NC State Wolfpack Football Preview 2014


NC State Wolfpack Football enters year two of the Coach Dave Doeren era looking to lick its wounds from the 2013 campaign that saw them go winless in the ACC. In this case, any result would have to be better. Year 2 of any system is likely to bring improvement and there is no question that Dave Doeren’s system works. He was won at multiple levels, including sending Northern Illinois to the BCS. NC State will be looking to unveil new weapons, a new defense, and more experienced personnel.

More from North Carolina State Wolfpack

Coach: Dave Doeren (2nd year, 26-13)

Stadium: Carter-Finley Stadium (Capacity: 57,583)

Last Season: 3-9, 0-8 (ACC)

What do Central Michigan, Richmond, and Louisiana Tech have in common? They are all teams that State beat last year during the transition to Coach Dave Doeren.

What do UNC, Duke, Wake, and ECU have in common? They all beat State last year. Yes, State went 0-4 against its in state rivals last year.

Last season was full of growing pains for the Wolfpack and they were routinely blown out by just about everyone on their schedule. There were numerous cases of square pegs and round holes.

Oct 12, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack runningback Shadrach Thornton (10) gets blocking help from fullback Tyler Purvis (47) against the Syracuse Orange at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

Offense: Spread Variant

Coach Dave Doeren likes to describe his offense as a mix between the schemes of Oregon and Wisconsin. If that seems like a hard thing to do, it probably is. Doeren likes the speed and tempo of the Oregon offense, but he also wants to physically punish the defense while he is tiring them out. If someone asked current Philadelphia Eagles and former Oregon coach Chip Kelly whether or not Oregon was a power running team, Kelly would have said yes. So how much Wisconsin is really in the offense is a matter of mindset more than scheme.

It is impossible to miss the influence of the Oregon spread on Doeren teams. Oregon relies on mobile quarterbacks making good decisions. For more run-friendly quarterbacks, this can lead to a lot of stats. Doeren had a guy named Jordan Lynch at Northern Illinois and turned him into a dark horse Heisman candidate. Doeren hopes to have similar success with Jacoby Brissett this year. NC State never really had a steady quarterback last year and it cost them.

The Oregon spread is often looked at as a passing offense, but actually Chip Kelly tried to utilize the mismatches to build a running game. Instead of adding beef to the line, the spread forces defenses to play more small defensive backs. Then, if the back can break out, the running back will only be contending with the secondary. The NC State offensive line and senior fullback Tyler Purvis have lots of experience so that hopefully there will be plenty of Meshachs and Abednegos to block for tailbacks Shadrach Thornton and Tony Creecy.

Defense: 4-2-5

Like rivals Wake Forest and North Carolina, NC State football will be using a 4-2-5 flex defense this year. State ran a 4-3 last year, probably because of the linebacker talent. Now they will be trading size for speed.

This is partially a response to the spread offense that are now almost standard in college football. If teams are going to routinely bring three WRs and a TE or four receivers, you want personnel out there who can cover them.

Nov 23, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; East Carolina Pirates running back Vintavious Cooper (21) runs past North Carolina State Wolfpack linebacker Brandon Pittman (39) at Carter Finley Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the North Carolina State Wolfpack 42-28. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It is probably easier to recruit to the 4-2-5 as well. It allows you to target tweener kids who are between positions and puts a premium on defensive backs. The sheer number of people who look like defensive backs is larger than the people who look like linebackers.

State’s defense gave up 400 yards of offense per game last year. State will be looking for big time leadership from junior MJ Salahuddin and senior Brandon Pittman. The linebackers will have to anchor the transition into the new defense with clear communication.

November 17, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) throws the ball during the second quarter against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams:

Wil Bauman returns to punt. Trusty Groza watch list member Niklas Sade returns to kick. Bra’Lon Cherry will handle return duties this year.

Player to Watch: Jacoby Brissett, Junior, Quarterback, 6’4” 231 lbs.

Brissett is the man of mystery. He is a preseason Maxwell watch list candidate, yet he was absent from Greensboro during ACC media days. He certainly looks the part of the quarterback with his frame and build.

Brissett was recruited to Florida in the early days of the Will Muschamp era when Muschamp was till devoted to a pro-style attack. Brissett played as a freshman and sophomore sparingly, though he started games both years. When he saw that Florida was not going to give him his chance, he transferred out. He chose State over West Virginia and sat out last year.

Brissett is not your classic dual threat quarterback. He was a favorite of Charlie Weis, because of his abilities as a pocket passer. These kind of abilities do not sound a lot like Jordan Lynch, but Brissett’s throwing accuracy can make the spread effective as well. Expect for short passing plays for State rather than the QB draws and runs that seemed a staple of last year’s offense.

Brissett is also praised for being a leader on his team, something he started doing during his transfer season.

8/30Georgia Southern
9/6Old Dominion
9/13at South Florida

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  • 9/20Presbyterian
    9/27Florida State
    10/4at Clemson
    10/11Boston College
    10/18at Louisville
    11/1at Syracuse
    11/8Georgia Tech
    11/15Wake Forest
    11/29at UNC

    Prediction: 5-7 (1-7 ACC)

    This will be another growth year for NC State. I believe they will start the season 4-0 before hitting the meat of conference play. I think the lone conference win is Wake Forest. Georgia Tech will not be a good matchup, because this team in a new 4-2-5 defense and Georgia Tech runs that option which pound at the weakest parts of that system.

    The real test for Doeren will be year three when Brissett is a senior and the system should be fully in place and most of the offensive line comes back. That veteran squad will have a chance to make some noise.

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