After completing a lack luster 2007, the ACC looks to change its losing ways both in and out of conference. Here are my preseason predictions for the ACC Coastal Division for 2008.
Virginia Tech Hokies No. 1 in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 9-3 (6-2)
Top Recruit: 4 Star RB Ryan Williams
Virginia Tech comes in with a top-20 recruiting class and will need it to rebuild on both offense and defense to compete this season. Quarterbacks Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor are back and VT will need steady play from both all season long. With the dismissal of RB Brandon Ore, Williams could become the starter and will be running behind an experienced offensive line.
Defense and special teams have always been a staple of Beamer football. Virginia Tech will bring back junior LB Cam Martin and CB Macho Harris could have a huge season for the Hoakies in the secondary. Look for the defense, as usual, to carry the Hokies to another ACC division crown.
Miami Hurricanes No. 2 in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 8-4 (5-3)
Top Recruit: 5 star LB Arthur Brown
Along with VTech, Miami will look to be rebuilding on offense. The Hurricanes will bring in a new quarterback this season, with either red-shirt freshman Robert Morue or true freshman Jacory Harris looking to get the snaps. Miami will be solid at running back with Graig Cooper and Javaris James running the ball and freshman receiver Jermanine McKenzie will be a good contributor to the receiving core.
With an influx of new freshman, it will be up to them to decide where Miami ends up this season. LB Arthur Brown and DT Marcus Forston lead the way for the new comers and DE Eric Moncur can come up big for the 'Canes in the upcoming season.
North Carolina Tar Heels No. 3 in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 7-5 (5-3)
Top Recruit: 4 star TE Christian Wilson
After loosing six games last year by a touchdown or less, Butch Davis and the Heels look to have a much improved 2008. QB T.J. Yates is coming off of off-season shoulder surgery and looks to lead the Heels. With the conversion of WR Greg Little to running back behind a now experienced offensive line, the Tar Heels run game looks to be gaining ground. WR Hakeen Nicks is one of the best breakaway threats in the ACC.
With the departure of first-round pick Kentwan Balmer, the Heels look to rebuild on defense. Sophomore Marvin Austin looks to lead the defensive line and all four starters, including S Trimaine Goddard are returning in the secondary.
Virginia Cavaliers No. 4 in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 5-7 (3-5)
Top Recruit: 4 star RB Torrey Mack
The Cavaliers will have a tough time repeating their surprising 2007 season in 2008. Peter Lalich looks to take over QB duties after Jameel Sewell was dismissed for academic reasons. Cedric Peerman and Mikell Simpson gives the Cavs RB depth, but only two starters return on the line.
The Cavs will have a solid LB core, returning all three starters. Unfortunately, the whole defensive line will be completely rebuilt. CB Vic Haul returns in the secondary to help Virginia sure up its defense, but unfortunately it just wont be enough for 2008.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets No. 5 in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 4-8 (1-7)
Top Recruit: 4 star OG Omoregie Uzzi
While many believe the ACC is not ready for Paul Johnson's triple option offense, I don't believe his team is either and therefore will struggle in 2008. Without an experienced quarterback, there could be a lot of problems with trying out this new offense. Sophomore QB Josh Nesbit looks to take over the team while Jonathan Dwyer looks to have the top spot running the ball for GTech this season.
The defense only returns four starters this season, and first team All-ACC DT Vance Walker looks to lead this unit. The secondary needs to be sorted out and without much experience the Yellow Jackets could be torched this season on the defensive side of the ball.
Duke Blue Devils Last in Coastal Division
Predicted Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Top Recruit: 4 star QB Sean Renfree
Duke may have a new coach, but Duke is Duke, and until they prove otherwise they will be last again in the division. The Blue Devils bring back QB Thaddeus Lewis and RB Re'quan Boyette could be solid depending on how the offensive line holds up this season.
Duke brings back a lot of defense as well, but for Duke that may not necessarily be a good thing. Michael Tauiliili and Vincent Ray lead the linebackers and the Devils only loose only player in their secondary.
That's the predictions for the ACC Coastal Division, come back next week for predictions for the Atlantic Division.