2015 ACC Football Preview: NC State Wolfpack

2014 Record: 8-5 (3-5 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense (9) Defense (5)

Key Players: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Shadrach Thornton, DB Hakim Jones

Dave Doeren and his North Carolina State Wolfpack enjoyed modest success in their 2014 campaign, as the team exceeded expectations en route to an 8-5 overall record which well surpassed their 2013 record of 3-9. His 2015 bunch should be explosive on offense once again, as they bring back senior quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The ex-Florida transfer did everything the coaching staff could have asked of him in his first year at the helm, passing for nearly 2,600 yards and 23 touchdowns, while throwing only five interceptions. He provided the offense with a true rushing threat from behind center as well, carrying the ball 124 times for 529 yards and three touchdowns.

As impressive as Brissett’s numbers were last season rushing the football, he does not go at it alone. The Wolfpack averaged 204.5 yards per game last season, ranking them 39th in the country, and much of it had to do with the efforts of running backs Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes. Thornton was the team leader in rushing, carrying the ball for 907 yards and nine touchdowns, while Dayes was second on the team with 573 yards and eight touchdowns for the ‘Pack.

At receiver, the Wolfpack have some work to do, as they lose top receiver Bo Hines to transfer as he is heading to Yale for the rest of his collegiate career. Hines had 45 catches last season for 616 yards and a touchdown, and was a very promising freshman who looked like he would be a reliable target for years to come. However, as he is now departed, look for Brissett to target one of the best tight ends in the ACC in David Grinnage, who pulled in 27 catches for 358 yards and five touchdowns. Even though he was used primarily in red zone situations throughout most of last season, Grinnage could emerge as more of a go-to target for Jacoby Brissett, which could lead to big-time numbers this season. Bra’lon Cherry at receiver is another target to watch for NC State, as the junior had 354 yards and three touchdowns last season. His role could without a doubt increase, as he is now one of the top receivers on the depth chart with the departure of Hines.

On defense, it is almost a complete rebuild for the ‘Pack in the front seven, with the strength of the unit residing in the secondary. While there are only five returning starters from the defense as a whole, the stability of the defensive backs could drive the team to a quicker re-boot. The team’s best cover corner, Jack Tocho returns, while the team leader in tackles, safety Hakim Jones will be back after recording 80 stops a year ago. NC State allowed 27.0 points per game last season which was 66th nationally, and although they will have some early struggles with a young front seven, they are hoping that there won’t be too much of a drop-off in statistical levels this season.

For a full preview, take a listen below to a podcast with Mark Rogers and myself, as we breakdown the Wolfpack in all three phases, and work through a discussion of their 2015 schedule.




Follow me on Twitter @MikeMcDanielACC and check out InsideTheACC on Facebook and on twitter @InsideTheACC. Also give my friend Mark Rogers a follow on twitter @MarkRogersTV and check out his YouTube Channel for all of his college football videos here.

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