Several members have already begun their campaigns to Charlotte, and with varying results. For example, the Duke Blue Devils surged ahead as the lead contenders, starting off 2-0 in ACC play with wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech is reeling following their third consecutive loss, falling to 0-2 in the conference. Let's examine our Coastal Division adversaries before Miami begins their march through the conference.
Virginia Tech is a hot mess and struggling offensively.
The Virginia Tech Hokies (2-3. 0-1 ACC) have dropped two straight, first to East Carolina and then to the Pittsburgh Panthers. The loss to Pittsburgh is especially jawing, as their offense struggled to find success both in the air and on the ground against the Panthers, gaining just 100 total yards in their effort. Brenden Motley, 9 for 20 with 91 yards, a score, and three interceptions against Pittsburgh, still hasn’t proven himself as a passer in the absence of Michael Brewer. Fortunately, Brewer, who was injured in the Hokies opener against Ohio State, has been cleared to practice and is listed as probable for their matchup on Friday against N.C. State. Virginia Tech’s Friday night contest with the Wolfpack can be seen on ESPN at 8:00 PM ET.
David Cutcliffe has made the trek to Charlotte before, might his team be able to fight through its deficiencies and win the Coastal Division again?
An inefficient offense showed itself in a loss to Northwestern and last weekend against Boston College, where three field goals put Duke (4-1, 2-0 ACC) ahead 9-7 in Durham. Duke’s read-option offense, orchestrated by quarterback Thomas Sirk, hasn’t always been in question. The offense was successful against lesser non-conference opponents and notched 34 points against the Yellow Jackets. For David Cutcliffe, it's about one unit making up for another, and a team effort carrying Duke to the finish line.
"We believe that we're best when we blend offense, defense and kicking. But we're also at our best when one side is limping and the other side runs a little faster. That's what you call team responsibility." – David Cutcliffe following the Blue Devils’ victory over Boston College.
Duke, the current leader in the Coastal Division, has Wake Forest from the Atlantic and its remaining Coastal members to battle through. This Saturday, the Blue Devils complete their non-conference schedule with the Army Black Knights at 12:00 PM ET.
ACC Breakdown with Mark Rogers
Big games on deck in the ACC, including Miami vs Florida State. Of course, we had to talk about them. Here's a video podcast for your enjoyment.
The Virginia Cavaliers ended a tough non-conference slate and turn their attention to ACC play.
Virginia (1-3, 0-0 ACC) showed promise early on, hanging with UCLA in the first half and giving Notre Dame a scare in Charlottesville. However, since those two losses, the Cavaliers narrowly bested William & Mary 35-29 and was pummeled 56-14 by Boise State, dropping their record to 1-3 against a tough non-conference schedule. Now, following a much needed bye week to get over the Broncos, the Wahoos turn the attention to ACC play. Virginia faces Pittsburgh at Heinz field at 12:30 PM ET this Saturday.
Georgia Tech is riding against the wind from here on out.
Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2 ACC) has quickly fallen to the bottom of the ACC standings following losses to Duke and North Carolina. While the offense has sputtered as of late, turning the ball over five times in their last three outings and failing to come from behind, the defense shares the blame. The Yellow Jackets feast on the rushing attack offensively, but their play against the run on the defensive side of the ball is lacking. After relinquishing 148 yards on 15 carries to Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams this past weekend, Georgia Tech now ranks 74th in run defense, averaging 169.6 yards allowed per game and 4.96 yards per rush.
Georgia Tech and Miami share Atlantic Division crossover pairings with Clemson and Florida State, making their travels the most treacherous. Before the Hurricanes kickoff in Tallahassee this Saturday, the Yellow Jackets square off with the Clemson Tigers at 3:30 PM ET in Death Valley.
Pittsburgh, with their win over Virginia Tech, is proving they can be a contender in the Coastal Division without James Conner.
After the Panthers (3-1, 1-0 ACC) struggled to run the ball in a loss to Iowa, freshman back Qadree Ollison ran for 122 yards on 19 carries this past weekend against the Hokies. For Pittsburgh to make noise in the ACC, reliance on Ollison and the rushing attack is vital. Quarterbacks Chad Voytik and Nathan Peterman haven't played to standard, with five passing touchdowns and four interceptions between the two. Pittsburgh ranks 110th in passing offense among FBS schools with 162.5 yards per game. In their loss to Iowa, the Panthers put forth their lowest rushing totals of the year with 55 yards rushing on 27 attempts. However, improved defensive play is doing much to keep them in contention. The Panthers are currently ranked 4th in total defense, allowing 243.8 yards per game. Pittsburgh challenges Coastal foe Virginia this Saturday at 12:30 PM ET.
North Carolina will keep things competitive in the Coastal Division.
After falling to South Carolina to begin the year, the Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0 ACC) have been on a tear, gutting its remaining non-conference opponents and topping Georgia Tech. While quarterback Marquise Williams accounted for 134 yards passing in the comeback against the Yellow Jackets, his play in the rushing game made the largest impact. Williams rushed for 148 yards on 15 carries and burned the Yellow Jacket defense when scrambling outside the pocket. North Carolina’s defense, porous and inefficient in recent years, helped aid in the come from behind victory. The Yellow Jackets soared to a 21-0 lead over the Tar Heels, but the UNC defense clamped down, forcing two turnovers and allowing 10 points in the second half. North Carolina is on a bye this weekend.
If you are able to find anything else pertaining to our Coastal Division opponents that I failed to include please post the source in the comments section.