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2011 ACC Preview - Coastal Team Breakdowns
Miami OG Brandon Washington
Miami OG Brandon Washington
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 26, 2011


Preview 2011 - CFN ACC Coastal Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finishes



Preview 2011

ACC Coastal Team By Team


ATLANTIC
- 2011 Boston College Preview | 2011 Clemson Preview
- 2011 Florida State Preview | 2011 Maryland Preview
- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2011 Duke Preview | 2011 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2011 Miami Preview | 2011 North Carolina Preview 
- 2011 Virginia Preview | 2011 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2011 ACC Preview | 2011 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Schedules & Picks | 2011 ACC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 ACC Preview

1. North Carolina
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: It’s the dawn of a new era on offense for North Carolina, as former hot-shot recruit Bryn Renner gets his first opportunity to be the quarterback. A year later than some would have liked, he’s expected to replace T.J. Yates and give the Tar Heels a hurler to build around. The offense improved a year ago, yet still ranked in the bottom half of the ACC in scoring, an on-going problem in these parts. In terms of the skill positions, Renner will team up with an eclectic crew. Ryan Houston is a battering ram between the tackles, the favorite to be the workhorse in the running game after missing 2010. Led by Dwight Jones, the receivers are big, athletic, and capable of dominating opposing defensive backs. The key, as is often the case, will be up front. The Heels harbor some very talented parts, like the left side of G Jonathan Cooper and T James Hurst, but need to produce better results than the last few seasons.

Defense: The swath of suspensions on defense was a body blow to the 2010 team ... and a boon to the 2011 squad. Carolina had no choice but to move on without the likes DE Robert Quinn, DT Marvin Austin, and CB Kendric Burney, who were shut down for all or part of the year. The result was the flowering of new stars who emerged from the wreckage. DE Quinton Coples went on to become an All-American, DE Donte Paige-Moss laid the foundation for a breakout junior year, and LB Kevin Reddick led the team in tackles. All are back, along with promising defensive backs Tre Boston and Jabari Price, who were thrust into the mix before their time. Even though Butch Davis is no longer in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heel D is going to be salty. The front seven will once again be outstanding, leaving a suspect secondary to rebuild and begin doing a better job of pulling its weight.

2. Miami
Predicted Overall Record: 9-3
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: After taking his time to name a coordinator, Al Golden is confident about his choice, former Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch. Just 34 years old, Fisch plans to attack from a pro-style formation, while leaving his mark on Miami’s inconsistent quarterbacks. His first starter? That remains to be seen, though either senior Jacory Harris or sophomore Stephen Morris is going to get the ball in September. As always, the ‘Canes have no shortage of exciting skill players, like running back Lamar Miller and receivers Travis Benjamin and LaRon Byrd. Of greater importance, last year’s productive line, led by all-star G Brandon Washington, returns virtually intact. The lone departure is Orlando Franklin, whose old haunt at left tackle will be filled by an underclassman, either Malcolm Bunche or Seantrel Henderson. Above all else, the ‘Canes need to get a better grip on the ball after ranking 119th nationally in turnovers lost.

Defense: First-year coordinator Mark D’Onofrio had a knack for turning modest recruits into NFL-caliber players at Temple. How will he handle being surrounded by an entirely different level of athlete at Miami? It’s a problem every coach would like to have. The Hurricanes have some holes to fill, namely at middle linebacker and cornerback, but enough returning star power to compensate for graduations. The defensive line is very deep and very talented, making life easier for the teammates behind it. And LB Sean Spence and safeties Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque are the types of defenders who can make their presence felt on just about square inch of the field. If D’Onofrio can install his system and learn his personnel on the fly, the ‘Canes have the talent to pick up where they left off in 2010.

3. Virginia Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 10-2
Predicted Conference Record: 6-2

Offense: The Hokie backfield is in motion, metaphorically speaking. Virginia Tech will sport a new quarterback and running back this year, Logan Thomas and David Wilson, respectively. The passing of the torch has fans excited about the future, but a little skittish regarding today. Thomas is a former can’t-miss recruit, who possesses all of the physical and intangible skills to eventually blossom into a star. Wilson, on the other hand, might already be there. Even as a third-stringer in 2010, he led the team in scoring and created a highlight reel of dazzling plays. Thomas will get ample support from his wide receivers, namely Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale, but would benefit from better pass protection. The Hokies run block as well as anyone in the league, but are perennially prone to getting whipped by capable pass rushers.

Defense: Coordinator Bud Foster wants to do more than just keep the Hokie defense on the tracks. He’s hoping to pick up a head of steam after his kids showed some vulnerability in run defense and in the red zone in 2010. While there are no glaring weaknesses, Tech does need the young ends and linebackers to step up, and two new starters to emerge in the secondary. The Gobbler D will again play fast and with a swarming mentality, leaning on all-star LB Bruce Taylor and CB Jayron Hosley in the early going. It’ll be worth watching the development of the sophomores, like DE James Gayle, LB Tariq Edwards, CB Kyle Fuller, and rover Antoine Exum, who all have a chance to be all-stars before they’re through. Foster needs all of them to grow up before the opener arrives.

4. Georgia Tech
Predicted Overall Record: 7-5
Predicted Conference Record: 4-4

Offense: Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing a year ago, averaging 323 yards a game and 5.6 yards a carry out of the spread option. Ho-hum. Judging Paul Johnson’s ground-oriented attack on rushing yards alone is overly simplistic. The fact is that the Yellow Jackets became less efficient in 2010, stalling in the red zone and putting the ball on the ground too much. Fixing their problems won’t be easy in a year that two backfield heroes, QB Josh Nesbitt and 1,000-yard B-back Anthony Allen, graduated. Johnson will put his version of the triple-option in the hands of former role players, such as QB Tevin Washington, assuming he holds off Synjyn Davis, and the running trio of Orwin Smith, Roddy Jones, and Preston Lyons. Of greater importance, Tech is trying to retool the offensive line … again. Omoregie Uzzi is a pillar at right guard, but he’s surrounded by a couple of unproven blockers. If the Jackets are going to recapture the rhythm it had in 2009, they’ll need the line to make life a little simpler for that revamped backfield.

Defense: Georgia Tech had problems in its first year under Al Groh, running his version of the 3-4 defense. Soft throughout the year at the point of attack, the Yellow Jackets ranked in the bottom half of the ACC in many statistical categories. The good news is that the program will be in its second year in the system, meaning everyone should have a better grasp on his individual assignment. The grim reality is that six starters are gone, including the entire secondary. A bunch of defenders will need to step up, beginning with the defensive ends. While Izaan Cross and Jason Peters have NFL size and potential, the pair combined for only four sacks, which won’t cut it for that rebuilt and needy defensive backfield. The playmakers will come from the second level of defense, where Julian Burnett and Steven Sylvester have all-star ceilings, and Jeremiah Attaochu is a potential breakout star.

5. Virginia
Predicted Overall Record: 6-6
Predicted Conference Record: 2-6

Offense: Virginia made dramatic strides on offense with coordinator Bill Lazor at the controls. Maintaining that momentum, however, is going to require some heavy lifting. In 2010, the Cavs improved dramatically in every major statistical area, finishing higher than 100th nationally in total offense for the first time in five years. Staying on track will require the development of a new quarterback and replacing key playmakers at running back and wide receiver. The program is auditioning four hurlers, none of whom has ever started a game. Promising news comes from an offensive line that brings back four starters, headed by budding star Morgan Moses. Lazor is again aiming for balance with the ball, keeping defenses on their toes and constantly guessing. That’ll only be possible if a steady passer emerges from the pack.

Defense: The switch to Jim Reid’s 4-3 defense last season brought mixed results for Virginia. Yes, the pass defense was solid, but the Cavaliers struggled to slow down opposing backs, allowing more than five yards a carry. While plenty of starters are expected back, that could change if off-field issues can’t be shaken before the start of the season. The program is loaded with veterans and potential all-stars at every level of the D. There’s DE Cam Johnson and tackles Matt Conrath and Nick Jenkins up front, LaRoy Hawkins and Steve Greer in the middle, and Chase Minnifield, Rodney McLeod, and Corey Mosley on the last line of defense. It’s a solid nucleus that figures to be even feistier now that it has a full year of experience in Reid’s system.

6. Duke
Predicted Overall Record: 4-8
Predicted Conference Record: 1-7

Offense: The Blue Devils continue to make strides under the watchful eye of David Cutcliffe, but not enough to truly impact the standings. The running game, for example. It was improved compared to 2009, but still ranked 104th in the country. The staff would love to get more out of backs Desmond Scott and Josh Snead, but the airways will continue to be the preferred mode of transportation in Durham. Budding QB Sean Renfree is back for his second year as a starter, flanked by a terrific supporting cast that includes receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner, and TE Cooper Helfet. Renfree’s quick release will be particularly useful when playing behind an offensive line that’s marginal, at best.

Defense: Three years. Three defensive coordinators. Duke is handing the reins to Jim Knowles, who was actually hired from within to replace Marion Hobby. You name it, he needs to work on it, so the staff is sticking with the fundamentals, especially since so many underclassmen are being counted on to deliver. The Blue Devils pulled up the ACC rear a year ago in sacks, run defense, and pass defense, and had all kinds of problems creating turnovers. Hope comes in the form of David Cutcliffe’s last few recruiting classes, which have included LB Kelby Brown, DT Sydney Sarmiento, CB Ross Cockrell, and others, but an overnight turnaround is doubtful. This remains one of the nation’s weakest defensive ensembles.

ATLANTIC
- 2011 Boston College Preview | 2011 Clemson Preview
- 2011 Florida State Preview | 2011 Maryland Preview
- 2011 NC State Preview | 2011 Wake Forest Preview 
 
COASTAL
- 2011 Duke Preview | 2011 Georgia Tech Preview
- 2011 Miami Preview | 2011 North Carolina Preview 
- 2011 Virginia Preview | 2011 Virginia Tech Preview 

- 2011 ACC Preview | 2011 ACC Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Schedules & Picks | 2011 ACC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-ACC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 ACC Atlantic Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2011 ACC Coastal Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 ACC Preview