2013 ACC Spring Preview - Coastal
Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas
Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas
Posted Mar 5, 2013

ACC Spring Preview - Coastal Division. Why to be excited, grouchy and what needs working on.

2013 Pre-Spring Preview   

ACC Coastal

2013 ACC Spring Preview
- CFN 2013 ACC Spring Preview - Atlantic
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Atlantic Rankings
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Coastal Rankings


Why To Get Excited … for the first time in almost two decades, the Blue Devils will begin a spring session with a bowl experience tucked away in their short-term memory. The program is confident that it can continue to build under sixth-year head coach David Cutcliffe, especially since both lines welcome back a bunch of key veterans.

Why To Be Grouchy … Duke is moving on without its two offensive stalwarts of the past few seasons, longtime starting QB Sean Renfree and prolific WR Conner Vernon. Yeah, QB Anthony Boone has game experience and WR Jamison Crowder is leading man material, but the latter needs help on the outside, and the former must prove he can excel as an every-down triggerman for Cutcliffe.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … defense. What else is new in Durham? The Blue Devils are perennially weak on D, ranking near the bottom of the country in a handful of categories a year ago. While DE Kenny Anunike is back for a sixth year and CB Ross Cockrell is a future pro, they're unlikely to bail out a defensive backfield missing three seniors.

Georgia Tech

Why To Get Excited … the defense—finally—has a chance to be pretty good. In longtime veteran assistant Ted Roof, himself a former Yellow Jacket, head coach Paul Johnson lured a terrific assistant to the Flats. The new coordinator inherits a unit that returns eight starters, and was peaking as the 2012 campaign came to its conclusion.

Why To Be Grouchy … under Johnson, Tech has hit a plateau. Since peaking with an ACC crown in 2009, the Yellow Jackets are just 21-19, and the gap with in-state rival Georgia has widened. The option-based offense continues to crank out yards on the ground, but the passing game has faded and the D is an annual liability. The school is having a difficult time escaping mediocrity's grip.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … installing Roof's system as quickly as possible. The coach is expected to employ a 4-3 alignment, which means stout linemen will come at a premium. The Jackets are in great shape at linebacker, led by Jeremiah Attaochu and Brandon Watts, but there isn't a sure-thing up front on the roster.


Why To Get Excited … the ‘Canes should boast the Coastal Division's most potent offense. Stephen Morris is on the verge of blossoming into a next-level quarterback, and almost all of last season's starters are back for another year in South Florida. RB Duke Johnson is a breakout star, and the O-line is steeped in experienced blockers.

Why To Be Grouchy … the ill-fated NCAA investigation still hovers above this program like a storm cloud. Everyone associated with Miami figured the school would know its punishment by now. Uh-uh. The NCAA has been exposed as a kangaroo court, which has prevented head coach Al Golden and his players from moving forward. The open-ended saga has had a negative impact on the kids, those on campus and those thinking about becoming ‘Canes.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … shoring up the D. The Hurricanes finished 2012 ranked 116th nationally in defense, a breakdown of historical proportions. Miami couldn't rush the passer or stop the run with any consistency. It has to improve at the point of attack after getting routinely mauled by ACC opponents that were a step quicker and considerably stronger in the trenches.

North Carolina

Why To Get Excited … yeah, some stars have departed, but the cupboard is hardly empty in Chapel Hill. Not only is it Year 2 for head coach Larry Fedora, whose offense smashed school records in 2012, but prolific passer Bryn Renner opted to return for his senior year. Even without RB Gio Bernard, there are enough playmakers to help turn Renner into a fringe Heisman contender.

Why To Be Grouchy … during the spring and summer, the defense will be searching for playmakers now that DT Sylvester Williams and LB Kevin Reddick have graduated. While DE Kareem Martin is in store for a special finale as a Tar Heel, he'll be surrounded by a cadre of question marks, especially in the front seven of the D.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … plugging holes in pass defense. Carolina improved in 2012, and does welcome back a mess of letterwinners, like corners Tim Scott and Jabari Price, but the secondary has to be more than just a year older; it's got to be a year better, too. The Heels were 81st against the pass, allowing a few too many connections over the top.


Why To Get Excited … at long last, there's continuity on the sidelines. After enduring turmoil on the sidelines following the dismissal of Dave Wannstedt in 2010, the Panthers finally have a man with whom they can build around. Paul Chryst returns for his second season as the head coach, armed with a blueprint for guiding Pitt out of mediocrity.

Why To Be Grouchy … the O-line is still a liability in Western Pennsylvania. From a unit that's had perennial problems in pass protection, solid veterans Ryan Turnley and Chris Jacobson must now be replaced on the interior. T Juantez Hollins is expected back from last year's suspension, but Pitt still has a long way to go after ranking 102nd nationally in sacks yielded.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … finding a replacement for Tino Sunseri behind center. Sunseri was a rock throughout his final season as a Panther. Lining up to replace him is a collection of unproven quarterbacks … and one with starting experience. The staff is eager to get a good look at former Rutgers hurler Tom Savage, whose last pass attempt was made all the way back in 2010.


Why To Get Excited … after slumping a year ago, the ‘Hoos got a much-needed infusion of talent on the coaching staff. New offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild and tight ends coach Tom O'Brien are both former head coaches, with a similar vision on offense. Jon Tenuta has a proven track record for attacking opposing offenses, and for transforming the talent in his stable.

Why To Be Grouchy … where are the stars? Virginia is painfully light on playmakers on either side of the ball. Of the five Cavs that earned at least honorable mention All-ACC in 2012, only two, TE Jake McGee and CB Demetrious Nicholson remain in C'Ville. The offense lacks field-stretchers for QB Phillip Sims, who'll try to hold off David Watford during the offseason.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … coaching up the O-line. Four starters may return, but the unit's premier blocker, LT Oday Aboushi, is primping for a career in the NFL. And last year's front wall was an underlying reason why the attack struggled so mightily. The Cavs failed to create enough space for the nation's 96th-ranked ground game, and were 71st in sacks allowed.

Virginia Tech

Why To Get Excited … even with the devastating ACL tear suffered by CB Antone Exum, the defense will have a shot to be the toughest in the league. Eight starters return from a unit that became increasingly tougher as the 2012 season wound down. Five of those starters earned All-ACC recognition, led by DE James Gayle and LB Jack Tyler.

Why To Be Grouchy … the offense is going to be a serious work-in-progress. The Hokies ranked 81st nationally a season ago, a key reason why the program slogged through its worst year in two decades. Playmakers are scarce, a feature back needs to step up and three new O-line starters must be found between now and the opener with two-time defending champion Alabama.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … the relationship between QB Logan Thomas and new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler. Loeffler has had a lot of success with high-profile quarterbacks in the past, but Thomas might be his biggest challenge to date. The senior, with the cathedral ceiling, is coming off a disastrous year. The fate of the 2013 Hokies rests with Loeffler's ability to maximize the potential of his new pupil.
2013 ACC Spring Preview
- CFN 2013 ACC Spring Preview - Atlantic  
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Atlantic Rankings
- 2013 CFN Pre-Preseason ACC Coastal Rankings