ACC Blogger Football Preview – Atlantic No. 2…NC State

Posted by Brandon Rink on July 11, 2011 under ACC Football | Comments are off for this article

Life after Russell Wilson begins, and T.J. Graham figures to be a big part of new QB Mike Glennon's receiver corps. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

2010 Record: 9-4 (5-3 ACC)
2011 Projected Record: 8-4 (5-3 ACC)
Returning Starters: 14 (6 on offense, 8 on defense).
Schedule Difficulty in ACC: Eighth.
Offense Rides On… Mike Glennon finding a connection with his receivers – NC State is going to pass it…probably more than most with a new QB at the helm. With their top two receivers gone from last season, Glennon has to find those one or two go-to guys for success this season.
Defensive Deficiency: Secondary – They have loads of experience now with all four starters back, but until proven otherwise, this unit has to keep improving for a successful season.
Keyword: Under-the-radar – NC State would’ve had a little more hype this preseason with Wilson back, but with Glennon, they could string together another successful season for next year’s hype.

Schedule Analysis + W/Ls

DATE OPPONENT W/L
9/03 Liberty W 44-21
9/10 @ Wake Forest W 17-13
9/17 South Alabama W 42-17
9/22 @ Cincinnati (Thursday) L 24-21
10/01 Georgia Tech W 21-14
10/08 Central Michigan W 48-17
10/15 Bye
10/22 @ Virginia W 21-17
10/29 @ FSU L 27-17
11/5 UNC L 21-17
11/12 @ Boston College L 23-17
11/19 Clemson W 28-26
11/26 Maryland W 24-17

Bye Week: Before Virginia, October 22.
Toughest Game: At Florida State, October 29.
Must-Win Conference Game:  At Florida State, October 29.

This portion of our preview is an excerpt from my work for the Clemson website, OrangeandWhite.com. Check them out for Tigers’ football coverage this fall…

Coach: Tom O’Brien (100-70 career record, 51-52 in ACC [3-4 vs. Clemson], fifth year as head coach at NC State).

Offense (2010 ranks): Pro-style (Total offense: 39th/Rush offense: 95th/Pass offense: 18th)

Defense (2010 ranks): 4-3 (Total defense: 31st/Rush defense: 14th/Pass defense: 72nd).

2010 Special Team Ranks: Net punting – 95th/Kickoff returns – 111th/Punt returns – 44th/Punt return yardage defense – 48th/Kickoff return yardage defense – 76th.

2010 Misc. stats: Turnover margin – 27th/Fewest penalties – 21st/First downs – 19th/First downs allowed – 6th/Third down efficiency – 41st/Red zone efficiency – 92nd/Red zone defense – 43rd/Time of possession – 16th.

Outgoing starters: 10.

2011 Starters (2010 stats)

Returning Offense (6)

RB: Mustafa Greene (Sophomore, 597 rushing yards/6 TD/272 rec. yards).
FB: Taylor Gentry (Senior, 6-2 250/116 rec. yards/2 TD).
TE: George Bryan (Senior, 35 catches/369 rec. yards/3 TD).
O-line: C Camden Wentz (Junior, 6-3 296/13 starts); RG Zach Allen (Junior, 6-3 322/13 starts); RT R.J. Mattes (Junior, 6-6 303/18 starts).

New Projected Starters (5)

QB: Mike Glennon (Junior, 9/13 for 78 passing yards).
WR: T.J. Graham (Senior, 272 rec. yards/2 TD); Jay Smith (Senior, 84 rec. yards/1 TD).
O-line: LG Duran Christophe (Sophomore, 6-6 287/1 start); LT Rob Crisp (Sophomore, 6-7 312/1 start)

Outlook: Tom O’Brien and starting QB Russell Wilson parted ways this offseason paving the way for junior Mike Glennon to take over. O’Brien had nothing but praise for Glennon’s development this spring, but in a rain-shortened spring game, Glennon struggled with two interceptions and a 52.5 percent completion rate.

He’ll have a strong offensive line to pass from with three juniors having double-digit starts under their belts and a couple more projected starters with experience. NC State also returns their top rusher Mustafa Greene, which may steer the Wolfpack towards a more balanced attack after a pass-happy couple seasons with Wilson at QB.

Another reason why NC State should have a few less passes is all three of their top four receivers gone from 2010. At tight end though, they return one of the ACC’s best in senior George Bryan.

Returning Defense (8)

D-line: DE Jeff Reiskamp (Senior, 2 sacks/4.5 TFL/23 tackles); DT J.R. Sweezy (Senior, 5.5 sacks/11.5 TFL/50 tackles).
LB: WLB Terrell Manning (Junior, 4.5 sacks/10.5 TFL/75 tackles); MLB Audie Cole (Senior, 5 sacks/10 TFL/86 tackles).
DB: CB David Amerson (Sophomore, 57 tackles); CB C.J. Wilson (Junior, 2 INT/46 tackles); SS Earl Wolff (Junior, 1 INT/95 tackles/4.5 TFL); Brandan Bishop (Junior, 4 INT/66 tackles).

New Projected Starters (3)

D-line: DT Brian Slay (Junior, 20 tackles/2 TFL); DE Darryl Cato-Bishop (Sophomore, 2 TFL/13 tackles).
LB: SLB D.J. Green/Rickey Dowdy (Sophomore).

Outlook: Seven of NC State’s top eight tacklers are back for ’11 from the d-line to the linebackers to the secondary. Over the last three seasons, the Wolfpack have gone from 82nd (2008) to 55th (2009) to 31st (2010) in total defense.

On the line, DT J.R. Sweezy anchors the Wolfpack attack with six sacks and seven tackles for loss last season – coupled with another returning starter in DE Jeff Rieskamp, and quality depth behind them.

Linebacker is the strength of the defense though with two of the top four tacklers back – including one of the spring stars in junior Terrell Manning, who picked off a Mike Glennon pass and took it 53-yard for a pick-six in the NC State spring game.

And finally, you have the secondary, where the Wolfpack struggled most last season, but Tom O’Brien’s crew returns four starters after staying healthy this spring.

New Projected Kicker/Punter (2)

PK: Niklas Sade (Freshman).
P: Wil Baumann (Freshman).

Outlook: Doesn’t look like NC State will have a way to get around starting two freshman kickers with talent guiding Niklas Sade to the placekicker spot and no other punters on the roster making Wil Baumann the man there.

Notable Backups (2010 stats)

RB: James Washington (Junior, 215 rushing yards/2 TD/185 rec. yards).
WR: Steven Howard (Senior, 12 catches/114 rec. yards/1 TD).
DT: Marcus Kuhn (Senior, 17 tackles/1.5 TFL).

Position by Position Grades

QB: B
MVP: Mike Glennon
Gotta Step-Up: Mike Glennon

RB: B
MVP: Mustafa Greene
Gotta Step-Up: James Washington

WR/TE: B-
MVP: TE George Bryan
Gotta Step-Up: WR .J. Graham

OL: C+
MVP: RG Zach Allen
Gotta Step-Up: LT Rob Crisp

DL: B-
MVP: DT J.R. Sweezy
Gotta Step-Up: DE Jeff Rieskamp

LB: A-
MVP: MLB Audie Cole
Gotta Step-Up: WLB Terrell Manning

Sec: C+
MVP: SS Earl Wolff
Gotta Step-Up: CB C.J. Wilson

K/P: C-
MVP: TBD
Gotta Step-Up: TBD

The Why…

Why Second?: 1) A pretty favorable ACC schedule – Three of the four road trips are to teams that won six or less games last season, but the home slate won’t be easy with Georgia Tech, UNC, Clemson and Maryland. If they can split on the road and win three of four at home (like I’m projecting) – Cincinnati is the swing game between them and an even better regular season finish in 2011.

2) Defense improving – As we referenced above, the Wolfpack D moved up 51 spots in total defense from ’08 to ’10. If they can stay somewhere around the top 30 this season, they will keep their team in games enough for another strong finish.

3) O’Brien has them in a good rut? – O’Brien first three seasons went 5-7, 6-7 and 5-7. Could last year’s 9-4 run be the start of a consistent streak in the right direction? We shall see.

Could be higher if…: Hold court at home and win at least 75 percent of the road games – and hope Atlantic favorite FSU slips up or is one of those road wins.

Could be lower if…: Glennon can’t find a go-to-guy at receiver and the defense takes a step back this season.

2011 ACC Preview: Where does NC State finish in the Atlantic?

  • 1st (43%, 17 Votes)
  • 2nd (30%, 12 Votes)
  • 3rd (8%, 3 Votes)
  • 4th (8%, 3 Votes)
  • 6th (8%, 3 Votes)
  • 5th (3%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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