2011 Record: (8-5, 4-4 in ACC)
Head Coach: Tom O'Brien (33-30 at NC St, 108-75 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 2011 season Belk Bowl: beat Louisville 31-24
Stats to Cheer: +1.08 turnover margin (#1 in ACC, 6th in Nation), gained 39 turnovers (#1 in ACC, 2nd in Nation)
Stats to Fear: had 36 plays of 20 or more yards in 2012 (11th in ACC, 108th in Nation)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: (Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Specialists: 2)
Key Defensive Returnees: CB David Amerson (59 tackles, 13 INT), S Earl Wolff (105 tackles), S Brandon Bishop (89 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Mike Glennon (31 TD, 12 INT), RB James Washington (897 yds rush, 7 TD, 42 rec) RB Anthony Creecy (382 yds rush), WR Tobias Palmer (37 rec)
NC State was a jeykl and hyde team last year. It took them a while to get going, they lost some games they shouldn't have but they also beat a top ten team. The season can be summed up in the four week stretch from Oct 29th thru Nov 19th. They got thumped by FSU 34-0, then turned around and shutout UNC 13-0, then they lost to lowly Boston College and then they upset #7 Clemson. It was a strange year.
On offense, the Wolfpack replaced Russell Wilson with Mike Glennon. Glennon's stats were very comparable to Wilson's 2010 stats. Glennon had a better completion % and a better TD to INT ratio. Ultimately, the decision to let Wilson walk was the ability to have Glennon for two full seasons so this season will go a long way to seeing if ultimately that was the right choice. NC State returns their top two leading rushers but the team averaged just 3.04 ypc and had just 10 TD on the ground, both placed the Wolfpack at the bottom of the ACC. The receiving corps must replace three of it's top four receivers. It's clear that Glennon will have more on his plate this season and the success of the offense is clearly on his shoulders.
The Wolfpack had a middle of the pack defense in 2011 but was far and away the best in the ACC at causing turnovers. They had an increase of ten takeaways over 2010. If the Wolfpack can maintain that advantage it will be huge but that's something that's really difficult to maintain. One reason they might be able to is All-American candidate David Amerson. Amerson led the Nation in interceptions with 13 (the closest player to him was Georgia's Baccarri Rambo with 8). A big question mark for NC State will be replacing linebackers Audie Cole and Terrell Manning. How well the Wolfpack replace those two players might be the difference in the season for this team.
NC State has some definite question marks going into the 2012 season. They also have the ability to be a sort of wildcard. They proved last year they can hang with Clemson but they also proved that they were anything but consistent (losses to Wake and BC). If there is a team that can win the Atlantic over Clemson and FSU, it's NC State. It's a longshot but if they play to their full potential and other teams don't, it's possible. That being said, I think we are looking at a bowl-eligible team that will be a very tough team to beat this season.
2012 Prediction: 8-4
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