As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Tuesday over the summer. SU will continue its ACC schedule when they play North Carolina State on Oct. 12.
NEW COACH: Syracuse won’t be the only ACC school featuring a new head coach this year. NC State athletic director Debbie Yow wanted a perennial top 25 team and dismissed head coach Tom O’Brien in favor of Dave Doeren. O’Brien did an admirable job in his six years, inheriting a team that had gone 3-9 in 2006 and leading them to four bowl games. But the team finished in the top 25 at season’s end just once (2010) during that period. Doeren was a proven winner at Northern Illinois, leading the team to back-to-back MAC championships and a 23-4 overall record. In the 2012 season, NIU earned a BCS bid to the Orange Bowl, where they ultimately lost to Florida State.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: The parallels don’t end at a new coach. NC State, like Syracuse, is searching for a new starting QB after Mike Glennon was selected in the NFL draft (see Ryan Nassib). While O’Brien favored a pro-style passing attack, Doeren runs a spread offense that is predicated on having a mobile quarterback. The only two returning scholarship quarterbacks are Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas and Manny Stocker—but both were recruited to run O’Brien’s system. Another parallel between Syracuse and NC State: Doeren will also have Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell, who is eligible to play a fifth season (see Drew Allen). Mitchell was moved to wide receiver as a result of playing behind two NFL quarterbacks with the Razorbacks, so he’s got the dual-threat athleticism to play in Doeren’s system. He may have the upper hand, although the Wolfpack could conceivably use more than one quarterback.
PREDICTION: Despite this being a rebuilding year, the Wolfpack still have plenty of talent remaining. Running back Shadrach Thornton led the team in rushing last season with 694 yards, while receivers Bryan Underwood, Quintin Payton and Rashard Smith should benefit from Doeren’s system. While the Wolfpack won’t compete for an ACC title, they could find themselves back in another bowl game. NC STATE 28, SYRACUSE 24.