The phrase “Coastal chaos” has been fitting in the last decade when describing the volatility of the ACC’s Coastal Division, which saw each of the division’s seven teams win the division title from 2013-19.
But while the Coastal has rightfully become known for its craziness, Mark Packer is already looking forward to seeing what he believes will be a really interesting race in the ACC’s Atlantic Division next season.
“We always talk about Coastal chaos,” Packer said recently on the Packer and Durham show on ACC Network. “I’m just going to make this point now. It’s February, so keep it in mind, it can change a gazillion times and probably will. We always talk about how crazy the Coastal is. That Atlantic Division is really going to be good. I’m just telling ya. There’s some teams with a lot of dudes back.”
In the Atlantic, there is defending division champion Wake Forest, which lost to Pittsburgh in the conference championship game but appears poised to contend for the division title again with returning quarterback Sam Hartman, who led an offense that averaged 41.0 points per game last season, second in the ACC behind only Pitt (41.4).
Then there is NC State, which also returns its starting quarterback, Devin Leary, to go with a defense that ranked No. 2 in the ACC last season in points per game allowed (19.7) behind only Clemson (14.8). The Wolfpack, like the Demon Deacons, figure to be ranked among the nation’s top 15 or 20 teams in the preseason.
Other Atlantic Division foes Florida State (Jordan Travis), Louisville (Malik Cunningham), Boston College (Phil Jurkovec) and Syracuse (Garrett Shrader) all return their starting quarterbacks as well.
Of course, Clemson’s quarterback situation is yet to be determined heading into the spring, with rising junior D.J. Uiagalelei and five-star freshman Cade Klubnik set to compete for the reigns of a Tigers team hoping to get back on top of the Atlantic and win the ACC again in 2022 after seeing their streak of six straight conference titles snapped last season.
“NC State’s going to get so much national love in the offseason, it’s not even funny,” Packer said. “(Louisville head coach Scott) Satterfield was on with us the other day. You got a sense, hey I love my offensive line, I got Malik Cunningham back, I like what we got on the perimeter, defense should be better. You’ve got storylines along that front. You’ve got the whole Clemson situation. Obviously, that’s a given. And what happens with their quarterback, who knows. We’ll watch that in the spring. That’ll be a fun thing to watch.”
Packer is excited to see how it all unfolds next season.
“That Atlantic Division in the ACC is going to be very intriguing,” he said.
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