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What’s wrong with every team in the Coastal division

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Almost every team in the Canes’ division has a shot at the ACC title game because they’re all flawed

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia
Miami has struggled containing mobile QBs this season.
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Not only has this been a far from ideal season so far for the Canes, but also for the ACC in general. Clemson has been the flagbearer for the conference for over 3 years now, and everyone else has been chasing their standard. Miami took a step in that direction last season, although it was clear that they were still way behind from a coaching and talent standpoint.

Coming into 2018, Miami appeared poised to take another step closer to Clemson, although that assessment was quickly shot down after the first game of the season. Virginia Tech looked like the next team to possibly challenge for a place atop the conference after their dismantling of Florida State on Labor Day. The Hokies didn’t last long, taking a tumble with losses to Notre Dame and Old Dominion. Duke was next up as a possible contender, only to fall to Virginia Tech (after they lost to Old Dominion). Normally in college football, stumbling like these teams have limits your postseason prospects. However, in the Coastal division, someone has to finish first, and all three teams still have a legitimate shot to meet Clemson in the ACC championship game (if you want to know all the scenarios for the Canes to get there, Susan Miller Degnan from the Miami Herald laid them all out for you here). With as poorly as the Canes played against LSU and Virginia, it feels crazy that they still have plenty to play for. The reason the Canes are still in the race is because every team in the division is a flawed team. Whoever can find a way to address their issues quickly will be the team to salvage their season with a trip to Charlotte,

Here are the current Coastal Division standings:

Virginia Tech Hokies 3-0 (4-2 overall)

Virginia Cavaliers 2-1 (4-2 overall)

Miami Hurricanes 2-1 (5-2 overall)

Pittsburgh Panthers 2-1 (3-4 overall)

Duke Blue Devils 1-1 (5-1 overall)

North Carolina Tar Heels 1-2 (1-4 overall)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 1-3 (3-4 overall)

Let’s look at what’s wrong with every team in the Coastal:

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia Tech - Lack of experience on defense

The Hokies lost key contributors from last year’s team, especially on the back end of the defense. Brothers Terrell and Tremaine Edmunds were both drafted in the first round, and defensive lineman Tim Settle and cornerback Greg Stroman were also drafted. Despite a dominant performance in week 1, the Hokies are allowing 418.5 yards per game, good for 13th in the ACC.

NCAA Football: Miami at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia - Little direction on offense

Like the Canes, the Virginia defense has emerged as a top tier unit, only for the offense to provide little help on the other end. The Cavaliers rank 11th in the ACC in total offense, only ahead of 3 teams with losing records. In their win over Miami, QB Bryce Perkins threw 3 interceptions, and the UVA offense only mustered 231 yards.

NCAA Football: Savannah State at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami - Anything QB related

QB play has been Miami’s undoing on both sides of the ball. Both Malik Rosier and Nkosi Perry have started games for the Canes this season, neither are completing 60% of their passes, and both have had games with multiple picks. The QB situation has split the fan base, while opposing QBs have given the defense fits in the run game.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh - Kicking game

The Panthers left a huge win on the table last week against Notre Dame as kicker Alex Kessman missed both of his field goal attempts in the 5-point loss. The kicking hasn’t been great all season, as Pitt ranks 13th in Field Goal percentage, and 10th in PAT percentage. You can’t blame all of the team’s woes on the kicker, but that doesn’t excuse a 57% field goal make percentage.

NCAA Football: Duke at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Duke - running the ball

The Blue Devils were quietly putting together one of their best seasons in recent memory before falling to Virginia Tech, but Duke has been one of the worst rushing attacks in the ACC this season. They rank 11th in the conference in rushing, piling up only 174.5 yards per game on the ground. A lack of a run game creates other consequences as well, as the Blue Devils rank last in the ACC in time of possession.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina - Scoring

The Tar Heels offense is abysmal, as UNC ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring with 20.6 points per game. Not only can they not get into the end zone, but UNC also cannot keep opposing offenses out of the end zone, ranking 13th in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 33.8 points per game.

NCAA Football: Duke at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech - D-line play

The Yellow Jackets defensive line has not been getting the job done this season, ranking 12th in the ACC in sacks while also giving up 11 rushing touchdowns in 7 games. As a team that likes to control the pace of play, Georgia Tech needs the defensive line to step up in order for the Yellow Jackets to impose their style of play successfully.