Five Burning Questions about the ACC Coastal

 

Preseason practice is now in full swing and so we present Five Burning Questions about the ACC Coastal:

 

1. We know that Georgia Tech is going to run the ball most of the time.  And most of the time the Yellow Jackets are going to run it very well. So why do I get the feeling that “Bay-Bay” Thomas is going to have a really good year? Coach Paul Johnson told me last week that he’s not real big on balance when it comes to offense. “If you have to run it 60 times to win, that’s fine. If you have to throw it 60 times to win, that’s fine, too,” said Johnson. “I think the whole balance idea is overrated.” Needless to say, some teams are not going to let Georgia Tech run for 400 yards again–at least not if they can help it. So I just get the feeling that there are going to be some more opportunities for wide receiver Demaryius “Bay-Bay” Thomas this season. Thomas, who caught 39 passes in 2008 (nobody else on the Georgia Tech team caught more than eight), showed that he could make teams pay for obsessing about the run when he caught nine passes for 230 yards again Duke. Johnson’s offense will improve and evolve in year two on The Flats. Part of that evolvement will include a better passing game.

 

2. Can Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor do something-anything-to become better passer? And if he doesn’t, can the Hokies beat Alabama? Taylor, a junior, is an athletic quarterback who can certainly make things happen with his feet. But with his arm? Not so much. Taylor completed a respectable 57.2 percent of his passes last season but threw only two-that’s right, two-touchdown passes to seven interceptions. As a team last season Virginia Tech had only six touchdown passes (Georgia Tech only had five). The Hokies won 10 games and an ACC championship last season because they played great defense, as always, and had a great freshman running back in Darren Evans (1,265 yards). Virginia Tech is being talked about as a potential contender for the BCS national championship but the Hokies won’t get past Alabama if Taylor doesn’t work on his passing game in the preseason. Head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will have all summer to devise a scheme that will MAKE Taylor pass. By Sept. 5 Taylor had better have an answer when that happens.

 

3. Who is going to play wide receiver for North Carolina? The Tar Heels had better find out soon. They lost their top three receivers in Hakeem Nicks (68 catches), Brooks Foster (30 catches), and Brandon Tate (16 catches in an injury-shortened season). Coach Butch Davis believes there are some playmakers in the mix. Greg Little, a converted running back, caught 11 passes out of the backfield last season. Dwight Jones is tall (6-5) and athletic but did not catch a pass last season in three appearances. Junior Johnny White played cornerback for seven games last season and then switched to running back. True freshmen Joshua Adams (6-4, 200) and Jheranie Boyd will get a look. “We have guys who can play the position,” quarterback T.J. Yates (of Marietta) told me last week. “We just have to settle on the guys who can help us win. We’ll be fine.”

 

4. Can new coordinator John Lovett fix the Miami defense? When Randy Shannon was Miami’s defensive coordinator, the Hurricanes were among the toughest units in college football. Since Shannon became head coach, the Miami defense has really struggled. Miami gave up 24.2 points per game last season, which ranked 56th nationally (out of 119 Division I-A teams) and 11th in the ACC. When it came to forcing turnovers, Miami was 113th nationally with only 15 (11 fumble recoveries, four interceptions). They couldn’t stop the run, ranking last in the ACC (151.8 ypg). Enter Lovett, who has been the defensive coordinator at Auburn and Clemson. Lovett begins preseason practice with a defense that returns eight starters and has been ridiculously young the past two seasons. He also gets three 2007 starters-defensive end Eric Moncour, safety Randy Phillips, and linebacker Colin McCarthy-all of whom missed most of last season with injuries. Look for Lovett to set a good tempo in preseason practice because the Hurricanes open on Sept. 7 at Florida State. “I feel good about what John has done with our defense,”  Shannon said. “We’ve finally got some guys with experience.”

 

5. Can the Duke defense take another step forward? We know the Duke offense is going to be pretty good. Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is in his second year in David Cutcliffe’s system and the Blue Devils have some weapons on that side of the ball. What I’m looking for in the preseason is whether or not the defense will improve for the second straight year. Six starters are missing from a group that went from giving up 33.2 points per game in 2007 to 23.4 points per game last season.  Two big-time players are still there in DT Vince Oghobaase and LB Vincent Rey. Oghobaase (6-6, 300) has 29 career tackles for loss and is an All-ACC pick. Rey wasn’t a preseason All-ACC pick but he should have been. This guy can play with 100 or more tackles in each of the past two seasons. If Duke’s defense can get a little bit better, it is possible for Duke to improve on 4-8 last season and qualify for a bowl.

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175 comments Add your comment

KidRay

August 6th, 2009
7:31 am

T. Tyalor is a horrible, inconsistent QB. VT goes nowhere with him.

Joe

August 6th, 2009
7:48 am

wa-la…havent you heard?????? there should be no question as far as the Coastal Swamp Division goes. The Jackettes are BACK! they beat UGA by a field goal- and you know what that means…..they will will the Swamp and go on to play for the national Championship this year. By God- it sure is great to be a Tech fan. They are even closer to filling up Bobby Dodd for their home games- why it’s August and they only have 10-20,000 or so tickets to sell. WOW-

GA Tech Insider

August 6th, 2009
7:54 am

Stephen Hill opposite side Demaryius should also provide Josh with an inviting target and opposing Defenders nightmares in the passing game.

Then, couple those two large, fast, physical wide receivers with the A-Backs who can also come out of the backfield into pass patterns; well, a few play-action passes should break for some large yardage down field, assuming Josh has some time to unload the ball.

By the way, we also seem to forget that Jonathan Dwyer caught a few balls last season for some long yardage, including one for 80 yards, I believe, so he’s also a threat out of the backfield, and then there’s always the threat of an end around behind the A-Back in motion. I’m just trying to imagine the confusion this offense can bring to the table with a passing offense installed.

The keys, though, are for Josh to get the time to get the ball down field, and then, of course, the receivers catch the ball. If these things don’t happen,then the passing game will be no better than it was last season.

reebok

August 6th, 2009
8:00 am

G-Tech will be hard to beat this year. That offense is going to wear down the opposing D, and by controlling the ball, will keep the opposing offense off the field.

In regards to question #2, Virginia Tech is a good team, but I fear this is going to be another SEC over ACC beatdown, along the lines of last year’s kickoff classic and the Peach (I won’t call it by that other name) Bowl.

Peadawg

August 6th, 2009
8:05 am

6. When was the last time the Almost Credible Conference was relevant in college football?

Atlanta Gator

August 6th, 2009
8:11 am

Comments in response to Tony —-

(1) If Georgia Tech continues to have a great running game, it will take the pressure off the passing game, allowing the quarterback and receivers to complete passes for big gains from time to time. It’s that simple.

(2) In 2008, Virginia Tech’s Tyrod Taylor completed 99 of 173 passes for 1,036 yards in 10 starts. He also had 738 rushing yards. Viewed most favorably, that means he’s averaging, 103 yards passing and 74 yards rushing per game (actually slightly less, because he saw mop-up duty in tow other games). He’s not going to frighten opposing defensive coordinators and secondaries with passing numbers like that. I just bumped my early line on the Alabama-Virginia Tech game—-Bama by 10.

(3) North Carolina is a division contender with no returning starters at wide receiver? Wow. Somebody is going to have to step up, or 2009 may be a step back for the Tar Heels.

(4) I never would have predicted that the Miami defense would be less than stellar under Randy Shannon as head coach. That it has problems is a surprise. The Hurricanes continue to have performance issues on both sides of the ball, however. This could be a make-or-break year for Shannon. Fans, alumni and players want to believe, want to see tangible progress to rebuilding the U’s dynasty. It’s going to be interesting . . . will present reality satisfy present expectations?

(5) Strangely enough, this is a big year for the Duke program, too. If David Cutcliffe can continue to demonstrate progress, he might really begin to build a mid-tier ACC player instead of a perennial cellar dweller. Remains to be seen, however. In 2008, 3 of Duke’s 4 W’s were against non-conference opponents—-James Madison, Navy and Vanderbilt. This year, the Blue Devils play Richmond, Army, Kansas and North Carolina Central. That looks like 3 scheduled wins. Question is, can Cutcliffe convert some of those relatively close 2008 ACC games into 3 or 4 conference wins? If he can do that, and win 6 games this year, he will begin to get recruits he’s not currently landing . . . otherwise, the program risks one step forward, two steps back.

Gen Neyland

August 6th, 2009
8:12 am

The tape from last years Peach Filet Bowl is already in it’s 5th printing. GT’s run game ain’t sneaking up on anyboby. It’ll be mano-a-mano weekly for GT in 2009. The Belly Option Jump Pass play is in the works, or so I hear…

rduck

August 6th, 2009
8:18 am

This division comes down to the wire between GT and VT. The Oct 17 showdown could very well be for the title. I don’t see Taylor being a great passer for the Hokies. They will once again have to rely on defense, rushing the ball and Special teams. GT will run the ball of course, but if Nesbitt and the receivers improve at all, GT could very well run the table in the Coastal. Also injuries will play a HUGE part in the success of either of these teams.

Sebastian the IBIS

August 6th, 2009
8:18 am

Canes are a year away but will be better. Brutal opening schedule with a 2-2 start optimistic but 1-3 realistic.

GA Tech Insider

August 6th, 2009
8:20 am

Gen Neyland;

Great post; it wasn’t one of those typical “childish” ones that starts the boyish games. By the way, I hope you keep it so we can look back at the end of the season and see just how prophetic you are.

ACC

August 6th, 2009
8:36 am

As a Tech fan, Miami scares me now that they have a real offensive coordinator and UNC is slowly loading up on talent. The ACC Coastal with Tech, VT, Miami, and UNC I think will be a war the next several years. At least I hope so, for the ACC’s sake.

Tommy J

August 6th, 2009
8:38 am

Miami will play just well enough to be respectable, but not good enough for Shannon to keep his job. Call up Tubberville and that Canes defense will thing its the early 90s again.

hank

August 6th, 2009
8:42 am

Kidray,

Hokies are 13-2 with Tyrod as starter!

BLAZER

August 6th, 2009
8:42 am

tech offense outgained lsu in the game-mistakes!!!!!!!!!

if you block and execute the any offense works

DawginLex

August 6th, 2009
8:46 am

1.) Interesting comments by CPJ about not needing to be balanced. I guess it depends on style of offense but the successful teams of recent years could throw and pass. When GT won last year, they didn’t have to pass. When forced to throw, they lost. I still believe there must at least be a threat of balance or the running game willnot take you where you want to go.

2.) I’m not sold on Taylor or VT. I still believe Bama whips them opening day and they will lose to GT in ATL.

3.) UNC has loads of talent, especially on defense. The QB is pretty good, when healthy and the OL looks OK. WR’s that can make plays will be the difference in 10-2, 11-1 vs 8-4 for UNC.

4.) UM will have speed on the D but unless the offense can get more consistency, they will be faced with the same situations as our own UT-Lots of D and not much O. I see 6-6 and a coaching change.

5.) Coach K will continue to play pressure man-to-man. They still lack a post presence that could make them legit top 5. Sorry. Cutcliffe can coach, bottom line. He has a pretty good QB and I’m sure they are in better shape under his regime. Could surprise and get to 6 wins.

GTville

August 6th, 2009
8:47 am

for GT fumbles are the key. Less fumbles = 2 more victories last year and a win at Orange or Gator Bowl instead of loss at the Peach.

VT did not look very good last year against a very inexperienced GT. I think they are overated.

UNC will win the ACC and be a national contender pre-season next year. Meyer to ND = Davis or Johnson to UF.

Miami is done for 5 more years.

Cuttysark

August 6th, 2009
8:50 am

When you are unable to properly execute the running game and still gain around 273 yards per game, just think what will happen in year 2. The passing game will continue to provide even more big strikes downfield as the running game improves. Blazer, you are right about the peach bowl. Our kicking game hurt us in every facet of special teams. Go to isportsweb.com for an explanation of the LSU game and more Georgia Tech Football postings. Go Jackets!

T-Rav and the Eastside Grainger

August 6th, 2009
8:57 am

Tech was forced to pass in two games last year. VT and UNC. We were forced to pass due to our own offensive ineptitude and TO’s. We dont screw ourselves, we never would have had to pass anyway. The LSU game we chose to pass for some reason. Got away from the bread and butter and never even made LSU have to defend. The UVA game was just a comedy of errors. So your argument goes both ways. Our poor passing performances were a product of our own mistakes.

T-Rav and the Eastside Grainger

August 6th, 2009
8:58 am

I think I meant to switch VT and UVA in that post. But whatever.

CincyJacket

August 6th, 2009
9:05 am

I like it when UGA fans pretend to be LSU fans.

I know Tech will be better this year. Hopefully it translates into more wins.

m

August 6th, 2009
9:06 am

You idiots that think the LSU film is going to help anyone are just stupid. LSU won the game, fair and square, but it was mostly due to Tech special team problems and turnovers. Tech got roughly equal yardage to LSU. All that game did is motivate Tech to not let it happen again.

I, repeat, if you think the LSU bowl win helps anyone this year…you are STUPID.

Tony, why didn’t you point out that TECH led the nation in 40 yard gains??? The offense is not 3 yards and a cloud of dust….it is 40 yards and a cloud of dust.

There is a new sheriff in town…his name is Paul Johnson.

Thank God and Greyhound that the worst coach in the history of the world is gone forever. Halllleeeeeeeedamlooooyah!!

CincyJacket

August 6th, 2009
9:06 am

Don’t forget we passed a lot in the Duke game. Now whether they “forced” us to or not is a good question… and it is Duke… but worth throwing out there.

Dawg Foot

August 6th, 2009
9:14 am

Tech beats UGA by 3 points and loses the last game of the season – give them the friggin’ the National Championship. They may be the most hyped team in the history of college football.

ABC

August 6th, 2009
9:19 am

I don’t mean to be a jerk but… Evolvement or evolution?

Joe

August 6th, 2009
9:19 am

Hey GaTechInsider……look who is calling someone childish. To hear the jackettes talk- there 3 point gift from UGA last year has put them on top of the college football world. LSU just showed what should have happened in Athens if we had tackeled but thats part of the game. Talk about a bunch of hype…..geez…..earth to jackettes?????

Paddy

August 6th, 2009
9:20 am

Miami will be the flop of the year in the ACC. They start 0-4.

Reggie Ball

August 6th, 2009
9:22 am

Coach Johnson, make sure the quarter back knows there are only 4 downs. I thought if you throw the ball away on 4th down you get a do-over. Well let me tell you, you don’t. Man, I wish I had one of those “3pt Victory Championship Rings”.

KennesawDawg

August 6th, 2009
9:22 am

m, you are an ignorant SOB. I love it.

Otto

August 6th, 2009
9:24 am

m, LSU won because they had the best DL GT played. GT’s OL was blown off the ball. You are correct in that it won’t help other teams but it is because nobody in the ACC and only a handful of teams have a DL as good as LSU’s. LSU will be fighting for 3rd in the SEC west this year because they had to replace the DL.

Otto

August 6th, 2009
9:25 am

The problem with Miami wasn’t Nix its Shannon. I do however give him credit for cleaning up the program.

Braves Fan in Dawg Country

August 6th, 2009
9:35 am

DawginLex,
I think UGA’s problem last year was that they tried to be too balanced. When they had a weapon like Knowshon, they should have given him the ball over and over, in the same way Dooley gave it to Herschel. Then had Stafford go over the top to Green. I think too often, UGA coaches try to out-think themselves instead of just taking advantage of their wealth of talent. I really believe that if Dooley had been coaching the team last year, they would have lived up to the preseason expectations. (But they still need CMR recruiting!)

Paddy

August 6th, 2009
9:38 am

Otto… credit is due for cleaning up that program, it must not have been an easy task. Where Shannon is digging a hole is in recruiting. At best it just maintaining the status quo. He has lost his hold on the S Fla base that Miami once owned for many, many years. The top flight players in Fla just don’t have his team in their final equation anymore. The state is loaded and he is not getting his share. If he must rely on out of state players, he is doomed.

Ced

August 6th, 2009
9:41 am

Yards:
LSU – 324
-passing 163
-rushing 161

GT – 314
-passing 150
-rushing 164

Turnovers:
LSU: 0
GT: 3

THERE’S YOUR ANSWER. Tech was only out-gained by 10yards. Turnovers on Special Teams dug them an early grave.

DAWGHATER

August 6th, 2009
9:42 am

Hey Dawgfoot: Most hyped team in college football history? Are you kidding me. Every year we hear all teh Dawg rednecks talking about a NC. If I am not mistaken it has been 28 years for your louzy school and 19 for GT. Quit whining and accept the fact that you guys suck! Your team sucks, your fans suck and your academics are pathetic. THWG!

Boss Hogg

August 6th, 2009
9:43 am

Dawg Foot: No, that would be the 2008 Georgia Bulldogs.

college ball fan

August 6th, 2009
9:44 am

I get tired of hearing about the great passing game Tech should have – if the Offensive Line does not block it will not be any better than last year. Blocking & tackling, blocking & tackling!

DAWGHATER

August 6th, 2009
9:48 am

Hey UGA: Remember this name: Stephen Hill. Yep, that’s right. he is a true freshman and will make AJ blowhard Green look like a rookie. Thomas and Hill along with Dwyer, Peoples, Allen and oh, I forgot……….Roddy Jones just scored again. You all are done! Dawgs suck! Gators and Jackets roll. By the way, do you think your sorry azz team can ever beat Florida. LMFAO!

Got 12?

August 6th, 2009
9:50 am

ACC-C will come down to VT and Georgia Tech but I don’t feel the head-to-head match up will definitely determine the division winner. The team that avoids the letdown/upset will win the division. Last season’s loss to UVA is what killed Georgia Tech’s hopes.

DAWGHATER

August 6th, 2009
9:51 am

Is Willie the mastermind Martinez back this year? Hope so, as he sucks worse than your team. Also, are you on UGA VII or UGA VIII? Better get the ice ready for his nuts, coz the ugly azz mutt will need it along with your team when you lose 5 or 6 games this year. UGAG 8-4 at best, but hey, it’s a rebuilding year. I say we still win the NC. NOT! THWG!

King of Sandy Springs

August 6th, 2009
9:52 am

KennesawDawg,
m actually made some sense. It’s not ignorant to say “I, repeat, if you think the LSU bowl win helps anyone this year…you are STUPID.” He’s right, and I think Clemons will try LSU blitzing and will get blown out (JSU game plan won’t matter). The rest of the league will need to come up with something else. Our O-line will actually know their assignments this year. LSU was the first team to play the blitz, and the O-line didn’t know what to do. UNC played great, disciplined assignment ball, and the O-line didn’t know what to do. Miami did the same, um, that didn’t work very well for them. UVA played the 3-4, and the O-line didn’t know what to do. Not many 3-4’s out there, but guess what? They’ve seen it, and they know what to do. Same goes for blitzing, assignment football, and that two hand touch defense UGA had. That’s why CPJ’s second seasons are fantastic. His previous second seasons include a National Championship and a 10 win season at Navy. Things are looking mighty bright on the Flats.

Trade School Junkie

August 6th, 2009
10:00 am

Another “under-whelming” journalistic masterpiece from “Mr. College Football.”

These are burning questions?

Pssssst. Hey Tony, gotta a sceret for ya.

Everyone in the Eastern Standard Time zone knows Taylor has been working with coaching staff on his passing game & mechanics…ALLLLLLLLL FREAKIN SUMMER !! Geeez, talk about clueless.

Not a word about UVA? A brand new OC to help save Al Groh’s job, and not a word? Instead were talking about Duke’s defense??

BIG BEE

August 6th, 2009
10:06 am

JOE, just cannot get over it can you?

juvenal

August 6th, 2009
10:10 am

Tech has never won a bowl in Atlanta, & has usually looked bad, even when favored-still what has the past got to do with anything important-i will be glad when it’s kick-off time, 7 there will be real topics to discuss on these blahblahgs(my 7 key don’t CAP)-i wish the screener removed redundant drivel, it would save time..

Otto

August 6th, 2009
10:12 am

Braves Fan, UGA did not have the OL especially a few games in to run the ball as much as you suggest. I think a vintage SOS 3 step drop and dump to a short pass would have kept the defense on their toes. However UGA went with screens, and 15+ yard passes.

Paddy I have heard various things about Miami recruiting. Shannon has tried to go back to the U’s Dade County base. I think the change made will take this year and next to show. The catch is we all know he could be gone after this year and playing Oklahoma will not help how many view the state of the program. Another thing people that are not Miami graduate know is that the Academic standards have increased at the U which will make getting keeping those Dade County guys harder.

Ced could you break that down by Qtr and I’d love to see how much LSU player the 2nd and 3rd strings. LSU was in GT’s backfield breaking up the option attack for the first half. Everyone knows how to defend the option it is nothing new. The trick for GT and the opposing defense as always is having the guys and talent to execute. GT will get better and will face very few teams that have a DL like LSU. LSU lives on playing man with their DBs and an attacking DL, just what you need against the option (notice GT’s passing yards). As a UGA fan I wish UGA had the DL depth LSU had last year. Clemson does not have the personnel in place to execute LSU’s game plan.

shuey

August 6th, 2009
10:17 am

everyone pencilling in gt/vt for the coastal? not a unc team that dominated tech last year 28-7? interesting. nc’s defense if perfect for the johnson offense, athletes galore and a controlling set of dts. if they stay home tech can’t and won’t score. see last year’s long run as tech’s only points.

hokiehater

August 6th, 2009
10:21 am

It’s a tough schedule for the Jackets but the one opponent I despise the most is VT. It is not enough to beat these imitators, demand they return the GT jersey they kept after the game two seasons ago in Atlanta. VT is nothing more than a tractor school with the Vick Brothers as their shame.

SAINT SIMONS

August 6th, 2009
10:29 am

HEY DAWGHATER, YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT!!!! ONE GOOD SEASON AT 9-4 AND GETTING YOUR BUT KICKED BY LSU SHOULD SIGNAL THAT GT IS NEVER GOING TO BE BETTER THAN 9-4 AND BEAT UGA ONCE EVERY 8YEARS!!! GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE!! MORON!!!!!!

Paddy

August 6th, 2009
10:32 am

hokiehater…They didn’t return GT’s jerseys?? A bit of bad tasate on their part I would say! A tractor shool yes, but one of the most beautiful campuses in America. I can see why a kid would fall in love with that place. The Vick brothers are just a couple of names that brought shame to that U.

Gen Neyland

August 6th, 2009
10:36 am

GA Tech Insider : Back in the day, my HS team traveled from the greater ATL metro area to south GA to square off against the state’s #1 team in AAA. They ran a Belly Option type O. We defended it at the line of scrimmage not by simply flying around but by setting keys and playing disciplined. We lost 7-0 to a team that was waltzing through it’s division and was very high profile nationally. They whipped us in what I recall as a bloody scrum, but we showed up. Dang, that was a long bus ride home…

The Doob

August 6th, 2009
10:42 am

hokiehater… only you would bring up the jersey Glennon kept when it was clearly GT’s responsibility to maintain the integrity of the locker room and the equipment stored therein. Please note that I am not accusing GT of outright theft or tampering… even though the entire viewing public immediately jumped to that conclusion.

Nothing more than a tractor school. You’re hilarious.