As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its 2015 ACC schedule when they play NC State on Nov. 21.
NEW POWER RISING?: There is plenty of excitement around NC State these days. Head coach Dave Doeren followed a woeful 3-9 rookie season with a remarkable 8-5 record in 2014. The Wolfpack even went toe-to-toe with ACC royalty Florida State, holding a lead late into the third quarter before ultimately losing 56-41. It was a glimpse into the potential of Doeren’s squad, and perhaps a warning shot to the upper echelon of the conference that there may be a new power rising in North Carolina. “Well, you can’t beat teams if you don’t believe you can beat ’em, that’s for sure. I think at the end of the season we were playing very confident team football,” Doeren said at ACC Kickoff. “I think our guys believed they could beat anybody in the country. We started to play like it. Now we’ve got to go out there and do it.”
SCOUTING THE WOLFPACK: Look no further than quarterback Jacoby Brissett as the reason for the Wolfpack’s turnaround. The Florida transfer was brilliant in Doeren’s system, throwing for 2606 yards and 23 touchdowns to just five interceptions. “The quarterback’s the CEO of your football team,” Doeren said. “You can have a lot of other things, but if you don’t have (a quarterback)… it’s hard to reach the goals you have as a program.” The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 529 yards and three touchdowns, aiding a devastating rushing attack that that was 39th overall in the country at 204.5 yards per game. The Wolfpack also return their leading rushers from last season, Shadrach Thornton (907 yards, nine TDs) and Matt Dayes (573 yards, eight TDs).
PREDICTION: If the Wolfpack wants to joint the ACC elite, this would be the season to do it. They’re returning an experienced secondary and a workhorse backfield with a stellar quarterback under center. Circle Oct. 3’s game against Louisville as a barometer of how far NC State has come. NC STATE 31, SYRACUSE 28.