Opening camp: Coastal Division

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
5:00
PM ET
Several more teams in the ACC begin practicing today, and by Aug. 6, the entire conference will have officially begun fall camp. Here’s a quick look at when each team in the Coastal Division is starting, and what to keep an eye on:

Duke

Opening camp: Aug. 5

What to watch: Quarterback Anthony Boone is entering his first season as a full-time starter, and Duke’s offense will look different as a result. Boone has a stronger arm than his predecessor, Sean Renfree, and he’s more mobile. The question is whether the Blue Devils can get their running game going around him, and if the defense can finally find a way to stop the run. The entire secondary has to be rebuilt, as Ross Cockrell is the only returning starter, and even he missed half the spring with an injury.

Georgia Tech

Opening camp: Today

What to watch: Vad Lee takes over at quarterback, and expectations are already soaring. The defense will be under the direction of first-year coordinator Ted Roof, a familiar face to the program and the ACC. Coach Paul Johnson said it’s likely the Jackets will throw the ball more this fall, but how much depends on whether they can find some dependable receivers in a group that’s been depleted this offseason.

Miami

Opening camp: Aug. 3

What to watch: Defensive improvement will be the key to the Canes’ success this year, particularly up front where the group struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks last fall. Every starter returns on both the offensive and defensive lines, and so does 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year Duke Johnson and veteran quarterback Stephen Morris. Miami was chosen by the media as the preseason favorite to win the division this year, but the defense was one of the worst in the country last year, allowing 30.5 points per game. And of course, the NCAA is still snoozing.

North Carolina

Opening camp: Today

What to watch: The offensive line's cohesiveness and development will be critical, especially after lead blocker Jonathan Cooper left, who helped make former running back Giovani Bernard look so spectacular. Plenty of talent and experience returns, starting with James Hurst, who could be a first-round draft pick, and center Russell Bodine. Landon Turner and Kiaro Holts have playing experience, and Caleb Peterson is a redshirt freshman taking over for Cooper. Keep an eye on the competition at running back, where A.J. Blue is penciled in as the starter to take over for Bernard, and in the return game, where Bernard will also be missed.

Pittsburgh

Opening camp: Aug. 6

What to watch: Quarterback Tom Savage hasn’t officially been named the starter, so the competition with Chad Voytik continues. The running game took a hit when Rushel Shell decided to transfer, so also keep an eye on how Malcolm Crockett and Isaac Bennett fare. None of that will matter much, though, if the offensive line can’t get it together. The group was a major question mark after the spring, as new center Gabe Roberts struggled a bit with the shotgun snap, and depth and experience remain concerns. With nine starters returning on defense, including standout lineman Aaron Donald, the Panthers will have to rely on their defense until the offense catches up.

Virginia

Opening camp: Aug. 5

What to watch: This team will have an entirely new look this fall. The Cavaliers overhauled the staff, including adding two new coordinators and hiring former NC State coach Tom O’Brien. Mike London said he expects to name a starting quarterback by mid-August, but the field has narrowed to frontrunners David Watford and Greyson Lambert. Virginia needs to find some linebackers to help fill the voids after Steve Greer and LaRoy Reynolds left, and the running game has to show progress after ranking No. 96 in the country last year.

Virginia Tech

Opening camp: Aug. 5

What to watch: Offense, offense, offense. It’s the storyline in Blacksburg, as first-year offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler was hired to cure the Hokies’ woes and make quarterback Logan Thomas look like the first-round draft pick many projected him to be. Problem is, it’s not just Thomas who needs to get better. The offensive line remains a work in progress, the running game is a question after Michael Holmes' dismissal, and the receivers are still young. Thomas can’t do it all by himself, and it’s in his nature to try. That’s when the mistakes happen. This summer has to be about the entire supporting cast improving, because Alabama’s defense will be ready to exploit any and every weakness in the season opener.

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