Miami or UNC? Who ya got? Virginia Tech, anyone? Buehler?
J in Florida writes: Not so fast with that Miami will win the coastal statement. UNC will have something to say about that. Yes UNC lost Giovanni and Cooper, hard shoes to fill. However Heather the offense will be in their second explosive year with fully capable RBs. The defensive secondary will be better and letsbnot forget UNC lost in the last seconds to Duke and Wake and handled Miami at the U last year. So let's look a little closer at the team that finished, ineligable aside, first in the coastal last year.
HD: Who's going to block for those RBs? It all starts up front, and if you ask me, Miami has the edge there this year.
Rob Beyma in Pocomoke, Md., writes: Heather,Read your article about Miami being favored for the Coastal division this year. And that the schedule was one of the reasons why. For some strange reason, Miami gets Va. Tech at home for the 2ND straight year. They should be playing the game this year in BLACKSBURG! No wonder Miami has a scheduling advantage. How about the Hurricanes in Blacksburg on a Thursday night!
HD: The last time I saw Miami play at Virginia Tech, it was one of the muddiest games I can remember. And Miami flopped. That tends to happen to the Canes in Blacksburg. No doubt it's an edge this year to have that as a home game again.
Michael Walker in Charlotte, N.C., writes: I'm a die-hard Canes fan even though I live in Charlotte. My question is this, even though we only had 13 sacks last year and one of the worse defenses in the entire nation, do you really think we've improved that much to win the ACC Coastal. We had trouble stopping the run and the pass, though we had 34 freshmen and sophomores on our roster. The offense is stacked and the receivers are going to be one of the best groups in the nation. I'm still a little concerned with our defense. Virginia, BC, Duke and the Wolf Pack picked us apart passing the ball last year.
HD: You should be concerned about the defense. So should Al Golden. Until proven otherwise, it's the weak link and the biggest reason they won't win the Coastal Division. Miami returns all four starters on the defensive line, though. That experience is a plus, and after last season, you'd think it could only get better. Time will tell.
Danny Schmal in Winston Salem, N.C., writes: Your thoughts on Wake's chances of winning the ACC. Doesn't seem like anyone is giving Wake a chance against Clemson.
HD: I never count out Jim Grobe. The Deacs gave the entire Atlantic Division a scare two years ago, but they lost to Clemson by a field goal and missed their shot at playing in the ACC title game again. In order to get back to contender status, they have GOT to get healthy up front on the offensive line. That is their biggest issue right now. The other thing is they need another receiver besides Michael Campanaro to step up. Having Tanner Price return at quarterback is a huge plus for the offense, but he needs somebody to divert attention away from "Camp."
Jayson Shaffer in Crestview, Florida writes: Hey Heather, I was just curious on who you think will step up to replace the losses at the defensive end position at FSU?
HD: You have to start with Mario Edwards Jr., who is the front-runner because he played in 11 games as a true freshman and started the final two games of the year in place of Tank Carradine. There is also Giorgio Newberry and Chris Casher, who is now healthy after a knee injury. Casher will start spring ball on the two-deep depth chart. Dan Hicks, who was Brandon Jenkins’ backup two years ago, had a knee injury and missed all of last season. He had moved to tight end, but was in the rotation at defensive end earlier in his career and could come back.
Scott in Durham, N.C., writes: Have you heard of any updates on Kelby Brown, LB from Duke? If/When he is at 100%, will he every get back to the tackling machine like he was his freshman year?
HD: Yup, got an update for you. Brown is fully participating in spring practiaces, but only time will tell if he returns to 100 percent. It's important to remember that he’s been banged-up his entire career, playing in just nine games as a true freshman in 2010 (63 tackles, 5.5 TFL, four fumble recoveries) and in 10 games his sophomore season (65 tackles, 7.0 TFL, three PBU). He's fortunate that he did play as a true freshman and had a redshirt year to use last season following his second knee surgery. The Duke coaches are hopeful that he’ll make a complete recovery after missing all of 2012, but how the surgically repaired knee will hold up in full contact drills and games remains to be seen.