Last year was a crazy year for the Coastal division. For the first time since the ACC split up into two separate divisions, neither Georgia Tech nor VPI represented the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game. Instead, Duke represented the Coastal. While Duke did not do much to represent well in the Championship Game, the Blue Devils did a magnificent job of representing the ACC in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Texas A&M by almost toppling the Aggies.
This year is sure to be an interesting year for the Coastal division with 5 of the 7 teams in the Coastal bringing in a new starting QB this season. Only North Carolina and Duke will be returning starting QBs from last season. Coming back to start at QB for North Carolina this season will be Marquise Williams. Williams came on as the starter for the Tarheels in the second half of the season and was a large part of their 6-1 finish to the season.
Anthony Boone will be returning as the starting QB for a Duke team that went 10-4 last season. Another key returnee for Duke is WR Jamison Crowder. This guy was an absolute monster a season ago. He caught a ridiculous 108 passes for 1360 yards (9th nationally) and 8 touchdowns. Perhaps the biggest loss from last season for the Blue Devils is their former Offensive Coordinator Kurt Roper, who took the same position for the Florida Gators. Replacing him will be former-WR Coach Scottie Montgomery.
Pitt lost arguably their two best players from a season ago in QB Tom Savage and DT Aaron Donald (both drafted). It will definitely to see how both are replaced in the coming season. Luckily for the Panthers, they do return two key offensive players: HB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd. Conner came on strong at the end of the season, capping it off with 229-yard performance against Bowling Green in the bowl game last season. Boyd will be looking to improve upon his five 100-yard games from last season.
Virginia Tech lost quite a bit from last season. Their three biggest losses come in the forms of QB Logan Thomas, DE James Gayle, and CB Kyle Fuller. Bud Foster has always done an excellent job of reloading on defense year in and year out, so I don't expect that to be much different this season. The offense will definitely be interesting, though. Bill Connelly writes in his preview of VPI that the Hokies only need a mediocre offense this season. If the Hokies can get a decent QB, that goal should be more than manageable.
Just like last season, I fully expect the outcome of Miami's season to hinge on the health of one player: HB Duke Johnson. For the first part of the season, the Canes looked to be one of the top teams in the ACC. However, as soon as Duke Johnson went down, so did Miami's chances at an ACC title. Everything I've heard so far tells me that not only is Duke Johnson fully healthy, but that he is also bigger. If he can stay healthy enough, the Canes will have a good season.
Mike London is still the coach of the Virginia Cavaliers. He has never really had a problem getting talent to come to Virginia. His problem has been translating that talent into results on the field. This season, they will have yet another starting QB, Greyson Lambert. This will definitely be Mike London's last chance to do something at Virginia. He'll have to do this without two of his best receivers from last season though. TE Jake McGee and WR Tim Smith are both gone. It could be another long season for the Cavaliers.
Finally, we have Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are depending a lot this season on younger guys. They lost a lot from last season, especially on defense. I'm interested to see how incoming Freshman DE Keshun Freeman will do in taking Jeremiah Attaochu's place as the main pass rusher, and in the defense as a whole in their second year under Ted Roof. Another key to a successful season on the Flats will be the QB position. Both Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly should see plenty of time this season at QB.
Okay, now that we've taken a general overview of each team, let's move onto some predictions. With my predictions, I'm only going to be looking at conference records for each team.
1. Miami (7-1)
2. Georgia Tech (6-2)
3. UNC (5-3)
4. Duke (5-3)
5. VPI (4-4)
6. Pitt (4-4)
7. Virginia (0-8)
These records and standings reflect my views and also account for tiebreakers.
Did I get my predictions correct? Want explanations or to see which teams won which games? Just ask me, and I shall explain.