ACC Football 2013 Season Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Shadrach Thornton is One of Just a Few Returning State Players on Offense

Halfback Shadrach Thornton is One of Just a Few Returning NC State Players on Offense This Year

Team: NC State Wolfpack

2012 W-L: 7-6 (4-4)

Head Coach: Dave Doeren (0-0; first season)

Returning Starters: 8 (4 Offense, 4 Defense)

As SB Nation’s Bill Connelly astutely pointed out a couple weeks back, NC State under Tom O’Brien was a perfectly average team — rarely better or worse than a six- or seven-win team. And so despite another trip to the postseason in 2012, people got antsy, things felt stale, and O’Brien was relived of his duties. Now former Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren’s the head man in Raleigh and the big question is whether or not anything will change. For what feels like forever, the Wolfpack have been a team that can play respectable football, energize a highly underrated fan base and swing an upset once a season. And that’s it. So why now, with a coach whose success is notable but not long-standing, would they suddenly turn into a 10- or 11-win juggernaut? That’s what we try and figure out today…

NC State was a highly one-dimensional team last season with Mike Glennon at the helm. They managed to throw for 310 yards per game (great!), but that was while completing 58 percent of their passes — they threw 569 passes, by the way (seventh in the FBS). So for the most part, a highly inefficient attack. And it’s not as if they didn’t turn the ball over either. Right off the bat, those points must be addressed by Doeren and his staff, but with what personnel? Three-fifths of the offensive line is gone, as is Glennon and last year’s top pass-catcher Tobais Palmer. Glennon’s replacement is also still TBD, as transfers Brandon Mitchell (Arkansas) and Pete Thomas (Colorado State) continue to vie for the job in camp. Though Thomas may be the more polished and experienced player, Mitchell’s more of an athlete in the mold of Doeren’s highly agile QB at NIU, Jordan Lynch. Mitchell also has just one year of eligibility left, which makes me think he’ll grab the inside track at the starting job early on.

Running the ball, State was terrible — mostly as a result of Glennon’s ridiculous volume of passes. They also failed to ever establish a true starter last season, resulting in inconsistent carries for those who did actually get to touch the ball. Now-sophomore Shadrach Thornton showed the most promise in that regard, however, racking up nearly 700 yards based largely on five games of 17 or more carries (and another five of 12 or less with much lesser gains). He’ll come into the 2013 season now as the starter, with some additional help from Tony Creecy too. Creecy came in as the more experienced back, but can still flourish in a relief role this year nonetheless. Both can get involved in catching the ball, which of course plays right into the type of hybrid pistol offense Doeren is likely to run this season while he works to get more players in specifically made for his system.

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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 Football Player of the Week, Week 12: Tajh Boyd, Clemson

With an 8-TD Performance on Saturday, Tajh Boyd Takes Home This Week’s Top Honors

Each week, we’ll be identifying the best ACC player from that weekend’s games. As always, it’s a completely arbitrary award with no specific criteria beyond the vague concept of “excellence.” No, we don’t take write-ins.

ACC Player of the Week, Week 12: Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson

What’s left to be said about the standout junior after yet another dominating performance? Remembering last year’s brutal upset at the hands of NC State, Boyd and Clemson came out firing this weekend, and had to keep their foot on the gas throughout in order to hold back the Wolfpack. And while it was Tiger defensive stops that would make the difference come the end, all the praise will ultimately go to Boyd for the record-breaking performance he put on. Adding to his stellar resume, the Clemson QB went 30-for-44 for 426 passing yards and five scores, and then added another 103 rushing yards and three touchdowns to boot. The eight touchdowns were both school and ACC records, and yet another glowing accomplishment for Boyd, who’s made a habit of huge stat lines this year. And yet, he’s not even on the Davey O’Brien Award (for the nation’s best quarterback) list of finalists. Over 3,500 total yards and 41 touchdowns. On a major-conference team. Unacceptable.

Honorable Mention:

Tobais Palmer, WR/NC State (496 all-purpose yards, 3 TD)

Alec Lemon, WR/Syracuse (12 catches, 244 yards, 2 TD; incl. go-ahead score with 20 seconds left)

Ryan Nassib, QB/Syracuse (26/40 passing, 385 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT)

Mike Glennon, QB/NC State (29/53 passing, 493 yards, 5 TD, 1 INT)

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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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