2009 North Carolina State Wolfpack Football Preview
2008 Record: (6-7, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: Papajohns.com Bowl vs. Rutgers (L 23-29)
Offensive Coordinator: Dana Bible
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Archer
Returning Leaders for NC State:
Other Key Returnees: TE George Bryan, S Justin Byers, C Ted Larsen, OT Jerraill McCuller, DE Shea McKeen, DT Alan Michael Cash, CB DeAndre Morgan, OT Jake Vermiglio, WR Jarvis Williams, DE Willie Young
Key Losses: G John Bedics, RB Andre Brown, CB Jeremy Gray, G Meares Green, TE Anthony Hill, LB Robbie Leonard, S J.C. Neal, DT Keith Willis
It might not look like it, but North Carolina State is heading in the right direction. It will take Tom O’Brien some time to turn things around and going to a bowl game in his second season at the helm of the Wolfpack is certainly on track. Year three could be even better and this is a team that can pull off some upsets.
North Carolina State's Strengths:
Those upsets are much more likely to happen when quarterback Russell Wilson is healthy. Last year Wilson threw 17 touchdown passes and just one interception. The rest of the quarterbacks threw three touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. But Wilson is not just about passing. He is a quality rusher as well and tallied 388 yards and four scores on the ground. And all of that was as a freshman. He could be a very special talent sooner or later and it is just as likely to happen sooner rather than later. The problem is he has to stay healthy by avoiding big hits when he does scramble and hope the three returning starters on the offensive line can prevent him from getting sacked as much as he did in 2008.
North Carolina State's Weaknesses:
The strongest part of the North Carolina State defense last year was its front seven. They did not get into the backfield too often, but they did do a decent job against the run. With three linemen and two linebackers returning, the rush defense should be just fine. Willie Young is a good pass rusher, but the team needs Shea McKeen and others to step up and keep consistently getting into the backfield. That will give a revamped secondary some time to get used to their new surroundings. However, the best talent on the defensive side of the ball is at the linebacker spot where Nate Irving and Ray Michael return. Michael is a tackling machine and Irving will do plenty to help out the secondary.
The Bottom Line for the Wolfpack:
Will seven starters returning make the defense any better? They ranked last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. It will not take much for the defense to be better, but how much better can they be? If the defense is at least serviceable, North Carolina State could beat anybody in the conference. That is assuming Wilson can stay healthy and be the dynamic offensive threat that he should be.
By Joel Welser
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