Several schools open fall camps next week, which means football is right around the corner. So let’s crack open the mailbag to help us get through these final few days…
@DavidHaleESPN We're penciling Clemson and FSU to battle for the Atlantic. Who could realistically fight for the Coastal?
— Chris Wimmer (@cdwimmer13) July 28, 2016
Louisville might argue a bit with that presumption on the Atlantic, but to your point ...
North Carolina dominated the Coastal a year ago, and though the Tar Heels lost some key players, they're probably a more talented team overall now. Mitch Trubisky is the real deal, and Larry Fedora raved about the speed and athleticism he'll have at linebacker this season. It's hard not to view UNC as the team to beat again.
Behind the Heels though? Pitt is probably the most complete team, but the passing game remains something of a mystery. Miami has the coach and the quarterback, but does it have the other pieces, particularly on both sides of the line? Virginia Tech also has a lot of upside, and if Jerod Evans blossoms into the quarterback many think he can be, the Hokies could surprise. And then, of course, there is Georgia Tech ...
@DavidHaleESPN How hot is Paul Johnson's seat?
— John Jacobs (@JohnRJacobsJr) July 28, 2016
It's easy to forget that it was just two seasons ago that the Yellow Jackets were thumping an SEC West team in the Orange Bowl. Yes, last season's three-win implosion was ugly, which means there will be some attention on Paul Johnson's job security, but there were some reasonable explanations for the struggles (schedule, injuries, etc...). Barring another three-win campaign, Johnson should be fine, but expectations should probably be set closer to seven wins than 10 this season.
@DavidHaleESPN What's a reasonable expectation for wins in it's first year under Babers?
— William (@wd313) July 29, 2016
— Bob (@CuseontheLoose) July 28, 2016
A double shot of Syracuse questions ...
The Colgate game isn't likely to tell us much about the offense other than to give a sneak preview of the pacing. Dino Babers is going to want to keep most of his tricks under wraps before a far tougher matchup against Louisville in Week 2.
On defense, however, the Colgate game might be a bit of an indicator of future results. If Colgate moves the ball relatively well, that's not a good sign. And really, the bigger questions for the Orange are on that side of the ball.
At the end of the day, this should be an easy win though, and maybe the only one on Syracuse's schedule. In other words, the most reasonable expectation for the Orange in Year 1 under Babers is probably about four wins for the season.
@DavidHaleESPN most explosive player in acc
— Collin Bailey (@cbail_) July 29, 2016
No ACC player had more plays of 20-plus yards than Dalvin Cook (27), and it's hard to argue his big-play ability.
Behind Cook, however, there are some good options.
Isaiah Ford had 20 catches of 20 or more yards, tops in the ACC last year.
Mack Hollins had 15 grabs of 20-plus yards -- half his total touches.
Mike Williams wasn't on the field last season, but he's perhaps as good a deep-ball threat as there is in the ACC.
@DavidHaleESPN 2 teams n history you wish couldve played each other, can be from different years. Who ya pickin? I'd like 01 Miami vs 13 FSU
— Jared Owen (@coachowen15) July 28, 2016
Great question, and 2013 Florida State vs. 2001 Miami would have been my first thought, too. First, there's the wealth of NFL talent on the field -- probably as much as in any game ever -- but secondly, there's a clear rivalry there. It would be a blast.
Beyond that, 2004 USC vs. 2009 Alabama would be fun (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush vs. a terrific defense).
Peak era Steve Spurrier Fun 'N Gun (1996) vs. peak defense Alabama (2011) would be fun.
And, of course, 1884 Princeton vs. Cam Newton's 2010 Auburn would be a sneaky good game.
@DavidHaleESPN what's the best food city in the ACC?
— Jack (@Optimvs_Jack) July 29, 2016
This isn't really a fair question, because how can Clemson or Blacksburg compete with the big cities?
The easy answer here is Boston. Seafood and North End Italian. You can't go wrong.
Miami is probably a close second. Tons of great places to eat with some international flair.
Chapel Hill is surprisingly strong, given that it's not a big city (though Carboro, Cary and Pittsboro offer quality surrounding alternatives).
Though Tallahassee will never top this list, I still dream about the onion rings at Bird's Oyster Shack. Nobody does fried onions better.
@DavidHaleESPN could you power rank ACC coaches on their fashion sense? Thx!
— Belk Bowl (@belkbowl) July 29, 2016
Without ranking them, we're offering a big tip of the cap to Jimbo Fisher for his look the past week. He rocked a blue tie for ACC Kickoff, the lone coach not to wear team colors. When asked why, he simply said: "I know where I work."
Then after the coaches decided to wear polo shirts to the ESPN car wash, Fisher showed up sporting a suit and looking great.
That's a power move.