ACC College Football Breakdown Part I: Coastal Division

After week four in this college football season, if there is one thing the ACC has shown, it is that they are consistently inconsistent (if that makes sense).  In this two-part segment, College FootBlog will take a look at each team in the ACC and provide what we know and what we should expect for the rest of the season.  Part I of the segment will focus on the ACC Coastal Division.  We put the teams in the order of College FootBlog’s power ranking from top to bottom:

1.  Virginia Tech

Ryan Williams leads a dominant Va Tech running attack (google images)

Ryan Williams leads a dominant Va Tech running attack (google images)

Key Strengths:  Ryan Williams has been the key to the offensive success for the Hokies.  The freshman running back has amassed 492 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns in Va Tech’s first four games this season.

Bud Foster’s Defense has been the other strength of this Virginia Tech squad as well.  Since the opening day loss to the Crimson Tide of Alabama, Foster’s crew have dominated, giving up just two touchdowns in the last three games, which included the previously red hot Miami Hurricanes last weekend.

Key Concerns:  The Passing Offense has not been solid for the Hokies.  Although Tyrod Taylor has made clutch plays this year, overall he has averaged just over 130 yards passing per game and is completing less than 50% of his passes.  If Taylor does not step up, the Hokies’ one-dimensional offense could lose them an important game sooner rather than later.

2.  Miami

Key Strengths:  Even though Jacory Harris had an afternoon he would like to forget last weekend, he has simply made plays this season.  It should be noted that Harris’ struggles against Virginia Tech last weekend may have had something to do with the monsoon they played in as well.

The other strength for the ‘Canes is their deep and incredibly diverse corps of receivers.  Miami has one of the nicest blends of speed, size and possession receivers in the country, giving Harris plenty of options downfield.

Key Concern:  The Hurricane Defense shut down Georgia Tech’s ground game, but they still gave up 17 points in that contest.  In their other two games this season, the ‘Canes have given up 34 and 31 points.  As good as the offense has looked, that kind of defensive effort will cost Miami some games down the road.

3.  Georgia Tech

GT relies heavily on Jonathan Dwyer's punishing running style (google images)

GT relies heavily on Jonathan Dwyer's punishing running style (google images)

Strengths:  Jonathan Dwyer is one of the most dangerous running backs in the country.  After getting knocked out of the Miami game after only five carries, Dwyer bounced back last week against North Carolina and racked up 158 of the 313 rushing yards for the Jackets.  If he can stay healthy, he will make another run at the ACC Offensive Player of the Year this season.

Key Concerns: Depth at quarterback and fullback are a major concern for the Jackets.  When Dwyer was knocked out of the Miami game, the Georgia Tech ground game came to a screeching halt, as they failed to break 100 yards in that game.  Even though quarterback Josh Nesbitt is inconsistent throwing the football, his ability to make the correct reads and run the ball make the offense go.  Look no further than last year’s game against Florida State, and you realize how important Nesbitt is to the offense.  The Jackets were dominating the Seminoles, but when Nesbitt left the game with an ankle injury, the ‘Noles were able to force a key turnover and neutralize the option attack. 

If Dwyer and Nesbitt can stay healthy, the Yellow Jackets will have a great shot at making a second straight trip to the ACC Championship, especially since Miami lost last weekend.

4.  North Carolina

Strengths:  Despite his rough outing against Georgia Tech last weekend, junior quarterback TJ Yates has taken a step forward, despite losing a couple of key receivers, including first round draft pick Hakeem Nicks.  We will see if Yates can bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing game, but he adds athleticism that the ‘Heels lacked when he was injured last season.

Key Concerns: UNC has absolutely no running game.  Even though Yates has stepped up his game this season, his productivity will continue to be hindered if the ‘Heels continue their dismal display on the ground.  If you take out the cupcake game against The Citadel, UNC has managed just 200 yards rushing in three games, with the worst effort coming last weekend against Georgia Tech, when the Tar Heels managed just 17 yards on the ground.

5.  Duke

Strengths:  Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is a real talent.  Despite not having the weapons that his ACC peers have, Lewis can make plays.  Duke will still have a tough time this season, but Lewis will make the rest of the ACC work on defense.

Key Concerns:  The Blue Devils simply do not have the speed and athleticism on defense, especially against the pass.  The Kansas Jayhawks are the only legitimate team they have played so far this season, and Todd Reesing and company shredded the Duke secondary for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

6.  Virginia

Strengths:  N/A  Unfortunately, the 0-3 Cavaliers do not have any strengths to cover.  They have been horrible in nearly every facet of every game they have played.  They give up a ton of points and they have trouble scoring.  Enough said.

Key Concerns:  You name it, you’ve got it.  As mentioned above, the Cavs are stagnant on offense, and they have been absolutely gashed on defense, most recently giving up 100 yards rushing to two different Southern Miss players.  It is going to be a long season for UVa.

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