Friday, May 8, 2009

Coastal is the Hokies to lose

With three conference titles in five seasons and a 32-8 conference record, Virginia Tech has dominated the ACC since joining in 2004.

But to be clear, the Hokies did not dominate in 2008. Actually, they were lucky to win the Coastal Division, getting help from Maryland and Georgia Tech down the stretch.

Then they played their two best games of the season in the ACC title game (beating Boston College) and Orange Bowl (throttling Cincinnati).

With so many parts back, led by running back Darren Evans (pictured above) and basically everyone minus corner Macho Harris, kicker Dustin Keys and safety-valve-quarterback-slash-whipping-boy Sean Glennon, the Hokies will go off as the prohibitive favorite to repeat in the Coastal Division and as the conference champion.

Before you start believing the top-5 in the country preseason hype about VT, remember the Hokies lost three conference games for the first time in '08 and won the division on a tiebreaker (at 5-3 same as Georgia Tech).

While the Coastal was the weaker group in '08, it will be the better half of the ACC in '09. In short, it won't be a walk for the favorites.

The odds for the other five teams to knock off VT:

— Miami

The major problems with a young Miami team in 2008 were the offensive coordinator (the eternally overmatched Patrick Nix) and a senseless quarterback rotation (between Robert Marve and Jacory Harris).

Canes coach Randy Shannon fixed both flaws, by hook or by crook. Nix left shortly after the bowl loss to Cal. Marve was suspended for the bowl and then decided to transfer (he's still looking for a new home).

A year older, with a pragmatic playcaller (Mark Whipple), the Canes have a real chance to finish what they started in '08. They were 7-3, 4-2 in the ACC, and headed for the Coastal title before losing to Georgia Tech (embarrassed on national TV), at N.C. State and to Cal in a road bowl game.

Odds: 2-to-1

— Georgia Tech

Conventional wisdom says the Yellow Jackets will be improved in the second season in Paul Johnson's unique option offense. But what about the ACC defenses who have had the benefit of a season to scout Johnson's act?

Interesting to note, with a bye week to prepare, UNC stuffed Tech's running game last season. And then there was the bowl game disaster against LSU, which had a month to scout.

The offense will be better with Louisville transfer Anthony Allen supporting stud runner Jonathan Dwyer. Like N.C. State, Tech has fragility questions at quarterback (the supremely talented Josh Nesbitt) but Johnson has done a good job, in just two seasons, stockpiling system quarterbacks.

The defense has to rebuild but another 5-3 season is there for the taking.

Odds: 3-to-1


With a healthy trio of Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and T.J. Yates, UNC wins the Coastal in '08 (no really). Only Yates is available in '09 and he's already hurt, playing frisbee no less.

UNC's defense will be good and Butch Davis will find new talent at receiver, just not in the class of Nicks (a first-rounder) or Tate (who was a first-rounder before the knee injury).

The schedule is too easy not to win eight games, seven at worst, but the Heels are not good enough to surpass the Hokies.

Odds: 7-to-1

— Virginia

Good move in going to the spread offense and hiring a coach (Gregg Brandon) who understands it (worked with Urban Meyer, credited creator of the popular version of it, at Bowling Green).

Good move (somehow) getting Jameel Sewell back at quarterback from the depths of academic purgatory.

Still not enough for one for a division title.

Odds: 15-to-1

— Duke

The Blue Devils could go 4-8 again and be better. That's just how the schedule sets up — easy up front and loaded down the stretch (again).

Quarterback Thad Lewis will miss receiver Eron Riley and the defense will miss linebacker Mike Tauiliili.

Not the same old Duke but still last place in the division.

Odds: 20-to-1

-- J.P. Giglio

-- Atlantic Division favorite


Anonymous said...

So when we win the ACC for the 4th time in 6 years be sure to bury it on page 10 of Sports Section as usual. Guess we keep getting lucky.

Carolina even if all their recievers came back would have about the same chance as a twinkie on Ralph Friedgen's dinner plate.

Dude Lane Stadium Thursday night.
Forgetabout it

Tarheel Paul said...

Maybe you can find another group of thugs like the Vick brothers to keep the Beamer charm intact.
Your luck is about to run out. The Tarheels are ready to take care of business and you are the first customer.

Anonymous said...

Let's see....Lane Stadium on a Thursday night and Butch Davis as Coach???

When the last time UNC beat the Hokies? Oh yeah, it was 1997.

It's over by halftime. The Hokies make it 6 in a row. But then, there's always basketball....

JukesHokie said...

In 2008, UNC could not beat (@CH) the worst VT football team in 10 years. VT plays the game for 60 minutes, which will be seen again in 2009, in Blacksburg

Tarheel Paul said...

You might win if you can keep your players out of jail or prison. You are an overrated thug farm.

vt92psyc said...

Oh yes, well played Tarheel Paul...

You have no valid football point to argue, so you resort to calling names. I'll reiterate what my fellow Hokies have stated... (btw, that means I'll make the point again... from the complete lack of intelligence in your argument I thought you might need that word explained)

Lane Stadium on a Thursday? Bring a baby blue towel to cry into & plan on leaving early.

Tarheel Paul said...

Well the Hokie Nation is not asleep. Remember the 1998 Gator Bowl beatdown of your greatest player ever by the lowly Tarheels ?
Or that your beloved Beamer, master of character development, accepted the head coaching job at UNC only to return to Hokie Town and reneg for a big salary increase. Thank God for us. Lane Stadium on a Thursday night with Ron Cherry as the head official and a group of thugs under the watchful eye of Frankie boy. Beamer ball at it's finest.
Win at any cost.

Reid said...

JukesHokie, remember that UNC was in control of that game until Yates went down in the middle of the 3rd quarter so I wouldn't exactly say that VT won it but more or less, UNC lost it after their leader, Yates went down. Next year Lane Stadium will be quiet on thursday night! Tyrod Taylor will be crushed by Marvin Austin.