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2005
19
Aug

Fearless ACC Predictions Part 2

All of those who have been waiting patiently for the really important ACC Predictions, those of the Coastal Division, are now rewarded. As always, these predictions are guaranteed to be correct unless they are not.

Coastal Division

1] Miami- Let’s see if I can run a reverse past the Weauxf Gods. To be sure, there are storm flags flying in Coral Gables. After inheriting one of the all-time great situations when Butch Davis left for NFL riches and wild success, Larry Coker breezed through his first season in 2001, going 12-0 and copping a MNC. The next year he lost one, the year after that two and last year three. Anybody see a pattern developing? Four losses this season would not bode well for Coker’s continued employment.

The Canes have sprung a few leaks. Mega-winner Ken Dorsey was replaced at quarterback by Visor Boy castoff Brock Berlin. Now Berlin is gone and in steps unproven Kyle Wright. The tailback, the lynchpin of Miami’s offense, is now occupied by Tyrone Moss, he of the strong aversion to off-season conditioning. When the Chosen One Kellen Winslow left to become stunt rider for the Cleveland Browns, Miami’s long line of talented and eccentric tight ends hit a lapse. This is not the stuff of national champions and neither is the general futility the Canes have experienced in Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium, where they happen to play this year. The Wehrmacht had a more pleasant experience at Stalingrad than Miami has in Lane.

On the other hand, Miami sits in one of the country’s great talent pools and annually rakes in gobs of very good athletes. You have to go with all of that talent, plus a defense that should be dominant.

Watch for: Anybody sitting in the upper deck of the Orange Bowl. A home schedule that includes Duke and a Directional Florida should really cause Miami’s lackadaisical fan base to flock to Little Havana.

Watch out for: Clemson. The Canes have a habit of following one loss with another [2003, Tech and Tennessee; 2004, North Carolina and Clemson]. If Miami drops their opener at Florida State, an 0-2 start would have Coker shot.

2] Virginia Tech- When was the last time we heard all of this hype coming out of Blacksburg? That would be two years ago. How did that work out? Not too good. For all of those Tech fans making Pasadena travel plans, two words: Inexperienced Quarterback. Marcus Vick, assuming he can stay out of jail these next two weeks and finally appear on the field rather than a courtroom, might indeed be the second coming of you-know-who. That remains to be seen, however. Right now, he is a guy that hasn’t started a game since his senior year in high school way back in 2001 and has seen precious little playing time period since he led Tech to a thumping of Miami in 2003. Bryan Randall made his bones as Tech quarterback, as did Brother Mike. Chances are Marcus will be very good but he still has to do it when the lights come on.

It should also be noted that MV Classic was spoon-fed JMU in his first collegiate game. MV Too isn’t quite so fortunate, drawing a road game against that ferocious NC State defense. Thanks, Turner, as your lollygagging caused a schedule change from what had been State opening at home versus Carolina while Marcus would have cut his teeth against lightweight Ohio. All Tech fans appreciate your efforts, not just the ones who will be sitting on the floor of those unfinished Lane luxury suites.

As the Tech message board loons furiously type out their denunciations of me as not a true Hokie, I would also point out that in his first game against legitimate opposition, Mike struggled mightily against Clemson back in 99. Marcus doing the same could mean that this year’s huge expectations would be quickly nipped in the bud.

Unproven quarterbacks aside, this is a Tech team that oozes talent and should be very good. Hopefully, 03’s late-season crash and burn has taught Frank Beamer a thing or two about managing high expectations. If the Hokies can get by NC State in the opener, they just might have a very long run.

The media has picked Tech to finish first. This, I would point out, is the same pack of idiots that last year projected a sixth-place finish for the Hokies. I do not consider them picking Tech first a cause for optimism. Hopefully, this appeases the Weauxf Gods.

Watch for: Hokies dressed in Wolf’s clothing, trying to cop tickets outside of NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. Also in the opener, watch for BobLeeSwagger to incite a riot once the charming Trinity Road Wolves find out who he is, and I’m just the kind of guy to tell them [Note to Carolina alums Swagger and Chuck planning to Clubhouse Tailgate with Hokies: wear light blue to draw the gunfire off us].

Watch out for: Maryland. His good buddy Frank Beamer embarrassed Ralph Friedgen last year; if the Fridge has a game circled on his schedule, it is this one. A Byrd Stadium containing a crowd of at least a third Tech fans will not provide the raucous atmosphere that so discombobulated the Maryland players last year as they ran out of the tunnel into a Lane where a frenzied crowd was rocking to Metallica and fireworks were going off; still, the Terps should provide a bit more stern of a test than last year [Watch what happens when Carolina, used to the eerily-quiet atmosphere of Kenan and the other sedate houses around most of the ACC, experiences Lane for the first time, too].

3] Virginia- Has anybody noticed that the Hoos go into 2005 in almost exactly the same situation as did Tech in 04? A team that failed to meet very high expectations the year before and lost a bunch of people to the NFL returns an experienced senior quarterback and a lot of talent. Is this the year the great NFL legend gets them over the hump? Probably not, but these guys should be pretty good and could cause serious trouble.

The Hoos were last seen being overpowered by Tech’s lines and then comically blowing a Potato Bowl lead in tropical Boise. They had an off-season to stew about it and for algroh to again try to figure out how to actually coach the impressive amounts of talent he is accumulating on the Grounds. The Great NFL Chessmaster was crowned in each of his games against the ACC’s Big Three last year. This year, he does get Tech and FSU at home.

Tailback Wally Lundy is a good one and senior Marques Hagans provides experienced senior leadership at quarterback although algroh still hasn’t seem to caught on to that new-fangled offensive gimmick called the forward pass and doesn’t see much need in recruiting wide receivers. Ahmad ‘The Great’ Brooks, if healthy, is a dominant defender.

Watch for: Wally Wahoo trying to awaken the somnolent crowd at the Smithsonian. It’s always good for laughs. Also worth noting are how the uniforms for that new band were chosen with emphasis given to the last line of the ‘Good Old Song.’

Watch out for: North Carolina. Big John Bunting is going to surprise somebody and he will have an extra week to prepare the Heeliban for the Hoos. Throw in algroh’s habitual road problems and you have the recipe for an upset.

4] Georgia Tech- They should be pretty good; a fourth-place prediction gives you an idea of the strength of the new ACC. The Yellow Jackets have an experienced quarterback in Reggie Ball, perhaps the ACC’s best at both tailback and wide receiver and a solid returning defense, even after it was whittled down by academic shortcomings and the DEA. Minus the dope dealing, these are the recipes for a good season.

What is likely to sting the Jackets is a brutal road schedule that begins opening night at Auburn and continues with trips to Blacksburg, Miami and Hooville. Yikes! Little Johnny Swofford should have thrown in a game at Tallahassee for the heck of it. This kind of schedule is not the recipe for a good season.

Multi-Tech AD Dave Braine has let it be known that he is not overly thrilled with the six-win seasons that seem to be becoming a specialty of Chan Gailey. If Chan doesn’t want to have to be falsifying a resume somewhere, a few more wins would seem to be in order.

Watch for: The Rambling Wreck to be carjacked from outside Grant Field before the UConn game, provided it has an on-board computer system.

Watch out for: Duke. Like John Bunting, Ted Roof is going to beat somebody. He stung the Jackets the last time they came to Wade and just might catch them looking to the next week’s game at Miami.

5] North Carolina- Stirring wins over NC State and Miami along with Dean telling DickieB he wouldn’t hire him a new football coach allowed Big John Bunting to return for another season in Blue Heaven. That may be the good news or the bad news.

Slowly but surely the likeable Bunting seems to be establishing a baseline for Carolina football at a bit higher level than the Southern Conference one left by NASCarl Torbush. After some slippery starts, Big John is beginning to establish some recruiting traction. There are also indications that the guy who spent thirty years holding mostly junior-level staff positions in the NFL is figuring out how to run a major college football program. Of course, Carolina continuing to do what it does best, throw money at its sports programs, doesn’t hurt, either.

The Heels are still a ways away from competing at the top of the brave new world of ACC football, however. It is going to take time. That shouldn’t be a problem for Big John; after all, Torbush and Coach D’oh were given plenty. Things are likely to be a little dicey this year. Quarterback Darian Durant has moved on. Bunting’s attempts at recruiting a top-shelf replacement didn’t quite work out and the job falls to a career clipboard holder Matt Baker, a one-time MAC recruiting target Big John latched onto years ago when his recruiting was on a par with Furman’s. Baker has shown no indications whatsoever that he is capable of running an offense at this level, although he has had a number of years studying at the feet of OC Gary ‘Yoda’ Tranquill. Compounding the problem at quarterback, the running game is being entrusted to a loudmouth who could not crack the three-deep at LSU. Lots ‘o luck moving the ball against the ACC’s top defenses.

Watch for: A blinding glare from Kenan. With house fillers NC State and Virginia Tech both on the road, the amount of exposed aluminum reflecting sunlight will produce enough solar energy to cook Doc Ryan’s barbecue. If the Heels start 0-4 or so, DickieB might want to think about night games for Maryland and Duke.

Watch out for: Duke. It’s likely the only game in which the Heels will be favored. That narrows the possibilities.

6] Duke- Ah, yes, Duke. Fittingly, the Blue Devils are the last team covered in this preview. There is good news: with the ACC now broken up into divisions, Duke can no longer finish ninth; the worst they can do is sixth. At Duke that is considered improvement.

Duke has finally decided to get serious about football, although at Duke ‘serious’ is a relative term. After decades of starving their program of budgetary and facilities funds, figuring that all that was necessary was for Visor Boy to give up the SEC gig and come back or the reincarnation of Wallace Wade, AD ‘Lackey’ Joe Alleva pried enough money out of Coach K to fund a full DI-A complement of scholarships and construct the Yoh Center for strength and conditioning. It’s a start.

There is a bit of a buzz surrounding Duke football. Ted Roof has upgraded recruiting to the point that it is a little closer to the rest of the ACC rather than the Ivy League. There are at least a handful of legitimate football players running around Methodist Flats. A top-notch quarterback has been recruited, although it was for basketball. This is, after all, Duke.

Since taking over for disaster Carl Franks midway through the 2003 season, Roof has gotten the Devils to play tougher- Duke now hangs around most games for a half instead of a quarter- and is good for one upset a year, Georgia Tech in 03 and Clemson last year. The Blue Devils should continue to get better, but have miles to go before anybody is going to forget about the 800-pound gorilla in residence over in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Watch for: The Duke radio network to sign off in the Third Quarter of some loss so Bob Harris can get to Cameron in time to broadcast the Blue-White basketball game.

Watch out for: East Carolina. The Pirates stink. The Devils pretty much have to win this one or it’s back to business as usual on Methodist Flats.

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