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Come play our interactive ACC game via some polls on different Miami and ACC topics!

NCAA Football: Miami Spring Game Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 off-season has been a long one and I’m excited for the upcoming season. This fall will be one where I have great expectations for Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes. With how weak the schedule is, and the talent level at Miami, I expect at least a 10-2 regular season from The U. Maybe I’ll be disappointed, maybe I won’t. Either way, the time is now for Diaz to get the ‘Canes back to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.

So let’s get interactive and do some polls on different scenarios around the ACC in 2021. Pick the ACC Player of the Year (sort of), the hottest head coach hot seat, the most likely surprise of the season, and the team Miami is most likely to lose to in 2021 (not named Bama or UNC, of course).

Let the games begin!


ACC Player of the Year: Sam Howell or the field?

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Howell- The six-foot-one, 225 pound third year starter is the best UNC quarterback, since, well, maybe ever. In only two seasons, Howell has guided the Tar Heels to 15 wins, thrown for over 7,000 yards, completed nearly 65% of his passes, and lobbed nearly 70 touchdowns.

The former four-star QB has been guided brilliantly by Heels OC Phil Longo the past two seasons as Mack Brown reloaded a roster that was 5-18 in Larry Fedora’s last two seasons in Chapel Hill. Howell is Athlon’s first team All-ACC preseason QB, and has the tools to be the player of the year in the ACC. He’ll be up against QB DJ Uiagalelei of Clemson, RB Zonovan Knight of NCSU, QB D’Eriq King of Miami and DL Myles Murphy of Clemson.

What might hurt Howell? Well the Tar Heels pulling a “Mack” and losing to teams like FSU or UVA, for one. Also he’s having to replace all of his weapons from the 2021 season and get comfortable with a transfer running back and new receivers.

The Field:

QB D’Eriq King, Miami- Miami’s savior behind center, King tore his ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl against Oklahoma State. King has thrown for 73 TD’s, ran for 32 more, and has even caught three touchdowns in spot duty at wide receiver. If he recovers from his knee injury Miami should finish the regular season 11-1.

RB Zonovan Knight, NCSU- Knight is an explosive kick returner (26.6 yards per return in ‘20) and runner (5.5 yards per carry) in the Wolfpack offense. Knight has scored 15 rushing TD’s in two seasons in Raleigh. Knight will be relied on to carry the load for the Pack in Tim Beck’s offense.

DL Myles Murphy, Clemson- As a freshman in 2020, Murphy logged 37 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He’s a six-foot-five, 275 pound force on another talented Clemson defensive unit. The thing hurting his chances is how talented the entire Clemson defense is, and how DC Brent Venables likes to rotate through who is the star on any given Saturday.

QB D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson- The former blue chip QB threw for over 900 yards on five TD’s with no interceptions in spot start duty in ‘21. He’ll have Justyn Ross at WR, and Lyn-J Dixson at RB for the Tigers. He’ll have to adjust to being “the man” especially in a Week 1 game against Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs defense.

Poll

ACC Player of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Sam Howell
    (47 votes)
  • 84%
    The Field
    (249 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now

Most likely to be in a coaching search for ‘22

Virginia Tech- Justin Fuente arrived in Blacksburg shot out of a cannon. The Hokies won the Coastal in Year One of the Fuente era, won 10 games overall, beat Miami, Notre Dame and UVA, and won the Belk Bowl. Over the past four seasons the Hokies have had trouble finding a QB, Fuente’s specialty, and finished 5-6 in ‘20. Fuente also just doesn’t seem like a well liked individual in Blacksburg.

2 cents: I think Fuente is GONE by midseason ‘21.

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Duke Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech- Geoff Collins is in Year Three on The Plains. It sounded like a perfect fit when he was hired- Collins had been a hot name as a DC, he was 15-10 at Temple, and he’s a Georgia native. However, the transition from Paul Johnson to GC5 has been a rocky one. The Jackets are 6-16 and have one of the hardest schedules in the country in ‘21 with UGA, Notre Dame, Clemson, UNC and Miami on deck.

2 cents: I think Collins gets a fourth year, even with only four wins in ‘21.

Syracuse- Dino Babers came off of his tenure as head coach at Eastern Illinois (19 wins) and Bowling Green (18 wins) before heading to upstate New York. His tenure at ‘Cuse started off with two 4-8 seasons before a 10-win ‘18. Then the Orange came back down to earth. Syracuse was 5-7 in 2019 and 1-10 in 2020.

2 cents: I think Babers bounces back a little in ‘21, just enough to survive return for ‘22.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Duke- David Cutcliffe has earned the right to say when he wants to retire as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils. The 66 year old Coach Cut looks older than he is, and looked exhausted by the end of the 2020 COVID season. Duke has a talented running back and pushed QB Chase Brice down the road. If Duke bounces back Cut might stick around until 70 or even longer.

2 cents: Cut is back for ‘22 after a bowl season.

Poll

Most likely to be in a coaching search for ‘22

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Virginia Tech
    (208 votes)
  • 4%
    Georgia Tech
    (13 votes)
  • 16%
    Syracuse
    (46 votes)
  • 5%
    Duke
    (16 votes)
283 votes total Vote Now

Most likely “surprising” turn of events

Florida State is .500- The Seminoles have fallen and fallen hard. FSU was ranked as high as 8th to end the 2016 season, one with an Orange Bowl victory, before a total collapse in 2017. Jimbo Fisher took huge money to go to Texas A&M, FSU hired Willie Taggart, and now FSU is on to their 3rd full-time head coach in four seasons. Taggart couldn’t break .500, and Mike Norvell finished a snakey 3-6 a year ago. The ‘Noles have McKenzie Milton at QB but he hasn’t taken a snap since 2018.

2 cents: FSU finishes the regular season 4-8.

NCAA Football: Florida State Spring Game Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

NC State has a losing record- NC State finished the 2020 season 8-4 and were seven points from being 10-2. The Wolfpack return QB Devin Leary, RB Knight, and a slew of other playmakers in the kicking game. However, they won games in close margins in ‘20, scoring 30.2 PPG while allowing 29.2. The Pack has a tougher schedule in ‘21 than ‘20, and no bail out at QB if Leary is injured again.

2 cents: NCSU finishes the regular season 8-4.

Georgia Tech makes a bowl game- The Jackets have won six games under Geoff Collins. Georgia Tech returns a ton of production on both offense and defense including QB Jeff Sims and RB Jahmyr Gibbs. But the “money down” has been a total flop on defense and Sims turned the ball over as often as he scored in ‘20. Also, GT plays a hell of a slate with Miami, UNC, ND, UGA, and Clemson on the schedule.

2 cents: I can’t see it, they’re a 4-win team in 2021 even though they’ll play much better.

Justin Fuente coaches Va Tech in ‘22- It’s expensive to fire a coach, but the AD held a press conference after the debacle of a season that was the Hokies 5-6 run a year ago. Fuente hasn’t held onto QB’s, he’s only shopped for other jobs, and has tanked two of the past three years. Plus there was a lot of talk about not taking COVID seriously which in this era is bad business. Whenever an admin thinks of firing someone, they have to think about who is there to replace them... is it a first-time HC like Rhett Lashlee, a retread Joe Moorhead or an up-and-comer like Jamey Chadwell or Will Healy?

2 cents: Again, Fuente is GONE. I can’t see him back for ‘22. But maybe you can!

Poll

Most likely "surprising" turn of events

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Florida State is .500
    (106 votes)
  • 14%
    NCSU has losing record
    (39 votes)
  • 24%
    Ga Tech makes bowl
    (65 votes)
  • 21%
    Fuente coaches VT in ‘22
    (57 votes)
267 votes total Vote Now

Most likely team to beat Miami not named UNC or Bama in ‘21

Outside of Alabama and UNC, Miami has a cake schedule of potentially all unranked teams. The ‘Canes host a rebuilding Michigan State, as well as UVA, NC State, and Virginia Tech. Miami does have to hit the road against Pitt on Halloween weekend, as well as traveling to Doak Campbell Stadium to face FSU in mid November. So who is most likely to give Miami that third loss of the regular season?

Virginia- UVA (read Summer Scheming here) is .500 level ball club but their size and strength give Miami fits.

NC State- The Pack almost pulled off the win in ‘20 with a backup QB. Can Miami stop NCSU’s starting QB Leary in ‘21?

Virginia Tech- You know I think Fuente will tank the season and be fire, but maybe you see this as a strange upset win. It’s at Hard Rock but I’m not sure what that’s worth anymore.

Florida State- Can the ‘Noles pull off the upset at home? They beat UNC in ‘20, and should be improved, especially if Milton is healthy by November.

Pittsburgh- The Panthers are also a tough out. They play disciplined football and Miami got their terrible backup QB in ‘20. It’s also in Pitt in the cold on Halloween weekend.

Other? Anyone else like Michigan State or Georgia Tech that you think can pull it off?

Poll

Most likely team to beat Miami not named UNC or Bama in ‘21

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Virginia
    (27 votes)
  • 21%
    NC State
    (68 votes)
  • 7%
    Virginia Tech
    (25 votes)
  • 18%
    Florida State
    (60 votes)
  • 32%
    Pittsburgh
    (102 votes)
  • 11%
    Other
    (36 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now