Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NC State, Tom O'Brien Look For Second Year Improvement

ACC Atlantic #6 - NC State Wolfpack

The Skinny:
2007 Record: 5-7 (3-5)
Returning Starters: 10
Returning Lettermen: 28
Off PPG: 18.0 (11th), RYPG 79.4 (11th), PYPG 247.4 (2nd)
Def PPG: 31.0 (11th), RYPG 187.6 (12th), PYPG 218.8 (5th)

Offense (6 Returning Starters, 12 Lettermen)
The QB situation is still somewhat up in the air in Raleigh heading into Fall. Senior Daniel Evans (2,030 PY LY) will battle Harrison Beck and true freshman Mike Glennon (Sean's brother) for the job. The running back spot was going to be a bright spot going into last year but Toney Baker (pic above) was injured in game 1 and Andre Brown in midseason. Subsequently, NC State fell to 11th in ACC games in rushing. When healthy, the two are the second best RB tandem in the ACC. At receiver, NC State lost all three starters, but gets TE Anthony Hill back from an injury last year. Hill led the Wolfpack in yards in 2006 and will be a favorite target of Evans. The O-line has good size up front and returns 7 players with starting experience with G Curtis Crouch anchoring. O-line play was a trademark of O'Brien at BC so look for improved play from this bunch in year two.

Defense (4 Returning Starters, 11 Lettermen)
Under Amato, NC State was known for the defensive line play culminating in number 1 pick overall Mario Williams. The Pack has to replace three starters from a line that ranked 12th in RYPG a year ago. Willie Young is undersized on the end but a classic speed rusher with 10TFL last year. The LB corp was also decimated after last year losing all 3 starters. The secondary will have to carry this defense especially early as they return 3 seniors and sophomore Javon Walker who started the second half of the season.

Special Teams:
State lost a really good kicker in Steven Hauschka and return man Darrell Blackman. The punting duties will fall to returning starter Bradley Pierson.

Newcomers of Note:
QB Mike Glennon is the gem of this class and could see some early action if Evans continues his struggles from last season. LB Terrell Manning will likely see action in a young LB group as well.

Schedule:
NC State has a tough non-conference schedule with 3 teams with a .500 or better record last year. State starts the college football season off at South Carolina on Thur, Aug 28 and they have East Carolina and USF at home back to back in late September. They have a manageable schedule from the Coastal with @UNC, @Duke, vMiami.

Wrapup:
Most programs see a big jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system. However, NC State returns just 10 starters and 28 lettermen from a team that was very streaky. Tom O'Brien needs some more time to build and coach up the talent level again that Amato had but couldn't take full advantage of.

Prediction:
Games as TD plus favorite: William & Mary, @ Duke (Likely Wins)
Games as TD plus dog: vSo. Carolina, @Clemson, vUSF (Likely Losses)
Games within a TD: vECU, vBC, vFSU, @Maryland, vWake, @UNC, vMiami (Swing Games)

4-8, 2-6

Tomorrow, ACC Coastal #5

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