Music to listen to: Carolina on my Mind by James Taylor
Back in high school, I sang for the school chorus and we often had to cover tunes from guys like James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and other artists from that era. Expanded my musical taste when the CD player mostly had hard rock and hip-hop in rotation. Respect to The Browning School.
Last Season: Under first-year head coach Dave Doeren, the Wolfpack endured a three-win season that saw it go winless in the ACC for the first time since 1959. Furthermore, N.C. State didn’t beat one fellow North Carolina school, going 0-4 against Wake Forest, UNC, Duke and East Carolina which hadn’t happened since 1943.
The three wins came in the first four contests of the season, the last coming against Central Michigan. The Wolfpack proceeded to lose its last eight contests.
Offense: The Wolfpack averaged only 22.8 points per game last season, 10th in the ACC. Its hoping Florida transfer Jacoby Brissett can solidify the quarterback position which needs improved production. NC State quarterbacks threw for 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season.
Last season’s leading rusher, junior Shadrach Thornton returns after running for 768 yards and four touchdowns last campaign. The receivers are young and inexperienced while the offensive line does return four starters.
One positive was the efforts of senior kicker Nik Sade, who made a career-high 19 field goals last season. While that was more a result of an offense that couldn’t score touchdowns when getting close to the end zone, converted field goal attempts put points on the board.
Defense: NC State was a disaster last season, giving up 30.2 points per contest, second-to-last in the ACC and 83rd nationally. The Wolfpack couldn’t stop the run at all, giving up 180.2 yards per contest which was also next to last in the conference.
The first step of improvement has been implementing a 4-2-5 base defense. Senior defensive linemen Art Norman and Thomas Teal will return up front. Incoming freshman Kentavious Street was the top-rated recruit for the Wolfpack in 2014 and will have plenty of opportunities to play.
The linebacker group will feature new starters while the secondary returns Juston Burris, Jack Tocho and Hakim Jones.
|9/13||at South Florida|
|11/29||at North Carolina|
The Wolfpack have loaded its schedule on the front end with winnable games. The dream start would be 4-0 heading into Florida State on Sep. 27. If that situation happens, potential bowl eligibility is increased.
Some would point to Philip Rivers putting in work at Raleigh as the first time that people of my generation (ages 35 and under) were introduced to NC State football. I go a little further back and remember Torry Holt having a stellar career with the Wolfpack before a great career in the NFL.
Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia info on Dr. Jerry Punch:
“In 1988, in two separate incidents, he helped with the rescue efforts after the serious wrecks of Rusty Wallace and Don Marmor. In the case of Rusty Wallace’s front-stretch crash at Bristol Motor Speedway, Punch happened to be on Pit Road at the time, and as a result, was the first person on the scene before the rescue crew could be scrambled. Punch’s medical training proved pivotal, as Wallace was initially unconscious following this practice-session crash. Punch revived Wallace, who was able to start the following night’s race with only minor injuries, driving for about half the race before giving his seat up to a relief driver. Wallace now works with Punch in ESPN’s coverage of NASCAR.
Punch is also credited with helping to save Ernie Irvan following a practice crash at Michigan International Speedway in August 1994. Punch also had aided injured pit crew members on pit road in several races in the 1990’s.
While Punch was addressing a Nashville Superspeedway media luncheon he was interrupted by a loud crash from the back of the room. Punch immediately rushed from the podium to the back of the room where Jenny Gill (daughter of singer/musician, Vince Gill), a Nashville Superspeedway intern, had fainted. Punch helped revive the Middle Tennessee State graduate student. She was taken to a local care center for observation and soon recovered, according to Sean Dozier, the Superspeedway’s public relations director. Punch returned to the podium and resumed his speech.”
That’s some Most Interesting Man in the World type stuff right there. Honorable mention: Bill Cowher, Philip Rivers, Vinny Del Negro, Tab Ramos, David Thompson, Cullen Jones
The depth was severely lacking in this department for N.C. State which surprised me. Jill Wagner is a quality choice though.
The Wolfpack was one of four teams from the ACC didn’t have one player named to the Preseason All-Conference team. The others were Georgia Tech and Wake Forest, who are expected to finish with losing records this year, and Pittsburgh who will have to overachive to reach a bowl game.
While that’s not the ultimate predictor of this upcoming season for the Wolfpack, it shows the lack of talent in Raleigh. The coaching staff has recruited hard and the roster has improved. A successful season would be six wins and a bowl appearance for North Carolina State which I think it will achieve.