CFB 2021: ACC Coastal Division Preview

by Scott Rickenbach

ACC Coastal Division:

Duke – This team very likely to be at the very bottom of the standings. They allowed 56 points in each of 3 of last 4 games last season and the only one they did not they allowed 48 points! So defense was already a major concern and now they lost nearly their entire defensive line. Coach Cutcliffe having problems here and losing key players to transfers and exits from the program with the defensive line being a key example of that. 

Georgia Tech – Middle of the pack team at best and more likely to finish below the .500 level. Known for making too many penalties and mental mistakes. The Yellow Jackets are in year three under head coach Geoff Collins so the new offensive schemes he brought here should be better as they transitioned away from being an option team. However, the defense is still a question mark and, again, GT just has not been a team that executes well. 

Miami – The biggest problem for the Hurricanes is they play in the same conference as Clemson! This team likely to finish 2nd or 3rd in the conference and should challenge the Tar Heels for 1st in the Coastal Division. A key will be the health of senior QB D’Eriq King but he is progressing well in his recovery from an ACL injury. Can the defensive patchwork that head coach Manny Diaz has planned hold up? This team got tripped up often on the defensive side of the ball last season and they must be better there. They are respectable in the secondary but struggle to stop the run. Will Diaz calling the shots help the defense turn around?

North Carolina – The biggest problem for the Tar Heels is they play in the same conference as Clemson! This team likely to finish 2nd in the conference and 1st in the Coastal Division. Sam Howell at QB is a key for UNC. Defensively, based on key experience returning, the Tar Heels are expected to improve. They have added size to the defensive line in recent recruiting classes and those guys are now ready to contribute. Their schedule avoids Clemson in the regular season as well. 

Pittsburgh – Middle of the pack team could finish at .500 or slightly above. Have talented QB in Pickett but the run game not able to do enough to take the pressure off of him. The defense lost some key guys so could be a regression year on that side of the ball. Considering those factors, this is again a bit of an unpredictable team. If they can get the run game going and, in turn, get Pickett more of chance to succeed through the passing game, we should see some good opportunities for overs with this team because the defense could take a step down this season. 

Virginia – Middle of the pack team could finish at .500 or slightly below. Too many question marks in my opinion. Also a very tough schedule with some road games that appear very tough to win. The question marks include at wide receiver on offense and then middle linebacker and defensive line on the other side of the ball. Unless those areas surprise, the Cavaliers will not surprise either! 

Virginia Tech –The Hokies should challenge both the Tar Heels and Hurricanes for playing 2nd fiddle to Clemson as that team is in a class of its own but the Hokies should be a contender in the Coastal Division. Injuries will be key as to how this season goes for Virginia Tech because they have solid talent in terms of starters but just do not have much depth. This will be something to watch with the Hokies and plus I just do not trust their defense. They allowed big points in too many games last season so I will be looking for overs with this team if the offense clicks. They do have some solid talent at the skill positions on offense but can they develop some of the new starters? Watch for early season signs of whether this team jells or not. 

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