We're joined today by Jim Young of ACCSports.com, who has been diligently following each of the 12 ACC schools during this offseason and now knows everything there is to know about the conference. He was kind enough to answer a few questions as we embark on the 2012 tour. In case you missed it, we answered a few questions for him yesterday.
Streaking The Lawn: Who, not named Florida State or Virginia Tech, do you predict could make their way into the ACC Championship Game?
Jim Young: Georgia Tech. If the Yellow Jackets knock off Virginia Tech in the season opener - and remember, the Hokies have been known to start slow - thenteam gets a big leg up in the Coastal.
We know Georgia Tech will be able to run the ball. The key, of course, is the defense. There's enough experience there, and enough time spent in Al Groh's 3-4, that an argument can be made that the D will be strong enough for a title game run.
STL: Who has the toughest and easiest ACC schedule in each of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions?
JY: In the Coastal Division, the easiest schedule belongs to UNC. The Tar Heels don't have to play FSU and Clemson in the Atlantic. They get Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech at home (and the Jackets after a bye week, if you buy into that "extra prep for the option" theory). It all sets up for the Tar Heels to make a dark horse run in the Coastal Division ... except they're not allowed to win this year. Ouch.
There's not a real clear-cut easiest schedule in the Atlantic. We'll go with Wake because the Deacs don't have to play Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech over in the Coastal and they do get to play Duke.
I'll go with Miami for the hardest schedule in the Coastal and BC in the Atlantic. The Eagles get to play at Florida State and at Georgia Tech, but hey, at least they get Virginia Tech at home, right? Right?
STL: Based on what you've seen so far from the various reports, which ACC team do you think Virginia will have the easiest time rolling over, and who do you think will give Virginia the biggest fits?
JY: Until further notice, the team that will give UVa fits is Virginia Tech. It's not just a game against a tough team; there's a large psychological hurdle there as well.
The easiest ACC foe for UVa should be Maryland. I know you might expect me to say Duke but ... well, Cavs fans know better than to take the Blue Devils lightly.
STL: As a member of the media, what is your impression of Coach? How far do you think he can take Virginia, and how many years until the Hoos get there?
JY: I'm impressed so far. He's not the greatest quote, but that's my problem, not his. He obviously knows what he's doing on the recruiting trail and I like the coordinators he hired. I wasn't crazy about how he initially handled the quarterback situation last year, but hey, it got results.
I think if he keeps on this trajectory, in two years he can have UVa knocking on the door at the top of the Coastal Division. Not sure the Cavs will be a year-in, year-out threat, but I think Welshian levels of consistency are definitely possible.
STL: What is your prediction for Virginia's record this year?
JY: All that said, I think a LOT of things broke well for UVa last year and they overachieved. I think they take a step back this year, but it's a small one. Let's go with 7-5.