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Cigars & Football – A Simple Blend

ACC- Coastal Division

ACC Coastal


Last year the Duke Blue Devils won this division. Let’s run through that again, freakin’ DUKE won this division last year! Who saw that one coming? If you’re raising your hand, LIAR, LIAR, PANTS AFIRE! No one saw that one coming, but wasn’t it great! Love the fact that they took the division, didn’t do very well in the ACC championship game, but, who cares? Duke made it! Who’s going to surprise this year? The trendy choice is North Carolina, or could Miami, without the NCAA breathing down their neck, surprise everyone? Or is it someone else’s turn, like, Pittsburgh, or maybe even Duke again? Either way, this division looks like a lot of fun.

1. Last year North Carolina was supposed to take this division, but starting off  1-5, that dream was dead. The Heels finished 4-1 and blew-out Cincinnati in the Belk bowl. They have some returning talent, but still quite a few question marks. Starting with QB, Marquise Williams took UNC 4over midseason and led the Tar Heels to a winning season. However, last night’s warm embers, in the words of St Douglas MacArthur, may have turned to cold ashes. Mitch Trubisky, a redshirt freshmen, has come on strong and has the best arm between the two. Williams led the Tar Heels in rushing –DUH! He took every snap –  once he took over but his passing accuracy was, well….let’s just say he needs to work on it if he wants to hold on to the top spot. Tubisky’s accuracy is pretty good, and, according to Coach Fedora, he’s not naming a starter until well into August. Mobility might be important for everyone in the backfield this year, because it’s projected that the Offensive line is going to be starting four sophomores. But, hey, they might be the best sophomores to ever play the North Carolina O-line! Doubt it, but it could happen. The running backs are going to be the key. They’re two running backs returning and one highly-recruited Elijah Hood, who will see playing time. Receivers, the spotlight will be on Quinshad Davis who will need a break out year. In short, the offense is going to be very young this year.

In the Defensive line, UNC loses sack machine, Kareem Martin, and the secondary needs to be rebuilt. The linebacking corps is going to be strong.  Last year the defense allowed everyone to run all over them in the first few games. Then, they stiffened and the record shows the result. If they keep this going, they’ll be the reason North Carolina makes it to the ACC championship game. If they don’t….well, there’s always next year, said the Brooklyn Dodgers. Brooklyn Dodgers? I guess there wasn’t always a next year.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 20thEast Carolina– ECU is not usually on this list but after what they did to the Tar Heels last year this will be a tell-tale game. If UNC is able to squash the Pirates, it’ll be a good start, Woodrow! (with apologies to Lonesome Dove)

Oct 11thNotre Dame– this game is on the list because this will be the biggest outside conference game the Tarheels have.

2. Miami saw what North Carolina was doing last year and did just the  opposite. They began 7-0, and looked like the 90’s Hurricanes were Miamiback! A couple of injuries and the Canes dropped three straight, to FSU, VaTech and DUKE! QB-wise, Miami was looking at Memphis transfer Ryan Williams to take the reigns and lead them to glory. Oopps, a torn ACL and he’s out! That leaves Kevin Olsen, a redshirt freshman, as the sole healthy QB. Not the best situation to be in. Olsen’s development will be the biggest key to Miami’s success. Running the ball shouldn’t be a problem as long as Johnson stays healthy. If he gets hurt again all bets are off. Depth is a real issue for the Hurricane offense. If they get bitten by the injury bug, the wheels are going to fall off. The Hurricane receivers got beat up pretty badly last year. One went down, and the rest followed like dominos. Now, they return and, hopefully, they return hale and hearty. The Offensive line is set;- …well, at least half of it, anyway. The left side has returning starters, Jon Feliciano at guard, and Ereck Flowers at tackle. The right side of the line will rely on newcomers who are as yet unnamed.

Defense got a lot of work last year. They were on the field far more than the offensive, averaging 34 minutes per game. At the start of the season, they could handle it, but, as the season went, on they got tired and worn- out. Opponents had a third-down conversion rate of 42 percent, not good. For the 2014 season the Canes worked on getting bigger, stronger and more aggressive. None of the players on the defensive line top 300lbs.  They’re going to have to rely on speed and deception. The linebackers appear all set with All American Denzel Perryman anchoring the corps. In the secondary, there’s a mixture of veterans and rookies. If the defense is able to stop some teams, chances are there’ll be more victories. If they fall apart like they did in the second half of last season, well, there’s always the Russell Athletic Bowl again. (Remember the Brooklyn Dodgers)

Toughest Games:
Sept 20thNebraska– They’ll travel to Husker country, where, if they pull a win out, the Canes could run the table –  until they face FSU.

Nov. 15thFlorida State– can they make this game like the good ole days? The world is hoping they do.

3.   Duke, what can be said about the Blue Devils? In 2013, they won the division. Can they do it again in 2014? Considering the fact that they’re not really known as a “dominant” team, it’s hard to say. Offensively, most of the big guns are back. Quarterback Anthony Boone returns and he has returning receiver Jamison Crowder. Last year they made a good combination, and they’re expected to do it again this year. The Dukebiggest loss on offense was when running back, Jela Duncan, was suspended from school for academic issues. Duke takes academic issues seriously. He only led the team in rushing for the past two years. They do have senior Josh Snead and Junior Shaquille Powell, they should know the system, and should be able to take up the slack. The line only lost two to graduation. However, those two were the best linemen the Blue Devils had. If they’re able to find adequate replacements, Duke should do well. They will move the ball and they’ll score points. The biggest question will be, can they stop anyone;- or, are they going to just try and outscore everyone? Last year the defensive line was solid. They were picture-perfect, the same four players started every game, they performed at the highest level. After graduation only one returns. There were other losses, cornerback Cockrell was lost. But they appear to have some very good underclassmen that will be able to step up. The Devils are going to rely heavily on Linebackers Kelby Brown and David Helton. If they can be the leaders they need to be, they might be able make the difference in a couple of games. If the defense proves not to be up to the task, Duke is not going to win the division. More than likely, they’ll make it to a bowl game, setting a school record of three years playing in the post season.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 27thMiami– last year they beat Miami. Can they do it again?

Nov. 15thVirginia Tech– it was such a close game last year that nobody could believe the Devils actually did it. This year might be a bit different.

4.  Pittsburgh, ah, Pitt….I so want Pitt to be better than they are but they just can’t seem to get over the mediocrity hump. I have no idea why, Pittand, it appears, the Panthers don’t either.  They can move the ball. They have Chad Voytik coming back after his break-through performance in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. He led the team to a win over Bowling Green after starter Tom Savage got injured. Now the offense is Voytik’s, and he’ll have plenty of weapons, Tyler Boyd is more than willing to catch the ball, along with Manasseh Garner, and tight end J.P. Holtz. The receiving corps is in good hands (that’s a pun, folks. Receiving corps, … good hands, …). Behind Voytik will be Isaac Bennett and James Conner, who are expected to be a good running tandem. How good? Not sure, but if they’re able to take some pressure off the passing game, the Panthers just might have too much for opposing defenses to stop. The Defensive line appears to be solid, as they will have Mosley-Smith coming back from suspension, and Darryl Render. Mosley-Smith is perceived as an excellent run stopper. Last year’s biggest weakness on “D” was at linebacker. Both Thomas and Gonzalez return, and although they are considered hybrids, and able to stop the run and cover the passing game, consistency was not their strong suite. If they learn from their past mistakes, and improve, then, along with a solid line, there is no reason whatsoever why Pitt cannot be better than they were! They’ve just got to be consistent! Why can’t they be consistent? If CSF thought for two seconds that Pitt cold perform on a consistent basis, we’d pick them to win the division, but, until they prove they can do it, we just can’t.

Toughest games:
Sept. 20thIowa– Pitt will have three tune-up games before they take on the Hawkeyes, upsetting a Great White North team could be the catalyst they need to a rip-roaring season.

Nov. 15th– North Carolina– they will have four ACC games under their belt by the time they reach the Tar Heels, if the Panthers have been having a good season up to this point, this game will have serious implications for the Coastal crown.

5.  Virginia Tech, A lot of people like VaTech, all the preview magazines have them ranked much higher than 5th, in the division. CSF doesn’t Virginia Techhave that much faith in the Hokies. They appear to be on a downward slope that they just can’t escape. Logan Thomas is gone, now most people will say this is a bad loss for VaTech, but Thomas never did anything to impress CSF, so we’re calling this a plus. They have Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer  coming into the fold. He was supposed to be the starter for the Red Raiders last year, but he had a back injury, and by the time he returned, the starter was someone else. It’s not a definite that Brewer’ll be the starter, but, compared to the competition, we’re going to call it for him.  The receivers have experience but not consistency. Running back-wise, Virginia Tech has Trey Edmunds, who, as a freshman, was forced into action. He’s going to be counted on to be the featured runner. He also suffers from a lack of consistency. That word pretty much sums up the future success of the Hokies, consistency. Defense-wise, they were weak last year and left a lot of holes to fill. Sometimes they performed pretty well but it was obvious that they were just not we’re up to snuff. They need to take the experience they gained and do more than just get to a bowl game. The Hokie fans are getting nervous, they’re starting to think Frank Beamer is slipping, and, well….he has this year to prove if he is or not.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 6thOhio State– This game was more than likely scheduled back when VaTech was playing So Much Better, but that’s not the case now. VaTech has to keep it close and give a good showing. If they get blown out their season will be on a fast track to the bottom

Oct. 4thNorth Carolina– The Tar Heels are positioned to take the Coastal. If VaTech survives until this game unscathed, whoever wins will be the top dog.

6.  Georgia Tech will still be running the Paul Johnson triple-option attack, and for most teams it causes fits to defend. Last year they dropped five of their last six games. Now they have a new backfield with a new QB and new running backs. None of them proven, and they have big question marks on their helmets. Not really, they’ll still have GT on them but the backs are big questions. If the offense can gel and the all the newbies catch on, and hold on to the ball, if they can execute execute the triple-option as Johnson envisions, the Jackets will move the ball. On defense, the secondary suffered last season, not just with injuries, of which there were numerous, but in covering people as well. They just weren’t very good. To help add some life to the “D”, Junior Hunt-Days has moved from linebacker to end in hopes of improving the line. The Yellow Jackets can play, they’re just stuck in a mediocre style of play. Is the triple-option the problem? Or is it just the talent level? Not real sure, but not too much is expected from them.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 20thVaTech– this will be their first ACC game and if the Tech from Georgia is able to win, their ACC fortunes will change. Before VaTech, though, they need to beat Georgia Southern, which will not be easy, just ask Florida.

Then they have, Miami, Duke, UNC, Pitt, NC State, Clemson and Georgia! It’s going to be a tough year for Georgia Tech.

7.  Virginia– The Cavaliers have a lot riding on this season. They’re coming off a 2-10 record and they just didn’t perform well in 2013. Coach London will have a projected gun-slinger at QB. Greyson Lambert, who smoked the competition in the spring, and who was sought after by the likes of Alabama, Georgia and Miami, has met his promised expectations. The running game did show signs of life last year, but the fact that this was the only unit that did show some life, opponents lined up to stop the run without concern for the passing game. Lambert will have a lot riding on his shoulders. If he can open up the passing game, the running game will give the Wahoos an added dimension. Defensively, they gained experience last year, maybe not the type of experience you want, but experience all the same. If they’re able to channel a disappointing performance into a turn- around, they just might….might save Coach London’s job.

Toughest Games:

Aug. 30thUCLA– Virginia will be opening up the season by hosting the Bruins, might not be the best way for them to start the season.

After that, they host Richmond, UVA should win, but, then, … let’s just say all the games are going to be tough.


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