NC State Wolfpack
Returning Starters: 12 (7 offense, 5 defense)
Key Losses: WR Darrell Blackman, WR John Dunlap, TE Marcus Stone, OG
Kalani Heppe, C Luke Lathan, DE Martrel Brown, DT DeMario Pressley, DE Littleton
Wright, LB Ernest Jones, LB James Martin, LB LeRue Rumph, CB Jimmie Sutton, S
Miguel Scott, S DaJuan Morgan
Key Returnees: QB Daniel Evans, QB Harrison Beck, RB Andre Brown, RB
Jamelle Eugene, RB Toney Baker, TE Anthony Hill, OG Curtis Crouch, OT Julian
Williams, DT Alan-Michael Cash, DE Willie Young, CB Jeremy Gray, CB DeAndre
Morgan, S J.C. Neal
O’Brien is entering his second year at NC State. He did a very good job in his
first year, coming within one game of getting the Wolfpack to a bowl game. He
did that despite having quarterbacks that threw the ball to the other team a lot
more than they did to their own receivers.
NC State will not benefit from playing in the better of the two ACC divisions
this year. The Atlantic Division is a lot deeper than the Coastal. It could
potentially send five teams to bowl games. The Wolfpack could be better this
year, but it probably won’t show up in their overall record.
The Wolfpack have a trio of talented runners. Andre Brown, Toney Baker and
Jamelle Eugene can all get it done with the ball in their hands. However, there
aren’t enough carries to go around for all three of them. As a result, Baker
will probably see a lot of time at fullback this season, while Brown and Eugene
will split duties at tailback.
Despite having three good runners, yards will probably be hard to come by. NC
State has major weaknesses at pretty much every other position on offense. Their
quarterbacks aren’t good, the offensive line isn’t particularly talented, and
they lost both of their starting wide receivers from last year’s team.
Opposing defenses will key on the running game, and limit the production of
these three talented backs. NC State hasn’t averaged four yards per carry for
the season in 10 years.
At the very least, every team needs a quarterback who can protect the
football, even if he does nothing else. NC State doesn’t have that luxury.
Returning quarterbacks Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck combined to throw 14
touchdowns and 22 interceptions last season.
In their defense, they were playing in a new offense. Still, that doesn’t
paint a positive picture for the upcoming season. Neither player is a lock to be
the starter this year. NC State has younger quarterbacks in the program, such as
r-freshman Russell Wilson and true freshman Mike Glennon (Sean’s brother).
Evans might be the correct call for the Wolfpack this year. He’ll be a
senior, and his 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season weren’t nearly as
hideous as Beck’s numbers.
State lost some good players from the secondary, but they also return some
part-time starters at every position in the defensive backfield. DaJuan Morgan
is gone, but safeties Javon Walker and J.C. Neal combined to make 10 starts in
2007. Cornerbacks DeAndre Morgan and Jeremy Gray both started seven games last
This secondary won’t be dominant, but relative to the other units on this
defense, they should be pretty good. Of course, that’s not a glowing endorsement
of the rest of the Wolfpack defense.
NC State lost all three starters at linebacker after last season. Ernest
Jones, James Martin and LeRue Rumph are all gone. Returning weakside linebacker
Nate Irving did start four games last year and got a lot of playing time
overall. However, the middle and the strongside are very questionable.
Depth is even more questionable for NC State. Two of their top backups at
linebacker check in at 200-lbs or less, one of which is a converted safety. On
paper, linebacker is easily the weakness of the NC State defense this year.
Will Stewart’s Take
The other night, I plugged in my tape of the 2002 VT-Pitt game (yeah, I know
— WHY?!?! I have no answer). For some reason, the first hour of that tape is
the end of an FSU-Wake Forest game. As I was fast-forwarding through that,
something caught my eye: they posted the ACC standings.
I stopped and looked, and noticed something interesting. NC State had lost to
Georgia Tech that day, which halted the Wolfpack’s 9-0 start to the season.
The Pack lost three in a row, then beat FSU to end the regular season and
tromped Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl to end 11-3.
If we as Hokie fans think 2002 was a long time ago, imagine how long ago it
must seem to Wolfpack fans. 2002 was Chuck Amato’s third season as their head
coach, Phillip Rivers was in his prime as a junior, and the sky seemed to be the
limit for the Pack. Six years later, they’re bottoming out, as Tom O’Brien
cleans up the mess left by Chuckie Red Shoes, who was the very embodiment of the
Peter Principle in
his time at NCSU.
This is probably going to be a tough year for the Pack, which is a shame for
the ACC. NC State has some relatively high profile OOC games at South Carolina
(August 28th on ESPN) and home against ECU (Sep. 20th) and South Florida (Sep.
27th). I still think Tom O’Brien is the right guy for the job there, but 2008
will most likely be a don’t-look-Ethel kind of season.