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ACC Coastal Power Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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With seven different winners over the past seven years, picks for 2020 in the ACC Coastal Division.

Though there is obvious uncertainty around this college football season, here are our 2020 power rankings for the ACC Coastal

1. North Carolina -- What Mack Brown and the Tar Heels did last season was stunning, going from two wins to seven. The energy Brown brought to Chapel Hill a generation ago is clearly back. Quarterback Sam Howell is the catalyst. He, inarguably, just had one of the greatest freshman seasons in college football history, leading the ACC with 3,641 yards and 38 touchdowns. He plays with a moxie that was on display right away. North Carolina also returns a 1,000-yard rusher in Michael Carter and two 1,000-yard receivers in Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. Linebacker Chazz Surratt is one of the best at his position nationally.
2019 Record: 6-7
Offensive MVP: Sam Howell, QB
Defensive MVP: Chazz Surratt, LB
Key Game: at Miami, October 24th
Bonus Stat: Sam Howell is the only signal caller this millenneium to throw at least 35 touchdown passes as a true freshman.  

MORE: Did Sam Howell just have the best season by a true freshman QB ever?

2. Miami -- The addition of former Houston quarterback D'Eriq King as a graduate transfer turned heads nationally. He is a star and compiled 50 total touchdowns in 2018. Add in new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and the Hurricanes will look different offensively. Expect even more production from playmaking tight end Brevin Jordan. There isn't a more imposing defender in college football than edge Gregorry Rousseau, an incredible talent who recorded a record 15.5 sacks as a freshman. Add in Temple transfer Quincy Roche, the reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and Miami has the top bookend tandem in the country.
2019 Record: 6-7
Offensive MVP: D'Eriq King, QB
Defensive MVP: Gregory Rousseau, DE
Key Game: vs North Carolina, October 24th  
Bonus Stat: Ends Gregory Rousseau and Quincy Roche combined for 28.5 sacks last season, a total which would have been more than three ACC teams from a year ago.

3. Virginia Tech -- The Hokies return a lot of talent and added more from the transfer portal, including Kansas running back Khalil Herbert. Defensively, Virginia Tech brings back almost its entire depth chart from a unit that ranked fourth in the ACC in total defense in 2019. Athletic and versatile, Rayshard Ashby is a major difference-maker fresh off 120 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles. After an impressive sophomore season, quarterback Hendon Hooker is ready to emerge as a national name. He completed over 60% of his passes, threw 13 touchdowns to just two interceptions and added five rushing scores.
2019 Record: 8-5
Offensive MVP: Hendon Hooker, QB
Defensive MVP: Rayshard Ashby, LB
Key Game: vs Miami, November 14th
Bonus Stat: Virginia Tech ranked in the top five amongst Power Five teams last year in redzone defense, allowing opponents to convert just 73.8% of the time.

4. Pittsburgh -- This is a defense clearly worthy of national attention. Names like safety Paris Ford and defensive linemen Patrick Jones and Jalen Twyman are among the best players in the game and Rashad Weaver is back healthy. Up front, the Panthers, second in the country in sacks in 2019, will be ready to wreck even more havoc. Overall, the core largely returns to a unit that ranked fourth nationally a year ago, allowing just 4.5 yards per play. Keep an eye on veteran quarterback Kenny Pickett. He completed 61.6% of his passes, topped the 3,000-yard mark and trailed only Sam Howell in the ACC with 258.2 yards per game last season.
2019 Record: 8-5
Offensive MVP: Kenny Pickett, QB
Defensive MVP: Jalen Twyman, DL
Key Game: vs Notre Dame, October 17th
Bonus Stat: Pittsburgh had 51 sacks a year ago, more than Florida State and Georgia Tech combined.

5. Virginia -- Though the defending division champions have some obvious retooling to do, the defense should again be one of the ACC's best. There is great depth at linebacker with the likes of Charles Snowden, Noah Taylor and Zane Zandier, a trio who combined for 237 tackles and 37 tackles for loss a year ago. Safety Joey Blount is always around the football, too. Wayne Taulapapa, fresh off 12 rushing touchdowns, will be more of a focal point offensively. Mississippi State-transfer Keytaon Thompson will compete with Brennan Armstrong to replace Bryce Perkins under center.
2019 Record: 9-5
Offensive MVP: Olusegun Oluwatimi, C
Defensive MVP: Charles Snowden, LB
Key Game: vs Pittsburgh, November 21st
Bonus Stat: In the ACC, only Clemson's Travis Etienne returns with more rushing touchdowns than Wayne Taulapapa with his dozen from last season.

6. Duke -- Quarterback guru David Cutcliffe has a new signal caller in Clemson-transfer Chase Brice. A former highly-touted prep recruit with two seasons of eligibility remaining, he converted a critical 4th down pass against Syracuse in 2018 that helped the Tigers go on to win the national championship. Brice will join a roster that includes talented edge rushers Victor Dimukeje and Chris Rumph, who combined for 15 sacks and 23 tackles for loss this past year. Eleven specialists in college football returned two kicks back for touchdowns last season, Damond Philyaw-Johnson included.  
2019 Record: 5-7
Offensive MVP: Chase Brice, QB
Defenisve MVP: Chris Rumph, DE
Key Game: at Georgia Tech, November 7th
Bonus Stat: Duke's offensive line, which should again be quite good, allowed the fewest tackles for loss in the ACC in 2019 with just 59, a total which placed them in the top five of the Power Five.

7. Georgia Tech -- Progress is expected in year two of the Geoff Collins era. After transitioning from the flexbone, the Yellow Jackets are should be more able to develop a consistent offensive identity. James Graham showed plenty of upside as a freshman quarterback, but will have to fend off other talented options. Jordan Mason, who finished a stretch shy of 900 yards, is a workhorse running back. Remember the name Ahmarean Brown at receiver. David Curry and Tariq Carpenter are difference-makers at linebacker and safety. Tre Swilling is a standout at cornerback.
2019 Record: 3-9
Offensive MVP: Jordan Mason, RB
Defensive MVP: Tariq Carpenter, S
Key Game: vs Virginia, October 17th
Bonus Stat: With seven touchdown receptions on 21 total catches, Ahmarean Brown scored, quite remarkably, a third of the time he caught a pass.