With Dave Doeren’s horrendous first year in the books (3-9), N.C. State can only improve from their previous season under the new staff. Coming from Northern Illinois, Doeren successfully ran an up-tempo, no huddle offense leading the Huskies to an impressive 23-4 record during his two year stint. With an NIU appearance in the 2012 BCS Orange Bowl game, N.C. State’s fan base was certain Doeren would turn N.C. State’s mediocre program into a respected national powerhouse. The 2013 season ended up being one of the most disappointing seasons in Wolfpack history, and their no huddle up-tempo offense was far from a crowd pleaser. With a 3-1 start against sub par teams, N.C. State’s season looked promising, but the Pack didn’t experience the joys of a win after the Sept. 28th game against Western Michigan. Worthy of mention, but not a reasonable excuse for the season that was, N.C. State didn’t have a consistent starting line up on either side of the ball the whole season due to injuries.
Heading into the 2014 season, N.C. State returns 14 starters on offense and defense. Offensively the Wolfpack expects junior Shadrach Thornton (768 yards) and sophomore Matt Dayes (252 yards) to carry most the load in the offensive effort, especially behind an O-Line that returns all but one starter. The front five also welcome back senior offensive tackle Rob Crisp who missed last year with an injury which remains undisclosed to the public. With terrible quarterback play last year, Jacoby Brissett, the UF transfer, looks to drastically change the Wolfpack’s passing game. Brissett left his teammates feeling very confident in their quarterback after strong spring play.
The N.C. State defense looks to improve from a mildly fair season in which they helped opponents to roughly 400 yards per game. N.C. State’s front four will be the strong point of the defense, returning nose tackle standout sophomore Monty Nelson (8 TFL), senior defensive tackle T.Y. McGill (7 TFL) senior defensive tackle Thomas Teal (10.5 TFL), senior defensive end Art Norman (9 TFL), and junior defensive end Mike Rose (6.5 TFL). If the defensive Line plays up to their ability, it will be tough for opposing offensive fronts to protect their assets in the backfield. The linebackers took a hit after losing two of the team’s biggest tacklers DJ Green and Robert Caldwell. Senior LB Brandon Pittman (62 TKL, 7 TFL) returns to help run the Wolfpack’s new 4-2-5 scheme with the help of a young secondary who only lost one starter in draft pick, Dontae Johnson.
There is much room for improvement if Doeren and N.C. State aim to make it to a bowl game. If the offense can become more versatile in its pass to rush ratio, opposing defenses will have a tougher time reading the play before the ball is snapped. The offensive line must play better after ranking 111th in sacks given up per game, which will not get it done against the ACC’s strong defensive fronts. One thing known for sure though; if the Wolfpack have a less than average performance this year then Dave Doeren will be on the hot seat if not packing his bags.