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Hurricanes tabbed as ACC Coastal favorites


Published:   |   Updated: July 23, 2013 at 06:23 AM

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Leaning back in his chair, Al Golden laughed.

Tanned from a July vacation, he appeared relaxed.

This was very different Miami football coach from the one who entered last season's ACC Media Days at the height of a NCAA investigation. No longer tense and with an experienced team returning, the third-year coach actually smiled quite a bit during an interview marathon Monday.

Still, he avoided celebration when the preseason media voting results were released. His Hurricanes were picked to win the ACC Coastal Division over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.

A year ago, they were picked second to last before topping the standings by season's end.

"Whether it was being picked fifth last year or being picked first, to me, they're the same devil if our guys are starting to listen to it one way or the other," Golden said. "I think we're much more matured there ... our guys are locked in, so I would be surprised if any of this was affecting our attitude."

The Hurricanes were only picked atop a preseason ACC poll once before and it didn't end well. The 2006 team was projected to win the Coastal before finishing fourth with a 4-5 league record.

Clemson was the landslide pick to win the ACC championship with 95 of the 120 first-place votes. Miami received just three votes win the ACC title behind Florida State's 15.

All of that's great, Golden said, but he considers it more a measure of talent than team. He's looking for the latter when practices open Aug. 3 in Coral Gables.

With nearly every starter back from a 7-5 team that would've played for a league title if not for a self-imposed postseason ban, there's significant buzz on the outside. Several preseason magazines have the Hurricanes in or near the top 25.

Senior QB Stephen Morris was disinterested in preseason talk from outside sources.

"At the end of the day, I'm playing for my teammates. I'm not playing for the fans," he said. "I'm not going out there to please anybody. I'm out there to please my teammates and help win games."

Golden isn't using it for motivation, but he doesn't shy away from the spotlight. And when the NCAA cloud passes, he said 10-win seasons are not unreasonable expectations on an annual basis.

Tough act to repeat

Clemson Tajh Boyd, the ACC player of the year in 2012, broke his own league records with 36 touchdown passes and 46 total TDs. He received 105 votes in the preseason balloting - no other player got more than four.

"He easily could have gone on" to the NFL, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He wants to win. He has some unfinished business, and it's exciting to see where we are now. ... It kind of makes me dizzy to think about it."

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