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Welcome back to part two of the AGM Linebackers ACC preview. In this section we will take a look at the Coastal Division. Of the two divisions the Coastal is without a doubt the tightest, and will prove to be the most competitive. It could also make for some interesting results come November once all these teams have tangled and a couple upsets go down.
ACC Preseason Coastal Division
Virginia Tech Hokies: The Hokies have been a terror to the ACC since the day they arrived in the league. They have played in 3 out of 4 ACC Championships. There is no doubt the ACC made the right move bringing these guys in. This year the Hokies are likely the only legitimate threat to the Clemson Tigers if the two can meet in the ACC Championship game. However, this year will take a little more effort than Beamer and company are used to. The Hokies lost several key players on both sides of the ball including star running back Brandon Ore and linebackers Xavier Adibi. The Hokies will also continue their battle at quarterback that began last season between Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor. Lucky for the Hokies they have the best of both worlds with these guys, Glennon being a scrambler and Taylor a drop back passer.
No matter who is at the helm at QB you can bank that Virginia Tech will play solid defense and great special teams. That will make them a top contender in the ACC and a possible factor in the BCS.
Key Games: East Carolina, Nebraska, Florida State
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Change was the theme of the off-season for the Yellow Jackets. Paul Johnson’s option offense scared off a couple players, but they will be stronger because of it. Josh Nesbitt will be charged with running the offensive this season, and he has the tools to make it happen, if he stays healthy, a groin injury has sidelined him for much of the spring.
What the Rambling Wreck will do very well this year, is attack opposing offenses. The Yellow Jackets have one of the top ends and one of the top tackles in the league, Michael Johnson and Vance Walker will test any
offensive line. The D-Line alone will keep the Yellow Jackets in most any game they play this season.
Key Games: Florida State, Mississippi State, Georgia
Miami Hurricanes: Don’t go crazy with this one, the ‘Canes fell into this spot by accident, not because they have done anything special. Miami will be pretty much all freshmen or first year players. Lucky for them their freshmen tend to be better than an average teams seniors.
The Hurricanes are moving in the right direction, and they appear to be doing it the right way. That meant getting rid of a lot of players and coaches. That will lead to disappointment in the short term, but if the Alumni can hang in there and just trust in their coach, they will find themselves back on track, especially with this talented group of freshmen.
Key Games: UCf, Virginia, Texas A&M
Virginia Cavaliers: Al Groh must go, was the chant heard round Charlottesville after an embarrassing opening lost on the road to Wyoming. However, a 9-4 campaign seemed to make many Cavalier fans forget Groh’s shortcomings and he even received a contract extension. However, after a meltdown in the Gator Bowl and an embarrassing off season that saw seven players kicked out of school perhaps Groh’s job should still be on the line.
Despite all the setbacks the Cavaliers are looking to employ a more wide open attack and actually toss the ball downfield some this year, Combine a revamped passing game with the return of Cedric Peermen and Mikell Simpson at running back and the Cav’s could have a decent offense, but don’t hold your breath.
Seven wins this season would be a phenomenal achievement.
Key Games: Miami, East Carolina, Clemson
North Carolina Tar Heels: Butch Davis is entering his second year as head coach in Chapel Hill, and while that
does mean something, Davis alone is not enough to put the Tar Heels back on the winning track. The Heels will be much better than their 4-8 mark of their last year, however due to a tough schedule; the improvement may not be seen in the win column. Out of conference games against Rutgers, Notre Dame and UConn can mean trouble for the Heels.
The bulk of their success will depend on how their backfield gels together. Greg Little is the sophomore who moved to tailback from receiver late last year and he will carry the load this season. T.J. Yates is supposed to be the starter at QB comes August, but he has not thrown much at all since shoulder surgery in December. If he is unable to go the Tar Heels will depend on backups Paulus and Sexton to step up and run the offense.
Key Games: UConn, Boston College, North Carolina State
Duke Blue Devils: I won’t lie this is just hard to do because, I don’t want to be too tongue and cheek, and Walker-Sports is not about sugar coat anything, so sorry Blue Devil fans. David Cuttcliffe has challenged his team to improve their fitness, and their team speed. To this point the team has responded well. However, Duke simply does not have the athletes to compete at the high levels of the ACC. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils will be an improved team.
Key Games, James Madison, Northwestern
ACC Championship Game: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Clemson wins ACC Title and Tommy Bowden goes to the Orange Bowl where the ACC can hopefully regain some respect on the national level.
That’s it for me, hope you enjoyed the preview feel free to drop a line with your comments. This is going to be a special year in college football, there’s a lot of variables out there, and a lot of new faces on the scene so buckle up and get ready for what will be a hellUVA a ride.