NFL Draft 2013 Preview: NC State Prospects

Mike Glennon Headlines the List of Former Wolfpack Players Hoping to Be Drafted

Mike Glennon Headlines the List of Former Wolfpack Players Hoping to Be Drafted

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Despite some middling returns over the past few years, NC State has managed to produce a significant amount of NFL talent. And the 2012 season was no different, with as many as five players performing well enough to be drafted later this week. While former head coach Tom O’Brien certainly wasn’t the best at getting his team over that seven-/eight-win hump, you can’t say he didn’t groom future pros. It’ll be interesting to see if new coach Dave Doeren, with an unconventional offensive style, manages to replicate those results.

Mike Glennon, QB, Senior (Projected: Late Second Round)

Glennon came into the national spotlight this past October, after guiding the Wolfpack to one of the 2012 season’s early upsets, over then-no. 3 Florida State. Since then, he’s fluctuated mightily on draft boards, hovering around the top five quarterback spots for a weak class at the position. Though there was initially some talk about him leaping into the first round due to his strong arm and ability to read deep routes, he’s got plenty of concerns hampering him as well. At 6’7″ and 225 pounds, there’s concern that his height will be more of a liability, since the large target for tacklers is not strong enough or fast enough (just a 4.94 40-yard dash) to allude quick pass rushers. Additionally, while he certainly can throw the football for distance, there’s more worries on his accuracy. In his senior season, Glennon completed just 58.5 percent of 564 throws for a little over 4,000 yards. He could certainly work his way up a depth chart, but Glennon needs a little work if he’s eventually going to be an NFL starter.

David Amerson, CB, Junior (Projected: Early Third Round)

If you based Amerson’s value purely off his game tape from 2011, he’s a bonafied top-five pick. Lucky for teams picking at the top of the draft, they also get to see his disastrous 2012. Though he’s still a talented corner and certainly a player who can make an impact at the pro level, Amerson’s junior season gave teams several reasons to be concerned. Amerson experienced a drop-off in both tackles and interceptions, partially due to teams failing to target his side of the field as much. In addition — and this is where the worry comes in — he showed himself vulnerable on deep routes in one-on-one coverage, most notably in his first game of the season against Tennessee. His 4.35 40-yard dash time is impressive and exactly what scouts are looking for to pair with his 6’1″ and 215-pound frame. But they’ll need to be confident he can keep up in coverage against the NFL’s faster, taller receivers.

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Head Coach Dave Doeren Ushers In a Brand New Era of NC State Football This Spring

Head Coach Dave Doeren Ushers In a Brand New Era of NC State Football This Spring

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: NC State Wolfpack

Spring Practice Start Date: March 19

Spring Game Date: April 20

While NC State certainly takes a step forward on the field by hiring former Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren, you can’t deny they lose a masterful troll letting go of Tom O’Brien. Amazing 16-wheeler aside though, this spring’s all about transition for the Pack, as Doeren brought along his own staff as part of the new regime. New terminology, new playbooks, and a new approach to games is only part of it too, as the team also ushers in a new collection of potential playmakers to replace several starters that departed for the NFL Draft. Needless to say, it’s going to be a very busy month down in Raleigh.

Off the bat, State players better be ready to run, as Doeren brings along his spread offense from NIU. After years of running a “vanilla,” pro-style scheme under O’Brien, offensive players will certainly embrace the change, but not without struggle. On top of the complete play-calling overhaul, they’ll be breaking in a new quarterback to run the show, with little indication on who may end up winning the job right now. The current favorite, however, is Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas; the only passer on the roster with notable college experience. He’ll also be challenged by sophomore Manny Stocker, who was handed little opportunity to show off his stuff last year, but appears better suited for the type of attack Doeren ran with quarterback Jordan Lynch last year (which included plenty of rushing attempts from the QB position). On the bright side, though, the Pack is more than settled at both the wide receiver and running back spots, after seeing bursts of brilliance from Bryan Underwood and Shadrach Thornton, respectively, last season. While nothing’s guaranteed under the new coaching staff for these two standouts, both will have ample opportunities to embrace leadership roles as the team adapts to their new surroundings.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: NC State Wolfpack

After All the Preseason Hype for Mike Glennon & NC State, 2012 Was Just Another Letdown

After All the Preseason Hype for Mike Glennon & NC State, 2012 Was Just Another Letdown

Team: NC State Wolfpack

W-L: 7-6 (4-4)

Postseason: 38-24 Franklin American Mortgage Music Cit Bowl loss to Vanderbilt

Top Offensive Performer: Mike Glennon, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Earl Wolff, S

This was the year that Tom O’Brien’s NC State team was supposed to break through and contend in the ACC. He had the senior quarterback, the experienced secondary — everything this team needed to finally get over the hump. And yet at the end of the season, the Wolfpack finished with their typical six or seven wins, and then O’Brien was dismissed. How did this happen?

Well, for starters, that experienced secondary came back down to earth from last year’s phenomenal performance. After picking off 27 passes in 2011, the team managed just 16 this season, with the biggest drop-off coming from cornerback David Amerson (just five in ’12 versus 13 in ’11). From a team perspective, it’s also easy to how this all came about. Back in 2011, State’s aggressive, go-for-broke style allowed just as many big play (passing attempts of 30-plus yards) tries, but more of those resulted in interceptions. This time around, with the decrease in interceptions, more of those attempts resulted in gains of 30 yards or more (25 of that variety, 16 of which went for 40 or more). Part of this was an adjustment in opponents’ play (see Amerson’s dreadful performance against Tennessee in the season opener), but the rest can be perceived as a severe drop-off in the team’s talent level. If we’re looking for reason number-one why this squad fell short of expectations, the secondary probably sits front-and-center. When you finish 86th nationally in pass-defense, it’s just tough to argue you did your job, necessarily.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #16, Earl Wolff

NC State's David Amerson Quietly Led NC State's Secondary Through a Rough Season

NC State’s Earl Wolff Quietly Led NC State’s Secondary Through a Rough Season

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 16, Earl Wolff, SS/NC State(Preseason Rank: NR)

Compared to his cohort in the Wolfpack secondary, David Amerson, you don’t really hear a ton of hype about Earl Wolff. And yet, there’s a pretty compelling case to be made that the senior mattered a whole lot more to NC State’s success than Amerson did. While State’s cornerbacks were roasted in coverage all year (finished 85th in passing yards allowed per game), it was Wolff that had to perform mop-up duty in the form of stopping would-be touchdowns. So while his interceptions (two) and defended passes (nine) may not stand out as some sort of feat of natural ability, tackles tell plenty of the story. Wolff had 119 in just 12 games — 37 over the final three games. Five separate times, he had 10 or more stops in a game. At the next level, he certainly gets dinged for being a bit on the smaller side (5’11”, 206 pounds), but that ignores his true skill level. In his senior year, he showed real growth while functioning as the defense’s “quarterback,” making smart reads from the secondary and displaying a quickness (4.43 40-yard dash time) that’s tough to come by anywhere in this draft. He may not go ’till the second or third day, but whoever drafts Wolff will be gaining one hell of a safety.

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country's Best Pass Defenses

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country’s Best Pass Defenses

Both NC State and Vanderbilt were seen as programs on the rise entering the 2012 season, and yet both started off with disappointing losses on national television. What followed, however, is what defines them as they meet in the postseason. The Wolfpack, while managing to upset then-no. 3 Florida State, also struggled for consistency during a stretch that saw them beat just one winning team (FSU) all year. Vandy, on the other hand, would tally five SEC wins, though admittedly, just one against a bowl-bound squad (Ole Miss). So are both suspect teams, or just a product of their respective schedules?

Bowl Game: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

First Year: 1998

2012 Participants: NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4)

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt over NC State, 7-0 (1946)

***

NC State (previous bowl game: 31-24 win vs. Louisville in 2011 Belk Bowl)

Former State head coach Tom O’Brien told Wolfpack fans to expect big things in 2012, and yet the biggest occurrence ended up being his dismissal following a 7-5 campaign. Without O’Brien on the sidelines, the Pack will certainly be a different team as they head into their matchup with Vanderbilt, though admittedly, it’s hard to say if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The former coach’s inability to assemble aggressive gameplans won’t be missed, but it’s questionable whether or not his players will be sufficiently motivated amidst the program’s upheaval. Luckily, they do possess strong veteran leadership, most notably in the form of senior quarterback Mike Glennon. In the shadow of Heisman-sized expectations, Glennon still managed to throw for over 3,600 touchdowns and 30 scores while leading a State team that relied primarily on the passing game. Averaging 304 passing yards per game, the Wolfpack were ranked 20th in the FBS, yet just 108th in rushing. The contrast — predicted given the team’s lack of true veteran presence or depth at the running back position — forced Glennon to shoulder most of the offensive load, and puts a glaring target on his back. With a defense that allowed 33 or more points five separate times, they’ll be calling on him once again. After the secondary finished 2011 campaign as the team’s biggest strength (27 interceptions), the group — led by star corner David Amerson — regressed mightily in 2012. Along with just 16 picks (an 11-INT drop from last year), State’s defense was ranked 97th in the country against the pass (versus 61st the year before).

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 14

Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Offense Were No Match for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks Embarrassed the Tigers Once Again

With the regular season officially over, we check back in with the ACC’s teams to assess the damage of 2012. The good: two teams won ten games during the regular season, just one team won less than four games, and 10 teams (could be 11 if Pitt wins this weekend) won at least six games. The bad: No team won more than 10 games, two of the league’s top five teams are ineligible, and eight teams (out of 14) won between five and seven games. Oh, and Maryland decided to leave. Which is bad.

1. Florida State Seminoles (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Favored against archrival Florida, the Seminoles had a very manageable game at home and seemed poised for their first 11-win regular season in years. But then they struggled out the gate, and closed just as poorly en route to a 37-26 defeat. As a team, FSU looked outmatched everywhere but the defensive line, and quarterback EJ Manuel‘s four turnovers were the stuff of a worst-case nightmare. They’ll be favored again in the ACC Championship Game, and under no circumstances can the conference really afford for them to lose.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Clemson’s BCS dreams are all but dead after they came up very short against South Carolina and its vaunted defensive front. The Tigers impressive offense was shut down in a way no one had really figured out up until Saturday, and the result exposed a team that can’t run the ball with consistency, nor can they manage to stop anyone on defense either. If Clemson hopes to take the next step and become a truly elite program under coach Dabo Swinney, they need to take full advantage of opportunities against top-tier competition. They had just three games against teams with winning records all season, and went 1-2 in those contests, while being outscored 124-116.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (7-5) (5-3) (LW: 5): It’s unfortunate for the conference to see Miami sit out another postseason, but if the alternative is seeing an even better, more experienced version of this group next year, it may be the best option for everyone. In line to play in its first ACC title game, we miss out on a ‘Canes/’Noles matchup this year in exchange for what’s hopefully many more to come. Anyone who watched Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson in action this season knows there are good times ahead, so long as the defense starts to clean up its act.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): As the year’s wore on, we’ve caught glimpses of what this Heels offense could truly become under Larry Fedora and his spread attack. But on Saturday, quarterback Bryn Renner really delivered on that potential by putting up over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s obviously taken a bit more time to adapt to the new system than initially expected, but all in all, you still can’t argue with 3,356 yards and 28 scores. Expect even better production next year, as Fedora really turns him loose.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week 11

Can Virginia Tech Hope to Slow Down Florida State’s Offense Tonight, or Its Defense Either, For That Matter?

Unless you’re one of the other teams still in the Coastal division race, any ACC fan should be rooting for Miami the rest of the way. And yet, as we discussed earlier on the site, the Hurricanes may very well be staying home anyway. Beyond the Coastal, however, it’s now of the utmost importance that the best teams simply keep winning. The conference has obviously taken a lot of body blows throughout this season. The last thing we need is to lose our chances at two BCS bids, and/or send a 6-6 team to the ACC Championship Game. Of course, things are never all that predictable in this league, now are they?

Game of the Week

Florida State Seminoles (8-1) (5-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (4-5) (2-3): FSU has a huge opportunity here, not only to put themselves on the cusp of winning the Atlantic division, but also to bury the Hokies’ season. Based on how things have been going for both squads, it appears likely we’ll see a Seminoles win. Florida State has held three different FBS opponents (all in-conference) to seven points or less, while also only allowing 20 points or more twice (both wins). Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, they haven’t scored more than 17 points since mid-October and the offense has only managed about 25 points per contest in eight games against FBS competition (three wins, five losses). And then there’s that offensive line. As feared in preseason, they’ve struggled, and actually, may be getting worse as the year wears on. There’s little hope they’ll be able to hold off Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine for very long, creating yet another frustrating Thursday night for Logan Thomas. Prediction: Florida State 36, Virginia Tech 20

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Pittsburgh Panthers (4-5) at Connecticut Huskies (3-6): Both teams are playing for their postseason lives this Friday, so don’t read too much into the Huskies’ recent four-game losing streak. UConn is well aware of what’s at stake, and will be performing accordingly. What Pitt needs to do to combat this is simply bury last week’s disappointment, and finish the job this time around. Against Notre Dame, the Panthers played well above their level, but ultimately fell short. What could frighten Pitt fans about this matchup, however, is the letdown potential. Pitt is notorious for playing down to opponents, and UConn could certainly qualify. While the Husky defense has performed impressively for the most part (18.6 points per game), they’ve also only scored 16.6 per game (120th in FBS). As always, the game plan for Pittsburgh is to just run the ball effectively and make opponents commit their own mistakes. Prediction: Pitt 27, UConn 17

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