Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Proving ground: Coastal Division
By Heather Dinich
Earlier this morning we looked at who in the Atlantic Division has the most to prove. The Coastal Division is up next:
1. Duke coach David Cutcliffe. It’s time for Cutcliffe to prove his program is still heading in the right direction, and the most obvious way for him to do that is to lead the Blue Devils to a bowl game. Cutcliffe will be entering his fifth season in Durham, and while he’s been painfully close to a breakthrough winning season -- losing eight games over the past two years by seven or fewer points -- he will ultimately be judged by the win column.
2. North Carolina. The Tar Heels have to prove they can run Larry Fedora’s new offense. They have to prove they can run defensive coordinator Vic Koenning’s new 4-2-5 scheme. But most of all, they have to prove that once again, they can overcome change and the NCAA. There is no bowl game to play for this year. They’ll have to prove they can find their own motivation.
3. Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh. It will be the third season in Groh’s 3-4 scheme, and Georgia Tech fans are looking for more improvement from the group. That could be tough to come by, considering the Jackets have to replace two starters up front.
4. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris. We learned this spring that Memphis transfer Ryan Williams can and will challenge Morris. With Morris sidelined this spring with a back injury, Williams had his chance to shine -- much like Morris has had his opportunities at the expense of former starter Jacory Harris. It’s up to Morris to reassert himself as the leader of the offense.
5. Virginia Tech’s offensive line. Yes, all of the hype is around who will be the next great running back after the early departure of David Wilson, but they’ll all be going nowhere fast if the guys up front don’t get it together. The good news for the Hokies is that this group had a good spring. The key now is to build upon that in summer camp.
6. Virginia’s secondary. This group has to replace three starters from a year ago and more than 90 combined career starts. The Hoos will depend on young players this year, and Demetrious Nicholson, who has 13 starts, is now the veteran of the group.