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Proving ground: Coastal Division

5/29/2011

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has owned the ACC since his program joined the league. He’s got nothing to prove. His rookie quarterback? Prove away. Duke defensive line coach Rick Petri? Proven. Duke’s defensive line? Not so much. There are plenty of players, coaches and position groups with something to prove in the ACC this season. This morning we took a look at the Atlantic Division. It’s time to move on two who has the most to prove in the Coastal Division this fall, ranked from most to least. You’ll notice a trend in this division:

1. North Carolina coach Butch Davis: He’s got to prove he can get his players to win and stay eligible. Period. Oh, and he's got to prove he can beat Tom O'Brien this year.

2. Duke’s defensive line: There’s only one way for Duke’s defense to go, and that’s up. The defensive line has the furthest to go, as the Blue Devils ranked 109th in the country in tackles for loss and 113th in sacks. Getting pressure on quarterbacks is a priority for Duke.

3. Virginia’s quarterbacks:Pick one, any one: Ross Metheny, Michael Strauss, Michael Rocco, David Watford … they’ve all got something to prove, but only one will be named the starter this summer. Virginia’s defense should again be a strength, particularly through the front seven. If the Hoos can find a quarterback who can manage the offense without turning it over, Virginia might surprise a few teams.

4. Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. He’s got all of the physical attributes and had as good of a spring as the coaching staff could possibly expect. Most if not all doubts were erased about his ability to replace the winningest quarterback in school history, now only one task remains: prove it in every game.

5. Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington: He struggled during the spring game and now must prove this summer that he deserves to keep the starting job. Synjyn Days outperformed Washington in the spring game, but Washington was more consistent throughout the 15 practice sessions. Vad Lee will be pushing both of them, but it’s Washington’s job to lose, and he must master the offense for the Jackets to get back to the ACC title game.

6. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris: First, he’s got to prove he deserves the starting job again, and that starts this summer. Then, he’s got to prove capable of continuing that success in games, making the right decisions and being a leader in the huddle. Al Golden has seen the potential in Harris. Now it’s a matter of getting him to execute it.