A switch has been made.
Miami has enough talent, depth and experience to win its first Coastal Division title. There’s nothing wrong with the Hokie Hype, but having to replace six – possibly seven – starters on defense is a tall task even for Bud Foster. The following rankings matchup with how the ACC teams are ranked in my preseason Top 25 for ESPN.com.
Here are the first power rankings for the 2010 season, but remember, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish:
1. Miami: The Canes have the fewest overall questions, a veteran quarterback and what should be one of the better defenses in recent seasons.
2. Virginia Tech: A loaded backfield that includes two 1,000-yard rushers and senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor will give opposing defenses headaches.
3. Georgia Tech: Former Virginia coach Al Groh takes over the defense, and how quickly the Jackets adjust to a 3-4 scheme will determine their odds of repeating as ACC champion.
4. North Carolina: Five players who decided to forgo the NFL draft will make this one of the best defenses in the country, but until the offense shows major improvement, Carolina stays status quo.
5. Florida State: Expectations are high for an offense that returns all but one starter, but until proven otherwise, the defense is a weak link. This team can be the best in the Atlantic Division, but until the 'Noles take the field at Oklahoma, it's impossible to predict the defense.
6. Clemson: The return of Kyle Parker instantly increased the Tigers’ chances of defending their Atlantic Division title, but Parker alone can't compensate for the losses of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.
7. Boston College: Quarterback stability is the key to contending for the Atlantic Division, and the return of linebacker Mark Herzlich could be the feel-good story of the year.
8. NC State: The Pack’s secondary must improve, the defensive line needs to be replaced and there are no running backs with any starting experience.
9. Wake Forest: The winningest quarterback in school history is gone, and the offensive line remains a question, so a young but talented defense must carry the Deacs.
10. Maryland: After a dreadful 2-10 season, the pressure is on Ralph Friedgen to earn a bowl bid, and he’ll have to do it with a new starting quarterback.
11. Duke: Sean Renfree is a capable first-year starting quarterback, but without a running game the Blue Devils will struggle.
12. Virginia: It’s a rebuilding season under first-year coach Mike London who is changing schemes, quarterbacks and philosophies.