ACC Rankings: Coastal
This is NOT a prediction of how the teams will finish. They’re the rankings of how good the teams are going into the season.
Please scroll down for the ACC rankings done by total conference, ranking 1 through 14.
1. Miami Hurricanes
Should be ranked here because … Clemson has the best defensive line in the conference, but Miami should have the best overall D. The back seven is almost unfair, starting with LB Shaq Quarterman and safety Jaquan Johnson. The line isn’t bad, either – it’s just not Clemson’s.
Should be ranked lower because … Malik Rosier might be the starting quarterback again. He’s fine, but Miami needs something sensational under center. The offensive line is good, but not championship-good.
2. Virginia Tech Hokies
Should be ranked higher because … the defensive line is a killer, and the secondary is almost as good. Clemson might have the spotlight this year when it comes to defensive fronts, but Ricky Walker on the inside and Trevon Hill and Houston Gaines on the outside will do some serious damage.
Should be ranked lower because … the offensive line isn’t going to be good enough to get by the Miami and – if there’s an ACC title game coming – Clemson defensive fronts. QB Josh Jackson is one of the league’s brightest stars, but are all the classroom concerns over? They appear to be, but if he ever misses time for anything … uh oh.
3. Duke Blue Devils
Should be ranked higher because … yeah, believe it – the team is that experienced and that good. LB Joe Gilles-Harris is a machine, Mark Gilbert is a man at one corner, and overall, the starting 22 can hang with anyone. The defensive back seven is the real deal.
Should be ranked lower because … the offensive line is the one sticking point. It’s not awful, but there’s not enough talent around guard Julian Santos. The big problem for a team that needs to win close games will be a mediocre kicking game.
4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Should be ranked higher because … as always, the running game will be a force. TaQuon Marshall is one of the nation’s most exciting quarterbacks, and he’s got help at running back and the line to make the option go. The linebacking corps is going to be a major plus.
Should be ranked lower because … there’s supposed to be a more efficient passing game – at least when the offense needs one – but that remains to be seen. The receivers aren’t there to be scary if and when Marshall is hitting his downfield throws.
5. Virginia Cavaliers
Should be ranked higher because … two words: Bryce Perkins. The new Cavalier quarterback from Arizona State should be a difference-maker for a team that needs more offensive pop. On the other side, despite loss of dominant tacklers Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding, the back seven is loaded.
Should be ranked lower because … there’s not enough around Perkins offensively. The receivers are fine, but the running backs are just okay. The big issue is on both lines that are okay, but hardly anything great.
6. Pitt Panthers
Should be ranked higher because … the offense has some fun options in the backfield in QB Kenny Pickett and running backs Darrin Hall and Quadree Ollison. There’s more offensive pop, and the defense has the linebackers to start stopping more teams.
Should be ranked lower because … yeah, the talent in the secondary is there, but this group is going to get hit hard at times – again. The offensive line loses too much, and the receivers aren’t there yet to help out a rising star in Pickett.
7. North Carolina Tar Heels
Should be ranked higher because … sort of like Syracuse in the Atlantic, North Carolina probably won’t be the worst team in its division, but there’s a thin margin between last and, in the Coastal, third. The running game will be stronger and, overall for the offense, the skill players are there.
Should be ranked here because … the offensive line isn’t going to be strong enough to help out those skill guys. The quarterbacks are going to be fine, but the coaching staff has to settle on one. And then there’s the defense that has a few good players here and there, but not enough to be a rock in any one area.