here here in ACC country. The ACC avoided all the realignment talk that many of the college conferences experienced this summer, and that was a good thing for traditional rivalries, it means the ACC will remain amongst the weakest of the BCS conferences.

Since the ACC is now divided into two divisions, we will start by looking at the Coastal Division.

-Teams are listed in order or predicted rank.

Virginia Tech Hokies: The Virginia Tech Hokies have the best backfield in the country, there's simply no doubt about that. Before the 2009 campaign got underway the Hokies lost all conference back Darren Evans to injury. He was replaced by freshman back Ryan Williams who set an ACC record when he rushed for over 1,600 yards. Now Evans has fully recovered from his injuries, and he is looking to join Williams in forming the only backfield in the nation that features two 1,000 yard backs. In addition to their explosive backfield, the Hokies also feature Tyrod Taylor at quarterback. To many ACC fans it feels like Taylor has been in college forever, but that's what happens when you have a four year starter at the quarterback position. With Tyrod Taylor calling the shots, he will be sure to keep the Hokies offense rolling down the field.

In an odd twist of fate, it appears the once vaulted Hokies defense may actually be their weakest link in during the 2010 season. Virginia lost seven starts on defense from their 2009 squad. While they typically have plenty of depth to replenish a depleted squad it's difficult to replace that man starters on a unit, especially when the team is looking to compete for an ACC Championship and potentially a national title.

The Hokies will have to come out of the gates strong if they want to keep their national title hopes alive when they open their season against Boise State. Within the conference the Hokies biggest challenge will come from division foe Miami who is looking to reclaim some of their former glory they experienced in the early 2000's.

Record: 11-1 Key Games: Boise State, at North Carolina, at Miami

Miami Hurricanes: The Canes have made a ton of progress under fourth year coach Randy Shannon. Last season 'The U' posted a 9 win season, their best since 2005. While that was impressive there are several games on the 09 schedule the Canes know they let slip through their fingers, this includes a disastrous performance in the Champs Sports Bowl against Wisconsin.

For the 2010 season the Canes will be lead by junior quarterback Jacory Harris who has shown great improvement during his time in Miami. Around Harris he has the best arsenal of receivers that we have seen in a Hurricanes uniform since 2002. The key to the Canes offense will be can Harris remain healthy for the full season, and can he cut down on the interceptions from last season (he led the ACC with 17). On the defensive side of the ball, the Canes are returning everyone, and they have an emerging superstar in defensive end Allen Bailey.

Record: 10-2 Key Games: at Ohio State, at Pittsburgh, Virgi
nia Tech

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Paul Johnson proved to the country that the triple option attack can work at a major college program, at least in doses it does. The lost of running back Jonathan Dwyer will undoubtedly hurt the Yellow Jackets. The bulk of the offense will fall to quarterback Josh Nesbitt. The Georgia Tech quarterback was a stud at times last year, and has appeared to master the finer points of the option offense.

The key for the Yellow Jackets will be getting out to a good start and maintaining their leads. It became very obvious last season that Georgia Tech cannot play from behind. First off, the option offense is not designed to score bunches of points quickly. Second, Nesbitt proved to be shaky as a passer.

Despite all of that, Georgia Tech still has the opportunity to keep themselves relevant in the ACC hunt thanks to the overall weakness of the conference.

Record: 9-3, Key Games: at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, Miami, at Georgia

North Carolina Tar Heels: A lot of people have high hopes for the Tar Heels in 2010. This is largely based on the fact they are returning the best line backing and secondary units in the country. Pretty much every DB and LB on the North Carolina roster could have gone pro last season, but they elected to return for another year, and complete some unfinished business. Judging by the recent NCAA investigations that are currently taking place in Chapel Hill, that may not have been the best decision.

It is unlikely that anything will come from the current NCAA investigation that will affect the 2010 Tar Heel team. Head coach Butch Davis has his defense playing like one of the Florida State or Miami teams from the 90's. That's good news because there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Tar Heels offense that was simply nonexistent at times last season, and they will continue to struggle in 2010. Combine that with the fact that the Tar Heels are an underachieving team under Butch Davis, and you have another lackluster season in Chapel Hill.

Record: 7-5, Key Games: LSU, at Florida State, Virginia Tech

Virginia Cavaliers: I'll be the first to admit that the Hoos may be getting a bit of hometown love with this ranking, and that's pretty sad. 3-9 last season, the Cavaliers were nothing short of embarrassing to everyone involved with the program. The result was Al Groh was let go and Mike London has returned to Charlottesville as the savior. The Cavaliers have questions all over the board. For the first time in many years the O-Line is surrounded by questions. Currently the starting quarterback job is slated to go to Mark Verica. Some fans will remember his performance during the 2008 season. In a nutshell he is still very shaken and extremely turnover prone.

Mike London is bringing some much needed energy to the program and that's a good thing. Virginia was in a horrible downward spiral under Al Groh, and now they must take the first steps to rebuilding. If nothing else Mike London will help the recruiting program, but those changes will have little to no affect on the 2010 season.

Record 4-8, Key Games: Duke, Maryland, Eastern Michigan

Duke Blue Devils: Head coach David Cutcliffe has done a lot to make Duke football somewhat relevant. However, now he will his biggest task in replacing Thad Lewis who was regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in school history. Stepping up to the task is sophomore quarterback Sean Renfree. The young starter will have his hands full because despite some extra wins last season, Duke still had one of the worst rushing attacks in the country. While the ACC may be a weak conference it is still an extremely difficult one for a young QB to learn his trade, especially with the likes of Miami, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina on the schedule.

Record: 3-9 Key Games: at Maryland, Virginia


Anonymous said...

As far as UNC is concerned, you may want to do a little more research on the possible penalties for taking money and/or gifts from agents. UNC may not want to take the chance that Austin and Little will be cleared by the NCAA only to have to forfeit wins during the 2009 season if found guilty. Additionally, back in February 2010, Corey Miller accused UNC's Coach John Blake of attempting to bribe him to play for UNC. If the NCAA finally pursues that line of investigation, it will get very ugly.

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