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2019 ACC Coastal Division Predictions

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Week 1 of college football starts this Thursday, and I am beyond excited about it. Here are my predictions for the ACC Coastal Division for this upcoming season. If you haven’t read my ACC Atlantic Division predictions, please check them out.

Coastal Division

1. Miami

Predicted Regular Season Record: 10-2 (7-1)

Matchup to Watch: Oct. 11 vs. Virginia

Key Losses: Joe Jackson (DE), Travis Homer (RB), Jaquan Johnson (S), Sheldrick Redwine (S), Gerald Willis III (DT), Malik Rosier (QB)

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X-Factor: Shaquille Quarterman (LB)

Overview: The Canes lost a close game against a top-10 Florida team last Saturday. Freshman quarterback Jarren Williams and the Miami offensive-line were shaky, but the offense has enough talent in wide receiver Jeff Thomas and running back DeeJay Dallas to excel. Miami’s biggest strength is its defense, which is one of the best in the nation. Linebacker Shaq Quarterman is also a Butkus hopeful. 

2. Virginia

Predicted Regular Season Record: 10-2 (7-1)

Matchup to Watch: Oct. 11 @Miami

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Key Losses: Jordan Ellis (RB), Olamide Zaccheus (WR), Juan Thornhill (S), Chris Peace (DE), Tim Harris (CB), Marcus Applefield (OT)

X-Factor: Bryce Perkins (QB)

Overview: The Cavaliers are a team that is ridiculously overlooked. Although they’re losing key pieces on both sides of the ball, they’re returning a lot of experienced and skilled players. Dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins could emerge as a Heisman contender and will lead an explosive offense. Virginia’s all-around talent accompanied by a weak schedule should result in a very impressive season.

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3. Virginia Tech

Predicted Regular Season Record: 8-4 (5-3)

Matchup to Watch: Nov. 29 @Virginia

Key Losses: Josh Jackson (QB), Steven Peoples (RB), Ricky Walker (DT), Trevon Hill (DE), Eric Kumah (WR), Braxton Pfaff (OG)

X-Factor: Damon Hazleton Jr. (WR)

Overview: After an underwhelming previous season, the Hokies are poised to bounce back. They are returning almost all of their biggest players on offense and defense, and these players will be much more experienced. Quarterback Josh Jackson transferred, but Ryan Willis was promising last season. Virginia Tech will be good but will have to wait another year to challenge for the ACC title.

4. Pittsburgh

Predicted Regular Season Record: 7-5 (5-3)

Matchup to Watch: Nov. 30 vs. Boston College

Key Losses: Qadree Ollison (RB), Rafael Araujo-Lopes (WR), Elijah Zeise (LB), Mike Herndon (OG), Stefano Millin (OT), Alex Bookser (OT)

X-Factor: Kenny Pickett (QB)

Overview: Pitt’s heavy power running offense will take a hit this season with the departures of four starting linemen and star running back Qadree Ollison. However, the Panthers always have a disciplined, tough team, and there’s no difference this year. Pitt’s decent defense and strong, fundamentally sound style of play will help them pull off a few upsets, especially if quarterback Kenny Pickett finds consistency.

5. Duke

Predicted Regular Season Record: 4-8 (2-6)

Matchup to Watch: Nov. 23 @Wake Forest

Key Losses: Daniel Jones (QB), TJ Rahming (WR), Johnathan Lloyd (WR), Joe Giles-Harris (LB), Ben Humphreys (LB), Christian Harris (OT)

X-Factor: Quentin Harris (QB)

Overview: Last year’s starting quarterback Daniel Jones was drafted sixth overall by the Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft, leaving his replacement Quentin Harris with big shoes to fill. Harris has the potential to have a breakout season, but it will be difficult as Duke also lost their top two receivers from last year. Expect the Blue Devils to have an average offense and defense and probably miss a bowl game.

6. Georgia Tech

Predicted Regular Season Record: 3-9 (2-6)

Matchup to Watch: Nov. 30 vs. Georgia

Key Losses: Taquon Marshall (QB), Malik Rivera (S), Parker Braun (OG), Anree Saint-Amour (DL), Jalen Johnson (LB), Andrew Marshall (OT)

X-Factor: Jordan Mason (RB)

Overview: The Yellow Jackets run an option offense, which is always hard to stop. This year, however, they just don’t have the talent to keep up with most of the other teams in the ACC. Taquon Marshall, their starting quarterback and leading rusher from last season and their three top defensive players are gone. Not to mention the Jackets lost three starting offensive linemen, which is vital for a run-heavy offense. A tough season is in store for Georgia Tech fans.

7. North Carolina

Predicted Regular Season Record: 2-10 (0-9)

Matchup to Watch: Oct. 26 vs. Duke

Key Losses: Cole Holcomb (LB), Nathan Elliott (QB), Anthony Ratliff-Williams (WR), JK Britt (S), Malik Carney (DE), Jonathan Trull (OG)

X-Factor: Dazz Newsome (WR)

Overview: The Tar Heels were awful last year, and they’ll be even worse this year. Their defensive anchor, linebacker Cole Holcomb, was drafted by the Redskins in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and his absence will be crucial. With starting quarterback Nathan Elliott and leading receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams both leaving the program, the offense has more holes than before. I see no ACC wins for this team this year.

As always, let me know what up you think. Are there any teams that I’m overrating or underrating? Also, make sure to take a look at my ACC Atlantic Division preview as well.

 

 

*Photo: Miami Herald

 

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