ACC 2012 Season Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Mike Glennon Directly Controls the Fate of an NC State Offensive Looking for Other Playmakers to Step Up

Team: NC State Woflpack

2011 W-L: 8-5 (4-4)

Head Coach: Tom O’Brien (33-30; five seasons)

Returning Starters: 14 (7 Offense, 7 Defense)

At the end of October last year, it appeared to be the end of the line for NC State coach Tom O’Brien. The Woflpack were 4-4, were just blown out 34-0 by Florida State, and had to win three of their final four games to make a bowl game. It would have been the third of his five seasons the team failed to reach the postseason — unacceptable for a school that does prioritize football (or virtually any school for that matter). But then, something clicked. O’Brien’s team went on a tear that would include a shutout of cross-state rival North Carolina, a shocking upset vs. Clemson and an enormous comeback against Maryland to close out the regular season. Now, O’Brien’s job is not only safe (for now), but his team is thinking much bigger than they had before.

On offense, the group is fueled by breakout QB Mike Glennon. The mastermind behind the late 2011 run, Glennon threw for 823 yards and 11 touchdowns over the final three games. Most notably, a six-TD performance (five passing, one rushing) to come back from 41-14 down to the Terps. This year, however, he’ll be missing top target T.J. Graham, so replacing him becomes one of the top priorities for fall practice. Luckily, he’ll have two seniors at his disposal — Tobais Palmer and Quintin Payton — both of whom played for the team last year, though in most-limited roles. Glennon is going to be looking to establish trust with these guys early, especially considering the question marks at running back. Senior James Washington still must prove he can step up into a leading role, while the status of the beleaguered Mustafa Greene is in flux again. For this offense to be at its best, it’ll demand a lot more out of the running game. Last year’s 104 yards-per-game (109th in FBS) won’t cut it, so someone obviously has to step up and make a severe course-correction.

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ACC Footbal 2012 Payback Games: NC State Wolfpack

NC State Will Once Again Have Its Hands Full with Florida State’s Defense

Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2011. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2012.

As part of our 2012 college football season preview, we’ll be running through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.

Team: NC State Wolfpack

Opponent: Florida State

Last Year: Loss, 34-0 @ Florida State

This Year: October 6, vs. Florida State

When you look at the end of NC State’s 2011 season, it’s hard to believe they were ever in danger of missing a bowl game, or were capable of being shut out by Florida State. Yet, the Pack would put up less points than Duke (who scored 16) against FSU, and manage just 166 total yards. Having no running game to speak of (ranked 109th in FBS overall in rushing average per game), and — at the time — a questionable passing attack, it was no wonder they struggled. FSU, who was only 4-3 entering the contest, was floundering entering the game after losing three of five. Instead, the win would be one of several stops on a tour of retribution, for recent poor seasons and the real-time slow start. Continue reading

ACC Football Standout Senior 2012: NC State

NC State’s Mike Glennon Has No Margin For Error, Carrying the Teams’ Hopes On His Throwing Arm

While we won’t be naive (and/or like Rick Reilly/Peter King/insert-your-own-cliched-columnist) and claim there’s some sort of pristine or pure honor in playing out your four years that other players just don’t get to experience, we’d still like to point out the senior players that are likely to stand out in 2012. These players have put in the time during their college careers, and now serve as the cornerstones of their respective teams’ potential success this season.

We’ll be going team-by-team in the ACC to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his team, and why. Have a different thought on the matter? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.

NC State had a one-dimensional offense last season, and that fact’s not likely to change in 2012, either. And with senior quarterback Mike Glennon at the helm, maybe it doesn’t have to. In his first stint as a start in 2011, Glennon managed to throw for over 3,000 yards and toss 31 touchdowns. He led monumental comebacks and upsets, matured throughout the year and at times, capably carried the team on his shoulders. No wonder the Wolfpack are now thinking ACC Championship Game dreams… Continue reading

ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: NC State Wolfpack

NC State's David Amerson Must Pick Up the Slack For a Defense Lacking Linebacker Depth

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: NC State Wolfpack

NC State’s passing game — while very good in 2011 — was downright inconsistent overall. And the same could be said for the rest of the Wolfpack’s offense. If they hope to live up to their early top-25 billing in 2012 though, all of that will have to change. While they didn’t have a ton of trouble scoring points last season, putting up over 28 per game, the Pack’s averages largely came as a result of streaky play as well. Seven times they scored more than 30 points (6-1 record), but they also manged to score 14 or less four times, too (1-3 record). Much of this was a result of the run game’s inability to ever truly get going. The team racked up just under 105 yards on the ground per game — “good” for 109th in the FBS. Rising-senior running back James Washington will take the brunt of this burden, as he looks to improve up on the 897 yards he put up last year as the starter. Though Washington averaged four yards per carry, and was active in the passing game, his steady production out of the backfield still left something to be desired. With more games totaling under 50 yards (five) than those he topped 100 yards (three), it’ll be Washington’s that’s called upon to up his game this spring. As good as quarterback Mike Glennon is, few teams can function one-dimensionally in the long-run. Washington has to be a dependable option in the backfield, be it the first quarter of the first game, or the fourth quarter of the final one. Continue reading