Tag Archives: coastal

Pittsburgh Q&A with @CzarOfPgh

You can follow Zach on Twitter at @CzarOfPgh.

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

As has been the case with basically every Pitt team I’ve watched, I have really no clue what to make of them. There have been some very positive signs.

The defense, in particular the pass defense, has been night and day different than last year. Last year’s philosophy on defense suited Paul Chryst’s conservative personality quite well: bend but don’t break. Unfortunately, the talent level just wasn’t good enough to avoid breaking. This year, Pat Narduzzi has already implemented a tough, attacking defense. Starting cornerback Avonte Maddox has had a phenomenal season so far, and last year’s top recruit in Pennsylvania Jordan Whitehead has already seized the starting strong safety spot and is among the team leaders in tackles.

On the downside, the run defense is still a work in progress. A large part of this is talent. Paul Chryst failed to recruit the d-line and linebacker positions very well. Still, it’s obvious that the new more aggressive scheme will pay off once the talent level begins to catch up in a few years.

More troubling, the offense is suddenly a mess. Sure the loss of James Conner to injury and 60% of last year’s starting OL to either the NFL or season-long injury has been a major problem. A bigger problem, at least in my opinion, is a lack of a real identity. It’s not clear to me what the offense wants to be. At least with Paul Chryst you knew he wanted a power running attack. Thus far, Jim Chaney seems very hesitant to try to run inside, possibly due to the OL concerns. The problem is that the outside running game hasn’t been so great either. There have been a lot of East-West plays that never really develop. To go with those issues, Chaney quite obviously never trusted Chad Voytik to do… whatever it is Chaney wants to do. Nate Peterman has looked like he can make a lot of accurate throws, but he’s also been fairly turnover prone. I’m eager to see the offense develop into something with a real identity rather than random elements tossed together to see what works.

What are your expectations going into the Virginia Tech game?

I expect a fairly ugly game, especially if the weather is as expected. I know VT’s defense didn’t look like the elite unit it was expected to be against ECU, but I don’t think Pitt can do (or wants to do) the kinds of things on offense that ECU does. I’m terrified that VT’s talented defensive line is going to eat Pitt’s offensive line for lunch. Jim Chaney is going to want to establish the run one way or another, and that is going to be a tough order. Even if the weather were ideal, I’m not sure how well Pitt could pass against a great secondary and strong pass rush. In poor weather, it might be impossible. Unfortunately, I think a good passing game that keeps Tyler Boyd and the tight ends involved is going to be the best chance Pitt has to reliably move the ball.

When VT has the ball, I hope to see an improved rushing defense. VT has a lot of talent at running back, and Pitt is going to need to hold their own in order to have any chance of winning. If the passing defense can keep up its improved play over last year, Pitt’s success is going to come down to how well they can stop the run.  In an ugly game in wet weather, I can’t really say that either team has a clear advantage.

Heinz Field is a house of horrors for VT, how do you feel about Pitt coming to Lane Stadium?

To be honest, the thought of coming into a night game at Lane would terrify me. I want no part of that. Luckily, this year’s game is at noon. It’s hard to think of any stadium that’s truly intimidating for a noon game. Couple that with the expected wet, cold weather, and it’s hard to imagine much of a home field advantage for VT.

At this point, how do you see the Coastal Division shaking out? Which team do you think will end up winning the division?

From the looks of it, Duke is going to be the class of the Coastal. They’re really playing great defense, and if recent history carries any weight, the offense will get going pretty soon too. They’re capable of easily winning the Coastal outright. Miami should be right up there with them, but it’s hard to have any faith in an Al Golden-coached team. They could easily collapse and lose several games that they shouldn’t. I also wouldn’t write off Georgia Tech either. They were too good last year to look so sloppy this year. I think they’ll still have a respectable finish.

What I am trying to say here is that I think Duke probably wins it but everyone has a good shot of finishing well. Except Virginia.

What is your prediction for the game?

Ugly. Maybe not Mizzou-UConn ugly, but pretty bad. These are two flawed teams that have been forced by injury to reconsider what their strengths are. A noon game in wet weather isn’t going to help them figure it out. I expect Virginia Tech to pull out a victory because they’re more talented on defense. If Pitt can figure out an offensive recipe that works–and it was in the VT game last year that the light bulb went off for the offense–then they have a good chance. Still, VT is the more talented team, so unless they get unlucky in the turnover department, I’d expect VT to win close.

ACC Predictions

These predictions are also featured on allsportsdiscussion.com here, here and here.

Coastal Predictions

Georgia Tech 8-4 (6-2)
Duke 9-3 (6-2)
Virginia Tech 8-4 (5-3)
Miami 6-6 (4-4)
Pittsburgh 6-6 (4-4)
North Carolina 6-6 (3-5)
Virginia 2-10 (1-7)

Everyone is saying that the division will come down to the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game on November 12th. I tend to agree but I could see Virginia Tech winning that game with 12 days to prepare but lose three games in the rest of ACC play to still hand the division to Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech definitely has the easier ACC slate only having to face Boston College and NC State from the Atlantic division. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has to face Clemson and Florida State (yikes!).

I see Duke keeping the momentum going under David Cutcliffe. I think we will continue to see Duke be a thorn in the side of other Coastal teams for years to come. I call them the Stanford of the east. Miami will have another Miami-like season, not bad but not great. Probably not enough to save Al Golden’s job. North Carolina will continue to put up points like usual but I’m not sure I trust that defense to show up. I’m not really sure what to expect from Pitt under new coach Pat Narduzzi. I could see them being really good but more than likely they’ll have an up and down season.

And finally Virginia. I actually feel bad for Virginia. Seems like most have already jumped ship on Mike London’s future there and then they get handed a murderer’s row non-conference schedule (@UCLA, Notre Dame & Boise State). Not good.

Atlantic Predictions

Florida State 11-1 (7-1)
Louisville 10-2 (7-1)
Clemson 10-2 (7-1)
Boston College 7-5 (4-4)
North Carolina State 5-7 (2-6)
Syracuse 3-9 (1-7)
Wake Forest 2-10 (0-8)

Florida State still is one of the most talented teams in the country. They have plenty of talent to choose from and will reload in 2015. They will not, however, go undefeated in 2015. The Atlantic division will be a three team race between Florida State, Clemson and Louisville. Clemson has the best quarterback in the league to go along with an improving defense under Brent Venables.

Louisville’s defense will be good enough to keep them in every game. As long as they can find competent quarterback play, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Boston College will continue to be a tough out for anyone they play but that schedule is brutal. Even with raised expectations, I expect NC State to take a step back. I’m not buying the hype there. Syracuse and Wake Forest are a step below the rest of the division.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, the ACC has more than two good teams! I think the ACC will get some respect this year. Between Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Duke, the ACC has six potential top-25 teams. This is the year to expect the unexpected. Both divisions will have razor thin races going into November. You can look as far as the six games between the teams listed above to decide both divisions. I could even see some crazy tiebreakers go into effect in those division races. It’s been awhile since the league had ranked teams battling it out in each division. Should be an exciting season.

Q&A with Mike Kline from the Duke Sports Blog

You can follow Mike Kline on twitter @MikeKlineDSB

What are your thoughts on your team so far?

So far Duke has either met or exceeded my expectations on the season. Most expected a good team with a good record, but not sure many believed, even with a favorable schedule that they’d be 8-1 and in position to be in the drivers seat in the coastal. Duke is not all things for everyone, but they are a team that believes they can win.  Anthony Boone has been at times very good and the running game has been surprisingly good. Defensively they’ve done well against the pass, but struggled against the run. They are a team with a lot of momentum heading into the Virginia Tech game.

What are your expectations going into the VT game?

Duke has had two back to back games against physical opponents so their could be a combination of fatigue and some bruises to account for when they take on the Hokies. They also have the risk of looking ahead at UNC on the big Thursday night matchup next week so minds could be else where.

The good news for the Blue Devils is that they are at home and after years of being the doormat they believe they can beat anyone.

Virginia Tech has definitely had a down year since beating Ohio State, but the fact is they are still a formidable opponent for Duke and one that they cannot look past.

Who do you think is going to win the Coastal Division?

Right now, unless Duke has a total collapse, I think the Blue Devils will take the Coastal Division as long as they win two of their next three games and get some help in some other games. Obviously if they win out they will take the crown for the second straight year. I just have the feeling this is another special year for the Blue Devils so I think they’ll get the job done.

What is your prediction for the game?

I think this is a game that can go either way but I expect something similar to what we saw between these two teams last year. I think Duke wins a low scoring game, though I don’t count out the Hokies at all. It wouldn’t be shocking if they pulled out the W, but I think Duke wins 21-17.