Media Predict Virginia Tech, Florida State Will Finish Atop Respective Divisions
July 25, 2005
By DAVID DROSCHAK
HOT SPRINGS, Va.
HOT SPRINGS, Va.- Bobby Bowden is still looking for a starting quarterback, he lost his best defensive player to a knee injury in summer workouts and his team hasn't finished in the top 10 in four seasons.
So, Bowden was surprised to see the Seminoles as a solid pick to win the Atlantic Division over ACC newcomer Boston College as the preseason media poll was released Monday at the ACC Football Kickoff.
"It looks like ya'll haven't been reading the papers," Bowden joked with reporters when asked to comment on his team's lofty preseason position. "Ya'll don't know we lost some guys. I'm surprised at us being up there.
"I feel good about it, though. It's challenging to try to live up to what it says. We'll do the best we can do with it."
Florida State received 65 of a possible 92 votes (522 points) to win the Atlantic Division in the new 12-team ACC. Boston College was second with 24 votes and 458 points, followed by NC State (346), Clemson (265), Maryland (222) and Wake Forest (119).
In the Coastal Division, defending ACC champion Virginia Tech was picked to win the six-team race with 62 top votes and 517 points, followed by Miami (487), Virginia (356), Georgia Tech (281), North Carolina (197) and Duke (94).
The Hokies return eight starters on offense and talented junior quarterback Marcus Vick, who sat out last season. And Darryl Tapp is expected to be one of the best defensive linemen in the nation.
"I'm proud of the fact that you guys think we can be there in the end," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer told the media. "Especially in this very, very balanced league."
The Hokies will likely be the ACC's highest-ranked team in the major preseason polls. However, Beamer is already guarding against his team becoming overconfident.
"Two years ago we didn't handle being ranked high very well," Beamer said. "We've experienced both sides of this thing. We're just trying to stay in the present."
Beamer said his senior class has already put last season's ACC title to rest.
"They knew we needed to take those rings off and get back to work," he said.
Miami, 44-6 in four seasons under Larry Coker, returns 10 players on defense and four offensive linemen, but will be starting new QB Kyle Wright.
Coker said Miami fans were upset with last year's 9-3 season and third-place finish in the ACC after seasons of 12-0, 12-1 and 11-2.
"Any time you're at the University of Miami and you lose a football game there is backlash. We've got a sense of urgency, but I don't want it to be a sense of panic."
Coker said his players shouldn't have a beef with Virginia Tech being picked ahead of the Hurricanes in the Coastal Division. "They beat us for No. 1. And they're the defending ACC champions for No. 2," he said. "Any other questions? Now, what are we going to do about it?"
Boston College, the only program in the nation on a five-game bowl winning streak, received instant respect by being picked to finish second behind the Seminoles in the Atlantic.
"They like to say they don't have a lot of talent, but don't let them fool you," said Miami offensive lineman Eric Winston, who competed against the Eagles when both teams were members of the Big East.
Boston College coach Tom O'Brien shrugged off his team's preseason poll standing.
"I believe more in the tooth fairy than I do any preseason poll," he said.
O'Brien added that it's hard to overlook the balance in the "new ACC."
"I don't think Miami lost three conference games in the Big East in five years, so that was a sign to us last season about the caliber of play in this league," he said.