Friday, March 28, 2014
By Andrea Adelson
Back in the home office. Let's get to your questions.
Robert in Amarillo, Texas, writes: North Carolina really closed out strong in 2013. Would they be considered the favorites in 2014 to win the ACC Coastal?
Andrea Adelson writes: North Carolina is absolutely one of the favorites to win the Coastal in 2014. In fact, Heather and I have gone back and forth on who we think will win the division. When the season ended, my first reaction was North Carolina. Now that we have gone through spring a little bit, I have started leaning more toward Duke -- the Blue Devils return eight starters on offense and -- more importantly -- have the easier schedule. Projecting out through the schedules plays a factor when I start deciding who will win the division. North Carolina has to play Clemson. Duke does not. Plus, the game between them is in Durham. To me, these are the front-runners to win the division.
Sam in Belle Isle, Fla., writes: Andrea, do you think that Karlos Williams could be in the running for ACC POY this year? With Jameis Winston as the clear favorite, he obviously won't even be the favorite on his own team, but he ran for more than 700 yards last year and 12 TDs, and that was with only a few weeks of experience. So if he develops nicely over the offseason, do you think he'll be another record-breaking back?
Adelson writes: Sam, not only is he behind Winston on his own team, he also is behind Miami running back Duke Johnson at his position. Having said that, I do believe Williams has the potential to have a breakout season and could end up being one of the best backs in the league. I am interested to see how the Noles will rotate their backs this year, especially with some inexperience at the position. There are some terrific backs returning to the league, and I am excited to see how they all do. I truly believe this is a position that will be much better across the ACC in 2014 than it was a season ago.
Jay Wise in Auburn, Ala., writes: I know what you're thinking, "How come there is an ACC blog question coming from Auburn, Alabama?" Well, I'm an FSU fan in the dead center of SEC country and couldn't have been happier with the BCS National Championship game. Anyway, to the question I have. Besides a couple of games last year, the majority of Jameis Winston's playing time was in the first half and maybe a drive or two in the second half. What do you think are the chances of Jameis winning the Heisman again? Just blows my mind that he could have the numbers mostly coming from one half. Understandably, he loses some key seniors on the offense but with four out of five offensive linemen returning and a pretty good TE with some solid WRs (Rashad Greene, of course, No. 1), what would you say his chances are to win it again and put up better numbers? Thanks again for the blog. I love checking it every day and really love reminding these Auburn fans which team slipped up to lose the SEC streak and which team took the crown!
Adelson writes: Great question, Jay. Winston goes into the season as the No. 1 candidate to win the Heisman, but history is not on his side. Johnny Manziel didn't win a second one, even though he went into last season as the favorite. Tim Tebow never won a second one. To this day, there has only been one repeat winner. Having said that, I do expect Winston to be better this season, because he is a year older. Some playmakers are gone, but he has plenty of talent around him. Plus, the schedule is a little more difficult so he will have an opportunity to play more than just the first half in many more games this season. Whether that means he wins another Heisman is the ultimate question. If another player has a season that is equal to Winston's, would voters select the other player to spread around the wealth? I think that is a question to ponder as the season goes on.
Preston in SC writes: Do you see another elite team emerging from the pack to finally make people respect the ACC? Was lovely seeing FSU bring the title back to Tallahassee, and Clemson also made some noise in the BCS. But if you had one pick of a team to emerge, who would it be? My picks would be between Miami and VT (only reason I left UL out was because they are in a division with FSU and Clemson). I would choose Miami. How about you?
Adelson writes: I would counter with this -- doesn't Louisville already count since it has been a top-15 program over the last two years? Florida State and Clemson are in the same division and are both elite. The SEC West has more than two elite teams in its West division. So I think there is room in the Atlantic for three elite teams. Louisville may take a step back this season as it transitions into a new league with a new coaching staff, but I still think everything is in place for this to be a Top 25 program consistently. We have all been waiting on Miami to be "back," but the Canes are still a few years away from being a consistent Top 25 team. I think they will get there eventually, but not in 2014. I would say that is the program the ACC needs most to return to an elite level. Duke was a Top 25 team last year but that did not really generate a wave of "new national respect" for the league. But when Top 10 Florida State played Top 10 Miami, national interest was higher in that game than it had been in years.
Paul in Chicago writes: Which of the former Big East/AAC teams will be the first to win its ACC division? Conference? Louisville may be the best of the bunch, but it may be tough sledding in the Atlantic. So you gotta go with Pitt, right?
Adelson: Well, technically speaking, we could go with Miami as a former Big East team, right? But if I have to choose among Louisville, Syracuse and Pitt, then yes, Pitt has the easiest road to winning its division. I have said the Panthers are a dark horse this year, a team I am very eager to see play in Year 3 under Paul Chryst. Louisville and Syracuse just had the bad luck to be in the stronger division right now.