NC State Football Predictions
Only one NC State football team has ever reached double-digit. That was the 2002 team, which won 11 games with Philip Rivers slinging around the pigskin. Following back-to-back winning seasons, the 2012 Wolfpack believe they can join the 2002 squad in the history books.
NC State finished the 2011 season at 8-5 but has the potential to build on that mark. Plenty of talent returns and the schedule is relatively soft.
The Wolfpack must be better offensively if they’re going to contend for an Atlantic division title. They ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring last season with 28.2 points per game but only finished 11th in the league in total offense with 344.9 yards per game. An opportunistic defense that led the country with 27 interceptions aided the scoring average. It can’t be counted on as heavily this season.
The offense has the potential to be more explosive because of the talented skill players coming back. However, an offensive line that allowed Mike Glennon to be sacked 38 times and failed to produce holes consistently for James Washington must improve.
Despite being under constant duress, Glennon shined in his first season as the starter. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,054 yards with 31 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 42 of his completions went to Washington, who also rushed for 897 yards and seven scores. He and fellow running back Tony Creecy, who caught 25 passes last season, will be a big part of the passing game again this year.
Wide receivers Tobais Palmer and Bryan Underwood will be counted on to use their speed to stretch the field. Palmer had 37 receptions for 496 yards and five touchdowns in 2011.
The stop unit finished fourth in the ACC in total defense last season with 354.9 yards allowed per game. It finished sixth in the league in scoring defense with 24.7 points allowed per contest. More importantly, it helped the Wolfpack produce 39 takeaways, second-most among FBS programs.
A secondary that returns all four starters is the strength of the defense. This unit is anchored by All-American cornerback David Amerson, who set an ACC record with 13 interceptions last season.
The linebacker corps isn’t in nearly as good a shape after losing Terrell Manning to the NFL and D.J. Green to a suspension. Now, the Wolfpack are counting on senior Sterling Lucas, who missed last season with a knee injury, and junior college transfer Robert Caldwell to step up.
The defensive line had to deal with its share of injuries in 2011. Those injuries forced NC State to play underclassmen. The experience gained by Thomas Teal, T.Y. McGill and Art Norman last year will benefit the defense this year.
ACC Atlantic Prediction: 3rd Place
Even though the schedule sets up pretty nicely, I don’t think NC State has what it takes to win the Atlantic or reach 10 wins.
So much of last year’s success stemmed from a plus-14 turnover margin that ranked first in the ACC (sixth nationally). I have a hard time believing the Wolfpack will be as opportunistic this year, especially since the losses at linebacker open the door for teams to run the football more against them.
The offensive line is a concern as well.
NC State should get off to a fast 4-0 start, but then things get tougher. Road games against Miami, Maryland, North Carolina and Clemson and a home date with Florida State are all potential stumbling blocks.
|Boston College||Clemson||Florida State||Maryland|
|NC State||Syracuse||Wake Forest|
|Duke||Georgia Tech||Miami||North Carolina|
|ACC||Big 12||Big East||Big Ten|
|Conference USA||Independents||MAC||Mountain West|