2015 N.C. State Wolfpack Football Preview

Jacoby Brissett is entering his senior season and looks to build on a 2,606 yard passing season last year.
Jacoby Brissett is entering his senior season and looks to build on a 2,606 yard passing season last year.

NC State Wolfpack
Head coach: Dave Doeren
2014 Record: 8-5; 3-5 ACC
2014 Bowl: 34-27 Win over UCF at St. Petersburg Bowl
2015 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 7 defense

Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +40000
Odds to win 2015 ACC Title: +950
Regular Season Wins: Over 7 (-110); Under 7 (-120)
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The NC State Wolfpack made a leap from three wins to eight last year, and the progression of Jacoby Brissett has Wolfpack faithful wondering how good this team can be as he enters his senior season.

The NC State Wolfpack closed the season with three straight victories over Wake Forest, North Carolina and UCF (at the St. Petersburg Bowl). If not for a bad patch of mid-season struggles that featured four straight losses (Florida State, Clemson, Boston College and Louisville) the Wolfpack could have knocked at nine or ten wins, but all of those losses came to tough ACC opponents.

Jacoby Brissett threw for 2,606 yards and ran for 529 yards as his first season as a starter after coming from Florida. He’s now expected to turn in an even better performance, but the QB has a lot of help from his backfield.

The Wolfpack averaged 204.5 yards rushing the ball last year which was the program’s best mark since 1992. With both RBs back in the fold in Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes, it should continue to be strong. Also, three strong recruits join the fold in Johnny Frasier, Reggie Gallaspy and Nyheim Hines, all of whom have the talent to make their presences known immediately.

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Hines will likely function as a dual-threat back catching the ball often, but TE David J. Grinnage is also a very valuable end zone target. On the OL, the Wolfpack are going to rely on two new starting Ts. It could still be strong if Tyler Jones and Alex Barr are able to assume leadership roles; Barr started 18 games at G and will move to T.

Defensively the Wolfpack are hoping to continue to improve after employing a lot more blitz schemes last season. NC State returns seven starters and five of those are in the secondary. Senior S Hakim Jones led the team in tackles last season with 80 and sophomore S Josh Jones had four INTs at the end of last season.

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At LB Jerod Fernandez and Airius Moore will have to continue the steady improvements of last season but the duo will get a lot of help with junior M.J. Salahuddin returning. He missed all of last season with a knee injury. The team will look to apply pressure from OLB and nickel spots on blitzes, like it did in its final four games when it amassed over half of its 30 sacks on the season.

Senior DE Mike Rose and sophomore DT Kentavius Street lead a young group up front, but the unit is not wholly inexperienced despite its youth.

Freshmen Kyle Bambard and A.J. Cole will replace two four year starters at kicker and punter. A.J. Cole is a very strong punter who is 6’4” 230 pounds, and he’s going to be a valuable tool in the unit.

The Wolfpack went from three to eight wins last year, a huge improvement by any measures. Brissett may still have his best football ahead of him in his senior season, but the Wolfpack has to improve its road play in the ACC if it’s really to turn the corner in a meaningful way.

Since the ACC expanded in 2005, the Wolfpack is just 3-23 on the road. That mark tempers any expectations of this team making a surprise ACC run, but anything is possible.

Prediction: 6 wins

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