2012 North Carolina State Wolfpack Football Preview

North Carolina St Wolfpack
2011 Record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 ACC Atlantic
2011 Bowl Result: Beat Louisville 31-24 in Belk Bowl
Head Coach: Tom O’Brien
Odds to win ACC and ACC Atlantic: 20/1 ACC, 9/1 Atlantic
Odds to Win 2013 BCS Championship: 250/1
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada

NC State looks to improve on an 8-5 record from a year ago. The Wolfpack have tons of talent on both sides of the ball.

If you could figure out what North Carolina St was going to do from week to week last season, you are an excellent handicapper. The Wolfpack, coached by Tom O’Brien, were arguably the most inconsistent team in college football last year. They lost to teams like Wake Forest, Cincinnati, and Boston College that they probably should have beaten. Cincinnati beat them by 30 points. However, sometimes the Wolfpack would beat teams they had no business beating like a 24 point win over Clemson, along with victories over Virginia and North Carolina. The Wolfpack finished 7-5 in the regular season, and 4-4 in the ACC Atlantic. NC State ended the season on a 3 game winning streak including a 31-24 win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl.

This season, NC State looks to improve from last season’s inconsistent results. The Wolfpack return a lot of talent, but the schedule is difficult with road/neutral site games against 4 top 40 opponents.


NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible wanted to take the pressure off then junior quarterback Mike Glennon last season as it was his first year as a starter. Bible called more running plays then he did when Russell Wilson was the quarterback in 2010. Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his senior season, and Glennon was given the starting job.

Glennon completed 62.5% of his passes for 3,054 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He was sacked 31 times, and had one rushing touchdown. He put up good numbers despite almost no running game and some conservative, predictable play calling. For the most part, North Carolina St ran on running downs and passed on passing downs. If both those improve, Glennon’s numbers should get better in his senior year. if Glennon gets injured, junior Tyler Brosius will step-in.

The Wolfpack averaged 104.9 rushing yards a game which was 109th out of 120 teams. Senior James Washington was the leading rusher last year. He had 226 carries, 897 yards, and 7 touchdowns. He also caught 42 passes for 315 yards. sophomore Tony Creecy had 103 carries for 382 yards, and a touchdown. He also had 25 catches, 157 yards, and 3 touchdown catches. The X-factor is sophomore Mustafa Greene. Greene led the Wolfpack in rushing in 2010, but missed all of last season with a foot injury. He had a couple of arrests for drugs in the off-season, and missed most of spring practice. He hasn’t been kicked off the team as of this writing, but we don’t know how much playing time he will get if any. The foot injury is completely healed. Brandon Barnes could also get a few carries as could fullback Logan Winkles.

NC State must replace receivers T.J. Graham and Jay Smith. Tobias Palmer does return. He had 37 catches, 496 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Junior Quintin Pyton and sophomore Bryan Underwood will compete for the second receiver spot, but both will get plenty of targets from Glennon. Tight end Mario Carter will get plenty of chances as well and could be a dangerous weapon.

The offensive line returns 4 starters including center Cam Wentz and left tackle R.J. Mattes, both seniors. However, the line must drastically improve on pass protection and run blocking. If they don’t it could be another frustrating year for the Wolfpack offense.


Last season, the Wolfpack defense was #3 in turnovers behind only Oklahoma St and Cincinnati. NC State forced 19 fumbles and had 27 interceptions. The pass rush was also very good as they ranked #16 in sacks with 38. They also had 91 tackles for loss. They were very aggressive under coordinator Mike Archer. However, sometimes they gambled too much on blitzes and gave up a lot of  big plays.

Look for a regression from the front seven as the Wolfpack lost a lot of talent at defensive tackle and linebacker. The Wolfpack have a lot of young talent on the line, and could go ten deep. They have plenty of talented, yet raw ends and tackles such as Art Norman, Darryl Cato-Bishop, Brian Slay, T.Y. McGill, and Thomas Teal. The kids need to grow up fast or NC State could struggle to stop the run.

The Pack lose their top three linebackers from last year. Going into spring practice, NC State expected Terrell Manning and D.J. Green to anchor the linebackers. However, Manning left early for the NFL, and Green was suspended for a year for testing positive for a banned substance. Sterling Lucas does return from an injury that kept him out all of last season. JUCO transfer Robert Caldwell will also be depended on to contribute right away, as will Rickey Dowdy, and Brandon Pittman.

The secondary should be one of the best in the country. Cornerback David Amerson had 13 interceptions last year. The top safeties also return led by Earll Wolff, Brandan Bishop, and Dontae Johnson. The trio combined for 9.5 tackles for loss, 8 picks, 8 passes broken up, and 4 forced fumbles.

Special Teams

NC State had to use  true freshmen at both kicker and punter last season. Kicker Niklas Sade made 11 of 16 field goals last year. His leg strength is fine, but his accuracy needs to improve.

Punter Wil Baumann averaged 37.5 yards per punt, but he was very good at forcing fair catches and landing punts inside the 20.

The Wolfpack are expected to use Palmer and cornerback C.J. Wilson on kickoff returns, and Rashard Smith and Amerson on punts.


The Wolfpack open in Atlanta against Tennessee, then travel to Connecticut. NC State then hosts South Alabama and the Citadel. The Wolfpack then travel to Miami before hosting Florida St. After that is a two game road trip to Maryland and North Carolina. The Wolfpack host Virginia and Wake Forest, then travel to Clemson. North Carolina St closes the season at home against Boston College.


I have seen some experts say North Carolina St will be luck to win 7 games like they did last year in the regular season. Others predict 10 wins for the Wolfpack. Still others say the team will slide to 5 wins. So what will really happen? Who knows? The Pack have plenty of talent at the skill positions and could very well challenge Florida St and Clemson for the division title. However, I think 7 or 8 wins is more reasonable.

We have plenty of college football expert picks available for the upcoming season.


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