Hokies a legit contender in the Coastal

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It’s pretty clear that there is no favorite in the Coastal Division this season.  Six of the seven teams received first place votes, with most voters split between Miami, Duke, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

In general, the argument for each team is that they’ll win the division because the competition is mediocre.  That’s certainly the case on paper, though at this time last season we didn’t know who Jameis Winston was, and the media tabbed Clemson and Miami as the teams to beat.

Let’s take a quick look at what the Coastal Division teams have returning this year, as well as their schedules.

Duke

Returning starters: 14 (8 offense, 6 defense)
Crossover opponents: Wake Forest, at Syracuse
Home Coastal opponents: UVA, VT, UNC
Road Coastal opponents: Miami, GT, Pitt

The Blue Devils will return a very experienced team in 2014.  They are a rarity in the Coastal, in that they return their starting quarterback, though Anthony Boone wasn’t that good last year (13 TDs, 13 INTs).  Duke’s quarterback play took a big drop last season, which is another reason why I think they were lucky to win the Coastal.

However, they did get a running game going last year, and they return almost their entire backfield and three starting offensive linemen.  All-ACC receiver Jamison Crowder is also back.  You’ve also got to like their crossover schedule.  Wake Forest and Syracuse are very winnable games.

I’m a big David Cutcliffe fan, and I think Duke will go to a bowl this year.  However, I think it’s going to be very tough for them to repeat as Coastal Division champs.  To their credit, they made the plays they need to make at the end of games last year.  Can they keep that mojo rolling in 2014?

Georgia Tech

Returning starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)
Crossover opponents: at NC State, Clemson
Home Coastal opponents: Miami, Duke, UVA
Road Coastal opponents: VT, UNC, Pitt

Georgia Tech will be breaking in a new quarterback (likely Justin Thomas), and defensive end Jabari Hunt-Days is ineligible.  With just 10 returning starters, the Yellow Jackets aren’t going to be particularly experienced.  Also, is Paul Johnson a lame duck coach?  It’s pretty clear that he has taken Georgia Tech as far as he is going to take them, and he achieved his greatest

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