2011 ACC Football Burning Questions: Coastal Division

Posted by Brandon Rink on August 10, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Will Jacory Harris get the right to hand off to sophomore RB Lamar Miller. To be determined. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Looked at the Atlantic questions yesterday, and QBs ruled the day – same goes for the Coastal? Pretty much.

1) Is Logan Thomas ready to lead an ACC title defending team…with high expectations for another one?

The hype…is out of control.

Cam Newton. Ben Roethlisberger. Josh Freeman. Thomas, he of 26 attempted passes last season, has drawn comparisons to all three NFL QBs this offseason.

But most Virginia Tech blogs have tried to cool the hype machine in series of posts.

The real key to any Virginia Tech success this season will be the offensive line stepping up to protect Thomas and open holes for RB David Wilson. Without that, Thomas will struggle, and so the Hokies with him.

With the Virginia Tech’s style of offense, they don’t really need Thomas to be Cam Newton in year one – they just need a guy who limits turnovers and can make that third down throw here and there to win games in the ACC.

And from what I’ve seen and heard out of Blacksburg, Thomas can do that.

2) What should we expect from UNC this season?

Before UNC’s administration lost its collective minds and fired Butch Davis a week before fall camp, I went out on a limb and pegged UNC with a 10-win regular season.

Obviously, in the knee-jerk decision world we live in – it’s time to wonder if UNC will even make a bowl.

But I don’t think so.

We have a model for this team going through similar adversity – it’s called last season. Outside of the two-game homestretch in November with Virginia Tech and NC State, UNC put together a solid 2010.

Bryn Renner replacing T.J. Yates at QB is really the only major swap for the Heels, and they have a schedule that builds in intensity nicely with their toughest road trips coming in late October through November.

At the very least, North Carolina should reach that eight-win ceiling of the last three seasons, but a successful season would be nine or more and a second place finish in the Coastal.

3) Three in one here – who QBs at Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia?

Answer: At this point, we really don’t know.

Georgia Tech, based on what Paul Johnson has had to say consistently, will probably go with junior Tevin Washington, who started the Jackets’ final four games with a 1-3 record (514 rushing yards/417 passing yards/41% cmp/6 TDs/3 INTs). Can’t say, from what I’ve seen of him so far, that I think he’ll lead any kind of resurgence for Georgia Tech this season, but we’ll see. Redshirt freshman Synyn Days is the other main QB in the mix after a strong spring and spring game. Phil Steele had him pegged as the projected starter in his preview magazine.

At Miami, it’s between the oft-maligned senior Jacory Harris or the emerging sophomore Stephen Morris. Neither lit it up last season or in the spring game this year, but Al Golden and his offensive rep at the ACC Kickoff, center Tyler Horn, raved about the two’s performance this offseason. It’s a tough situation for a new coach because Harris is a senior, and has been right there with the veterans on the team through all the tough times at Miami. But if it’s 50-50 between them, do you go for the future and start Morris – or stick with the veteran? Tough call to make – Golden has to weigh what will be the best move for the team as a whole in a couple different facets.

Virginia’s is wide-open between four QBs: sophomores Michael Rocco and Rosh Metheny, who split backup duties last season behind senior Marc Verica, and two freshmen in Michael Strauss and David Watford. Phil Steele and Streaking the Lawn are going with Rocco as the projected starter (143 passing yards/1 TD-2 INT/52% cmp last season), but Mike London really hasn’t tipped his hand. He did say, unsurprisingly, that he wants to get a starter named around two weeks into camp before they really get working on gameplans for the season. Whoever wins the job will have a solid cast of characters around him to do some damage with this season.

4) How good will the Duke passing attack be?

With two All-ACC wide receivers and the ACC’s only 3,000+ yard passer back, the Blue Devils are going to haunt secondaries this season.

Junior QB Sean Renfree has his top two receivers, and six of his top seven overall returning off from the ACC’s second-best passing attack last season.

In 2010, the top passer was Bryant Moniz of Hawaii with a staggering 5,040 yards – Renfree won’t be in that category, but he could get in the 3,500 to 4,000 range this season, which may be enough to pull off some upsets en route to that elusive bowl.

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