Over the years it has become the accepted norm for NC State fans to hope for a special season, but really only expect to be just good enough to get to a bowl game. Screw that! I want that special season we’ve been waiting on forever and I want it bad. Lack of top end talent, no depth, questionable coaching decisions, and dumb road losses (*cough* Wake Forest *cough*) have been the main obstacles to us reaching that goal.
The 2015 version is not your typical NC State football team. I’m not saying we are definitely going to have a special season, but everything is there (talent, competitive depth, experience, coaching, etc.) for it to be a legitimate possibility. I haven’t felt this good about a team going into the season since the days of Philip Rivers. Lots of people agree with that feeling and have pegged NC State as an ACC dark horse contender.
NC State may not be favored to win the ACC championship by Vegas, but those odds prove that we have a team to be reckoned with this year and that we should turn a few heads with how we perform. The over/under win total is set a little low, however, at just 7.5. The over seems like a no-brainer lock to me.
Your success in college football all starts at the QB position and we have a really good one in RS Sr. Jacoby Brissett. I don’t really buy into any of the Heisman Trophy candidate talk, but I do believe he is poised to have a huge season. With weapons like Sr. RB Shadrach Thornton, Jr. RB Matt Dayes, RS Jr. TE David J. Grinnage, Fr. WR Nyheim Hines, and my personal favorite So. FB/TE Jaylen Samuels1 at his disposal we should have a tough offense to stop. The offensive line is one area where we don’t have a lot of experienced depth, but I have confidence in the 5 starters to repeat what they did last year.
This could be the best defensive unit NC State has had since 2004 when we had the #1 defense in the nation. All five starters are back from a secondary that got better and better throughout the season last year, led by Gr. S Hakim Jones, Jr. CB Jack Tocho, and the hard hitting, not scared of anybody Jr. NIC Dravious Wright2. We lost a few starters on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps, but the returning and new starters have lots of experience and/or great pedigrees, led by Gr. DE Mike Rose, So. DT Kentavious Street, and So. LB Airius Moore. I’ve grown to like the 4-2-5 scheme, especially when we play agressive like we did at the end of last year.
SPECIAL TEAMS OUTLOOK
This is definitely a big area of concern as we will be starting Freshmen at kicker, punter, and long snapper. Let’s just hope these guys are quick on-the-job learners.
The season can be broken down into 3 tiers:
Must Wins (6)
The Wolfpack should have no problem with Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Wake Forest, and Syracuse. I know three of those games are on the road, including Wake where we haven’t won since 2001, but they are terrible and we have to finally end that streak. A loss in any of these games would be bad.
Toss Ups (3)
The toss up games that I feel we should win are Louisville (home), Boston College (road), and Carolina (home). Louisville is a trendy ACC title pick, but I don’t care. We played them tough on the road last year, they lost a lot of guys to the NFL, and we get this game at home. These are the type of games you have to win to elevate your football program. Boston College will be tough because it’s on the road and Carolina because it’s a rivalry game, but we have a better team than both so we need to take care of business. A loss in more than one of these games would be bad.
Swing Games (3)
Games against Virginia Tech (away), Clemson (home), and Florida State (away) are games where we will definitely be underdogs. A win in any of these games would be good and swing our season from good to great. A win in more than one of these games would be great and swing the season into that special stratosphere that we’ve been waiting a long time for.
I think worst-case is 7-5, but I’m excitingly looking at 9-3. Maybe my opinion is too biased, but with our talent and competitive depth combined with my faith in Coach Doeren and his staff, it feels right to me. I hope our guys prove me wrong, though, and pull off a 10-2 or better.
1 I nominate myself to be president of the Jaylen Samuels Fan Club.
2 I love his enthusiasm for the game and his smile is very contagious.