Spring football is over, so it's time to find out what we've learned so far about how the ACC Coastal will go in 2011. There are still plenty of questions facing all six teams in the division that they need to answer between now and the first weekend in September, but there seems to be a pretty big divide between the top three and bottom three teams.
After the jump, we'll look at one position each team can hang its hat on, one position that needs to see substantial improvement and we'll finish it up with a post-spring power poll because everyone loves a good power poll. Especially ones with the potential to end friendships. Talk to you soon, Winfield.
Position of Strength: Quarterback. Duke might play three QBs this year: Sean Renfree, Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone. Renfree is the best one, will see the majority of the snaps and has finally gone through a spring practice at Duke while healthy. He looked really impressive at time last season and will only get better as he matures.
Position of Weakness: The entire defense. The Devils aren't going to stop many teams this year, especially early.
Position of Strength: Defensive line. The Jackets have all three starters back on the line, including two seniors. One of those seniors, Jason Peters, was superb in the spring game. The Jackets enter their second year of the 3-4 and if they can get monster DT T.J. Barnes to quit doing his best Vinston Painter impersonation, they could have a formidable defensive front.
Position of Weakness: Secondary. Georgia Tech lost all four starters from its secondary last year and the fact the Jackets' own offense was able to throw on it in the spring game doesn't bode well.
Position of Strength: Offensive line. They're big, they're experienced and they're whoever runs behind them is going to have a big year.
Position of Weakness: Quarterback. If any of the Canes' QBs is even serviceable, they're a divisional title contender.
Position of Strength: Wide receiver. Like Logan Thomas, sophomore QB Bryn Renner is going to have some very talented, very experienced weapons at his disposal in his first year as the starter. There are way too many similarities to count between the Heels' and Hokies' offensives. Both have new QBs and an experienced receiving corps. Both are looking for the O-line and a back-up RB to step up.
Position of Weakness: Secondary. The return of CB Charles Brown might keep the secondary from being a complete disaster, but you can add the Heels to the list of Coastal teams you should be able to throw on in 2011.
Position of Strength: #NEWHOOS. Have you heard about their incoming freshmen? They're going to be amazing. A-maze-ing.
Position of Weakness: Offensive line. Olé!
Position of Strength: Secondary. Once again, the Hokies will have a pretty stout corps of defensive backs. Led by Jayron Hosley, the secondary is full of guys who can make plays, including the dynamic Antone Exum. Hopefully Exum, a sophomore, will continue to build on a solid freshman campaign.
Position of Weakness: Offensive line. Again. If Logan Thomas is going to thrive, he needs time to throw. Fortunately for Tech, the traditional run-blocking struggles early in the season may not matter as much this year because David Wilson's quickness should allow him to get to the holes before the close.
Post-Spring ACC Coastal Power Ranking
This is not a predicted order of finish and this is pretty much guaranteed to change before the season starts. It's simply my opinion of how good the teams in this division look right now.
1. Virginia Tech
Honestly, I'm not enamored with any of the Coastal teams right now, the Hokies included. But someone has to be at the top and the Hokies have won this division four times out of six, so right now it has to be them.
The Canes are going to be able to run the ball and get pressure on the quarterback. If they can figure out a way to stop the run and not commit turnovers, they could be the first time whose name doesn't include "Tech" to win the division.
3. North Carolina
Really, the Heels are probably 2b right now. I like the Renner kid and their defensive line will be one of the best in the ACC this year. If Ryan Houston, who led the team in rushing in 2009, can take some pressure off Renner then this becomes a dangerous team.
At the end of the year, Duke's probably going to be in last in the division. But they had a solid spring, showed some improvement running the ball and that they have some talented skill position players. They're going to be in some high-scoring games this year.
5. Georgia Tech
Mark Trible says Georgia Tech's QB doesn't matter in its offense. Well, it certainly does if that QB keeps putting the ball on the ground. Eventually the Jackets will find a capable QB and will finish higher than fifth in the Coastal. But they're going to be involved in some low-scoring games this year.
The Wahoos are a quarterback, running back, offensive line, defensive line and secondary away from making the ACC Championship Game.